1.6 Hardware Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting means to analyse and solve a problem with a computer system.


Hardware refers to the physical parts of the computer or any connected input / output devices.

Hardware issues might occur as a result of damage (intentional or accidental), power surges or malware.

Steps to Take When an Error Occurs

  • Try to identify the problem by looking for the most straightforward explanation first (e.g. checking power supply or laptop battery) and ask the user questions about the issue.

  • Create a theory about what the cause of the problem could be and prepare to test the approach using a series of troubleshooting tests.

  • Create a troubleshooting plan and record the steps that are taken before moving on to the next test. Check the system works after each stage of the plan.

  • Create a findings document that explains if and how the problem was fixed, for future reference if the problem occurs again.


When an error occurs, technicians should document, on a fault sheet, the following information:

  • The computer system on which the error occurred.

  • The user of the computer who was logged in at the time of the error.

  • The exact time and date the error occurred.

  • Whether the system has a problem history and if a similar error has occurred before.


Troubleshooting Tools

The following tools can be used to identify an error, so a technician has a greater understanding of the problem.

Event Viewer

Event Viewer is a type of utility software that lists detailed information about an error when one occurs. It can be used to work out how to fix the issue and will display both minor and major faults.


Power On Self Test (POST)

On start-up, a power-on self-test (POST) checks memory, power, hardware and cooling systems are all working correctly. Beep codes signal if an error has been detected; 1 beep will sound for no error, but if multiple beeps are heard, then a problem has been discovered.


Ping Test

This is a connectivity test between two computers. A message is sent to the destination computer and waits for a return message named the echo reply. This procedure can be repeated with other systems until the source of the problem is identified from a computer that does not reply.

Question Corner

Hardware Troubleshooting: 

a. Summarise the 'Steps to Take when an Error Occurs' section into your own top three tips for what to do when a hardware error happens.

bList 6 pieces of information that an IT technician should record when a hardware error has occurred.

c. Briefly explain the purpose of three troubleshooting tools.

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