Presentation on theme: "Skills for Troubleshooting Computer Problems"— Presentation transcript:
1 Skills for Troubleshooting Computer Problems CTS 217:Computer Training & SupportCHAPTER 3Skills for Troubleshooting Computer Problems
2 Chapter Objectives In this chapter, students will learn about: The troubleshooting process and thinking skills requiredCommunication skills for troubleshootingHow to use information resources to help solve computer problemsDiagnostic and repair toolsStrategies for troubleshootingHow to develop your own approach to problem solving
3 IntroductionSolving problems most frequent task user support agents performVaried user concernsInformation requests? about tasks (data validation in Excel)Product complaintsProblem preventing hardware or software useMight have quick solution (seen it before) or might have to look it upThis chapter: tools, methods, strategies for difficult problems
4 What is Troubleshooting? Troubleshooting is the process of defining, diagnosing, and solving computer problemsUses thinking and communications skills, information resources, strategies, and methods (NOT always fixed steps)Is troubleshooting:A step-by-step process?An iterative process? Loops, false starts, dead endsA scientific process? Rules of logicA creative process?
5 Sequential versus Iterative Problem-Solving Processes p. 104
6 T/S as an Iterative Process A repetitious processA creative process that requires flexibility, thinking skills, and patienceInvolves several paths or approaches to problemsSteps are repeated in a loop until a fruitful path is foundAvoids hit-or-miss, trial-and-error approach to troubleshooting
7 T/S as an Iterative Process Fixed sequence: might find solution, might notHit-or-miss / Random: might fix it, might not, could make it worse!Physical tools: diagnostic programs, multimeterDatabases: knowledge basesThinking skills: Have you seen it before?
8 Thinking Skills Used In T/S Problem solvingCritical thinkingDecision making
9 Problem SolvingProblem solving is a process that moves from the current state X to a goal state YConsiders alternate paths to get from X to YObjective is to get from X to Y quickly, accurately, effectively, or efficientlyLook for:Analogies: how is this problem similar to others? eMachines restoration & Linux installContradictions: two facts cannot be true at the same time (NIC works in one PC, bad slot?)
10 A Problem-Solving Model p. 105 Grinding noise? Dried ink around cartridge dockNeed maintenance kit? Slick rollers keep paper from feeding properly
11 Critical Thinking Critical thinking is the cognitive skills used to: Analyze a problem (personal experience)Search for underlying logic or explanationFind alternate ways to think about or explain an event or situationExamples of critical thinking skills:Mental modelsHypothesis testingCreativityMetacognition
12 Critical Thinking Skills Mental model: a conceptual picture to help understand how a system worksBased on education and experienceComputer won’t boot: at POST level or o/s file missing?Hypothesis testing: a guess or prediction about the cause of a problem and a test to prove or disprove the hypothesisBased on mental model or experiencePrinter garbage characters – driver or cable?
13 Critical Thinking Skills Creativity: the ability to find a novel or innovative solution to a problemThink outside the box; apply what you knowSeen a similar problem?Metacognition: the ability to step back from a problem and think about your own thought processesChallenge your assumptionsDid you assume hardware, and it might be software?
14 Metacognition Common metacognitive questions: What assumptions did I make?Where did I go wrong in my approach?Why did one problem-solving approach work when another did not?How could I have thought differently about this problem?EXAMPLESRestore CD would hang – assumptions: bad CD, bad CD drive ACTUAL problem: defective memoryApplication crashes (illegal operation) – software, right? ACTUAL problem: defective brand new memory chip
15 Decision Making Decision making is an ability to: Select an alternative from among completing alternativesWeigh the pros and cons of each alternative against predefined criteriaReach a decisionWhich test will most likely fix it?Tests can be lengthy…choose wisely
16 Tools Troubleshooters Use Communication skills (Chapter 2)Information resourcesDiagnostic and repair toolsProblem-solving strategiesPersonal characteristics
17 Communication SkillsMost troubleshooting situations require at least some communication with an end user or vendor about a problemTypes of communication skillsBasic listening skillsActive listeningProbesCritical questionsExplanationVerification
18 How Troubleshooters Use Communication Skills To get a basic description of a problemTo learn the user’s perspectives on the problemTo probe for additional information“won’t do anything” – no power, beep codes, no desktop?To effectively communicate a solution back to the user
19 Basic Listening Skills Listen to the words a user chooses to describe the problemDon’t jump to conclusions; can be less efficientAllow a user enough time to explain a problemTry to obtain as accurate a description of the problem as possibleTip: Listen for causal If…Then … statements
20 Active ListeningActive listening occurs when the listener is as engaged in the communication process as the speakerCompared to a passive receiver of informationExample:“If I try to adjust my monitor, then the screen goes blank.”Possible reasons why?
