Cool Windows System Tools

Have you heard of the Sysinternals tools you can get for free at Microsoft?  There’s quite a few of them that allow you to view almost anything on your Windows computer.

Sysinternals has been around for a long time under their own name but were acquired by Microsoft a few years ago.

They include a set of tools that allow you to drill down deeper into the Windows operating system to see what’s going on “beneath the covers”.

I thought I’d look at a few of these tools because I was wondering if they still worked in Windows 7 now that I’ve moved to that operating system on one of my computers.

Here are just a few of the tools you can use to better understand your Windows operating system.

Process Utilities

Autoruns – the Autoruns tool allows you to view what is auto-starting on your Windows computer.

A tool like Autoruns is valuable to use because not only can you see what is getting started but you can also stop programs that might be causing a slow system startup from loading.

Although you can control some of your start up information with the Windows built-in MSConfig utility, Autoruns goes way beyond MSConfig by offering a lot more views and options regarding system startup information.

Process Explorer – The Process Explorer tool is kind of like the built in Windows Task Manager only on steroids.  Some of the information that Process Explorer allows you to see are:

  • Active Processes – What’s running on my computer?
  • Dependency Information – What files and other information are dependent on a process?
  • Window Processes – There’s a little radar type icon that you drag over a window and it will display tons of details about that window/program and its dependencies.

There’s quite a bit of information that Process Explorer provides and while it can be overwhelming to look at and understand, Process Explorer just might be the tool you need next time you run into system performance issues.

You can actually replace your default Windows Task Manager with Process Explorer so when you go to look at Task Manager, Process Explorer pops up instead.  You can do this by selecting “Replace Task Manager” under the “Options” menu in Process Explorer.  If you ever want to revert back to Windows default Task Manager, just click on the “Restore Task Manager” under the same “Options” menu choice in Process Explorer.

There are plenty more Sysinternals Process Utilities you can check out and try.

File and Disk Utilities

Some of the File and Disk utilities that are a part of Sysinternals include Diskmon, a tool that display all your hard drive activity.

Diskmon doesn’t run on Windows 7, but you can run Process Monitor for Windows XP SP2 and above.

Diskmon and Process Monitor are handy tools to use for hard drive troubleshooting like when you’re hard drive is constantly churning away and you’re wondering what the heck is making it do that.  Or just to see if there’s anything running that no longer needs to be running.

There are many reasons why you’d want to use Diskmon or Process Monitor, and because there’s so much information that is provided in real-time, it can be difficult to review that information as it flies by on the screen.  Both tools offer a capture feature that allows you to start and stop recording of disk activity, allowing you to review chunks of data at a time.

There are plenty of more Sysinternals File and Disk Utilities you can check out and try.