How to Evaluate Embedded Software Testing Tools

You Can’t Evaluate a Test Tool by Reading a Data Sheet

All data sheets look pretty much alike. The buzzwords are the same: “Industry Leader”, “Unique Technology”, “Automated Testing”, and “Advanced Techniques”. The screen shots are similar: “Bar Charts”, “Flow Charts”, “HTML reports” and “Status percentages”. It is mind numbing.

What is Software Testing?

All of us who have done software testing realize that testing comes in many flavors. For simplicity, we will use three terms in this paper:

  • System Testing
  • Integration Testing
  • Unit Testing

Everyone does some amount of system testing where they do some of the same things with it that the end users will do with it. Notice that we said “some” and not “all.” One of the most common causes of applications being fielded with bugs is that unexpected, and therefore untested, combinations of inputs are encountered by the application when in the field.

Not as many folks do integration testing, and even fewer do unit testing. If you have done integration or unit testing, you are probably painfully aware of the amount of test code that has to be generated to isolate a single file or group of files from the rest of the application. At the most stringent levels of testing, it is not uncommon for the amount of test code written to be larger than the amount of application code being tested. As a result, these levels of testing are generally applied to mission and safety critical applications in markets such as aviation, medical device, and railway.

What Does “Automated Testing” Mean?

It is well known that the process of unit and integration testing manually is very expensive and time consuming; as a result every tool that is being sold into this market will trumpet “Automated Testing” as their benefit. But what is “automated testing”? Automation means different things to different people. To many engineers the promise of “automated testing” means that they can press a button and they will either get a “green check” indicating that their code is correct, or a “red x” indicating failure.

Unfortunately this tool does not exist. More importantly, if this tool did exist, would you want to use it? Think about it. What would it mean for a tool to tell you that your code is “Ok”? Would it mean that the code is formatted nicely? Maybe. Would it mean that it conforms to your coding standards? Maybe. Would it mean that your code is correct? Emphatically No!

Completely automated testing is not attainable nor is it desirable. Automation should address those parts of the testing process that are algorithmic in nature and labor intensive. This frees the software engineer to do higher value testing work such as designing better and more complete tests.

The logical question to be asked when evaluating tools is: “How much automation does this tool provide?” This is the large gray area and the primary area of uncertainty when an organization attempts to calculate an ROI for tool investment.

Anatomy of Test Tools

Test Tools generally provide a variety of functionality. The names vendors use will be different for different tools, and some functionality may be missing from some tools. For a common frame of reference, we have chosen the following names for the “modules” that might exist in the test tools you are evaluating:

Parser: The parser module allows the tool to understand your code. It reads the code, and creates an intermediate representation for the code (usually in a tree structure). Basically the same as the compiler does. The output, or “parse data” is generally saved in an intermediate language (IL) file.

CodeGen: The code generator module uses the “parse data” to construct the test harness source code.

Test Harness: While the test harness is not specifically part of the tool; the decisions made in the test harness architecture affect all other features of the tool. So the harness architecture is very important when evaluating a tool.

Compiler: The compiler module allows the test tool to invoke the compiler to compile and link the test harness components.

Target: The target module allows tests to be easily run in a variety of runtime environments including support for emulators, simulators, embedded debuggers, and commercial RTOS.

Test Editor: The test editor allows the user to use either a scripting language or a sophisticated graphical user interface (GUI) to setup preconditions and expected values (pass/fail criteria) for test cases.

Coverage: The coverage module allows the user to get reports on what parts of the code are executed by each test.

Reporting: The reporting module allows the various captured data to be compiled into project documentation.

CLI: A command line interface (CLI) allows further automation of the use of the tool, allowing the tool to be invoked from scripts, make, etc.

Regression: The regression module allows tests that are created against one version of the application to be re-run against new versions.

Integrations: Integrations with third-party tools can be an interesting way to leverage your investment in a test tool. Common integrations are with configuration management, requirements management tools, and static analysis tools.

Later sections will elaborate on how you should evaluate each of these modules in your candidate tools.

Classes of Test Tools / Levels of Automation

Since all tools do not include all functionality or modules described above and also because there is a wide difference between tools in the level of automation provided, we have created the following broad classes of test tools. Candidate test tools will fall into one of these categories.

