How Can We Help?

More Info Is Needed To Solve This Problem

You are here:
< Back
More Info Is Needed To Solve This Problem
Last Updated: 18 Aug 2004 (Partial Update on 25 Aug 2010)

*** PLEASE NOTE: Link(s), If Provided, May Be Wrapped ***

The following document is long, but it will provide you
with the resources necessary to get quick assistance now
and in the future.  Trust me.

In order to provide a thorough and suitable solution
to your problem, it would be beneficial to have some
more information about your configuration and exactly
what you are trying to accomplish.

Let's pretend that is a paid support request:  If so,
would the level of information you have provided thus
far be sufficient for your vendor or VAR to come up
with viable solutions?


Here are some questions that Microsoft suggests you
answer to start off the support process.  The general
idea behind these questions should be applicable to
other hardware/software vendor issues.


Here are some additional questions that will be helpful
in obtaining the necessary information about your current
configuration and the objective you are trying to reach.
The more relevant questions you answer, the more likely
it is that your problem can be resolved quickly.

Below are FIVE sections of questions which will cover
most of the common computing ailments.  The categories
are as follows:

• GENERAL ................ A troubleshooting overview
• HARDWARE ............... PC/Server hardware concerns
• SOFTWARE ............... OS/Driver software concerns
• NETWORK ................ Network settings/configuration
• MISCELLANEOUS .......... Other issues
• DIAGNOSTICS INFO ....... How/Where To Get Diagnostics Info

Be sure to answer as many relevant questions from EACH
of the categories that apply (NOT just Hardware). The
less you understand about the problem, the more info
you should provide so that others can have a better
foundation for making suggestions and recommendations...

NOTE: Not surprisingly, the folks who make the most
      noise about the questions being asked, and who
      take the longest to answer the questions, tend
      to be the ones whose problems take the longest
      to be resolved, if at all.  This is not merely


• What is the overall goal you are trying to reach?

• How long have you been experiencing this problem?

• Would you be so kind as to elaborate on what have you
  attempted thus far in your troubleshooting endeavors?

• What was the EXACT error message that you received?

• What does the Event Log say?

• What do you see in the relevant application logs?

• What does the README file or HELP documentation say?

• Have you searched for any tools or KB articles or any
  of the resources listed at the end of this document?

• Have you searched the relevant List/Forum/Newsgroup

• Have you checked for virus infection?

• Have you recently installed or uninstalled any
  software or hardware?

• What does your memory usage look like?
  (Include Virtual Memory, Handles and Threads)

• What changes were made to the system between the
  time everything was last working and when you noticed
  the problem?


• Please detail your hardware configuration...

• Have you checked the HCL?

• Is your system using ACPI?  Power Management?

• In what order was the hardware installed?

• Have you replaced the failed hardware with another
  piece of equipment?

• Have you checked all your hardware connections?

• Does the hardware work on a different system?

• Have you downloaded the latest drivers?  BIOS?
  (Be specific with the version numbers - my idea
   of "latest" might differ significantly from yours)

• Is your system being overclocked? (CPU, video)

• What's the system/room temperature?

• What size Power Supply do you have?


• Please detail your software configuration...

• What version of the driver is installed?  (Exact ver#)

• What OS version and patch/service pack level are we
  discussing here?  (e.g. There are differences between
  XP Pro and XP Home, or Server and Advanced Server)

• How is your pagefile configured?

• What version of DirectX do you have?

• What version of MDAC do you have installed?

• What version of JAVA do you have installed?

• Do you have any themes installed or configured?

• What is the installed version of IE, and what level
  of security do you have (40/56/128-bit)?

• Are you using encryption or antivirus or anti-spyware?

• What other software is involved?
 (Specific version numbers are *very* important here)

• Was this an upgrade or a clean install?

• In what order was the software installed?

• Does the software work on a different system?


