Troubleshooting Tips

Where would a chapter on diagnostics be without some general-purpose troubleshooting tips? A great troubleshooter can often solve complex issues even if it is a new technology to them, simply from mastering troubleshooting skills. Excellent troubleshooting can take years to master, but here are some tips that can be used in almost any situation. This method of troubleshooting takes four steps, which you can memorize by using the acronym RIFT (“reproduce, isolate, fix, and test”).

Before you start, it's important to back up your site and settings and to document all changes that you make. It's too easy, when something needs to be fixed “yesterday,” to try random changes. But by the end, you're not sure what fixed the issue or how to get back to where you were before. These troubleshooting steps will help you make troubleshooting a deliberate and controlled methodology, but nothing replaces the importance of clear documentation. Be sure to take notes throughout the process and not depend on your memory alone to keep track of the changes that you made.


Reproduce, reproduce, reproduce!

Before making any changes, be sure to reproduce the issue. Without properly seeing the issue for yourself, you will be “troubleshooting by mistake,” which is a poor practice. When you see in advance exactly what the issue is, you are able to confirm that your fix did, indeed, resolve the issue. Too often programmers and system administrators receive a report ...

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