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How to boost Windows 8 performance

November 12, 2013 06:30 AM ET

Track stability and troubleshoot crashes with the Reliability Monitor

Another useful Windows tool is the Reliability Monitor, first introduced in Windows Vista. It offers a historical view of overall system stability and even includes detailed information about system crashes. Armed with this information, you can pinpoint the sources of problems and take steps to eliminate them.

To launch the Reliability Monitor, type reliability at the Start screen, click Settings, and click the "View reliability history" icon that appears on the left under Settings. The blue line running across the graph shows your system's stability over time. It's based on a number that Windows calculates to gauge your system's overall reliability. The maximum is 10 and the minimum is 1.

Every time there's a system failure, application failure or similar event, the index drops, sometimes sharply -- particularly if there's been more than one failure in a day. Each day your system doesn't have a failure, the index rises a little bit.

On days there are failures, you'll see red icons, divided into rows by type of failure -- application, Windows or miscellaneous (hardware, drivers, etc.). The chart also has icons for warnings about unsuccessful updates and for information about successful updates and installations. (Story continues below the screenshot.)

Windows 8 Reliability Monitor
Windows 8's Reliability Monitor gives you insight into system and application crashes, update info and more.

Select any day with a failure or other event, and at the bottom of the screen you'll see details about those events, divided into categories. Pay attention to the details of each crash and failure. Look for patterns, such as if the same application frequently crashes. If so, uninstall it, or look for an update that fixes the problem.

Finally, down at the very bottom of the screen click "View all problem reports." Rather than seeing a chart over time, you'll instead see a list of all of your problems, including summaries. It lets you scroll through your problems more quickly than in the normal view, because they're in a long, vertical list.

Generate a detailed Performance Monitor report

Windows 8 includes a Performance Monitor tool that shows an immense amount of detail about a system's hardware and software. Unfortunately, its main interface is almost impossible to decipher. There is, however, one way to get some very useful information out of the Performance Monitor -- tell it to generate a detailed report for you that pinpoints system issues and suggests fixes.

You don't create the report directly from the Performance Monitor. Instead, from the Start screen type perfmon /report and click the "perfmn /report" icon that appears on the left. (Note that you might need Administrator rights to your PC to run the report.) A screen appears telling you that a report is generated, and after a minute or two, an interactive report appears onscreen. (Story continues below the screenshot.)

Windows 8 Performance Monitor report
A Performance Monitor report: This PC's got troubles.

The report can be lengthy, and goes into mind-numbing detail about your system. (If you want to know about things such as your system's video classes and UDP information it's the place to go.) Most useful are reports of errors or problems. If it finds any, those will be at the very beginning of the report. For each error or problem, it describes the symptom and the cause, suggests how to fix it, and provides a link to other useful information.



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