Basic software troubleshooting

Updated: 02/04/2024 by Computer Hope
Troubleshooting software issues

If you are trying to install or run software on your computer and running into errors or other issues, review the general troubleshooting steps below.

Unable to install a program

  1. If you're installing the program from a media, verify the diskettes or CD are readable by reading the files on the drive. For example, Microsoft Windows users can explore the drive in Windows Explorer. If the CD attempts to AutoPlay, you may need to right-click the drive and click Explore to browse the drive.

If your computer is having problems reading a CD, see: Why do I receive an error when a CD is put in a computer?

  1. If the CD reads fine with no errors, verify your computer meets the minimum system requirements of the program. If your computer doesn't have enough disk drive space or does not meet the requirements, the program will not install.
  2. Make sure the program or utility you're installing is compatible with the installed computer operating system. For example, many older utilities (e.g., virus protection programs) may only work with a specific version of Microsoft Windows.
  3. If you are getting stopped at the CD key or product key verification, verify you are entering your correct number. If you lost your number or key or it does not work, you need to contact the program developer. Computer Hope will not provide any users with an alternate identification number.

Error during installation

  1. Verify your computer meets the system requirements of the program or utility. For example, if your computer runs out of disk space during the installation, this would cause an error during the installation.
  2. If the error message is not generic, try searching for the error message.
  3. If you're running Microsoft Windows 95 or higher, try installing the program from Safe Mode.
  4. If installing from a CD, ensure it's clean and contains no significant scratches. See our page on how to clean a CD and a CD-ROM for more information.

The program or utility does not load or has an error when it attempts to load

  1. Verify the program or utility documentation or website does not mention the error. Often, the error and explanation of how to resolve the error are already documented.
  2. Verify no patches or updates are available from the program developer. Sometimes, the program may require an update before it can be successfully run on your computer.
  3. Ensure all other programs are closed when running the program or utility. If the program successfully runs after closing all other programs, the program may have conflicts with other programs.
  4. Reboot the computer at least once after the program is installed. Some programs require the computer to be restarted after installation to work properly.
  5. Verify your computer has the correct date. Sometimes, a program may rely on the date, and if that date is incorrectly set, it may cause issues.
  1. If following the above recommendations does not resolve your issues, reinstall the program or utility.


Sometimes, your software issue may be related to your operating system. We recommend you see our guide to basic troubleshooting and run through all the steps that apply to your specific operating system.

If you're still encountering errors, we recommend you search Computer Hope and review our online help and Questions and Answers (Q&A) pages. If you still can't find a resolution, feel free to message the Computer Hope staff.