Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

These hidden Windows tools can prolong your PC’s life and save you if disaster strikes.

We tend to take it for granted that our PCs “just work”. It’s easy to forget that (like any piece of technology) they need regular maintenance and fine tuning to prolong their life and keep them working smoothly. A number of often overlooked Windows applications can help you keep your computer up to speed.

Some of the tools mentioned will rectify a problem. Others have features that are worth using immediately because they’re good preventive measures to ensure you’re protecting your PC, in case disaster is nigh.

1. Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting should be your first port of call whenever you find that a particular PC component (such as your printer, the internet, or your USB drives) is not working as it should. Run a PC search for “troubleshooting” and click the first option that appears to see a useful “Troubleshoot computer problems” section.

Windows-tools-Troubleshooting

You can choose from a variety of Troubleshoot sections. Click the one that applies to your problem, click Next, and follow the prompts for the tool to diagnose problems. You’ll be prompted to try different solutions and the steps are easy to follow. Upon completion, Windows will try to rectify the problem or direct you to other resources.

Ads by Google

This tool is the best way to determine if the problem you’re facing is superficial and can be fixed, or if it’s something grave that needs the skilled hands of a technician.

2. Disk Defragmenter

Modern-day hard drives are quite robust, so defragmenting isn’t as useful as it used to be in earlier Windows versions. That said, it can still provide that slight boost in speed that will make your machine just a touch smoother and better to use. You can choose from countless free third-party disk defragmenting tools 3 Excellent Defrag Utilities & Why You Still Need to Defragment In 2012 3 Excellent Defrag Utilities & Why You Still Need to Defragment In 2012 Accessing files from the hard drive is a speed limiting step in operating a computer. Hard drives used to be a major bottle neck and fragmentation of data slowed them down even further. With the... Read More , but for basic purposes, Windows’ default Disk Defragmenter performs just fine.

Windows-tools-Disk-Defragmenter

Search for the tool, open it , then click Analyze disk. You’ll be informed which of your drives (if any) need to be defragmented. Even better, you can configure the program to run on an automatic schedule, so you can rest easy knowing that your PC is in the best shape.

Note: Do not defragment your solid state drive!

3. System Restore

This underrated feature can be a godsend if a program or driver installation caused havoc. It saves your PC’s state at a specific point in time, so you can easily revert to that state, if anything goes wrong.

We have previously explained System Restore in detail What You Need To Know About Windows System Restore What You Need To Know About Windows System Restore Imagine the trouble you could find yourself in, if your system failed! The Windows System Restore feature could save your butt. This article explains how to create and use Windows restore points. Read More . In Windows 10, System Restore How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 Space wasted to a recovery partition is a thing of the past. System Restore and Factory Reset have improved in Windows 10. We show you how it works. Read More needs to be activated manually.

Windows-tools-System-restore

Some programs create automatic system restore points when you install them or before you use them to make changes to PC components. Follow Microsoft’s instructions on how to create a restore point and restore your files to an old restore point you created.

System Restore may fail What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails If you’re experiencing a problem with your Windows computer, you can try using System Restore, which rolls back system files, program files, and registry information to a previous state. If these files have been corrupted... Read More and not work 3 Things To Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working [Windows] 3 Things To Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working [Windows] Even if you exercise caution to ensure your system runs at its best, problems may still arise without warning. System Restore may work wonders and save your behind in those cases. If however you find... Read More ; follow our instructions to fix those issues.

4. File History Backup

We have previously written about Windows 8’s File History Backup feature Did You Know Windows 8 Has a Built-In Time Machine Backup? Did You Know Windows 8 Has a Built-In Time Machine Backup? We sometimes forget with all the focus on Windows 8's new "Modern" interface, but Windows 8 has a variety of great desktop improvements. One of them is File History, a built-in backup feature that functions... Read More and Windows 10 has a similar tool, albeit in an updated form. The tool’s name is slightly misleading because it doesn’t only let you restore previous versions of your files, it’s a fully featured backup tool. You basically connect an external drive to your PC, then select which folders you want to back up and at what intervals.

Windows-tools-Backup

In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup > More options. Default folders are automatically backed up, but you can choose to delete them and add other folders. You’re only limited by the storage space on the drive you’re backing up to.

You’ll see options as to how often you want to save your files and how long you want to keep their saved versions for. The first backup can take a while (depending on your data), but subsequent ones will be faster. Once that’s done, you can return to the back up and restore earlier versions of any file if and when you need to.

5. Windows Reliability Monitor

Even though you may not realize it, Windows is automatically recording all hardware and software changes. These readings are saved to the useful (but hidden) Windows Reliability Monitor. You should check this every few months to see how your system is performing and address any issues.

Windows-tools-reliability-monitor

We’ve previously written a detailed feature on how to access and use the Windows Reliability Monitor What Is the Windows 7 Reliability Monitor And How to Get The Most Out Of It What Is the Windows 7 Reliability Monitor And How to Get The Most Out Of It Embedded into Windows 7 is a useful reliability monitor that lets you not only visualize the current reliability level of your computer, but you can also see a historic log of how reliable your computer... Read More . The three links at the bottom of the tool let you save your reliability history, view all the detected problems, and check for solutions to all the problems.

6. Windows System Image

A “system image” basically contains your copy of Windows, as well as copies of all your programs, files, and system settings. You can store this on a DVD or external drive, then use this to boot into your PC when disaster strikes.

