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Chapter 16. Troubleshooting and Recoveri... > General Troubleshooting Tips

General Troubleshooting Tips

Figuring out the cause of a problem is often the hardest part of troubleshooting, but by itself it doesn’t do you much good. When you know the source, you need to parlay that information into a fix for the problem. I discussed a few solutions in the previous section, but here are a few other general fixes you need to keep in mind:

  • Close all programs— You can often fix flaky behavior by shutting down all your open programs and starting again. This is a particularly useful fix for problems caused by low memory or low system resources.

  • Log off Windows Vista— Logging off clears the RAM and so gives you a slightly cleaner slate than merely closing all your programs.

  • Reboot the computer— If there are problems with some system files and devices, logging off won’t help because these objects remain loaded. By rebooting the system, you reload the entire system which is often enough to solve many computer problems.

  • Turn off the computer and restart— You can often solve a hardware problem by first shutting your machine off. Wait for 30 seconds to give all devices time to spin down, and then restart.

  • Check connections, power switches, and so on— Some of the most common (and some of the most embarrassing) causes of hardware problems are the simple physical things: making sure that a device is turned on; checking that cable connections are secure; and ensuring that insertable devices are properly inserted.

  • Use the Help and Support Center— Microsoft has greatly improved the quality of the Help system in Windows Vista. The Help and Support Center (select Start, Help and Support) is awash in articles and advice on using Windows Vista. However, the real strength of Help and Support is, in my opinion, the Support side. In the Help and Support Center home page, click Troubleshooting to see links for general troubleshooting and for fixing specific problems related to hardware, email, networking, and more. Note, too, that the Help and Support Center offers a number of Troubleshooters—guides that take you step-by-step through troubleshooting procedures.


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