Some of the most useful utilities for troubleshooting your PC are actually bundled as standard with Windows. However, they're often hard to find and even harder to understand. But when you get to know about them, and how to use them to your advantage, they can be very useful indeed.
My favourite tool at the moment is called Perfmon. It's the built-in Windows performance monitor utility, but as well as displaying data about current system usage it can also produce a really useful report for you. Assuming you're using Windows 8.1, here's how to do it.
First, go to the charms bar by swiping your mouse into the top corner of your screen, and search for Performance Monitor. This will open Perfmon.
Now, in the left hand pane, expand the Data Collector Sets feature by clicking its little arrow, and then expand the System option in the same way.
Next, right-click on System Diagnostics and then choose Start. Windows will now start monitoring your PC for around a minute. While this is happening, click the Reports option in the Perfmon left hand pane. Expand it, by clicking its small arrow, then expand System, and then expand System Diagnostics. Click on one of the reports shown (check its time and date) to view it, and you'll see a comprehensive report as shown in the screen shot below.
As you can see, there's a whole lot of data about how all the aspects of your PC and operating system are working, which is a great place to start looking for ways to improve your computer's performance or troubleshoot problems. The "hot files report" area is especially interesting. It shows you which files on your disk are being accessed most frequently.
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