The first step in the troubleshooting process is to identify the problem. During this step, gather as much information as possible from the customer and then from the computer.

Conversation Etiquette

When you are talking to the customer, follow these guidelines:

By communicating effectively, you can elicit the most relevant information about the problem from the customer. Figure 1 lists some of the important information to gather from the customer.

Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions allow customers to explain the details of the problem in their own words. Use open-ended questions to obtain general information.

Based on the information from the customer, you can proceed with closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions generally require a yes or no answer. These questions are intended to get the most relevant information in the shortest time possible. Figure 2 is an activity designed to test your understanding of open and closed-ended questions.

Documenting Responses

Document the information obtained from the customer in the work order and in the repair journal. Write down anything that you think might be important for you or another technician. The small details often lead to the solution of a difficult or complicated problem.

Beep Codes

Each BIOS manufacturer has a unique beep sequence, a combination of long and short beeps, for hardware failures. When troubleshooting, power on the computer and listen. As the system proceeds through the POST, most computers emit one beep to indicate that the system is booting properly. If there is an error, you might hear multiple beeps. Document the beep code sequence, and research the code to determine the specific hardware failure.

BIOS Information

If the computer boots and stops after the POST, investigate the BIOS settings to determine where to find the problem. A device might not be detected or configured properly. Refer to the motherboard documentation to make sure that the BIOS settings are accurate.

Event Viewer

When system, user, or software errors occur on a computer, the Event Viewer is updated with information about the errors. The Event Viewer application shown in Figure 3 records the following information about the problem:

Although the Event Viewer lists details about the error, you might need to further research the solution.

Device Manager

The Device Manager shown in Figure 4 displays all the devices that are configured on a computer. The operating system flags the devices that are not operating correctly with an error icon. A yellow circle with an exclamation point (!) indicates that the device is in a problem state. A red circle and an X means that the device is disabled. A yellow question mark (?) indicates that the the system does not know which driver to install for the hardware.

Task Manager

The Task Manager shown in Figure 5 displays the applications that are currently running. With the Task Manager, you can close applications that have stopped responding. You can also monitor the performance of the CPU and virtual memory, view all processes that are currently running, and view information about the network connections.

Diagnostic Tools

Conduct research to determine which software is available to help diagnose and solve problems. Many programs to help you troubleshoot hardware are available. Manufacturers of system hardware usually provide diagnostic tools of their own. For instance, a hard drive manufacturer might provide a tool to boot the computer and diagnose why the hard drive does not boot Windows.