21 ParaphrasingParaphrasing is an active listening skill in which you restate in your own words what you heard a user sayUsed to resolve misunderstandings and get a clear problem description; verify understandingExample:End user description: “I don’t know what happened, but the program doesn’t work.”Support specialist paraphrase: “Let me make sure I understand. The program used to work, but now it doesn’t?”Rest is on p. 110
22 ProbesProbes are follow-up questions designed to elicit additional information about a problemA sequence of probes often clarifies a problem situationExample:“When your computer crashes, is it always running the same program or different ones?”Page 111: Role Playing Scenario
23 Critical QuestionsCritical Questions are designed to elicit important additional information from a userChallenge assumptions a support specialist might makeOften reveal information a user wouldn’t have thought to relateThings to try when you’re stuck; get beyond the dead endMake checklistBrowser issue: Flash Player won’t play; installed successfully reset defaults on Security & Adv. tabs
24 Five Critical Questions Has this system or component or feature ever worked? CorelDraw printingHave you ever had this problem before? Cheap DVDsCan this problem be replicated? Sign in problem in one lab onlyIs it repeatable?What were you doing just before you first noticed the problem? Power outageHave you made recent hardware or software changes to your system? Recent installation
25 ExplanationExplanation is a communication skill in which a support specialist describes a solution to a problem so a user understands:Why the problem occurredThe steps required to resolve itExplain it on THEIR level; might not have to call back next time
26 VerificationVerification is a communication skill in which a support specialist makes sure that a user agrees that a problem has been resolved satisfactorilyResolve difference if user thinks problem not solvedRebooted router – access network now??
27 Information Resources for T/S Personal experienceWon’t know it allMore bkgrd info and exp. = better mental modelsRecall = good; must also search well (rapid changes)Scripts and checklistsKnowledge basesCoworkers and other professional contactsSupport vendors and contractorsEscalation and team problem solving
28 Personal ExperienceBased on a support agent’s education, career background, and previous experiencesSearch personal knowledge for information about a problem or for similar problemsSeen it before? What did you do?Tip: Develop a problem notebookMake notes after a problem is solved, and organize them by symptoms, equipment type, date, etc. [Put in Word or Access – searchable]Notes about mods to databases
29 Scripts and Check Lists A script lists questions to ask and follow-up probesOrganized as:A flowchartA decision treeArranged in a logical sequenceCovers all possible known paths to solve a problemExample: See Figure 3-5 on page 115 (printer LED lights)
30 Knowledge BasesA knowledge base is an organized collection of information that is a resource in problem solvingArticlesProceduresTipsPointers to informationSolutions to existing problemsNotebook [database] mentioned on previous slide
31 Examples of Knowledge Bases Vendor manuals – service manuals 8710pTrade books (use to supplement poor vendor manuals)Trade periodicals: computer magazinesOnline help: might be online vendor manual, t/s wizardsWeb sites (MS, Dell, HP)Search engines
32 Search Engine Guidelines Use keywords that are nounsUse present tense verbsInclude vendor name, model number, version numberInclude operating system and versionPut quotes around phrases (errors)Put + sign before essential keywordsUse Boolean operators AND OR NOT
33 Coworkers and Other Prof. Contacts Coworkers: another set of eyes; see something you don’tDiscussion forums: search might lead you hereListservs: An automated service that distributes messages posted to the ListServ to subscribersSearch archives; high volume ofNewsgroups: An Internet discussion in which participants with common interests in a topic post messages; electronic bulletin boardRSS feeds: A service that aggregates information from Web resources (blogs, forums, news) and delivers it to subscribers in a convenient format
34 Support Vendors and Contractors May have seen a baffling problem before and be able to offer suggestions to resolve itaccess to tech support or sign in to KBOutsourcing: an agreement with a support services contractor for problem-solving assistance for a feeHandle incident that require special expertiseBackup to in-house support staff when volume of incidents is heavy
35 Escalation and Team Prob. Solv. Escalation is a referral of a difficult or complex problem to a higher support level for resolutionTeam approach to problem solvingMutual problem solving assistanceTeam owns the problem, not an individual
36 Diagnostic and Repair Tools Software utilities that help troubleshoot computer problemsCategoriesGeneral-purpose and remote diagnosisHardware problem diagnosisSoftware problem diagnosisNetwork problem diagnosis
37 General-Purpose and Remote Diagnosis tools Remote access utilities help support users in distant locationsSupport agents can:View a remote user’s screenEnter commands on user’s systemExamples:Expertcity’s GoToAssistRapid AssistSymantec’s pcAnywhereSecurity concerns: use VPN, user authentication and encryption
