Troubleshooting PC problems is sometimes more a matter of luck than skill

I recently visited a friend who told me he had an issue with his laptop camera not working in Zoom.

He could attend his book club meetings, but he couldn’t show his face (which he thought might not be such a bad thing).

To troubleshoot, we set up a quick Zoom meeting between his laptop and my iPhone.

Sure enough, he could see my face, but I couldn’t see his.

His computer was a Windows 10 laptop.

I started digging around in the Zoom app. In the meeting window, there is a small camera icon that you click to turn the camera on or off. When I clicked to turn on the camera, Zoom complained that there was no camera available.

My next stop was to look in Windows Device Manager to see if a camera was listed among the connected devices, and sure enough, there was a camera listed.

I tried updating the camera driver, but that didn’t help.

Then I removed the camera from Device Manager and had the computer scan for hardware changes. Rescan found the camera and added the driver.

When the camera driver reloaded, I noticed a pop-up in the lower right corner of the screen warning that my friend’s Norton Antivirus software was preventing Zoom from using the camera.

Bingo. We found our culprit.

I clicked on a “details” link in the Norton pop-up message, and a window appeared listing the latest instances of the computer trying to use the camera. Norton blocked everyone.

There was a place in the window where you could allow Zoom to use the camera. We did, and my friend was happy.

We don’t use any third-party antivirus suites like McAfee or Norton on any of our PCs at the university where I work.

I tend to steer clear of any kind of “gatekeeper” software that isn’t built into the Windows OS. It does its best to protect you from outside problems, but it can cause other problems that may be difficult to detect.

Software like Norton Antivirus used to be the way to go, but I haven’t used any since Microsoft got serious about improving Windows Defender.

He said he might consider doing the same with his PC.

My friend’s experience is a perfect example of how security suite products can cause problems by limiting device functionality. If this happens to you, paying attention to these popups might help.

A pop-up telling us that the camera was stuck made my troubleshooting easier.

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