Getting to Know Your Computer

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Provides details on both hardware and software components of your computer.
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Most of us know exactly what our computer is made of. But at some point you tend to forget details like BIOS version, installed hotfixes from Microsoft or even installed software. Sometimes a utility that is able to provide accurate details about a system comes in handy (when buying one from your friend or just to check on your own).

Most of these softwares have a pretty nice price tag that hinders using them past the trial period. Another way is to make a so-called computer expert tag to check on the system. And yet there are cheaper solutions and you can do it by yourself.

Belarc Advisor is all you need as long as you use it for personal purposes and not at work, as it is stipulated in the License Agreement of the application. The application installs quietly and is practically interface-less. After it scans your computer all the information will be displayed in your web browser. The process is safe and no detail about your computer will be sent to any web server out there, Belarc's server included.

All the data is stored on your computer, but it is saved on your computer in HTML format. As it is described in the Privacy of your profile information, "Belarc is able to personalize a web page based on your profile using our patented (U.S. patent number 5665951) and patent pending technologies included in the Belarc Advisor".

If you are still not confident, look at the website address and then check the location in your computer. You should easily find in the temporary folder of System an HTML file named after the current user of the computer. These being said, lets proceed to what kind of information Belarc Advisor will supply.

The length of the page and the amount of information depends entirely on the number of the softwares installed on your computer. The first three pieces of information displayed by the application are related to system security status and these are CIS Benchmark score (available only for Windows 2000, XP Pro and 2003 - too bad XP Home Edition and Vista are not included), Virus Protection and security updates from Microsoft.

A profile summary follows, revealing computer name, profile date, version of the Belarc and logon name. On the left side of the page there are the links to the three categories Belarc Advisor displays information for Installed Hotfixes, Software Licenses and Software Versions.

Belarc Advisor will provide complete information on both software and hardware available on your system. Accurate information on CPU power, RAM, HDD operating system, CPU details (primary and secondary memory cache as well as CPU power), drives (number of hard disks available and amount of free space, CD/DVD ROMs, Floppy drives, etc.), memory modules or local drive volumes (the report sheet displays the number of volumes, their size and the amount of free space available).

Mousing over user names in the Users section of the report will give you useful details about the rights and privileges of the current user. This section also contains information about the last logon of the user, number and names of the accounts created on the computer.

Belarc Advisor detects the display adapter and the monitor you have on your system. Unlike some similar softwares that also provide information on both the hardware and the software on your system Belarc will tell you the name and the size of your monitor with no problem, as well as the date of the manufacturing. In the multimedia part of the "study", depending on what you have installed, you will be supplied all the information possible about the hardware equipment you strapped your computer with. In my case the information is scarce as the motherboard has the audio integrated

The software is the most interesting from my point of view as most users know exactly the hardware components installed on the computer and their capabilities. With softwares however you may forget you have it on your system (especially if you are a maniac with keeping the desktop free of shortcuts).

The interesting part of the report is that Belarc will tell you if the Microsoft security hotfixes are up to date and if not, what is missing. Also, all the Microsoft updates are available and you will have quick access to details about them due to the "details". These hotfixes will be verified and if they do not pass the checking, a red "x" will mark them. In this case, you will have to reinstall the respective file.

The report continues with a list of the softwares installed by the user. Absolutely every program you installed is available in this section and the little "*" marks that there are details available for the respective item (name of the process, its size on disk and date of the modification and of the last accessing).

The report ends with some sort of clarification information in the case the reading on the power of the CPU or the information on memory slot contents were not accurate.

The Good

Belarc Advisor is free and extremely easy to use. Despite the fact that the report sheet is opened in your web browser, the info on your computer will not leave your computer.

The information is very useful, especially the one on Microsoft Security Hotfixes and the software you have installed.

The Bad

The details tips should have a longer display time.

The Truth

The application is free and secure. The accuracy of the information depends entirely on the processes that are active during the reading and the manufacturer of the hardware components.

During our testing, everything was accurate and no detail was missed.

NOTE: As there is no interface and the report is generated and opened in the web browser automatically, I left the User Interface rating to Good.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:


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user interface 3
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 

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