Additional Windows Tools – CompTIA A+ 220-1102 – 1.3

There are Windows utilities to help with every troubleshooting task. In this video, you’ll learn about System Information, Resource Monitor, Disk Cleanup, and more.

One of the problems when you sit down at a computer is you have no idea what’s on the inside of that system. And although you could take the system apart, sometimes that simply isn’t an option. Fortunately, Windows includes a utility that can provide you with some of these details in System Information. If you want to run this at the command line, it would be msinfo32.exe.

Inside of System Information, you’ll find a section on hardware resources where you can find information about the operating system, how much memory is installed, any interrupt settings, and any conflicts of those settings. There’s also a section for components. So you can find out how multimedia configurations might be in this system, what the display settings are, and find out information about input or network configurations.

And in the software environment section, you can get details about what hardware drivers are installed in this system. You can find out if there are any print jobs that might be pending, or read about any tasks that are currently running on that system.

If you need more of a detailed real time view of what’s happening inside of this system, then you need to try resource monitor. This can provide details of CPU, disk, network, and memory, and detailed statistics about each one of those different categories. You can also run this at the command line by running resmon, R-E-S-M-O-N, .exe.

If you need to do some detailed troubleshooting, you can take advantage of this system configuration utility. You can boot your system into a Safe Mode. You could have a log created during the boot process that may be useful for troubleshooting later, and you might change these settings to be permanent so that it always boots with these particular parameters. If you’d like to try some of these settings, they’re available in system configuration or from the command line at msconfig.exe.

If you’re using Windows on one of my computers, then you’re probably very low on disk space. One of the ways to clear out some of this space is to use the disk cleanup utility inside of Windows. This will list out different categories inside of Windows and tell you how much space is being used by each of these individual categories.

For example, this utility can show you how much room is being stored by downloaded program files, temporary interface files, shader caches, delivery optimization files, and others. It can then tell you how much total drive space you can recover by selecting any of these categories and choosing to clean up system files. If you’d like to run this yourself, you can run it from the command line running cleanmgr.exe.

If your system is still storing files on a traditional spinning hard drive, then you may be able to get a bit more performance out of that drive by performing a disk defragmentation, or defrag. The defragmentation process takes pieces of files that have been scattered all over the drive and brings them all back into one single area of the drive so that the entire file is contiguous.

By putting all of those pieces together into one single area, we can access that file much faster than having to move into different areas of the drive just to grab a small piece of the file. If you’re using a solid state drive, or SSD, then you don’t have these same delays that you have with a hard drive. Instead, an SSD can access any file on that SSD instantly without having to wait for a drive to spin around or the arm on the drive to find that portion of the file.

You can find a graphical version of the defrag utility in your drive properties under optimize and degragment drive, and by clicking the optimized button you can start that process. You can also launch it from the command line. The command is defrag, and then you specify the volume name. So for example, if you want to perform defragmentation on your primary C drive, you would type in defrag c colon.

Here’s the graphical version inside of Windows. We’ll tell you what the drive is, what type of media you’re running, when you last analyzed or optimized the drive, and what the current status is for fragmentation on that drive. From there, you can either choose to analyze the drive again, or continue by optimizing or degragmenting that drive. You’ll notice that by default Windows includes an automatic defragmentation process that’s already part of the Task Scheduler. You can see on this system the drives are being analyzed on a scheduled cadence and optimized as needed, and it does this every week.

The Windows operating system stores a large number of configuration settings inside what it calls the registry. The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that contains information about almost every aspect of Windows and all of the applications that are running in Windows. You can search in Windows for the registry editor, or you can run Reg edit exit from the command line.

Inside the registry editor, you’ll find information about the Windows kernel, configuration settings for device drivers, security details, and so much more. You may find during a troubleshooting process that Microsoft or a third party might tell you to make changes to the registry in order to resolve this problem. As a good best practice, you’ll want to make a backup of the section of the registry that you’re changing to make sure that the system can be restored if it runs into any problems. If you would like to make individual changes to any of these selections within the registry editor, you can find exactly what you’re looking for, double click on that prompt, and you’ll have an option to change the value that’s stored inside of the Windows Registry.