For the most exhaustive inventory of system configuration details in a no-frills text format, Windows offers two tools with similar names, Systeminfo and System Information.
System Information—often called by the name of its executable, Msinfo32.exe—is a techie’s paradise. It provides all manner of information about your system’s hardware and software in a no-frills window that includes search capabilities. The following sections discuss System Information in greater detail.
Thus, System Information displays a wealth of configuration information in a clear display, as shown in Figure below. You can search for specific information, save information, view information about other computers, and even view a list of changes to your system.
Figure: System Information is for viewing configuration information only; you can’t use it to actually configure settings.
To start System Information, use any of the following methods:
- In the Run dialog box, type msinfo32.
- In a Command Prompt window, type start msinfo32.
- Click Start and choose All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information.
- Click Start and type System Information, and choose from the list that is displayed.
You navigate through System Information much as you would through Windows Explorer or an MMC console: Click a category in the left pane to view its contents in the right pane.
Because the tool is extensible, which means that other programs can provide information about themselves in a format that can be displayed in System Information, you might see additional categories and additional information on your system.
To search for specific information, use the Find What box at the bottom of the System Information window. (If the Find bar is not visible, choose Edit, Hide Find.) The Find feature is basic but effective.
A couple of things you should know:
- Whenever you type in the Find What box to start a new search, Find begins its search at the top of the search range (the entire namespace unless you select Search Selected Category Only)—not at the current highlight.
- Selecting Search Category Names Only causes the Find feature to look only in the left pane. When this check box is cleared, all text in both panes is searched.
Exporting System Information
You can preserve your configuration information—always helpful when reconstructing a system—in several ways:
Save the information as an .nfo file. You can subsequently open the file (on the same computer or on a different computer with System Information) to view your saved information. To save information in this format, choose File, Save. Saving this way always saves the entire collection of information.
Save all or part of the information as a plain text fi le. To save information as a text fi le, select the category of interest and choose File, Export. To save all the information as a text fi le, select System Summary before you save.
You can print all or part of the information. Select the category of interest, choose File, Print, and be sure that Selection is selected under Page Range. To print everything, select All under Page Range—and be sure to have lots of paper on hand. Depending on your system configuration and the number of installed applications, your report could top 100 pages.
Regardless of how you save your information, System Information refreshes (updates) the information immediately before processing the command.
Save your system information periodically
Saving system configuration information when your computer is working properly can turn out to be very useful when you have problems Comparing your computer’s current configuration with a known, good baseline configuration can help you spot possible problem areas You can open multiple instances of System Information, so that you could have the current configuration displayed in one window and a baseline configuration displayed in another.