A regularly occurring problem for PC users is the loss of performance of their computers when performing common tasks. This situation can be due to hardware failures, errors in system files, outdated drivers, amongst other reasons. Fortunately, there are many programs that can help identify problems in a PC by running diagnostic tests, both in its general operation and in its internal (CPU, RAM and hard disk, etc.) and external (peripherals) components. In this article we will take you through these programs.
RAM memory failures are one of the main causes of system instability. To analyse RAM modules you can use the MemTest tool.
Read this article on how to diagnose the PC RAM status with MemTest.
You can also use the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool, included by default in Windows Vista and later versions. To access it, simply press Windows + R, and when the Run dialog box appears, type the command mdsched.exe and press Enter:
You can even scan your RAM from a Windows repair disk. Ultimate Boot CD also includes tools for this purpose.
At present, hard disks are equipped with a technology called S.M.A.R.T. which allows us to obtain information about both the device itself and its state of health. Here are some tools that use this technology to check the status of your hard drive.
Note: If the computer does not turn on, you can install the hard drive on another computer (as a slave drive or via a USB adapter) to perform the tests.
HDD Health is a utility that once installed, can regularly check S.M.A.R.T. health attributes and alert you in the case of any abnormality. To quickly access its options menu, right-click on its hard drive icon located in the system bar (next to the clock):
To view the health status of your hard drive, click on the Show HDD Health option. Then go to the Drive tab > SMART Attributes.
CrystalDiskInfo is compatible with all hard drives. At startup it informs you of the health status of your hard drive, its running temperature, the time it has been on, the rotation speed, the size of the cache, the serial number, amongst other details. It can also be configured to send malfunction alerts either by sound or to your email box.
SpeedFan reads the S.M.A.R.T. data from your hard drive and sends it to its online database for comparison with values recorded by similar models. Based on this information it tells you the true health status of your drive.
HD Tune has numerous tools to evaluate the performance of your hard drive. It provides the data transfer rate and access time of the hard disk:
It also has a tab that presents the S.MA.R.T. information collected by the drive:
You can even do in-depth analysis of the drive in order to find bad sectors:
CrystalDiskMark allows you to evaluate the performance of all your storage drives such as solid state drives, external hard drives, USB sticks, etc.
Ariolic Disk Scanner performs a complete scan of your hard disk and detects any errors that may affect its proper functioning.
CheckDrive is a diagnostic tool designed to detect and in some cases, it can even correct errors on your hard drives.
Drive Health’s task is to estimate the life of your hard drive.
The software for assessing the condition of SSDs is generally the same as that used on HDDs. However, some developers and manufacturers offer specific tools, such as those shown below.
SSD-Z is a tool developed by the same creators of the famous CPU-Z program. It is free of charge.
This software forecasts the life span of your SSD. You can download it here.
Samsung Magician Software is a program designed specifically to work with SSDs manufactured by Samsung. It can run various performance tests and notify you when a firmware update to the drive is available. You can download it here.
Program created for Intel branded solid state drives. Among other things, it enables you to optimise drive performance, update firmware and perform secure deletions on drives other than the main drive. Please consult this page.
A very similar program to the previous ones listed above, but specifically created for Kingston solid state units. You can download it from its author’s page.
There are many programs that put your computer's CPU through stress tests in order to check its working speed. These programs are also used by overclocking enthusiasts to check the stability of their system after the overclocking process has been completed. Below are some programs, along with their screenshots and download links.
CPU-Z is one of the programs that provide the most complete information about the characteristics of the CPU.
Hot CPU Tester Pro checks the state and stability of the processor as well as the various components of the motherboard. Its main function is to look for errors and faulty elements.
OCCT is ideal for overclocking processes.
Prime95 is a widely used software in overclocking, as it allows you to push the processor and RAM to the extreme. This serves to detect anomalies.
AMD OverDrive serves to overclock AMD processors.
Hot CPU Tester Pro is a program that allows you to analyse the state and stability of the system. It tests the processor, the chipset and virtually all parts of the motherboard for errors, bugs or defective components.
If your motherboard is old, you can use Motherboard Monitor, a tool that provides information about the state of the motherboard and the CPU.
Some manufacturers have their own programs to check the state of the motherboard, fan speeds, etc. For example, the ASUS PC Probe II is the manufacturer's ASUSTeK tool for motherboard diagnostics.
There are numerous free tools available to check the capabilities of your graphics card. They are mostly used for performance and stability testing.
GPU-Z is a benchmark tool for graphics performance. In addition to displaying detailed video adapter information, it measures temperature, speed, memory usage, and more.
Furmark simulates intensive use of the graphics card to detect stability problems.
MSI Kombustor is based on Furmark, so it can also take the graphics adapter to extreme limits. It reports the temperature level, load of the graphics processor, power, etc. in real time.
GPU Caps Viewer performs diagnostic and comparative testing. It is also useful for evaluating the result of overclocking.
H2testw performs writing tests on random areas of the device in order to detect anomalies. It also serves to find the resting storage capacity.
USB Flash Drive Tester tests different types of removable drives to detect bad sectors and errors in storage capacity.
SpeedFan allows you to change the speed of the internal fans according to the system temperature. This also helps control computer noise.
The ASUS PC Probe II is an exclusive diagnostic tool for computers that integrates ASUS brand motherboards. It provides information about the rotation speed of the fans, the processor and the power supply. In addition, it sends notifications in the event that the fans drop to critical values.
Some manufacturers include an option in the BIOS to obtain information about fans and make some changes to their settings.
BatteryBar can predict the battery life of your laptop based on its charge history. It also displays on the taskbar the percentage and duration of charge.
Battery Eater Pro measures your battery life in all the power-saving conditions available to your system and also tells you how long your battery will last if your laptop goes into sleep mode.
Battery Eater Pro download link.
Nero CD-DVD Speed tests the functions of your optical disc drive (player and writer) such as data transfer rate, seek time and digital audio extraction quality.
UDPixel can locate and fix defective pixels on your LCD screen. To achieve this, it generates colour changes around the damaged pixels. The program must be left running for at least two hours.
Nokia Monitor Test is a program that can detect errors in your screen's convergence, resolution, sharpness, brightness or contrast. It works with both tube and LCD screens.
Server Health Notifier is a tool that notifies the user in case of a problem with the resources of a local or remote computer. It can monitor CPU usage, RAM usage, paging file, etc.
Keyboard Test Utility allows you to verify that each key on your keyboard is working properly. No installation is required.
Keyboard Test Utility download link.
Besides helping you to check that all keys work correctly, Passmark KeyboardTest measures the response speed of each keystroke. It also allows you to download keyboard layouts so that you can test on a model identical to your own.
Passmark KeyboardTest download link
BurInTest is a complete diagnostic program for computers. It benchmarks the CPU, RAM, hard drives, video card, optical disk drive, printer, etc. It also includes an option to monitor system temperature.
Sisoft Sandra Lite displays extensive information about your system's hardware and software. In addition, it tests the performance of components such as the processor, memory and storage drives.
If your computer does not start, you can try to scan its components by booting the computer from an external media (USB, CD, memory card).
To uniquely scan the memory you can use MemTest86 or a Linux live CD that includes a tool to check the memory (Ubuntu for example). You can also boot the computer with the Windows installation disc.