Windows-tools-System-Image

The process for creating disk images differs slightly from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 and 10. However, we’ve explained both the methods, including how to safely restore your files when disaster strikes in this elaborate feature How to Create an ISO Image of Your Windows System How to Create an ISO Image of Your Windows System Need a quick and easy way to backup and restore Windows without relying on backup tools or the cloud? It's time to learn how to make an ISO image of your Windows PC. Read More .

7. Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool

This hidden nugget is set to run automatically whenever your PC detects problems with its memory. If you suspect an issue, you can manually run the tool and check your memory.

Open the Control Panel, type memory diagnostics tool in the search bar, then click Diagnose your computer’s memory problems. You’ll need to select whether you want to run the tool immediately (by restarting) or when you next boot.

Windows-tools-Memory-Diagnostic-Tool

Microsoft recommends that you contact your PC manufacturer if the tool detects any errors because memory problems usually indicate a fault with your memory chips or another hardware component. Obviously, it helps if your machine is still under warranty.

8. Resource Monitor

Resource Monitor is like Windows Task Manager on steroids. We wrote a detailed Resource Monitor breakdown Taking A Closer Look At Windows Resource Monitor Taking A Closer Look At Windows Resource Monitor Read More  about six years back. The tool hasn’t changed much since, even making its way to Windows 10 in the same shape and form.

Windows-tools-Resource-monitor

You can see real-time usage of your PC’s CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network via graphs and graphical breakdowns, and even terminate space-hogging resources by right-clicking. In most cases, the tool will automatically level out the colors on the graph, but it’s useful to know you can manually disable any of the items if you need to.

What Is Your Favorite Maintenance Tool?

If this article opened your eyes to PC features you didn’t know existed, then it’s worth checking out similar articles, including our 10 neglected Windows superpowers 10 Neglected Windows Superpowers & How to Access Them 10 Neglected Windows Superpowers & How to Access Them With all its nooks and crannies, not even the most die-hard Windows fans have explored all its complex features. We have compiled those hidden Windows tips and tricks we think anyone will appreciate. Read More and 15 surprising features you don’t know Windows Can Do THIS? 15 Surprising Features You Had No Clue About Windows Can Do THIS? 15 Surprising Features You Had No Clue About Windows can do a lot more than you may think. Even if you're a veteran Windows user, I bet you'll discover a feature in our list that you never knew existed. Read More .

Have any of the above tools saved/prolonged your PC’s life in the past? Are there any similar, life-saving Windows features that we’ve missed? Let us know by posting your views in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Knife multi-tool by Volodymyr Krasyuk via Shutterstock

  1. Andy
    May 24, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I can't find Window Reliability Monitor on Windows 10. There's no Action Centre in the Control Panel.

  2. dan
    May 23, 2016 at 5:03 am

    I ran a PC search for TROUBLESHOOTING as you suggested and my Vista PC came up empty.

  3. alexter
    May 17, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool is rubbish, had a bad RAM it would pass as good but MemTest86 found lots of errors (Win764b). Stay away.

  4. Mark O'Neill
    May 17, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Have you tried switching it off then back on again?

  5. Relationship Roadmaps
    May 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    To run a cooler cleaner machine I use the Revo Uninstaller (Advanced mode) to clean up the GB's of saved Mozilla Firefox browser profiles and then re-install a new Firefox with Saved Bookmarks.(Google might be worse for crap.) I only keep the last, or one System Restore point. Keep it simple. The old freebie XP standards work well in this sequence on Win XP, 7 and 8 and probably 10, and have their own Restore points;
    -Free Windows Registry Repair (-just "Fix"),
    -Registry Life (-just "Fix" and then Optimize if desired),
    -Glary Utilities for One Click, or into the modules for some other temp file or zero-byte Disc cleaning, Track erasing, Startup managing and Windows standard tool ChekDisk or System File Checker.
    -A monthly boot time Puran Defrag will visibly clear up the page file.

  6. Frank J
    May 17, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Kerish Doctor and CleanMem Mini Monitor Free because I only have 4G memory

  7. Timothy Vels
    May 17, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Sys Internals "Process Explorer" is my fav. I keep an eye on memory and cpu levels on the taskbar all the time.
    Speaking of memory, how to tell Windows 10 Home to not shut down Adobe Premiere and After Effects when it uses the memory up to the brim? I have 16 GB of RAM but when it barely reaches 13 something it automatically gives a warning and force closes the app.
    Anyone have an idea?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Relationship Roadmaps
      May 17, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      Your system might be using 3GB's of memory for page file, pre-fetch, operating stuff, etc? 15% or 2.4 GB's might be reserved for defragmentation?

      • Timothy Vels
        May 17, 2016 at 3:26 pm

        I have manually set 20 - 3000 MB for system virtual memory on my D partition (i don't store anything on C usually).
        But that shouldn't be a problem right?

  8. Howard A Pearce @HAPLibertarian
    May 16, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Task manager most likely for use when programs hand or need killing for other reasons.

  9. me
    May 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Define "PC Saving Tools"
    3,4, and 6 are the only ones that do anything. The rest are just monitoring tools.
    The windows troubleshooter, has not helped anyone I have come in contact with.( a lot of people)

    Now malwarebyte could save you from malware
    tweaking.com All-in-One windows tool has 60 different actual repairs.

    • Cal L
      May 17, 2016 at 12:30 am

      Win Troubleshooter fixed a stalled installation of Win 10 over Win 7. But yes, the troubleshooter fixes things only about half of the time. That's not too bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *