How does troubleshooting work?

A methodical method of problem-solving known as troubleshooting is frequently used to identify and resolve problems with sophisticated machinery, electronics, computers, and software systems. Most troubleshooting techniques start with acquiring information about the problem, such as an undesirable behavior or a lack of capability that is intended.

Once the problem and how to duplicate it are recognized, the next step is to remove extraneous parts to see if the problem still exists. Incompatibility difficulties between components and issues brought on by third-party items can be found using this.

Typically, troubleshooting techniques aim to narrow down a problem so that it may be investigated. The primary objective is to identify the issue and test simple fixes, including restarting the system, turning the device on and off, and making sure the power cord is plugged in.

First, troubleshooters search for common, well-known causes. For instance, the power cable should obviously be tested first when a laptop won’t load up. Troubleshooters must go through a checklist of parts to pinpoint the component where the failure is occurring once typical problems have been ruled out.

What Are the Different Troubleshooting Methods?

To properly fix a piece of equipment or application and identify the source of a problem, troubleshooting often uses three techniques.

Diagnosis or failure analysis

In this procedure, the modes of failure of a product or process are examined. With it, a device or process can be dissected or examined with the help of diagnostic tools to learn how flaws may affect operations and user safety.

Process of elimination

In the process of elimination, only the best answer remains after screening all potential ones. The split-half search approach is one illustration of this procedure. It alludes to the procedure of removing 50% of the probable causes of a problem before identifying its true origin. The issue is reproduced after the cause has been found so that a remedy can be determined and then applied.

Process or product restoration

Here, the problem-solving procedure is used to either repair or replace the defective component. Here, a technician or troubleshooter must confirm that the problem has been entirely fixed and won’t produce any new issues in the future.

How does troubleshooting work?

Troubleshooters can find computer issues in a variety of locations. The following are some examples of areas troubleshooters may work:

  • hard drives
  • solid-state drives
  • servers
  • operating systems
  • applications
  • central processing units or CPUs
  • firewalls

Pressing Control-Alt-Delete on a computer to access the Microsoft Windows Task Manager allows users to identify which programs have stopped responding, close them, and restart the system. This is a simple troubleshooting technique. On a Mac, using Option-Command-Escape will also force programs to close.

Professionals in the IT and help desk departments employ more thorough methods of problem-solving. Although there are different approaches to troubleshooting, the next seven procedures are frequently performed.

Step 1. Collecting data

Getting information about the issue is always the initial stage in a problem’s troubleshooting process. This could include details explaining why something unexpected is occurring or a capacity that is lacking.

Other crucial details include associated symptoms and particular conditions that must exist in order to duplicate the problem. Finding the issue and learning how to duplicate it are the objectives.

Step 2. Identify the issue

Troubleshooters will know where to go for the root cause if the issue is fully described. You might find it useful to inquire as follows:

  • What are the conditions when the problem occurs?
  • Is the problem reproducible?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • When does the problem occur?
  • Where does the problem occur?

These questions’ answers will reveal which elements aren’t contributing to the issue. They will also assist in locating potential compatibility problems between components and outside items that can result in problems.

If the problem persists, a professional may look into further common reasons, study the product’s manual, and perform further research in a support database or using a search engine.

Step 3. Identify the most likely cause.

A problem may occasionally have several different root causes. Options are eliminated via a trial-and-error process. Even when dealing with a complex system, the best strategy is to start by looking for the easiest reason.

The split-half troubleshooting strategy is one often used testing technique. Through a process of elimination, this technique pinpoints the problem’s origin. When a system is involved, this technique functions best when the parts are connected in series. First, the components halfway down the line are tested by troubleshooters. If the middle part functions, they are aware of everything before it does. The next step is to go on to the middle of the final, untested portion of the series. They proceed to the halfway point of the remaining segment if the test of the second section passes.

If the issue arises at any time during this testing, the troubleshooters retrace their steps backwards toward the beginning of the series until they find the problematic component. In systems that depend on numerous components, the split-half procedure can speed up operations.

Step 4. Make a strategy and test a solution.

Once the issue is known, troubleshooters create a strategy to address it. They test their theory and keep testing it up until a solution is found. When every test fails, return to Step 3 and retry the process.

Step 5. Apply the solution.

Once troubleshooters have located and comprehended the issue, they must modify, fix, or replace whatever is to blame. They should test the repair after that to make sure the issue has been resolved.

The aim is to get the system back to how it was before the issue appeared. When the issue can no longer be reproduced and functionality has been recovered, troubleshooting has been successful. The thoroughness and experience of the specialists are frequently key factors in the troubleshooting process’s effectiveness.

Step 6. Examine the outcomes

Sometimes a problem’s solution leads to a new problem. To make sure the changes made don’t negatively impact other components of the system or other systems connected to it, troubleshooters must continuously monitor the system.

Step 7. Keep track of the procedure

The last stage is to record every action that was taken. This makes sure that if the issue recurs, additional troubleshooters will be aware of what to do. To provide a thorough account of the occurrence, it is essential to record both the solution and the solutions that failed. The creation of troubleshooting checklists with documentation will also aid in promptly identifying and resolving any issues.

Other troubleshooting resources

Frequently, common problems have remedies that can be found online.

  • Before addressing individual problems, it may be required to determine the fundamental cause of a complicated malfunction that appears to affect numerous components.
  • The technical manual for the gadget is a reliable source of troubleshooting advice.
  • There may also be troubleshooting manuals available.
  • Ideas from other subject-matter experts can be beneficial.
  • Working with a specialist with knowledge in forensics may be important as part of the diagnosis procedure.