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1.6 - Hardware Troubleshooting

Exam Board:



2016 - Unit 1 

What is troubleshooting?

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


Hardware troubleshooting refers to fixing an issue with the physical parts of the computer or any connected 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 simplest explanation first (e.g. checking the power supply) 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 theory 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.

Electrical Inspectors


Technicians and help desk (see 3.5) staff should document, on a fault sheet, the following information regarding the issue:

  • The fault itself (such as 'system not turning on').

  • The system in question.

  • The user logged in at the time.

  • Exact date & time the problem occurred.

  • Symptoms of the issue (such as 'slow load times' or 'beeping').

  • Problem history - checking if it has happened to this system before.

  • Back up documentation - Whether the data been backed up recently.

Copying Down

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 properly. Beep codes signal if an error has been detected; 1 beep will sound for no error but if multiple beeps are heard then an error 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.

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Questo's Questions

1.6 - Hardware Troubleshooting:

1. 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. [3]

2. List 6 pieces of information that an IT technician should record when a hardware error has occurred. [6]

3. Briefly explain the purpose of three troubleshooting tools. [6]

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