What troubleshooting steps do you use when computer issues arise?


Over the years of using computers, There are many issues that have risen in both software and hardware. One of the main issues that face human species is how to troubleshoot when it comes to issues. Because of the windows era " Bill Gates wanting to make an idiot-proof Operating System" and the fact that people do not want to read but want everyone to give them the answer, it has produced a lot of "I don't want to take the time to learn and solve the problem ideology"

I would like to know what troubleshooting steps do you do to resolve computer related issues, It's my hope we can put these steps together in a tutorial, that we can give to users to help them resolve some of the repeatable issues with any OS. What would you use to gain more insight into a problem, such as documentation and troubleshooting steps learned over the years.

Edit- What I was hoping to get was the thought process a person uses when they are troubleshooting computer issues. Where do you start when trying to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it.

example: Step one, look at logs to see if there is error messages
Step two, Search Forums and DDG for error message.

I was going to put something silly, but I will try to be sensible (see how long that lasts!):

It is too wide a subject to nail down, you can breakdown problems into groups, say:

  • Hardware

  • Software

  • User

Each group can exhibit symptoms from another group. Intermittent hardware faults are the worst to diagnose, PEBKAK the same.


What I'm going for is more the steps you would take to find the answer. Such as how would you diagnose the issue, so when you are asking for help, you will be able to provide what troubleshooting step you have taken. How would you start in diagnosing the issue. Instead of saying " My computer won't boot" what steps would you take to find out what is causing the issue in the first place?

Usually especially in hardware, i think good rule of thumb is to:

  1. Find common denominators of all most possible causes you can think of on particular issue.
  2. Try to eliminate them out of equation as soon as you can (for example remove all peripherals, leave only one RAM).
  3. If it failed - try next one, until you exclude enough to find the cause.

That's of course for the case where you have almost no clue about what could cause an issue you're struggling with :slight_smile:

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Step 1: Identify the problem
Step 2: Resolve the problem

If you can follow these two simple steps, you can handle any issue.

But seriously, I am not sure anyone can clearly lay out a simple plan for troubleshooting.

Here a some general things:

  • Take a logical approach, don't make random changes until something works
  • Don't make more than one change at a time
  • Try to reproduce the problem consistently
  • If possible, test in smaller chunks(for example, with a network problem, start with checking connectivity the switch, then the firewall, then the ISP, etc
  • Try to isolate things that changed prior to the issue occurring but don't obsess over it. Everything works exactly until the point it fails. It isn't always something you did.
  • Experience matters. The more you troubleshoot, the easier it is to spot patterns and identify possible solutions.
  • The internet is filled with information and troubleshooting advice. The challenge is that a large percentage of that advice is terrible. Learn to separate the good from the bad.

The person troubleshooting needs computing background to properly define a set of "steps" in search of a response. So, someone with no background whatsoever will never get an obvious cue if he/she can't understand what it means.

Recently, a coworker brought me a computer so I could check if it could be repaired. This happened months after I gave him some cues about behaviour and bip codes, etc., so he could figure it out. So I brought it home, turned it on, it turned on and off repeatedly. I disconnected the power button cable, powered it on directly on the board and it worked fine! I figured the problem in 5 minutes, all it took to fix it was an used button from my scrap parts (I didn't even charge anything). It was immediately obvious to me but not to him.

This guy is very well educated and he codes numerical models in C. He just doesn't know the system as I do, he doesn't have the background and he isn't interested in it. No harm in it. Not everyone needs to know everything. Computers are tools anyway. You take your car to the mechanic when it breaks don't you?


Never :smiley: :wink: :slight_smile:

It only happens every few years but then, "my computer doesn't boot anymore", "it doesn't make a sound", you can earn a lot of money as a fraudster with it, because of this little "CR2032" :smiley:


You can't always take your car to a mechanic, You may not have the money and they will charge you more than they should to fix it. But how does one learn how to fix the things they can on their own.

Learning is fundamental.


Actually, that machine I mentioned also needed a battery, but I left it for him to do (I told him, of course).

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But you had to learn how to troubleshoot in order to know it was the battery. How did you learn those skills, did you read, did someone tell you and once you learned, you no longer had to ask someone to give you the answer.

Can't remember, there was neither google nor ... It must have been mid 1980 :smiley:

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I never had anyone to give me the answer in the first place. I learned through experience and experimentation.


For me it is, but not for everyone. Or maybe they are interested in learning other things, or do other things. The thing is, computers needed some level of fundamental comprehension at the beginning of the personal computer. I still got to experience that, but that isn't the case anymore. I don't see it as bad thing though.

Well, the battery basically gives you a red warning. It's pretty obvious! I learned it reading manuals in the late 80's / early 90's maybe. Manuals at that time weren't like today. My Comodore 64 had a huge manual including a BASIC (pretty complete) introduction. My first PC came with a bunch of manuals, including a complete DOS manual. You could learn a lot from manuals in those days.

It's also experience. Today kids stay each one on their home. In those days we hanged together and experienced a lot together, building, dismantling and breaking stuff. Also, shops were local and smaller and owners had time and interest to explain stuff to kids. etc. etc. etc.

Today it is much easier to learn, but there is less drive (and maybe less time) to discover things by yourself. I think this one of the reasons most people look for prompt answers at a distance of a click.


Thanks to everyone who is giving time to answer this post. Please keep them coming:grinning::grinning:

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I glare at it until the problem goes away.

Here's pretty clean example of what i've meant by such common denominators & exclusion:

  1. However when i boot again, after the bootloader but before the login manager my computer simply powers off ad make a sound similar to that of if you would take the power cord.

Clearly indicates that it's a hardware problem (sure such conclusion comes from experience, but i'd dare to see software failure which would cause same reaction).

  1. so i am fully capable of booting to the live image and install as i would normally do.

Which tells that if he managed to boot through live USB and everything is working fine there, key components like: CPU, RAM, GPU, Motherboard, PSU - must work (if not stable, but at least somehow good enough to boot).

  1. Which leads us to conclusion, that only changed variable in such equation between working live USB and non-working installed Manjaro - is HDD/SSD that it was installed on.

So for me debug comes to logic & exclusion.


Have you tried turning it off and on again


Troubleshooting gets "easier" with practice and experience. The hardest part is getting an accurate and complete description of the symptoms, precise error message wording (if any), and exactly what was done to provoke the problem. Then compare the reported problem with other experiences or information. Googling the device and or the exact error message often yields helpful results for software or configuration issues. Failing hardware often requires some interpolation. The other challenge is that the solutions knowledge base has to evolve. Old solutions often become irrelevant or even detrimental after enough time.

The approach is dependent on the nature of the complaint and the available information. For example with not booting: did the device power up?, did the grub menu appear?, do only certain kernels fail?, when stuck at the "black screen" is TTY accessible?... One "symptom", many different causes.

Frankly though, I'm most effective when I read the symptoms and recognize them from when I had that problem.


I just fix them simple as that. :upside_down_face:

That is very true find a distro stay with it after time nothing goes wrong and if it does its a simple fix


thread ruined and closed :frowning: