Posted on | July 12, 2012 | No Comments
Now that I’ve switched over from a decade long engineering career over to a position in the IT industry, the issues that IT folks have to deal with on a daily basis is more clear to me now than ever. Not only do PC technicians have to be proficient in troubleshooting a huge variety of hardware and software issues, but they also need to keep track of an insane assortment of software packages, communication protocols, and various systems that interface with or somehow affect the performance and health of a computer system.
When I entered this field, I really felt that I was an old pro. I mean, let’s face it, I’ve been a multi-language computer programmer for years, I can spec out and build a high-performance box as well as the best of them, and I’ve always been the “computer genius” that family members turn to in those situations of hardware breakdown or malware madness.
Oh, how wrong I was. Within the first month at the new job, I realized that when you enter an environment with hundreds or thousands of users that range from computer experts, all the way down to those people that should never be allowed within ten feet of a computer system. If things can go wrong, they will.
Troubleshoot and Fix Almost Any Issue With D7
I think the hardest problem I had at the beginning was remembering where all of the tools were for troubleshooting specific problems. When things are really lagging on a system and you want to do a thorough cleanup, you need to remember everywhere in the computer that files, logs and temp files can pile up and waste space. Or you can trust a single cleanup app that may or may not get everything. If you want to troubleshoot network issues, you have to remember all of the commands to do things like checking DNS connections or tracing your traffic through the network to locate where the connection is failing. What about other issues like diagnosing device failures, doing full-system scans, and backing up or restoring your system.
Do you sometimes find that you waste time digging around the PC because you can’t quite remember how to check one setting or another? Well, I’m glad to inform you that the folks at Foolish IT (an funny domain-name when you put it into one word though…) have come up with a very cool swiss-army knife application for PC technicians called D7.
Upon first launch, D7 accumulates everything you could possibly want to know about the system – processor type and speed, available memory, computer name, OS version and IP address. That’s just for starters. That means that the moment you launch the software, without issuing a single command, you have the info that you’d normally have to dig for by issuing commands like “ipconfig” or wmic commands to gather cpu and OS data. So, just launching D7, you’re a step ahead already.
Click on the “Reports” link on the left, and a new “Information Reports” window will open up, where you can have D7 gather a completely detailed polling of the entire computer system, creating a text-based report that you can either print or email to yourself. D7 also locates Malware logs for commonly used Malware programs, and it lets you get screen captures of any error messages you’re seeing.
I should mention that every now and then you’ll see a nuisance page – that is the drawback of this kind of powerful software being free. However, there is just so much available in this software that in my opinion it’s well worth it. There are so many maintenance tools embedded into D7 that they had to provide two pages, Maintenance and Maintenance II. Each of these pages is filled with an crazy amount of tools to help you perform maintenance on your computer. For example, the first page has tools that will let you automatically check for broken desktop shortcuts and orphan directories, you can delete temp files, history and cookies, and you can defrag and run cleanup operations – just to name a few tasks available here.
Moving on to Maintenance II, you can do things like run stress tests, test hardware like audio and video, and even launch various update services. All of these tools are available to you, right at your fingertips on a single page. No more digging around looking for the links or tools to do the job.
When you launch any of these, if it isn’t already an installed component of the software, it will automatically download and install that plug-in, and then launch the window. If it’s an application already installed on your PC – like Malwarebytes or Windows updates – D7 has the ability to just launch that app for you. Below I’ve launched the hardware monitor tool by clicking on the small right-arrow next to the text. This pops up a real-time monitoring window that shows a live status of all of my system stats.
As you can see below, I didn’t have the SpaceSniffer tool installed for disk mapping, so D7 went out, downloaded the zip file, unpacked and installed it and then ran it for me. Fast, easy and convenient.
One of the things I love the most about D7 is the Malware Removal page. You know how people will sometimes ask folks at tech forums for advice, and the answers about what tool to use to scan for malware that pretty much runs the entire gamut, from Avast all the way to Malwarebytes. Well, if you’re using D7, you don’t have to decide which one to use, because you can use them all. That’s right, the Malware Removal page includes links to launch HitmanPro, Malwarebytes, ComboFix, as well as “pre-removal” tools to keep your PC safe prior to going crazy with virus removal efforts. You can take backups, set a system restore point, and more. Basically, this page is your entire toolbox for when you need to deal with malware on your PC.
When other things go wrong, like network issues, corrupt Windows files or just random odd problems, the “Windows Repair” screen will give you more options to try than you’ll know what to do with. Run a system file check, re-write the MSIServer Reg Key, repair permissions, repair system restore…
Don’t know what these things do? Well then, you probably shouldn’t be running this software. D7 is for the seasoned PC tech professional that wants all of the sort of tools and tasks he uses at his fingertips. It is not software intended for the casual end user.
D7 even offers a “Tweaks” section that you can use to try and enable Windows modifications that will improve your performance a bit. You can do things like modifying user account control, changing how windows handles low disk space issues, modifying how taskbar balloon tips work, and much more.
Another important aspect of computer maintenance is data and configuration backup. You want to be sure that if things go terribly wrong, you’ll have all of the most important information on your PC. That’s the stuff stored in your user profiles, all MDB or PST files, and you can even have D7 back up specific folders like a music folder or even the temp folder. You set the rules, and D7 will make sure it gets backed up in the location you specify.
Managing your backups is as simple as using whichever restore tool you need. D7 gives you “DataGrab” to take your backups, “DataMigrate” to move those backups around, and “DataRestore” to recover from a massive failure. All it takes is one massive virus or malware infection, and this feature alone will save your life….or at least your data.
You’ll also discover a few extra useful tools in the menus themselves, like the ability to wipe out all user passwords with a single click of the mouse, or to hide or unhide all files instantly (that can be a real pain when you try to do it in File Explorer).
The “Windows” menu item is crazy-filled with tools. Instantly open a Group Police editor, verify drivers, do a quick disk cleanup, open task scheduler or computer management. How many times have you had a brain cramp trying to find a tool like task scheduler when you’ve done it a million times? Now it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting there at 7am in a pre-caffeine daze. If you have D7, just click the menu and it’s all right there.
Another menu I love is the “Internet”. Check it out, just by clicking “Ping Google.com & DNS” you can run a quick Internet test to make sure your DNS connections are okay, or click on “www.speedtest.net” to link directly to the website to run your speed tests. Again, it’s all about the volume of tools at your fingertips. This is the kind of thing that can boost your efficiency as a PC tech support person significantly. So, why not give D7 a test drive yourself and see if it speeds up your work as much as it did mine. What sort of things do you find it useful for? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Notebook Lifesaver Via Shutterstock