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I was super-excited today when I got home to see my fresh new GPU awaiting me in front of my door (check out the size of this freakin’ thing). Before you could say, “why the heck hasn’t Microsoft hired Rafael Rivera yet,” I slapped that puppy in my mobo, fired it up, installed the drivers and went to run WinSAT to acquire my new WEI rating (5.9 because of my hard drives… booo, everything else is at least 7.2).

If you’re never run WinSAT via command line, there are a number of ways you can run the tool. The way I chose to run it was: winsat formal -restart clean

Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the command, so I pulled up WinSAT’s help information by running: winsat /?

When I did that, I was presented with what I consider to be a massive failure:

(Click for a full-sized image)

(Close-up view)

It looks like someone copied the text out of Wordpad or something and compiling the application incorrectly formatted the open/close quotes that should be around, “forgethistory”. Also, doing a Google search (and a Bing one, for posture), there were no results for, “winsat winast” (I didn’t have those in quotes when I searched), so I’m not sure Microsoft is aware of this yet. Because of that, it’s obvious that *nobody* leverages WinSAT via command line but me… soooo, I guess that makes me the ultimate nerd, huh? lol. That, and I suppose this post makes me a, “grammar nazi” to boot, huh? Oh well.

Hey, I don’t have Vista installed on any of my machines any longer, so do any of you want to check and see if this issue is present in it as well? In a command line window, just run: winsat /?


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  1. I get the same result with 'Winast' but I get ?forgethistory?

  2. Vista seems fine

  3. It bothers me more that WinSAT.exe now seems to be run automatically around 1am if your score has been invalidated (e.g. by updating graphics drivers earlier in the day).

    It does that even if you are actively using the machine. So you're working away and suddenly Aero turns off, you think your display driver has just crashed, and then all your fans turn on due to high CPU/GPU usage and you wonder WTF your computer is doing. You open Task Manager and see its WinSAT.exe (which I had never heard of before), then search Google to find out WTF…

    …after a minute or so the machine goes back to normal and Aero is enabled again.

    Seems really stupid that the user isn't told that this is going on, or that it's done at all, really, considering those score numbers serve no real purpose and don't desperately need to be updated automatically.

    I wonder if it'll happen even if you're in a full-screen game at the time? That would drive me crazy.

  4. apex2000 and Nic Bedford: Thanks for checking that out!

    Leo: I've never had that happen to me before, but I can imagine it would indeed be a freak-out if you didn't know what the heck was going on. Is that in Windows Vista where you've had that issue or have you experienced it in Windows 7 as well? And you're absolutely right about the scores serving no real purpose, thus not meriting automatic updating like that.


  5. On my Windows 7 machine, WinSat is listed as a Scheduled Task to be run every Sunday at 1am.

    It is found under Task Scheduler Library\Windows\Maintenance

    Also, it is set-up to wait for the computer to be idle for 10 min and give up waiting after an hour.

    It is also properly configured to not run if the computer is on battery.

  6. I can't find it under my Vista Business edition and it has a much smaller help section.

    Note: I had to replace angle brackets with curly brackets to get the help doc into blogger comment acceptance.

    Vista has it's own grammer issue: "include include"

    Windows System Assessment Tool

    Command line usage:

    WINSAT {assesment_name} [switches]

    Valid assessment names
    formal run the full set of assessments and save the results
    features just run the features assessment
    cpu run the cpu assessment
    mem run the system memory assessment
    dwm run the desktop window manager assessment
    d3d run the d3d assessment
    media run the media assessment
    mfmedia run the Media Foundation based assessment
    disk run the storage assessment

    An assessment name is mandatory.

    The 'formal' assessment will run all the assessments and save the data in '%systemroot%\windows\performance\datastore'

    This is the only assessment that will save data in this location.

    The 'features' assessment simply enumerates the system's features.

    This is best used with the '-xml {filename}' switch to save the data.

    The '-eef' switch can be used to enumerate extra features such as optical disks, memory modules, and other items.

    Other command line paramters include include:
    '-v' enable verbose output
    '-xml {filename}' save the XML output to 'filename'

    Running the "winsat dwm" command will re-assess the systems graphics
    capabilities and restart the desktop window manager.

    Please see the online Command Reference for more information on the command line parameters used with the other assessments.

  7. Stephen: I've only seen it happen since upgrading to Windows 7.

    Andy: Well spotted. I didn't even think to check for a scheduled task. Must've been coincidence that I upgraded my graphics drivers shortly before I noticed it kick in.

