Troubleshooting Basics

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As anyone who has ever tried to call technical support for any large company can attest, getting technical assistance can be a difficult and time-consuming operation. Everyone has heard the horror stories of being put on hold for hours, never getting a callback, and technicians who are of absolutely no help. This should be an indication that you, as an end user, should be prepared to perform as much of the troubleshooting as possible before calling technical support.

After many years working in hardware and software technical support, I have found that a great many technical support phone calls could have been avoided had the caller known a few simple techniques, and had a little better understanding of the product. In addition, many support calls could be shortened considerably, if the caller had performed a few basic checks, and had the proper information available. In fact, the difficulty in reaching a technician is a direct result of the huge number of support calls, and the length of time that many calls require. It should not be difficult to see that it only takes a few 30-60 minute conversations to completely eat up an entire day for a technician – and that doesn’t even include testing and research!!!

The intent of this document is to provide both beginners and more experienced technicians with a quick, cookbook style approach to basic troubleshooting a PC system. A great many problems can be resolved simply by checking those things which seem the most obvious, and even if the problem is not resolved, you will have much of the information that will allow the technical support person to provide much better assistance. This will help everyone, including yourself, the technician and the other customers who are tying to get through.

Many inexperienced upgraders have no idea where to start looking if problems occur, but even the most experienced hardware jockey can benefit from this document. Even though the cardinal rule of troubleshooting is to start at the beginning and check everything, many people (especially the ‘experts’) assume that the basics have been covered, and so waste an inordinate amount of time looking for complicated problems that don’t exist. This guide should reduce or eliminate the possibility that your problem is caused by some oversight or simple mistake, rather than a true hardware problem.

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