How to Clean Your Apple Watch Safely and Efficiently in 4 Steps

clean-apple-watch

Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to clean most of your portable devices? The Apple Watch is no exception. Using the wrong tools for the job could damage your watch, void its warranty, or irritate your skin. Today we’ll take a look at the right way to clean your Apple Watch. Want to clean your smartphone too? Check out our guide to safely cleaning your iPhone without damaging it. Step 1: Remove Your Band In order to clean each part of your Watch thoroughly, you’ll need to remove the band from the Watch unit. First, remove the…

Read the full article: How to Clean Your Apple Watch Safely and Efficiently in 4 Steps

clean-apple-watch

Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to clean most of your portable devices? The Apple Watch is no exception. Using the wrong tools for the job could damage your watch, void its warranty, or irritate your skin.

Today we’ll take a look at the right way to clean your Apple Watch. Want to clean your smartphone too? Check out our guide to safely cleaning your iPhone without damaging it.

Step 1: Remove Your Band

In order to clean each part of your Watch thoroughly, you’ll need to remove the band from the Watch unit. First, remove the Watch from your wrist. On the back, look for the two buttons near the point at which the Watch and the band meet (see the below photo).

Apple Watch band fasteners

Using your fingernail or a thin blunt object, depress each of these buttons and slide the band off in a horizontal motion. The buttons disengage the magnets within the Watch, but you may still need to apply some force to get the band off.

Step 2: Clean the Watch

With your Watch separated from the band, it’s time to start cleaning. What’s most important is that you avoid using anything that can damage your Watch. This includes:

  • Soaps and chemical cleaners
  • Household cleaning sprays
  • Abrasive materials (e.g. polish)
  • Compressed air canisters
  • Ultrasonic cleaners
  • External heat sources (e.g. steam)

All Apple Watch models are water-resistant to some degree. The early models (like the original “Series 0” Watch) are regarded as splash-proof but will survive a dunk under the tap or a quick shower. The newer models are rated for up to 55 yards of water resistance. These models can handle submersion in fresh, chlorinated, and salt water (provided you rinse them off afterward).

Apple Watch Cleaning (Front)

First, enable the water lock on your Watch by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and tapping the water droplet icon. This locks the touchscreen and aids with removing water from the speaker system when you’re done cleaning (Series 3 and 4 only).

Apple Watch Cleaning (back)

Hold your Apple Watch under warm running water for 10-15 seconds, then rub off any unwanted gunk with a damp, non-abrasive lint-free cloth. The screen should clean up pretty easily, but you may need to pay extra attention to the back of the Watch where the heart sensors reside.

Apple Watch dirty back

It’s common for this area to build up dirt, particularly if you’re using your Apple Watch to work out or sweating a lot. You may need to use a little elbow grease to clean the sensors and back of the Watch. Don’t be afraid to give it a good cleaning; provided you’re using a non-abrasive cloth and water, your Watch should be fine.

Apple Watch Cleaning (back)

With the front and back clean, it’s time to turn your attention to the edges. It’s possible for residue to build up around the Digital Crown, possibly to the point where it doesn’t turn smoothly anymore. To remedy this, hold the Digital Crown directly underneath warm running water for around 15 seconds, while turning the crown to loosen any grime.

Cleaning the Apple Watch Digital Crown

Once the Digital Crown turns freely, it’s worth giving your Watch one more check over. Pay close attention to the points at which the band connects to your Watch. These areas can get dirty, particularly if you never change bands. Too much grime here could prevent the magnetic clasp working, risking your Watch slipping off your wrist.

Apple Watch Cleaning (band connector)

One of the coolest Apple Watch features (at least on the newer models) is the ability to expel water after a shower or swim. Turn the Digital Crown to fill the meter up, at which point your Watch will emit some low noises followed by a bleep.

If you already triggered the self-cleaning while washing your Digital Crown, you can re-enable it by swiping up from the bottom of the Watch face and tapping the water droplet icon.

Apple Watch Expelling Water

Step 3: Clean Your Band

Not all bands are built equally, and not all bands are water-resistant either. In particular, Apple’s leather and stainless steel bands are not classified as water-resistant. In this instance, you shouldn’t swim, shower, or run them under water in order to clean them.

Instead, you should wipe them clean with a soft damp cloth to remove any dirt and grime. Avoid soaking the leather band in water, since this will likely damage it. You should wait until the band is completely dry before reattaching it to your Watch.

For nylon, silicon, and other durable bands, you don’t need to exercise quite as much caution. Silicon is easy to wipe clean and you can run it under the tap for a few minutes to loosen up any stubborn grime. It’s also fine to clean nylon bands and sport loops this way to return them to their former glory.

Cleaning an Apple Watch Sport Loop

You should avoid washing your band like you would an item of clothing. Even though the lighter fabric bands may get noticeably dirty, Apple recommends only using water to clean them.

Step 4: Reassemble Your Watch

With your Watch and band sparkling clean, it’s time to reassemble your Watch. To do this, slide the band into the coupling point at the top and bottom of the Watch face. If you have a band with a buckle, make sure the buckle end connects to the top of the Watch. For sports loops, make sure the Velcro is at the bottom of the Watch when the band is fully extended.

A Clean Apple Watch!

You can now put the Watch back on and start getting it dirty again. The more often you clean the Watch, the less time you’ll spend removing grime that builds up over time.

If you have a light fabric Watch band that’s started to discolor, you might want to consider replacing it. Check out our recommendations for cheap third-party Apple Watch bands before you open your wallet!

Read the full article: How to Clean Your Apple Watch Safely and Efficiently in 4 Steps

6 macOS Folders You Can Safely Delete to Save Space

delete-mac-folders

When your Mac’s disk space runs low, you probably first look into your own user folder to delete files you no longer need. This includes files in Documents, Downloads, Desktop, and more. But despite your best efforts, you might not be able to free up enough disk space by checking these places. macOS contains many folders that can take up a significant amount of disk space. We’ll look at some folders you can delete on your Mac without causing any damage. 1. Attachments in Apple Mail Folders The Apple Mail app stores all cached messages and attached files. This makes…

Read the full article: 6 macOS Folders You Can Safely Delete to Save Space

delete-mac-folders

When your Mac’s disk space runs low, you probably first look into your own user folder to delete files you no longer need. This includes files in Documents, Downloads, Desktop, and more. But despite your best efforts, you might not be able to free up enough disk space by checking these places.

macOS contains many folders that can take up a significant amount of disk space. We’ll look at some folders you can delete on your Mac without causing any damage.

1. Attachments in Apple Mail Folders

The Apple Mail app stores all cached messages and attached files. This makes them accessible offline and lets you search messages with Spotlight. To see how much space the Mail app is consuming, open Finder and press Shift + Cmd + G to open Go to Folder window.

navigate to library mail directory with a hotkey

Type in ~/Library/Mail to directly open the Mail folder. Then right-click this folder and choose Get Info. If the resulting size is in gigabytes, you should delete old emails and attachments.

size of the library mail folder

Delete Mail Attachments

Select a message and click Message > Remove Attachments. If you use this option, any attached files you delete from the Mail app will also get deleted from the mail server.

To remove the attachments in bulk, create a Smart Folder to filter emails containing only attachments. Sort the messages by Size to remove the biggest attachments.

choose remove attachment to delete attached file

If you prefer, you can instead delete attachments directly from their folders. The files will remain on the email server, but this removes them from your Mac to save disk space. To do this, open the following folder:

~/Library/Mail/V6

(In macOS High Sierra, the folder is V5.)

Click this folder to see all your email accounts. Choose an email account, then open the folder named with various random characters. Buried within those directories lies the Attachment folder. See the below screenshot for more details.

browse the mail directory folder

Browsing and deleting these files manually can take a lot of time. For a faster way, type Attachments on the Finder search bar and sort the results by Kind to display only the Attachments folders. Copy these directories to an external drive if you want to back them up, then delete the files.

sort the attachments in finder

Prevent Downloading of Attachments

You can further save space by telling Mail not to automatically download attachments. To do this, select Mail > Preferences > Accounts. Select any one of your email accounts from the left pane and click Account Information in the right pane.

Under the Download Attachments dropdown menu, choose None. If you select this option, Mail will not download any media attachments, including images, PDFs, and video or audio files. With the Recent option, Mail will download attachments received within the past 15 months.

prevent downloading Mail attachments

2. Past iTunes Backups

iOS backups made with iTunes can take up a lot of disk space on your Mac. They include all the files on your phone, plus less visible details like mail and network settings, call history, text messages, favorite contacts, and other personal preferences that are tough to recreate.

To delete old backups, click iTunes > Preferences and then Devices tab. Select the oldest backup file you don’t want and click Delete Backup.

delete ios backup from itunes

If you don’t see the older backup listed here, you can manually delete the backup folder. Press Shift + Cmd + G to open Go to Folder. Then type:

~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup

ios backup in mobilesync folder

Quit iTunes and delete the old backups. If you’re unsure of which to delete, press Space and check the Last modified date in the QuickLook window.

