PC diagnostics are powerful tools to maintain the health of your computer. If you know how to run diagnostics, you can find problems with your hardware even before it becomes a major issue. After all, no one wants to be haunted by the blue screen of death.
Even if you do not have a problem, running diagnostics could show you how your computer is performing and how you can make it even better. Many Windows users are completely unaware of these programs included in the operating system, as well as third-party applications.
Each hardware in your PC has its own diagnostic test. You should know the basic ones, how to run them, and how to quick interpret their results. It can potentially save you repair costs and even replacement costs as some problems may eventually render your hardware useless.
How to Run Diagnostics on Your PC
There are different kinds of diagnostic tests, so before we get into the steps, you should understand what kind of diagnostic tests are there. Most tests are for the hardware in your PC, like there’s a dedicated diagnostic tool for memory.
While Windows comes equipped with many diagnostics tools, you also have tools from your PC’s manufacturer or vendor. Then, there are third-party applications that you can download and use to diagnose problems in your PC. We’ll cover the most important tools that are free to use and for everyone.
Keep reading to learn more no matter the version of operating software you have.
You’ll find most of these in virtually all versions of Windows. Here’s how you can use them:
1. Memory Diagnostic Tool
Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool is for the RAM of your pc. This test will analyze and display all the information regarding the memory. If there are any issues or if the memory needs optimization, this tool will help you find out how to do that.
Most commonly, lagging PCs or certain programs hanging is usually the result of memory. This particular tool is also called mdsched.exe, which happens to be the file that you access to run this tool.
Here are the steps:
I. Press the ‘Windows’ and ‘R’ keys simultaneously to start the Run bar
II. Type the filename ‘mdsched.exe’ and press ‘Enter’
III. You’ll see the options to either restart the PC immediately and run the diagnosis or run it the next time you restart
IV. When the computer reboots, it will go to the Windows Memory tool environment and the tool will run all the scans
V. Alternatively, you can press F1 to change scan options from Standard to Basic or Extended. (Press 10 to go back to the main screen)
VI. Once the scans are done, the computer will restart and boot to the Home Screen, where you can go to the Event Viewer to see the results
How to View the Memory Diagnostic Tool Test Results
- Press the Start button and in the search bar type event.vwr and press enter
- Once the Event Viewer opens, expand Windows Log and
- Right Click on System and then click on Find
- A small search window would open, where you can type ‘MemoryDiagnostics-Result’
- Click on Find Next
- Now on the Event Viewer Window double click on MemoryDiagnostics-Result
- You’ll be able to see if the test found any errors
2. Performance Monitor
The performance monitor can give you useful information about how your system is performing when you are working with certain applications. It’s a simple test that you can find on all Windows versions.
This tool can come handy if your computer suddenly starts to perform slowly, especially when you open a certain program. You can see what resources the program is using and exactly how much. This will help you determine if you need to upgrade some hardware.
You can search for a Performance Monitor from the search bar. Also, you can simply press Windows+R and type ‘perfmon’.
Once the Performance Monitor Window opens, you’ll see the summary of your system in real-time. On the left side is the navigation pane, where you can find performance monitors for a particular piece of hardware, for instance, your processor.
You can also find reports on this list. You can head to Performance Monitor and see the counter for Processor Time. However, it’s not the only counter as you can add more counters to see their performance charted and displayed in real-time.
How to Add More Counters in Performance Monitor
- Click on the ‘+’ sign in green above the graph
- Select the computer which is the local computer
- Now, you’ll see a number of categories that you can click on to expand the menu
- Select the counter you want to be displayed
- Press Ctrl while selecting multiple counters
- Click on Add button to add all the counters you selected
There’s a lot you can do with the performance monitor. You can customize the counters and you can also change the way it graphs.
If you want to save this counter for later use, you can simply right click and click on Save Settings As. It will save the information as an HTM file.
Here are some of the most frequently used counters:
- Network Adapter
- Page File
3. Reliability Monitor
Many Windows users are unaware of the Reliability Monitor in their Windows. First released with Windows Vista, it’s become one of the most important diagnostics tools out there. You can look at a timeline of errors occurred in the past using this tool.
Reliability Monitor can come in handy when you want to find out what caused an application to crash. Here’s how you run it:
- Launch Control Panel
- Go to Systems & Security
- Now click on Security & Maintenance, and then Maintenance
- Click on ‘View Reliability History’
Once the Reliability Window opens, you’ll be able to see a graph, set to days setting by default. You can see which days errors occurred indicated by a red circled cross symbol. The good thing is that the graph also identifies the error by category.
You’ll also see a blue ‘i’ icon on every day. Those are just suggestions so you need not worry about those. Once you click on the red symbol, you’ll see a list of Critical Events. This is basically a summary of the errors. You can read the details about the error by clicking on ‘View technical details’.
