The labor of self-educating

The reality of being a PC gamer, is that, over time, you end up learning a lot about various aspects of computer care – frequently the hard way. Whether it’s learning that you absolutely should back up everything before tinkering with a registry, or maybe you shouldn’t listen to that tech service guy who tells you to remove the quarter-sized back-up battery to reset your bios, there are so many aspects that go into maintaining and keeping a computer running smooth and ensuring a quality persistent gaming rig, without having to replace it every two years. My goal, as it relates to PC gaming and spending, is to try to only replace a tower after it’s seen three years of use at the earliest. If I can push it to longer than that, then I feel like I did a good job.

So, in the past when I’ve had PC issues, I’ve done everything I could to fix the problem on my own. Whether I do so by scouring the internet for solutions, talking to tech support, friends, or reading a manual/guide/book on the topic, I do everything within my power to stop the creep of tower-turnover. Part of that past research and experience has been the realization of inevitable hardware failure. RAM will go bad eventually. Power supplies are not infinite. And so on, and so on. Replacing parts, usually an upgrade if done long enough after initial purchase, can be a great, and cheaper method of extending the longevity of your desktop. I was able to push the life of my old desktop to near to four years, and I have a friend who is still using it to this day to play WoW on.

My current PC is 2 and a half years old, having bought it just after WAR released. I didn’t build my own, not feeling confident enough at the time to do so, and just purchased an HP desktop. I’ve been surprisingly happy with it, and have not had any real problems with it until recently, and even then, it’s not the gaming potential that is an issue – its internet connectivity. I’ve had problems with remaining connected to the internet since I switched to DSL about a year ago, but the problem has really intensified since the start of the new year. So, I went through the process of finding out everything I could, doing everything I could to fix the problem. The issue is, that there are so many possible issues, that I can only do so much to correct it. Eventually, I had a technician come out, who had to run a new line out dedicated to our DSL.

The result is that my all wireless network is rock steady, however my computer still fails to maintain its connection. This coincides with a crazy loud fan spinning somewhere in my tower. I’ve reset my network adapter, restart my modem/router/PC, triple checked my network settings, run diagnostics on my RAM, and done everything in my know-how to fix the problem. My next course of action is to start replacing hardware. From the way it sounds, I’ve got a fan going ape-shit in there, and a sinking suspicion it’s my power supply. I’m not sure if a failing supply could cause network interruptions, but the way I think of it, if power is intermittent, it causes problems EVERYWHERE. So now I need to become an expert on power supplies and make sure I can actually self-install one.

But first, the backing-up begins. Pictures, and videos, and music. Oh my!

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

19 Responses to The labor of self-educating

  1. Rikker says:

    Nah, should be no problem. If you’re upgrading the Power Supply (I’m not convinced that’s actually your problem, but at least it can’t hurt), it’s pretty much “plug and play”.

    All the cables are labeled, the install/uninstall process is generally simple… just open up the case and take a look.

    • Shadow says:

      There’s definitely a fan issue somewhere, because the darn thing has been louder than ever the last few weeks, and it seems to be coming from there top to middle of the unit, where I think my PSU is located. What else do you think it may be? Other than my PSU, I’m thinking my network adapter may be on the fritz, which would be a cheaper fix I think.

      Either way, when I get home tonight, I’m finishing some backing up, and then opening the case to see what may be going on.

      • Rikker says:

        How long has it been since you’ve blown/vacuumed out your case? Could just be simple overheating-fan-hyperactivity. If it’s dusty in there, I’d definitely just try cleaning it out first.

        Your network adapter is *probably* built in to your motherboard, so if that’s the issue, then you have whole new issues ;P.

        You could also look at your modem/router. One or the other could be the culprit.

        • skarbd says:

          1. Clear the dust from the fans.
          2. Replace the cable from the DSL to the PC, just incase.
          4. If you go for a power supply, then buy a bloody good one. The starting point of any good pc is the power supply. For me it’s one of the most expensive items I buy. Last one was about £150. Which I expect to take forward for a couple of machines and will become the back PSU, when I feel the need to replace it.

          • Shadow says:

            Everything’s wireless, including my desktop.

            I’ll follow your guys advice on cleaning it out as well, as it’s been a while since I did that last, easily a year.

            I know for sure the modem/router is fine, because I’m able to quickly hope between websites on my wife’s laptop while having issues with my desktop. So the problem is most definitely on my PC’s end.

