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AWin­dows PC can work re­li­ably for years, but there are count­less nig­gling prob­lems that can de­velop over time, and di­ag­nos­ing and fix­ing them can be frus­trat­ing and time con­sum­ing.

For­tu­nately, help is at hand from Win­dows Re­source and Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor, which can track down prob­lems and sug­gest po­ten­tial fixes. It can be used in two ways: the first half of our Work­shop (Steps 1-5) shows you how to cre­ate sys­tem health re­ports that point out prob­lems; the sec­ond half looks at live mon­i­tor­ing of your PC’S com­po­nents, which can tell you if you’re run­ning out of mem­ory or if pro­ces­sor us­age is too high, and dis­plays live charts show­ing the var­i­ous pro­cesses. When there is a prob­lem with your PC, run Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor and see what it re­ports.


Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor can be run on its own, but let’s start off by us­ing it to cre­ate a use­ful di­ag­nos­tic sys­tem re­port. To do this, you have to type a com­mand into a com­mand­prompt win­dow or from the Run box. Press Win­dows+r to open Run, type perf­mon /re­port 1 and click OK. 2


The Re­source and Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor win­dow opens. The Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor records ac­tiv­ity on your PC for one minute. 1 Dur­ing this time, you should per­form as many dif­fer­ent tasks as you can, such as open­ing a browser, read­ing email, open­ing Paint or Notepad, ac­cess­ing the Start menu and so on. Keep go­ing un­til the re­port ap­pears.


The Sys­tem Di­ag­nos­tics Re­port ap­pears in a win­dow show­ing mul­ti­ple sec­tions. Click the ar­row 1 on the right of each sec­tion to ex­pand it. Look un­der Di­ag­nos­tic Re­sults, Warn­ings 2 to see if there are any prob­lems. Our ex­am­ple shows an er­ror with some ser­vices. 3 Don’t panic, though, be­cause mi­nor er­rors can be ig­nored.


Dif­fer­ent PCS pro­duce dif­fer­ent re­sults. This ex­am­ple shows a Win­dows 7 PC that has some se­ri­ous faults. It re­ports that Win­dows Up­date has been dis­abled 1 and ad­vises to en­able it in the Se­cu­rity Cen­ter. Also, no se­cu­rity soft­ware has been de­tected, 2 which def­i­nitely needs fix­ing. Less se­ri­ously, its graph­ics per­for­mance is poor. 3


Back in Win­dows 10, we had prob­lems with ser­vices, so we ex­panded the sec­tions for Soft­ware Con­fig­u­ra­tion and Ab­nor­mally Stopped Sys­tem Ser­vices. 1 Ex­pand­ing each item shows the de­tails, such as the ser­vice name 2 and path to the pro­gram. 3 It may give clues about the prob­lem but not all are se­ri­ous and some can be ig­nored.


Run Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor from the Start menu; or press Win­dows+r, type perf­mon and press En­ter. Sys­tem Sum­mary 1 shows live in­for­ma­tion. On this PC, lots of open Chrome tabs have used nearly all the mem­ory. 2 When mem­ory is this low, the com­puter is likely to freeze. It’s also keep­ing the hard drive busy, show­ing zero idle time. 3


Se­lect Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor in the side­bar 1 to dis­play a live chart. 2 This shows the re­cent pro­ces­sor ac­tiv­ity over the past few seconds, which con­stantly re­draws to show the change over time. Run a pro­gram, switch back to Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor and see the change in the chart. Click the plus but­ton. 3


Many of the PC’S com­po­nents can be mon­i­tored us­ing ‘coun­ters’. Se­lect a counter from the list on the left 1 and click the ‘Add >>’ but­ton 2 to add it to the list on the right. Some coun­ters con­tain mul­ti­ple sub-items and dou­bleclick­ing a counter dis­plays what they are. Click OK 3 to con­tinue.


Adding one or more coun­ters can make the chart very clut­tered. You should fil­ter out any items you don’t need so you can clearly see the im­por­tant data. Clear the ticks in the Show col­umn 1 un­til there are only two items ticked. To look at a dif­fer­ent at­tribute, tick its box but clear other boxes to stop the chart get­ting too con­fus­ing.


Charts can be dis­played in a va­ri­ety of for­mats and the Chart but­ton 1 lets you switch from one to another. Our ex­am­ple shows a live bar chart of CPU coun­ters where the bars rise and fall as com­puter ac­tiv­ity changes. Some of the cores here are reach­ing 100% us­age, 2 which means the PC is work­ing flat out.

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