Troubleshooting Techniques: Step 3 – Something changed recently, what is it?

The classic customer support call starts with the person reporting the problem claiming, “I didn’t change anything and it suddenly quit working!” Digging for details may reveal that this statement may have conveniently ignored a power failure, reinstallation of the operating system on a personal computer, a daylight savings changeover, or spilling large quantities of carbonated beverages on the equipment.

Once you have determined whether or not the problem is environmental, the next key is to determine what is different from the last time the device functioned correctly. Approach this like you would if you were helping someone find their car keys, wallet, or eye glasses. Have them go back to the last time everything was working and conceptually backtrack through the events that have happened since. This exercise will reveal the seemingly insignificant changes in ether the device or the environment that could have a big impact on the outcome.

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