Tips and Tricks

Windows Tip: Using the System Info Tool to Track System Changes

This tip was kindly posted by Jean, a member of the TechTV Forever and Long Live TechTV Yahoogroups! It’s a really good one, and anyone who’s done any IT work knows that sometimes the tipoff to what caused a specific problem or system failure has everything to do with what’s changed on the system recently. Jean gives us a way to track the changes we’ve made to our operating systems. She posts:

Have you ever been in the process of troubleshooting and needed to know what configuration changes the system has recently experienced? Knowing this kind of information can go a long way in helping track down the cause of the problem you’re investigating.

Windows XP’s System Information tool takes a daily snapshot of your system’s configuration, and it records all changes to key elements. In fact, System Information compiles and stores a month’s worth of data in its history file. As such, System Information provides a beneficial troubleshooting database.

You can easily investigate System Information’s configuration change history. Follow these steps:

1.. Open the System Information tool by typing Msinfo32.exe at the Run (Start | Run) prompt. (You can also access it by going to Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Information.)
2.. From the View menu, select System History.
3.. Select a category from the System Summary tree on the left.
4.. Select a date from the View Changes Since drop-down list.

When you do so, you’ll see a listing that displays the date and time of the change along with detailed information on the exact nature of the change.

If you know what you’re looking for, you can use the System Information tool’s Find feature to quickly scan through the listing.

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