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Researching Technical Issues (IT) - Bruce: Step 2: Initial Search

Web search without tracking:

Google Search: error 0x800f0954

  • Choose known authorities over other (potentially less informed) results. 
    • In the example Google search image: Microsoft Community is a better place to start reading then "" unless we know this site!
  • Pay attention to related terms and potentially complicating issues.
    • In the example Google search image: The results mention that this error can come up in multiple situations. We want to read a potential "fix" carefully to make sure it applies to our information need.
  • Videos?
    • In the example Google search image: The suggested video tutorial results may be useful, but you will want to confirm they apply to your issue before spending time watching an entire video.
  • Are forum (discussion / message board / social media / etc) results GOOD or BAD?
    • It's complicated. Many times the answer / context will show up on discussion forums, but you need to assess the quality of the site. (See "Step 3: Evaluating Search Results")

Google search results: "microsoft error code 0x800F0954"

What if I don't find anything, or very little?

"Never have I felt so close to another soul and yet so helplessly alone as when I google an error and there's one result, a thread by someone with the same problem (and no answer), last posted to in 2003."

XKCD - Wisdom of the Ancients ( by Randall Munroe.
[Alt title text:"All long help threads should have a sticky globally-editable post at the top saying 'DEAR PEOPLE FROM THE FUTURE: Here's what we've figured out so far ..."]

When an initial search fails-- Flexibility & Persistence


  • Be open to search terms or focus changing over time;
  • Finding new information may change an initial search focus;
  • Be creative!
    • Can you describe the issue in a different way?
    • Remove one or more terms from a search to make it broader?
    • Reach out to a live tech support help line or other expert for ideas?



  • searches;
  • combinations of search words;
  • search tools/locations.