Meanwhile, if Mac hard drive space is valuable to you, consider switching your iOS backups to iCloud. Our iOS backup guide will help.

3. Your Old iPhoto Library

Although Apple officially declared iPhoto a dead app and replaced it with Photos, the migration from iPhoto to Photos has been a slow one. After you’ve decided to switch, the migration process is a painless procedure. The first time you launch Photos, it searches your ~/Pictures folder for an iPhoto library.

Once the migration process completes, you’ll notice two separate libraries on your Mac: one old iPhoto Library and a new Photos Library. Open Photos and check for any missing information or pictures. Then copy the iPhoto Library to an external hard drive if you want to back it up, and delete it from your main drive.

If you have a large photo library, doing this might allow you to gain significant disk space.

4. Leftovers of Uninstalled Apps

When you put Mac apps in the Trash, some files remain on your Mac. This includes cached content, preference files, plugins, and more. If you stop using a particular app, you can safely delete these files. But you should know the actual location of these apps. These are often located in the Library folder.

Most preference files live in one of the following spots:

  • ~/Library/Preferences OR /Library/Preferences
  • ~/Library/Application Support/[App or Developer name] OR /Library/Application Support/[App or Developer name]
  • ~/Library/Containers/[App name]/Data/Library/Preferences

library preferences folder

Cache related files live in:

  • ~/Library/Caches OR /Library/Caches
  • ~/Library/Containers/[App Name]/Data/Library/Caches/[App Name]
  • ~/Library/Saved Application State

library cache folder

The files in these locations follow a standard naming convention. It includes the company name, application identifier, and at the end, the property list file extension (.plist). Sometimes a developer might use a proprietary naming convention, but if you concentrate on the app name, you’ll find them.

If you don’t want to browse for these files manually, try an uninstaller utility that specializes in identifying and removing these files.

AppCleaner

AppCleaner is a free utility to uninstall any Mac app without leaving data behind. It can remove cached content, preference files, and any support related files that comes installed with the app.

Type an app name and press Enter to load the results, then click Remove. However, note that the app won’t clean up leftovers from apps you’ve already removed.

delete preference file with appcleaner

App Cleaner and Uninstaller

App Cleaner is an uninstaller app to delete apps entirely from your system. The free version lets you remove unwanted apps, erase leftovers from previously removed apps, view an app’s total size, and reset an app to its default state.

If you opt for the premium version, you can also remove system extensions, disable LaunchAgents, and delete leftovers of system files.

app cleaner and uninstaller pro

5. Unneeded Printer and Scanner Drivers

Modern Mac-compatible printers and scanners don’t need drivers for basic functionality. If you have an older printer that doesn’t support this technology, your Mac will automatically install the driver needed to use that device.

To remove a printer, go to System Preferences > Printers and Scanners. Select the printer in the list and click Remove. Commonly, printer manufacturers provide you with an uninstaller utility to remove the associated app. Go to the following folder:

Macintosh HD/Library/Printers

library printers folder

Here, delete any remaining printer or scanner files. You can also use apps like those mentioned above to help.

6. Cache and Log Files

It’s normal for macOS to use disk space for day-to-day operations. Your browser downloads new data, apps create cached content for optimal performance, and log files capture information to help you troubleshoot issues when they arise. When you’re in dire need of disk space, you can delete app and system-related caches without causing any problems.

But clearing cache and log files every week should not be part of a regular maintenance routine. It makes your Mac run slower than normal, and you won’t be able to track and analyze issues that occur.

Log Files

Log files live in these folders:

  • /private/var/log
  • ~/Libarary/Logs AND /Library/Logs

Your Mac runs periodic maintenance scripts to compress or swap older log files with newer ones. To check when maintenance scripts last ran, open Terminal and type:

ls -al /var/log/*out

Use a third-party disk analyzer app to check the sizes of log files. If they grow out of control, examine and delete them.

analysis of log folder in omnidisksweeper

Caches

Cache-related corruption is a common problem in macOS, and is responsible for many app-related issues. Due to the hidden nature of cache files, problems resulting from corrupted caches are difficult to find.

You can completely delete cache files to solve this problem. Use Onyx or CleanMyMac to delete cache and log files.

clean cache and logs folder with onyx

Other macOS Folders You Shouldn’t Touch

When disk space gets low, you can check these macOS folders one-by-one and see how much space they take up. When you need space, you can safely delete them. Just make sure to have a current backup on hand in case something goes wrong.

Sometimes, you’ll find unfamiliar-sounding directories consuming significant disk space. But you shouldn’t modify anything on our list of macOS folders you should never touch.

Read the full article: 6 macOS Folders You Can Safely Delete to Save Space

The 10 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

cpu-gpu-benchmark

You just overclocked your GPU or installed a new hardware component in your PC. Is it working? Benchmarking is a great way to take a snapshot of your PC’s performance, and the best benchmarking software is often free to use. Whether you want to assess how poorly, or how well, your PC is performing, everyone can benefit from a good benchmark. Don’t wait until someone else has to benchmark your PC for you in order to troubleshoot an issue! General Performance Benchmarking software typically allows for overclocking or fan speed settings changes. These options allow users to configure hardware changes…

Read the full article: The 10 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

cpu-gpu-benchmark

You just overclocked your GPU or installed a new hardware component in your PC. Is it working? Benchmarking is a great way to take a snapshot of your PC’s performance, and the best benchmarking software is often free to use.

Whether you want to assess how poorly, or how well, your PC is performing, everyone can benefit from a good benchmark. Don’t wait until someone else has to benchmark your PC for you in order to troubleshoot an issue!

General Performance

Benchmarking software typically allows for overclocking or fan speed settings changes. These options allow users to configure hardware changes through software. Keep in mind, benchmarking your PC is a bit more complex than simply running software.

Head to our article on how to benchmark like a pro to get a rundown of how to accurately benchmark your components.

1. CPU-Z

cpu-z benchmark app

CPU-Z will provide users with a complete rundown of your PC’s hardware specifications, particularly concerning your CPU.

It also provides specifications for your motherboard, RAM, and graphics card, making it a great all-around program to visualize hardware makes and models. You can even save a TXT file of the information via the Tools option.

2. HWMonitor

hwmonitor benchmark app

HWMonitor not only visualizes the make and model of hardware components in your PC, but it also displays certain parameters live.

These parameters include power consumption, fan speeds, utilization percentage, clock speeds, and temperature. This can be crucial, as issues like an overheating component in your PC can lead to frequent PC shutdowns.

HWMonitor’s simple interface also makes all values easy to view and understand. Of course, you can also save this information for further troubleshooting via the File option.

3. SiSoftware Sandra Lite

sisoftware sandra benchmark app

SiSoftware Sandra Lite is a fully-featured benchmark suite which is aimed at users who are very well informed about the inner workings of their computers, and for businesses which need to perform a detailed analysis on multiple computers.

Want to test your computer’s memory bandwidth? No problem. Want to benchmark network performance? Sure. Want to benchmark your computer’s power efficiency? Yes, Sandra does that as well.

Another useful feature of SiSoftware Sandra Lite is its online reference database. SiSoft Sandra will benchmark your component or online connection and then compare your performance with other similar processors to give you a better idea of how an upgrade may or may not help you.

4. Speccy

speccy benchmark app

Piriform’s Speccy, from the creators of CCleaner, is a favorite among the gaming community for its simple layout of a PC’s hardware configuration.

Once it’s open, Speccy will provide a thorough rundown of every component, and most drivers, currently available on your PC.

If you click on the individual parameters on the left-hand side of the window, you’ll get even more information concerning your specific hardware including temperature, voltage, fan speeds, and more.

5. Fraps

Fraps is the de facto FPS benchmarking tool in every gamers arsenal. Easy to use and configure, Fraps will allow users to view and save their FPS ratings over time.

While Fraps is largely used to show FPS ratings over time, which is very useful for testing new hardware or overclocking your PC, it can also be used to screenshot and record gameplay as well.

CPU Benchmarking

CPU benchmarks not only provide users with data concerning clock speeds and temperatures, but they also compare your CPU’s performance with the performance of others.

Keep in mind, it’s difficult to separate pure CPU benchmarks from pure GPU benchmarks; both typically drive a PC’s overall performance. A PC’s motherboard also largely influences the performance of the CPU, and a cheap or older motherboard may even throttle your CPU’s performance.

6. CineBench

cinebench benchmark app

CineBench provides one of the most thorough and trusted CPU benchmarks available. It renders an image—rendering being a task largely undertaken by the CPU—and compares it to other real-world tests in order to gauge your CPU’s performance.

It’s as real-world as it gets: while other benchmarks will test your overall PC performance or a combination of your CPU and GPU, CineBench specifically tests all available processor cores of your CPU. After the test is run, your processor will be graded in points: the higher your points, the stronger your CPU’s performance output.

