What Is the Proper Order for Troubleshooting Computer Problems?


Performing computer-troubleshooting steps in the correct order is essential to isolating problems without doing unnecessary or potentially damaging work. Proper troubleshooting techniques allow you to quickly narrow down the problem to software or hardware, and help you fix your computer with the least invasive outcome.


  • Restart your computer before trying anything else. Sometimes computer problems are caused by software that is not responding correctly. Restarting your computer will reset all the programs and will dump any cache files that may be causing issues.

Virus and Malware Scan

  • Run a virus and malware scan to determine whether there are any malicious programs on your computer that need to be removed. If you can remove the bad programs and clean up the infected files, do so. If not, you may need to reinstall the infected applications or even your entire operating system.

Software or Hardware

  • Determine whether the issue with your computer is hardware- or software-related. You can do this by starting your computer up from another partition. If you do not have a separate partition on your computer, create another user account and see if the issue persists in the new account.


  • If you have determined the issue is a software problem, attempt to reinstall the particular programs causing the problem. If the problem is system-wide, you may need to attempt a full reinstall of your operating system. However, this is the last step you should take if it is a software issue.


  • If it appears to be a hardware problem, such as video or power issues, check the cabling of your computer. Many computer issues are caused by loose or faulty cabling. If the cabling is loose, secure it tightly and check if the problem persists.


  • After checking the cables, you must isolate the particular component causing the problems. If it is a power issue, and you do not hear a start up chime from your computer, it means it has failed the Power On Self Test, or POST. You can isolate the components until you find the right one. If it is an issue elsewhere, unplug components from your computer until you find the one causing the issue.


  • After isolating the component that is causing the problem with your computer, you must replace it. After replacing the component, test your computer for functionality.

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