“Manual” tools generally create an empty framework for the test harness, and require you to hand-code the test data and logic required to implement the test cases. Often, they will provide a scripting language and/or a set of library functions that can be used to do common things like test assertions or create formatted reports for test documentation.

“Semi-Automated” tools may put a graphical interface on some Automated functionality provided by a “manual” tool, but will still require hand-coding and/or scripting in-order to test more complex constructs. Additionally, a “semi-automated” tool may be missing some of the modules that an “automated” tool has. Built in support for target deployment for example.

“Automated” tools will address each of the functional areas or modules listed in the previous section. Tools in this class will not require manual hand coding and will support all language constructs as well a variety of target deployments.

Subtle Tool Differences

In addition to comparing tool features and automation levels, it is also important to evaluate and compare the test approach used. This may hide latent defects in the tool, so it is important to not just load your code into the tool, but to also try to build some simple test cases for each method in the class that you are testing. Does the tool build a complete test harness? Are all stubs created automatically? Can you use the GUI to define parameters and global data for the test cases or are you required to write code as you would if you were testing manually?

In a similar way target support varies greatly between tools. Be wary if a vendor says: “We support all compilers and all targets out of the box”. These are code words for: “You do all the work to make our tool work in your environment”.

How to Evaluate Test Tools

The following few sections will describe, in detail, information that you should investigate during the evaluation of a software testing tool. Ideally you should confirm this information with hands-on testing of each tool being considered.

Since the rest of this paper is fairly technical, we would like to explain some of the conventions used. For each section, we have a title that describes an issue to be considered, a description of why the issue is important, and a “Key Points” section to summarize concrete items to be considered.

Also, while we are talking about conventions, we should also make note of terminology. The term “function” refers to either a C function or a C++ class method, “unit” refers to a C file or a C++ class. Finally, please remember, almost every tool can somehow support the items mentioned in the “Key Points” sections, your job is to evaluate how automated, easy to use, and complete the support is.

Parser and Code Generator

It is relatively easy to build a parser for C; however it is very difficult to build a complete parser for C++. One of the questions to be answered during tool evaluation should be: “How robust and mature is the parser technology”? Some tool vendors use commercial parser technology that they license from parser technology companies and some have homegrown parsers that they have built themselves. The robustness of the parser and code generator can be verified by evaluating the tool with complex code constructs that are representative of the code to be used for your project.

Key Points:

– Is the parser technology commercial or homegrown?
– What languages are supported?
– Are tool versions for C and C++ the same tool or different?
– Is the entire C++ language implemented, or are their restrictions?
– Does the tool work with our most complicated code?

The Test Driver

The Test Driver is the “main program” that controls the test. Here is a simple example of a driver that will test the sine function from the standard C library:



int main () {

float local;

local = sin (90.0);

if (local == 1.0) printf (“My Test Passed!n”);

else printf (“My Test Failed!n”);

return 0;


Although this is a pretty simple example, a “manual” tool might require you to type (and debug) this little snippet of code by hand, a “semi-automated” tool might give you some sort of scripting language or simple GUI to enter the stimulus value for sine. An “automated” tool would have a full-featured GUI for building test cases, integrated code coverage analysis, an integrated debugger, and an integrated target deployment.

I wonder if you noticed that this driver has a bug. The bug is that the sin function actually uses radians not degrees for the input angle.

Key Points

– Is the driver automatically generated or do I write the code?
– Can I test the following without writing any code:
– Testing over a range of values
– Combinatorial Testing
– Data Partition Testing (Equivalence Sets)
– Lists of input values
– Lists of expected values
– Exceptions as expected values
– Signal handling
– Can I set up a sequence of calls to different methods in the same test?

Stubbing Dependent Functions

Building replacements for dependent functions is necessary when you want to control the values that a dependent function returns during a test. Stubbing is a really important part of integration and unit testing, because it allows you to isolate the code under test from other parts of your application, and more easily stimulate the execution of the unit or sub-system of interest.

Many tools require the manual generation of the test code to make a stub do anything more than return a static scalar value (return 0;)

Key Points

– Arestubs automatically generated, or do you write code for them?
– Are complex outputs supported automatically (structures, classes)?
– Can each call of the stub return a different value?
– Does the stub keep track of how many times it was called?
– Does the stub keep track of the input parameters over multiple calls?
– Can you stub calls to the standard C library functions like malloc?