7. RealBench

realbench benchmark app

RealBench is another example of real-world CPU benchmarking. It uses four tests, all involving rendering in some capacity: Image Editing, H.264 Video Encoding, OpenCL, and Heavy Multitasking.

You can upload your finding to the RealBench website to compare where you stand with other benchmarked hardware configurations. Possibly the best aspect of RealBench is that it simulates a regular course load; no stress testing to push your CPU to the max in order to gauge its performance. Although, of course, stress testing is also an available feature in RealBench.

GPU Benchmarking

GPU benchmarks are much like CPU benchmark: they will update the user on the clock speeds, bus speeds, temperatures, and fan speeds of your GPU.

8. MSI Afterburner

msi afterburner benchmark app

Not exclusive to MSI graphics cards, MSI Afterburner is the best live monitoring GPU tool around. Afterburner allows users to overclock and monitor their software in one program.

It tracks every parameter you need to chart graphics card parameters: clock speed, temperature, RAM usage, fan speed, and CPU usage (by core). You can also save and activate overclock profiles at startup, so you’ll always be overclocked at the outset.

9. Unigine Suite

unigine valley benchmark app

The Unigine suite has been the go-to benchmarking software for graphics cards for years. If, for example, an overindulgent overclock has the possibility to damage your GPU over the long run, Unigine engines will make sure they benchmark and stress-test the GPU to ensure maximum performance and stability. It also allows users to test varying degrees of detail, so any GPU—budget or otherwise—can be tested using the software.

10. FutureMark Suite

futuremark benchmark app

Similar to the Unigine suite, FutureMark provides high quality benchmarking software for your GPU. Downloadable through Steam, you can use a free demo version of 3DMark’s paid software.

The 3DMark Basic Edition, equipped with the DirectX 12 benchmark Time Spy, should more than meet your needs. 3DMark scores are also some of the best indicators of GPU performance around.

Benchmark Your PC the Right Way

There are plenty of system benchmark software available online, most of which do a poor job of truly revealing your component’s performance. The list above is comprised of tested and trustworthy benchmarking programs which IT professionals and casual users can both use to gather information concerning a PC’s hardware configuration.

Much of the software provided can also be used to stress test your PC components. Read our article to learn more.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

14 Tips to Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

fix-disk-usage-windows

Your computer is hanging. Same old Windows, right? Except you’re using a brand-new Windows 10 device; you’ve only had it a few days. So just what is going on? Investigating, you discover that your system drive is running at 100%. Surely this can’t be, right? Sadly, it is. The latest versions of Windows have a problem with the drives being overworked, which slows down the operating system. This issue affects both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). Several fixes are available for this, but first you need to trace the problem. How to Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10 When…

Read the full article: 14 Tips to Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

fix-disk-usage-windows

Your computer is hanging. Same old Windows, right? Except you’re using a brand-new Windows 10 device; you’ve only had it a few days. So just what is going on?

Investigating, you discover that your system drive is running at 100%. Surely this can’t be, right? Sadly, it is. The latest versions of Windows have a problem with the drives being overworked, which slows down the operating system. This issue affects both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Several fixes are available for this, but first you need to trace the problem.

How to Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

When the error was first discovered, only a few culprits were found. But as time passes, despite the 100% disk usage error being reported to Microsoft, more causes of this bug are discovered, not fewer.

  1. Check disk performance with chkdisk
  2. Check your anti-virus software
  3. Disable Windows search
  4. Disable Superfetch service
  5. Time to disable Flash
  6. Change web browser
  7. Check Skype impact on disk usage
  8. Fix the PCI-Express firmware bug
  9. Stop Steam maxing out your PC
  10. Check diagnostic tracking
  11. Is Windows Update causing 100% disk usage?
  12. Reset your Virtual Memory
  13. Enable High Performance mode
  14. Install the latest SATA drivers

Click the link above for each possible cause of the bug to see how to fix it.

Once you’ve established that there is a problem, you have several options available. Check the following steps one at a time, checking the disk usage in the Task Manager after each.

Note that even if you find a solution, a Windows Update could reset the changes you’ve made. Bookmarking this page will help you find it in future to run through the fixes again.

1. Slow Performance? Run Disk Check

This performance issue is most obvious when attempting to use Windows Search to find a file or program, and anything else that requires the drive to do some work (perhaps copying and pasting a group of files).

To establish whether it is a problem that is affecting you, when your computer next slows down press Ctrl+Alt+Del and select Task Manager.

(Alternatively, right-click the Taskbar and select Task Manager.) Note that this may take some time to open with the drive being under strain.

100% disk usage in Windows 10

On the first tab, Processes, look for the Disk column. If you’re having problems with drive performance, this should be at 100%, and shaded red to indicate whether you have a problem or not.

Problematic sectors on your HDD can cause the 100% disk usage issue in Windows 10. However, using Windows’ built-in disk check can fix this.

Open Windows Explorer and select This PC, then identify your hard drive. Right-click on C: and select Properties. Here, find the Tools tab, and under Error checking click on Check.

In the resulting window, click Scan drive. Wait while the system scans the drive; a reboot may be required for a full disk repair. This should deal with the error.

2. Check Your Anti-Virus Software

As with any such performance issue, the first thing to do is confirm that your computer hasn’t been infected with malware. Your security software should be able to deal with this, whether it’s a free app or a paid suite.

At the very least, tools such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware should be able to scan your system drive and detect any problems, although with a heavy load on your drive already this may take a while.

If threats are found, use the software’s recommendations to discard them and reboot. Next, check your drive’s performance further. Hopefully, you’ve resolved the issue; if not, then malware wasn’t to blame, so read on.

3. Disable Windows Search for Improved Disk Performance

The next thing to check is whether the 100% disk usage error has anything to do with Windows Search.

A bug in Windows 10 results in a “search loop” that causes an increased load on the system drive.

To stop this and prevent it from happening during your current session (until Windows is rebooted) open the Command Prompt (the quickest way is by clicking the Start button and typing cmd, then right-click and select Run as administrator) and enter:

net.exe stop "Windows search"

To permanently disable Windows Search or Indexing, press WIN+R, enter services.msc, and hit Enter. In the Services window that opens find the Windows Search entry and double-click it to open the Windows Search Properties window.

Disable Windows 10 search

Under Startup type, select Disabled. Here you can click Stop to abort the service. Click OK to save your changes.

A few moments after disabling Windows Search, your Windows 10 performance should improve considerably. If not, move on…

4. Disable Superfetch Service

Another Widows 10 feature that has been identified as a potential cause of the 100% disk usage issue is the superfetch service.

To deal with this, open another Command Prompt (or if you’ve still got the earlier box open, use that) and enter:

net.exe stop superfetch

Disable Superfetch service in Windows 10

Again, wait a few moments to check whether this has had any effect on your computer’s performance. You should also run Check Disk in a Command Prompt:

chkdsk.exe /f /r

You’ll be informed that your PC must be rebooted for Check Disk to complete, so make sure you have closed all your applications first.

If this doesn’t work, it is likely that you’re experiencing an iteration of this issue that is frustrating to realize, but simple to resolve.

5. Is Flash Causing the 100% Disk Usage Bug?

Flash remains one of the most vulnerable aspects of modern computing and should be disabled. Adobe plans to kill off its multimedia plugin in 2020, so there’s little reason to keep using it.

Flash also seems to be one of the most common culprits for the 100% hard disk usage in Windows 10 if you’re using the Google Chrome browser.

Open Menu > Settings > Show advanced settings and find the section marked Privacy. Here, click on Content settings and find Flash. You’ll see a toggle, so set it to Block sites from running Flash, then click Back..

Change Flash settings in Chrome

Restart the browser and check your HDD performance.

6. Use a Different Web Browser

It may not be Flash that is impacting on your browser performance.

Another cause could be the browser itself, particularly if you’re using Google Chrome.

The obvious option is to choose a different browser. Windows 10 already has two browsers built in. You probably don’t want to use internet Explorer, but Microsoft Edge is an adequate replacement for Chrome.

Several browsers are available, some better than others. See our guide to the best web browsers for Windows to find an alternative.

7. Is Skype Eating Disk Resources?

Another widely-used application could also be causing your 100% HDD usage: Skype.

To find out—and disable its OTT resource requirement, begin by checking that the software is not running. You can do this by looking in the Task Manager, or checking the System Tray, the area on your desktop around the clock. If Skype is running here, right-click the icon and select Quit.

Next, press WIN+R and paste this address into the box:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Skype\Phone\

Click OKto find the Skype.exe file and right-click this and select Properties. In the Security tab click Edit, then select ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES.

Manage Skype permissions

Put a check next to Write in the Allow column and finish off by clicking Apply, then OK. Head back to the Task Manager to see the change. You may also consider finding a Skype alternative.

No difference? Keep reading…

8. Resolve PCI-Express Firmware Bug

Some drivers don’t run quite as they should in Windows 10. One that has been discovered to be causing 100% HDD use is the StorAHCI.sys driver, which has a firmware bug. StorAHCI.sys intended for storage devices connected to the PC or laptop motherboard via Advanced Host Controller Interface PCI-Express.

