Computer Troubleshooting Techniques
Part two

Here, in part two, I will describe computer troubleshooting processes offered by Apple. This technique, described in full, can be found in the book, Desktop and Portable Systems, Third Edition, by Marc Asturias/ Moira Gagen.

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I suggest that you buy this book as it has a lot of useful information about computer troubleshooting and repair, and is also full of good descriptions pertaining to Apple computers.

Apple recommends following two steps in the troubleshooting process:

Identify the issue
Perform the actual repair

To identify the issue:

Gather information
Verify the issue
Try quick fixes
Use appropriate diagnostics
Follow system fault isolation
Use additional resources to research the issue
Escalate the issue (if necessary)

After the issue has been identified:

Repair or replace the faulty item
Verify the repair by testing the product thoroughly
Inform the user of what has been done and complete the administrative tasks.

According to this book, if the quick fixes do not help, then it's important to turn to Systematic Fault Isolation. This may sound unfamiliar, but it is very simple. The idea is to eliminate half of the system items on the checking system, and  then try to  boot the computer to see if the problem is still there. I personally never use this type of troubleshooting. Instead, I use another technique stated below.

Component Isolation. According to the book, this technique is part of Systematic Fault Isolation. The first step is to strip system down to a minimum so it is able to boot or eliminate everything, and then add elements gradually. In my opinion, this technique is very good and can save a lot of time when troubleshooting. For example, we once had a desktop computer that was switching off randomly. The PSU replacement did not help. After making a minimal system in order to boot the computer and check it, we discovered a damaged USB port that was having a short circuit. It would work for some time until something would move or shake, and then it would short circuit the PSU which would protect itself by cutting the power off. This technique helps in many cases even when the CPU or RAM is faulty. This method also makes confirmation easy when the motherboard is faulty. This technique is especially handy when the system does not switch on or does not boot to the OS.

Although this book is describing troubleshooting for Mac computers, I found it very useful. Macs have their own character, and Mac OS X reacts differently in terms of hardware faults. For example, if the software installation tells you that it can’t finish the installation because of unknown faults, it is most likely that the DVD drive can’t read the disk because it is scratched.


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