Test Data

There are two basic approaches that “semi-automated” and “automated” tools use to implement test cases. One is a “data-driven” architecture, and the other is a “single-test” architecture.

For a data-driven architecture, the test harness is created for all of the units under test and supports all of the functions defined in those units. When a test is to be run, the tool simply provides the stimulus data across a data stream such as a file handle or a physical interface like a UART.

For a “single-test” architecture, each time a test is run, the tool will build the test driver for that test, and compile and link it into an executable. A couple of points on this; first, all the extra code generation required by the single-test method, and compiling and linking will take more time at test execution time; second, you end up building a separate test harness for each test case.

This means that a candidate tool might appear to work for some nominal cases but might not work correctly for more complex tests.

Key Points

– Is the test harness data driven?
– How long does it take to execute a test case (including any code generation and compiling time)?
– Can the test cases be edited outside of the test tool IDE?
– If not, have I done enough free play with the tool with complex code examples to understand any limitations?

Automated Generation of Test Data

Some “automated” tools provide a degree of automated test case creation. Different approaches are used to do this. The following paragraphs describe some of these approaches:

Min-Mid-Max (MMM) Test Cases tests will stress a function at the bounds of the input data types. C and C++ code often will not protect itself against out-of-bound inputs. The engineer has some functional range in their mind and they often do not protect themselves against out of range inputs.

Equivalence Classes (EC) tests create “partitions” for each data type and select a sample of values from each partition. The assumption is that values from the same partition will stimulate the application in a similar way.

Random Values (RV) tests will set combinations of random values for each of the parameters of a function.

Basic Paths (BP) tests use the basis path analysis to examine the unique paths that exist through a procedure. BP tests can automatically create a high level of branch coverage.

The key thing to keep in mind when thinking about automatic test case construction is the purpose that it serves. Automated tests are good for testing the robustness of the application code, but not the correctness. For correctness, you must create tests that are based on what the application is supposed to do, not what it does do.

Compiler Integration

The point of the compiler integration is two-fold. One point is to allow the test harness components to be compiled and linked automatically, without the user having to figure out the compiler options needed. The other point is to allow the test tool to honor any language extensions that are unique to the compiler being used. Especially with cross-compilers, it is very common for the compiler to provide extensions that are not part of the C/C++ language standards. Some tools use the approach of #defining these extension to null strings. This very crude approach is especially bad because it changes the object code that the compiler produces. For example, consider the following global extern with a GCC attribute:

extern int MyGlobal __attribute__ ((aligned (16)));

If your candidate tool does not maintain the attribute when defining the global object MyGlobal, then code will behave differently during testing than it will when deployed because the memory will not be aligned the same.

Key Points

– Does the tool automatically compile and link the test harness?
– Does the tool honor and implement compiler-specific language extension?
– What type of interface is there to the compiler (IDE, CLI, etc.)?
– Does the tool have an interface to import project settings from your development environment, or must they be manually imported?
– If the tool does import project settings, is this import feature general purpose or limited to specific compiler, or compiler families?
– Is the tool integrated with your debugger to allow you to debug tests?

Support for Testing on an Embedded Target

In this section we will use the term “Tool Chain” to refer to the total cross development environment including the cross-compiler, debug interface (emulator), target board, and Real-Time Operating System (RTOS). It is important to consider if the candidate tools have robust target integrations for your tool chain, and to understand what in the tool needs to change if you migrate to a different tool chain.

Additionally, it is important to understand the automation level and robustness of the target integration. As mentioned earlier: If a vendor says: “we support all compilers and all targets out of the box.” They mean: “You do all the work to make our tool work in your environment.”

Ideally, the tool that you select will allow for “push button” test execution where all of the complexity of downloading to the target and capturing the test results back to the host is abstracted into the “Test Execution” feature so that no special user actions are required.

An additional complication with embedded target testing is hardware availability. Often, the hardware is being developed in parallel with the software, or there is limited hardware availability. A key feature is the ability to start testing in a native environment and later transition to the actual hardware. Ideally, the tool artifacts are hardware independent.