38 Hardware Problem Diagnosis Utils Preinstalled on computers; boot menu keyDetect defective hardware componentsIdentify performance problemsRecover some lost dataDocument and optimize configuration informationExamples:Symantec’s Norton SystemWorks [Ghost]PC DiagnosticsPC-Doctor
39 Software Problem Diagnosis Utilities Identify configuration informationIdentify and repair s/w installation and configuration problemsRepair Windows registryExamples:PC Tools’ Registry Mechaniciolo technologies System MechanicBelarc AdvisorDean Software Design’s PC Surgeon
40 Network Problem Diagnosis Utilities Identify network connectivity and configuration problemsMonitor network operation and performanceIdentify some security breaches (unauth. access)Help recover from network problemsExamples:EMC’s SMARTSSolar WindsPacket Trap’s Network and Traffic AnalyzerManage Engine’s OP Manager
41 Network Problem Diagnosis Utilities Remote mgmt: manage distribution of software to myriad of PCsPerformance mgmt: track uptime, identify problemsKeep tools at fingertips (flash drive)
42 8 Common P/S Strategies Look for a simple, obvious fix Attempt to replicate a problemExamine the configurationInitiate a root cause analysisView a system as a group of subsystemsUse a module replacement strategyApply a hypothesis-testing approachRestore a basic configuration
43 Look for a Simple, Obvious Fix Most computer problems are simpleDevelop a checklist of possible alternativesCheck for disconnected cablesReboot the systemTable 3-1: Monitor Power PlugPlug and replug just to be sure; outlet working?Shut down or rebootMay solve: low memory, device conflicts, app freezes, inoperative peripherals
44 Attempt to Replicate the Problem Replication is a process of trying to repeat a problem in the same or a different situation or environmentTry moving a problem to a different computer or another userExamine results:The problem also appears in a different environmentThe problem is localized; dependent on a specific environmentCOMPARE THE DIFFERENCES!
45 Examine the Configuration Many problems occur because a combination of hardware and software do not work well togetherCheck on hardware and softwareInstallation requirements (chk doc)Possible incompatibilitiesNot supported by o/sCurrent driverResource conflict
46 Initiate a Root Cause Analysis Root cause analysis is a strategy that looks beyond the visible symptoms of a recurring problem to search for an underlying causeAn iterative processAsks a series of Why?StepsIdentify (in writing) what the problem isDescribe (in writing) why the problem occursReturn to step 1 until the root cause of a problem is identified (5+ interations)
47 View a System as a Group of Subsystems A block diagram of the subsystems and their relationship to each other is sometimes helpfulStart at:Either end of a chain of eventsIn the middle of the chainTrace the problem forward or backwardMemo with wrong font p why?
48 Use a Module Replacement Strategy Module replacement replaces a hardware or software component with one that is known to workSwap out suspect hardware componentsDon’t replace too many at onceReinstall software packagesRepair option
49 Apply a Hypothesis-Testing Approach Formulate a hypothesis – a guess or prediction – about the cause of the problemBased on experienceUses critical thinking (list possible problems)Tip: Try brainstorming with others to develop alternate hypothesesDesign an experiment (a test) to see if an hypothesis is true or falseUser cannot log in p (h/w, s/w, n/w)
50 Restore a Basic Configuration Eliminate variables or factors that can make a problem complex or complicatedRemove hardware components to simplify a configurationDisconnect a system from a network to observe its standalone operationExt. DVD burner works when something else is removed – Why? Are they incompatible?S/W won’t run when on network Why?Practice and experience needed
51 Personal Characteristics of Successful Troubleshooters Exercise patience and persistenceFrustrated walk away for awhileEnjoy the problem-solving processView “problems” as opportunities/challengesEnjoy working with peopleDon’t have to like everyone as friend (professional)Enjoy continuous learning opportunitiesPeriodicals, training, learning from each other
52 Develop Your Own Approach to Problem Solving Identify the strengths a support specialist brings to each problemIdentify areas for improvement in problem solvingRecognize which tools and skills have been successful to solve past problems (trial and error – easy to get frustrated)Rely on information resources that have proved useful in past situationsImproved by the metacognition process (self-examination)
53 Chapter SummarySuccessful troubleshooting relies on an understanding of the troubleshooting process and uses thinking skillsTroubleshooting process is:IterativeCreativeThinking skills for troubleshooting include:Problem solvingCritical thinkingDecision making
54 Chapter Summary (continued) Troubleshooting uses several skills and toolsCommunication skillsInformation resourcesDiagnostic and repair toolsProblem-solving strategiesPersonal characteristics of troubleshooters
55 Chapter Summary (continued) Problem-solving strategiesLook for a simple, obvious fixAttempt to replicate the problemExamine the configurationInitiate a root cause analysisView a system as a group of subsystemsUse module replacementApply a hypothesis-testing approachRestore a basic configuration