If you’ve made it this far with no success, this could be the problem.

Open the Device Manager (use Windows 10 search, or right-click This PC in Windows Explorer, then Properties > Device Manager) and expand IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers. If an AHCI Controller entry is listed, double-click, then open the Driver tab and select Driver Details.

Is the driver listed as C:\Windows\system32\DRIVERS\storahci.sys? If so, you could be affected by this bug.

Close the driver details box and switch to the Details tab, selecting Device instance path from the drop-down menu. Where the Value is listed, right-click, and select Copy. Launch your text editor (like Notepad) and Paste the contents in.

Next, press WIN+R and type regedit, followed by the OK button. Navigate to this address: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\PCI\ and use the pasted string above to open the correct AHCI Controller, followed by the random number.

Fix the PCI-Express firmware bug

Here, expand Device Parameters\Interrupt Management\MessageSignaledInterruptProperties and you should see MSISupported listed in the right-hand pane. Double-click this, then change the Value data: to 0. Click OK to confirm and follow the instructions to restart Windows.

9. Is Steam Maxing Out Your HDD?

Enjoy gaming and have Steam installed? There’s a good chance this digital delivery system is causing 100% disk usage.

Usually this is due to update delivery, causing the background downloader to get caught in a loop. Clear the Steam cache to fix this.

First, make sure you have exited Steam. Where Steam is a likely cause of the 100% disk usage error, it may hang when you try to exit. In this case, use the Windows 10 Task Manager to close the software.

Next, open the WIN+R run box and enter

steam://flushconfig

You’ll see a dialogue box, informing you that content will be deleted.

Clear the Steam cache

Click OK to proceed.

Note that games and saves will be retained, so there is no risk of them being deleted.

10. Disable Diagnostic Tracking in Windows 10

Finally, it’s worth considering the impact of diagnostic tracking in Windows 10. A feature that you might have otherwise disabled for privacy reasons, it has been blamed for 100% HDD use on many PCs.

When it comes to reducing your hard disk drive usage, it’s quicker to simply disable the DiagTrack service. If this is the source of the 100% disk usage error in Windows 10, you can stop the service launching.

However, to do this you’ll need to access Command Prompt in administrator mode.

Do this by clicking Start and typing cmd in the search box. Wait for the results and right-click Command Prompt, selecting Run as administrator.

Right-click the Start button and select Command Prompt (Admin), then input these commands to disable and stop DiagTrack:

sc config "DiagTrack" start= disabled
sc stop "DiagTrack"

Disable diagnostic tracking in Windows 10

In addition, you might also head to Settings > System > Notification & actions and disable Get tips, tricks and suggestions as you use Windows. Doing so has been shown to improve things.

11. Windows Update Can Cause High Disk Usage

As well as affecting changes you make to your PC when fixing the 100% disk use problem, Windows Update can also be a cause.

This usually only happens when Windows Update has a problem (which is typically due to a file refusing to download). You have two options here:

  1. Leave your computer alone—shut all your open applications and wait. Eventually, the files will download, but depending on how Windows Update is scheduled on your computer, it may require a reboot.
  2. Shutdown your computer—once you’ve done that, restart and wait for Windows Update to resolve the problem.

Once the update has finished downloading, it’s wise to run it as soon as possible. Remember to check any previous fixes for 100% disk usage before proceeding; as noted above, Windows Update can reverse these fixes.

12. Reset Your Virtual Memory

Virtual memory is a combination of RAM and hard disk space and can be responsible for overuse of your HDD. If there isn’t enough RAM to perform a task, the HDD is used to supplement the RAM. Data moved to the HDD is then returned to RAM when required.

If you’ve made it this far and you’ve yet to solve the 100% disk usage issue, it could be worth resetting your virtual memory.

Open the System screen with Windows+Break/Pause, then Advanced System Settings on the left. In the resulting box, select the Advanced tab, then under Performance click Settings.

Here you’ll find another Advanced tab, which has a section labeled Virtual memory. Click Change and clear the checkbox for Automatically manage paging file size for all drives.

Reset Windows 10 virtual memory

Staying on this screen, select your Windows drive (usually C:) and then Custom size. Here, add an Initial size and a Maximum size; note both are measured in MB rather than GB.

These numbers can be confusing, so with the first value, rely on the recommended option. For the maximum value, aim for a figure no more than 1.5 times your system RAM.

For instance, a computer with 4GB of RAM should have no more than 6.5GB (6144MB).

With the values input, click Set, then OK to continue. You now need to clear the temporary files that have been used in the previous virtual memory allocation.

Do this by opening the Run box (WIN+R) then entering “temp”. When the temp directory opens, select all files (Ctrl+A) and tap Delete on your keyboard.

13. Activate High Performance Mode

One final thing to try is altering your Windows power settings. Standard power modes are more prone to the 100% disk usage bug but switching to high performance often overcomes the problem.

The downside, of course, is that your computer will use more power. Thanks to modern processor design this shouldn’t be a massive issue. However, notebooks and desktop replacement laptops may take a hit on battery life.

To change to high performance, open the Power & sleep screen with WIN+X > Power Options.

Here, click Additional power settings, select High performance, then OK.

Create a new power plan in Windows 10

If this isn’t a displayed option, you’ll need to create your own custom power plan. Click Create a power plan, then choose High performance. Give the plan a name, tweak any personal settings you need then select it as a power plan to use.

In a moment or two, the 100% disk usage issue should drop down to less than 10%.

14. Install the Latest SATA Drivers

Could a storage device driver be resulting in the 100% disk usage error?

Your Windows 10 computer almost certainly uses SATA connections for hard drives, SSDs, and optical drives. If the drivers aren’t up to date, the disk usage error can occur.

Avoid this by upgrading to the latest SATA drivers.

Open the Power User menu with WIN+X and select Device Manager. From here, expand Storage controllers, then identify the correct controller for your SATA devices. If you can’t do this, don’t worry—simply update both.

To update, right-click on each controller and select Update driver.

Update Windows 10 SATA drivers

Select the Browse my computer for driver software option, then Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer. Here, choose Standard AHCI Controller and see how this impacts performance.

You may need to reboot Windows for this to take effect. Note that if it doesn’t work, you can still try this by checking the manufacturer’s website for a new driver. This can be installed using the instructions that accompany it.

Disk Usage Should Rarely Be 100%

Put simply, there is little reason for your disk load to be anything close to 100%, certainly not under normal usage. A slow computer is one with a problem, and if you cannot fix it by disabling a browser plugin, stopping services, or running your antivirus software, then the problem may well be hardware related.

Perhaps your drive is getting old; it may be defective, or the cables may need replacing. Alternatively, there is a chance that the problem is connected to the Windows defrag tool.

If your computer is attempting to defrag your drive, but your HDD is actually an SSD, then serious problems can occur. Deal with this by opening the Task Scheduler (WIN+Q, enter “task scheduler”) and disable any scheduled disk defrag tasks.

Try these fixes the next time your Windows computer slows down. Add these fixes to your skill set for solving annoying Windows issues.

Read the full article: 14 Tips to Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

How to Fix High CPU Usage in Windows

high-cpu

If your computer fans frequently hit top speeds, it’s a sign that your CPU usage is reaching 100%. Simultaneously, your computer may slow down. That’s annoying, especially if you’re not actually doing anything. The CPU (central processing unit), also known as the processor, is your computer’s brain. Like your own noggin, it can become overwhelmed if bombarded with too many processes, or if a single task consumes undue attention. Just as you may find work difficult when overwhelmed, your processor can slow to a crawl if too much is asked of it at once. Normally, you can avoid this situation by…

Read the full article: How to Fix High CPU Usage in Windows

high-cpu

If your computer fans frequently hit top speeds, it’s a sign that your CPU usage is reaching 100%. Simultaneously, your computer may slow down. That’s annoying, especially if you’re not actually doing anything.

The CPU (central processing unit), also known as the processor, is your computer’s brain. Like your own noggin, it can become overwhelmed if bombarded with too many processes, or if a single task consumes undue attention. Just as you may find work difficult when overwhelmed, your processor can slow to a crawl if too much is asked of it at once.

Normally, you can avoid this situation by staying away from demanding apps. However, CPU usage can sometimes go out of control because of a bug in a process, such as the infamous WmiPrvSE.exe. Fortunately, in most cases, you can easily fix the underlying issue and lower high CPU usage.

Is the WMI Provider Host (WmiPrvSE.EXE) Causing High CPU Usage?

The WMI Provider Host process, also known as Windows Management Instrumentation or WmiPrvSE.exe, is part of Windows and assists organizations in monitoring and troubleshooting a large number of systems on a network. It’s not uncommon for the process to go out of control, however.

You can tell if this is your problem by opening the Task Manager (press Control + Shift + ESC) and looking for the WmiPrvSE.exe process. If its CPU usage is higher than a few percent, and you’re not running any program that would impact it, it’s not functioning properly.

