If you've ever gummed up your Windows computer or are unsure why it's all of a sudden acting out of character, something's probably in need of some TLC.
After all, Windows users are accustomed to diagnosing and repairing their personal computers.
Acting out of sorts can only get you so far, though. What you don't know is exactly what's wrong with the system, causing it to be slow, have internet issues, random processes you may not even know are hijacking your system, or even worse yet, you could have a malware running.
Windows does have features built in to help you search memory or running events of software. The other option to clear out programs slowing down your system is you could go the route of simply mass uninstalling old software to regain those precious cycles.
So where do you go to uncover and diagnose these types of issue? In this guide, we'll give you some useful tools to do just that.
So where do I begin?
To start out, you'll want to download these applications directly from their sources which we'll provide links to below. Unfortunately, some websites have begun adding bundled adware to their installer packages to bring something you didn't intend along for the ride. Though there are a few exceptions to this rule, it's generally better to get these from the official website.
Process Explorer - Cost: Free
Process Explorer is a downloadable software directly from Microsoft that helps you to diagnose whether a program has a particular file or directory open. The program shows you information about which handles and DLLs (Dynamic Link Library, or in instructions for other programs) processes have opened or loaded.
The software has two sub-windows, the top displays a list of the currently active processes, including the owner's accounts. The bottom window is dependent on the mode Process Explorer is in. One such mode is DLL mode which you'll see the DLLs and memory-mapped files that the process has loaded.
Wi-Fi Analyzer - Cost: Free / In-App Add-Ons
WiFi Analyzer is an app on the Microsoft App Store that can help you to identify Wi-Fi problems. It provides that added insight of finding the best Wi-Fi channel or the best place for your router/access-point.
How does it do this? It turns your PC/laptop, tablet or mobile device into an analyzer for your wireless network. The basic version is completely ad-free and additional features can be bought via an in-app purchase.
What are the pro-features?
- Live-Tile support
- Beeper for signal strength
- Connect to networks
- Use filters
- Prevent screen timeout
- Lock screen rotation
- Change signal strength borders
Angry IP Scanner - Cost: Free
Angry IP Scanner works with not only Windows but with Mac OSX, and Linux as well. What's nice about this software is simply a fast IP address and port scanner that functions without any software installation.
It works by scanning ranges of IP addresses and any of their ports and pings them to see if it's alive. It can optionally resolve the hostname, determine the MAC address, and more. It can even save these results to CSV, TXT, XML or IP-Port list files. The application can also be outfitted with the help of plugins to gather information about scanned IPs.
WinDirStat - Cost: Free
WinDirStat is a software that is able to run on everything from Windows 95 through the Modern version of Windows 10. This application is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for various versions of Microsoft Windows.
On startup, it reads the whole directory tree once and then presents it in three useful views:
The directory list, which resembles the tree view of the Windows Explorer but is sorted by file/subtree size, the treemap, which shows the whole contents of the directory tree straight away, and the extension list, which serves as a legend and shows statistics about the file types.
The treemap represents each file as a colored rectangle, the area of which is proportional to the file's size. The rectangles are arranged in such a way, that directories again make up rectangles, which contain all their files and subdirectories. So their area is proportional to the size of the subtrees. The color of a rectangle indicates the type of the file, as shown in the extension list. The cushion shading additionally brings out the directory structure.
Windows Sysinternals Suite - Cost: Free
Sysinternals Suite is yet another Microsoft provided series of software. This suite provides you with a multitude of troubleshooting software that is all nicely rolled into one package. The program contains individual troubleshooting tools and help files to help solve your issues.
The Suite is a bundling of the following selected Sysinternals Utilities: Autologon, Autoruns, BlueScreen, CacheSet, ClockRes, DebugView, DiskMon, DiskView, Disk Usage (DU), ListDLLs, LogonSessions, PageDefrag, PortMon, ProcDump, Process Explorer, Process Monitor, Registry Usage (RU), Sysmon, TCPView, VMMap, VolumeID, WhoIs, WinObj and so many more I couldn't have posted it here.
Although there's a ton in this package it can cover anything from File and Disk Utilities, Networking, Processes, Security, System information and the list goes on. It's almost a nice catchall provided by Microsoft for a good 80% of your troubleshooting utilities needs.
Malwarebytes - Cost: Free, Premium for $69.98/2 yrs
This is one I've trusted and used for years in cleaning up other people's machines. It allows you to not only scan memory or most used areas but to clean up deep into the hard drive, cookies and registry. You can protect yourself from online attacks that threaten your identity, your files, your system and a plethora of other things too.
- Removes & Detects malware, spyware and other advanced threats
- Automatically finds malware
- Stops malware and exploit attacks in real-time while it shields vulnerable systems and software
- Blocks ransomware attacks
- Shields you by preventing access to and from known malicious websites
Debug Diagnostics 2 - Cost: Free
Debug Diagnostics Tool is another Microsoft utility that helps you to troubleshoot issues such as system hangs, slow performance, memory leaks or memory fragmentation and crashes in any user-mode process. The tool incorporates built-in analysis rules focused on Internet Information Services (IIS) applications, web data access components, COM+, SharePoint and related Microsoft technologies.
As you can see, there are plenty of utilities for troubleshooting and cleaning up your Windows-based personal computer. This guide hopefully gave you some software to look into in your troubleshooting needs to keep your machine at tip-top shape.
Just remember when using these types of utilities and messing with system settings, it's a great time to think about also backing up your personal data in the event something goes awry.
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