The toaster is the poster child for a simple electronic gadget. Pop in some bread, select how brown you want it and press down the lever. After a few minutes, a ding lets you know your toast is ready. Anyone can operate it, and, unless you choose the wrong setting, it's relatively foolproof.
It will be a good day when computers achieve toaster-like simplicity. Unfortunately, they aren't quite there yet, even with touch-screen mobile gadgets and newer, "simpler" versions of Windows. That's why we at Komando.com still regularly get plenty of computer repair questions.
While some of those questions are about really strange situations, many of them deal with the same basic problems. And, here's a secret: Many of them the typical computer user can diagnose and repair themselves instead of calling a tech.
This can often save you hundreds of dollars. At the very least, you can rule out simpler solutions and confirm if there really is a major problem that requires repair or replacement. Find out when it's better to replace a computer instead of repairing it.
Now, on to the problems.
1. The computer is 'dead'
Let's start off with the big one. You press your computer's power button and nothing happens. No lights come on, no fans whir, nothing. Your computer is dead.
Your first step is to make sure the computer is plugged in. Yes, even if you're sure it is, it doesn't hurt to double-check. If it is securely plugged in, then check your power strip to make sure it's working. You might need to reset the protection circuit (usually just turning the power switch back to "On").
If nothing else plugged into the power strip, such as your monitor or a printer, is working, then it might be time for a new power strip. You should also try plugging something directly into the wall socket to make sure the problem isn't with the power in the room.
While it's very rare for these to fail, you could also try swapping out the power cord going to your computer. You probably have one or two in a closet somewhere, or you can often grab the one from the back of your monitor.
If you've verified that all your electrical systems and cables are good, then the problem is likely the computer's power supply (if the problem is something else in the computer, usually you'll hear the power supply fans going). So, let's deal with a broken power supply.