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Working in IT, I often have people ask me about issues they are having with their computer. Now, while I’m happy to help out, I often find that the problems I solve for them are problems they could have solved themselves. Mitch Tulloch, a Microsoft MVP and lead author of the just-published Windows 7 Resource Kit (Microsoft Press, 2010; ISBN: 9780735627000; 1760 pages), has created a short e-book called “What You Can Do Before You Call Tech Support.” Here are the opening paragraphs:
Your sound card has stopped working, your computer seems sluggish, the network is down, your hard drive is clicking, you can’t view a website, your monitor is hard to read, your new webcam isn’t working, your favorite program won’t run, and a funny burning smell is coming from your computer. What can you do on your own to try to troubleshoot the issue before you pick up the phone to call tech support?
If you’re running Windows 7, quite a lot. Microsoft has included a lot of self-support tools in Windows 7 that you can try using before you seek the help of others, and we’ll examine these in a moment. Then there are the tools you were born with—your five senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch) and most importantly your brain. And by brain I’m including your memory, experience, and capacity for logical reasoning. Finally, there is ancient and sacred lore passed on in secret from Master to Disciple over the millennia. We’ll see shortly how your brain, your senses, and the secrets of the Wise Ones can be very helpful for troubleshooting computer problems. But first let’s look at what troubleshooting tools are built into Windows 7.