Diagnostic Tools And Techniques Computer Science Essay

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Diagnostic tools are used to find problems or faults in a computers system and explain how to repair them. They can also tell you how well something is running on a system. Benchmarking programs are diagnosis tools; they run stress tests on all aspects of a computer and then tell the user how well their computer is running, what can run on it and what they could do to improve the machines performance e.g. Disk Defragmentation, File Compression and Upgrading Components

There also individual tools that run stress tests on separate parts of the machine. An example of a program that does this is Memtest. It's a very old school program, that quite simply runs a stress test on your RAM. When the program has run, it will tell you the good (working) and bad parts of the RAM, it will also tell the error codes. Usually if your RAM is damage; it's best to replace it.

There's other programs that merely look for bad sectors on your HDD. Windows comes one built in and can easy be executed from CMD. /chkdsk /? This command will give the options of your drive letters and functions you can do e.g. /f - fixes errors.

This is after chkdsk has run; it runs a full diagnostic on the HDD it has been run on. It will tell you the file system type, how big the HDD is, if there are any bad sectors etc.

Anti-malware programs are a very common form of diagnosis. These are used far more by users and most are user friendly. They're very easy for beginner and intermediate users to use. There are functions for more advance users that allow them to run different operations or even more defined functions.

Anti-malware is used to remove malicious software on your computer.


This program is Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware. In this picture Malwarebytes' has run a scan and picked up on 8 suspicious files/programs, the majority of these being Trojans. Malwarebytes' like other anti-malicious programs offers you the option to remove the infected files/programs.

There are many other programs that run different or similar operations. A lot run from Diskettes or CDs that use DOS to run or a very similar system or interface. Others simply run from different Operating Systems like, Linux, UNIX and Mac.

Monitoring Tools

A monitoring tool is something that is constantly running. These programs can monitor a vast spectrum of a computer or even multiple computers. Some of these programs will trigger messages saying something has gone wrong, offering you the ability to block the error or to remove it.

System Monitoring Tools

Task Manager

Task manager comes built-in with Windows. It's a universal program and monitors many aspects of windows


The picture above is of Task Manager's Applications tab. A lot people use this when a program stops responding. Ending a program through the Processes tab is much faster.


This is the Processes tab, it show everything which is running. In this picture it indicates how much RAM and CPU power it is using. The columns can be changed; more can be added or taken away. As a technician this tab is possibly the most useful, it offers fast closing of processes and allows the user to check if any suspicious programs are running.


This is the Performance tab. It monitors CPU usage and Memory consumption. It has detailed information at the bottom of the tab.

Network Monitoring

Network monitoring tools are used for monitoring a network of computers. They look for faults and failures on the network. They also check for overloading or crashed servers and the network connections. This area of monitoring branches very far, due to the vast aspect of networks, some devices or software look for outside or incoming threats.

General Network Monitoring

Total Network Inventory is a good example of this. It's a global program that displays the information of all systems connected to a particular network.

Total Network Inventory Collects all this information below:

"Hardware-related information:

Processor type and frequency, current clock speed, external clock, multiplier, description, manufacturer, CPU status, socket designation, etc.

Motherboard name and manufacturer, chassis name and manufacturer, BIOS information, system and memory slots, ports, etc.

Memory size and memory modules.

Monitor EDID information and video adapter details.

Name, size, and type of all hard disk, CD, floppy, and removable drives, as well as details about all of the logical disks.

Sound device, video and audio codecs.

Network adapter name, IP-addresses and MAC-addresses, DHCP, DNS, and WINS settings, etc.

Name, type, and settings of the printers.

Name and type of modems.

List of all system devices.

Software and OS-related information:

Operating system name, type, version, build, serial number, etc.

Service packs and hotfixes.

Software installed on the individual machines.

Contents of the "Program files" folder.

Autorun applications starting from the autorun folder and from the registry.

Name and version of the antivirus software.

Database engines.

Environment variables.

All visible and hidden shared resources.

All running processes.


User accounts."

Quoted from: http://www.softinventive.com/products/total-network-inventory/

As a technician this program could be extremely useful. If a problem was reported, it would be very easy to check that computer's information using this program. It would make simple fixes very easy e.g. missing drivers. This combined with remote access software would make repairing far too easy, although you would still have to move if it is a hardware issue.

Intrusion Detection Systems and Firewalls

Intrusion Detection Systems

An intrusion detection system looks for attacks as they happen. They log attacks, attempt to prevent them and inform the administrator. A lot alarms that are triggered are false, due to bad packets and other problems; this causes problems as administrators simply ignore alarms because the majority of them are false, when potentially they could be an attack.

The above is Snort; snort is the most popular IDS and its open source! Meaning it's free.


Firewalls are based on rules and exceptions; they work by filtering outgoing and incoming actions according to the rules. They can be both hardware and software. They are a must for most users, especially companies, as they block unauthorised users from connecting to private networks e.g. intranets.

My firewall indicating whether it is on or off.

This tab is the exceptions I have allowed. Meaning any of the allowed exceptions can communicate with my computer at will.

Search Engines

As a technician and as a standard user, search engines are amazing for find solutions to almost every situation. If a search engine fails to find an answer to your problems, there are many forums where professionals can give you answers. You have to be precise with your searches, or else you will not find a direct fix, usually if you have an error code, it is best to input that.


Books will always hold some form of answer for anything, but you have to know what you're looking for, as there won't be a book named after your error code. They may be a guide on how to prevent particular occurrences from happening, such as how to set up defences like firewalls and anti-malware. This can be very useful, it may not resolve your problem but it definitely could prevent it.

Verbal Questioning

Support Lines

When buying a computer you probably will have cover with your warranty, this will allow you to ring up the company covering you and ask for a fix, they'll ask certain questions to pin point it, this may result in you sending your computer off or them coming to check it out, which may cost a lot depending on how the cover works. These support lines aren't always part of a cover plan for your computer; they may just be a standalone company that offers support and repairs.

There is also IT support in businesses, where you would be able to ring that department and probably be asked "Have you turned it off and on again?" Probably solving the majority of problem, obvious if it's anything more serious they'll repair it.

Someone You May Know

If you know someone who is good with computers and don't want to spend too much money to repair it, it's probably best to just ask them. If your computer still has it warranty don't let them open it.

Policies and Procedures

Health and Safety

Health and Safety is put into put to keep injuries and health problems at a minimum. This is to protect a company's employees, as human health is more important than anything in and industry.


It is required if a company of over five employees to employee a fire safety officer. As a technician this would affect how I would work e.g. not over loading plug sockets when working on them, this would reduce the chance of fire.