By recognizing and understanding your symptoms, it can be much easier to trace a prob-lem to the appropriate assembly or component. Take the time to write down as manysymptoms as you can. This note-taking might seem tedious now, but once you have be-gun your repair, a written record of symptoms and circumstances will help to keep you fo-cused on the task at hand. It will also help to jog your memory if you must explain thesymptoms to someone else at a later date. As a professional troubleshooter, you must of-ten log problems or otherwise document your activities anyway.
IDENTIFY AND ISOLATE
Before you try to isolate a problem within a piece of computer hardware, you must first besure that the equipment itself is causing the problem. In many circumstances, this will befairly obvious, but some situations might appear ambiguous (i.e., there is no power, noDOS prompt, etc.). Always remember that a PC works because of an intimate mingling of hardware and software. A faulty or improperly configured piece of software can causeconfusing system errors. Chapter 3 touched on some of the problems that operating sys-tems can encounter.When you are confident that the failure lies in your system’s hardware, you can begin toidentify possible problem areas. Because this book is designed to deal with sub-assemblytroubleshooting, start your diagnostics there. The troubleshooting procedures throughoutthis book will guide you through the major sections of today’s popular PC components and peripherals, and aid you in deciding which sub-assembly might be at fault. When youhave identified a potential problem area, you can begin the actual repair process and swapthe suspect sub-assembly.
Because computers and their peripherals are designed as collections of sub-assemblies, itis almost always easier to replace a sub-assembly outright, rather than attempt to trou- bleshoot the sub-assembly to its component level. Even if you had the time, documenta-tion, and test equipment to isolate a defective component, many complex parts are proprietary, so it is highly unlikely that you would be able to obtain replacement compo-nents without a significant hassle. The labor and frustration factor involved in such an en-deavor is often just as expensive as replacing the entire sub-assembly to begin with(perhaps even more expensive). On the other hand, manufacturers and their distributorsoften stock a selection of sub-assemblies and supplies. You might need to know the man-ufacturer’s part number for the sub-assembly to obtain a new one.During a repair, you might reach a roadblock that requires you to leave your equipmentfor a day or two, or maybe longer. This generally happens after an order has been placed for new parts, and you are waiting for those parts to come in. Make it a point to reassembleyour system as much as possible before leaving it. Gather any loose parts in plastic bags,seal them shut, and mark them clearly. If you are working with electronic circuitry, be sureto use good-quality anti-static boxes or bags for storage. Partial re-assembly (combined with careful notes) will help you remember how the unit goes together later on.Another problem with the fast technological progress we enjoy is that parts rarely stayon the shelf long. That video board you bought last year is no longer available, is it? How
GE T T I N G S T ART E D