Troubleshooting Can Be Fun

Troubleshooting Can Be Fun

For the A+ Hardware Technology exam, you must know the processes that are used in troubleshooting, diagnosing, and isolating a problem on a PC. By this, I don’t mean all the little tricks and shortcuts that you and I have devised over the years. I mean the straightforward, by-the-book way of identifying the source of a problem on a PC. So even if you are a well-seasoned veteran and can tell a PC’s problem by the sound it is making, you should at least skim through this chapter — especially this first section — to familiarize yourself with the terminology and processes that the test assumes you know and use.

Getting ready to start

What may be the most valuable tools for troubleshooting a PC hardware problem are paper and a pen. You have a lot to write down as you begin troubleshooting the PC, including the user’s comments, the current BIOS settings, the location and arrangement of expansion cards and their cables, and the devices to which the expansion cards are attached. They may even come in handy for writing down the customer’s address and the directions to their location.

Always be sure that you have ESD protection with you. Your ESD wrist strap should be like the famous credit card that you should never leave the shop without. Remember that when you don’t use proper ESD precautions at a customer site, you’re risking not only the customer’s systems but also your reputation — or worse, your job.

Arriving on the scene

Observe the customer’s environment as carefully as you can, especially the electrical setup that’s used for the PC in question. Is the PC attached to a wall socket, plug strip, surge suppressor, or UPS? How many devices are sharing the electrical supply? Is the environment dust-free and otherwise clean? Is it humid or overly dry? All of these conditions tell you about the stresses and strains to which the PC is subjected.

However, do not jump to any conclusions based on what you see. Ask the user how long the PC has been in its current location and electrical situation. Also, don’t jump to conclusions about what the apparent problem may be without first speaking with the user. Okay, if the PC is not plugged in, you can go ahead and see if that may be the problem, but for any other problem, ask first, listen to the response, and then begin troubleshooting.

 Remember  You should ask the following questions to learn more about the problem:

  • When did the problem first happen?

  • Did you add hardware or software to the PC right before the problem appeared?

  • Can you re-create the problem?

  • Did smoke come out of the PC or monitor?

When dealing with a user directly, always use the five Cs (courtesy, concern, consideration, conscientiousness, and cooperation) and the three Ls (listen, listen, and listen) of customer care.

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