People often complain about how Windows isn’t the most stable operating system out there. Considering the complexity of operating systems that work with software and hardware from hundreds of vendors, though, Windows is a remarkably stable system. Nevertheless, problems will arise from time to time. The more insight you have into the goings-on in your computer the better equipped you are to solve them.
The next time your computer slows down, blue-screens or freezes, try these Windows troubleshooting tools for more insight into what goes on.
A better Task Manager
Process Explorer from Sysinternals is a diagnostics tool that works quite like Task Manager, except that it is far more powerful and flexible. While you need to have considerable technical understanding to truly use Process Explorer, the tool can often help even the non-expert gain some insight into the source of a problem.
For instance, Task Manager has very little detail on each running process on your computer. Look at the Process Tree in Process Explorer, on the other hand, and you get detailed information on the stack and threads involved in each process (each one of which can be caused or killed individually), its permissions, information on what it does with your network and so on. If you know the name of a process that you need, Process Explorer allows you to search for it by name.
Blue screen analysis
When a Windows computer crashes in a serious way, it sometimes comes up with what is known as a Blue Screen. On older versions of Windows, it was an electric blue screen with a few lines explaining the error in question. On Windows 8, it is a light blue screen with an error code and a message in plain English.
Blue screens are less common now than they used to be on previous versions of Windows. When a hardware or software incompatibility does force a sudden blue screen shutdown, though, it can be a chore finding out what caused it. You need to note down the error code and look it up on the Internet. Alternatively, you could use a blue screen analyzer tool like BlueScreenView.
When a blue screen crash occurs, Windows saves a file with details. Blue screen view allows you to access all the files in one place and gives you a reports this helps you study look for the cause. For instance, it gives you a list of all the drivers that were running at the time of the crash. This can help you zero down the culprit.
Finding out where your disk space went
Have you ever found yourself scanning the folders on your PC wondering what you could possibly have done with the 900 GB of disk space that you thought you had? WinDirStat is a tool that does the hard work for you. It quickly gives you a list of all the large files you have.
A file that you can’t delete because it is “in use”
Anybody who has used Windows knows what it feels like to not be to be able to delete a file because it is “in use” (even if you can swear that it isn’t in use). You can download a piece of free software called Unlocker to address this problem. When you have a file that won’t get deleted because it’s in use, you just need to right-click on it and select Unlocker to find out what process is causing the holdup. Once you know where the problem is, you can terminate the process.