I've always believed that the first step to troubleshooting a PC, or any machine for that matter, is to know the equipment you're dealing with. While this sounds like a simple concept, I can't tell you how many times I've been confronted with a video adapter, sound card, motherboard, or other peripheral device that had no markings to identify the manufacturer or model. Such confusion can add minutes, if not hours, to the time it takes to resolve a problem—especially if you're downloading new drivers. To help you avoid issues like these, I've developed a computer hardware inventory list, which you can download here.
Give your techs a PC road map
This list allows any tech, even one who is unfamiliar with the PC, to easily determine the make and model of the computer's essential components. I designed the form to be used in two ways. You can print the blank form and then fill in the necessary fields by hand, or open and complete the form in Microsoft Word using the drop-down menus (Figure A) and typing in the necessary information.
To use the drop-down menus, you will need to protect the document first. To do this, click Tools | Protect Document, select Forms from the Protect Document pop-up window, and click OK.
The list includes fields for the following computer components:
- Hard drive
- Power supply
- Hard drive 2
- Sound card
- