Before you try to punch a whole through you computer, try these simple tips.

It’s amazing to me how we can send a man to the moon, but we can’t make a computer that doesn’t crash.

If you’re using a computer even a few hours per week, you’ll quickly find that problems occur – programs stop working, screens freeze up, things don’t show up the way you expect them to, you can’t get them to print out,….the list goes on and on.

Before you go ahead and waste 2 hours trying to figure out the problem, or call up your geeky nephew, or worse – pay someone $100+ to fix it, you’ll often find these simple, but often forgotten steps, can solve most of computer problems.

1. Try restarting.

Have you heard this one before? Yes, it sounds simple, but a lot of people don’t understand just how many problems (especially PC problems) can be solved by restarting you computer.

Many people have their computers set to “sleep”, and after a few days or so, Windows gets clogged up with programs, old memory, settings, etc. and can become unstable. I recommend only putting a PC into sleep mode twice before doing a complete shut down and restart.

Also, make sure you close ALL programs before doing a full restart. Programs like Outlook generally perform better if you close them down first, before shutting off your machine. If you don’t, and you restart and open Outlook, you might find that it wants to “scan your .pst file” since it “wasn’t closed properly”. It slows the performance of the computer for normally 10-15 minutes.

Apple users will find their systems much more stable after multiple sleep modes, but a restart can help, occasionally.

2. Make sure you stay updated on the latest Windows patches.

Open an Internet Explorer window, click on Tools, then Windows Update. Some computers are set to do this automatically, at say 3AM — IF your computer is turned on (not sleep mode) during that time.

If you never have your computer turned on at that time, or if that option is not selected, you might be missing out on some very important security updates and patches that Microsoft releases every few weeks or so.

Apple users will find that their computers are normally updated automatically, in the background, at times of inactivity. Too bad Bill Gates didn’t include the same feature with Windows!!

Also, with updates, choose the option to “manually select my updates“. You’ll find they often try to include software from Microsoft, or other items that you just don’t need to install. Obviously, if you’re not sure, I would say download it. But for those more savvy computer users, you’ll want to only download the updates you know will make a difference and not bloat your computer with unnecessary programs.

As I mentioned, you’ll typically find that the above 2 steps will solve 95% of computer problems – which means there’s still that ugly 5% of problems that aren’t easily solved, and require more support.

So restart, update, and keep your computer a well-oiled machine to perform the tasks you need it to!