System Management Tools
There are several important utilities you will use to manage Windows computers.
Device Manager (devmgmt.msc) :
Device Manager is the primary tool you will use to manage and conﬁgure system devices in a hardware proﬁle. The default Device Manager view displays a categorized list of all devices attached to the system. You can use Device Manager to:
- See the status of a device. An exclamation point means there is a problem with a device; a yellow question mark means the device has been detected but a driver is not installed, or there is a resource conﬂict.
- Enable or disable a device. A disabled device appears with a red X.
- Determine the device driver a device is using; upgrade a device driver; roll a device driver back to a previous version.
- Determine any system resources that the device is using, such as interrupt request lines (IRQs) or Direct Memory Access (DMA) ports.
- Uninstall or re-install devices.
Reliability and Performance Monitor (perfmon.exe) :
Performance Monitor is a software tool that monitors the state of services or daemons, processes, and resources on a system. Performance Monitor is a tool in Performance that tracks one or more counters, which are individual statistics about the operation of different objects on the system, such as software processes or hardware components. Performance comes with Windows 7; in some previous versions of Windows, the tool is called System Monitor, and is available as an Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in. These provide a graphical interface for system information, and can create reports and graphs in real time.
Windows Task Manager (taskmgr.exe) :
Windows Task Manager is a basic system-diagnostic and performance-monitoring tool included with the latest versions of Windows, including Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. You can use Task Manager to monitor or terminate applications and processes; view current CPU and memory usage statistics; monitor network connection utilization; set the priority of various processes if programs share resources, and manage logged-on local users. Run Windows Task Manager by right-clicking the taskbar and choosing Start Task Manager, or by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del and clicking Start Task Manager. Windows Task Manager, by default, will always remain on top of other applications.
System Conﬁguration utility (msconﬁg.exe) :
The System Conﬁguration utility is a graphical tool intended to help automate some routine troubleshooting steps. You can use it to:
- Manage which ﬁles are processed at startup.
- View and enable or disable services or startup programs that load automatically.
- Selectively disable legacy conﬁguration ﬁles such as System.ini and Win.ini in Windows XP.
This tool is frequently used to test various conﬁgurations for diagnostic purposes, rather than to permanently make conﬁguration changes. Following diagnostic testing, permanent changes would typically be made with more appropriate tools, such as Services to change the startup settings of various system services. For further information, click the Help button within the System Conﬁguration utility.
System Information utility (msinfo32.exe) :
The System Information utility, available from System Tools on the Start menu, displays detailed information about the current system conﬁguration, including a general summary of the system components, hardware resource assignments by category, installed hardware devices, the software environment, and Internet Explorer settings.
Event Viewer (eventvwr.exe) :
Use Event Viewer to view the contents of event logs, which are ﬁles that contain information about signiﬁcant events that occur on your computer. There are three default event logs on Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP®computers:
- The Application log records Information, Warning, or Error mes- sages generated by speciﬁc applications, and by some Windows services. The application developer determines whether or not a particular application will post entries to the log.
- The Security log records Success Audit or Failure Audit events if an administrator has conﬁgured security auditing on the system. If you have not conﬁgured an audit policy, this log will be empty.
- The System log records Information, Warning, or Error messages generated by system components. For example, this log will show you if a driver or service has failed to load. Windows Vista and Windows 7 include two additional event logs:
- The Setup log stores events relating to installation of new applications.
- The Forwarded Events log stores event IDs from other computers.
In certain circumstances, additional logs may also be available; for example, a DNS server will also have a DNS log. To access Event Viewer from the command line, enter eventvwr.exe.
Registry Editor (regedit.exe) :
Use the Registry Editor to view or modify the contents of the Registry. Use extreme caution if you decide to modify the Registry directly. It is generally preferable to modify the Registry indirectly by using other applications and system tools.
Computer Management (compmgmt.msc) :
The pre-conﬁgured MMC console that serves as a veritable Swiss Army knife of major system administration and information tools.
DxDiag (dxdiag.exe) :
The pre-conﬁgured MMC console that serves as a veritable Swiss Army knife of major system administration and information tools. The dxdiag (DirectX Diagnostic) tool is available to display hardware speciﬁcations, as well as to test that hardware’s suitability for use with DirectX software, which handles multimedia tasks on Windows platforms. DxDiag can be launched by entering dxdiag at a command prompt. The report generated by DxDiag can be used to view a list of all hardware, drivers, codecs, and system information for a computer, and can be a useful diagnostic tool.
Removing Programs from the Startup Folder
In addition to using msconﬁg to remove unwanted startup programs, you may ﬁnd it useful to delete them manually from the startup folder. In Windows XP and later, choose Start→Programs→Startup and delete the program’s shortcut.
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