Back to Courier Columns Page

by JB Burke

Q. I need to see what hardware and software is on my computer (without opening it up), and whether my Windows updates are current. Is there an easy way to do that?

A. There are a couple of good ways to do that. Two free utilities are available and each gives you a slew of detail about your computer. First there is SIW – System Info for Windows ( When you run this it brings up a report on your screen that gives you extreme detail about your hardware and software, including CPU, memory, disks, PCI devices and network adapters, plus all your installed applications and system files including Windows and MS Office keys and versions. And if you download the “standalone version”, you don’t even need to install it (no affect on the registry).

The second program is Belarc Advisor. Note: both programs are free for personal – not business – use. Belarc can be found here: Each time you run it, it will ask if you want to update the Belarc database - say yes. When you run Belarc it creates an HTML file, which then shows up in your browser. Much of what Belarc Advisor shows you are the same as what you get in SIW, though in a different format. Belarc more clearly shows you whether Windows and MS Office are up to date, and whether your virus protection is current, whereas SIW shows much more hardware detail.

Published: Courier 9/6/09 - Page 5C