What are some basic troubleshooting steps?

When there is a malfunction or odd behavior, it can be caused by a software incompatibility or by a hardware issue. General troubleshooting steps can help pinpoint and possibly resolve the issue.

Always maintain current backups of files you want to keep in the unfortunate event that they become damaged or inaccessible on your computer. Concordia faculty/staff home folders and shared folders are automatically backed up at regular intervals. Rather than saving to the desktop, important documents should be saved to a home or shared folder to be included in the backup process.

Others can create backups on a personal computer by copying files to an external drive or to a flash drive, or copy files to an online storage site. Some newer devices already come configured to use online backup (e.g., iCloud or Google Drive).

The following troubleshooting steps are a good place to start. You might think of additional things to try for your particular situation.

  1. Save your work and restart the problem program (e.g., web browser, email client, spreadsheet software).
  2. Reboot the computer.
  3. Install the latest updates for the computer.
  4. Install the latest updates for the software.
  5. Install the latest version of the software.
  6. If the issue involves a web browser,
    1. Check if popups need to be allowed.
    2. Clear temporary files/cache files (select the “Web” category from the menu above and choose the question for your web browser).
    3. Install the latest version of Java.
      1. Vist www.java.com.
      2. Click the link for “Do I have Java?”
      3. Install the recommended version, if needed.
    4. Try a different web browser.
      1. Firefox is available at www.getfirefox.com.
      2. Google Chrome is available at www.google.com/chrome.
  7. Install the latest updates to your anti-virus software and scan your computer.
  8. If the problem involves a cable,
    1. Examine the connectors on the cable and your computer for bent pins, loose wires, sharp kinks or other kinds of damage.
    2. Check that the connector is fully inserted and has a snug fit.
    3. Try the cable on a different computer.
    4. Try a different, known working cable on your computer.
  9. If the problem involves a network connection,
    1. Switch from a wireless connection to a wired connection (or the other way around). Always turn off the wireless connection when connected to the wired network.
    2. Reboot your network devices (i.e., cable modem, ADSL router, wireless access point).
    3. If this is a home connection to the Internet, confirm that no one else is using the network (e.g., playing computer games, watching streaming video), as that could interfere with your access to the Internet.
  10. If the problem involves accessing a web page, video or other resource over the network, try temporarily turning off the firewall or “Internet security software” for a few minutes on the computer (but remember to turn it on, again).
  11. If new software was recently installed before the issue appeared, try uninstalling the software.
  12. Try a different computer at home.
  13. Try your computer on a different network (e.g., McDonalds, Star Bucks, public library).
  14. Try a different computer on a different network (e.g., work, public library).

If your computer was working a few days or even weeks ago, it might be possible to return your computer to the point in time when it was functioning. It is beyond the scope of this information to explain that process. If you are using the Windows operating system, search for information about “windows restore point”. Macintosh users should search for “macintosh time machine”.

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