Your problem determination (PD) will discern whether the problem is rooted in hardware or software. Your tactics will differ depending on whether you are in-person help desk or a remote phone agent

In-person PD
If the problem isn't critical and doesn't require immediate attention, perform the troubleshooting during downtime such as a break or lunch. If the issue affects an internal component such as a camera, microphone or Wi-Fi:

Use a bootable live OS (I.E: Linux Mint) to test the components outside of Windows.

If the problem occurs in Linux, it is a hardware issue that will require parts to be replaced by a technician. If it is working in Linux, it's a software problem that will require additional troubleshooting.

If the issue affects a peripheral or a removeable part such as an AC adapter, docking station, GPU card, drive:

Swap and test with known good device/part to isolate the problem.

I.E: Your display is flickering when outputting video from a Nvidia graphics card so you swap it with a known good same model card. The issue does not occur with the new card then it is a hardware problem with the broken card. If the problem persists with the known good card, it's a software problem that will require additional troubleshooting.

Seek a loaner device for the user to minimize down time if additional repairs or troubleshooting is required.

Remote agent PD
You receive a call from an end-user. Gather their name, a callback number incase you are disconnected, and the serial number of the unit involved. The organization you work for should determine what information is required to initiate a call and what closing information should be sent at the end of a call such as a case number and follow-up email.

"How can I help you today?"

Listen to the person until they are done talking. For software issues, remote into the unit and observe the issue. The organization you work for should determine what program is used for remoting into a user's device. For hardware issues such as a cracked LCD or missing keyboard key, gather photos and determine whether they have a warranty that covers accidental damage. If no warranty is active, provide repair videos and options to buy new parts.

If the problem is particularly stubborn and you cannot determine whether it is a software/hardware isue, direct them in using a live bootable OS or swapping parts with other known good same model types. If reimaging is required, ensure user data and passwords are backed up, verify the presence of OneDrive and ensure they are aware of the implications.

Ensure that BIOS, drivers and firmware (BDF) are upto date by installing OEM drivers from the device manufacturer's website or update software.

If this doesn't resolve your issue let the fun begin. Below are interactive note taking and troubleshooting templates I've written after thousands of tickets submitted during my service as a remote Level 1 support agent. Click the bullet points to populate the Problem Description and Action/Troubleshooting Done fields for proper troubleshooting and note taking.

Remain fluid, don't be afraid to make changes but also know when to stop. Asking the right questions could save time instead of sequentially running each step from top to bottom.

Helping end users is a mentally stimulating and fulfilling challenge.
As they say: "The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back."


  • Audio

    No audio – Poor audio quality

  • Battery

    No charge – Intermittent charging – Dead battery – Battery not recognized – Battery draining – Battery warning – Battery overheating – Battery bulging – Battery hot – Wattage error on boot

  • BitLocker

    BitLocker key missing- BitLocker triggered by BIOS update – BitLocker prompt on startup – TPM not trusted – TPM cannot be cleared – TPM malfunction error

  • Bluetooth

    No bluetooth – Bluetooth disconnections

  • BSOD

    Random BSODs – Reproducible BSODs – BSOD on boot – BSOD during reimage

  • Camera

    No camera – Poor camera quality

  • CPU

    CPU spikes – CPU high without load – CPU throttling

  • Display

    No display – Display flickering – Display resolution – Display distortion – Display damage

  • Dock

    Dock display missing – Dock display flickering – Dock display low resolution – Dock not detected – Dock disconnections – Dock peripherals not recognized – Dock FW update unable to complete – Dock not charging device – Dock prevents POST – Dock BSOD

  • Keyboard / Touchpad / Touchscreen

    No KB – KB keys intermittent – KB key missing – No TP – Intermittent TP – No touchscreen – Intermittent touchscreen

  • Microphone

    No microphone – Poor microphone quality

  • No POST

    No POST – Failed FW update

  • No power/charge

    No power

  • Overheating

    Overheating – Thermal shutdowns

  • Random shutdowns

    Random shutdowns

  • Wi-Fi

    No Wi-Fi – Intermittent Wi-Fi – Poor Wi-Fi speeds - No recent updates or setup changes