Software Tools / Diagnostics
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There are only two kinds of people; those who backup their data and those who lose their data. With all the viruses, malware, and ransomware circulating on the internet, don't be someone who loses their data.
Click for for my Backup Instructions
Additionally, 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.
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
Kaspersky Rescue Disk
Despite the aforementioned protections, something undesirable always seems to slip through the cracks, so a bootable Anit-Virus Rescue Disk is also an essential tool. The Kaspersky Rescue Disk is free for download, and contains up-to-date virus patterns. Be advised that you should only download this tool using a computer that is not infected; and then afterwards, boot the infected computer from the newly created Rescue Disk.
NOTE: If you download krd.iso, then you have to create a bootable CD with a burning tool already installed on your PC.
After booting from the Kaspersky Rescue Disk, users select their language and then select “Graphic mode” which resembles Microsoft Windows. Next, users are required to accept a Licensing Agreement. Ignore the error about “Cloud detection and bases update will be unavailable” if that message appears. Running a virus scan does not require a connection to cloud-based services, since virus defs are already installed.
By default, the application only scans boot sectors and the Microsoft Windows startup files, but that can be easily changed by selecting “Change parameters” via the Settings window and selecting "All volumes." On a home computer, I always suggest scanning "All volumes," i.e., each and every hard drive partition.
When “Scan completed” is displayed, click on the “Quarantine” menu selection and then select the “Quarantine” tab. Make a note of any and all files that were quarantined. In case a false positive occurred, click on the “Restore” button. Close the Quarantine window, and then click on the link labeled “details” adjacent to the number or items scanned. If the “Scan results” window is empty, then no problems were found. At the bottom of the window, enable “Show information messages” to see the list of scanned files. Be advised this is the only place this information can be displayed.
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.
If your computer is experiencing the dreaded Blue Screen of Death, then see How to Geek.
If you suspect a virus, then download an Kaspersky Rescue Disk 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
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. As a general rule, memory tests should be allowed to run at least 4 passes. Testing 4 GB of RAM takes approximately 90 minutes for 4 passes to complete.
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
 After booting from the UBCD, select HDD.
 Select Diagnosis.
 Select VIVARD V0.4
 If the system has multiple hard drives, ensure all physical drives are shown. If a drive is missing, then that drive was probably crashed.
 Select (i.e., highlight) the drive to be tested.
 Select "Surface test with remap".
 Select 0 as the starting block.
 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.
 Download the program Unetbootin.
 Insert a USB drive in your PC.
 Format the USB drive using "FAT32". Be advised that formatting will erase the drive's contents.
 Run the downloaded unetbootin-windows-xxx.exe.(from step 1)
 Select “Diskimage" and “ISO”.
 Browse to the downloaded ISO for the Ultimate Boot CD.
 Select “Type: USB Drive” and then select the device that was formatted in step 3.
 Click Ok.
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)
A pop-up may appear asking if you want to format the USB device. Click on Cancel.
DISKPART> create partition primary