Friday, April 22, 2005

Profiling Your Computer

Keeping complete image backups is the only practical way to restore a PC after a crash, but what if you need to start all over and install your software from scratch?

After you have been running Windows for a while, the registry is filled with an accumulation of broken and obsolete enteries that slow down performance. Although there are tools to "clean" the registry, they are fraught with problems unless used very carefully.

It is incredibly tedious to re-install, but if you must, one way to at least ensure that everything gets restored is to take an inventory of what is currently installed. Clicking on Start|All Programs shows you a list of what Windows thinks is there, but there is no way to print this easily, and programs that did not create Start entries will not be shown.

Belarc comes to the rescue. Free for personal use, the Belarc Advisor is a remarkable program that generates a complete listing of all hardware, peripherals, OS patches and software on your computer. I was astonished to find that I had hundreds of programs installed.

The listing produced by Belarc is generated in your browser as a web page with links. It also shows licence keys for software, something which is really important to have in a single place when re-installing.

Highly recommended.

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