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Monday, December 17, 2001
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Troubleshooting begins where fine-tuning ends
Vipul Verma

THE first basic principle of troubleshooting is "Never trouble trouble, till trouble troubles you." This simply means that one should not be unnecessarily conscious about the performance and the overall health of the PC. Assuming without any logic that the PC has become slow is the easiest way to invite trouble for the PC. Over a period of time the PC may become slow, which could be because of numerous factors including enlarging of registry, presence of unnecessary memory-based programs and fragmented hard disk. This does not represent any trouble with the PC whereas it just represents the need to fine-tune the PC.

Fine-tuning and troubleshooting are two different things and should be well understood by the user. For fine-tuning, all necessary utilities like scandisk and defrag, system clean up etc. are provided as system tools. These system utilities are also the basic tools for troubleshooting. But troubleshooting begins where fine-tuning ends. So, if there is a need to fine-tuning, do not panic. Just run the system tools in the order as follows. First of all run the system clean up you utility, then ScanDisk. After that run defrag. If you use these system utilities on a regular basis then most likely your PC will remain fine tuned irrespective of years of use. So the first step of troubleshooting is fine-tuning, which is the most basic and also the most important step in computer maintenance.

 


The second basic principle of troubleshooting is, do not jump to conclusions without understanding the problem well. In most of the cases, the solution to big problems is easy and all you need to do is comprehend the problem well. Also it is essential not to overestimate the magnitude of the problem. Normally, for a layman, troubleshooting involves four steps ó running the ScanDisk followed by defrag. If this does not solve the problem, reinstall Windows, and if the problems still persists, than format the hard disk. However this process is absolutely wrong and lacks proper investigation and understanding of the trouble. Remember formatting the hard disk might be the easiest solution but it is also very painful and in most cases illogical. Do not resort to formatting unless, all possible solutions have been worked out.

The third basic principle of troubleshooting, involves the identification of problem. Normally, the users get confused with the problem reported by computer and think of a solution as a whole whereas for the perfect solution it is very necessary to break the problem first and judge, whether it is a hardware or software problem. The solutions to the hardware problems are altogether different from the solution to the software ones. As a step towards identification of the problem, one must go through the problem well that also includes understanding its description in the Windows help files. This will help in pinpointing the problem. As per studies, on an average the problems of the personal computers are 75 per cent due to software and operating system and 25 per cent due to hardware. This study certainly provides a starting point to the whole process of troubleshooting, though itís not a thumb rule.

In the next step of troubleshooting, start with the process of elimination of the programs and most common sources of problems for a PC. First of all make sure that you have configured your anti-virus software well, normally the anti-virus programs contributes for the majority of computer problems. If the anti-virus program is not configured well or is not updated regularly, assume that this will certainly create some problem. Treat the anti-virus software first for troubleshooting. Normally, the computer users accept the default setting of the anti-virus program, which may not be required for average PC users. You should configure these settings as per specific need. If configuring or updating the anti-virus program solves your problem, it is fine else unload and check for the recurrence of the problem.

Another soft target for the trouble is the registry. Normally it is being considered that the registry is not a common man's domain. This perception is correct but with some very useful software related to registry cleaning, maintaining the registry is not as technical as it is perceived to be. However, it is always a good idea to make a copy of registry else where before attempting any thing on it. Also, one should not do registry cleaning, unless it is required.

Another probable place of trouble is system file entries, which are either being uninstalled and leaves some of their entry in your system if the program is removed in an improper way. Removing the system file entries manually is certainly a technical task and should not be attempted if you are not confident of what you are doing. Normally the registry cleaner utilities also trims down other system entries and thus removes all other unnecessary entries like .dll files. Regarding the improper removal of programs, it should be understood clearly that this is the easiest way of inviting trouble for the PC. You can use the third party uninstaller programs for removing the programs from your PC and should not just delete the directory of the program containing the program files. However, if this is the source of the problem, then you must reinstall the deleted application again and then attempt to uninstall it.

For effective troubleshooting you must always keep the PC clean of all clutter and temp files as it eats up precious resources and slows down the PC.

The next step involved in PC troubleshooting is related to troubleshooting the hardware. For troubleshooting hardware, as a first step, you must check the system properties under control panel for any hardware conflicts and errors reported. In the systems properties under device manager all hardware drivers and their status is being mentioned. If there is a question mark or mark of exclamation attached to any of the hardware driver, then there is a problem with that particular hardware driver and you need to install it again.

As a first step you must check the device manager and be sure about all hardware drivers working properly in your PC. Next open your PC cover and check the RAM , as this is the most soft target for PC troubles in a majority of cases. Take out the RAM from its slot, and after cleaning it with dry cloth insert it back properly. Also check the VGA card similarly for any possibility of problems. Also clean your PC from inside of all dust and other things and reboot again. Unless there is some other problem related to your motherboard or hard disk, which are beyond your control your basic troubles will go. However, if the problem still persists then you may need to consult your hardware vendor.

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