Key Points

– Is my tool chain supported? If not, can it be supported? What does “supported” mean?
– Can I build tests on a host system and later use them for target testing?
– How does the test harness get downloaded to the target?
– How are the test results captured back to the host?
– What targets, cross compilers, and RTOS are supported off-the-shelf?
– Who builds the support for a new tool chain?
– Is any part of the tool chain integration user configurable?

Test Case Editor

Obviously, the test case editor is where you will spend most of your interactive time using a test tool. If there is true automation of the previous items mentioned in this paper, then the amount of time attributable to setting up the test environment, and the target connection should be minimal. Remember what we said at the start, you want to use the engineer’s time to design better and more complete tests.

The key element to evaluate is how hard is it to setup test input and expected values for non-trivial constructs. All tools in this market provide some easy way to setup scalar values. For example, does your candidate tool provide a simple and intuitive way to construct a class? How about an abstract way to setup an STL container; like a vector or a map? These are the things to evaluate in the test case editor.

As with the rest of this paper there is “support” and then there is “automated support”. Take this into account when evaluating constructs that may be of interest to you.

Key Points

– Are allowed ranges for scalar values shown
– Are array sizes shown?
– Is it easy to set Min and Max values with tags rather than values? This is important to maintain the integrity of the test if a type changes.
– Are special floating point numbers supported (e.g. NaN, +/- Infinity)
– Can you do combinatorial tests (vary 5 parameters over a range and have the tool do all combinations of those values)?
– Is the editor “base aware” so that you can easily enter values in alternate bases like hex, octal, and binary?
– For expected results, can you easily enter absolute tolerances (e.g. +/- 0.05) and relative tolerances (e.g. +/- 1%) for floating point values?
– Can test data be easily imported from other sources like Excel?

Code Coverage

Most “semi-automated” tools and all “automated” tools have some code coverage facility built in that allows you to see metrics which show the portion of the application that is executed by your test cases. Some tools present this information in table form. Some show flow graphs, and some show annotated source listings. While tables are good as a summary, if you are trying to achieve 100% code coverage, an annotated source listing is the best. Such a listing will show the original source code file with colorations for covered, partially covered, and uncovered constructs. This allows you to easily see the additional test cases that are needed to reach 100% coverage.

It is important to understand the impact of instrumentation the added instrumentation on your application. There are two considerations: one is the increase in size of the object code, and the other is the run-time overhead. It is important to understand if your application is memory or real-time limited (or both). This will help you focus on which item is most important for your application.

Key Points

-What is the code size increase for each type of instrumentation?
– What is the run-time increase for each type of instrumentation?
– Can instrumentation be integrated into your “make” or “build” system?
– How are the coverage results presented to the user? Are there annotated listings with a graphical coverage browser, or just tables of metrics?
– How is the coverage information retrieved from the target? Is the process flexible? Can data be buffered in RAM?
– Are statement, branch (or decision) and MC/DC coverage supported?
– Can multiple coverage types be captured in one execution?
– Can coverage data be shared across multiple test environments (e.g. can some coverage be captured during system testing and be combined with the coverage from unit and integration testing)?
– Can you step through the test execution using the coverage data to see the flow of control through your application without using a debugger?
– Can you get aggregate coverage for all test runs in a single report?
– Can the tool be qualified for DO-178B and for Medical Device intended use?

Regression Testing

There should be two basic goals for adopting a test tool. The primary goal is to save time testing. If you’ve read this far, we imagine that you agree with that! The secondary goal is to allow the created tests to be leveraged over the life cycle of the application. This means that that the time and money invested in building tests should result in tests that are re-usable as the application changes over time and easy to configuration manage. The major thing to evaluate in your candidate tool is what specific things need to be “saved” in order to run the same tests in the future and how the re-running of tests is controlled.

Key Points

> What file or files need to be configuration managed to regression test?
> Does the tool have a complete and documented Command Line Interface (CLI)?
> Are these files plain text or binary? This affects your ability to use a diff utility to evaluate changes over time.
> Do the harness files generated by the tool have to be configuration managed?
> Is there integration with configuration management tools?
> Create a test for a unit, now change the name of a parameter, and re-build your test environment. How long does this take? Is it complicated?
> Does the tool support database technology and statistical graphs to allow trend analysis of test execution and code coverage over time?
> Can you test multiple baselines of code with the same set of test cases automatically?
> Is distributed testing supported to allow portions of the tests to be run on different physical machines to speed up testing?


