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Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or

processes. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be
solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again. Troubleshooting is
needed to develop and maintain complex systems where the symptoms of a problem can
have many possible causes. Troubleshooting is used in many fields such as engineering,
system administration, electronics, automotive repair, and diagnostic medicine.
Troubleshooting requires identification of the malfunction(s) or symptoms within a
system. Then, experience is commonly used to generate possible causes of the symptoms.
Determining which cause is most likely is often a process of elimination - eliminating
potential causes of a problem. Finally, troubleshooting requires confirmation that the
solution restores the product or process to its working state.

In general, troubleshooting is the identification of, or diagnosis of "trouble" in a system

caused by a failure of some kind. The problem is initially described as symptoms of
malfunction, and troubleshooting is the process of determining the causes of these

A system can be described in terms of its expected, desired or intended behavior (usually,
for artificial systems, its purpose). Events or inputs to the system are expected to generate
specific results or outputs. (For example selecting the "print" option from various
computer applications is intended to result in a hardcopy emerging from some specific
device). Any unexpected or undesirable behavior is a symptom. Troubleshooting is the
process of isolating the specific cause or causes of the symptom. Frequently the symptom
is a failure of the product or process to produce any results. (Nothing was printed, for

The methods of forensic engineering are especially useful in tracing problems in products
or processes, and a wide range of analytical techniques are available to determine the
cause or causes of specific failures. Corrective action can then be taken to prevent further
failures of a similar kind. Preventative action is possible using FMEA and FTA before
full scale production, and these methods can also be used for failure analysis.

(trub´&l-shoot´´) (v.) To isolate the source of a problem and fix it, typically through a process of elimination whereby
possible sources of the problem are investigated and eliminated beginning with the most obvious or easiest problem to

Usage Note: In the case of computer systems, the term troubleshoot is usually used when the problem is suspected to
be hardware-related. If the problem is known to be in software, the term debug is more commonly used.

Here are five common-sense techniques and strategies to solve common computer hardware

(1) Trial-and-error

Personal computers are highly modular by design. The most powerful trouble-shooting technique
is to isolate the problem to a specific component by trial-and-error. Swap compatible components
and see if the system still works. Try different peripherals on different machines and see if the
same problem occurs. Make one change at a time.

(2) "It's the cable, s-----."

More than 70% of all computer problems are related to cabling and connections. Ensure all
cables are connected firmly. IDE and floppy ribbon cables and power cables can often go loose.
Ensure microprocessor, memory modules, and adapters such as video card and sound card are
inserted correctly and didn't "pop-up" during transportation.

(3) Don't be frustrated!

Don't be afraid of computer problems. It is often the best opportunity to learn. Trouble-shooting is
part of the fun of owning a computer. Imagine the satisfaction you could get by solving a problem

Of course the fun could ran out quickly once you are frustrated and have spent too much time on
the same problem. If you feel frustrated, it's time to leave it for a while and go back with some
new ideas or call someone who can help. Rule of thumb: You shouldn't spend more than three
hours on the same problem at one time.

(4) Take notes!

Take notes of what you have done and all the error messages. You may need to use them later.
For instance, when you see an unusual blue screen with an error message, copy the entire
message onto a piece of paper. In many situations, that message may point to the right direction
in getting the problem solved quickly.

(5) Take a look?

It's OK to open a computer case and take a look inside. There is only 5V and 12V DC voltage
supplied to the components outside the power supply. Those who have never seen the inside of a
computer are often amazed by how simple it looks. Of course, still always power down and
unplug the power cord first