Windows 7 has quite a few built-in diagnostic utilities. Trouble is, some are quite hard to track down and there’s no place you can get a list to launch individual utilities. For example, go to the Start button and click Administrative Tools and you’ll find a selection, but not them all. Some are so well hidden you mightn’t know about them at all. Microsoft doesn’t provide a decent manual with Windows software anymore, so I thought it would be useful to try to document what diagnostic tools are available in Windows 7 and some quick ways to access them. There are different ways to get to most of them. This is as much for my benefit as for yours as I forget too! I won’t go into what each tool does in any great detail but I’ll try and point you to good posts about them where I can. Unfortunately, it’s not the most readable of posts, but hopefully it’s informative and a good reference to what’s where.
Windows Task Manager
Most of you will be familiar with this one as you can use it to see what applications and processes are running and what’s hogging memory. The listing under the Processes tab can be a bit daunting but you can get a great overview of what’s using up resources by going to the Performance tab and clicking Resource Monitor.
Access: As above or Start button and type resource in the Search box; then click Resource Monitor.
Resource Monitor gives you an overview of the use of hardware (CPU, memory, disk, and network) and software resources in real time so it’s one of my favourite diagnostic utilities. Have a look under the Memory tab and you’ll get a nice overview of what’s using up physical memory, what’s on standby and what’s free. If you happen to have two monitors, you can watch this utility in action by dragging Resource Monitor to your second monitor, then try opening new Chrome tabs or opening say MS Word and watch the effect on memory. As you can see from the above image, I probably need a bit more RAM in my system.
Access: Start button and type performance in the Search box; then click Performance Monitor. Or just type perfmon into the search box and press enter. Or Start Button, Administrative Tools, Performance Monitor.
A reasonable overview of this utility can be found in this post.
Performance and Information Tools
Access: Start button and type performance in the Search box; then click Performance and Information Tools.
One of the useful things you can do with this utility is generate a system health report. First click on Advanced tools in the left column, then click Generate a system health report.
Access: Start button and type event in the Search box; then click Event Viewer. Or just type eventvwr into the search box and press enter. Or Start Button, Administrative Tools, Event Viewer.
There’s a good overview here.
Access: Start button and type device in the Search box; then click Device Manager.
Here’s how to identify an unknown device with Device Manager.
Problem Steps Recorder
Access: Start button and type record steps in the Search box; then click Record steps to reproduce a problem. Or just type psr into the search box and press enter. This will open Problem Steps Recorder.
Use this to record the problem you’re having with your PC for a friend or repair tech to resolve. You could also use this application to create a step-by-step guide for your friends to show them how to do certain tasks on their PC.
Windows Memory Diagnostic
Access: Start button and type memory in the Search box; then click Windows Memory Diagnostic. Or just type mdsched into the search box and press enter. Or Start Button, Administrative Tools, Windows Memory Diagnostic.
You can use Windows Memory Diagnostic to test your computer’s RAM for errors.
Windows Network Diagnostics or Network Troubleshooter
Access: Start button and type troubleshooter in the Search box; then click Identify and repair network problems. This will open Windows Network Diagnostics.
Here’s an article on using the Network Troubleshooter.
Access: Start button and type reliability in the Search box; then click View reliability history. This will open the Reliability Monitor Tool.
Here’s an article on getting the most out of it. And here’s how I used Reliability Monitor and Event Viewer to troubleshoot a Windows crash.
Program Compatibility or Compatibility Troubleshooter
Access: Start button and type compatibility in the Search box; then click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows. The Compatibility Troubleshooter helps you determine if older software will run under Windows 7.
Here’s an article on Compatibility Troubleshooter.
Computer Management Console
Access: Start button and type computer in the Search box; then click Computer Management. Or just type compmgmt.msc into the search box and press enter. Or Start Button, Administrative Tools, Computer Management.
You can get access to a number of the diagnostic tools from this console, for example, Event Viewer, Device Manager, Performance Monitor, and Task Scheduler but unfortunately not them all. Here’s an article on the Computer Management Console.
Access: Start button and type system in the Search box; then click System Information. Or just type msinfo32 into the search box and press enter.
Here’s an article on the System Information Tool.
Access: Start button and type schedule in the Search box; then click Task Scheduler. Or Start Button, Administrative Tools, Task Scheduler.
Schedule various tasks, for example, check if disk defragmentation is already scheduled and when.
So there’s a quick run through of Windows 7 built-in diagnostic utilities and how to access them. Please bookmark this post if you like for future reference on how to quickly access these utilities. And if you know any quicker ways to access these tools, or any tools I’ve missed, let me know and I’ll update the post.