Most tools will provide similar reporting. Minimally, they should create an easy to understand report showing the inputs, expected outputs, actual outputs and a comparison of the expected and actual values.

Key Points

> What output formats are supported? HTML? Text? CSV? XML?
> Is it simple to get both a high level (project-wide) report as well as a detailed report for a single function?
> Is the report content user configurable?
> Is the report format user configurable?

Integration with Other Tools

Regardless of the quality or usefulness of any particular tool, all tools need to operate in a multi-vendor environment. A lot of time any money has been spent by big companies buying little companies with an idea of offering “the tool” that will do everything for everybody. The interesting thing is that most often with these mega tool suites, the whole is a lot less than the sum of the parts. It seems that companies often take 4-5 pretty cool small tools and integrate them into one bulky and unusable tool.

Key Points

> Which tools does your candidate tool integrate with out-of-the-box, and can the end-user add integrations?

Additional Desirable Features for a Testing Tool

The previous sections all describe functionality that should be in any tool that is considered an automated test tool. In the next few sections we will list some desirable features, along with a rationale for the importance of the feature. These features may have varying levels of applicability to your particular project.

True Integration Testing / Multiple Units Under Test

Integration testing is an extension of unit testing. It is used to check interfaces between units and requires you to combine units that make up some functional process. Many tools claim to support integration testing by linking the object code for real units with the test harness. This method builds multiple files within the test harness executable but provides no ability to stimulate the functions within these additional units. Ideally, you would be able to stimulate any function within any unit, in any order within a single test case. Testing the interfaces between units will generally uncover a lot of hidden assumptions and bugs in the application. In fact, integration testing may be a good first step for those projects that have no history of unit testing.

Key Points

> Can I include multiple units in the test environment?
> Can I create complex test scenarios for these classes where we stimulate a sequence of functions across multiple units within one test case?
> Can I capture code coverage metrics for multiple units?

Dynamic Stubbing

Dynamic stubbing means that you can turn individual function stubs on and off dynamically. This allows you to create a test for a single function with all other functions stubbed (even if they exist in the same unit as the function under test). For very complicated code, this is a great feature and it makes testing much easier to implement.

Key Points

> Can stubs be chosen at the function level, or only the unit level?
> Can function stubs be turned on an off per test case?
> Are the function stubs automatically generated (see items in previous section)?

Library and Application Level Thread Testing (System Testing)

One of the challenges of system testing is that the test stimulus provided to the fully integrated application may require a user pushing buttons, flipping switches, or typing at a console. If the application is embedded the inputs can be even more complicated to control. Suppose you could stimulate your fully integrated application at the function level, similar to how integration testing is done. This would allow you to build complex test scenarios that rely only on the API of the application.

Some of the more modern tools allow you to test this way. An additional benefit of this mode of testing is that you do not need the source code to test the application. You simply need the definition of the API (generally the header files). This methodology allows testers an automated and scriptable way to perform system testing.

Agile Testing and Test Driven Development (TDD)

Test Driven Development promises to bring testing into the development process earlier than ever before. Instead of writing application code first and then your unit tests as an afterthought, you build your tests before your application code. This is a popular new approach to development and enforces a test first and test often approach. Your automated tool should support this method of testing if you plan to use an Agile Development methodology.

Bi-directional Integration with Requirements Tools

If you care about associating requirements with test cases, then it is desirable for a test tool to integrate with a requirements management tool. If you are interested in this feature, it is important that the interface be bi-directional, so that when requirements are tagged to test cases, the test case information such as test name and pass / fail status can be pushed back to your requirements database. This will allow you to get a sense of the completeness of your requirements testing.

Tool Qualification

If you are operating in a regulated environment such as commercial aviation or Class III medical devices then you are obligated to “qualify” the development tools used to build and test your application.

The qualification involves documenting what the tool is supposed to do and tests that prove that the tool operates in accordance with those requirements. Ideally a vendor will have these materials off-the-shelf and a history of customers that have used the qualification data for your industry.

