Best apps for diagnosing Windows computer and laptop hardware problems?

I work for a large charity and they’ve asked me to help with fixing their computers (mostly Windows laptops). I’ve done some computer repair in the past, and I’m getting up to date with current hardware and software.

I recently played around a bit with the Windows built-in diagnostic apps and they seem ok. I’m sure other apps are even better.

What are your fav apps for diagnosing Windows computer hardware issues? Both free and paid apps.

While I now seldom do such work, back in the day, my first go to was CCleaner.

Second was a live boot of linux with virus removal apps or Trend Micro’s Housecall.


I went to their website and Trend Micro Housecall looks like a great tool. Thanks for the tip. I put it on my checklist of tools to use.

Memtest86 to test the memory. You can install it on its on usb or it is included within Clonzilla. For hard drives I suggest the Gnome Disks utility on a live usb with linux. Also more modern UEFI will often have hardware diagnostic utilities built in. You might have to flash the UEFI updates though. I’m sure there are several cpu benchmark test utilities out there.

I suggest creating a Ventoy usb containing ISOs or IMGs containing those utilities. There are anti-virus ISOs that will run outside the operating system which is generally preferable to running one from a potentially infected system since the malware could interfere with detection and removal when the OS is running.

Malwarebytes saved my bacon a time or two when other anti-virus didn’t work.


Like a lot of people on here I’d generally go to a live USB of Linux where possible.

If I’m using actual Windows stuff:
*Event viewer - decent for getting info about what’s going on in log form.
*CPU-Z (ROG version)- mainly I use it to get more detailed info about memory, temperature stats from the CPU and disks where possible (also has the ability to stress test the machine).
*If the motherboard is compatible I install whatever software it has (being an ASUS user I keep AI suite installed, it has plenty of monitoring tools).

TBH I find using software to diagnose hardware issues to be a bit more miss than hit, my main method is to re-seat a component if I think it’s causing an issue…check that the contact point is clean, cables haven’t jiggled loose, fans aren’t full of dust etc. When it’s dead it’s dead.


@haroldcrews I got Ventoy installed. Then I found some AV ISOs and put them on the Ventoy drive. I tested it and working good. Thanks for the tips.

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@SaulPanzer Thanks for the tips. I found the Windows Repair Tool ISO and it has the tools you mentioned. I put it on the Ventoy. And I added your other tips to my checklist.

Always handy keeping recovery disks with tools handy, same for data backups or disk images you can just splat onto a new drive quickly.

I don’t know what the situation (or budget) is for your laptops, being a charity it’s often limited.

But back when I covered the hardware support for a company we got into the habit of keeping a couple spare “weak link” items on site to keep our mobile sales guys working…back then it was mainly internal/external drives, batteries and PCI cards, I assume the modern equivalent would be USB drives and dongles. Easily lost/stolen stuff, things with a reputation for dying at the worst possible moment.
I’d just keep an eye out for replacements as they became cheaply available on ebay etc. and grab them.

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BTW, if you haven’t already, you should get familiar with I have found excellent deals for NPOs that I have worked with in the past.

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Yep, very limited budget. Most of our laptops are donations or the staff/volunteers bring their own.

OMG! Techsoup! I remember working with them back in the early 2000s when I was still in the US working at another nonprofit. Brings back memories. :slightly_smiling_face:

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