Getting your head around Meltdown and Spectre protection is a tricky process. If you’ve been led to believe that a simple Windows update was all that was needed, think again. Fortunately, a man by the name of Steve Gibson has done everyone a huge favour and released his freeware InSpectre Meltdown and Spectre Check utility.
The InSpectre download itself is ludicrously lightweight, weighing in at 122KB and doesn't need to be installed. It instantly informs you whether you’re vulnerable to either the Meltdown or Spectre CPU vulnerability flaws, as well as providing some light feedback on the system performance impact. It also provides a little breakdown on each of the individual flaws that need to be tackled, as well as recommendations on where to look for the latest security updates.
I booted it up to immediately be told that yes, I am still very much at threat from both Spectre and Meltdown on this particular PC. It’s recommended I download more Windows 10 updates, as well as ensure the latest motherboard BIOS updates and CPU firmware are installed.
Once patched up the performance section is updated with the performance impact. This is going to vary depending on which OS you're using and which hardware you have. Older processors and operating systems will suffer greater performance degradation after Spectre and Meltdown fixes.
In terms of ease-of-use, it doesn’t really get much better than this, and it certainly beats trawling through your registry files or Windows updates to see if you’re protected.
Handily, once you’ve got Meltdown and Spectre Protection installed, InSpectre also lets you enable the disable the protection at will. This could be great for identifying any potential performance impact, such as if you’re struggling to obtain playable frame rates in a particular game after installing the fix. It may not be the fix’s fault whatsoever, but this at least provides a decent process of elimination method.
The InSpectre tool is available to download free of charge directly from Steve Gibson's own Gibson Research Corporation here. Now you'll have to excuse me a moment while I go and frantically update my PC.