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 in order 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 will help identify a problem and will help direct you in finding the resolution to a problem.

Any Error messages?

If you're getting any error messages, write down the error and do a search for that error message. Computer Hope and millions of other Internet sites have documents relating to error messages.

Reboot the computer

If the computer is acting strange, frozen, or encountering errors and is able to 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?

If any new hardware devices have been connected to the computer or any new software has been installed, it may be the cause of your problem.

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 recent electrical storms, a surge may have come through the power line and caused damage to hardware within the computer.

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.

Related pages

Also see: Technical support, Technician