Key Points

> Does the tool vendor offer qualification materials that are produced for your exact target environment and tool chain?
> What projects have successfully used these materials?
> How are the materials licensed?
> How are the materials customized and approved for a particular project?
> If this is an FAA project have the qualification materials been successfully used to certify to DO-178B Level A?
> If it is an FDA project, have the tools been qualified for “intended use”?


Hopefully this paper provides useful information that helps you to navigate the offerings of test tool vendors. The relative importance of each of the items raised will be different for different projects. Our final suggestions are:

> Evaluate the candidate tools on code that is representative of the complexity of the code in your application
> Evaluate the candidate tools with the same tool chain that will be used for your project
> Talk to long-term customers of the vendor and ask them some of the questions raised in this paper
> Ask about the tool technical support team. Try them out by submitting some questions directly to their support (rather than to their sales representative)

Finally, remember that most every tool can somehow support the items mentioned in the “Key Points” sections. Your job is to evaluate how automated, easy to use, and complete the support is.

History of Binary Options

For many years binary options were only available as part of other platforms but could not be traded on their own. All of this changed in 2008 when the Chicago Board of Exchange made them available as a stand-alone market. That year the North American Derivatives Exchange (NADEX) began to make them available. With the latest developments of the internet and its wide availability trading binary options became more popular. Since they have been included in the major Exchanges they have become a very important part of the entire exchange market. This means that they are also subject to many governmental regulations.

The most basic premise of the binary options market is for investors to make a prediction about the changes in an underlying asset’s price. Traders choose an asset that is available on the broker’s platform and then they make a prediction about which direction the price is likely to move. They will purchase this contract on an asset, not the actual asset. This contract can be for a week or a month but typically the expiry is much a much shorter time frame such as an hour. The trader observes market changes and watches world events that might have an influence on prices of assets and then predicts the direction the price is likely to move. If they feel the price will increase they purchase a call option; and if they feel it will decrease they purchase a put option. Binary options are short term contracts. The process of trading is relatively simple and the quick profitability makes them very attractive to traders.

Binary options are traded on an online platform. This allows traders to trade from any location where there is a computer with internet access. Most brokers do not have any software that needs to be downloaded so just an internet connection is needed. The entire transaction is completed online including the withdrawal after the money has been made. This works to simplify the process of trading binary options even further.

Traders create an online account with a broker and then make a deposit. Brokers may require a predetermined minimum which must be deposited before beginning to trade binary options. Some of the more popular brokers have a demo account available for traders to use so that they can learn how trading actually works. This can be a beneficial tool for novice and expert alike. It can be useful for the novice because it allows them to learn how trading binary options works; and it can provide the expert a no risk way to try out new strategies or new asset classes.

The simplicity of trading is one of the reasons that binary options are so popular. But other reasons include limited risks and fixed returns. Before a transaction is completed a trader knows exactly how much they will profit if they make a correct prediction about the market changes; and they know the exact amount that will be lost if they choose incorrectly. There are some limited risks involved as there are with any form of market trading. However, the return from investing in binary options is very good. And while a trader will not make a profit on every single trade it is very possible for them to end up “in the money” enough times to make trading a very profitable experience.

To purchase a contract on an asset, a trader chooses an underlying asset available through their chosen binary options broker. They will then purchase the put or call option depending on which direction they predict the option’s price will move. This amount paid on this contract is called the strike price. This will be the price that will be used to determine if the price was above or below it at the time the contract expires. If the trader chooses right he is said to be in the money at expiry and will make a substantial profit. If he chooses wrongly, he is out of the money and loses only the initial investment.

Binary options is becoming one of the most popular types of short term investment options available today.

Diagnose System Errors Hardware Or Software

Severe difficulties have severe causes, and identifying those causes is an essential part in the recovery practice. The good thing is, the number of causative factors is reasonably narrow. We have now determined four events that induce the majority substantial Computer system situations: computer system distress, computer data loss or corruption, inaccurate configurations, and program or equipment failure.

(1) System distress. Personal computers have physical limits. Memory capacity, storage total capacity, and processing capabilities determine the most important of those limitations. Should you try to propel a Personal computer outside of its restrictions, you significantly add to the likelihood of encountering a critical difficulty. The computer system possibly will freeze, generate error messages, or freeze.

