Join Steve Fullmer for an in-depth discussion in this video Intro to troubleshooting, part of Troubleshooting Windows 8: Part Two.
- As we wrap the module on Windows 8 and 8.1 troubleshooting, it feels a lot to me like a finale. Where there's no simple one conclusion, no simple one ending that wraps it all totally well together. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 are so rich. And what they've inherited from Windows 7 and all of the flavor that was introduced through the entire evolution of the Windows Operating System is really here for us. But to wrap it up properly, we have to go back and give ourselves a model for trying to approach troubleshooting.
Part of that is, we need to look at symptoms. But we don't treat symptoms. When we say looking at the symptoms here, what results do we see? What kind of results? What's happening on the system? And when you're talking to an end user or you are the end user, you're asking yourself that question, "What's going wrong?" Well, I don't know. How do you classify it with the dependency of mobile devices today on connectivity. Is it about connectivity and the internet? Or is it the hardware platform on which I'm operating? Or is the operating system? Or is it the application itself? And perhaps overriding all of the rest of that is security.
Are there security settings locally, in group policy, elements like app lock or the firewall, authentication, authorization, and the domain environment. What's causing this system to perform either less than optimally or less than I desire or need? We have to take all of that and get it down to a cause. We have to isolate exactly that which causes the problem because if all we do is treat the symptoms the cause will come back. As we try to identify the cause we want to get some sense of confirmation that what we believe the cause to be is indeed the cause.
And as we do a resolution test to make sure that whatever we've changed is a consistent fix that will last from environment to environment particularly with our mobile devices that can move from one network profile to the other, from the domain, to home, to a public location. And then ultimately to make sure that that resolution is recreatable, documented, and then I can share that with others in my enterprise environment or small business. So that we can both reproduce it if we see the symptoms later or hey, back it out if we discover that our resolution was not ideal from a security or performance environment.
When we take a look at all this and we take a look at Windows 8, it's not a simple, direct, forward approach, but Microsoft has given us so many tools. As I try to wrap this up, I'm trying to think just which module or modules from the video series should I focus on here to aim you back at to take a look. There is no single module. It's all of it together that you need to know to fully support a Windows 8 or 8.1 platform. We have components when we look under the hardware here. What components are places or not placed in our system? Clearly if you were to take a CompTIA form of exam you'd be concerned with are all the components connected? Well I can't get into this laptop very easily, but do I have the right hardware and more importantly, when we talk about Windows 8, whether it's the 32 or 64 bit platform, do we have compatible, properly digitally signed drivers installed? It's not just good enough to have hardware that works.
In Windows 8 and 8.1 you're required to have digitally signed drivers. So we have tools like Sigverif and Verifier and the System File Checker that let us look at the compatibility of drivers. And we have to pay attention to Windows Update. And the store, the Microsoft store of Windows 8 and 8.1. And remember the store requires us to have a Microsoft based account, whether it's Hotmail, MSN, a Live account, so that we can pull content from the store to our system. And if you're in an enterprise environment you want to do centrally controlled accounts, but you also have to have a store account that's associated with that to maintain store applications unless you have a centralized Windows Update server.
So even a simple question like, "Is the driver compatible and where did I get it "and is it digitally signed?", can be a challenge to try and diagnose and test on Windows 8 but the tools are there. And then we have all the settings. Everything continues in the Windows Operating System to exist in our registry. We have the local machine, the local user profiles, we have domain profiles, and all the settings that are stored here for us. And as a matter of fact, if we simply launch something like the control panel, so let's go in here to control panel, and click on it, and we look at the control panel and absolutely every configuration setting that I make for a system or security that's in here is actually being stored in the registry.
And it can be overwritten by group policy, so how do I do a debug to figure out what's local? The standard user can't do that. They're not going to want to do that. And so Microsoft has provided tools like the troubleshooters that are built in. So the standard user isn't going to go into the control panel as much anymore. They're either going to click on a link and see if it works or maybe they'll just type troubleshooters. And if we go troubleshooting in here, we can click this and there's lists of troubleshooters for programs and hardware and sound and network and internet and system and security, which is kind of how I broke it down.
They're categorized based on the functionality that I have on my system and that might be damaged or not working ideally. And so we have the operating system to be concerned with. It's not just about I have Windows 8 or 8.1 but am I getting the proper updates for security or for performance. It's not just about Windows Update, patch Tuesday, let's make sure the hardware works. It's also let's make sure my system is secure from the outside environment and that I have the latest, highest performing software possible. And we have to worry about the configuration of the operating system through the control panel or Microsoft management console and lots of other interfaces here.
