A+: Is a Problem Is Caused by Hardware or Software
The oldest dilemma for any computer technician is determining whether a problem is caused by hardware or software. The widespread use of Windows operating systems makes this problem even more acute than it was when MS-DOS was the predominant standard, because all hardware in a Windows system is controlled by Windows device drivers.
A troubleshooting cycle is a method that you can use to determine exactly what part of a complex system, such as a computer, is causing the problem. The troubleshooting cycle used in this section goes into more depth than the CompTIA six-step troubleshooting process. The first step is to determine the most likely source of the problem. The client interview will help you determine which subsystem is the best place to start solving the problem. In the previous example, the printing subsystem was the most likely place to start.
A subsystem is the combination of components designed to do a particular task, and it can include hardware, software, and firmware components.
For example, for the printing subsystem:
Software: Printer driver in Windows appHardware: Printer, cable, parallel, serial, USB or network port
Firmware: BIOS configuration
Display subsystem software: Video drivers in Windows
Hardware: Video card (unless motherboard has integrated video), monitor, cables, port type
Firmware: Video BIOS, BIOS configuration of video, boot priority
Audio subsystem software: Audio drivers in Windows
Hardware: Sound card (unless motherboard has integrated audio), cables, speaker, mike, cables from CD/DVD
Firmware: BIOS configuration for integrated audio
Mouse/pointing device subsystem software: drivers in Windows
Hardware: Mouse or pointer device, serial or mouse port, USB port
Firmware: BIOS port configuration, USB legacy configuration
Keyboard subsystem software: drivers in Windows
Hardware: Keyboard, PS/2 or USB port
Firmware: BIOS keyboard configuration, USB legacy configuration
Storage subsystem software: drivers in Windows
Hardware: Drives, cables, power cables, drive interface card or built-in ports
Firmware: BIOS drive configuration for PATA, SATA, USB, IEEE-1394, RAID