Computer Troubleshooting Steps & Tips: CompTIA Theory

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As an IT support professional, your task is to quickly assess a situation, diagnose the problem, and find a solution to the issue. Computer technicians troubleshoot problems using a methodical process. Typically, a step-by-step approach produces better results than hit-or-miss guesses.

There are many troubleshooting guidelines, each with their own names and wording for the steps involved. The CompTIA troubleshooting theory has 6 steps that are used to take you through the process of resolving a computer problem. For the CompTIA A+ Exam, make sure you have the following 6 steps memorized and be certain to understand their intent and the order in which they are performed.

  1. Identify the problem: – Question the user and identify user changes to computer and perform backups before making changes.
  2. Establish a theory of probable cause – Question the obvious.
  3. Test the theory to determine cause – Once the theory is confirmed, determine the next steps to resolve problem. If the theory is not confirmed, establish a new theory or escalate.
  4. Act – Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution.
  5. Test and prevent – Verify full system functionality and, if applicable, implement preventative measures.
  6. Report – Document findings, actions, and outcomes.

Once you start the process, stick to a systematic approach and work on one thing at a time. Use the troubleshooting steps to proceed through the process without jumping around to different possible solutions. If you can’t figure out the problem, don’t be afraid to ask a co-worker for ideas or to escalate the problem to a senior technician. You will be much better off asking for help and learning from the experience than wasting hours on a problem.

By following these 6 steps to effectively identify the problem, figure out the best plan of action, and resolve the issue, you will be able to deal with the variety of problems that may present themselves in your daily work. By documenting these findings, actions, and outcomes, you will be better prepared when the issue or similar issues present themselves in the future as well.

If you’d like to learn more about troubleshooting, consider enrolling in Career Step’s Computer Technician training.


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  1. Ray Ward March 14, 2014

    Whenever I have a problem with My PC, I go directly to My PC technician here in Fairfield. I don’t have time to fix it, but hopefully I can do this all by myself soon. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Eli Sandman November 03, 2014

    I learned this in class, and needed some extra boosting. This really helped! Thanks!

  3. Trizah Nthakomwa January 11, 2015

    The notes are very straight and understandable, I really like the way its written

  4. kimbugwe fred February 04, 2015

    thanks for the notes. i think now i will not fail to solve computer problems again.

  5. martin caphux February 28, 2015

    well written, i learn frm xul en needed more thus i gat it well through this, thanks alot,,,i’ve love it

  6. swag~jeff April 04, 2015

    very wel written bro…it rili helpd me alot…thankz!!

  7. Godwin April 09, 2015

    This helps alot… It’s comprehensive

  8. Barams fals April 28, 2015

    very nice ,i’m really happy about this!
    Its really helps a lot.

  9. MAFABI ISAAC May 07, 2015

    very nice _ actually it z in a simple and understandable language:....
      “God Bless U”

  10. ekeada amarachi June 16, 2015

    thanks a lot for a better explaination, i appreciate.

  11. kyaw zin December 19, 2015

    Thank

  12. selestina mngao February 16, 2016

    It had been so tested Questions in Cisco Exam.It had real helped me thanks!!!!!!

  13. selestina mngao February 16, 2016

    Thank much

  14. Chibuike ojeh March 21, 2016

    To the point and refreshes my memory-Mahalo.

  15. Rosoldier May 11, 2016

    I like this career tip, ilove it. THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  16. Luke Yancey July 20, 2016

    I know a lot of people joke about it all the time, but your second tip really is the one that solves the majority of problems. Most people, especially the older generations, don’t even know what the obvious problems are, so going over them with it step by step is the best way to solve everything. Thank you for all your tips. I think they will help out a lot of people in the future!

  17. UTH July 27, 2016

    Nice Information about computer troubleshooting. Great Post.

  18. Deepa November 20, 2016

    I had put my conputer in sleep mode and when I came after 4 hours it didn’t turn on so I restarted it and still the monitor was blank
    Why?

  19. Career Step November 21, 2016

    Hi Deepa,
    That is really frustrating. Take a look at this article, maybe it will help you figure out what is going on:
    http://www.troublefixers.org/windows/fix-windows-10-wont-wake-up-from-sleep-or-turn-on-issue/166/

    Hope this helps!


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