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A+ Guide to Managing

and Maintaining Your PC


Fifth Edition

Chapter 24

Troubleshooting and
Maintenance Fundamentals
You Will Learn…
 About your role as a PC technician in
troubleshooting and maintenance, and tools
available to help you in those roles

 How to approach a troubleshooting problem

 How to develop a preventive maintenance plan


and what to include in it

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Troubleshooting Perspectives
 PC support technician

 PC service technician

 Bench technician

 Help-desk technician

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Essential Troubleshooting Tools
 Bootable rescue disks

 Ground bracelet and/ground mat

 Screwdrivers (flat-head, Phillips-head or cross-


head, Torx set, particularly size T15)

 Tweezers, preferably insulated

 Chip extractor and extractor


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Useful Troubleshooting Tools
 Multimeter

 Needle-nose pliers

 Flashlight

 AC outlet ground tester

 Small cups or bags


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Useful Troubleshooting Tools
(continued)
 Antistatic bags

 Pen and paper

 Diagnostic cards and software

 Utility software, virus detection, and


diagnostic software on disks

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Bootable Rescue Disk
 Enables booting of PC even when hard drive
fails

 Ensures cleanest boot possible

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POST Diagnostic Cards
 Monitor boot process and report errors and
conflicts at POST, usually as coded numbers
on an LED panel on the card

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Examples of POST Diagnostic
Cards
 Amber Debug Card by Phoenix Technologies

 PCI Error Testing/Debug Card by Trigen


Industries

 POSTcard V3 by Unicore Software, Inc.

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Diagnostic Software
 Identifies hardware problems

 Most effective diagnostic software does not


run from the Windows OS

 Windows might mask a hardware problem

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Examples of Diagnostic
Software
 PC-Technician by Windsor Technologies, Inc.
 PC-Diagnosys by Windsor Technologies, Inc.
 Data Lifeguard Tools by Western Digital
 Programs that test memory
 Memtest 86 by Chris Brady
 Windows Memory Diagnostic by Microsoft
 DocMemory by CST Inc.
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General-Purpose Utility
Software
 Diagnoses problems
 Repairs and maintains software on a PC
 Recovers corrupted or deleted data on hard
drive or floppy disks
 Provides security
 Monitors system performance
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General-Purpose Utility
Software (continued)
 Downloads software updates from Internet

 Might use installed OS or provide its own

 Do not run it continuously in the background

 Slows down system

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Examples of General-Purpose
Utility Software

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Examples of General-Purpose
Utility Software (continued)

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Fundamental Rules of
Troubleshooting
 Make backups before making changes
 Approach problem systematically
 Isolate problem
 Remove memory-resident programs
 Boot from disk to eliminate the OS and startup
files on the hard drive
 Remove unnecessary hardware devices

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Fundamental Rules of
Troubleshooting (continued)
 Don’t overlook the obvious

 Check simple things first

 Make no assumptions

 Become a researcher

 Write things down


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Fundamental Rules of
Troubleshooting (continued)
 Reboot and start over

 Establish priorities

 Keep your cool and don’t rush

 Don’t assume the worst

 Know your starting point


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Gathering Information
 Interact with user

 Investigate problem on computer

 Isolate the problem

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Interacting with the User
 Use good manners and diplomacy
 Don’t take drastic action before asking about
important data that may not be backed up
 Provide alternatives before making decisions
for users
 Protect confidentiality of data
 Don’t disparage user’s choice of hardware or
software

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Investigating the Problem
 What OS is installed?
 What physical components are installed –
processor, expansion cards, drives, peripheral
devices? PC connected to network?
 What is the nature of the problem – before or
after boot, error message, etc?
 Can you duplicate the problem? Intermittent or
consistent problem?
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Isolating the Problem
 Consider the possibilities

 Eliminate simple things first

 Eliminate the unnecessary

 Trade good for suspected bad

 Trade suspected bad for good

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Intermittent Problems
 Hardest to solve

 Look for patterns or clues

 Ask user to keep a log of when problems occur


and exactly what error messages appear

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Goals of Preventive
Maintenance
 Reduce likelihood that events that cause PC
failures will occur

 Preventive maintenance plan

 Lessen the damage if they do occur

 Disaster recovery plan

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When a PC Is Your Permanent
Responsibility
 Organize hard drive boot directory
 Create rescue disks
 Document setup changes, problems, and
solutions
 Record setup data
 Take practical precautions to protect software
and data (eg, back up original software and
back up data on the hard drive)
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Preventive Maintenance Plan
Guidelines

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Preventive Maintenance Plan
Guidelines (continued)

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Preventive Maintenance Plan
Guidelines (continued)

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Preventive Maintenance Plan
Guidelines (continued)

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Preventive Maintenance Plan
Guidelines (continued)

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Guidelines for Moving
Equipment
 Back up hard drive
 Remove removable disks, tape cartridges, or
CDs from drives
 Turn off power to PC and devices
 Disconnect power cords and external devices
 Label cable connections
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Guidelines for Moving
Equipment (continued)
 Coil all cords and secure them

 Pack in original shipping cartons

 Purchase insurance

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Disposing of Used Equipment

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Disposing of Used Equipment
(continued)

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Fire Extinguishers
 Mount a fire extinguisher for Class C fires
(ignited and heated by electricity) near – but
not directly over – the workbench

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Summary
 Common-sense guidelines to solving
computer problems

 Avoid making situation worse by damaging


equipment, software, or data, or by placing undue
stress on users

 Follow safety precautions

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