10 BlackBerry troubleshooting tips & tricks

Experiencing problems with that new BlackBerry Tour? Is your tried-and-true Curve 8300 acting up on ya? Have no fear; you don’t necessarily have a “lemon on your hands.

BlackBerry devices, and smartphones in general, can be a “finicky” bunch of gadgets. But thankfully, there are some quick fixes for common problems, many of which I’ve covered on CIO.com before in my BlackBerry Bible.

However, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) was kind enough to post its own set of 10 BlackBerry smartphone troubleshooting tips and tricks earlier this month. While there’s nothing groundbreaking–like I said, I’ve covered most of the material before–any and all CrackBerry addicts will benefit from a quick refresher of the basics

What follows is RIM’s recent list of BlackBerry troubleshooting tips, along with comments of my own, where necessary or relevant.

1) Check Wireless Signal Strength

RIM suggested checking on your wireless signal strength if you’re experiencing issues, to ensure you’re in a coverage area. Obviously, if you don’t see any coverage bars on your BlackBerry home screen or there’s an out of service (SOS) icon, you dont have wireless coverage. And that’s problem.

Another quick way to check your wireless signal strength is via a BlackBerry keyboard shortcut. Just hold down your BlackBerry’s ALT key and type the letters N, M, L, L. Your home screen will then show your wireless signal strength in Dbms. If your signal strength isn’t within the -40 to -100 Dbms range, you’re not in an adequate wireless coverage area. (Note: This shortcut only works on BlackBerry smartphones with full QWERTY keyboards.)

2) Pull Your Battery or “Hard Reset”

RIM’s second troubleshooting tip is to simply remove and replace your BlackBerry’s battery. Doing so is as simple as removing the device’s battery cover and popping out the power pack, with the edge of a credit card or other prying tool. This is referred to as a BlackBerry “hard reset.” For more on the difference between hard and soft BlackBerry resets, read “Hard v. Soft Resets, and When to Perform Each.”

3) Check Wireless Network Settings

BlackBerry users experiencing wireless coverage or data transfer issues should ensure that their network settings are correct, RIM says. To do open up the Manage Connections menu via your BlackBerry home screen. The Mobile Network option should have checked box next to it to signify connectivity.

Next, scroll down to Mobile Network Options and make sure Data Services are enabled and the Mobile Network and Network Mode are set to the appropriate carrier and network options.

4) Register Your BlackBerry the Wireless Network

RIM also suggests registering your BlackBerry with your wireless network if problems arise. Registering a BlackBerry device running RIM’s handheld software v4.1 or higher is simple. Just open your BlackBerry Options menu via your home screen, click Advanced Options and then Host Routing Table. On the following screen, tap your BlackBerry Menu key and choose Register Now.

You’ll then receive a network notification message to let you know your device has been registered.

5) Check your BlackBerry’s Connection to a Computer

If you’re having issues working with RIM’s BlackBerry Desktop Manager software, you should ensure that your device connects properly to your machine, according to RIM.

To determine whether or not your device is connected to BlackBerry Desktop Manager, open up the program’s Options menu and hit Connection Settings. You should see your device’s unique BlackBerry PIN number in the on-screen connection field. If not, click the Detect button. If your device is successfully connected, the program will tell you your device has been located.

Still experiencing Desktop Manager issues? Visit RIM’s site for more troubleshooting suggestions.

6) Confirm BlackBerry Can Receive E-Mail

One way to see whether or not you’re experiencing BlackBerry mail delivery latency or other problems is to simply send yourself a test message from an e-mail account that’s not associated with your device, RIM says. If you send the message and it appears on your BlackBerry, you can receive e-mail. If the message arrives, but it’s delayed, you’re very likely experiencing some sort of latency.

Solutions for e-mail reception problems vary greatly depending on a number of user-specific factors, including whether or not the BlackBerry is on corporate BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or a consumer-oriented BlackBerry Internet Service account. If you cannot receive e-mail, try registering your handheld with the network (see step four) and resending your service books (refer to step eight.) If you’re on a BES, you may have to contact your BlackBerry administrator for further assistance.

7) Confirm BlackBerry Can Send E-Mail, PIN Messages (BlackBerry Messenger)

RIM also suggests checking your outgoing mail delivery if you’re having BlackBerry issues. Do so by first sending an e-mail message from your BlackBerry device to a mail account associated with your BlackBerry. (It’s okay to use the same account to send and receive the message.) If you receive the message, you can send e-mail.

Secondly, you should confirm that you can send and receive BlackBerry Messenger and PIN messages. To do so, send a PIN message from your BlackBerry to yourself by opening up your Messages folder, hitting Menu and choosing Compose PIN. Type in your BlackBerry PIN and hit send. If you receive the message, you can send PIN messages.

Solutions for e-mail problems vary greatly depending on a number of user-specific factors, including whether or not the BlackBerry is on corporate BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or a consumer-oriented BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) account. If you’re on a BES, you may have to contact your BlackBerry administrator for further assistance.

8) Resend BlackBerry Service Books

If you’re having mail or messaging issues, or any other BlackBerry performance problems, you should resend your device’s service books, RIM says. Service books communicate with your network’s BlackBerry infrastructure, specifying which services should be available and how they should function.

There are three ways to resend your BlackBerry service books: 1) You can send the service books directly from your handheld; 2) you can log into your carrier’s (BIS) page and send them from there; and finally, 3) you can call on your carrier’s customer service reps to do the job for you. For instructions on each option, visit RIM’s website.

9) Launch the BlackBerry “Help” App

Each and every new BlackBerry ships with a “Help” application and associated home screen icon, and RIM says this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to solve basic BlackBerry issues.

To utilize the option, click the Help icon on your BlackBerry’s home screen and click Troubleshooting on the following page.

You can also access the BlackBerry Help menu from within certain native BlackBerry apps, by hitting your Menu while an app’s open and choosing Help.

10) Visit BlackBerry Technical Solutions Center

RIM posts bundles of information, in the form of “knowledge base” articles, to its BlackBerry Technical Solutions Center.  The online destination is one of, if not the, best places on the Web to find solutions to advanced BlackBerry problems. It’s also a great resource for learning more about your handheld.

RIM suggests visiting the BlackBerry Technical Solutions Center whenever you encounter a BlackBerry-related issue you can’t easily solve–and I do, too.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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