A multitude of issues can face your enterprise on a technological level. Often, we discuss how malware and cybersecurity dangers pose the biggest threats, but sometimes it’s not an external issue at all. Rather, it’s hardware failure that can truly be the problem, leading to stress and service interruptions.
What is hardware failure?
Like the phrase suggests, a component of a PC system no longer works, and the reasons for that can vary. For instance, hardware components can fail due to age. But in other cases, hardware fails caused by outside factors, such as weather (power surges) or security complications (drive loss from a malware wipe). Damage is also possible from problems like climbing PC temperatures or physical damage (dropping the hardware).
Sometimes you can prevent hardware failure, or even predict, though that’s not always guaranteed. However, proactive measures are still a good idea, and can save your enterprise a lot of time and money. Additionally, if you utilize remote working, giving your staff the tools to check for potential hardware failure is a practical thing to do.
Checking for PC hardware failure
That’s an aspect of PC health that is a bit frustrating. There’s not an exact way to “know” if a piece of hardware is failing or about to fail, outside of some immediate telling signs. And said signs, such as the dreaded HDD “click of death” signify things are too late as is. When components are reaching their service life end, performance is typically affected, but that’s not guaranteed to happen either.
It’s not a hopeless endeavor, though. There are a variety of analytical tools which don’t require manual inspection of a component to detect potential failure.
Why check for failure
As mentioned, predicting or testing for hardware failure can allow you to preemptively resolve the issue before it becomes a bigger problem. If you knew, for instance, a stick of RAM was about to fail, you could replace it instead of dealing with performance complications. When hardware fails on a PC, it can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as failing to start at all. At that point, figuring out what component(s) no longer work can be much harder.
Symptoms of failure
Outside of abrupt performance changes in your system, there are telltale signs something’s going wrong.
- BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) – A blue screen can signify a range of things, but will often show an error code. Consistent crashes to a blue screen on Windows with a specific error code typically indicates a hardware problem.
- Temperature Spikes – If you have a tool to check PC temperature, you can see the degrees of your system. Exceptionally high temps is a symptom of potential damage and eventual failure.
- Performance Loss – Random slowdowns, difficulty saving/transferring files, and programs refusing to open are all telltale signs internal hardware is failing.
Testing and checking for hardware failure
Now, we come to the crucial aspect of managing hardware loss, actually checking for it. Physical inspections of PC components can be useful, of course, but only to detect blatant signs of actual damage. For example, a failing HDD isn’t going to show outward signs of problems. That’s why detection and analysis tools are the best method. They’re invaluable to both individuals and business models, since it can save money, time, and stress.
As a quick note, parts that commonly fail are fans (constant movement), hard disc drives (rotating disc), video cards (heat and moving fans), and RAM (age). Other parts can also fail, but within your system, these are likely culprits. You can check for potential failure with diagnostic tools.
Windows, conveniently enough, has some of its own. There are external programs too, but we’ll focus on what comes with Windows 10. You can use its Diagnostic tool and its Performance Monitor.
This is your handy-dandy “see all” tool for the PC. This can give you essentially a full diagnostic on nearly every aspect of the PC, and it’s here you can investigate potential issues for failing hardware. At a basic glance, the monitor checks the CPU performance and how it operates. You also have a variety of ways to test for memory issues.
You can check these options in “Reports” > “System Diagnostics.”
Figuring out if a component, like RAM, is failing is a matter of some interpretation. But, telltale signs like corruption, performance loss, and crashes are still major signs of dying hardware.
If you want some other accessible tools, third-party software is also an option. Some will give you a very upfront view about the system, others will give you deep specs about its behavior. If there are immediate problems, some tools (like CrystalDiskInfo) will alert you to a problem.
Ultimately, recognizing a failing component is tricky, but using the right tools can give you a heads up. It’s also a good skill to learn on your own, and can save a great deal of stress for you in the future.