And then there's the configuration of applications as well. And Windows 8.1 is more robust but therefore also more complex. Are we configuring the elements through our charms bar settings, PC setting. All of these standard user interfaces where we can figure accounts and privacy and the network settings, or again, are we going back over to the control panel to try to take a look at all those settings and make it happen through our desktop or our control panel or the start menu. Lots of different places and configuration settings and operations.
And then we add applications on top. Are they stored applications that we launch through our start panel through the desktop? But Microsoft has provided tools for all of this as well as our network and DHCP and DNS and today, on particularly a think line or a mobile, our internet and our connectivity and the functionality of those applications and here I am in the studio and oh, I don't know, let's try to launch Skype and when I do I can't because the screen resolution doesn't match the requirements of the store application. Simple settings that can make such a big difference in the Windows 8 or 8.1 platform.
And probably overriding all of this is the entire arena of security or securability of our Windows 8 and 8.1 platform. So we have to learn about that to be able to troubleshoot our system. Elements like BitLocker, that's a hardware based security. Or BitLocket To Go and the new Windows To Go where I can have an entire operating system with all the tools bootable off of an external jump drive. I have all kinds of security over the operating system that I have to manage as well, and essentially identify whether that's what's controlling me.
And finally all of the troubleshooters and other tools to take a look at my network and connectivity through the control panel. What kind of tools are there in Windows 8 or 8.1 that you have to consider? Well I love starting with the event viewer or something like PowerShell, command lets to do, get commands, to try and look at what the state of affairs of the system is. Or just go ahead and start your troubleshooters right off. Launch the troubleshooters and see what they do. Now most of the default troubleshooters built into Windows 8 or 8.1 are there to try and help you find cause, but just to guess at cause rather than try to repair it.
Some of them only show you what the symptoms are. Or they do basic tests and you at least have some sense of comfort of what is or isn't broken on your system. Some of them can do repairs, but they're repairs in the form of simple resets. For instance if you can't find your DHCP server, you have an IPPA address, a simple solution might be to do an IP config release and an IP config renew in order to retry the connectivity to a DHCP server. The troubleshooter can do that for you and tell you what the results are so you don't have to type it and the standard user doesn't even need to know the command syntax.
But that won't tell you what the root cause is. Whether your DHCP server is down, whether you can't see it through a router, whether it's a problem with your NIC card or your physical connection. All of those layers have to be looked at. So you need to know a lot to support a Microsoft Windows 8 platform. Of course you can always type MMC and go and make sure you start at the elevation level. Hey, elevated because security and layering is an important element of Windows 8.1. So we go in here and look at the Microsoft Management Console and go ahead and add or remove a snap in and the list of snap ins that we can use to support or look at the configuration of our system grows and each one of these has its own level on complexity that you have to learn to properly troubleshoot a Windows 8.1 platform.
Just looking at the hardware components, disks and memory. We have, in the disk arena, defragmentation. Then we have check disk and we have disk clean up. We have a more robust, under the management or Microsoft Management Console a disk manager that allows us to support DHDs as well as both GPT and MBR drives. We can also do both basic and dynamic drive configurations through that console.
So we have lots of consoles that are given to us. For memory, we have the new memory diagnostics tool where we can reboot and we have through our system, if you go through the charms bar here and take a look at our PC settings, and we take a look at update and recovery, and we have this whole new recovery ability that allows us to recover to snapshot points of our system. And we have file history. A whole new solution with Windows 8 that replaces the restore previous versions of file. So we have lots of ways not to just find but to fix our system or to roll it forward and roll it backwards to see if we can find a stable state.
I still love, not only the event viewer, but being able to go to the reliability monitor and take a look at it. We have resource monitor and performance monitor and the problem steps recorder, which are tools that allows us to do far more detailed hardware and software diagnostics of our system that can run for days or weeks. And then those reports can be sent to Microsoft or other experts for review. So we don't have to rely solely upon ourselves and our expertise to figure out how to troubleshoot and support the Windows 8 platform. You really need to go through the entire video series and consider all of the capabilities.
Hardware, software, the integration of the two, third party and Microsoft store applications and all of the tool suite to be a great troublshooter for Windows 8.1. So I hope you dive deeply into the entire series and remember to take this approach in everything you do as you're troubleshooting Windows 8.1. Look at your symptoms, dig deep to find the cause, make sure you snapshot images of your system which are so easy to do in 8.1. Before you try to do a resolution, confirm that that resolution works.
And if it is, keep it. If not, roll back and try again. So you can go back and forth through any of these as a cycle until you're satisfied that Windows 8.1 is performing just like you want it to. Hope to see you in the classroom or online.
Check out the first part of this series in Troubleshooting Windows 8 Part 1.