How to troubleshoot your computer peripherals

No matter how well you take care of your computer, something will eventually go wrong. And the problem won’t always be the machine itself, but maybe something you’ve plugged into it.

Peripherals (mice, keyboards, gamepads, webcams, and printers) can sometimes be annoying – they may stop working or cause problems with the hardware and software on your computer.

But before you make a (potentially expensive) call to a tech support expert, try to fix your gadget problem yourself. There are certain steps that can be helpful in all scenarios and that can get your hardware working properly again.

Do some tests

Before you fix a technical problem, you need to know exactly where the problem lies. The best way to do this is to test your peripheral in another computer. Don’t skip this step—even if it means going to a friend’s or relative’s house to use their device. When your peripheral works, you know the problem is with your device rather than the gadget.

[Related: Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2022]

Follow a similar approach for anything connected to Wi-Fi, like a printer. Before you start pulling apart the peripheral, make sure your wireless network is still operational. A good way to do this is to connect any other device like a tablet or smartphone to your home WiFi and see if you can still get online.

Knowing more about the problem doesn’t necessarily change your approach to solving it—but it might. For example, if a keyboard works on your laptop but not on your desktop computer, you should first check the settings and software on your desktop before looking at the keyboard itself.

Check the system settings

If your peripherals are working or were working fine on other computers and you suddenly encountered errors, continue by checking the appropriate settings in Windows or macOS. This will help you determine if your computer is properly recognizing the peripheral and ensure it’s set up the way you want it.

In Windows go to Bluetooth & Devices from the settings where you will find options to configure the Mousethe touchpad, and other devices. We can’t cover all the options in detail here, but we’ll use the ever-problematic printer as an example. click Printers & Scanners and select a device: You can then either click on Print test page to check the connection or Run the troubleshooter to run through a series of key checks on the device.

On macOS, you can find similar options by opening the Apple menu, select system settings, and navigate to the screen relevant to your peripheral. Let’s say you’re having trouble with a connected Bluetooth keyboard – click keyboard to make sure your computer knows it’s connected and to check key configuration (including key repeat speeds). You might not always find a solution here, but it’s worth checking out.

Download new drivers

Drivers are small pieces of software that can have a huge impact on how your peripherals interact with your machine. They are basically the bridge between the external device and your computer system, making sure that both are communicating properly and getting the information exchange they need.

Most of the time, driver installation and updating happens behind the scenes, so you don’t have to worry about it—just plug in a new webcam, for example, and it works. But sometimes things go wrong, and installing or reinstalling drivers can get everything working properly again.

First, visit your peripheral manufacturer’s official website to find the latest drivers for your device – you’ll most likely find what you’re looking for on a software or support page. Going back to the previous example, if you have a Logitech webcam connected to your computer, you can find the appropriate software on the support page. Just download the file, open it and follow the instructions.

Disconnect everything else

In an ideal world, all peripherals would get along just fine, but conflicts do arise. Sometimes, for whatever reason, installing a new device causes problems for an existing one and both can end up not working properly. If you recently made a hardware change to your computer and something stops working, the device you last bought may be the culprit.

Finding out what exactly is causing the problem requires some detective work. Try shutting down your computer and unplugging anything attached to it. Turn the computer back on and reconnect the problematic peripheral. If it seems to be fixed, it might be having problems with another peripheral somewhere on the line.

Reconnect your other devices one at a time to see if you can spot where the conflict is occurring. If the problem persists, try downloading the latest drivers for each device and contact the manufacturer for assistance.

If the problem persists and the hardware manufacturers haven’t provided a solution yet, you may not be able to use these two peripherals together.

Reinstall the device

Turning a gadget off and on again is something of a tech-troubleshooting cliché, but only because it’s pretty effective. Likewise, uninstalling a device from your system and then reinstalling it from scratch can often resolve issues, reset errors, and erase any data that may have been corrupted or misplaced.

[Related: Best wireless mice in 2022]

For some peripherals, such as a wired mouse, all you have to do is unplug it and plug it back in. Others, like webcams and printers, you need to properly uninstall them from your system. On Windows go to Bluetooth & Devices then Devices of attitudes; On macOS, open system settings of the Apple menu, and then click the type of peripheral device you want to remove.

You may also need to uninstall an associated software (or two) as well as the device before reconnecting it. Choose in the Windows settings applications and Apps & Featuresthen click on the three dots next to a program and Uninstall to remove it. If you’re on macOS, go to applications in the Finder and drag an application down onto the Trash icon in the Dock to remove it. After that, restart your computer before reinstalling the peripheral device.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *