Troubleshooting Techniques: Step 2 – Is this happening here or is it happening everywhere?

Any law enforcement officer can tell you that there are two kinds of traffic violations: speeding and everything else. That is, more people get cited for speeding than any of the other types of violations combined. Something similar can be said for troubleshooting. There are two kinds of problems that are generally resolved by troubleshooting: environmental problems and everything else.

The problem that has been brought to your attention may have nothing to do with the device itself, but instead have everything to do with the environment in which it is operating. For example, voltages supplied from electrical outlets vary in different locations throughout the world. In the United States, most sockets have three prongs (two flat, one round) whereas in Germany there are only two (both round). Often, adapters that transform voltages are required to make a device work properly in a particular country. The device itself is the same, but the environment in which it runs is quite different. This is a simple example, but things like this are often the root cause.

After verifying the set up instructions, it is wise to try to duplicate the problem being experienced in an environment other than the one where it is being reported. If the problem is repeatable in a different environment, you know the root cause is related to the device itself. Otherwise, you have just learned that environmental factors are involved. This narrows the scope of possibilities significantly.

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