PC problems? Troubleshoot them in 10 steps

PC problems? Troubleshoot them in 10 steps

Summary: Being methodical when you troubleshoot PC issues can save time and frustration — and it also gets users back to work more quickly, says Jack Wallen


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  • Is it hardware or software?

    3. Is it hardware or software?
    If an end user complains about an issue such as a slow PC, one of the first things I check is the hardware. Is there enough RAM? Is there enough free space on the C drive? And if the problem is network related, are the lights on the network card blinking, on, or dark?

    If these areas don't yield an answer, don't immediately assume the issue is software related — there could be hard-drive issues. But before you delve deeper into the hardware, now is a good time to do some software checks. If nothing becomes apparent once you've investigated the software, come back to the hardware and do a drive-test or defrag.

    Image credit: Don Fulano/Flickr

  • Deal with networking trauma

    4. Diagnose printing woes
    Printers can be tricky. But there are ways of simplifying this troubleshooting job. First, find out what type of printer you're dealing with. If the printer is networked, ensure the network is actually up. If it is, ask whether other machines can print to the printer in question. If they can, check whether any jobs are stuck in the machine's printer queue.

    If you open the Printers And Devices window and the printer is not listed, find out if it recently disappeared. If it did, the driver is probably corrupt and will need to be removed from within Regedit. If the printer is still listed and no jobs are in the queue, ask the user to restart the machine and then try to print. A good restart cures many woes in Windows.

  • Safe mode of computer

    5. Deal with networking trauma
    Can the user see the internal servers? If not, can they open their browser and see Google.com? If not, this situation becomes a challenge, as it eliminates the option of remote troubleshooting. But never fear, help is near. I start by walking the user through rebooting the machine and starting in safe mode. Usually, if there isn't an actual hardware issue, safe mode will circumvent the problems that are keeping the machine from getting online. Once in safe mode, let the fun begin.

    Of course, if no one can get online, the first thing to be done is power-cycling the router, modem or switch hardware. If that fails, there is always DNS to troubleshoot. But that gets beyond standard triage — as it will often lead you away from the client machine and to a DNS server issue.

    Image credit: Justin Marty/Flickr

Topic: Apps

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