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Summary and Checklist

A guaranteed “system” for troubleshooting all computer-related problems does not exist. Effective troubleshooting requires technical research and experience, careful observation, resourceful use of information, and patience. During the troubleshooting process, you can consult the checklist in Table 25-3.

Table 25-3. Troubleshooting Checklist
Identify problem symptoms.Observe the symptoms:
  • Under what conditions does the problem occur?

  • Which aspects of the operating system control these conditions?

  • What applications or subsystems does the problem seem related to?

  • Record all error information for future reference, including the exact message text and error numbers.

Do not forget to check the basics:
  • Verify that the power cables are properly connected and are not damaged or worn.

  • Check firmware settings to verify that devices are enabled.

Check technical information resources.Research the problem:
  • What actions were tried for this or similar problems in the past?

  • Is this a known issue for which a solution or workaround exists? What were the results?

  • What information is available from product documentation, internal support sources, or outside resources, such as a manufacturer’s Web site or newsgroups?

  • What information can you obtain from support staff, such as Help Desk, or other users who might have experienced similar problems?

Review your system’s history.Analyze the events that led up to the problem:
  • What happened just before the problem occurred?

  • What hardware was recently installed? Are driver and firmware revisions current?

  • What software or system file updates were made? Are the software revisions current?

  • Does the software and hardware configuration match the documented configuration? If not, try to determine the differences.

  • Did you examine the event logs for clues to the problem?

Gather baseline information or compare to a reference system:
  • Did this application or hardware work correctly in the past? What has changed since then?

  • Does the application or hardware work correctly on another computer? If so, what is different on that computer?

  • Generate performance data by using the Performance tool or benchmark programs. If previous baselines exist, compare current and past performance.

Document and evaluate the results.Record the results:
  • Record information using a common report format such as a database.

  • Provide a detailed record of all of the work done to correct the problem, for future reference.

  • Record who, what, when, and why—and identify positive and negative cause and effect.

Evaluate the results:
  • Was the work done efficiently?

  • Was the solution effective? What remains unresolved?

  • When a solution was implemented, was system performance restored to expected levels?

  • What processes can be changed or implemented to prevent the problem from recurring?

  • Are systems being adequately monitored? Can this problem be caught early if it happens again?

  • What additional information, tools, or tests are needed?


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