During the 1800s California gold rush, mines hired tough, no-nonsense guards to shoot troublemakers. They were referred to as “troubleshooters”.

Another story tells of technicians dispatched by the 19th-century telephone and telegraph companies to hunt for problems in the infrastructure. They were instructed to “shoot” these troublesome problems down.

Regardless of which story you believe, troubleshooting today is an important component of technical support and refers to searching for the source of the problem and solving it. It is an approach that is used to deal with problems in computer systems, machines, and electronic devices.

Other interesting terms…

Read More about “Troubleshooting”

Troubleshooting is a systematic approach to problem-solving, specifically for issues concerned with sudden equipment breakdown and system or software bugs. As such, it involves a variety of techniques to diagnose system or equipment failure and implement the appropriate corrective action.

The term commonly figures in engineering, technology, and process industries. As an approach, it is often applied in information technology (IT), usually to address hardware or software malfunction. The goal is to not only remedy a problem, but also to ensure product longevity, lower costs, and prevent safety hazards associated with product usage.

Troubleshooting Methods

Troubleshooting generally requires three methods to pinpoint the root causes of a problem and fully restore a piece of equipment or application to its operational state. These are:

Diagnosis or failure analysis

This is the process wherein a product’s or process’s modes of failures are investigated. With it, a device or process may be picked apart or checked with the aid of diagnostic tools to understand how defects could impact operations, as well as the safety of users.

Process of elimination

The process of elimination is a problem-solving method where solutions are screened until only the best one is left. One example of this process is the split-half search technique. It refers to the practice of eliminating 50% of the potential sources of an issue until you determine its ultimate source. Once the cause has been identified, the problem is replicated, so a solution can be chosen and subsequently administered.

Process or product restoration

This is the process wherein the solution is applied to either fix or replace the problematic component. Here, a technician or troubleshooter has to verify that the issue has been fully resolved and will no longer cause future problems.

Troubleshooting Example

Perhaps one of the most popular troubleshooting commands is “Control-Alt-Delete,” which opens the Task Manager on Windows (Option-Command-Escape on Mac). Through the Task Manager, users can determine which program has become completely unresponsive, close it, or restart the computer altogether.

Effective Troubleshooting

The success of troubleshooting depends on the expertise of the professionals handling it and whether or not they observe the prescribed approach. IT professionals can refer to knowledge bases and various troubleshooting manuals issued by hardware or software vendors. Such manuals list commonly encountered technical problems, usually in the form of questions, followed by recommended solutions. Most troubleshooting steps for virtually any simple or complex issue can also be Googled.