Sometimes, system distress is a minor problem from which you’ll recover merely by rebooting the PC. But now and again the stress becomes established, for example when there are too many software packages inside the Startup folder. In those situations, a small situation turns into a significant one that manifests itself each and every time you attempt to use your PC.

(2) Data loss or corruption. The performance of one’s computer is determined by the integrity of billions of binary digits, labelled bits, all of which are represented as electronic pulses on the magnetized platter inside the hard drive. If just one of these bits were to bite the dust, you could end up with software programs which don’t perform, a computer system that does not start, hardware that doesn’t respond, along with other substantial Personal computer predicaments. Does that scare you? It ought to, particularly when you consider the collection of possible risks.

Data loss and corruption could possibly result from computer software glitches, user operating mistakes, computer system stress, and typical deterioration to the computer hardware. And then you will discover computer system malware, self-replicating bits of program code that infect Computers and wreak all sorts of destruction, and this includes data destruction. Infections, together with equally malevolent worms and Trojan horses, account for the most severe risk to your data because the injury should be able to spread so swiftly and quietly.

Anti-virus software programs are a security staple. If you do not possess an anti-virus application program installed on your personal computer, download and install a free, streamlined program or buy a full-featured version immediately.

(3) Incorrect settings. The computer’s system configurations are just like driving directions: They have to be precise and comprehensive in order for the Computer system to take you where you need to go. Microsoft optimizes the OS’ (operating system’s) standard settings for the most suitable functionality, but these options change while you use and modify your personal machine and its contents. A application installation can lead to alterations in the Windows Registry, for example, whereas a wish for bigger functioning efficiency may well encourage one to upgrade the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) settings manually.

The aim of changing any options is increased overall performance. Often times though, that may not necessarily come about. Inaccurate configurations could certainly prevent you from starting a favorite software program, accessing the network or the Internet, or even starting up your computer. The cure is straightforward: Restore the controls to a working configuration. That’s much easier said than done, however, especially should you not know which options was the cause of the issue.

(4) Computer software and hardware malfunction. All of your Computers devices have essential roles to play. You can’t expect to obtain optimum functionality from a computer hobbled by hardware and software failures.

Software commonly fails as a result of coding flaws or inappropriate installment. Hardware components fail from typical deterioration or perhaps some form of compatibility mismatch with the remainder of the computer system. What ever the cause of the software or computer hardware failure, you need to definitely determine the failure and repair it if you would like your personal machine to operate as it should. Look out for the indicator symptoms, notably unresponsive hardware devices as well as error messages indicating that your software is not working properly.

Crash Management

After identifying that you may have a serious System problem on your hands, you should limit the destruction and make repairs. That’s usually where circumstances might get tricky, as few personal computer problems have distinct conditions and clear remedies. To help you out in your endeavor, we formulated a step-by-step tool to guide you with the operation of getting the computer back to normal.

– Assess your situation. Exactly what occurred? That is what you will need to figure out. Start out by identifying the signs that exposed the presence of a problem. Was it an error message? If that’s the case, jot it down word for word. Did your computer freeze up or just crash? If that’s the case, make a note of what you were engaging in at the time the personal computer ceased working. The greater detail you are able to supply here, the better.

Substantial problems which crop up when you remove a program from the Personal computer may be as a result of errors which happened during the un-install. You may be able to improve the situation through reinstalling the software followed by applying Vista’s Uninstall Or Change A Program utility to uninstall the program once again.

While you’re at it, take the time to recall all the recent system adjustments. The addition of new program or hardware, the removal of old software programs or computer hardware, and modifications to system controls might cause a number of PC issues.

– Treat the conspicuous. Attempting a significant repair to your computer with out first checking for unplugged cords, loose cable connections, along with other obvious problem areas is similar to scheduling a lobotomy to cure a headache with out first taking two aspirin to find out whether or not that relieves the pain. Always, always, always try the free and easy remedy previous to proceeding with one that’s pricey and difficult.

– Give it the reboot. One more thing it’s best to do in reaction to a PC issue is reboot the computer. Or if the personal computer didn’t start the first time around, you need to make an effort to boot the computer again. The way the Computer reacts to this particular attempt reveals a lot relating to the magnitude of this situation. In case the PC starts the way it should, you may be coping with a small problem. If the personal computer fails to boot or if it boots but does not run the way it should, you most likely have a serious issue.