• What does the LAN/WAN topology look like?
  (Ethernet, TokenRing, Hubs, Switches, Routers, etc)

• Please provide a rough diagram of your network
  (or proposed network), similar to the one below:

                 * Internet *
                      | (your ISP provided IP address)
                  | GATE1 |
       |              |              |
   +---+---+      +---+---+      +---+---+
   | SYS-1 |      | SYS-2 |      | SYS-3 |
   +-------+      +-------+      +-------+
    Desktop        Desktop        Desktop

• Please provide the following details for your network
  configuration (you can obscure the IPs as necessary
  for your own comfort):

  - IP Address for each NIC
  - Subnet Mask for each NIC
  - Default Gateway for each NIC
  - DNS settings for each NIC

• Are you using CABLE, DSL, Satellite or something else?

• Does your ISP provide Static or Dynamic addresses?

• Are you using DHCP on your local network?

• Are you using PPOE?

• Is the subnet mask the same on all systems?

• What network protocols are installed (and in what order)?

• What are you using for Name Resolution?

• Is "Use DNS for Windows Resolution" enabled?

• Are we talking 10/100/1000, Full/Half Duplex?

• Is IP forwarding Enabled or Disabled?

• Are you using USB, PCI or PCCard adapters?

• Have you tried different cables?

• Have you ruled out Domain Browsing issues?

• Can you ping by Name or IP?

• Have you tried using a HOSTS or LMHOSTS file?

• What does your Route table look like?  (ROUTE -P PRINT)

• Is there a firewall on the host or the network?

• Is IPSEC enabled?

• Performed any tweaks to your MTU or other network settings?


• Do you have a sample of the failed scripts, if relevant?

• Do you have current backups?

• Is this a multi-boot configuration?

• How are your disks partitioned?

• What file system are you using?

• Do you have sufficient free disk space?

• How are your permissions setup?

• What user rights are in place?

• Any System Policies in place?

• Any other relevant info you could provide concerning
  your config?


One of the first places you should check if you begin to
have problems in Windows (NT/2000/XP) is the Event Log.


The info you find here can be invaluable in helping you
troubleshoot problems.


Some of the best tools for troubleshooting and recovery
or repair of 32-bit Windows systems can be found here:


Use PSLIST to see what processes are running, and HANDLE
to determine what file handles are being used by those

Unzip them as appropriate and place them into C:\UTILS

Next, open a Command Prompt (START -> RUN -> CMD) and
type the following commands exactly as they appear below:


This will give you a list of processes and handles that
will allow you, or a system admin, to get valuable info
about your system's current condition.




• Many folks overlook the Event Logs, and quite often
  some important diagnostic info can be found there.
  That should be the first place you look when you have
  problems in Windows.

• Version Info is *very* important, especially with
  drivers. Simply saying "I have the latest version"
  doesn't help anyone, as you may have a newer version
  than anyone else is aware of, or you may *think* you
  have the latest version, but may be unaware of the
  most recent update which fixes your very problem.

• If you're one of the many people who see this doc
  simply as an excuse to torment you, just imagine how
  it feels to be one of the peoople trying to help you
  resolve your issue without sufficient information.

• Without sufficient information, it is incredibly
  difficult to render assistance remotely (via e-mail
  or over the phone). The primary purpose of this
  document is to encourage those who are seeking timely
  answers to provide the type (and breadth) of useful
  information that will result in an accurate diagnosis,
  and timely resolution.

• Help Us Help You.
  If you don't (appear to) care enough about your own
  problem, it will be much harder for anyone else to
  care enough about it to help in a timely fashion.

• If you chose not to answer the relevant questions
  above, you're just making it more difficult for
  anyone to provide you with good answers in a timely
  fashion.  Don't be surprised if people are less
  enthusiastic about helping you under such conditions.
  This cannot be empahisized enough.

• I continue to maintain that USB networking adapters of
  any type are a bad idea.  Perhaps they'll be less of
  an issue when everyone is using USB v2.0, but for the
  time being, the represent higher CPU utilization, and
  more conflicts than PCI adapters.

• Should you require assistance in evaluating your
  Diagnostics Logs, you may consider having it evaluated
  for a small fee:
  Logs should be emailed to: [email protected]