Software Tools & Diags

Software Tools / Diagnostics

DISCLAIMER:  This is Tom in Tech Support's personal website; therefore, any and all recommendations for products and services are solely his personal opinion.  Although Tom is employed by Siemens, no endorsement by Siemens is intended or implied.

There are two absolutely essential tools every home computer running Microsoft Windows needs: Virus Protection and Malware Protection. These programs not only need to be installed and updated regularly, each needs to run at least once a week.

Virus Protection

Windows XP - Microsoft Security Essentials

Windows 7 - Microsoft Security Essentials

Windows 8 -  Windows Defender

Windows 10 - Microsoft Security Essentials

Note: Windows XP will not run MS Security Essentials version 4.5 and above.

Malware Protection

Windows XP - Malwarebytes

Windows 7 - Malwarebytes

Windows 8 -  Malwarebytes

Windows 10 - Malwarebytes

Note:  The free version of Malwarebytes is not "always-on." Instead a user has to manually run the program.

CCleaner is another great freebie.  It "takes out the trash" by deleting cookies, removing your browsing history, emptying the Recycle Bin, and purging the system of many other unwanted  files.  I run it everyday before shutting down my computer.  A clean PC is a healthy PC.

Click here to download CCleaner

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Each of the following utilities requires booting your computer from a CD or a USB drive.  Therefore, you need to know [a] how to access the BIOS on your  computer, and [b] how to modify the boot order.

Click here for instructions on how to access the BIOS > PC Support to Access BIOS

Click here for instructions on how to change the boot order > PC Support to Change Boot Order

Avira Rescue Disk
Despite the aforementioned protections, something undesirable always seems to slip through the cracks, so a bootable Rescue Disk is also an essential tool.  The Avira Rescue System is free for download, and contains up-to-date virus patterns.  You should only download this tool using a computer that is not infected, and then boot the infected computer from the newly created Rescue Disk.

Avira Rescue System Download

NOTE1: If you download the ISO, then you have to create a bootable CD with a burning tool already installed on your PC.  Conversely, if you have download the EXE, it contains a CD burner tool.

NOTE2: After downloading the ISO, you can create a bootable USB drive as shown on the link below.

Creating a Bootable Avira Rescue System USB Drive

Hardware & Software Testing: As you know, every computer has both hardware and software.  Problems with software are often extremely difficult to diagnose, and it is not unusual for software problems to persist after a program has been completely uninstalled and then reloaded.  Additionally, malware and viruses can cause all sorts of issues.

Software

If your computer is experiencing the dreaded Blue Screen of Death, then see How to Geek.

If you suspect a virus, then download an Avira Rescue CD and perform a virus scan.

If you suspect malware, then download Malwarebytes and perform a malware scan.

Another tact is to restore your system to an earlier state.  Periodically, Windows creates "Restore Points" for this very reason.  See details here > Information Week

Be advised that use can utilize "Restore Points" to rollback from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.

See details here > CNET Explains How to Rollback From Windows 10

Hardware

Computer hardware can be logically segmented into the motherboard, add-on cards and devices, RAM and hard drives.

To test your system’s motherboard, contact the manufacturer of the system (e.g., Dell, HP, etc.).  Similarly, for any add-on cards or devices, contact the device manufacturer (e.g., ATI, Intel, etc.).  However, be advised there are generic tests available for RAM and hard drives.

To test the RAM in a PC...

Download MemTst86 from the link below.  After the file has been downloaded, unzip it, and then create a bootable CD/DVD or USB drive.  Afterwards, boot the PC from the device containing MemTst86, and the RAM tests will automatically begin.  Testing each 4 GB of RAM takes approximately 90 minutes for four passed to complete.  As a general rule, memory tests should be allowed to run at least four passes.

Bootable CD Link > MemTst86 ISO

Bootable USB Link > MemTst86 USB

To test the hard drives in a PC…

If your PC will successfully boot into Windows, then download and run HDDScan.  It’s a portable program, meaning that it doesn’t need to be installed to operate.  If your hard drive supports SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology), then HDDScan will display that information.  SMART data often indicates whether hard drive failure is imminent.

Link > HDDScan

If your PC will not boot into Windows, then download and create an Ultimate Boot CD.

Link > Ultimate Boot CD Download

[1] After booting from the UBCD, select HDD.

[2] Select Diagnosis.

[3] Select VIVARD V0.4

[4] If the system has multiple hard drives, ensure all physical drives are shown.  If a drive is missing, then that drive was probably crashed.

[5] Select (i.e., highlight) the drive to be tested.

[6] Select "Surface test with remap".

[7] Select 0 as the starting block.

[8] Select the default value as the ending block.  Afterwards, the test will immediately begin.

After downloading the above ISO, you can create a bootable USB drive  as shown below.

[1] Download the program Unetbootin.

[2] Insert a USB drive in your PC.

[3] Format the USB drive using "FAT32".  Be advised that formatting will erase the drive's contents.

[4] Run the downloaded unetbootin-windows-xxx.exe.(from step 1)

[5] Select  “Diskimage" and “ISO”.

[6] Browse to the downloaded ISO for the Ultimate Boot CD.

[7]  Select “Type: USB Drive” and then select the device that was formatted in step 3.

[8] Click Ok.

USB Capacity

Sometimes when you utilize a bootable USB memory stick, the device will lose most of its capacity.  For example, a 16 GB stick might only have 48 MB of total storage.  To reset the USB stick to its full capacity, run diskpart.exe to clean the device and create a new primary partition as shown below.

WARNING #1:  Be 100% certain to select the disk number corresponding to the USB device.

WARNING #2:  All files on the selected disk will be lost.

WINDOWS START>  diskpart.exe

DISKPART>  list disk

DISKPART>  select disk 1      (assuming disk 1 is the USB device)

DISKPART>  clean

A pop-up may appear asking if you want to format the USB device.  Click on Cancel.

DISKPART> create partition primary