Where to Find PC Hardware Diagnostic Tools - dummies

Where to Find PC Hardware Diagnostic Tools

By Dan Gookin

Windows doesn’t come with specific hardware diagnostic tools. Even so, when you add new hardware to your PC or the manufacturer installs it, diagnostic tools or programs may be available.

For example, the PC’s display adapter software may include a diagnostic tool: Look for the adapter name, such as ATI (Intel) or Nvidia, on the Start menu’s All Programs submenu. Or, you might find the diagnostic tool accessible from the notification area: Right-click the manufacturer’s icon and choose the diagnostic tool from the pop-up menu.

Likewise, the network adapter may have its own diagnostic tool or a suite of tools available. The only way to know for certain is to look.

If you own a utility suite, such as Norton Utilities, you may find hard drive diagnostic tools as well as other utilities for checking various PC components.

  • Hardware diagnostic tools can be time consuming.

  • Video diagnostics can be something to behold: The colors are fascinating. Watching the display adapter change between various text and graphics modes can be fun to watch. But mostly the diagnostic performs repeated tests that have no effect on the display.

  • The best diagnostics usually come on bootable discs. That’s because, in order to truly ensure that the hardware is being examined, the program must have direct access to the PC’s guts. You can’t do that through Windows.

    Even so, few diagnostic tools available to the general public take the boot disc approach. Only professional diagnostic tools come on boot discs. Even then, few PC technicians use them because it’s just cheaper to replace parts than it is to undertake a true, deep level of troubleshooting.