If you want to maintain, upgrade or build a new computer than you will need some tools. You can buy a computer toolkit which usually comes with its own carrying case. Belkin and Hama are two popular suppliers of computer toolkits.
A computer toolkit usually consists of a screwdriver with phillips head or a multi-bit screwdriver that can be fitted with different screwdriver bits, and a screwdriver extension so you can reach inside the computer case without hitting your knuckles on the case. An anti-static wrist strap to prevent static electricity damaging sensitive computer components. A torch as it can be difficult to see inside a computer case. A container to hold your various screws so they don't get lost. Other useful tools include tweezers, chip extractor, long-nosed pliers, wire strippers/cutters, and a 3-claw extractor for retrieving any screws that get dropped inside the computer case. Smaller precision screwdrivers are sometimes needed for laptops.
Cable ties are extremely useful for tying back cables to keep them away from any fans and so that they do not hinder the air flow inside the case. It may also be helpful to have a pen and paper to make notes of where certain cables such as front panel connectors are located before removing them and a camera will also help with this. An anti-static bag is a good idea for when removing and storing sensitive computer components. A paper clip (opened up) can also be handy when you need to open a DVD drive to get at the disk when there is no power to the computer. You will see a small hole on the front of a DVD drive in which you can insert the paperclip to manually open the drive. Thermal paste will be needed if you have to reseat or replace a Central Processing Unit (CPU). USB Flash Drives (Memory sticks) are very handy for temporary back-ups and holding useful utilities.
A Network Tester is very useful for testing Network cables especially if you make your own. You can buy some CAT 5 Network Cable along with RJ45 connectors and a RJ45 Crimp Tool for making Network Cables.
A PSU Tester can be used to test the computer's Power Supply Unit or you can use a standard Multimeter.
If you upgrade the main Hard Drive (containing the Operating System) or it becomes corrupted then you may need to reinstall the Operating System.
The operating System is obviously very important and you should either have System Recovery Disks and/or a full Windows Operating System Disk. System Recovery Disks are shipped with the computer or you are asked to create them when switching the computer on for the first time. These disks will reset the computer back to its original state with a clean Windows installation including any drivers specific to your computer. Unfortunately all programs and user data will be erased so it is extremely important to back up your important files (photos, music etc). If you do not have System Recovery Disks then you may need to use a full Windows Operating System Disk which will install the Operating System on your PC.
A collection of useful software programs can be stored on a USB stick or DVD to help you gather information about the computer. A few are mentioned below:
Anti-virus - An up-to-date Anti-virus program will help to remove any malicious computer viruses. There are many of these programs available including free versions such as AVG.
Anti-malware - Programs such as Malwarebytes, Spybot, and Adaware will keep your computer free from malicious software.
Memtest 86+ - A good utility for testing your RAM is called Memtest86 and is found at www.memtest86.com which will test your memory thoroughly.
CPU-Z - This small and easily run program will give you detailed information on the CPU, Motherboard, and RAM including timings. It can be found at www.cpuid.com
Hot CPU Tester - This small program from www.7byte.com will thoroughly test your CPU under load and give a detailed report including any problems. It is useful in testing how effective the CPU heatsink
is and cooling in the computer case.
3D Mark - This is a benchmark program from FutureMark which tests the performance of every computer component giving an overall rating and individual ratings of each component. If you upgrade a component or update a driver then by re-running this program you can see how much the performance has improved.
inSSIDer - This small program from Metageek.net gives you information about your Wi-fi network. It lists all the Wi-fi signals that can be received along with the strength of the signals, MAC address, channel, and provides a realtime graph. It is useful to see what channels are being used by local Wi-fi networks so you can select a different channel to avoid any interference.
If you intend to fix other peoples computers then it is also a good idea to also have several components available such as a spare working Power Supply Unit, Hard Drives, DVD Drive, Keyboard, Mouse, various RAM, Graphics card, USB memory sticks, CMOS batteries, SATA/IDE cables, Network cable etc. Also several Operating System Disks for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
It is sometimes much quicker and easier to replace a component with a known good one to determine where the problem is.