Keeping Your PC Speedy and Safe

The secret of remaining happy and productive with Windows, day in and day out, is ensuring that the system is running at peak performance, with no unexplained hangs or crashes to interrupt work or play. We know from talking to Microsoft developers that they made many kernel-level changes that collectively make Windows 7 feel faster than its predecessors. But that still leaves plenty of room for tweaking and, inevitably, troubleshooting. Fortunately, Windows 7 includes excellent tools for helping you monitor performance, diagnose balky programs and hardware, and fix problems when they occur.

The most noteworthy addition to the Windows 7 system management toolkit is the new Action Center. It consolidates messages, troubleshooting tools, and basic systemmanagement functions in a single location . You can access it from its ever-present icon in the notification area or from the System And Security heading in Control Panel. Figure 1-11 shows a pair of security and maintenance messages, which are color-coded on your screen as red or yellow to indicate the level of importance

Figure 1-11 Click the down arrow to the right of the Security and Maintenance headings to see more messages.

We cover the ins and outs of Action Center and its companion tools in Chapter 21, "Performing Routine Maintenance."

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When you're trying to troubleshoot problems such as application crashes or hardware fail-

t ures, it's useful to have a log of important events . That's the function of the new Reliability Monitor, shown in Figure 1-12. It plots important system events, such as successful and unsuccessful installations of drivers and software as well as application crashes, on a timeline. By filtering the timeline to a specific day or week, you can identify specific events that might provide important clues to the cause of a problem.

Figure 1-12 Reliability Monitor provides a convenient timeline to critical events and changes to your system configuration .

Finally, there's the Resource Monitor, which debuted in Windows Vista but has been significantly enhanced for Windows 7 . The amount of technical detail available here—covering CPU load, memory usage (shown in Figure 1-13), disk activity, and network performance— can be overwhelming, at least initially. We explain how to filter the useful information from the noise in "Monitoring Performance in Real Time" on page 710.

Figure 1-13 Resource Monitor displays in-depth information about every major aspect of system performance .

Figure 1-13 Resource Monitor displays in-depth information about every major aspect of system performance .

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