Home : Technical Terms : Troubleshooting Definition


Troubleshooting is the process of diagnosing the source of a problem. It is used to fix problems with hardware, software, and many other products. The basic theory of troubleshooting is that you start with the most general (and often most obvious) possible problems, and then narrow it down to more specific issues.

Many product manuals have a "Troubleshooting" section in the back of the manual. This section contains a list of potential problems, which are often phrased in the form of a question. For example, if your your computer's monitor is not producing an image, you may be asked to answer the following troubleshooting questions:

  1. Is the monitor plugged in to a power source?
  2. Is the monitor turned on?
  3. Is the monitor cable plugged into the computer?
  4. Is the computer turned on?
  5. Is the computer awake from sleep mode?
If the answers to all the above questions are Yes, there may be some additional questions such as:
  1. Does your computer have a supporting video card?
  2. Have you installed the necessary video card drivers?
  3. Is the monitor resolution set properly?
Typically, each of these questions will be followed by specific advise, whether the answer is Yes or No. Sometimes, this advice is presented as a flowchart diagram. This means each question is followed by a series of other questions, depending on the answer. However, in many cases, only single solutions are provided for each question.

Troubleshooting is something we all have to do at some point, though some of us have to troubleshoot product problems more often than others. The good news is that, the more you do it, the more you learn and the better you get at fixing problems. Since many products have similar troubleshooting steps, you may find that after awhile, you don't even need the manual to find solutions to the problems you encounter.

Updated: August 25, 2009

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