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


 |  Image 8 of 10

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Troubleshoot specific software

    7. Troubleshoot specific software
    Sometimes, a single piece of software is the cause of the user's problems, which in turn becomes the source of the support specialist's grief — especially if it's a niche piece of software.

    The first thing I'd do in such a case is double check to ensure the issue is, in fact, limited to one particular app. If the problem is network related and all other applications can get online, the issue is probably limited to the one piece of software. If so, and the software depends on a network connection, ensure neither the firewall nor the antivirus software has started blocking the software from getting packets in or out. Once I have discovered the problem is restricted to a single piece of software, often a repair install will solve the issue.

    Image credit: dissolved/Flickr

  • Look for virus issues

    8. Look for virus issues
    I find that 50 percent of support calls turn out to be caused by viruses. Since viruses display a variety of symptoms, how can you quickly determine whether a virus is the cause? I know support techs who have spent hours trying to track down a virus on a machine that wasn't actually infected.

    There are a few questions I like to ask. The first is, "What behaviour is your computer displaying that makes you believe it has a virus?" The answer to that question will dictate where you go from there. Other questions to ask are:

    • Has your computer drastically slowed down recently?
    • Are strange or unwanted pop-up windows appearing at random times?
    • Were you recently on a website you don't normally visit?
    • Did someone else use your machine?
    • Did you recently open an email attachment?
    • Has a strange security window recently started popping up?

    These questions will guide you in the right direction in diagnosing a virus infection.

    Image credit: talksrealfast/Flickr

  • Ask for a demonstration

    9. Ask for a demonstration
    If discussing a problem yields nothing and you can gain remote access to the user's PC, it's useful to see the problem in action. Most issues can be diagnosed from a description, but some simply need to be viewed at first hand. Ask the user to reproduce the problem for you and make sure it happens the same way every time. Seeing the issue for yourself not only confirms one exists, but also gives you a starting point for your troubleshooting.

Topic: Apps

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories


Log in or register to start the discussion