TechRepublic Solutions: Adopt this troubleshooting approach to speed PC diagnosis and repair

When troubleshooting PCs, try thinking like a doctor. Learn four steps to take to ensure you aren't overlooking obvious problems and some tips on what to include in your repair kit.

Not only do IT pros face tight budgets, personnel cutbacks, and more stringent purchasing agents, but they must safeguard their departments from wasted time and money. So it has become extremely important to keep PC systems in good running order and to attack failures with a well-coordinated troubleshooting process. Proper troubleshooting can help cut costs and repair times, and having an effective recovery plan can lead you through times of crisis quickly, capably, and without too many headaches.

The most important thing to do in any troubleshooting situation is follow a set of basic guidelines. You need to know what to do when exposed to people of varying technical skills and machinery of varying capabilities.

Often, end users have no clue what the problem is, but IT pros know that complaints about "my computer's running slow" could be pointing to any of a vast number of problems. To reduce the time required for closing each trouble ticket and improving your overall efficiency, here is a simple troubleshooting method you can adopt.

Think like your doctor
Physicians know patients can't always discern what's wrong, which is why the patient is seeking doctoral expertise. Similarly, users expect IT pros to know what's wrong with a computer; they get paid to fix problems quickly and efficiently. Whether you're dealing with a single computer or the network for a major corporation, there are four steps you need to take to ensure that you are not overlooking obvious problems or hidden solutions.
  • Subjective approach—The first thing your doctor asks is usually something like, "So, what seems to be the trouble?" After asking your end user what the problem is, you need to carefully analyze the response. This tests your ability to quickly assess a person's technical skill and truthfulness. Many end users may exaggerate or understate what the problem is, so it's your job to figure out if what they're saying is valid.
  • Objective approach—Next, make your own observations of what's wrong. Just as a doctor is trained to see warning signs the average person doesn't, you must make your own objective conclusions, despite any guesses or assumptions the end user might have.
  • The assessment—You'll then need to form the most logical conclusion by combining the observations made in steps one and two. You may have more than one guess as to what the problem may be, but go with the one most likely to have caused the problem.
  • The plan—It's time to tackle the problem head-on in a style that will save you time, money, and some bit of mental sanity. As you begin what could be a lengthy trial-and-error process, keep in mind that there are a number of tools and software available which can make this process easier.

What's in your doctor's kit?
Just as a doctor can't serve a patient without proper instruments, all the technical knowledge in the world is useless if you don't have the tools to apply it in a focused troubleshooting effort. Even though you may have correctly assessed the situation and pinpointed the problem, you need to have the right tools available to provide the proper resolution.

Your "doctor's kit" should include physical repair tools, such as screwdrivers and multimeters, and also some good diagnostic software, such as Norton SystemWorks 2002 Professional Edition, PartitionMagic, and BCM Diagnostics.

Put TechRepublic's tools to work
The problem with many of these software programs is they cover only a limited number of technical troubles that may arise, and very few cover hardware repair techniques. If your organization needs more detailed information on hardware repair and troubleshooting, check out TechRepublic's PC Troubleshooter Resource Guide, Volume 3. This comprehensive book and companion CD-ROM covers all aspect of the troubleshooting process, from complex problems with Windows to hardware tips for fixing faulty printers and modems. By putting the power of TechRepublic and its army of IT pros to work in your organization, you'll save time and your end users will be more productive.

With this resource guide and CD, you'll learn how to solve common (and not so common) problems, so when chaos strikes, you'll know how to:
  • Troubleshoot the top 10 PC slowdowns.
  • Identify telltale signs that a PC is infected by a virus.
  • Diagnose and repair common networking and VPN failures.
  • Recover lost data.
  • Solve hardware and driver errors.
  • Master BIOS settings.
  • Fix compatibility issues.
  • Eliminate USB errors.

Put the power of our updated PC troubleshooting guide to work for you
Order your copy of TechRepublic's PC Troubleshooter Resource Guide, Volume 3 today. Newly revised and updated, this book and CD collects valuable time-saving tips and proven solutions to help you keep systems running smoothly and shorten repair times.

With our guide to the right tools and strategies, you can handle any PC emergency that comes your way.

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