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Old 12-10-2008, 03:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

Hey guys and gals,

I'm trying to write a procedure on troubleshooting - a universal / general process. I'm no newb to this and i've been around a while, :happy: but there is always room for improvement. Anyway... I've researched Google and found some interesting articles to read, and I've been stitching things together, however i need more ammo. I don't mean specifics like, does it boot? if not, try this and that... I'm talking about a UNIVERSAL method.
  • So does anyone know a good resource (website/book) they could recommend that covers a general troubleshooting methodology?
  • What process do you use for troubleshooting yourself?

Oh yeah, this will still be in the field of computers (so maybe not so universal... but you get it...)
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Old 12-10-2008, 03:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

Universal method;

Reinstall windows and stop downloading dodgy programs! There you go all your problems solved . Personally I live with it usually I swap Os's every 6 months so if theres an issue that I can't immediately solve I either reinstall (with my slipstreamed install disk for xp) or move on.
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Old 12-10-2008, 03:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

seriously....
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Old 12-10-2008, 04:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

seriously thats how I fix things, If I can't fix something myself I ask the gurus on here if they don't know then I just reinstall and reformat cures any virus or any problem
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Old 12-10-2008, 04:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thumbs down Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

Please, lets stick to the subject matter. That is not troubleshooting nor fixing.
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Old 12-10-2008, 04:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

There is no universal fix except starting again any problem requires careful anlysis and then application of fixes in the hope of trial and error. Although computers are logical products there can be illogical fixes my old pc (pre motherboard and psu change) had a power issue the illogical fix was if I left the psu for a min then quickly turned on the psu power switch and the front button it would magically work. It would also magically work alone but if it didn't that was my solution it worked well was a bit awkward but seeing as it sometimes worked without help and sometimes it needed it there was no other logical solution except what I employed which was found via trial and error.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm not asking for a universal fix. I'm talking about a universal / general METHODOLOGY or TECHNIQUE for troubleshooting. I'll give you an example of common ideas out there:

The most important part of troubleshooting any problem is to divide the tasks of problem resolution into a systematic process of elimination. Cisco has broken this process into eight steps:

1. Define the problem.
2. Gather detailed information.
3. Consider probable cause for the failure.
4. Devise a plan to solve the problem.
5. Implement the plan.
6. Observe the results of the implementation.
7. Repeat the process if the plan does not resolve the problem.
8. Document the changes made to solve the problem.


Another list
Troubleshooting Steps

1 - Establish symptoms
2 - Identify the affected area.
3 - Establish what has changed.
4 - Select the most probable cause.
5 - Implement a Solution.
6 - Test the result.
7 - Recognize potential effects of the solution.
8 - Document the solution.


The 10 step Universal Troubleshooting Process

1. Prepare
2. Make damage control plan
3. Get a complete and accurate symptom description
4. Reproduce the symptom
5. Do the appropriate corrective maintenance
6. Narrow it down to the root cause
7. Repair or replace the defective component
8. Test
9. Take pride in your solution
10. Prevent future occurrence of this problem


There are some (although very similar) structured approaches to troubleshooting. One of the fundamental processes I'm finding that works is a binary-search or dividing a problem in halves, then eliminating the half that does not work. Eventually you narrow down the problem. This is by no means a fix - this is, once again, a METHOD, or a structured approach that one can use to avoid common pitfalls such as retracing same steps (ever loose your keys then search the same place a few times?), getting stuck in tunnel-thought (not seeing the big picture) and many more.

Although we're talking about computers, this method can be applied in many areas such ad medicine, electronics, appliances, etc.

So the problem you were having with the PSU can now take a structured approach.

One of my personal experiences (one that quite i'm proud of ) is when i was working on migrating various partitions, OS's, RAID arrays etc etc.. all over the place. I had a consistent approach, kept detailed notes and basically decapitated every issue that came up! Without those notes and procedure, the 2 day experiment could have taken me weeks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by saltynay View Post
Universal method;

Reinstall windows and stop downloading dodgy programs! There you go all your problems solved . Personally I live with it usually I swap Os's every 6 months so if theres an issue that I can't immediately solve I either reinstall (with my slipstreamed install disk for xp) or move on.
On that note.. have you considered backups or imaging your OS after a fresh install?