            • skarbd says:

              Eeek, your gaming PC is wireless to the router !!!

              Is your wireless router in the same room as your PC?

              Regardless, get a long network cable and run it to the router and see if it the wireless connection that’s the problem.

              • Shadow says:

                There is ONE phone jack in the entire house. It’s in the kitchen. If I could put the cable through walls, it would be about 60′ away, but having to turn corners, I’m looking at an 80′ long cable. So that’s not going to happen.

                Something’s definitely wrong on my desktop. As I can have my wife’s laptop sitting next to my PC, popping along just fine, while my wife downloads maps for Little Big Planet on our PS3 in the bedroom (further away).

                If it’s a connection issue, it has to either be in the settings on my desktop or in the hardware.

            • Pre says:

              “Everything’s wireless, including my desktop.”
              There’s the problem. Even if the router is in the same room you won’t get adequate connectivity for internet gaming. Interference is inevitable, and it only gets worse as time goes on and more gadgets try to use the same slice of the spectrum.

              I had the same problem when I switched ISPs; due to where the new modem had to go I had to run a 30′ cable from the living room into my office anytime I wanted to game (wireless was still adequate for surfing). After a couple weeks of my wife complaining I bought a cable long enough to conceal. If you have to run the cable through a couple of rooms get enough length to hug the walls and tuck it under your baseboards if you have carpet. I ran my cable across a doorway under the carpet. Not noticeable unless you know it’s there. If you don’t have carpet then you might have to get more creative, or move the modem.

              If you have to go through a wall there are outlet covers you can get that have CAT-5/6 connectors, so it doesn’t have to look too terrible.

              On the plus side: the long cable will be the cheapest hardware fix you can hope for. 🙂

              • Pre says:

                Just saw your reply above. If you have carpet throughout then 80′ is easy. 100′ cables are not expensive.

                FWIW: the phone company charges a nominal fee to install a second jack.

              • Shadow says:

                I’m not sold on the “It’s wireless so that’s the problem”. The new(ish) 802.11n tech in routers can allow for incredibly fast speeds from a wireless signal. How is it a problem for my PC, but not for my PS3 when playing BFBC2? Beyond just the gaming problem, I get the same interuptions when trying to download on my PC, but watching movies via NetFlix on the PS3 works just fine.

                If I was to run a cord, it would have to start in the kitchen (no carpet), and then would have to hug a lot of walls, and cross a hallway to get to my PC. I’d be better off pushing it back up through the ceiling, and over the rooms. But I also don’t want a chord running up my wall in the middle of the kitchen. 100′ of the twisted shield cat5 on monoprice is about $14 US. Cheap for sure, but I’m not convinced it’s the best resoltuion yet. If I can spend $30 US and get a new internal adapter and not run chords all through my house, I’d happily do that as an alternative.

  2. chris says:

    I say use it at an excuse to purchase a new gaming computer. On a side note I have the Sling box to send internet through my power lines to my blue ray player, its 80 bucks and works great.

    • Shadow says:

      New gaming computer won’t be happening for another 6 months at the closest, and other than the internet connection, everything seems to move along just fine. Getting one this soon is not a wise option.

  3. skarbd says:

    Okay 80 foot is not far. I have a 30 metre cable wrapped up for situations like this. Remember it’s for testing, not permanent.

    You also know I assume that you can buy external cat 6. You effectively use the outside of the house to run the cable around. You drill a whole through the wall next to a power socket near the phone socket. You fit a network face place there and at the other end. Network sorted.

    • Shadow says:

      I did not know that about the cat6. But I got a long as cable I borrowed from the IT guy at the office here to test out, and I’m going to pick up some pressurized air on my way home for fan dusting.

      Will be back tommorrow with results!

  4. Rikker says:

    Nah, not convinced it’s the fact that you’re wireless either. Unless it’s the wireless card on your PC, perhaps, which could easily be an issue with the newer router?

    • Shadow says:

      Last night, I air-dusted out my box, and the loud noises and the connectivity problems were no longer there, and all fans were quiet again. Temporary solution I’m sure, but I’m not going to take any further actions until the problems return.

      That said, I’m fairly solid on the functioning of my router, and that whatever problem may be there, resides within my computer, and probably my wireless adapter in my PC.

  5. Pingback: Not so rock steady « Shadow-war

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