How To Differentiate Between A Hardware And Software Problem On Windows 10 [Guide]

When software on your system acts up, it can take all day to fix. If the software problem happens to coincide with a hardware problem then it gets more complicated. Before you can troubleshoot the source of the problem you have to figure out if it’s a software or hardware problem. If it’s the hardware, you need to either go in for a fix, or buy something new. If it’s software then you have a long day, or week ahead of you trying to isolate and fix it. If you’re not sure the problem is with the hardware or the software, you need to figure it out first. There are two ways to do that.

These solutions apply to problems that appear to be a combo of the hardware and software. For example, if you’re suddenly typing in all caps, and no amount of toggling the caps lock key will turn it off, your keyboard might be broken or your driver might be acting up, or you might have an app that’s captured the caps lock key.

Different System

This is the most obvious method to differentiate between a hardware and software problem but it requires you have access to another, fully functioning system. Not many people do however, if you happen to have an extra Windows 10 PC, connect your hardware to it and see if the problem can be reproduced. If it can, then it’s likely something wrong with the hardware.

Safe Mode

If you don’t have another system available on hand, you can check if it’s a software problem and rule it out. To check if a problem is software related, run Windows 10 in safe mode.

In safe mode, everything and anything that can possibly cause a software problem is disabled. If you have an application or a game that might have captured a key on your keyboard, it will not be able to take control of it in safe mode.

To boot Windows 10 in safe mode, open the Start menu, and click the power button. Hold down the Shift key and select Restart.

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When you restart you system by holding down the Shift key, you enter troubleshooting mode. In trouble shooting mode, click Troubleshoot>Advanced Options>See more recovery options>Startup Settings. Click the Restart button, and then tap the 4 key to enter safe mode.

If the problem goes away in Safe mode, then it’s likely a software problem. If it doesn’t, it’s likely a hardware problem. There will be some exceptions to this but this is a quick way to check.

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