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What is a Computer Hardware Diagnostic?

A computer hardware diagnostic is a program or utility with the ability to examine the functionality, characteristics and behavior of an individual computer or server workstation. After the examination, the computer hardware diagnostic can then determine if its findings are equal to the design and performance specifications of the hardware.

Quite often, the most robust and aggressive hardware diagnostics can determine a specific issue in a fraction of the time it would take a highly trained technician using conventional tools. Computer hardware diagnostics have the ability to evaluate many components that provide assorted functionality within the intricate design of the hardware.

There are many predetermined values and tolerances computer hardware must maintain to avoid serious damage or data loss. Some versions of computer hardware diagnostics evaluate the operating temperature of the central processing unit or CPU to determine if the component is exceeding the normal operating temperature. Other features may check specific output voltages and current values on important regulating circuitry or track the speed of cooling fans necessary to correctly maintain a consistent airflow over the components. A correct diagnosis by detecting an issue with one of these components can save the computer user a large amount of frustration and money.

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A computer hardware diagnostic that examines the storage components of a system can prove to be the most valuable tool in a technician’s arsenal. Running a diagnostic on the computer's memory or hard drive can determine the cause of many problems that may first appear to originate in the system software. Certain diagnostics may show that one memory module is reading incorrectly, or not operating. Another may concentrate on each of the system hard drives that may detect high operating temperatures or slight physical damage that most often ends in data loss or a total system fatality.

A computer hardware diagnostic may offer tests that determine if the system input output functionality, or I/O is correct. This type of diagnostic may examine the network input card, audio module, USB port, FireWire port, wireless network card or Bluetooth module, if available. A system will sometimes rely on one or more of these I/O types to perform its primary job function so using a computer hardware diagnostic with the capability to detect a specific problem that could avoid possible data loss on a system backup, corrupt files during a digital recording, or an interruption during a network file transfer. A good computer hardware diagnostic program can proactively find major problems in a system.

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