If I say TechNet, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Hangout for boring IT types? They're the guys who get new Windows stuff first? How about home of cool free utilities? Yes, it's true. Although TechNet is often viewed as a training and troubleshooting resource, its Sysinternals website is chock-full of free programs you can use to get a better handle on what's happening inside your PC. And, what's even better, you don't necessarily need to be running the latest and greatest Windows versions to use these utilities.
Sysinternals by the Numbers
The Sysinternals website is divided into six categories:
BgInfo. Use BgInfo if you're tired of trotting across the room to find the configuration of a particular PC. BgInfo puts essential hardware and network information right on your desktop:
You can customize BgInfo to display additional information, and to use your choice of fonts and font sizes. BgInfo can also write a report to an RTF file you can open with Word, WordPad, WordPerfect, and so on. Best of all, BgInfo works with Windows 95 and Windows NT up through Vista.
Tip: BgInfo writes a bitmap called BgInfo to display your current system configuration and uses it as the new default background. To revert to your original background, open the Desktop or Personalization menu and select your previous background.
ZoomIt. Use ZoomIt to dynamically zoom your desktop during demonstrations. You can also "draw" on your desktop to point out information. ZoomIt uses your mouse wheel to adjust magnification.
Process Explorer. Use Process Explorer to discover which programs are using particular files, programs, or folders:
Process Explorer works with Windows 9x through Vista, Server 2003, and 64-bit Windows for Itanium (IA64) and x64 processors, and the download page contains links to several MS Knowledge Base articles to help you use it to diagnose system problems.
RootkitRevealer. Fight back against hostile rootkits on any version of Windows from NT 4.0 on with RootKit Revealer. It runs from a randomly-renamed copy of itself as a Windows service to protect itself from malware attacks -and to help protect your PC. The download page includes links to lots of additional anti-rootkit resources.
BlueScreen Screen Saver. Scare your friends or scare yourself with a realistic simulation of a system crash and restart. It works with NT-flavored versions of Windows (NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003) as well as Windows 9x. It's not just for fun: it's also useful for demonstrating typical BSOD behavior to those lucky few who've never seen their systems roll over and play dead.
Gotta (Download) Them All!
You may decide you'd like to grab many Sysinternal utilities at once, and TechNet makes it easy. Visit the Sysinternals Utilties Index page to select the utilities you want, or go to the Sysinternals Suite page to download the current versions of all troubleshooting utilities (and no, BlueScreen is not a troubleshooting utility!).