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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | General Troubleshooting Techniques | General Diagnostic Techniques ]

Determine Repeatability

Most problems with a PC fall into one of two categories: either they are repeatable or they are intermittent. A repeatable problem is one where the problem occurs all the time, or always in response to a specific user action. For example, a PC that has a problem that prevents it from booting will probably always fail to boot no matter how many times you reset it. Or you may have an application that whenever you try to run, will crash with an error. You may find that your PC hangs, but only when you move the mouse at the same time that you are communicating using your modem.

In contrast, some problems are intermittent and not repeatable. In some cases, you may have a PC that will usually boot up fine, but one day a month will fail to boot for some reason. An application may work most of the time but occasionally crash. The PC may lock up at seemingly random intervals. Your mouse may work almost all of the time, but one day out of five or ten may give you trouble.

It is helpful to determine if the problem you are experiencing is repeatable, because intermittent difficulties are much more difficult to resolve than repeatable ones. If a problem is repeatable, and there is a specific set of actions that cause the problem, this gives you at least some initial clues about how to find the cause. In addition, you have a way of testing to see if you have resolved the problem when you are trying different solutions. Intermittent problems are much more difficult to deal with.

Determining if a problem is repeatable is pretty simple: try to duplicate the conditions that caused the problem and see if it happens again.

Next: Dealing With Intermittent Problems

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