CompTIA A+ Exam 220-902 sub-objective 5.5 – Given a scenario, explain the troubleshooting theory

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Detailed (and official) description of CompTIA A+ sub-objective 5.5

5.5 Given a scenario, explain the troubleshooting theory.
Always consider corporate policies, procedures and impacts before implementing changes.

1. Identify the problem
Question the user and identify user changes to computer and perform backups before making changes

2. Establish a theory of probable cause (question the obvious)
If necessary, conduct external or internal research based on symptoms

3. Test the theory to determine cause
Once theory is confirmed determine next steps to resolve problem
If theory is not confirmed re-establish new theory or escalate

4. Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution

5. Verify full system functionality and if applicable implement preventive measures

6. Document findings, actions, and outcomes

Welcome to ExamNotes by CertBlaster! This is the final installment of the A+ 220-902 ExamNotes. Here in A+ 220-902 Sub-objective 5.5 “Given a scenario, explain the troubleshooting theory” we will examine the factors that separate good troubleshooters from great ones. We will separate “guessers” who may be right on occasion from consistently high performing technicians who use a proven methodology to achieve a higher success rate. We will use the CompTIA six-step model here. Good luck!

Always consider corporate policies, procedures, and impacts before implementing changes

Whenever repairs or changes are necessary there are additional factors to consider. If we look at a failed 802.11g wireless adapter does it make more sense to upgrade to a newer 802.11 standard? The parts for a direct replacement may not be available and a discussion with a network engineer may shed light on the possibility of a system-wide implementation to 802.11ac in the near future. These facts will have a direct impact on the parts you choose. Always take a structured approach to troubleshooting an issue. In preparation, first and foremost preserve as much user data as possible, back their data up to a network drive if at all possible. Check to see if there is a System Restore Point available for a time before the problem appeared. Don’t use it now, just know that it is available.

1. Identify the problem

Problem identification is essential to your success. A problem may appear to be a bad video card, when in fact it could be incorrect monitor resolution or a driver that needs to be updated. Use your knowledge base and rule out the possibilities until you arrive at the correct one. Don’t act just yet, you are just getting started.

Question the user and identify user changes to computer and perform backups before making changes

As we have stated earlier the user is the only real witness to problem occurrence. Ask good questions that will allow the user to explain in their own words (weird blue screen) the circumstances that surrounded the issue. Here is the big question “Can you reproduce the problem for me?” If the user can recreate the problem you can look at every aspect of the problem from program matters to user error. If it turns out to be user error don’t make a big deal of it. Possibly, “I just got an idea, can I try something?” If that doesn’t work Ask: “Did you notice any error messages or abnormal display behavior?” Another would be “Have you recently installed any new software?” And always ask, “What programs were you using when you observed the problem?” The answers here will help you paint a picture of the severity of the problem along with program or device compatibility. Pay close attention to items that would seem innocuous to the user like newly installed screensavers or responses to Virus warnings. Ask questions related to electrical issues like power outages or environmental issues like thunderstorms. Any detail however small could hold the key to your resolution.

2. Establish a theory of probable cause (question the obvious)

Now you have gathered a sufficient amount of information to formulate a theory regarding the issue. Don’t hesitate to consider factors that have any impact on the matter. Is the system on? Does it have power? What is displayed on the monitor? Do you get a POST beep? What type of sound does it make?

If necessary, conduct external or internal research based on symptoms

If you are still not certain, research the issue. You’re not the first person to experience this and there probably are online posts regarding it. Be sure to consult the manufacturer website. Use every resource available to you. There is a vast amount of information at your disposal online. Use it.

3. Test the theory to determine cause

Every problem will have a root cause. Use your skills to identify the determining factor (s) Determine if the problem is hardware or software based. Once you have formulated a workable theory it’s time to test it. We can’t stress this enough. Be sure your user’s data is securely backed up.

Once the theory is confirmed determine next steps to resolve the problem

When you have determined your theory it’s time to test it. Perform a test and evaluate the results. If multiple solutions are available, use the least invasive one first.

If your test is successful move to step 6. Remember to take good notes.

If theory is not confirmed re-establish new theory or escalate

If the condition still exists, move to your next course of action. Don’t do anything drastic like formatting the disk! Escalate the issue. Seek advice from a co-worker or your supervisor. They may have encountered this issue before.

4. Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution

When you are confident you have the solution, write down your proposed plan of action and then follow it to the letter. This helps future technicians solve this problem and documents your actions.

5. Verify full system functionality and if applicable implement preventive measures

When you have completed the repair check the system for operation. Check all aspects of operation, fixing one thing has the possibility of breaking something else. Review the nature of the repair with the user making sure they understand. What caused the problem and ways they can prevent reoccurrence.

6. Document findings, actions, and outcomes

At the close of the call ask the user to perform some of their daily tasks to be sure they are satisfied. Take your time and be sure things are working as expected.

This is the last sub-objective for A+ 220-902!

Ladies and Gentlemen! If you worked these ExamNotes sequentially then you have made it through all 33 A+ Objectives, congratulations! This does not mean you are ready for the test, only that you have completed one portion of your training. Use every resource available to you. Self-tests (not brain dumps) are a great way to test your knowledge. Google a ton! There is a lot of preparation material available on the Net (make sure you have more than one source for anything you are not sure about). Use what works for you.

From all of us at CertBlaster, GOOD LUCK!

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