It's been a few months since we first dropped in on Microsoft's TechNet Sysinternals website, home of great free utilities like BGInfo and Process Explorer as well as fun stuff like BlueScreen Screen Saver. Since that first visit, the code jockeys have been cranking out new and improved free tools for exploring, managing, and optimizing your Windows PC, whether it's running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or a legacy Windows flavor. So, what's new, improved, or just plain got overlooked in our last go-round?
Better BGInfo for a Multi-Core, Multi-Screen World
BGInfo quickly discovers your PC's processor type and speed, RAM size, IP address, network type and speed, hard disk disk free space, and much more. Starting with version 4.11, BGInfo can now display all this information on any display in a multimonitor setup. Put that 15-inch LCD or 17-inch CRT to work and leave your prime real estate free for some serious gaming or media editing. Download version 4.12 or greater, and you also get better support for reporting what's under the hood of the newest multi-core PCs.
Reveal All That Happens at Startup with AutoRuns
If you use MSConfig, the System Configuration Utility built into Windows, you might think you know everything that happens at startup. However, if you really want the inside scoop, put MSConfig aside and give AutoRuns a try instead.
AutoRuns provides you with a staggering amount of information about what Windows is running at each and every startup. From startup folder entries to Run, RunOnce, and other registry keys, AutoRuns goes way beyond MSConfig to reveal what's happening at startup:
"Autostart locations displayed by Autoruns include logon entries, Explorer add-ons, Internet Explorer add-ons including Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), Appinit DLLs, image hijacks, boot execute images, Winlogon notification DLLs, Windows Services and Winsock Layered Service Providers."
Whew! AutoRuns displays information for both the current account and for other accounts on a system, so it's easy to find out what other users of a shared system are doing. It can be configured to display only third-party autorun applications and keys, to make it easy to sniff out changes made by third-party programs (including spyware and malware). To prevent a program, service, or driver from running at the next startup, clear its checkbox.
Want reports? Use the included command-line version, autorunsc, to output reports in CSV (comma selected value) database form. Autorun and Autorunsc work with any Windows version.
Process Explorer Gets Updated
Last time, we told you about Process Explorer, a great way to find out the DLLs and handles being used by a particular program. It's now been updated with improved support for Windows Vista, 64-bit Windows and with various usability improvements. It still works with any Windows flavor from 9x to Vista, including 64-bit versions.
ZoomIt Zooms Ahead with Updates
ZoomIt, which zooms your screen and adds annotations for a better look at application presentations, has also been updated, adding circle, arrow, and rectangle callouts. Use it to wrap up your work faster and get back to playing your favorite game.
A Real-Time Look Inside Your PC with Process Monitor
Process Monitor provides a real-time look inside your PC, showing file system, Registry, and process/thread activity. You can use it to find out what's going on inside your PC at any moment, which can be helpful for catching unnecessary programs, spyware, and malware in their tracks.
Note: Although Process Monitor is designed for Windows 2000 with SP4 rollup as well as newer Windows versions, some users report problems using it with Windows 2000.
Pick one or all of your favorite Sysinternals utilities, and get your system in shape for the new game or gizmo you might be getting for the holidays.