Windows Management Instrumentation in the Task Manager

Restart the WMI Provider Host to Fix High CPU Usage

Microsoft recently pulled its official fix. The only option you’re left with now is manually restarting the service. Do a Windows Search for “Services” and, in the window that opens, look for Windows Management Instrumentation. Right-click it, then select Restart. You can also stop the service entirely, if you desire, or simply restart your computer.

How to restart Windows Management Instrumention using Services.msc in Windows

Identify Persistent WMI Provider Host Issues Using the Event Viewer

If the issue with WmiPrvSE.exe keeps returning, use the Windows Event Viewer to identify its cause. It could be another system process that keeps the WMI provider host busy, thereby causing high CPU usage.

  • In Windows 10 and 8, right-click the Start button and select Event Viewer.
  • In Windows 7, use the Start menu to find and launch Eventvwr.msc.

Inside the Event Viewer app, go to Applications and Service Logs > Microsoft > Windows > WMI-Activity > Operational.

Now scroll through the list of operational events and find recent Error entries.

For each Error, identify the ClientProcessId. Note that every time you restart a process, its ID will change, hence there’s no point in checking older errors.

Windows Event Viewer WMI Provider Host Activity on High CPU Usage

If you suspect that one of these processes is causing the high CPU usage, you can use its ID to find it in the Task Manager and identify the faulty process.

Open the Task Manager (press Control + Shift + ESC), switch to the Services tab, and sort all running services by PID, i.e. their process ID. If the guilty process is still running, you’ll be able to identify it and investigate further.

Right-click the process and select Open File Location to review the software it belongs to. Updating or uninstalling the respective program may fix the WMI Provider Host’s high CPU usage.

Finally, there’s a possibility that the service could be a worm or virus. You should see only one version of the process at any given time, and the process should stop if you halt it through the Services window. If you see two versions of it, or the process will not stop, run a virus scan immediately.

Does the System Idle Process Exhibit High CPU Usage?

Windows users occasionally run across a process called the System Idle Process causing high CPU usage. This obscure process seems to hog all the CPU power it possibly can – terrible, right?

System Idle Process in Task Manager

Actually, the System Idle Process is simply a thread that consumes CPU cycles, which are not otherwise being used. The process is used because of some very arcane peculiarities in coding, which make it sometimes preferable, and even more efficient, for a processor to run something instead of nothing at all.

This is not just a Windows thing, but Windows displays the process in the Task Manager, so users see it and assume something is wrong.

This is not to say you can’t experience performance issues when the System Idle Process is showing a high CPU usage load, but the issue lies elsewhere.

In fact, you should expect to see the System Idle Process report that it consumes 95% (or more) of your CPU when Windows is at idle. If it’s not, something else is consuming processor cycles without your knowledge.

Is the Svchost.exe (netscvs) to Blame for High CPU Usage?

If you checked the Task Manager, you might have noticed that the svchost.exe (netscvs) process is causing high memory or CPU usage. While this process is sometimes associated with malware, it’s primarily a legitimate and system critical Windows process. If you’re unsure, use this Lookup Tool to see which service the process is referring to.

If it’s not malware, svchost.exe might be busy scanning for plug-and-play devices.

To exclude this cause, head to Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center and click Change advanced sharing settings. Here, select Turn off network discovery.

Windows 10 Advanced Network Sharing Settings

Svchost.exe (netsvcs) also shows high CPU usage when Windows is downloading updates. You’ll commonly see it using 25% or more CPU capacity after you just installed Windows. In that case, just let Windows Update finish its thing.

Since Windows 10, you can’t delay or pause Windows Update easily. While you can schedule when to install new updates, Windows downloads updates as needed. This may randomly cause svchost.exe to increase its CPU usage. What you can change, however, is whether your computer shares downloaded updates with peers. Turn this off to conserve bandwidth and processing power.

Head to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update, click Advanced options, then click Delivery Optimization, and click Advanced options once more.

Here you can limit the bandwidth used to download updates in the background or for uploading updates to other PCs on the Internet. You should set the latter to a minimum of 5% and also set the monthly upload limit very low.

Windows Update background downloads and uploads in Windows 10.

The only other workaround to tame high CPU usage related to downloading updates is to temporarily disable Windows Update. This will prevent Windows from downloading updates. However, we don’t recommend this solution!

Are Too Many Background Processes Hogging Your CPU?

A background process is a program that’s running on your PC, even though it’s not open in a window. A typical computer will have many background processes running at once, as Windows itself requires some to run. But as you install programs, over the years you may collect more and more, and eventually overwhelm your PC.

You can check on this by opening Task Manager via a Windows Search for the same or by running taskmgr.exe. The Processes tab will appear by default, displaying not only overall CPU usage, but also the usage of each app.

You should do this while no other programs are open to prevent confusion. Note the processes which appear to be using at least 10% of your processor’s capability on a regular basis.

In Windows 10, head over to the Startup tab within the Task Manager.

Windows 10 Start Items

In Windows 7, exit Task Manager and open msconfig.exe via Windows Search or the Run dialog (Windows + R). In the System Configuration window, head to the Startup tab.

Now find startup items correlated with the items that you noted. Uncheck them, click okay, and then restart your PC. This will stop those programs from launching at boot.

It Could Be an Annoying Antivirus

Do you notice that your computer becomes slow at seemingly random times, and those times often correlate with high disk activity? Your problem could be your antivirus.

Windows Antivirus windows

An anti-virus program, when actively searching your disk for a threat, can consume a surprising amount of processor load. This usually isn’t enough to slow a modern desktop or high-end laptop, but older or slower systems may noticeably slow under the strain.

Fixing this is easy. Virtually all anti-virus apps come with a scheduling function that lets you adjust when it automatically scans. Change the schedule to a time when you’re not using the laptop, and you’ll no longer be bothered.

Or It Could Be a Virus

On the other hand, malware can cause high CPU usage. A system that’s infected may run processes in the background and it may attempt to spread itself by sending malware to others via your email, your network, or other sources. All of this requires processing power, which can translate to poor performance.

Confirming an infection manually is not easy, and for the layman is more guesswork than anything else. If you don’t have an anti-virus, download a free malware application and run it. In fact, you may want to try several anti-malware tools, because malware that’s already installed has the advantage; it may be able to hide from any single anti-virus app.

Once you’ve found the problem, you can remove it with the anti-virus app you used to scan. If that fails, read our malware removal guide; the tips there can help you exorcize whatever has possessed your PC.

High CPU Usage Is a Diverse Issue

High CPU usage can be hard to track down. While the problems listed here are among the most common causes, you may find that CPU usage is still an issue even after you try everything suggested above. If this problem still plagues you, find a Windows support forum, where you can ask users for advice about how to deal with your particular situation.

But first, here’s one last culprit you could check: high CPU usage caused by system interrupts!

Read the full article: How to Fix High CPU Usage in Windows

Why Your Windows Time Is Always Wrong (And What to Do About It)

time-upgrade-windows-10

Clocks showing the correct time is something we take for granted. When the Windows time is wrong, it can interrupt scheduled tasks or lead to weird errors. Moreover, a time that’s off by minutes or even hours can make you run late or miss appointments.Unlock the “Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101” cheat sheet now!This will sign you up to our newsletterEnter your EmailUnlockRead our privacy policy Yes, you can sync your Windows time with a remote server to keep the exact time. But note that a Windows clock that keeps losing its time could hint towards a more serious issue. Let us show…

Read the full article: Why Your Windows Time Is Always Wrong (And What to Do About It)

time-upgrade-windows-10

Clocks showing the correct time is something we take for granted. When the Windows time is wrong, it can interrupt scheduled tasks or lead to weird errors. Moreover, a time that’s off by minutes or even hours can make you run late or miss appointments.

Unlock the "Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101" cheat sheet now!

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Enter your Email

Yes, you can sync your Windows time with a remote server to keep the exact time. But note that a Windows clock that keeps losing its time could hint towards a more serious issue. Let us show you what the underlying causes may be and how you can fix them.

1. CMOS Battery

CMOS Battery

This is the most likely culprit, especially if your computer is a little older.

The CMOS battery sits on your computer’s motherboard and provides power to the Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) chip. This chip stores information about the system configuration, including the date and time. The CMOS battery makes sure the chip can store this data even while the computer is turned off and not hooked up to power.

If the battery goes bad, the chip starts losing information and one of the symptoms is that your Windows computer no longer maintains its time and date.

Replacing the CMOS battery is pretty easy. You just have to turn off your computer, ground yourself, open the case, find out which type of battery (step 3 in the linked guide) sits on your motherboard, go buy it, start over, and exchange the battery. Follow the links to the keywords for articles on the respective steps.

2. Time Zone

This is an easily fixed cause for when your computer clock is off by one or more hours.

Windows may simply be set to the wrong time zone and every time you fix the time, it resets itself to that time zone when you reboot. If the minutes are correct and only the hour is bad, that’s probably the issue you’re dealing with.