For an average PC user, sometimes this error information just goes over the head. But you can always use the information to search online for what it means. You should monitor this report on a monthly basis ideally. If an error is occurring frequently, it could mean trouble.
Some errors are just one time things and may not be that critical, as opposed to the list they come under. Nevertheless, this is a great free utility from Windows to diagnose your PC.
4. Windows System Troubleshooter
While most diagnostics tools are for finding hardware issues, you also have another great tool to find and deal with problems with Windows itself. The Windows System Troubleshooter can help you resolve common issues.
On earlier Windows versions, it was Windows Fix It Solution Center that you could use to do what Windows System Troubleshooter does.
Here’s how you can run Windows troubleshooting tools in Windows 10:
- Click on Start and then go to Settings
- Click on Updates & Security
- Now click on Troubleshoot from the menu on the right
In Windows 10, the troubleshoot works in the background automatically. It fixes problems as they occur or at least tries to. It will give you suggestions as to how to resolve these issues. However, you can also proactively find and use many troubleshooting programs.
You can manually troubleshoot different hardware and software like audio, Bluetooth, keyboard, video playback, etc. It’s a great tool for finding minor problems with the peripherals you use. This Troubleshoot Window will also show you recommendations if there are any.
Intel Processor Diagnostic Tool
The Intel Processor Diagnostic Tool is not among the most popular diagnostics tools but it’s a useful one. If your PC has an Intel processor, which most PCs do, you can run this to find any issue with the processor.
You may not have it pre-installed in your Windows, but you can always download it from the Intel website. It’s absolutely free so why not use it to monitor the performance and health of the brain of your computer.
This tool performs stress tests to analyze the features of the processor. These tests will give you all the information you need. There’s rarely an issue with Intel processors so most likely you will only get positive results. If something does not meet the normal benchmark, you will have the information to fix or replace it.
Once you install it in your PC, you simply run it and perform the diagnosis. You can change the default configuration pretty easily. Go to tools, then config, and click on Edit. The program also allows you to save the results to compare them in the future.
Vendor-Based PC Diagnostic Tools
Aside from Windows diagnostic tools, you may also have access to diagnostics tools from the maker of your PC. For instance, if your PC is a Dell, you can use Dell’s diagnostic tools. Most PCs come pre-installed with these programs, so you can find them in the Programs list.
If your PC does not have any installed, you may be able to get them online for free. Each test runs differently as different vendors have different diagnostics tools. These tools are pretty useful as these are specifically designed for your machine.
If you cannot find relevant information with Windows diagnostic tools, these tools should be your second go-to.
Third-Party Diagnostic Tools
You can also find a plethora of tools online to diagnose your PC. Although the tools you get from Windows and the PC manufactuer are the best, there may be areas that these tools do not cover.
For instance, you cannot find a tool in Windows to diagnose problems with your monitor/screen display. If you have tiny spots on your screen, you can use the free third-party tool JScreen to fix the issue.
Similarly, if you still facing issues even after running Windows diagnostic tools, you could look elsewhere to third-party software. However, you should use only the most reliable tools and software. Not every tool is good enough to actually resolve your PC issues.
As far as using these tools is concerned, it should not be too hard to run these. You can find specific instructions online on the tool’s website. Most tools are designed to simply run and do the tests. You only have to concentrate on the results of the test to make out what errors or problems your hardware is showing.
What are the common hardware problems diagnostics can find?
Diagnostics can find a bunch of problems in your hardware that otherwise might go unnoticed. Some of the hardware issues are:
- Insufficient memory
- Mouse or keyboard issues
- Blank monitor screen
- Network issues
What causes a blue screen on Windows?
There are a number of problems that could potentially cause a blue screen error. Before you take necessary measures and go for diagnostics, check out some of the common issues behind this are:
- Faulty RAM
- Outdated drivers
- Small storage space
- Software crash
- Not enough air circulation
- Loose cable
Most of the time the PC will restart or you will have to manually restart it. Once it has been restarted, you can run Windows diagnostic tools to find if there’s anything wrong with the hardware.
Where do I download the Windows diagnostic tools from?
You do not need to download Windows diagnostic tools as these tools come with Windows. You can use them for free any time you want to find problems in your PC or want to analyze how it’s running. These tools include tests for memory, processor, hard disk, and even peripherals like your mouse, keyboard, or microphone.
Now that you know how the diagnostics on your PC work on your computer, you can nip the problems in the bud. PC repairs can cost you a lot of money depending on the hardware. They also take effort and cost quick money. Constantly keeping a monitor on your hardware and understanding the errors that occur can help you prolong your PC’s life.