The system information utility is a software program that allows you to collect information about your computer to aid in the process of fixing or preventing issues with your system. There is a lot of information that is provided with the utility from the amount of memory installed on the system to what type of display adapter is installed. The first time you use the utility it may be a little overwhelming but rest assured it is not as daunting as it appears as most of the information provided will not be needed.
The utility can be used for diagnosing specific issues with your computer whether they are hardware, software or system problems. For example, if your sound card is not working properly you can use the system utility to determine the type of sound card, current drivers and the status of the drivers that are being used to control the sound card. This information will help troubleshoot the issue whether you call technical support or are trying to find the answer yourself.
There are two methods for starting the System Information Utility:
- Click Start | Run
- Type msinfo32
- Click OK
- Click Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools
- Click System Information
At this point the system utility will start and the first screen that appears is the System Summary. This provides a basic overview of the configuration of the system and includes important information such as amount of memory, processor, system type and operating system that is running.
The system information is broken into several main categories and subcategories. A description of each category and subcategories is listed below and provides a general overview of the information available.
This category includes hardware-specific information such as IRQs (interrupt requests), conflicts between hardware, hardware resources used, memory addresses and DMA (direct memory access) channels in used. The settings are useful for troubleshooting hardware conflicts or issues.
The components category contains information about the Windows XP system configuration including multimedia, display, infrared, input, modems, network, ports, storage, printing, problem devices, drivers, running tasks and software environment. Note: This is not a complete listing of the options available but the options most likely to be used to troubleshoot.
These options can be used to troubleshoot display, printing, speed and storage issues and other Windows related issues such as running out of memory or running tasks that are causing system problems.
This category is used to display the software that is loaded in you computerís memory. This includes any drivers, print jobs, running tasks, loaded modules, program groups and startup programs. This information is useful for determine what is being loaded into, and possibly using too much, memory. It is also good information for tracking rogue software such as viruses or spyware.
The internet setting category displays information about the current configuration of Internet Explorer along with the contents of the cache and content (files saved locally while surfing the Internet). This information is useful for diagnosing issues with Internet Explorer such a slow performance, browser hijacks and errors.
Applications (This category may be displayed with a different name depending on the system).
This category is added by the MS Office suite of products and provides information about each program that was installed with Office. The information includes basic install configuration for each program.