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Why You Need This Book
Whether you use a PC for gaming, creativity, or extending your workday, you're going to have problems with hardware, Windows, applications, networking, the Internet, or peripherals. There's no getting around itPCs don't always work right. And when they don't work, you want answers that work and you want them fast!
Computer problems can be divided into three categories:
Sometimes, a computer problem involves two or more of these areas, making the solution even tougher. Fortunately, Leo Laporte's PC Help Desk is designed to solve the most common problems you'll encounter in all three areas, even if multiple problems are plaguing your system.
This book is designed to give you the answers you need to solve your computer problemsfast! Instead of forcing you to read about the history of computers or stuffing long lists of software and hardware features into your brain and making you figure out which ones hold the answers to your problem, our goal is to take you directly from symptoms to solutions.
You can count on the solutions in this book. They are based on Leo and Mark's over 40 years of combined experience with computers and related technologies and many years of applying their knowledge to solving problems via consulting (Leo and Mark), teaching troubleshooting classes and writing magazine articles (Mark), hosting radio and TV shows (Leo), and writing books (Leo and Mark). Mark's trusty FRANKENPC laboratory computer and its mates were subjected to dozens of configuration changes during the course of research on this book and its predecessor, Mark's PC Help Desk in a Book. For this edition, even more problems and solutions have been gathered from discussions with computer users, online research, and suggestions from Que Publishing's editorial and technical staff. This book is based on facts, not fantasy, so you can rely on it.
How to Use This Book
Unlike most computer books, which dump huge numbers of facts into your brain and expect you to sift through them to find the answers to your problem, Leo Laporte's PC Help Desk is designed to provide you with fast access to practical solutions you can apply right away. We hope you'll find it fascinating reading, but it's really intended to be a quick reference you'll turn to when your computer has a problem and put aside until you have another problemor another question.
Some troubleshooting books tell you what do to without telling you why. Leo Laporte's PC Help Desk is different. We love to explain why things are the way they are inside your computer, commiserate with you when things don't make sense, and show you solutions that make sense. We've never believed that treating human beings as robots it a good idea, and we're not about to start. You deserve an explanation of computer problems and their solutions, and we make sure you get what you deserve.
Some books are designed to be read just once; again, Leo Laporte's PC Help Desk is different. Because of its broad and deep coverage of computer problems and solutions, you'll turn to it as a valuable reference again and again to solve computer problems at home, at the office, or at the corporate help desk.
Here's how to get the most from this book:
Take a look at the chapters; they're discussed in detail later in this introduction. Go to the chapter that most closely matches your general problem area. For example, if you're having a problem getting your digital camera to connect with your PC, go to Chapter 6, "Troubleshooting Multimedia and Imaging Devices."
Each chapter starts with a feature we call Fast Track to Solutions, a table of symptoms and solutions. Use this table to point yourself toward underlying problems and their solutions. Start here when you need help fast. Each table lists symptoms common to the parts of your computer or peripherals discussed in that chapter.
As soon as you have located the appropriate Fast Track to Solutions symptoms table, look up the symptom. Each symptom sends you directly to a troubleshooting flowchart or book section that covers your problem and its solution.
If you are directed to a flowchart, each flowchart provides step-by-step solutions with ample cross-references to the text that provides detailed information about the problem and how to find the solution.
If you are directed to a particular book section, use the text, screen shots, and equipment photos to learn more about how your hardware and software work and to learn the troubleshooting steps needed to solve your problem.
Use the special elements in each chapter to find valuable tips and shortcuts, discover useful websites, and avoid potential dangers.
Here's an example of how to use this book to solve a problem:
Assume that you can't hear any sound coming from your computer's speakers. Chapter 5, "Troubleshooting Graphics and Sound Problems," covers audio problems, so turn to the start of Chapter 5 to get started. The Fast Track to Solutions symptoms table at the beginning of this chapter offers a flowchart called "Speaker and Volume Control Problems." Go to the flowchart and follow the solutions given in order. For example, in this flowchart, the first question is, "Is your sound hardware working according to Device Manager?" If you are not sure or if you have already used Device Manager to determine the sound hardware is not working, follow the cross-reference to the "Sound Hardware Problems" flowchart for solutions. If Device Manager indicates the sound hardware is working correctly, the next question is, "Did you just attach the speakers to the sound hardware?" If you answer Yes, the flowchart directs you to check the speaker connections. If you answer No, the flowchart directs you to make sure the speakers are turned on. Cross-references to specific sections of the book provide you with illustrations and write-ups to help you answer the questions posed in each flowchart. Continue through the flowchart until you find the solution that matches your hardware and situation.
If you are directed to a particular portion of a chapter by Fast Track to Solutions or a flowchart, read the text and follow the suggestions and cross-references given there until you solve the problem. The pictures and screen shots provided will help you locate and use similar features on your system. For many problems, you will use a combination of one or more flowcharts and particular book sections to find the right solution.
How This Book Is Organized
Leo Laporte's PC Help Desk includes the following sections:
Ten chapters cover all the important hardware and software components of your computer and peripherals.
An appendix includes a guide to troubleshooting methods and tools and over 50 flowcharts to help you solve the most common PC and peripheral problems.
The following sections explain the book sections in greater details.
Chapter 1: PC Anatomy 101
The first chapter of this book provides a detailed look at what makes your computer work inside and out, along with coverage of the BIOS setup program, hardware resources, Power-On Self-Test error codes, and coverage of the major I/O port types in typical computers. Because you need to be careful when you work inside your computer, this chapter also provides you with instructions on how to avoid damage from electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Wherever you are on the computer knowledge scale, from novice to expert, be sure to read Chapter 1 for valuable background. If you're in a hurry for particular information about your PC's internal layout or external ports, use the Fast Track to Solutions symptoms table at the beginning of the chapte...