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There is sometimes a situation when Windows suddenly goes crazy: is slow, unresponsive, some things don't work, it crashes. I wonder how do you approach diagnosing those issues.

I'm merely a programmer, not really knowing Windows too deply. There is probably more people like me... I strongly believe that experienced Windows administrators have a bunch of useful tricks that can make diagnosing easier.

Please post your techniques, the more advanced/tricky/unstandard, the better.

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closed as too broad by HopelessN00b, Rex, mdpc, Falcon Momot, Jenny D Feb 25 at 9:15

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers 3

Let me start with the list:

General:

  • Install most current updates/service packs.
  • Verify drivers, look for conflicts, upgrade to newer ones.
  • Use Process Explorer to see a bit more details about what's being run
  • Use Process Monitor(combined filemon and regmon) to see details about particular process
  • Check the services - (services.msc from command prompt).
  • Problems with graphics/sound (especially with older apps) - verify DirectX (run dxdiag from console), try disabling hardware acceleration.
  • See what's being run on windows boot time - Windows start points
  • Scan for viruses (anyways, you should have it updated and running all the time).
  • Run some anti-malware tool
  • Look at windows event log (eventvwr from console)
  • Make sure there is at least ~250mb free space on Windows drive.
  • Check virtual memory settings.

Network:

  • See network settings (from console: ncpa.cpl and ipconfig /all)
  • Inspect firewall configuration. If you have turned Windows firewall off, check if it isn't started up.
  • Look if hosts file is not modified %WINDIR%\System32\drivers\etc\hosts

Hardware:

You should know most (if not all) of it already, but hopefully this helps somebody.

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Be careful with the order of Apply Updates and Check Firewall - I've been bitten when a service pack re-enabled it. –  dmo May 1 '09 at 23:38

Start -> Run -> msconfig -> startup tab

Uncheck everything. Restart and try to duplicate the problem (some apps/services will not function). If the problem is resolved, go back into msconfig and re-check half the startup items. Restart & duplicate the problem. Narrow the services down by 1/2 each time.

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If you are in the a wondrous situation where you have an image of a workstation you can just nuke it, if it was a software problem its fixed, if its a hardware problem you now know.

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On my test machines, "Apply Snapshot" is a god-send. –  dmo May 1 '09 at 23:39

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