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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Keyboards ]

One or more of the keys on my keyboard is sticking, bouncing, repeating, or not generating a keystroke reliably

Explanation: You have one or more keys on your keyboard that are "misbehaving". Sometimes on older keyboards and/or ones that have gotten a lot of use, keys may stick when you press them down (and refuse to pop back up), or they may cause bouncing or repeating (more than one character showing up after pressing a key only once). Sometimes a key may not generate a keystroke the first time it is pressed and may have to be pressed down hard in order to recognize.

Diagnosis: These problems are usually caused by dirt and debris within the keyboard, and can usually be fixed. On very old keyboards these symptoms can just generally be a sign of wearout of the internal mechanisms. There is also a possibility that the keyboard is just not comfortable for the way you type (if it is new and you are not used to it) so you might end up causing missed or bounced keys just on the basis of how you are typing.

Recommendation:

  • If the problem is keys repeating, and this happens on many different keys on the keyboard, then this may not be a physical problem but rather the "typematic" setting. This is a feature that causes a keystroke to repeat automatically when you hold the key down (and is actually very useful, for example for scrolling up and down a document). Check in your BIOS for a setting to control the typematic delay, which is the amount of time a key must be held down before it starts repeating, and increase it if you are finding the key repeating too quickly. Instead of in the BIOS, you may actually find a switch or key on the keyboard itself that controls this.
  • Clean the keyboard. If you are only having a problem with one key, you may want to try first just cleaning around that key cap. Of course once you open up the keyboard (if you do) you might as well clean the entire inside of the keyboard. Be careful about what you open; some keyboards cannot be reassembled once opened beyond a certain point!
  • Try a different keyboard if you are having trouble with keys being recognized, or if cleaning the keyboard doesn't help. Every keyboard has a different feel, and you may just find another one more comfortable, which can eliminate some problems that are caused by simple ergonomic factors. Keyboards are not expensive.

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