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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  • 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.

  • Use your tools

    10. Use your tools
    When all else fails, you should turn to your tools. I tend to start with the most innocuous software, such as Malwarebytes, and work upwards from there. This is also the moment to run hard-drive diagnostic tools, if the issue points towards a faulty or degraded drive. Sometimes this approach turns up more issues, but if you've tried every other avenue, it may be your best shot.

    Other suggestions?
    There are many ways to approach troubleshooting. These steps work well for me, but what about you? What methods do you typically employ for troubleshooting, either remote or local?

    This story originally appeared as 10 ways to diagnose ailing PCs: Step by step on TechRepublic.


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