To fix your time zone in Windows 10, right-click the system clock in your Taskbar and select Adjust date/time. Under the Time Zone header, check whether the information is correct. If not, select the correct time zone from the drop-down menu.

Windows 10 Date & Time

If you want to go further and change the time server, scroll further down in the above window and click Additional date, time, & region settings. At present, this will take you to the old Control Panel.

Under Date and Time, click Set the time and date, which opens another window. Switch to the Internet Time tab, click Change Settings, and now you can add an Internet time server of your choice, which your system will use to synchronize the time.

Windows Internet Time Settings

3. Windows Time

If your CMOS battery is still good and your computer is only using seconds or minutes over long periods of time, then you could be dealing with poor synchronization settings.

To make sure Windows is synchronizing its time, press Windows key + R, enter services.msc into the Run menu, and hit Enter. In the Services window, find Windows Time in the Name column, right-click it, and select Properties.

Windows Time Settings

In the Windows Time Properties window, set Start type to Automatic. Then click Start to make sure the service is running and click OK to save your changes.

Windows Time Properties

Bonus: It Could Be Malware

This is the least pleasant scenario because malware is notoriously difficult to remove.

Maybe a virus hijacked your computer and messes with its time. To fix it, you need to gather a few malware removal tools. First, make sure your anti-virus program is up to date with the latest virus definitions. Then, get a good malware scanner, like Malwarebytes or Spybot Search & Destroy.

Once you have all these tools downloaded, updated, and installed, boot in Safe Mode and run them. It’s important to start in Safe Mode because the malware won’t launch and be active when you choose this boot mode. This means that it is less likely to escape detection and removal.

Windows Boot Into Safe Mode

If you’re running Windows 10, I strongly recommend that you reset or refresh your system to eliminate the malware (and any bloatware).

To protect yourself from future infections, keep your both your system and installed software up-to-date and protect Windows with security software.

Back on Time

Are you back on time now? If none of these worked, some readers reported that updating their BIOS version did the trick.

From now on you’ll know to pay attention even to the smallest details. Simple oddities can be a sign of serious trouble ahead. For example, if your CMOS battery dies, your computer will act like it has Alzheimer’s and you have to introduce it to its hardware components (via the BIOS) every time it boots. That’s just as annoying as a virus that’s playing tricks on you or a bad time zone setting that messes up everything, from the clock to your email client’s timestamps. So be wise and act immediately.

Maybe now you’d also like to look into synchronizing your PC clock with an atomic clock. And maybe you are interested in hearing the time spoken out loud every hour.

Read the full article: Why Your Windows Time Is Always Wrong (And What to Do About It)

How to Test Your PC for Failing Hardware: Tips and Tools to Know

If you’ve ever opened up your computer, you know there is a lot of hardware in there. It’s all a potential point of failure. There are certain pieces of hardware which are more prone to failure than others. Equipment that either generates heat or has moving parts tends to fail most often. Thanks to computer hardware tests, you can scan your system and spot failing hardware before everything crashes. What Can Go Wrong With PC Hardware? The parts that most commonly break are fans, hard disk drives, CPUs, and GPUs. RAM also tends to fail too. It is continually being written…

Read the full article: How to Test Your PC for Failing Hardware: Tips and Tools to Know

If you’ve ever opened up your computer, you know there is a lot of hardware in there. It’s all a potential point of failure. There are certain pieces of hardware which are more prone to failure than others.

Equipment that either generates heat or has moving parts tends to fail most often. Thanks to computer hardware tests, you can scan your system and spot failing hardware before everything crashes.

What Can Go Wrong With PC Hardware?

The parts that most commonly break are fans, hard disk drives, CPUs, and GPUs.

RAM also tends to fail too. It is continually being written and re-written to (flashed). Solid-state memory can only handle so many flashes before it begins to fail. The problem also applies to solid-state hard drives.

The best way to avoid being caught out is to perform regular hardware diagnostic tests on your computer. Here’s how to do hardware tests on Windows 10.

Windows 10 Hardware Diagnostic Tools

Windows 10 has two built-in hardware diagnostic tools. The first analyzes system performance on your computer and the second runs memory tests on your Windows 10 PC.

  1. Performance Monitor
  2. Windows Memory Diagnostic

Performance Monitor

windows 10 performance report

Performance Monitor is a native desktop app on Windows 10. It’s the operating system’s most holistic tool for locating and diagnosing hardware and system issues.

To open the app, search for its name in Cortana and click on the link. You may have to wait for a few seconds while the app collects data.

If you want a quick overview of your system’s hardware, use the left-hand panel to navigate to Reports > System > System Diagnostics > [Computer Name].

It provides you with multiple checks for your hardware, software, CPU, network, disk, and memory, along with a long list of detailed statistics.

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find live performance graphs (in Monitoring Tools > Performance Monitor) and customizable data sets (in Data Collector Sets).

Windows Memory Diagnostic

windows memory diagnostic

A computer’s central processing unit (CPU) uses RAM to store short-term information. Anything contained in the RAM is lost when you turn off your machine.

There are lots of warning signs when your RAM is close to failing. They include worsening performance, frequent crashes, video cards failing to load on boot, corrupted data files, and incorrect RAM information in the Windows System app.

If you’re wondering how to run a memory test on the RAM, you need to use the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool.

It works by writing to, then reading, your computer’s RAM. Differing values signal faulty hardware.

To launch the tool, press Windows + R to open the Run window, then type mdsched.exe and hit Enter. Windows will prompt you to restart your computer.

The test will take a few minutes to complete. When it’s over, your machine will once again restart. You’ll see the results of the screen once you return to the Windows desktop.

(If Windows doesn’t automatically show you the results, open the Event Viewer by right-clicking on the Start button, then head to Windows Logs > System and find the most recent file called MemoryDiagnostic.

Third-Party Hardware Diagnostic Apps

If you’re looking for something specific or a little more powerful, you’ll need to turn to third-party software.

There is a lot to choose from, but here are four of the best computer diagnostic apps.

1. MemTest86

memtest

MemTest86 is well established as the best tool to test your RAM on Windows. It’s more powerful than Microsoft’s Windows Memory Diagnostic tool.

The app has 13 different RAM testing algorithms and supports DDR4, DDR2, and DDR3 RAM. You can boot it directly from a USB stick or a CD, and Microsoft has signed the app’s code for Secure Boot compatibility.

Unlike the Windows tool, MemTest86 also has a full-featured graphical interface.

Download: MemTest86 (Free)

2. CrystalDiskInfo

CrystalDiskInfo

If you want to focus on testing your hard drives, you should install CrystalDiskInfo.

The app’s key feature is the “Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology” (SMART) test. It provides data about several aspects of your drives, including the read error rate, a count of reallocated sectors, the spin-up time, and a whole lot more.

CrystalDiskInfo also includes advanced power management and audio management tools.

And, if you leave the app running in the background, it can even provide you with live alerts if drives become too hot or are suffering from other failures.

Download: CrystalDiskInfo (Free)

3. HWiNFO

 HWiNFO.

HWiNFO is way ahead of the pack when it comes to the amount of information provides. Indeed, if you’re new to the world of hardware testing, we recommend giving this one a wide-berth until you’re more familiar with the concepts and terminology.

From a hardware test standpoint, we are most interested in the app’s system health monitoring features. They provide detailed real-time reports and graphs about your machine’s CPUs, GPUs, mainboards, drives, and peripherals.

You can also download a bunch of add-ins that provide HWiNFO with extra functionality. They include screen tuners, widgets, and log viewers.

Download: HWiNFO (Free)

4. RWEverything

RWEverything

Finally, we’ll leave you with a tool for uber-geeks: RWEverything. It won’t win any design awards, but it’s extraordinarily powerful.

You can use it to check almost every aspect of every piece of hardware in your machine. More pertinently, you can also write to all the hardware. That means you can tweak any setting, no matter how small.

Warning: If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t start changing settings. You risk irrevocable damaging your hardware.

Download: RWEverything (Free)

Check Your Computer’s Battery Health

Another piece of laptop hardware that’s prone to failure is the battery.

We’ve written about five tools that’ll help your test the health of your laptop battery if you’d like to learn more.

Other Computer Hardware Tests

Keeping an eye on your hardware is only one part of maintaining a healthy computer that runs smoothly.

For more information, check out our guide to checking the health of a Windows PC.

Read the full article: How to Test Your PC for Failing Hardware: Tips and Tools to Know

10 iPhone Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Device Running Smoothly

iphone-maintenance

You need to care for your iPhone. After all, they cost a lot of money. You probably want to avoid splashing out on a new one every 12 months. To prolong the life of your iPhone, you should to perform some regular maintenance tasks—both for the hardware and software. Physical iPhone Maintenance Tips Let’s begin with some physical maintenance tips that’ll help keep your iPhone looking great and working well. 1. Clean the Charging Port If you’re having difficulty charging your phone, something as simple as a clogged Lightning port is often to blame. To dislodge the gunk, your first…

Read the full article: 10 iPhone Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Device Running Smoothly

iphone-maintenance

You need to care for your iPhone. After all, they cost a lot of money. You probably want to avoid splashing out on a new one every 12 months.

