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Microsoft Fix it Portable: an easy-to-use troubleshooting toolkit

03 April 2012, Mike Williams

If your PC isn’t working properly then Microsoft’s Fix it Solution Centre is a great place to start looking for solutions. It has troubleshooters to address problems with performance, stability, security, media playback and a whole lot more, and most of these can be launched in just a couple of clicks.

Of course if your PC isn’t connected to the internet – and network connectivity might be the very reason you need some help – then the site isn’t going to be able to help. But fortunately there’s also a local version available in the shape on Microsoft Fix it Portable, and while it has some problems the program could be a welcome addition to your troubleshooting toolkit.

Fix it Portable starts, just like the online version, by asking you to choose the area where you’re having difficulties. Categories including “Connect to the Internet or networks”, “Fix performance, errors or crashes” and “Fix security, privacy or user accounts”.

Find and launch the troubleshooting tool you need in a couple of clicks

Once you’ve chosen one of these, Fix it Portable will display any relevant troubleshooters for that area. So if you’ve selected the “Install or upgrade software or hardware” category, say, you’ll see troubleshooters to “Diagnose and fix printer and printing problems”, “Diagnose and fix Windows USB problems”, “Hardware devices are not working or not detected in Windows”, and more. If you see one that matches your requirements then just click it, and watch as the troubleshooter goes to work, tweaking your settings and hopefully restoring normal working operations.

While all this sounds good, there are a few issues here. Most notably, despite being a bulky download of up to 40MB there are only 26 troubleshooters on offer; if you can get online then you’re far more likely to achieve success by visiting Microsoft’s online Solution Centre.

There’s some overlap between the troubleshooters you do get, too. Click the Security category, for instance, and you’ll find one which aims to “Fix security issues to protect and secure Windows automatically”, while another is titled “Automatically fix Windows security settings to keep your PC safe”: it’s not exactly clear which one you should use, even after reading the more in-depth explanation (although you can of course use both).

And the interface is a little odd. If you want to run a particular troubleshooter then you’ll probably instinctively click the “Run Now” button immediately to its right. But the screen also explains that actually you should click the troubleshooters name, a hyperlink which downloads the relevant file to make sure you’re using the most up-to-date version.

Still, for all this, Microsoft Fix it Portable is generally easy to use, and provides a lot of valuable troubleshooting power: if you regularly need to fix PCs which aren’t connected to the internet then it could prove a real timesaver.

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