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Troubleshooting is process of systematic search for the source of a problem by elimination of potential causes. It can be applied to software and hardware problems.


Basic procedure is to take one change at the time, test how computer works and if error disappears than we have found the problem. Than we can look for solution.


There are two categories of problems that experienced troubleshooter is starting with:

  • Simple problems, and
  • Recent changes

Simple things

Include even so simple things like moving the computer to make space on the desk, or connect some periferal. Why? The simplest possible cause doesn't take much time to be checked and corrected, and it helps to self esteem if you find that computer is unplugged right in the beginning, instead after call to the help desk that will suggest the same.

For instance, a printer doesn't print:

  • check printer cable, is it connected, and is it properly seated,
  • check is printer connected to power outlet,
  • check do you have power in outlet,
  • check lights on printer control panel,

This might look obvious, but after some time spent in business all repairers have collection of "stupid errors" that no one will mention in front of unknown person because it can be understood in a wrong way. It was some basic thing that should be checked first, but it was skipped, and found later aftter long testing when nothing else was left to be checked.

This category is used if you don't know what recent changes were done, or if you know, but the error symptoms doesn't fit in what was changed.

Here is simple scenario that might convince to check simple things first, even if you are the only user of problematic computer, but not the only one that has access to.

Yesterday you installed new printer software that worked. Today you turn it on and printer wont print.

So you know about installation, but nothing about today's mom's effort to remove dust around the computer. You start with printer troubleshooting, reinstallation of CUPS, fiddle with configuration settings, and after hours, you decide to replace printer. Whoops. It is not connected. How come? Connect it, but it doesn't work again. OK, you changed a lot in configuration, so now you have to revert "recent changes": reinstall drivers, restore old settings and it works!

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