Troubleshooting Guide

Do you know what to do if your computer doesn't turn on?  What if your sound isn't working or your computer seems slow?  There are several basic troubleshooting techniques you can use to fix issues like these.

Please keep in mind – there are often many things that could cause a particular problem.  Troubleshooting is often a process of trial and error and you may need to use several different approaches before a solution is found.  We have a few recommendations in this process.

  • Write down any error messages.  This is extremely helpful information.  If unfamiliar with the message, you can research the error by typing the message in a web search engine, such as Google, or your computer's help feature.  You may also look for informative articles in Detroit Mercy’s Knowledge Base.
  • Write down troubleshooting steps.  This will help you to remember exactly what you have tried and, if you ask for help, it will be much easier to tell others what you have tried so far. 
  • Check the cable connections.  If you are having trouble with a specific piece of hardware, such as your keyboard or monitor, an easy first step is to make sure the device is properly connected. 
  • Restart the computer.  A lot of basic issues can be resolved simply by restarting your computer.  

Common Problems

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    The computer will not turn on

    1. Check the power cord to confirm that it is plugged securely into the computer and the power outlet.
    2. Make sure the outlet is working. You can try plugging in another electrical device, such as a lamp.
    3. If the computer is plugged into a surge protector, verify that it is turned on. You may have to reset the surge protector by turning it off and then back on. You can also plug a lamp or other device into the surge protector to verify that it's working correctly.
    4. If you are using a laptop, the battery may not be charged. Plug the AC adapter into the wall, then try to turn on the laptop. If it still doesn't startup, you may need to wait a few minutes and try again.

    The computer is running slowly

    1. Restart the computer.
    2. Run a virus scanner. You may have malware running in the background that is slowing down your computer.
    3. If using applications that rely on the Internet, test your Internet speeds.  Speed needs vary by application.  However, download and upload speeds necessary for video conferencing generally range between 1.5 to 3.0 Mbs, depending on the platform and features being used.

    The computer is frozen

    1. Windows only: Restart Windows Explorer. To do this, press and hold Ctrl+Alt+Delete on your keyboard to open the Task Manager. Next, locate and select Windows Explorer from the Processes tab and click Restart. You may need to click More Details at the bottom of the window to see the Processes tab.
    2. Mac only: Restart Finder. To do this, press and hold Command+Option+Esc on your keyboard to open the Force Quit Applications dialog box. Next, locate and select Finder. Then, click Relaunch.
    3. Press and hold the Power button. The Power button is usually located on the front or side of the computer, typically indicated by the power symbol. Press and hold the Power button for 5 to 10 seconds to force the computer to shut down.
    4. If the computer still won't shut down, you can unplug the power cable from the electrical outlet. If you're using a laptop, you may be able to remove the battery to force the computer to turn off. Note: This solution should be your last resort after trying the other suggestions above.

    An application is running slowly

    1. Close and reopen the application.
    2. If the application relies on the Internet, test your Internet speeds.  Speed needs vary by application.  However, download and upload speeds necessary for video conferencing generally range between 1.5 to 3.0 Mbs, depending on the platform and features being used.
    3. Update the application. You can usually check for updates by clicking on the Help menu and look for an option to check for updates.  You may also try searching online for updates to the application.

    An application is frozen

    1. Force quit the application. On a PC, you can press (and hold) Ctrl+Alt+Delete (the Control, Alt, and Delete keys) on your keyboard to open the Task Manager. On a Mac, press and hold Command+Option+Esc. You can then select the unresponsive application and click End task (or Force Quit on a Mac) to close it.
    2. Restart the computer. If you are unable to force quit an application, restarting your computer will close all open apps.

    The Internet is not connected

    1. Check to see if other devices are able to connect to your network.  If not, your Internet service may be down.  You could try restarting your router or contact your Internet Service Provider to see if there is an outage.
    2. Check to see if you are connected with either an ethernet connection or WiFi.
    3. Windows only: In the search bar, type and select "Network status."  Select "Network troubleshooter" to check for common problems.  

    The mouse or keyboard has stopped working

    1. If you're using a wired mouse or keyboard, make sure it's correctly plugged into the computer.
    2. If you're using a wireless mouse or keyboard, make sure it's turned on and that its batteries are charged.

    The sound isn't working

    1. Check the volume level. Click the audio button in the top-right or bottom-right corner of the screen to make sure the sound is turned on and that the volume is up.
    2. Check the audio player controls. Many audio and video players will have their own separate audio controls. Make sure the sound is turned on and that the volume is turned up in the player.
    3. Check the cables. Make sure external speakers are plugged in and turned on.
    4. Connect headphones to the computer to find out if you can hear sound through the headphones.

    The screen is blank

    1. The computer may be in Sleep mode. Click the mouse or press any key on the keyboard to wake it.
    2. Make sure the monitor is plugged in and turned on.
    3. Make sure the computer is plugged in and turned on.
    4. If you're using a desktop, make sure the monitor cable is properly connected to the computer tower and the monitor.

    The printer is not printing

    1. Check the printer to ensure that it's turned on and plugged into the surge protector.
    2. Check to make sure the printer's ink cartridge still has ink and that there is paper loaded in the paper tray.
    3. Check the printer's USB cord to ensure it is connected to your computer and to your printer.

Research Strategies to Solve Other Types of Problems

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    Search the web

    Try searching the Web for the error message or by describing the problem that you are having.  Other users may have had similar problems and solutions to these problems are often posted online.

    You may also want to search YouTube for a video tutorial on the program that you're using.

    Keep in mind that most computer problems have simple solutions, although it may take some time to find them. For difficult problems, a more drastic solution may be required, like reformatting your hard drive or reinstalling your operating system. If you think you might need a solution like this, we recommend consulting a professional first. If you're not a computer expert, it's possible that attempting these solutions could make the situation worse.


    Use an application's built-in help feature

    Software companies know that most users will have questions about how to use their programs, which is why they include built-in help features. You can usually access a program's help feature by clicking a Help menu (sometimes represented by a question mark icon) at the top of your screen. There, you'll find instructions on how to do things, troubleshooting tips, and answers to frequently asked questions.

    Use your computer's built-in help feature

    • On Windows computers: Press the F1 key to open the Help feature.
    • On Mac computers: Use the keyboard shortcut ⌘ - ⇧ - / (command - shift - /) to access the Help program.

    Search Detroit Mercy's Knowledge Base

    If you have a question about or problem with a Detroit Mercy application, try searching the Knowledge Base.  The Knowledge Base provides solutions to common problems, answers to frequently asked questions, documents, and more.