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screen showing crashed computer

Before you panic, there are some things you can do to troubleshoot your own system. You might even solve your own problem!

Restart Your Computer Check all Connections Start in Safe Mode
Task Manager Slow Computer? Disable Software Loaded Automatically
Capturing the Screen Data Backed Up? Contacting the ITS Service Desk
Hardware Need Repaired?

Restart Your Computer

Sometimes, simply restarting your computer will fix the problem. Select Start, Shut Down, Restart (or the proper sequence for your system) and let the computer boot up. If that doesn’t work, you might need to bring the computer up in Safe Mode. [See “Start in Safe Mode” section.]

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Check all Connections

If you are having a problem with equipment, check all connection – including electric, network cable, monitor, etc. Some cords “jiggle loose” and then fail to make the proper connection to work properly. Check all connections and then restart your computer. Depending on your particular problem, this may be all you need to do.

Note: If you think you have a bad monitor, mouse, etc., borrow a co-worker’s and see if that one works.

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Start in Safe Mode

If your computer is frozen or gives you the “blue screen of death,” shut it down and then start it in Safe Mode. This boot up mode only loads the programs and files it needs to run the operating system.

  1. If needed, push the power button to turn off your computer. (Normally, you wouldn’t do this, but sometimes you have no choice.)
  2. Wait 15 seconds and then power on the machine.
  3. As the machine is booting up, start tapping the <F8< key on your keyboard. Keep pressing it until you see the Windows Advanced Boot Options menu.
  4. Select the “Safe Mode” option and press <Enter>. If the computer boots successfully in Safe Mode, you’ll see your Desktop, albeit a little different from the normal screen.
  5. Shut down the machine (not restart).
  6. To see if the problem has been resolved, power the computer back on and see what happens. If the computer boots normally, the computer may be fixed.
  7. If you still have problems, call the ITS Service Desk.

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Task Manager

Windows Task Manager provides detailed information about processes and applications that are running. When you have an application that’s “locked up,” you can use Task Manager to close that particular application without having to restart your entire system.

  1. When you need to close an application, simultaneously press the <Ctrl> <Alt> <Del> keys on your keyboard.
  2. Select Task Manager or Start Task Manager.

The screen capture below illustrates the Windows Task Manager screen.

Look at the applications loaded. Follow the instructions below if you need to close any non-responsive ones.

  1. When you see a “Task” in the Applications tab that is “Not responding,” you can click on it to select it and then click on [End Task] at the bottom of the window. Respond to any other prompts on the screen.
  2. If needed, repeat the process in Task Manager.

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Slow Computer?

Sometimes, your computer will not perform as quickly as it once did. If the speed is not related to Internet browsing but is just slow loading software, opening files, etc., you might need to see if unnecessary or harmful software is running.

Follow the steps above in the Task Manager to access Windows Task Manager. Then, click on the Processes tab to see something similar to the screen capture below.

You might be surprised at the number of processes running. If you see a large number next to a process you don’t recognize, you should load your Web browser (Firefox or Chrome) and search for the process listed. Use the information you find in your search to determine if the process is legitimate or not.

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Disable Software Loaded Automatically

After using Task Manager to determine what processes are running, you might want to see what software is loaded on your system’s startup. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Click on the Start button. In the “box” type: msconfig
  2. Press the <Enter> key.
  3. Click on the tab labeled “Startup.”

Look at the screen capture below to get an idea of this feature in Windows.

startup screen

For example, you might see a program named “issch.exe.” If you aren’t sure what it is or does, do a search on the Web. From one site ( this program is described as “issch.exe is an update service relating to the InstallShield utility which keeps this software up to date. This program is a non-essential process, but should not be terminated unless suspected to be causing problems.”

Search for as many of these programs as needed in able to determine if they are necessary.

If you discover a program that shouldn’t be running (possibly harmful or wasting resources), then uncheck the box next to its line of information. When you click on [Apply] and then [Close], you may have to restart your computer. As it boots up, you will see a prompt telling you that you’ve changed the Startup items. That is fine—respond accordingly.

See if your system is working more efficiently. If not, you may have to look at more programs to remove from Startup.

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Capturing the Screen

Let’s say you have an error screen you want to share with someone. While the error message is on the screen, simultaneously press the <Shift> and <PrintScreen> keys on your keyboard or use the easy-to-use Snipping Tool (Start, All Programs, Accessories, Snipping Tool). The "screen capture" will go into the computer's Clipboard area; however, you'll need to RIGHT click on the image in the Snipping Tool screen to place it in the Clipboard. Remember, you won’t be able to see it yet when it's in the Clipboard. Then, open Word or a new email message and RIGHT click in a new document/message and select Paste from the shortcut menu. Voila! You should see the error message on the screen. Treat this as any other image and crop it, if needed, to make the error screen more visible. As needed, you can save the Word file and then attach it to an email message to the ITS Service Desk or just send the message if that's where you have pasted the captured screen. 

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Data Backed Up?

Once your computer is up and running properly (hopefully!), you need to make sure you have a recent copy of your data -- My Documents, Favorites, photos, music, files/folders on the Desktop. Note: It's not recommended you store anything of importance on your computer's Desktop. If you want easy access to files/folders, simple create a Shortcut.

If you are in a state office, please use a network drive to keep your data safe.

If you are in a county office, you can use the office's network attached storage (NAS) device to keep your important information backed up.

If you have questions on how to make sure your files are backed, please ask someone in the Office of Technology. If you’re not sure whom to call, just place a call to the ITS Service Desk. [See section below.]

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Contacting the ITS Service Desk

If you have determined you need help with your hardware or software, call the ITS Service Desk ( 1-877-327-9260 or 1-304-293-4444) or email them a description of your problem (

Tip: If you email the ITS Service Desk, you can tell them the problem in your own words. You can also send them a screen capture, if possible, with error messages or information to aid in the understanding of the problem.

  1. Tell them your name and office.
  2. Describe your problem in detail.
  3. Ask them for the ticket number when you call.

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Hardware Need Repaired?

Is your equipment still under warranty? If you’re not sure, refer to the original purchase information to see what the warranty terms are.

How can I tell if my Dell computer is still under warranty?

  1. Go to the Dell support site (
  2. Then, select Warranty Information. Next, click on Warranty Status.
  3. Type your Service Tag in the space provided and click on Continue. (If you don’t know what that is or where to find it, there’s help on that screen.)
  4. Look at the System Information screen to confirm that the information is about your computer and determine how many days left, if any, you have of warranty coverage.

If you need to call Dell regarding your computer, please use the appropriate number below or use Dell’s Chat feature ( and select “Chat Online with Dell Technical Support” at the bottom right of the screen).

Dell Gold Support: 1-866-516-3115

If your computer is not under warranty, you will need to call the ITS Service Desk (304-293-4444 or 1-877-327-9260). Someone will follow up with you about the best course of action.

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WVU Extension Service Office of Technology
Knapp Hall – P.O. Box 6031 Morgantown, WV 26506-6031
304-293-4221 (voice)