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39. Check these sites to fix your PC

By Mark Alberstat

You go to the doctor regularly for checkups and so should your PC. However, dragging the box into your local GP just won't do the trick. There are sites on the Internet and software for download that will help you check on the health of your electronic friend and it won't cost you a penny.

The first site you should head your browser to is This excellent and easy-to-use site has been around for more than four years and has the tools needed to analyse your computer on a variety of levels.

Once on this site, you can create an account or run its analysis programs anonymously. If you create an account and run the site's analyser, you can check back after making changes to your PC and see if your machine's speed, security or stability has increased. If you are running anonymously, you have to remember your results from one visit to the next.

Once the software has analysed your PC, you are taken to a page with several flags. You want to see lots of chequered flags, meaning everything is OK with your machine. However, if you see a red flag, you have some major problems. A yellow flag shows some aspect of your PC's performance can be improved. By clicking on the link with each flag, an explanation of the problem is shown along with some tips on how to improve your next showing. If your PC has all checkered flags, you and your machine are racing to the finish line in fine style.

PC Pitstop also has extensive FAQ and tech support pages to help you with the site.

If you would rather download a program to test your computer, rather than have a remote website give you the feedback, SiSoftware's Sandra is the product for you. The odd name comes from the acronym System Analyzer/Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant.

After downloading the almost eight-megabyte file, simply double click on the executable and run the install program. A program group is created with more than 60 different icons, each representing a different test. These tests can range from information on your mouse to your video card. The software also offers benchmarks for almost everything imaginable within your PC.

Sandra's tune-up wizard is probably one of the most useful items and sports a chequered flag icon that seems awfully close to PCPitstop's own flag. After running the extensive benchmark tests, the software gives you the option of reading the results in the onscreen window or pasting them to the clipboard to read them in your word processor. This tune-up wizard goes through everything from your mainboard information to your DirectX version.

At each stage, Sandra will give you tips or warnings if it sees anything that has potential to slow down your machine or otherwise hinder its performance.

If you are curious about your CPU's info and all its goodies, look no further than a small download called CPUID. At only 263kb, this file packs a punch giving you info such as Cache Info, Multiplier and the MHz of the internal and system clocks. The program can read almost any CPU, including the lesser-known IDT and Transmeta.

These few files and sites are just a small look at the many optimizers and diagnostics available for your PC. Running them takes no time at all, considering they can help your PC's overall performance for months until you feel it is sluggish enough to run them again.

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 25 July 2004


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