Drac, I think I'll need to find a pin to pop the bubble that's forming on my head.
Haze, yeah. Sometimes we don't want to hear the news, but it has to be told if our babies are to run properly.
When you experience problems with a computer you need to ask a few questions:
1. IS THE COMPUTER PLUGGED INTO THE WALL OUTLET? AND IS THERE POWER AT THE WALL OUTLET?
2. Is it a hardware or software problem? Does the problem only occur when this or that program is started or running? Or does the entire computer act up when running? Will a program load, does your monitor display properly, do you hear any unusual noises, do you smell anything unusual? Do you notice anything else that's specific to the computer itself?
3. Did you receive any error messages? Print them out or write them out if you do.
4. You didn't receive any error messages but a piece of hardware isn't working properly. Monitor is acting up, hard drive is making noise or not giving you files you know exist, computer isn't starting, etc.
Once you've determined what piece of equipment may not be acting correctly, you need to decide whether you're going to try and make repairs or take it to the shop. The shop will have extra equipment to use in troubleshooting your computer but will cost. If you chose to troubleshoot your computer then you'll need to understand a few things about your computer.
There are a few main things in your computer:
Without anyone of these three you can't run a computer. (Note: if a digital drive is being used in place of a hard drive, the same applies) Anything else on the computer is a periphery, and not needed to run the computer.
The power supply is basically the computer's built in power company. Just as your power company takes AC power and steps it up or down, the power does the same. That piece of equipment receives what your power company provides you at the electrical outlet your computer is plugged into; I was hesitant to say 110 AC since some my have different voltages, and some do run on different frequencies--Hz.
The power supply takes that wall outlet voltage and steps it down for use with computer hardware. Everything is fed from the power supply, whether connected directly or through the motherboard.
Those connected directly to the power supply are also connected to the motherboard for input/output operations.
If you have a piece of equipment directly connected to the power supply, and it's not working or acting up, you have now narrowed down the problems to one of three things. That piece of equipment, any connector from that equipment to the power supply, or the power supply. (Keep in mind software can also cause equipment to act up, so make sure you don't have a software problem first.)
Replacing that piece of equipment is your first option in troubleshooting. If replacing the defective equipment with a known good piece of equipment doesn't fix the problem, then you have to look towards the power supply.
Your next step will be testing the cabling from the power supply to that piece of equipment. For this you'll need a digital volt/ohm meter and the power specifications for that equipment. I say digital volt/ohm meter because they are less likely to damage equipment tested.
You don't receive the correct voltages/ohms as specified by the technical specification sheet for that equipment so it's time to replace the cable going to the power supply--if possible.
If the cable can be replaced, and it still doesn't fix the problem then you have a couple of questions to ask yourself. Does this power supply have a reset button? If yes and by pressing it things are back to normal you're done. If pressing the reset button doesn't fix the problem you're now back asking yourself more questions.
Because now you've isolated the problem to the power supply, is it possible to fix that power supply? If it can be fixed, do you have the knowledge and skill to do the work or will you see if a computer shop can repair it? Will it be less expensive to replace the power supply or fix it?
But what about those parts that attach to the motherboard? For starters, make sure they are seated properly in the pins/sockets on the motherboard. Do you notice any discoloration around those parts? Do you notice any funny smells? Smells like burning plastics? Some things will get hot, hence the need for case fans, but they shouldn't get hotter than their tested ranges.
If you suspect a part attached to the motherboard, the first test would be to replace it with a known good piece of equipment. If that new piece of equipment doesn't fix the problem then you have a problem somewhere on the motherboard.
I say somewhere because now you will need the schematics and other technical specifications for that particular motherboard, and will need to work your way through the electrical path that leads to the non-working piece of equipment attached to the motherboard. Unless you work for a company that does this type of troubleshooting, you will not have the needed equipment nor have it in your bank account to buy what's needed. This time the only two options you have is to replace the motherboard or find a shop that can do the work. This isn't something the computer shop down the street will likely be able to do. More than likely the motherboard will have to be mailed/shipped to get repaired.
Connections can work loose. Equipment plugged into something can work loose. The most basic testing that should be done is to make sure all connections are tight/snug. Everything. CPU, RAM, video cards, other cards plugged into the motherboard, cables from everything to everything, including the one going to the wall outlet. And making sure the light you plug in that wall outlet for testing, lights.