For troubleshooting computer hardware we will use the simplest tools included in Windows operating system – Device Manager, Troubleshooting Wizard a few commands, Event Viewer and Windows Memory Test.
I usually use them when the computer suddenly shows a blue screen (BSoD).
You can access Device Manager in Windows 10 by clicking Start then type “Device Manager” and hit Enter.
This will bring up a window with a list of all devices on the computer.
On very old Windows XP system this page can be accessed by clicking Start, Control Panel, click System icon, System Properties, and Hardware tab.
On Windows Vista click Start, Control Panel, make it Classic View, click Device Manager,
I have here it showing exclamation mark in a yellow triangle which means there are no drivers installed for this device. So now, we will install drivers for it.
Right click on this device, click Update Driver, and now click Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software (you’ll need an internet connection for this to work).
It will take some time, and usually, it will find the right driver. In case it does not find the right driver, you will need to go to the manufacturer’s web site to look for drivers. If this automatic update did not find drivers and you can’t find drivers on the manufacturer’s website, you simply need to disable this device. Right click on the device and choose Disable Device.
An exclamation point in a yellow circle indicates potential hardware conflict. Again right click on that device; choose Properties, and in General, tab where is Device Status you will see that has some conflicts.
If you want to find a quick solution to this problem simply start by restarting the computer. If it does have some conflicts after the restart, we will be able to disable the device. Right click on the device and choose Disable Device. It will show now an arrow pointed down (in Windows XP this will be an X in a red circle.
Using Windows Troubleshooting Wizard
I will show how to do it on Windows 10. For Windows 7 and Windows XP it’s slightly different.
Click start and type Troubleshoot; click on the Troubleshoot icon. These steps will then bring up a long list of devices and features.
I have a problem with my internet connection so I will click Troubleshoot Internet Connections.
Now, depending what’s wrong, it will show a slightly different dialog box where you can troubleshoot it further, or it simply will find what’s wrong.
In Windows 10 you can run a chkdsk command which will start a short hard drive check. Hit the Windows key and X key together, this will bring up a dialog box where you choose Windows PowerShell (Admin), type chkdsk. The test will take a few minutes.
Please note this is not a thorough test.
To make it run complete test and try to fix errors (bad sectors) we need to use so-called switches. Do the same as previously but now type chkdsk /r. You will get a message saying: “Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by the process. Would you like to schedule this volume checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)”
Hit Y key and press Enter.
This will start the hard drive check when you power on the computer the next time. The process will take a long time (1 hour or longer).
In Windows 7
Click Start, type cmd and hit Ctrl+Shift+Enter. Type chkdsk /r if you want it to run and fix errors; hit Enter. Again it will say that: “Chkdsk can not run because the volume is in use by the processor. Would you like to schedule this volume checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)” and you can hit Y key.
It will perform a long hard drive test when you power on the computer next time.
In Windows XP go to My Computer, right click on C disk, choose Properties,
select Tools tab, there will be an item Error-checking click Check Now.
If you want thorough test tick Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.
Windows Memory Diagnostic
This is another tool that is inbuilt in Windows 10 and Windows 7.
In Windows 10 click Start and type “Memory”; click the Windows Memory Diagnostic icon. In the opened dialog click Check for problems the next time I start my computer.
In Windows 7 click Start, type Memory and click Windows Memory Diagnostic icon. Click Check for problems the next time I start my computer.
Or you can do this straight away by clicking the above option that says Restart now.
The Event Viewer is another powerful tool that can give you some hints about a computer’s hardware health.
In Windows 10 Click Start and type Event, click Event Viewer icon. This will bring a window up where you click Custom Views, Administrative Events.
As you can see it shows me a warning about an error which relates to the disk (hard drive). And this is correct as I have in my computer setup an external hard drive that disconnects randomly and I can’t access files on it unless I restart it.
In Windows 7 access to Event Viewer is the same as in Windows 10.
In Windows XP click Start, Settings, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, click Event Viewer.
These steps will then bring up a similar list to the lists in Windows 10 and Windows 7.
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