Biggest tips guide ever! (Part 5) - PC Problems

3/30/2012 9:11:35 AM

Biggest tips guide ever! (Part 5)

PC Problems

Description: WinDirStat

WINDIRSTAT generates graphical disk-usage reports

Get a web diagnosis

There are very few computing problems that the web is unaware of. Typing in error codes and brief descriptions of symptoms can be one of the most effective ways of identifying and troubleshooting a problem. If you can't find an immediately obvious error message, look in Control Panel, Problem Reports and Solutions (Vista), For Windows 1, open Control Panel, Action Center, Maintenance, View reliability history, and click on View all problem reports at the bottom of the window.

A better process manager

Sysinternals Process Explorer is a strong alternative to Windows' Task Manager. Click on one its four graphs - CPU usage, commit history, I/O bytes history and physical memory history - to bring up a full-sized window view that's akin to the Performance tab in Task Manager, but with far more detail.

Analyze the Blue Screen of Death

Thankfully, the Blue Screen of Death is man uncommon Windows sight these days. Should you experience one, we recommend BlueScreenView (, which can help identify the driver that caused it.

Find out what's hogging disk space

WinDirStat ( generates easy-to-understand graphical reports about disk usage, so you can see at a glance which individual files or folders hidden deep within a directory tree are gobbling up your memory.

Start up faster with Delayer

Windows 7 is faster than its predecessors, but if you've been using it a while and have clogged it up with programs and files, it'll be feeling the strain. Use Startup Delayer ( to prioritise which programs load when you first fire up Windows and which can be held back.

Restore-point revival

Windows automatically recreates a restore point when you install a program, make a certain type of change to your system, or simply because it's scheduled to. If your PC throws a wobbly, type System Restore in the search box( to bring up a calendar showing the last such point Roll back your PC to before things went awry, then restart.

Don't restore malware

An exception to the above restore point advice is if you're trying to clear an infection. it's possible the System Restore archive is itself infected. See page 156 for more.

Create a system repair disc

Before things go wrong is the best time to make a backup of Windows. To do so, insert a blank disc, click the Windows Start button, type repair, and choose 'Create a System Repair Disc'. Follow the instructions from there, remembering to label the disc when you've finished.

More RAM

Windows used to be limited to only 2GB or 3GB of RAM. The days of 32bit computing are numbered; if you were canny enough to choose a 64bit Windows machine, you'll be able to enjoy 3GB or more.

Instant RAM upgrade

Installing more RAM in your laptop is tricky, so for an instant boost you can use a USB flash drive. In the AutoPlay options, choose the option to use the drive's available memory to boost performance.

Avoid electrical interference

Cable clutter is unsightly. It can also cause electrical items to short-circuit and data transfers to take longer than they ought. A cable tidy, or simply unfurling curled up cables, can help. Cable ties that tame excess lengths are also useful.

Disk-integrity check

It's a pain having to wait for Windows to check your USB drive or CD isn't corrupt, but it can make the difference between peace of mind and a botnet infection. Allow your security software to proceed,

Revive a dead laptop battery

If your laptop is a few years old, the battery won't hold a charge as long as it used to before needing to be plugged in. Before replacing the battery itself, try replacing the laptop fuse (if the charging light on the battery doesn't come on, it's the charger at fault). Compatible chargers can be bought if the manufacturer can't supply one. Just makes sure the voltage is the same.

Cleaner, faster computing

See all that grot that's accumulated on your computer keyboard? The fan grille and the interior of your case also get dusty and grubby. Wipe a damp lint-free cloth over the exterior of a switched-off machine. A low-power mini vacuum to clean the innards occasionally will also help a PC's efficiency.

Back up your system drives

Semper Software Drive (sempersoftware.nt) saves and restores all system drivers. This is invaluable since system manufacturers rarely supply drivers on disc anymore, so if you ever need to wipe your hard drive and reinstall Windows, you might find yourself without a critical driver.

Carry your apps with you

Like the way your PC is set up? Carry your media manager, web browser, office software and preferences with you, and you can hotdesk with aplomb. A SanDisk U3 drive will let you log in at any Windows PC and get to work as if you were sitting at your usual PC desktop. Apps are available from


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