GEEKNOTE: There is an old saying about not seeing the forest for the trees. Sometimes, we all overlook the obvious and try to over-complicate a problem. I fell victim to this error this weekend.
I had a new customer bring in a balky computer late Friday afternoon for me to work on over the weekend. He told me that it had gotten really slow and tended to freeze up. No problem. I whipped out our fancy hardware diagnostic suite and proceeded to run test after test overnight and into Saturday morning. The thing ran perfectly.
Saturday afternoon was more of the same thing, this time looking software issues. My malware scans came back completely clean. Since it acted up mostly when Internet Exploder was running, I downloaded Firefox. Same result.
The high-priced geek website I consulted aimed me at various potential driver issues. I loaded fresh copies of all the drivers. I updated Windows with the latest patches. No joy. Every time I fired up a browser, the computer would sooner or later become unstable.
Bad drive? That would make things slow down. No such luck. I imaged the system to a new drive and it STILL acted up.
Finally, it started working fairly stable late Saturday. It was teasing me. It started acting up as soon as I plugged everything in on our display desk out front so I could show the customer that it was fixed. I packed it in and came back to attack it Sunday.
I set the thing up on the bench Sunday and it worked fine...right until I plugged it into the network and opened Internet Exploder. BINGO.
I tossed in an inexpensive NIC card and went on the Internet. No problem. Ran it fine for a bit until it offered me up the dredded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). Hmmm. This one was easy to diagnose as a driver issue with the NIC Card. Installed a different NIC and everything ran great.
I wound up spending several hours chasing phantoms instead of looking at the obvious first. The customer lucks out since it was a flat rate 1 hour repair, but it pretty well toasted MY weekend.
The moral of the story is that we should always check the easy to fix things FIRST. I suppose this is as true of life in general as it is with computers.
Feel free to drop me a note or give me a call if you have any questions about your computer.
Rob Marlowe, Senior Geek, Gulfcoast Networking, Inc.
(Rob also serves as deputy mayor of the City of New Port Richey. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the city.)