Every gamer has been there. That heart-stopping, terrifying moment when you receive a nebulous, nondescript error message and your console or PC either shuts down or crashes. It’s a true moment of reflection and dread, because you just don’t know what could be wrong, but you know that you’re going to have to fix the issue yourself, especially if your hardware is out of warranty. The most important thing to do is not to panic – we’re here to help you. Here are some of the steps you should take when your PC or console stops working for whatever reason.
Clean it thoroughly
The first and most important step is to make sure your console is completely and thoroughly cleaned. The same goes for PCs; dust and dirt build-up causes more problems than you might think. What’s more, your consoles, PC, and peripherals are breeding grounds for bacteria, so it’s worth cleaning them anyway. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at this.
Whether you’re a PlayStation owner or an Xbox fanatic, this excellent Betway infographic demonstrates that you can’t rest on your laurels when it comes to console cleanliness. Cleaning your console is the first step to potentially getting it working again!
Check your warranty
If your console or PC is within warranty, then it’s definitely not worth trying to open it up and fix it yourself. The best and most important thing to do when your console stops working is to call the shop from which you bought it and ask them what the next steps should be. In some cases, they’ll replace the unit for you without asking any questions, while in others you may need to get in touch directly with the manufacturer. Different shops have different policies in this regard, so make sure you know what your approach is going to be.
Diagnose the problem
Before you can do anything about the problem when your hardware stops working, you need to know what’s causing it. There are a number of very common gaming console issues, one of which may be the problem with your console. These include sudden shutdowns, games freezing, disc drives not reading media, and more. Pinpoint exactly what is going wrong with your console or your PC, and it’ll be much, much easier to fix the problem yourself if you need to. Of course, if it’s serious enough, we still recommend sending it back to the manufacturer.
Perform a soft reset
We know the old “have you tried turning it off and on again” gambit is a cliche by now, but it really can fix a lot of problems. Sometimes, the software just glitches out or encounters a random error during operation, and performing a reset can fix that by resetting all software processes to their original states. This works with games, too; all too often, freezes occur because a game’s code glitches out, but you can fix this error with a reset. Always try to do this before you move on to anything more drastic, because you don’t want to realise you didn’t need to go that far.
Perform a hard reset
If a soft reset fails, then the only option left to you is a hard reset. This means a full return to factory settings for whatever piece of hardware you’re using. There are various ways and means to do this depending on which console you’re on (or whether you’re using a PC), so make sure you follow the appropriate hard reset steps for your machine. This may take several hours, so don’t start the process when you’ve got something more time-consuming to take care of. A hard reset may not fix your problem, but it has a better chance of doing so than a soft reset.
On PC? Check individual components
Diagnosing a gaming PC is much more difficult than doing the same for a gaming console, because they’re not all made equal. With that in mind, there are different steps to undertake if you’re trying to figure out what’s gone wrong with your PC. The Windows troubleshooting tool can feel kind of useless, but it’s still worth running it just in case it does fix your issue. Otherwise, check your GPU drivers, check the temperature of your PC and your graphics card, and make sure your power supply is OK. All of these are common culprits when it comes to gaming PC issues.
Swap out your console hard drive or storage method
All three major consoles currently support external hard drives, and a couple of them also allow you to swap out internal storage to a certain extent. It’s worth making sure this isn’t what’s causing the problem before you proceed. Try swapping your PS4 hard drive, for example, with a fresh drive if you can, and see if that solves the issue. Similarly, if your Switch starts acting up, it’s a good idea to swap out any external storage cards you’re using, disconnect peripherals, and try to operate the console as close to factory as possible.
Look for technical help
If all of the above fail you, then you’ll have to go looking for external technical help. It’s generally not a good idea to start poking around inside your console or PC’s innards unless you’re confident you know what you’ll find there. If you’re an expert in building custom PCs or you know how the PS4 works – or you can follow an online tutorial and don’t mind voiding your warranty – then go for it. Otherwise, you should find a reputable repair outlet – especially if that’s the manufacturer itself – and send your machine off to be repaired. It’s better that than botching a repair yourself (as we all have), right?