Doctor visit for the computer

March 29, 2010

Unless you’re a digital artist or a graphic designer, a computer might not be thought of as a primary tool for an artist. But if you’re submitting digital images to shows or selling online, it’s as important as a good brush, a chisel, or a pottery wheel.

My laptop is the workhorse of my operation as an artist. It stores my manuscripts, photography, and images of my paintings. I draw one of my comics completely in the digital realm. Any time I need an image, I get it from my hard drive. Software for digital imaging, records of my artwork and collectors, e-mail, Internet, website maintenance, etc. is all done on my laptop.

That said, if you’re an artist like me who has everything on your computer, you’ve got to make sure the heart of your operation is taken care of. That means thinking about your software and hardware needs at all times.

Fortunately for me, I spend part of my life as a computer techie. I enjoy computers and I know what they’re capable of. I laugh at their personalities. Yes, computers have personalities. Spend enough time with several different computers, really working with them, and you’ll realize this is true. Just like individuals, computers need to be taken care of.

That said, first and foremost, backup your data! And make sure the data is truly backed up. The worst thing you can do is think that it’s backed up only to realize that it’s not. I’ve seen people cry over this.

Back up your data!

But I didn’t really start this blog to convince you to backup your data. No. I wanted to tell you about a piece of software from SmithMicro, the developers of Manga Studio and several other great programs. It’s a doctor visit for your computer.

Why would you care about checking the health of your computer’s hardware. It’s either working or it’s not, right?

Wrong!

There are usually signs ahead of time that something is malfunctioning, but they can be easy to miss, or rather to dismiss as outdated drivers, bad updates, or just needing to reboot. Fortunately, you can find problems before they take out your system with SmithMicro’s CheckIt Diagnostics.

Downloading and installing the program is simple and quick. Startup checks the components of your system. Once you’re in the software, it does help if you have basic knowledge of computers because the program just jumps right in. There are 5 tabs across the top and several “component” buttons below. You can see these on the screenshot below.

CheckIt Diagnostics screenshot - opening screen

Each of these “component” buttons has a series of test that can be run. To begin, start with the first tab, first “component” and start running tests. Once you’ve gone through all the components, then go to the next tab. Each test will either come back with “Success” or “Fail” as a result. Some test require that you plug in a flash drive or insert a CD/DVD — again, the program reads the hardware of your computer and adapts the tests to your system. Of course, the point is to always have it say “Success” on all your tests. The reality of it is that something, sometime will fail.

CheckIt Diagnostics screenshot of fail link information

CheckIt Diagnostics screenshot of Troubleshoot button information

If you suspect a problem with one part of your computer system, you can narrow down the tests to select just that component on your system and run those component’s tests or just one test instead of having to run through all the tests. You don’t have to have a complete check every time.

So now you’ve checked your system and you know there’s a problem. What then? Knowing you have an issue is just the beginning. Clicking on the “Fail” link will allow you to see more information. From here, CheckIt Diagnostics has the ability to send the error reports via email (like to your tech support person) or to export it to a text file. If you click the “Troubleshoot” button, you’ll get extra information which might help figure out why you received the test failure.

CheckIt Diagnostics screenshot of fail link information

CheckIt Diagnostics screenshot of Troubleshoot button information

Overall, I wish the failure reports did have some more detail. From the ones that I went through on my laptop, I didn’t feel that from a tech support position I had a whole lot of information to work with. However, giving the diversity between computers and systems, this might be an overwhelming task for any piece of software. So again, knowing that you have an issue with a particular piece of the hardware is merely a starting point. When you’re looking for that needle in the haystack (which often is the case when diagnosing computer problems) CheckIt Diagnostics will at least give you a starting point.

From both a tech support person and a user point of view, I find the main value of the program to be in wealth of information about your system that it gives you in one easy spot and the fact that it will narrow down issues with a computer. It’s easy and quick enough to use that I can incorporate it into my usual computer maintainance routine as a checkup for my hardware. So many programs have been dedicated to checking for malware, viruses, rootkits, registry cleaners, etc. that’s it’s nice to find a program that cares about the hardware side of the computer equation too.

Advertisements