Want To Know If Your PC Has a Software or Hardware Issue? Check This?

Having computer issues can be seriously frustrating. Whether specific programs crash unexpectedly, nothing opens when you click on them, or you're experiencing strange glitches and bugs, performance problems with your devices can ruin your day.

But before you get too stressed, it's important to first figure out whether the issue is a hardware or software problem. This will allow you to troubleshoot the specifics better and work towards a solution.

How Do You Know If It's a Hardware or Software Issue?

Knowing if your PC has a hardware or software problem depends mainly on the issues you're facing and the component of your system it's affecting.

Hardware is the physical component of your PC. And what are these physical components? We're talking about the motherboard, CPU, RAM, hard drive, etc.

According to ACDi, hardware issues typically crop up randomly, persist across operating systems, and prevent your computer from turning on or responding. For example, if you press the power button and nothing happens, that points to a hardware problem. And in case you're wondering why I'm referencing ACDi, it's because ACDi is a PCB manufacturer, so they pretty much know about system hardware and how it works.

On the other hand, software refers to the programs, apps, and operating systems on your PC. Problems here usually appear while using specific apps and can often be resolved with updates, re-installations, or restarts. For instance, an error message when opening Microsoft Word indicates a software problem.

Signs of a Hardware Issue

The type of hardware issue your PC has may differ, but here are some common indicators that your PC is having a hardware problem:

  • The computer won't turn on at all, even when the outlets and cables work fine

  • The screen stays black when you power on

  • PC frequently shut off randomly without warning

  • You observe strange noises like squealing or grinding

  • Peripherals like keyboard or mouse aren't responsive

While these are "best guesses," if you notice any of these signs and are sure you don't know how to fix the issue, visit a PC repair shop and have them check and fix it for you.

Signs of a Software Issue

Meanwhile, here are some common signs you may be dealing with a software problem:

  • Specific programs/apps freeze or crash unexpectedly

  • Pop-up error messages when using specific software

  • Glitchy graphics and visual corruption in games and videos

  • The system is running very slowly, despite restarts

Suppose these are the signs you're seeing. In that case, the problem may be due to malware or viruses, buggy OS or driver updates, bloated apps hogging resources, too many programs running simultaneously, full storage, or corrupted application files.

After identifying whether the issue lies in the software or hardware category (if it's in the software), your next step is to visit YouTube and see if there's any video guide to help you resolve your specific issue.

If you find the process complicated and stressful, it is better to take the PC to a repair shop and have them fix your software issue for you.

Common Causes of These Issues

While software and hardware issues can make your PC unusable, just as I've explained earlier, they don't come from the same cause.

Any hardware problem affecting your PC may have emanated from:

  • General wear and tear over time leading to key components failing

  • Power surges frying sensitive electronics

  • Dust/debris buildup causing parts to overheat

  • Physical damage from drops or accidents

Whereas software issues typically come from:

  • Buggy app updates and OS patches introducing new bugs

  • Resource contention from too many resource-intensive programs running at once

  • Viruses, malware, and ransomware corrupting critical system files

  • Conflicts between old and new software versions

  • Hard drive errors in core system locations

So, issues that randomly and spontaneously affect the physical components of your PC are hardware issues, while problems linked to running certain apps or updates signify software issues.

What to Do When You Detect an Issue?

If you suspect your PC is having a hardware problem:

  • Check all connections and cables to ensure everything is plugged in correctly

  • Try replacing parts like RAM or the graphics card to see if it resolves the issue

  • Visit a repair shop to scan for issues like dust buildup causing overheating

  • Back up critical data in case you need repairs

For possible software issues, reasonable first steps include:

  • Update or reinstall problematic applications

  • Rollback recent OS updates temporarily

  • Run antivirus scans to catch malware

  • Free up storage space on your boot drive

  • Create a separate limited-user account to test whether issues persist

How to Prevent a Hardware or Software Issue on Your PC?

After fixing the issue (whatever it may be), if you want to protect your PC from further issues and problems, then you have to:

  • Maintain a clean internal component with regular dust removal

  • Only download software from trusted sources

  • Practice safe browsing to minimize malware risks

  • Schedule regular system backups so you never lose important data

  • Monitor CPU, memory, and disk usage for signs of resource contention, etc.

Doing all these things should be able to protect your PC from developing the same fault again. Although it's not easy to predict what the next issue on your system may be, just try as much as possible to be proactive with your "maintenance culture." Treat your PC like it's a pet, and you'll hardly find it malfunctioning unexpectedly.

  • Mick Jone
  • Category: How-to
  • Last Update: 3 weeks ago