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Information Technology Help Desk

Basic Computer Troubleshooting

The following steps, while basic in nature, lead to solutions in a large percentage of computing problems.

  • Shutdown and Restart your computer. See if the problem is corrected or still persists. (Alright, you knew this one already, but it is still a simple and effective way to quickly get back up and running again.)

  • Consider what has changed on your computer recently. Often times, the last thing that changed on the computer (software or hardware installed, removed, downloads from the web, etc) is what caused the given problem. Undoing the change may resolve the problem.

  • Consider whether or not the hardware or software has ever worked correctly. If it has never worked there is a chance that the hardware or software was not installed properly and may need to be reinstalled.

  • Check all physical connections to make sure they are securely connected. Often times a loose cable or connector (power, network, keyboard, mouse, speaker, monitor cable, etc.) is the cause of the problem.

  • Check to see if this is the only problem you are having. Knowing whether the problem is an isolated problem or part of a series of problems helps to understand the magnitude of what needs to be fixed.

  • Document the detailed description of the problem and the exact wording of any and all error messages. Again, knowing exactly what is wrong and being able to share the message is critical to determining a solution.

  • Consider whether or not the problem occurs at random times or at consistent/specific times. Random and/or intermittent problems are usually more difficult to diagnose and fix. But if a problem occurs at a specific time and you can reproduce the problem, you will be able to isolate the problem and consider the factors involved, which may lead you to a solution.

  • If you are having a problem with a specific software application, check the Help feature (usually located on the top menu bar) of that application. The Help feature of most programs not only provides how-to explanations but also solutions to common problems.

  • Check to see if anyone else around you is having a similar problem. If so, there may be a service outage affecting a wider area. Further information is available by checking Systems Alerts. Or, call the IT Help Desk at 568-3555. Once the IT Help Desk has gathered information about the disruption, a brief update can be heard by calling the IT Help Desk and holding on the line to hear the disruption announced right after the initial "Thank you for calling the Information Technology Help Desk" message.

  • Visit the Information Technology web site at http://www.jmu.edu/computing/ for help with your issue. Many general and specific computing solutions are available on this site.

  • If you are in need of additional assistance please contact the IT Help Desk at (540) 568-3555 or helpdesk@jmu.edu.