System  Information in Windows 98 

Trouble-shooting hardware conflicts and software problems can be very difficult. Fortunately, Microsoft has supplied a couple of tools with Win98 that can sometimes help. The first and most widely known tool is the  "System Information" tool. The second,  less known,  tool is called "Microsoft Hardware Diagnostic Tool". 


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The System Information App

This program is buried fairly deep: Click- "Start">"Programs">"Accessories">"System Tools">"System Information".  This is a great power tool. Besides being able to view a multitude of system information, the application also has several "sub-programs" contained in it.  Open the program and then click "Tools" on the menu choice bar. Each item under "Tools" is actually a separate program. It would take me about 100 web pages to go through the detail of what these programs do. The best thing to do is take a look at them (you can't hurt anything) and read about them on Microsoft's website at Microsoft The most important item in System Information that  I refer people to is the "System Configuration Utility".  Open the "System Information" app, click on "Tools">"System Configuration Utility" and select the tab labeled "Start Up". This will show you a list of all the programs that are loaded each time Windows starts.  If you want to prevent an application from starting each time Windows boots, simply uncheck the box next to the item, click "Apply" and then "OK". 

This is great for getting rid of all the icons that may be present in the System Tray (little box next to the clock in the lower right corner). Most of the programs that get loaded at start-up show up as icons in this tray. Each one consumes resources on the PC which can possibly degrade performance and cause errors. It's a good idea to get rid of any that you don't actually need.

Did you install Windows 98 over the top of an old operating system, like Win95? If you did, there is another great utility called "Version Conflict Manager" under the "Tools" menu choice. When Win98 installs over Win95 it replaces many "dll" files with it's own. Even if they are older! This can cause applications to crash. Using this utility to restore the newer "dll" file can usually prevent an application from crashing the system.  When you get a crash, take note of the offending file that Windows displays. Go to the "Version Conflict Manager" and restore that file if it is listed.


The Hardware Information App 
This utility presents essentially the same info found in System Information, however, the data is presented in a single text window. This makes it easy to copy and paste sections into an e-mail message for trouble-shooting purposes. It also presents only hardware and driver information, but it does so in a much easier to read fashion than found in System Information. To launch this tool: Click- "Start">"Run">and type in hwinfo.exe /ui (Note: There's a space after the exe part.)

This will launch the application that will show each piece of hardware in the PC along with some great info for trouble-shooting. The info I particularly like is the listing of drivers being used for each piece of hardware. This gives you the ability to record driver dates to be sure you have the latest ones available. Take a look and enjoy!



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