Kevin Jung

Nov 9, 2021

3 min read

Troubleshooting is a Skill

If you're a programmer then you have probably had a lot of experience trying to figure out why you're program isn't working. Thinking back on how my approach to troubleshooting my code has changed over my time as a programmer made me want to share some things I think I have picked up along the way.

  1. Be Thorough:

Far too often I have skimmed past a simple solution to my problem thinking that I know better and that there's no way that could be the problem. My advice is to not be lazy, especially if there is a potentially simple solution to the problem it usually can’t hurt to give it a try and see if it’ll work. Obviously you cant try EVERY possible solution out there but also try not to be too picky about your attempted solutions.

2. But Not Too Thorough:

Like I said before you obviously can’t try every solution. Use your knowledge of your own problem to spot solutions that don't apply to you. Like I said above be careful not to accidentally weed out the correct solution, but don't waste too much time trying solutions that are obviously not the answer. Being able to tell solutions that are likely to work from ones that are very far off is a skill that can and should be practiced!

3. Be Intentional With Your Keywords

Searching google is also a skill and someone who can efficiently search google will be able to find the answer to their problems much faster than someone who could not. Try not to make your search queries too long, but still include all the important information related to your problem. Things like your OS (Mac, Linux, or Windows), version numbers, coding language, etc. can be good things to include in your search to find other people who have encountered the same problem as you.

4. Read Your Output

Whether you have a problem installing software, running code, or anything else related to tech you are likely to have some kind of output to look at. If you’re writing code you’re even likely to be able to change that output. Try to make changes and see how that output changes, and go from there. If you're installing software and running into problems you're likely to have some kind of error message or even a log file to see where the install went wrong. These can often be a great place to start looking to find answers.

5. Don't Be Afraid To Ask

If you get really stuck don't be ashamed to ask for help. Maybe ask a friend who also knows a thing or two about the software or coding language you're using. And if you can't find help there don't be afraid to go to a forum. There are lots of people online willing to help people troubleshoot problems and even enjoy doing it. Popular forum websites usually will be very active and can mean quick responses. People on forums are likely to ask for a lot of information and often times logs or the output of some code so getting better at step 4 in this article can also help you here when you need to explain your problem to someone else.

Troubleshooting will always be a part of tech and it's a good life skill to learn and practice. Good luck!!