To prolong the life of your iPhone, you should to perform some regular maintenance tasks—both for the hardware and software.

Physical iPhone Maintenance Tips

Let’s begin with some physical maintenance tips that’ll help keep your iPhone looking great and working well.

1. Clean the Charging Port

If you’re having difficulty charging your phone, something as simple as a clogged Lightning port is often to blame.

To dislodge the gunk, your first port of call should be a toothpick or the SIM removal tool that came with your phone. Take care to act very delicately. Make sure you don’t damage the contact points with over-zealous actions.

If this doesn’t work, you can try a can of compressed air. Apple recommends against using canned air and other cleaning products, but a quick blast might help dislodge particularly sticky debris. Hold the can close to the charging port, but don’t put the nozzle inside.

And if you still can’t charge your device, you might have a hardware issue. Contact Apple Support for assistance.

2. Clean the Speaker and Microphone

Cleaning an iPhone’s speaker and microphone is important. Failure to do so can affect call quality, music playback, and your ability to control Siri.

To begin the cleaning process, grab a soft-bristled toothbrush and (very) gently rub it over the two openings to loosen the debris. Next, grab a piece of tape and gently press it over the area to collect the dust and lift it away.

Do not use compressed air. The powerful force can damage the speaker and microphone’s membranes.

3. Clean the Phone

Cleaning iPhone Screen

Phones are dirty and germ-ridden because we carry them everywhere. You need to give your device a bit of a polish every so often.

Apple recommends that you use a soft, damp, lint-free cloth. Avoid getting water in the various ports, buttons, and other openings. And never use anything that’s abrasive, as iPhones are coated in a fingerprint-resistant oil repellent. It’s natural to see it wear down over time, but heavy cleaning could prematurely remove this.

4. Clean the Headphone Jack

If you own an iPhone 6s or earlier, your device still has a headphone jack. You should clean it out regularly to prevent a buildup of dust and fluff.

To clean the headphone jack on an iPhone, use the same compressed air method as described earlier. A cotton swap can also prove useful. If you’re not having any luck with those, you can use a toothpick as a last resort.

iPhone Software Maintenance Tips

The four physical tips we discussed cover the basics, but there’s a lot more you can still do. (Check out our guide on how to clean a dirty iPhone to learn more.) Now it’s time to cover some other virtual and software-based iPhone maintenance tasks you need to do regularly.

5. Manage the iPhone Battery

Often, people’s biggest gripe with their smartphone is the battery life. If you’re a heavy user, it’s a struggle to make your battery last all day. The situation only worsens as your battery ages.

One way you can alleviate the problem slightly is to recalibrate your iPhone battery on a regular basis. The process can help the battery drain more slowly and increase its overall lifespan.

The iPhone also comes with a bevy of battery settings. Fiddling around with them can help you squeeze out a bit more juice. To learn about these and more, check our complete iPhone battery guide.

6. Create More iPhone Storage Space

The high price of top-tier iPhone models leads many to settle for one with less internal storage.

That storage fills up quickly, especially if you take a lot of photos and receive constant messages from friends and family.

You don’t want to hit your storage limit in an inopportune moment, leaving you unable to take photos or download new apps. Therefore, it’s wise to spend some time pruning your phone’s data every now and again.

In addition to media files, you can clear out browser data, delete apps, and remove offline files. We’ve written a guide on how to create free space on iOS if you’d like more information.

7. Back Up Your Data

It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of backing up your data. I speak from personal experience after putting my wife’s iPhone through the washing machine a month after the arrival of our new baby. Goodbye, precious photos.

There are two primary ways to back up iOS—using iTunes or iCloud. You can also use a third-party option.

We looked into the pros and cons of each approach when we explained how to back up your iPhone or iPad.

8. Restart Your Phone

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” is the oldest advice in the book. It’s also surprisingly apt for smartphone maintenance. How often do you really restart your phone? If you don’t let the battery run out, the answer is probably “never.”

Rebooting your iPhone has a ton of benefits, including fixing memory leaks, freeing up RAM, preventing crashes, and improving battery life.

9. Update Your Apps

This one is a no-brainer. However, it’s amazing how many people let dozens of updates sit without taking the trouble to download and install them. Updated apps bring new features, better security, and a more stable user experience.

You can see if you have any app updates pending by opening the App Store and tapping on the Updates tab.

We recommend turning on automatic updates. To enable automatic updates on iOS, go to Settings > [Name] > iTunes and App Store and slide the toggle next to Updates into the On position.

10. Check App Settings

Apps’ settings menus change over time. Thus, you should occasionally run through menus to ensure that apps are still set up in the way you want them to be. You might even find some settings that let you use less mobile data.

This is especially true for social media apps, which have a nasty habit of automatically opting you into their privacy-eroding “new features.”

Learn How to Tweak Your iPhone

If you follow the tips discussed above, you’ll be well on the way to a smoother iPhone experience. Of course, if you want to improve your experience further, there are lots of other tricks for this. We’ve explained the best tweaks all iPhone users should make.

Read the full article: 10 iPhone Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Device Running Smoothly

Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most?

speed-up-pc

Is your PC fast enough for the things you want to do? Does it take forever to boot, or grind to a halt when you try to use Photoshop? If so, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware. But what is the best way to upgrade your computer? What will give you the best bang for your buck, and which upgrades are a waste of time? Here’s our guide to the best PC upgrades you can make. 1. Why You Should Upgrade RAM Adding more memory is the easiest and most accessible PC upgrade you can make. It’s affordable, you…

Read the full article: Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most?

speed-up-pc

Is your PC fast enough for the things you want to do? Does it take forever to boot, or grind to a halt when you try to use Photoshop? If so, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware.

But what is the best way to upgrade your computer? What will give you the best bang for your buck, and which upgrades are a waste of time? Here’s our guide to the best PC upgrades you can make.

1. Why You Should Upgrade RAM

Adding more memory is the easiest and most accessible PC upgrade you can make. It’s affordable, you can do it on almost any machine (including many laptops), and it doesn’t require much tech know-how.

If you’ve never cracked open your PC case before, this is the place to start.

upgrade ram
Image Credit: Kingston

A RAM upgrade delivers an instant performance boost to almost all PCs that are running slow. For resource hungry tasks—like video editing or gaming—the more RAM you’ve got, the better.

Even for casual use, extra RAM will enable you to have more apps running in the background or keep a greater number of tabs open in your browser.

So how much RAM do you need?

  • 4GB is the baseline amount. It’s good for general use, with up to around 10 browser tabs, a little photo editing, and video streaming.
  • You’ll notice a significant improvement if you upgrade to 8GB. This is good for serious multi-tasking, browsing with up to 30 tabs open, editing RAW photos, and even some mid-range gaming.
  • For heavier tasks, you should look to 16GB for best results. Serious gaming, media editing, or any pro-level tasks will be best with this much memory.

2. Consider Upgrading the Graphics Card

upgrade your graphics card
Image Credit: Gigabyte

We’ve got this second on the list, but if you’re a serious gamer then it should probably be the first thing you upgrade. If you aren’t a serious gamer, 3D modeler, or 3D animator, then you might not ever need to upgrade it at all.

Skimping out on graphics is an easy way to save on costs, so PC manufacturers tend to go with integrated graphics cards rather than dedicated graphics cards.

And on modern systems integrated graphics is good enough for most users. It’ll let you do some Photoshop work, or watch 4K video. And more than 10 percent of users on Steam are even gaming with integrated graphics.

But if you do need superior graphics performance, for gaming or VR work, then upgrading to something like a Radeon RX580 will give you a big boost. You can compare the performance of dedicated cards against your current option at gpu.userbenchmark.com.

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3. Get a Faster Storage Drive

There are two reasons to upgrade your hard drive: you’re running out of space or you want faster performance.

If you’ve done everything you can to free up your hard disk storage and still regularly run out of space, then you will need to swap it out for a larger one. Not only does a full hard drive make it impossible to save new data, but it can also impact performance. At the very least, try to keep 10GB of free space for the operating system to use.

For hard disk drives, consider upgrading the physical speed. If your PC currently has a 5400RPM drive, then upgrading to a 7200RPM model will give you a nice speed boost.

upgrade to ssd samsung 970
Image Credit: Samsung

But the fastest option is to switch to a solid state drive. These use flash memory instead of a spinning disk and are many times faster than a typical hard disk drive. (Not to mention more reliable, too.)

On average, a 5400RPM drive might achieve write speeds up to 100Mbps, a 7200RPM drive up to 150Mbps, and a solid state drive over 500Mbps. Higher end SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO have incredibly high write speeds of 1500Mbps and more.

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Ultimately, a faster data drive impacts your entire system. It means faster boot times, faster program loading times, faster speeds for launching games, and more responsiveness in programs that use large files (like video editing or RAW photo editing).

The downsides to solid state drives are that they have much smaller capacities and are more expensive than hard disk drives.

