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The Art of Troubleshooting, when on a budget
Douglas Chick  

The art of troubleshooting has nothing to do with rebooting the computer when there is a problem. Although, it does come in handy when youíre in a pinch and donít have the time to find the real problem. In fact, I believe that Iíve said the word reboot more than any single solitary word that Iíve ever said in my life. With coming in second, third and fourth--idiot, dump-ass and ďLook, youíve licked off all the letters on your keyboard again!Ē 

Rebooting does solve a multitude of problems, such as, memory leaks, (programs that do not unload themselves from memory once the program is exited.) Programs that try to share the same CPU or Memory register and lock up the system. And Client software having issues with the database, connectivity, threading, file locking and so on. I could continue this forever.

To effectively troubleshoot you must first isolate the problem. If people are involved I ask what was the last action taken before the computer stubbornly stopped cooperating. What the end-user hears is; what did you do wrong now, you idiot! Hmm, maybe itís the other way around, I forget. So upon doing so, they immediately deny doing any and everything and become a useless tool to aid you. All you can do now is ask what is the computer suppose to do and when did it stop doing that. And of course immediately demand to seat in their chair. Thatís the part I like the best.

At this point you might be saying to yourself; wait a minute; youíre talking about what helpdesk people have to do? Network Administrators only work on servers. In a perfect world, yes, but you can have an army of helpdesk personnel and still somewhere along the line youíre going to make the mistake of helping someone, and then theyíll tell someone else, and the next thing you know youíre working on their home computerÖ. Iím sorry; I had to pause for a moment and shiver.

I donít like to admit it but, with some problems, especially with Windows, itís faster to re-image the hard drive than troubleshoot the problem. I mean, if youíre department in understaffed as my is, you donít have a lot of time to spend searching the archives of a software company that shipped out yet another program that is up to you to debug. If however, you do have a lot of time to spend, investigating the whys and what happened, than please forward it on to us, because quite frankly we could use the break.  




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