Do you know exactly what is on your computer? While we all have programs that scan our system to identify viruses, few have a program that inventories our computer's hardware and software. This information can be valuable when troubleshooting your PC, upgrading or removing old programs. We found 2 free utilities that make PC audits a snap.
One goal you might consider for this year is getting to know your computer. By this, I mean cataloging what hardware and software is installed. Although this process might sound complicated and time consuming, it's not. You'll find it helpful if you need to set up a new machine, troubleshoot a problem or upgrade your OS.
For those of us lucky to get a new machine during this year, one of the first tasks is installing software and removing the unnecessary software. This sounds easy in theory except how many of us know what's on our existing PC. If you've inventoried your programs, you can go through and decide which ones you need install now or defer. The inventory can also serve as a checklist to ensure you install any critical programs.
The second benefit to inventorying your machine is for support purposes. Too often, I run into problems that are the result of a combination of 3rd party software or hardware. These tend to be issues that aren't documented on a company's website. It's not uncommon for me to enter the specific error message and product name into a search engine to see what pops up. But, on reading the search results, which sounds like my problem, I might see a reference to Item X. Ok, how do I know I have Item X?
There are two free programs I use to inventory my system. Although one might suit your needs, I find they have enough differences that I routinely use both.
This program provides a nice summary of your hardware and software as a web page. The inventory includes Microsoft fixes and details. For example, if a fix didn't install correctly, a red X appears to the left of the line item. The software listing also provides a version number and link back to the program. The last feature is handy if you can't recall the program. Another strength is the report displays a section for software licenses.
This program is more robust than Belarc advisor but is well organized by logical categories and subcategories. For example, the software section is broken down by Auto start, Scheduled tasks, Installed Programs, Windows Updates and Anti-Virus. The program provides hyperlinks to many manufacturer websites with product descriptions and driver information. The program also provides the location of Auto Start entries, which I find invaluable.
Update: As of 03/07, Everest discontinued support for the free version of the software and replaced it with AIDA which can found at the above link.
In trying to find a replacement for Everest, I came upon a program called WinAudit from Parmavex Services. Like BelArc it provides oodles of hardware and software information. One nice feature is you can save or email your report. This can be handy if you need to provide this information to technical support. Another advantage is the program runs from a single .exe file which makes it ideal if you want to put this utility on a USB drive.
The program is easy to navigate as the left side shows a hierarchical listing of hardware and software categories. You can click an item to drill down for more details. Unlike BelArc, it didn't link to vendors or provide serial numbers. However, it did provide a listing of software usage. This made it easier to see which programs you value.
These type of audit or PC inventory programs can be great and help you resolve technical issues. If your reports contain specific program serial numbers, please use caution where you store your results. Don't put them in an online folder on a public website that might be indexed by a search engine. The last thing you need to is have your information available to people via search engines.
Last Updated (Monday, 31 December 2012 12:56)