March 10, 2009

Quick Tech Tips - Part 2

When faced with a computer you know nothing about, you will want to at least know the basic system information to avoid headaches. This is not only useful for troubleshooting, and applies to client machines also - can you tell me what processes are running on your system right now? So how should you approach an unfamiliar computer system? How do you get the system specs, logs, and other information you might need to fix a problem, pass on to a technician, or list in your asset log?

This is what I do to gather specs and system information before starting to work on a system that I know nothing about:

  • Backup the system: Start->Run...->ntbackup

  • Start->Right Click My Computer->Properties

  • Start->Run...->taskmgr

  • Start->Run...->msinfo32

  • Start->Run...->msconfig

  • Start->Run...->eventvwr

  • Start->Run...->cmd; ipconfig /all

  • Start->Run...->gpedit.msc

  • Start->Run...->regedit


  • Backup the system: tar or rsync

  • dmesg

  • uname -a

  • free

  • top

  • lsmod

  • lspci

  • cat /proc/cpuinfo

  • cat /var/log/messages

  • vi /etc/sysctl.conf

  • cd /etc/sysconfig; cat [things that you want info about] (e.g. cd /etc/sysconfig; cat network)

  • ifconfig /all

  • You will find much more information browsing around the /proc virtual filesystem, so e.g. to get the current max threads in the kernel, use: cat /proc/sys/kernel/threads-max

Am I missing a tech tip you use regularly? Add it in the comments below!


  1. really nice tips. But what about the temporary files that get accumulated in your system and slow your PC.

  2. Thanks for the tip - I'll be sure to mention temporary files in my next Quick Tech Tips.

    I've actually been thinking lately about writing an app that tracks all the "gunk" that gets deposited on the Desktop, Downloads, My Documents, random folders under C:\, and so on.

    Ideally, it should figure out what needs to be deleted, backed up, or "used"(installed, read, etc). Let me know if that's something you would be interested in.


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