You determine an exact cause by testing your theories of probable causes one at a time, starting with the quickest and easiest. Figure 1 identifies some common steps to determine the cause of the problem. After identifying an exact cause of the problem, you then determine the steps to resolve the problem. As you become more experienced at troubleshooting computers, you will work through the steps in the process faster. For now, practice each step to better understand the troubleshooting process.

If you cannot determine the exact cause of the problem after testing all your theories, establish a new theory of probable causes and test it. If necessary, escalate the problem to a technician with more experience. Before you escalate, document each test that you tried, as shown in Figure 2.