How to Tell if a Computer Problem is a Hardware or Software Issue

4 min read
Updated: Mar 26, 2020

So, you are in the middle of an important task, and suddenly your computer starts acting funny. You tried to reinstall a software, pulled out and plugged in the cable, but still, it doesn’t work the way it is expected to do. Sounds familiar? Well, a computer problem can happen to any computer at any time. And it won’t give you a notice before its arrival, most of the time! 

Before you can do anything about it, you need to figure out if it is a hardware or software issue. The below pointers will help you identify if your computer is having a hardware issue or a software issue or both.

Common Hardware Computer Issues

One of the most common of the hardware issues side is a slow device. This happens especially when there is not enough RAM, the hard drive is fragmented, or you are using an old CPU. If your computer gets auto restarted frequently, then you can assume that the problem is with the graphic card, card drivers, or motherboard. There could be issues with the network too. 

Other symptoms of common hardware issues include: 

  • PC shutting down suddenly, 
  • The blank Blue Screen of Death,
  • A jumbled computer screen, which can be due to graphical errors, 
  • Unusual noises from the PC, etc., and
  • Corrupt files or long delays in assessing files.

You can also experience slow internet at times, which may be related to hard disk failing, which is a hardware issue. If the app command is not working, then it could be a hardware issue if you’re experiencing it for multiple apps.

Common Software Computer Issues

Like hardware issues, a computer can experience different software issues as well. For example:

  • Too many apps that run at start-up can make a computer slow,
  • A computer that is often freezing,
  • Malware infection with pop-up ads, 
  • Attachments not opening
  • An operating system update that fails to update or causes issues when it does. 
    • When an update fails to install, you will see an error message on your screen. If you read the error message, you will know the exact reason. For example, if an application is causing a problem, you can uninstall the program, or check if you have the latest version updated.

Common Computer Issues that Could be Both

Sometimes the distinction isn’t so simple and the problem could be a result of either the software or the hardware. 

For example, a computer can become slow either for hardware or a software problem. Too many apps running during start-up, a malware attack, or a build-up of cache files in temporary memory can make the computer slow (software problem) while an insufficient RAM (hardware problem) can also turn a computer slow. 

Similarly, the blue screen problem can happen due to issues with the graphics card (hardware problem) or due to a malware attack (software problem). 

Then there could be problems related to the peripherals like mouse not working, printers not responding, or keyboard not working properly. All these could be due to driver issues, which are a software problem or port issues, peripheral issues—all being hardware issues. 

Computer restarting is another common issue that can be due to both software and hardware issues. If you are experiencing your computer restarting, then it can be either due to motherboard or network drivers’ issue (hardware) or problem with adware, virus, malware, OS update problem, etc. which are all hardware problems. 

Another common problem is app command not working properly, which could be due to hardware—you know it when you experience it for more than one app. But if you see the problem happening for only one app, it could be a software issue.

How to Solve the Issue

A computer is a machine, and just like any other machine, they may show different issues. If you know how to identify a hardware or software problem, you can usually fix them yourself. But, if you are not sure or if they become more of a headache than you’re willing to deal with, then you can always take the help of local services. For that, you can look up for local services by using the keyword “computer repair near meonline. A local repair service can help you pinpoint the exact cause of the problem and offer solutions accordingly. 

Computer problems are common if you use it regularly for your work. Knowing how to diagnose the issues and getting help to fix it will save you from last-minute panics! 


Sophia Rodreguaze


Sophia is the contributing editor at She writes about anything and everything related to technology.

More from Noeticforce
Join noeticforce

Create your free account to customize your reading & writing experience

Ⓒ 2021 noeticforce — All rights reserved