I personally dislike a complete reinstall as a solution unless the OS itself is greatly corrupted or compromised (hacked). I think 90% of solutions i read on the forums, the first step is reinstall, which in my opinion is horrible. At most i'd call that a workaround, not a fix or a solution; there are so many other things that can be done to SOLVE the issue... But i'm beginning to flame my own post!
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

Okay for final settlement. Here is the truth.

There is no universal method. End of story.

Now the reason.

Each error presents itself for that specific configuration and error. You would have to create a guide for specifically every price of hardware combination out there.

The reason being is that this error XXX might happen cause of RAM on this PC. But on this PC it is cause of a faulty PSU. The next system it could be a CPU overheating.

There is NO universal way to cover every single aspect of a PC troubleshoot. Now you can see that i am no newbie at this. I have been here a while, i have more than my fair share of posts. I am also a MVP for Microsoft cause of my knowledge of Windows.

I can tell you that from all the years i have been fixing broken PC's there is never a universal fix. What you may think will work for one wont work for the next. You have to take each situation seperately and work thru them one issue at a time.

Format and reinstall is the final step. If nothing else that has been tried has worked.
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Old 12-11-2008, 02:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Angry Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

I must say i strongly disagree! :shocked:

There IS a universal/general approach to doing this! I already listed some examples! You guys are talking about specific fixes, where as i'm talking about an approach to problem solving! I'm shocked at what i'm hearing so far...!

Of course every problem is different and experience is key, however without a good method, one can just end up chasing one's own tail and waste valuable time.

Notice what i listed speaks in broad terms and contains no specifics. The framework is applied to the problem solving, not the specific solution itself.

Quote:
What you may think will work for one wont work for the next. You have to take each situation seperately and work thru them one issue at a time.
Precisely! Hence a good method for working through the problem is key. Each situation, as you mention, is taken separately however, you still work through it the same way.

I think I'm talking about what steps to take, and you guys are thinking of how to accomplish each step.

Look, I've been around for a long time as well and problem solving does (can) have a logical approach to it. I've troubleshot circuits, code, software/harware/os's/networks, appliances, just about anything i can imagine.

Think about this - in algebra, how do you solve an equation? You follow a set of rules.. such as reducing the equation... Same thing applies in troubleshooting too - reduce the equation: a general statement that applies broadly.

So to summarize - i'm NOT looing for "does it boot, if not, does it POST? if not.. try this.. if not try that..."
What i AM looking for is a way to improve my current methods and to become more efficient at what i do.

Someone please back me up on this one... And please stay positive people! Yes we can! :P

p.s. Mak213, why was my post edited?
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Old 12-11-2008, 12:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Universal Troubleshooting Methodology? What's the best practice? Resource?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PolishPaul View Post
I personally dislike a complete reinstall as a solution unless the OS itself is greatly corrupted or compromised (hacked). I think 90% of solutions i read on the forums, the first step is reinstall, which in my opinion is horrible. At most i'd call that a workaround, not a fix or a solution; there are so many other things that can be done to SOLVE the issue... But i'm beginning to flame my own post!
Not on this forum rarely does someone not know the answer to someones problems. Why image when I have already slipstreamed a dvd that does everything for me and takes 25 mins to run and I have already spent the time and effort to add the programs I need and through every menu to ensure windows preferences are how I like them.

I get what your meaning by a logical system to cure a problem but you have already created three and they pretty much cover the majority of problems + they are too vague to benefit and end user in the real world. If you section it up into categories with more detailed step that may help per example;

Problem: nothings turning on
detection
1. Is the power on and the psu switch on the on position
2. Is everything securely plugged in

Evaluation
4. Take the psu out of the case
5. Put the psu in a new computer and try
6. If no alternative computer is available take a case fan with a molex connector

Confirmation
7. Hot wire the psu 24pin adapter with a paper clip so that it turns on
8. Plug the fan into a molex port (adapter may be required)
9. Fan doesn't spin - RMA the psu it was DOA (lucky you didn't learn that buying cheap psu's was a mistake by it sparking and taking out your motherboard and graphics card)
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