Windows miscellaneous

This page contains a selection of miscellaneous tricks and tips for Windows computers.


Windows maintenance can be see as a "dark art", but is no more than a set of nuggets of wisdom which you can accumulate over time. Here are a few contributed by the Restart community.

System Information

A lot of information about the system and software can be obtained from the msinfo32 command. Simultaneously press the Windows key and R, and in the box type msinfo32. Press Enter.

A still more detailed report is given by Speccy (free download), including information on the health of your disk.

Drivers and Updates

Make sure that all relevant updates have been installed. The update process can get itself into a tangle which is sometimes very difficut to resolve, though a web search will throw up plenty of advice.

Problems with specific peripheral devices (e.g. sound, WiFi, video) can be caused by out of date or inappropriate drivers. First, check the computer or laptop manufacturer's website, and failing that, the website for the manufacturer of the problem device. Beware of apps which claim to check for driver updates, and driver download sites, as these may install malware or unwanted apps.

The Device Manager applet (in Control Panel) will flag a problem device. Double-click on it and select the Driver tab to scan for updated drivers.

Microsoft often offers "optional" updates, only recommended if you're suffering from a particular problem. Check whether any of these are relevant.

Don't forget to check for updates for your BIOS (more correctly called UEFI in computers post-2011). This can sometimes resolve compatibility problems with a particular peripheral device.

Installation and Reinstallation

If you need to reinstall a Windows system from scratch but don't have the installation media, you can download the ISO files to burn to your own media for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 from this Microsoft web page. You will of course, need your licence key in order to perform the installation, and it's also required in order to download the Windows 7 ISO.

An "in-place" reistallation will reinstall Windows whilst keeping all your data and applications - much less work than a full reinstallation of everything from scratch.

If you have no record of the licence key but the system is still bootable then the Magical Jellybean Keyfinder will find it for you. A paid version will even find it from a non-bootable system disk provided you can mount it as an external disk on another system.

Before blowing away the previous Windows installation it's a good idea, if possible, to take a copy of all the vendor-specific device drivers. You can do this using Double Driver. Always try downloading fresh copies of drivers from the vendor website if possible, but copies saved by Double Driver should get you out of trouble if for any reason they aren't available, or if the latest ones cause any kind of problems.

Windows 8.x