Background Information Useful In Problem Diagnosis

When you need help with your computer, and its behaviour on the network, please remember that the ones who need to help you aren’t in front of it with you. Background information and observations, that you might make or ignore, can be useful in determining the cause of your problems.

Please start by providing details about your network, and about the problem for which you need help.

  • When providing background information, please format it properly. Please don’t munge or hide the details, such as computer names. Don’t interfere with our ability to help you.
  • Describe, as precisely as possibly, what you are doing, and what you are seeing.
  • Provide the complete and exact text, in any observed error messages. Look for details in Event Viewer, if possible.
  • Describe the computers on your network. Identify the operating systems on each computer – Name, Edition (if Windows XP, is it Home or Pro?) (And if XP Pro, is it using Guest or non-Guest authentication?), and Service Pack level.
  • How does each computer, and each other network device connect? Do you have all computers connected, as peers, to a router? Or do you have a host (running ICS) and one or more clients? Make and model of network software and hardware – personal firewalls, routers, hubs, network cards – is useful too.
  • Describe the scope of your problem. If you have more than one computer, does the problem show up on each computer simultaneously? Does it show up on each computer, but at different times? Is there a time of day or day of week pattern?
  • Describe when you first observed the problem. What network, or system changes, did you make just previous to the observation? How long had you had your previous network, and system, configuration, before that change?
  • Describe the workaround that you’re using, when you experience the problem.

Solving system problems is a lot like solving crimes – the smallest detail may lead to the guilty party.

Remember, I can’t watch you when you’re fixing your system, so don’t make me beg for details. Help Us To Help You. For more thoughts on this subject, see How To Post On Usenet….

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