The process of solving a problem or determining a problem to an issue. Troubleshooting often involves the process of elimination, where a technician will follow a set of steps to determine the problem or resolve the problem.
Computer troubleshooting overview
Below is a brief overview of the basics of troubleshooting a computer problem. Following these steps can help identify or solve most computer problems.
Is the computer turning on?
If the computer or display is not turning on you can quickly determine that the computer has some type of connection or other hardware issue. Follow either of the links below for steps in troubleshooting these problems.
Any Error messages?
Reboot the computer
If the computer is acting strange, frozen, or encountering errors and can boot, reboot the computer. Often rebooting the computer can solve many computer issues. We highly recommend not doing any of the steps below until the computer has been rebooted.
Has any new hardware or software been added?
Has the computer moved?
If the computer has been recently moved, something may have become loose inside the computer or something may have not been reconnected properly.
Has there been any power outages or electrical storms?
A computer that is not running on a UPS will improperly turn off during a power outage or brownout. When a computer is improperly shut down, data corruption and in some cases even hardware failure can occur.
If the computer is not connected to a surge protector and there has been electrical storms, a surge may have come through the power line and caused damage to hardware within the computer.
Reconnect and check power cords
If the computer is not getting enough power or the power is getting interrupted, the computer can encounter problems. Disconnect your power cables from any power strip or UPS and connect the computer directly to a known good wall outlet.
Hardware or software issue
If the problem is a hardware issue and able to determine what hardware device is causing the problem, follow the basic troubleshooting steps for that hardware device. If you believe the problem to be hardware related, but can't determine what hardware device is failing. For example, when a computer does turn on, troubleshoot the problem using the process of elimination.
If the problem is a software or operating system, follow the basic troubleshooting steps for that program.
Update drivers or install latest patches
New hardware device drivers and firmware updates are released to resolve many errors and problems with hardware devices. Make sure if you're encountering a hardware issue that the latest drivers for that device are installed.
Like hardware devices software programs and operating systems also have patches that help resolve problems. Make sure your software program or game has all the latest patches and updates and that your operating system is also running all the latest updates.
Scan for malware and viruses
Computer viruses and other malware can cause an assortment of different problems. If you've gone through all above basic troubleshooting steps, a good last resort is to verify no malware is on the computer.
When was the computer last running with no problems?
If the computer has worked in the past and you're running Microsoft Windows consider running a Windows system restore to restore the computer back to an earlier date. The system restore will not erase any data but will get settings back to how they were on an earlier date.
What to do if troubleshooting doesn't help?
Going through the troubleshooting steps should help you identify the problem with the computer. If the problem continues and there is an error or other problem that can be searched make sure to search for that problem to get more exact steps in resolving the problem. If the problem is a hardware problem that cannot be fixed with troubleshooting that part may be bad and would either need to be repaired or replaced.
- List of all basic computer troubleshooting related pages.
- Basic software troubleshootings steps.
- Recommended computer tools.
- Computer questions and answers.
- How can I learn more about computers?