Troubleshooting requires an organized and logical approach to problems with computers and other components. Sometimes issues arise during preventive maintenance. At other times, a customer may contact you with a problem. A logical approach to troubleshooting allows you to eliminate variables and identify causes of problems in a systematic order. Asking the right questions, testing the right hardware, and examining the right data helps you understand the problem and form a proposed solution to try.

Troubleshooting is a skill that you refine over time. Each time you solve a problem, you increase your troubleshooting skills by gaining more experience. You learn how and when to combine steps or skip steps to reach a solution quickly. The troubleshooting process is a guideline that is modified to fit your needs.

This section presents an approach to problem solving that you can apply to both hardware and software. You can also apply many of the steps to problem solving to other work-related areas.

NOTE: The term customer, as used in this course, is any user that requires technical computer assistance.

Before you begin troubleshooting problems, always follow the necessary precautions to protect data on a computer. Some repairs, such as replacing a hard drive or reinstalling an operating system, might put the data on the computer at risk. Make sure you do everything possible to prevent data loss while attempting repairs.

CAUTION: Always perform a backup before beginning any troubleshooting. You must protect data before beginning any work on a customer’s computer. If your work results in data loss for the customer, you or your company could be held liable.

Data Backup

A data backup is a copy of the data on a computer hard drive that is saved to another storage device or to cloud storage. Cloud storage is online storage that is accessed via the Internet. In an organization, backups may be performed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

If you are unsure that a backup has been done, do not attempt any troubleshooting activities until you check with the customer. Here is a list of items to verify with the customer about data backups:

If the customer does not have a current backup and you are not able to create one, ask the customer to sign a liability release form. A liability release form contains at least the following information: