<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/computerrepairthumb1.png”>Computers are complex pieces of electronics and, unfortunately, they tend to go astray quite often. Knowledgeable geeks can fix these problems quickly, but to the average user, a Blue Screen of Death is as useful as receiving a pie to the face. This, of course, is why people hire computer repair technicians. It’s also why your grandparents think that you are one because you know how to change the homepage in Internet Explorer.
If you are ever faced with the task of repairing computers – either professionals or as an amateur – it’s important to have the right tools. This includes software that can help you pinpoint and solve system errors. Let’s have a look at six programs that can save you a lot of time.
Properly diagnosing and repairing a computer requires knowledge about what is inside it. Some information, like the processor that a computer has and the amount of RAM installed, is extremely easy to come across. But other information, like the exact model of motherboard or hard drive, can be more difficult to determine. This is particularly true in pre-built systems from companies like Dell, as they often do not include technical information about their PCs.
PC Wizard is the easy solution to this issue. This software scans a PC and returns detailed information about the components inside. This includes everything from the audio controller to the motherboard chipset. You’ll also be able to see the temperature of the processor, video card, and hard drive (provided the system has those sensors installed).
OCCT and Furmark
Many computer problems are caused by stress placed on components as they reach maximum load. It is not hard for a processor to run well when it is only using 25% of it’s potential, but when maxed to 100% it begins to generate significantly more heat and draw far more power. This can expose problems with a computer’s cooling solution or power supply that are otherwise not an issue.
Controlled stress tests reveal these issues. My two favorite programs are OCCT (for the CPU) and Furmark (for the GPU). Each program can put a load on a processor or video card that will replicate what happens when a program demands everything these components have to give.
Malware is one of the most common causes of computer problems. Unsuspecting folks download the wrong file, and now suddenly their processor seems to be running at 80% or higher usage no matter what they’re doing, or their homepage has been changed to llamas.com.
This is where a free malware program like MalwareBytes is handy. You can install it free of charge on as many computers as you’d like and use it to try and find and remove the malware that is causing innocent folks so much trouble. Cleaning up malware on an already-infected computer is tricky, so don’t expect this (or any other) anti-malware software to perform magic, but this program will give you one more tool for tackling the problem.
One problem that often confronts computer repair technicians is a program that won’t uninstall properly. The program may be consuming disk space, or interfering with other programs, and you’d like to remove it. Yet the built-in uninstaller fails every time.
Revo Uninstaller is a program tailored to defeat such problems. It can track down the different components and registry entries of a program and kill them. In my experience it can remove about 80% of the programs that have previously failed to uninstall through conventional methods, and you may want to simply use Revo Uninstaller by default, as it cleans up after programs more throughly than the default uninstallers usually do.
You can learn a lot about a computer by benchmarking it. Hardware is hardware – it is made to precise specifications, and there is very little variation between various examples of a similar product. This creates a good baseline to compare the performance of a computer to, which in turn makes it easier to find where problems might be occurring. Benchmarks can also be handy because, in some cases, a problem assumed to be a hardware defect isn’t one at all. Instead, the problem is that the hardware just isn’t up to handling what the user is demanding from it.
There are a lot of useful free benchmarks, but SiSoft Sandra remains one of the most full-featured and robust examples. The benchmarks included can be used to gauge the performance of hard drives, processors, video cards, memory and more. In addition, SiSoft Sandra offers some comparative examples of benchmarks run using similar hardware. This can help you determine if a computer is behaving normally.
While I find SiSoft Sandra’s benchmarks to be the most compelling feature, the program offers a number of other tools and hardware information utilities. I find other options to be better in these areas, but the extra tools are handy to have, and some users may prefer them.
The 5 must-have apps listed here are ones that I’ve used in the past. They’re great programs – but given the expansive universe of programs available, they’re surely not the only ones around. If you know of a program that would be useful for computer repair technicians feel free to throw some love on it in the comments.