Basic Troubleshooting in Windows 10

In my role I receive a lot of incidents that needs to be solved. My mission is firstly to restore the service back to normal.

Once the service is back to normal we can look at making any further changes so that the incident won’t happen again.

In this post I will focus my troubleshooting on the operating system Windows 10 and how I solve most of my cases. This is mostly focused on first line cases and pretty basic troubleshooting.

Windows 10 is an operating system used in most enterprise environments that is widely known around the world.

There are several different ways to troubleshoot in Windows, so lets start to list some of the basic tools you might want to use while troubleshoot.

Event Viewer

In almost all systems there are some kind of information gathering going on in the background. To easily filter all this information there are several applications out there made for just this specific use. In this case there’s the Event Viewer, a built in application that gives you an easy to use Graphical User Interface (GUI) that gather all logs from Windows. These logs are categorized into different categories, such as Critical, Warning, Verbose, Error and Information. You can easily filter on date, users and these different categories.

Device Manager

The device manager will show you all connected hardware. All kind of hardware must have a driver installed on the computer if it should work as intended. The driver is a piece of software explaining to the computer what to do with the hardware, and how to do it.

If there’s any issues with the hardware or the driver you will notice that the specific part is highlighted in the device manager.

From the device manager you can also install, uninstall, update or see information about the driver.

Task Manager

Task Manager is a great tool to see which applications that is running, because you may not see all applications on your screen, some of them are running in the background. Since some applications may use more performance from your computer than others the Task Manager may also show you how your computer is performing, like how much the CPU is being used at the moment.

Some applications are sometimes starting at the same time as you logon to your computer, these applications can be controlled in the Startup tab inside the Task Manager.

You can also see which users that is logged on to the computer, this is a good feature to use when in an multi user environment.

Last but not least, you can see which services that is running or not. As an example the Event Viewer need a service running to collect all logs from the computer, if the service is stopped you may have to start it again.

Hardware

A lot of mistakes people do when they troubleshoot is that they start at the wrong side of the issue.

Not all issues are hardware related, but there are many. Something I was told back in school was “Always troubleshoot the hardware first” and this have really helped me a lot.

An example is docking stations and monitors, they sometimes stop to work because of various reasons. You may have heard this before but one way to solve this is to remove the power cable, press the On/Off button for 10 seconds and then plug it back in. What happens during this process is that you empty the resistors inside the machine. If you don’t press the button while you removed the power cable there might still be some parts that is running because there are power inside of it, and therefore it won’t be restored.


Simulated Issue

So we are now simulating that one of our users have sent us a case about a monitor that’s not working correct.

Troubleshooting

  • Hardware
    I will start of by checking the hardware, do the power reset process. Check all cables connected to the monitor.
    Connect the monitor to another users computer to make sure that the monitor is working as it should.

While I tried the monitor with another users computer it started to work without any issues, so there’s nothing wrong with the monitor.

  • Software
    Since I have focused on the hardware firstly and know that its working as it should I will now go over to troubleshoot the software.
    1. Event Viewer
      I start by checking the Event Viewer for any type of Errors.
      While I plugin the monitor I notice a error message in the event viewer saying that a driver is missing and therefore it can’t use the hardware correctly.
    2. Device Manager
      When I head over to the Device Manager I notice a yellow exclamation mark on the docking station connected to the computer.
      So the issue seems to be with the docking station missing a driver. Remember that the screen is connected to the computer via the docking station.
    3. Task Manager
      I have now downloaded this new driver for the docking station. When installing new software to the computer, be prepared to restart the computer in all situations.
      Therefore in this case we have the Task Manager that can show us if there’s any other users logged on to the computer before we restart.
      Maybe some users need to save their work before we restart the computer.

Result

The monitor is now working as it should.

The issue was a missing driver for the docking station.

This is a really common issues that often happens on all kind of computers from different manufacturers, often caused by another update being installed on the computer.

Disclaimer: All information on this blog is offered "as is" with no warranty. It is strongly recommended that you verify all information and validate all scripts in isolated test environments before using them in production environments.