In case the PC does not start at all, you have two choices for gaining access to computer data. You can either start laptop computer in Safe Mode or boot the computer by using a bootable diskette.

– Look over the guide. The typical users guide has a troubleshooting section that identifies frequent conditions and provides appropriate remedies. A similarly worthwhile resource for trouble shooting help is the product’s Frequently asked questions, which often you should be able to search for on the net at the computer hardware manufacturer or software application developer’s Web page.

Even if these resources do not include a solution to your particular situation, some may give you guidance that might target your troubleshooting attempts in the proper direction.

– Exterminate infections. Trojans may be one of the most insidious issues since they continue to replicate until you get rid of them from the personal computer. Discovering them thus remains a top top priority whenever trouble shooting your Personal computer. You’ll need a little help accomplishing that, however, as numerous malware are meant to operate underneath the radar until after they cause significant damage. We would suggest running an up-to-date antivirus tool to scan the contents of your Computers many storage hard disks for the presence of harmful program code.

The System Configuration Utility permits you to modify system configurations easily and quickly. Give it a try before making wholesale alterations in the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) or Registry.

– Fix computer software. Software-related issues fall into four categories: those you can easily address by reinstalling a program, those you can actually resolve by deleting a software program, those you can actually remedy by updating a software program, and those it is possible to resolve by accurately interpreting the contents of an error message.

The problems that center around the installation or un-installation of software applications will be the ones easiest to spot because they traditionally come about shortly after you install or uninstall the offending program. Your best recourse in these conditions is to remove or re-install the software program from the computer (whichever is appropriate) and make a second attempt at the installation of or removing it. If that fails, you may want to update your personal computer’s older software applications, most of which could possibly clash with the newest software program additions to your machine.

Perhaps, probably the most difficult software-related issues are those that entail error messages. Not merely must you be capable of translate the contents of these types of messages but you also must discover how to respond to precisely what the messages are trying to tell you.

– Fix hardware. A hardware component that gums up your system is either shot, improperly installed, or not communicating with the rest of your Computer. You have got the enjoyment of finding out which of these is the situation and just how to fix it.

Begin by centering your attention around the components you most recently installed and then update the device drivers for the older computer hardware components within the system.

– Clear out your startup. Part of the Windows startup routine involves starting each of the applications found in the Startup folder. A number of these software programs run in the background, so you might not even know they are running. Your Computer knows, however, and the extra load of those software programs could possibly have it huffing and puffing before you start any applications of your own.

– Update system settings. Under normal conditions, we would most likely hesitate to advise making adjustments to system settings, however, if your personal machine suffers from a serious setback and none of the preceding procedures can correct the matter, then it’s time to take extraordinary measures. The initial place to start is with the System Configuration Utility, a trouble shooting resource which will automates the process of pinpointing and solving problems with system files.

If that does not work, you might want to switch your consideration to the Registry and BIOS settings. These advanced adjustments control your system’s startup process and also play a substantial role in just about everything else your personal machine does.

– Think about formatting the hard disk. For a lot of computer users, “format” is usually a daunting concept. Nonetheless, periodically this particular DOS command could turn out really helpful. As an example, you should think of reformatting your hard drive and starting over should the MBR (master boot record; a hard drive marker that helps the PC to find information within the drive) is need to be fixed or if a trojan has decimated a great deal of your data on the drive.

Reformatting a disc drive effectively strips it of all data as well as prepares it to accept fresh information. The simplest way to reformat the disc drive is with the FORMAT command.

– Ask for Help The last step involves seeking help from an outside resource. The very best assistance will probably come from your PC manufacturer, nevertheless, you might choose to speak to the appropriate hardware designer or software program developer if you’re able to trace your predicament to a particular element of your PC.

In any case, you might want to possess the names, versions, and serial numbers belonging to the troublesome products readily available when you make the phone call. Additionally you need to be prepared to read an account of the troubleshooting steps you’ve undertaken to date. This makes it easier for the assistance technician to provide the support you’ll need. Furthermore, you should expect to pay a fee for the help you obtain as a number of software application designers and computer hardware producers now bill for phone-based technical guidance.

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