How to report a problem to IT support
There are several methods for reporting a problem
If possible please use methods 1, 2 or 3.
- By email to the address
- Please give the email a relevant subject,
it makes them easer to track and the
problem is more likly to be fixed.
- For problems with web pages use the
"Comments, Corrections, Changes"
at the bottom of each computer support group page.
- See the
Consumables Web page for printer toner, ink and paper.
- Use the
Support web form
- Use the problem
command on the Departments Unix systems.
- It is also possible to
contact individual members of staff directly.
- Moan about it amongst yourselves and hope we pick
up the bad vibes and realise something is wrong.
- Same as the above but wait three months and then complain to your supervisor.
Although popular methods 5 and 6 are not very effective.
Please remember that staff maybe working on other tasks when you
contact them, and these tasks may take priority over resolving your problem.
Also remember staff have a life outside Birkbeck and unlike computers
they need time to eat and sleep.
If you report a problem after 5 pm then we may not
investigate it till the next working day.
What information to provide
Please provide as much information as possible.
- Your Name, Course Room, Phone number, Computre ID and email address
- Background information
- What computer were you using?
- Does it effect any other computers or equipment?
- What programs were you using?
- What happened?
- What time did it happen?
- Has it ever worked before?
- If so when was the last time it worked?
- Has it happened before? If so when?
- What preceded the problem?
- Is the problem repeatable?
- Have you tried it with exactly the same data as the last time it worked?
- If yes are you sure the data is exactly the same not just similar?
- Where there any error messages?
- If so what were the error messages?
- Please provide the full text of the error message
- If the problem is with a program please provide the following:
- What is the program name?
- Where are the input, output and control files you used?
- What are the file names?
- what procedure were you using to run the program?
- Were you accessing the system from a different computer when it happened?
- If so which computer were you using?
- Did your terminal or window freeze?
- If so can you telnet to the problem system from a different computer?
Examples of bad problem reports
The following links provide useful information on how
to report an problem or ask for assistance
On the UNIX/Linux systems there is a local script
(/local/bin/problem) which can be used to report problems.
The problem command attempts to collect information about the system which could
be useful to the support group in diagnosing the problem.
- there is a problem with xxx
- "tar is down"
If your terminal or window is still working then type problem
otherwise try using a different computer to telnet to the problem system then use the
Please report a problem every time it occurs, Even it has happened before.
The cause of some problems may not be apparent until a number of reports have been
The following terms have different meanings but are often confused in problem reports
- CRASH or SYSTEM CRASH
- means that the operating system (e.g.IRIX) and all
programs have died and the computer has either rebooted or is waiting for human
intervention (e.g. pressing the reset ) before restarting.
- PROGRAM CRASH
- means that one or more programs died but the rest of the system
is still working.
- a HUNG or FROZEN
- terminal, window, screen or program is one that not responsive
but other parts of the system may still be working.
For example The graphics screen of a workstation may have frozen but you can still
telnet to the workstation and run programs.
For an example of a web based form for problem reporting
used at a different site
Don't use this form to report problems at Birkbeck.
$Revision: 1.12 $ $Date: 2012/09/30 13:44:38 $