To help you work out what will and won’t run on your PC and to give you a general overview of how well it is performing, PC Advisor has introduced a free diagnostic tool. PC Performance Monitor profiles up to three computers, keeping you up to date with the goings on in your system’s innards.

Computers are distressingly complex beasts. We call them ‘systems' for one very good reason: they comprise dozens of interconnected machines, hopefully working in tandem.

This is all fine until something breaks. When a virus or Trojan infiltrates your PC, there's rarely a big bang. Since all modern malware exists to rip you off, it's designed to stay hidden, even after you've been infected. You might notice a barely perceptible slowdown, but the chances are that the first time you know you've been hit is when cash starts disappearing.

Indeed, if your machine is being co-opted into a botnet, you won't even get that notification. So it makes sense to find out exactly what's going on in your PC.

Of course, you may have a very powerful, fully up-to-date internet security suite. You may never venture online and you may absolutely know your PC is whistle-clean. No malware here, guv. But it's still a good idea to keep a weather eye on your machine.

In the horses for courses world of the modern PC, you need to pick the right setup for the right job. There's no point in trying to play the notoriously processor-hungry game Crysis on an Eee PC, for example. Unless you like the smell of burning plastic.

To help you work out what will and won't run on your PC and to give you a general overview of how well it is performing, PC Advisor has introduced a free diagnostic tool. PC Performance Monitor profiles up to three computers, keeping you up to date with the goings on in your system's innards.

It analyses and monitors networks, processes and overall performance. Perhaps most pertinently, it will tell you if your PC is up to running the successor to the much-maligned Vista - Windows 7.

Given the nightmare that was ‘Vista Ready', this is information you can't live without. So read on to learn how best to use PC Performance Monitor. Forewarned is forearmed.

NEXT PAGE: how to use PC Performance Monitor

INDEX

  1. What's going on inside your PC?
  2. How to use PC Performance Monitor
  3. PC Performance Monitor applications
  4. System Monitor, and Tasks & Alerts
  5. Testing for Windows 7 compatibility

To help you work out what will and won’t run on your PC and to give you a general overview of how well it is performing, PC Advisor has introduced a free diagnostic tool. PC Performance Monitor profiles up to three computers, keeping you up to date with the goings on in your system’s innards.

How to use PC Performance Monitor

1. You'll need to register at pcadvisor.co.uk to use PC Performance Monitor. Click Register at the top right of the home page. Be sure to tick the box that enables you to use PC Performance Monitor. Registered users will need to log in and enable the utility on the My Profile page.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 1

2. Now head to www.pcadvisor.co.uk/pc-performance-monitor and hit the Monitor My PC tab. Your unique CustomerID should be displayed. Click the link and follow the instructions to download and install the PC Performance Monitor application: this is a small piece of software that collects performance data from your system.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 2

3. You should see five performance monitors for your PC. The app takes roughly an hour to start sending back information about your system's performance, so the boxes will remain blank for now. You can install PC Performance Monitor on up to three PCs. And don't worry - the utility can't access other data on your system.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 3

NEXT PAGE: PC Performance Monitor applications

INDEX

  1. What's going on inside your PC?
  2. How to use PC Performance Monitor
  3. PC Performance Monitor applications
  4. System Monitor, and Tasks & Alerts
  5. Testing for Windows 7 compatibility

To help you work out what will and won’t run on your PC and to give you a general overview of how well it is performing, PC Advisor has introduced a free diagnostic tool. PC Performance Monitor profiles up to three computers, keeping you up to date with the goings on in your system’s innards.

PC Performance Monitor applications

4. The Network Monitor widget allows you to track the average and peak traffic across a network. Network metrics data from the exo.repository is extracted and compared to a series of user-definable thresholds. The resulting values are displayed as a daily or weekly graph for each data point category.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 4

5. Once the PC appears in the System list, select it. Select a network card from the drop-down list and click the Results tab at the top of the widget. Use the drop-down list on page 2 of the application to customise the analysis methodology. You'll see an index of the sampled data versus your settings.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 5

6. Next up is the Process Monitor widget. This tool allows you to track the runtime performance of a single process on the PC you elected to monitor. When sufficient data is gathered, details are presented as an index of sampled data versus the thresholds defined on the results pane in the Widget Configuration dialog.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 6

7. To properly use the Process Monitor widget, first select the desired target system and process, then click the Results tab. To customise the analysis methodology, including how the data is aggregated (average or peak, say), use the drop-down lists on page 2 to adjust the various category thresholds.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 7

NEXT PAGE: System Monitor and Tasks & Alerts

INDEX

  1. What's going on inside your PC?
  2. How to use PC Performance Monitor
  3. PC Performance Monitor applications
  4. System Monitor, and Tasks & Alerts
  5. Testing for Windows 7 compatibility

To help you work out what will and won’t run on your PC and to give you a general overview of how well it is performing, PC Advisor has introduced a free diagnostic tool. PC Performance Monitor profiles up to three computers, keeping you up to date with the goings on in your system’s innards.

8. The System Monitor widget tracks the overall performance of a Windows-based PC or server. You can use the System Monitor to keep tabs on general system metrics (CPU load, memory consumption, I/O levels), identify bottlenecks and review trending data for up to a week at a time.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 8

9. Choose your target system profile, then click the Results tab. System Monitor offers three profiles: Normal, Power User and Real-Time. Each profile alters the widget's results by adjusting the threshold values for the contributing factors, skewing the resulting compound. Define your own profile by selecting Custom.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 9

10. The Tasks & Alerts widget allows you to configure a set of automated analysis tasks. They happen each hour, and you get an alert if a system exceeds one or more of the thresholds you define. You can configure your own tasks in a similar way as you can with the System Monitor and Process Monitor widgets.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 10

11. Select your PC. For System Task, select Normal, Power User or Real-Time. Then choose from the following: CPU Index (alerts you if your PC is CPU bound); MEM Index (monitors memory usage); I/O Index (calculates the Peak I/O Contention Index); and Process Delay (alerts you if your PC is incurring a per-process delay).

PC Performance Monitor: Step 11

NEXT PAGE: Testing for Windows 7 compatiblity

INDEX

  1. What's going on inside your PC?
  2. How to use PC Performance Monitor
  3. PC Performance Monitor applications
  4. System Monitor, and Tasks & Alerts
  5. Testing for Windows 7 compatibility

To help you work out what will and won’t run on your PC and to give you a general overview of how well it is performing, PC Advisor has introduced a free diagnostic tool. PC Performance Monitor profiles up to three computers, keeping you up to date with the goings on in your system’s innards.

12. The Windows 7 Compatibility Testing widget assesses the suitability of an x86 or x64-based PC for running Windows 7. Use this widget to identify systems that will be incapable of running the next version of desktop Windows due to inadequate hardware, current stress levels or workload composition.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 12

13. System information is analysed to determine Windows 7 compatibility. PC Performance Monitor collects counter data once every second and averages the collected values once every 60 seconds. The data points analysed by the Windows 7 widget represent a daily summary (average) of these samples.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 13

14. Once the PC's Machine Name appears in the System list, click the Results tab to see how it fared. The Windows 7 widget posts results in a pass/fail format. If the system meets the requirements for a given category, a green Pass appears. If your PC fails a category, explanatory text appear in the Notes box.

PC Performance Monitor: Step 14

INDEX

  1. What's going on inside your PC?
  2. How to use PC Performance Monitor
  3. PC Performance Monitor applications
  4. System Monitor, and Tasks & Alerts
  5. Testing for Windows 7 compatibility