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What's the best third-party hardware diagnostic utility out there?


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#1
Crag_Hack

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Simple question - what's the best third-party hardware diagnostic utility out there? I've been looking at PC Doctor and Ultra X. I obviously prefer to use the native HP/Dell/Whoever diagnostics but a third-party one can come in handy for computers without built-in diagnostics.
Thanks!


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#2
SpywareDr

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Unfortunately there is no single Best out there.

 

https://windowsrepor...ols-windows-10/

 

https://www.techsupp...ls-technicians/

 

https://www.technibb...agnostic-tools/

 

https://lifehacker.c...iagnostic-tools


Edited by SpywareDr, 23 October 2018 - 04:22 PM.

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#3
Crag_Hack

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Thanks for the reply SpywareDr.  I already read those great sites after a quick google.  I'm looking for a utility with equivalent functionality to the built in HP/Dell diagnostics.  So something that will test all computer components for signs of failure.  The only mention in those articles of such I believe was on technibble about PC Doctor and a couple others with more limited functionality.  Anybody care to chime in if they use something that works well in a shop? Thanks again.


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#4
paws

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In our workshop, we tend to use dedicated utilities rather than a "one size fits all" type solution.

So I'm with the Docs suggestions.

 

eg if i want to test RAM then it will start with memtest

If it's a hard drive then we use the drive manufacturers utility, or Sea Tools

We test all the other components using a similar approach.

 

If we need an overall check on more or less everything, then we boot from a Live distro of Linux, and if everything checks out Ok and runs satisfactorily then it means the hardware is probably OK and its time to start looking in detail at the operating system and software.


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#5
Crag_Hack

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OK thanks paws.  To me the prospect of a utility that can test everything is quite attractive.  How do you test for motherboard failure without something like that?  Also if a comprehensive utility tests everything that would make things much easier to test since you only need to run one utility.  Any other points to address?


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#6
SpywareDr

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If a motherboard is not working, software is useless.

 

One way to test some motherboards is to remove the RAM and attempt to power it up. If it beeps or displays an error code on a little on-board display that's a good sign.

 

To test all of the components on a motherboard would require expensive bench equipment and tools, the knowledge to use it all properly as well as considerable time. All of which would be at least an order of magnitude more expensive than a new motherboard.


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#7
paws

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OK thanks paws.  To me the prospect of a utility that can test everything is quite attractive.  How do you test for motherboard failure without something like that?  Also if a comprehensive utility tests everything that would make things much easier to test since you only need to run one utility.  Any other points to address?

 

If there is a failure in the Mobo then it will usually be readily apparent, however we also use an electronic mobo tester that will flash up an error code indicating the area of failure.

 

Yes we can see the attraction of an overall test utility for you, however when quoting for a repair in the workshop it would not be wise to rely on just the result from one "universal" type test.

 

Booting from a live distro of Linux gives us a good heads up in less than a few minutes...

 

For our business( just the two workshops) but with a fair throughput we find that the majority of problems, on a day to day basis are operating system/software/driver/or malicious or undesirable code type issues. Hardware failures are very much in the minority.

(modern hardware supplied by professional builders is remarkably reliable these days)

 

EDIT by paws: apologies Doc, I must learn to type a little quicker!


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#8
Crag_Hack

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Thanks to everybody.  Considering the approach of dedicated diagnostic utilities and live cds, can anyone point me toward a tutorial online or book to learn the ropes of comprehensive hardware diagnostics?


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#9
paws

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Here's an article that may provide you with an overview:

https://catalogue.pe.../0789732769.pdf

It's a little "long in the tooth" now but should act as a decent starter.

 

Unfortnately I'm unaware of any hardware testing schools (online) that are up to date and of a similar stature to those online classrooms that teach and assess folks for Virus and Spyware removal techniques.

 

A lot of "diagnostics" in a typical repair workshop are performed by just replacing items with known good working compatible items and using the normal sort of utilities that have been mentioned here.

 

We do have access to an occilloscope in one of our workshops but it only comes out from under its dustsheet once in a blue moon these days.

 

In my workshops (where time is money) we are usually looking for the fastest and easiest fixes that will restore the machine to working condition, and we don't tend to worry over much about potential or incipient problems that might crop up in the future. New parts are relatively inexpensive, (when obtainable, as of course are brand new machines) and with the current cost of labour, rents, insurance, wages and related benefits, using advanced diagnostic techniques or equipment is rarely justified. Even a series of relatively quick diagnostic tests can add up to a repair that renders the machine beyond economic repair. Bad sectors or read/write errors beyond the norm with Hard drives excepted!

 

There will be a different set of criteria when dealing with computers in a laboratory environment or for mission critical issues but with reliable and validated system and data images simple to perform even this technically advanced work is becoming less common for us.

 

When it comes to mobos, liquid ingress is the major area of concern.... folks will insist on pouring, or spilling coffee or wine or other drinks into their computers, especially laptops and we have now given up cleaning them as its not a commercially viable job bearing in mind that remedial cleaning must be commenced within a few minutes if it is to stand a reasonable chance of success with most liquids ( corrosion is quick to start and can gradually get worse over a period of 10 months or so before total failure.) We used to provide this service in days gone by but would only guarantee the work for 90 days and we always provided a risk statement of the issues likely outcomes/consequences, together with a disclaimer for the clients to sign before any work was agreed.

 

I hope these random thoughts will be helpful, but if there is anything else that you want clarified or elaborated upon please come back and I'll do my best to assist

Regards

paws


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#10
Crag_Hack

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Thanks paws... that's a helluva article there.  Might take a while to digest.  56 pages I guess ain't that bad.  One last question - I've seen proprietary HP and Dell diagnostics include system board / mobo tests.  Do these thoroughly test the mobo for failure detecting any possible failures?  Or are they only capable of picking up some of the spectrum of failures possible?  And does the same restriction apply to all diagnostic tests including hdd/memory etc.?


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