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Self-Help Tips: The Inside Story

Not all PC parts are created equal. Learn about the innards of your PC, track down potential sources of trouble, and improve your PC's pep with these sites, tools, and books.

Web Sites


  • Lavalys Everest Home Edition (free): This thorough system information and diagnostic utility tells you all about the components inside your computer and tests your system for possible gotchas (like a broken fan or hard drive).
  • SiSoftware Sandra Lite ($35): Besides detailing the minutiae inside your PC, this utility diagnoses possible ills and can benchmark your computer.
  • System Mechanic 5 ($50): This veteran utility from Iolo Technologies isn't cheap, but it gives you a powerful all-in-one tool for jobs like Registry cleanup, file deletion, and software uninstalls.


  • PC Annoyances by PC World contributing editor and columnist Steve Bass ($20, O'Reilly & Associates)
  • PC Hardware in a Nutshell (3rd Edition) by Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson ($20, O'Reilly & Associates)
  • Upgrading and Repairing PCs (16th Edition) by Scott Mueller ($60, Que Publishing)
Laurianne McLaughlin is a freelance writer based near Boston.
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