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Diagnosing problems with software for Windows

When some application is not working properly and the search for solutions does not give any results, the only thing that remains to do is to find out what is the cause of the problem and thereafter try to fix it. For this task exists several tools for diagnosing software problems, and in this article using Skype for Windows Desktop as example, I want to tell you how to carry out this process. The information obtained as a result of the diagnosis will help to determine which problems should be fixed in order to make application work properly again.

There are listed some free tools to diagnose problems with software for Windows, as well as instructions on how to use them and for what purpose they are intended. Even if you do not know what to do with the received information, these utilities help you to save the details, and you have only need to send them to an IT expert that will surely be able to understand what the problem is and how to solve it.

DxDiag

Diagnostic tool built into Windows operating systems that allows you to get detailed information about installed components and DirectX drivers as well as detect problems associated with them.

To create a diagnostic DxDiag file:
  1. Press the key combination Win+R
  2. Enter the program name DxDiag and click «OK»
  3. Wait until "DirectX Diagnostic Tool" is loaded
  4. Click "Save All Information" and select the location where to save the "DxDiag.txt" file

Event Viewer

Windows tool to view information about the significant systems and software events. The event log service starts automatically when you start Windows and any event can not escape unnoticed. In addition, by default, all events are stored for an unlimited period, so you can view and analyze the information at any time.

To save the event log:
  1. Open Control Panel → Administrative Tools → Event Viewer
  2. Go to the section Event Viewer → Windows Logs
  3. Press right click on the "Application" section and choose "Save As"
  4. Select the location where to save the log app.evtx or app.evt (Windows XP only)

ProcessMonitor

Free Windows Sysinternals tool that monitors in real-time the activity of file system, registry, running processes and threads.

For example, if there are problems with Skype work to save the log of all operations:
  1. Exit Skype (it is very important to close it properly)
  2. Download the archive ProcessMonitor.zip and extract contents to a convenient location
  3. Launch the Procmon.exe application
  4. Launch the Skype and wait or perform the desired actions until the problem occurs
  5. Switch to ProcessMonitor and press Ctrl+S, put a checkbox next to «All events» and choose «Native Process Monitor Format (PML)»
  6. Choose a location to save the «Logfile.PML» file and click «OK»

ProcDump

Free Windows Sysinternals tool allows to save a memory dump during to the applications bugs (including excessive consumption of computer resources), hangs or crashes.

For example, if Skype crashes, we can get a dump using ProcDump as follows:
  1. Start a command prompt as administrator

  2. Paste the following command into command prompt and press Enter:
    taskkill /IM skype.exe /F

  3. Download the archive Procdump.zip and extract contents to folder D:\debug

  4. Paste the following command into command prompt and press Enter:
    D:\debug\procdump.exe -e -w -t -accepteula Skype.exe D:\debug

  5. Launch the Skype and wait or perform the desired actions until the problem occurs. At the command prompt window message should appear the following message:
    Dump 1 initiated: D:\debug\Skype.exe_01234_56789.dmp

CPU-Z

A freeware application which allows to find out the technical characteristics of such components of the computer as CPU, video card, motherboard and RAM. Although CPU-Z does not allow to diagnose problems, in some cases this is technical information sufficient to identify the cause of the problem.

To save the technical information in the log file:
  1. Download the archive cpu-z_1.75-en.zip and extract contents to a convenient location
  2. Start the cpuz.exe application and wait until it's loading
  3. Next to the «Tools» button click on the triangle ▼ and select «Save Report as .TXT»
  4. Choose a place where to save the «cpuz.txt» file

Msinfo32

Built-in application in Windows operating systems that collects and displays information about computer's configuration, including the hardware, components, software, drivers, services, and other system information that help to get an overview of the computer system.

To save the system information into the nfo file:
  1. Press the key combination Win+R
  2. Enter the msinfo32.exe and click «OK»
  3. Press the key combination Ctrl+S
  4. Select the location where to save the «msinfo32.nfo»
  5. Wait until goes system information collecting.

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