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Check Your Computer for Hardware Defects

Updated on June 18, 2013
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Is your computer unstable even though you already checked for viruses and malware? There could be physical damage with the parts in your computer that's causing errors to appear. Here are some free ways to check if the hardware in your computer has any defects:

Check your hard drive

Symptoms of hard drive errors include lost or corrupt data. You can check for errors with your hard drive with the "check disk" program included with recent versions of Windows.

  1. Open My Computer by double-clicking on it.
  2. Right-click the hard drive you want to check and select Properties.
  3. Go to the Tools tab and under Error-checking, click on Check now.
  4. Check the box next to Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.
  5. Click on Start to run the check.

Depending on how big your hard drive is, the program may take a while. Once the program is finished checking your hard drive, you'll be presented with a report. Take a look and see if there are any bad sectors on your hard drive.

Bad sectors are an indication that parts of your hard drive are damaged. These sectors can no longer store your data reliably. When a few bad sectors appear, this is usually a sign that more sectors will turn bad soon.

Check your memory

Does your computer randomly restart or freeze? There could be issues with your computer's memory. They are frequently a result of low quality parts or exposure to high heat.

You can check your memory with Memtest86+. You'll need to put the program on a USB flash drive, a blank CD, or a floppy disk. Then, you'll have to restart your computer in order to run this program.

Depending on how much memory your computer has, this may take a while. When the program detects an error, it will show it immediately on the screen.

Check your CPU

A malfunction process in your computer can cause a host of problems for you. If you want to make sure the processor in your computer is working correctly, download the tool Prime95. Prime95 is a program dedicated to computing prime numbers (special numbers that have only two factors). In simpler terms, it can make your CPU do a lot of heavy math computations.

After installing the program, you will want to run a "Torture Test". As implied by the name, it will really work your processor. If nothing bad happens within a few hours, it's a good indication that your CPU is fine. However, if you really want to be sure, you'll probably want to leave it running overnight and check on it the next morning.

Check your video card

If you're a gamer, you'll definitely want to check whether your video card is working fine. One of the tools to accomplish this job is 3DMark. 3DMark is a benchmark program that simulates game workloads. If you have an older computer, you'll probably want to grab one of the older versions (like 3DMark2001 SE). But if your computer has a new video card, be sure to download a new version (like 3DMark 11).

After you install 3DMark, run any (or all) of the tests you like. While the tests are running, you should be watching your monitor and paying attention to any visual errors. If you see flickers or white specks, then you'll know your video card isn't working reliably. Otherwise, it's working fine and there's nothing to worry about.


If you found errors in the hardware of your computer, consider replacing the affected part before continuing to use your computer. Otherwise, you'll risk losing your data.

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    • profile image

      John 4 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. Will try out the suggested programs to check my computer!

    • timtalkstech profile image
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      timtalkstech 4 years ago

      John, you're welcome and I hope everything goes well with your computer.

    • profile image

      Alucard 4 years ago

      Once i was extracting .rar files. I got always crc errors. i suspected that the HDD was bad. Blue screens of death from time to time even though I formated my pc RLY dozens of times. Turned out to be a defect RAM that caused the problem. Errors in a nVidia firewall process because of the RAM made it die and throwing around with bsod.

    • timtalkstech profile image
      Author

      timtalkstech 4 years ago

      Alucard, thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate your comment. From my own experience as well, defective RAM errors like compression errors and blue screens of death really do make you suspect the hard drive has bad sectors or there's malware. You took all the steps I took as well until I finally gave MemTest86+ a try.

    • khmohsin profile image

      khmohsin 3 years ago from London,UK

      Great Hub Thanks for sharing this unique information to us great work keep it up.

    • profile image

      Sagar nandwani 3 years ago

      Linux is a very complicated operating system, at least it is to me. I personally find software related errors are much of a headache than the ones caused by hardware. Basically, if there’s anything unusual happened to my computer, I’ll just send it to the repair shop and let the experts have it fixed.

    • timtalkstech profile image
      Author

      timtalkstech 3 years ago

      @khmohsin - Thank you for your feedback

    • timtalkstech profile image
      Author

      timtalkstech 3 years ago

      @Sagar nandwani - Thank you for your comment. Sometimes, it is easier to have someone else fix your computer for you.

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