The motherboard is the central connector for everything in your computer. Without, your computer is a hunk of useless pieces.
Replacing a dead motherboard can also be an expensive endeavor.
How do you know for sure if your motherboard has a problem? How can you fix it?
There are several steps and signs you can look for below.
How to Avoid a Dead Motherboard
No piece of technology lasts forever, but a lot of pieces can last longer than you may expect with the right care.
The biggest tool at your disposal is vigilance. Keep an eye on all of your hardware for common signs that something may be wrong.
If you can catch a problem before it gets severe, there may even be a chance to save everything.
Symptoms of Failure
While not every hardware problem shows symptoms before the worst happens, most have clear signs.
If you see any of these, it might be time to intervene.
1. Physical Damage
You should never poke or prod a motherboard while the computer is running.
That said, once the computer is off, a clear and easy sign that there might be damage to the motherboard is to look at it.
Physical damage, such as burnt transistors or chipped circuits, can cause catastrophic failure of the motherboard. Even superficial damages can turn into major problems if left alone to splinter and grow.
Major signs of damage can come up while the computer is running. The smell of burning is a major warning sign.
2. Freezes or Glitches
One of the more annoying symptoms is the variety of freezes and glitches. Your computer may run fine one moment. In a flash, nothing reacts at all and you’re left staring at a frozen screen.
This shows most in how things load. If a program doesn’t load or glitches while running, there is a decent chance it may be a hardware problem.
Not all freezes and glitches link back to the motherboard. The most important sign is when freezes and glitches are consistent and frequent. The more frequent they become, the closer a motherboard may be to death.
3. The Blue Screen of Death
The infamous Blue Screen of Death is something no tech expert wants to see.
For those who are unaware, the Blue Screen of Death is a hard system failure. This means that the entire operating system cannot operate at a safe level anymore.
This sign is usually a death knell for something within your computer. It isn’t an absolute sign of death, but it is near close to it.
4. Slowing Down
Another more annoying symptom is a simple case of sluggishness.
It may be that programs are loading at a slower rate, or that your typing and keystrokes aren’t recognized as fast as they used to.
Either way, signs of slowing down is a pretty easy pattern to recognize. This does not mean that your hardware is in direct risk, but it does mean that your computer is in rough shape.
5. Not Recognizing Hardware
This particular problem can be a bit non-sensical.
It can start with a flash drive not being readable. Other plugins, like your computer mouse, may not get recognized.
These may all be the fault of the hardware in question. They also can be a symptom that the centerpiece of your computer, the motherboard, is in danger.
Causes of a Potential Failure
Those are some of the more common problem signs. Why do they happen?
A computer is far from indestructible. Some of the smallest things can send a computer haywire.
Computers do not like heat. They generate a good deal on their own. If that heat isn’t vented, or if more heat is being added on, then it can spell doom for more than the motherboard.
Computers packed into cramped areas with little ventilation do not last long. Well-maintained fans inside the computer are also vital to the computer’s lifespan.
Dust and overheating go hand and hand. Dust will accumulate on computers. The electrical charge of the electronics can pull dust in.
Dust is a natural insulator. It will not only bring more heat to your computer, but it also can disrupt electrical currents on your motherboard.
3. Smacked Around
Computers are far from indestructible. Every time they get banged or battered, you threaten very serious damage to the internal hardware.
This can come from a computer tower getting kicked because it is in an inconvenient walking area. Dropping a computer is a major hazard, though that applies to laptops more than computer towers.
No matter the source, any physical shock to a computer, especially while running, can be fatal.
4. Old Age
Computers are also not immortal.
All moving parts age and wear with time and use. While many computer parts are not heavy on the mechanical side, they do wear down with time.
Fan motors are the most common victim of this, which leads to overheating and then motherboard death.
5. Power Surges
Computers do not pair well with inconsistent power.
When a power surge happens, a computer could immediately fry in an instant. Surge protectors can prevent this.
If the power socket does not deliver a constant source of electricity, your computer may be in serious trouble.
What to do When the Worst Happens
So you know the symptoms, you know the causes, what happens when you find out your motherboard is on its last legs?
Outside of fixing some of the causes, such as cleaning dust or getting a surge protector, saving a motherboard will require a professional touch.
The basic steps to finding a fixable solution go like this. First, they must discover the exact point of damage. No sense in replacing a part that still works.
If the damaged part in question is the motherboard, you may be able to salvage the other pieces. If it is instead something like the hard drive, you will need to look into file recovery.
For All Your Worst Tech Problems
Dealing with a dead motherboard or any other computer damage can be a stressful time. Even if everything gets fixed, it is never a happy process.