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Chapter 10. Dealing with Common Problems > How to Troubleshoot Computer Problem...

How to Troubleshoot Computer Problems

No matter what kind of computer-related problem you're experiencing, there are seven basic steps you should take to track down the cause of the problem. Work through these steps calmly and deliberately, and you're likely to find what's causing the current problem—and then be in a good position to fix it yourself:

  1. Don't panic!— Just because there's something wrong with your PC is no reason to fly off the handle. Chances are there's nothing seriously wrong. Besides, getting all panicky won't solve anything. Keep your wits about you and proceed logically, and you can probably find what's causing your problem and get it fixed.

  2. Check for operator errors— In other words, something you did wrong. Maybe you clicked the wrong button, or pressed the wrong key, or plugged something into the wrong jack or port. Retrace your steps and try to duplicate your problem. Chances are the problem won't recur if you don't make the same mistake twice.

  3. Check that everything is plugged into the proper place and that the system unit itself is getting power— Take special care to ensure that all your cables are securely connected—loose connections can cause all sorts of strange results.


    Does a particular computer problem have you stumped? Then learn more about troubleshooting computer problems in my companion book, Absolute Beginner's Guide to Upgrading and Fixing Your PC (Que, 2003), available wherever computer books are sold.

  4. Make sure you have the latest versions of all the software installed on your system— While you're at it, make sure you have the latest versions of device drivers installed for all the peripherals on your system.

  5. Try to isolate the problem by when and how it occurs— Walk through each step of the process to see whether you can identify a particular program or driver that might be causing the problem.

  6. When all else fails, call in professional help— If you think it's a Windows-related problem, contact Microsoft's technical support department. If you think it's a problem with a particular program, contact the tech support department of the program's manufacturer. If you think it's a hardware-related problem, contact the manufacturer of your PC or the dealer you bought it from. (And don't rule out where you purchased the computer—many computer dealers have helpful tech support departments.) The pros are there for a reason—when you need technical support, go and get it.



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