    I wonder if it does a full run every Sunday, 1am, or if it only does that if it notices the hardware has changed? I'm guessing the latter.

    Mine is also set to only start if the computer is idle, though the idle limit is set to only 10 minutes which seems very low. I swear that I've had it kick in exactly at 1am while I've been actively typing into a window but I guess I could've been watching a 10 minute video and have a faulty memory.

    I'll up the idle limit and see if that improves things… …Actually, what's the point of it? I'll just disable the task. I can update the numbers manually when/if I care about them.

    Thanks again for noticing that Andy! I tend to forget the schedule tasks are there!


  8. I’m on Windows 7 and just had this happen to me now. I was actually clicking around and browsing the web when Aero turned off and my fans sped up. I right away opened task manager and found that WinSAT was running.

    Anyways, open up Task Scheduler and disable the task. There’s no point in leaving it on, and besides, whatever options may be set to keep it from getting in your way, it still does so.

  9. Leo: I wonder if it’ll happen even if you’re in a full-screen game at the time? That would drive me crazy.

    For the record…yes… yes it will.. as mentioned, I’d never heard of WinSAT actually… until just a few minutes ago, I was playing Mass Effect 2 (full screen, 1920×1200), and noticed it was getting kind of jumpy. (it was actually smooth through MOST of it, but there was one spot in the 5-6 minutes that it ran that I guess thrashed hardware a bit).

    tabbing out, I see WinSAT was running, using 20% at first (and topping up at around 90% a bit into it)… googled, found this.. explained it well enough, but yes.. really annoying. I hate that there isn’t a simple toggle in Vista or Win7 that allows you to halt any non-necessary tasks (that is RESPECTED by all applications)… ESPECIALLY apps hiding in the base win7 install itself!

  10. @JM: lol, ME2 acting funny was what brought me here as well!

    Games, the best diagnostic tools ever made.

  11. Same experience brought me here, Mass Effect 2 obviously the cause :) Not many games have you ‘still’ up and engrossed at 1am on a Sunday morn…

  12. Still there in Windows 7!

  13. Didn’t know WinSAT auto ran. Was playing Assassin’s Creed 2 when everything started slowing down and the fans kicked up even higher. Killed the task now going back to playing. Thanks for telling me that it does that now its disabled also.

  14. I had never heard of this before tonight.
    I was right in the middle of typing website code when—without warning—the screen went black, the fans all sped up, and the computer became completely unresponsive.
    After about 30 seconds, everything came back on, but the computer was slower than usual and I noticed the hard disk was really working.
    I thought, that’s weird, opened Task Manager to see what was working the disk, and found winSAT.exe, which was unknown to me so I googled it and found this site.
    BTW, I hadn’t updated anything, hardware or software, on my computer for several weeks, and I have all the auto-update stuff turned off, so this was not triggered by an update. Also, my computer was definitely NOT idle at the time, so that part of MS’s description is wrong. I’m going to disable its schedule. It’s ridiculous that MS would have something so unnecessary scheduled to run automatically!

  15. Leo: I’ve had the same problem too, I just turned on my computer now from standby, then Windows Aero turned off, then I looked in Task Manager and what do you know – winsat.exe. I think it definitely is caused by updating your graphics drivers because yesterday I updated my Nvidia through Windows Update, it does get annoying when it doesn’t tell you this…

  16. can i ask is there going to be more of this coz will be coming back

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  22. I never heard tell of the auto-WinSAT schedule. I was just browsing at 1AM and the screen blanks, I think (F@#$, it’s bluescreening), to see basic theme pops up a couple seconds later. I assume the driver crashed (but strange that I didn’t get a popup), and start closing applications to do a reboot, only to have Aero return.

    I check event viewer to see if there’s any clues only to see application log has “A request to disable the Desktop Window Manager was made by process (Windows System Assessment Tool)” at 01:00:01. This is the only log of that event (event ID 9013) I don’t always leave the PC running overnight, and the video driver was last updated July 23 (so this may have been the first time the PC was running at that time with the new driver). Also strange that it’s ignoring the idle request in the task scheduler. I disabled the task. I may have never experienced it before because my old PC didn’t receive any driver updates over it’s life on Windows 7.

    On the original post, in addition to the errors the author noticed, the text isn’t setup for 80 columns, and wraps around mid word, and isn’t indented to match the line above. eg “des the same functionality as ôforgethistoryö.”

    Whoever prepared this documentation was obviously very rushed.

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