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Ask Max: Hardware Testing Software

Asked on 10/01/2008:

I have worked on quite a few Apple computers in my day and I was wondering. Do you recommend, or know of any hardware or software to diagnose problems on Macs (desktop or laptops)? The software needs to be able to diagnose computer hardware problems and software problems.


I do not put too much faith in most hardware testing software. The software I do use most is provided by Apple for their authorized service techs to use, and is not freely available to the public. You can however use a simpler version of the same software called Apple Hardware Test (AHT). Most people do not know this but for many years Apple has been including the AHT software on the gray-labeled software install disc that come with new Macs. Insert the disc that contains the AHT software (often it is the first one), and restart the computer holding the [Option] key. On newer Macs you boot up the computer holding down the [D] key to start AHT.

This is the only hardware testing application I would recommend using. Even with that recommendation, I would not trust it to find every error or be beyond giving false positives. AHT is just one step in trouble-shooting hardware.

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