If you don’t want to compromise on size, a hybrid drive combines the best of both worlds. These have a small amount of flash memory—where your most commonly used files are cached for instant retrieval—and a traditional hard disk that provides large capacity for storing long-term data.

4. Upgrading the Processor

Upgrading your PC’s processor is a far more advanced task than the other upgrades we’ve covered so far. Not only is it physically trickier to install, it’s one of the more expensive upgrades and there are compatibility issues to worry about, too.

More importantly, a processor upgrade isn’t always a good thing and may not bring you the performance improvement you’re looking for.

The benchmark tests at cpubenchmark.net can help you compare the relative performances of different processors. In general, these tests show that modest updates don’t deliver big improvements.

A processor is only worth upgrading if the upgrade is significant, like moving from an i3 to an i5, or from an older generation to a newer one. Don’t go for something just because it has a faster clock speed.

Processors are expensive and may require you to upgrade your motherboard (and that might require you to buy new RAM). Even if your motherboard is compatible with a new processor on paper, it may need a BIOS update to work. It can be a pain, so check before you buy.

Ultimately, if your processor is the speed bottleneck in your system, you might want to consider buying a whole new system altogether.

5. How Upgrading Software Can Improve Performance

Chances are that the programs on your PC are set to update automatically. If not, you probably click the Update button as soon as you’re alerted to the release of new program versions.

In most cases this is the right thing to do. But not always. For a lot of software, the version number is depicted in the form of Major.Minor.Revision. So, if an update is 0.0.1, then it’s likely to be bug fixes. If it’s 0.1.0, then it likely includes optimizations and small new features. Minor and Revision updates should be installed right away.

upgrade operating system

But Major updates—a change in the full version number—are a different matter. It’s almost a given that new versions of programs will use more resources than old versions, so if your PC’s hardware is already being stretched to the max, you should deal with that first.

The same goes for operating system updates. The regular incremental updates are essential for performance and security reasons, but whole new versions aren’t. They will almost certainly have bugs and may run slow on your system.

If your PC is running fine, it’s worth holding off on operating system upgrades until you’re absolutely sure they won’t turn out to be downgrades.

What Else Should You Upgrade?

The motherboard is the most difficult of all upgrades since all of the other PC parts attach to it. It’s only worth considering if you’re dead set on a new processor that’s not compatible with your current setup. It won’t give you much of a speed boost on its own.

There are other components to consider, too.

A keen photographer, for instance, would surely benefit more from having a better monitor than from making Lightroom run a little quicker. Equally, a writer could become more productive with a mechanical keyboard.

Instead of focusing purely on performance, think about how you can upgrade your PC experience. Speed is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

The Best PC Upgrades for You

So, RAM, SSDs, and graphics cards are the most important PC upgrades. You should see real, instant improvements whenever you upgrade any combination of them.

Ideally, you should always tailor your upgrades to your precise needs. If you need better graphics, get a new graphics card; if you want greater responsiveness, get an SSD. And if you aren’t sure where your computer’s bottlenecks are, check out our guide to the Windows diagnostics tests you can use to help you pinpoint them.

Read the full article: Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most?

What Is SuperFetch on Windows 10? And How to Disable It

windows10-feature-performance

Windows 10 is a definite improvement over previous versions in many ways—but it can also feel slow and sluggish when it isn’t configured properly. Of the many ways to improve Windows 10 performance, there’s one lesser-known feature that you should know about: SuperFetch. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about what SuperFetch is, how it works, why it might be problematic, and how to disable it if it’s causing issues. What Is SuperFetch? How It Works The official description of the SuperFetch service says that it “maintains and improves system performance over time,” but that’s vague…

Read the full article: What Is SuperFetch on Windows 10? And How to Disable It

windows10-feature-performance

Windows 10 is a definite improvement over previous versions in many ways—but it can also feel slow and sluggish when it isn’t configured properly. Of the many ways to improve Windows 10 performance, there’s one lesser-known feature that you should know about: SuperFetch.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about what SuperFetch is, how it works, why it might be problematic, and how to disable it if it’s causing issues.

What Is SuperFetch? How It Works

The official description of the SuperFetch service says that it “maintains and improves system performance over time,” but that’s vague and doesn’t explain the whole story.

SuperFetch is a feature that was introduced back in Windows Vista. It sits quietly in the background, constantly analyzing RAM usage patterns and learning what kinds of apps you run most often. Over time, SuperFetch marks these apps as “frequently used” and preloads them into RAM ahead of time.

The idea is that when you do want to run the app, it will launch much faster because it’s already preloaded in memory.

Task Manager Performance Tab Memory

By default, SuperFetch is designed to take up all your available RAM space with preloaded apps. Don’t worry: it only deals with unused memory. As soon as your system needs more RAM (e.g. to load an app that wasn’t preloaded), it relinquishes the needed memory as necessary.

Note that SuperFetch is not the same thing as Prefetch, which is the preloading memory manager that was introduced back in Windows XP. SuperFetch is actually the successor to Prefetch. What’s the difference? Prefetch did not analyze usage patterns over time and adjust its preloading parameters accordingly.

Is SuperFetch Really Necessary?

For the most part, SuperFetch is useful. If you have a modern PC with average specs or better, SuperFetch most likely runs so smoothly that you won’t ever notice it. There’s a good chance SuperFetch is already running on your system right now and you didn’t even know.

But there are some “problems” that can arise with SuperFetch:

  • Since SuperFetch is always running in the background, the SuperFetch service itself is always using some CPU and RAM.
  • SuperFetch doesn’t eliminate the need to load apps into RAM. Rather, it relocates the loading to an earlier time. Whenever that loading happens, your system still experiences the same slowdown as if you were launching the app without SuperFetch.
  • System startup can be sluggish because SuperFetch is preloading a bunch of data from your HDD to RAM. If your HDD runs at 100% for a few minutes every time you start or restart your computer, SuperFetch could be the culprit.
  • The performance gains of SuperFetch may be unnoticeable when Windows 10 is installed on an SSD. Since SSDs are so fast, you don’t really need preloading. If this interests you, check out our guide to moving Windows from HDD to SSD.

SuperFetch has also been known to cause performance issues while gaming, particularly on systems that have 4GB of RAM or less. It’s unclear why this happens because it doesn’t occur for everybody, but we suspect it has to do with RAM-heavy games that constantly request and free up memory, which may cause SuperFetch to constantly load and unload data.

Is it safe to disable SuperFetch? Yes! There is no risk of side effects if you decide to turn it off. Our recommendation is that if your system is running well, leave it on. If you have issues with high HDD usage, high RAM usage, or degraded performance during RAM-heavy activities, then try turning it off and see if it helps. If it does, keep it off. Otherwise, turn it back on.

Note: To boost performance on a RAM-sparse system, we recommend tweaking the Windows virtual memory limit and tweaking Windows visual effects. You can also try these tips for faster startup and shutdown.

How to Disable SuperFetch on Windows 10

To reiterate, we don’t recommend disabling SuperFetch except as a troubleshooting measure for the potential issues mentioned above. Most users should keep SuperFetch enabled because it does help with overall performance. If you aren’t sure, try turning it off. If you don’t notice any improvements, turn it back on.

Using the Services App

Step 1: Launch the Services app. Open the Start Menu, search for services, then launch the Services app. Alternatively, open the Run prompt by pressing Windows key + R, then type services.msc and click OK.

Windows Services SuperFetch

Step 2: Disable the SuperFetch service. Scroll down until you see Superfetch, right-click on it, and click Stop. SuperFetch is now disabled.

Superfetch Properties

Step 3: Prevent SuperFetch from running automatically. Still in the Services app, right-click on Superfetch and select Properties. Under the General tab, look for Startup type and change it to Disabled. (Or Manual if you’d like the option to turn it on when you need it.)

Using the Registry Editor

The Services app is the preferred method for this, but if it doesn’t work for some reason, you can always edit the registry key directly. Before you do this, make sure you back up the registry in case something goes wrong (it’s more common than you think).

Step 1: Open the Registry Editor. Open the Start Menu, search for regedit, then select it from the results. Alternatively, open the Run prompt by pressing Windows key + R, then type regedit and click OK.

Windows Registry Editor

Step 2: Find the SuperFetch key. Using the left sidebar, navigate to the following:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / Control / Session Manager / MemoryManagement / PrefetchParameters

Edit DWORD 32-bit Value

Step 3: Disable SuperFetch. In the right panel, you should see a key called EnableSuperfetch. Right-click on it and select Modify… to bring up the key editor. To disable SuperFetch, change Value Data to 0 and click OK.

Other Windows 10 Features You Can Disable

SuperFetch isn’t the only example of a feature that might be better off disabled. If you’re still having issues with Windows 10, we highly recommend looking at these Windows 10 features to safely disable as well as our follow-up article with even more features to disable.

Image Credit: AntonioGuillemF/Depositphotos

Read the full article: What Is SuperFetch on Windows 10? And How to Disable It