Use CompTIA Troubleshooting Theory To Troubleshoot Computer Problems

What is the CompTIA Troubleshooting Theory? The theory consists of six systematic steps that you follow to effectively identify a computer problem. It is important that you stick to the steps in the order as listed.

By following these steps you eliminate jumping around and wasting hours on a problem. You may find that once you have exhausted all avenues, to the best of your abilities (and knowledge), that it is time to take the problem to another person (or higher technical level) for possible resolution.

It is best practices to always maintain a document trail of your findings so that in the future you are better prepared to effectively deal with future problems.

The six CompTIA Troubleshooting (Theory) Steps are:

  1. Identify the problem – Question the user and identify user changes to computer and perform backups before making changes.
  2. Establish a theory of probable cause – Question the obvious.
  3. Test the theory to determine cause – Once the theory is confirmed, determine the next steps to resolve problem. If the theory is not confirmed, establish a new theory or escalate.
  4. Act – Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution.
  5. Test and prevent – Verify full system functionality and, if applicable, implement preventative measures.
  6. Report – Document findings, actions, and outcomes.

Here is a nice video on the Explanation of Troubleshooting Theory:


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3 thoughts on “Use CompTIA Troubleshooting Theory To Troubleshoot Computer Problems

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  1. Don’t bother to watch the video. It just belabors the obvious (at absurd length). This is actually directed toward folks who do this stuff for a living. Such people already know all this. None of this is going to help folks who have little understanding of the underlying technologies. In the face of technological ignorance, the method fails at step 2. Those who have no idea how it works are incapable of formulating any theory that could explain the symptoms of wrongness. I have lots of experience at this helping my neighbors.


    1. David,

      For you information, this was posted to help those who do not do this stuff for a living to demonstrate that there are processes in place to help diagnose computer problems. It was also posted to remind those who are in the field to remember the basics. Also, helping your neighbors does not classify one as an expert.

      Thank you,




      1. For anyone who watches the video, it is clear that the video itself is directed to professionals who do this for a living. My point is that it does not really succeed at helping “those who do not do this stuff for a living to demonstrate that there are processes in place to help diagnose computer problems.” Indeed, the video is overly long and boring, whether you do it for a living or not – especially if you do not.

        I did not claim to be an expert, and I would not need to be one for the remark about my neighbors to be relevant. However, I have done a lot of software troubleshooting on a professional basis, and I am regarded as being pretty good at it. As it turns out, I have usually followed a methodology similar the “Theory” presented – not because someone taught it to me but because it is, to me, the rationally obvious way to go about troubleshooting. Coming up with hypotheses (Step 2), often requires considerable creativity. Finding a way to test a hypothesis (Step 3) often requires a lot of creativity also. When it is a tough problem, these are actually the hard parts of the whole process; and the video provided virtually no help in these respects.


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