Windows troubleshooting tips

Windows troubleshooting tips, tools, and techniques

Microsoft offers numerous useful tools that can help users and admins diagnose problems in Windows 10 and 11. Here’s how to use them for best results.

As people use Windows 10 or 11 in their daily work, problems, issues, and outright errors will sometimes occur. Then, it may be necessary to engage in troubleshooting exercises to attempt to diagnose underlying causes.

Sometimes such identification can lead to attempted fixes. Sometimes such attempts even succeed. Other times, fixes may not be available, which may necessitate working around problems and/or reporting those problems to Microsoft.

All this said, a certain discipline to troubleshooting Windows is likely to help users and admins get through the process and get back to work with minimum disruption.

What troubleshooting is all about

Three basic activities, each involving careful observation and some documentation, drive most troubleshooting efforts. Briefly described, these consist of:

1. Observing and describing symptoms: On Windows devices, some symptoms are entirely overt. They will often include error messages that you can look up to directly identify causes.

Other symptoms may be more general, such as “system runs slowly,” “takes forever to boot,” “application takes forever to launch,” “long network latencies,” and so forth. These latter kinds of problems can be more vexing and time-consuming to fix, but may be amenable to specific troubleshooting tools (described in more detail in “Windows troubleshooters” later in this story).

2. Matching symptoms to potential causes: For observed symptoms, online research will usually help to correlate potential causes. For observed error messages, potential causes will often be identified explicitly. (Warning: such identifications don’t always pan out, but they often do.)

Keeping track of identifications can be important when matching symptoms to causes. That’s because many symptoms of Windows trouble may have multiple potential causes, only one (or some) of which will be actual causes.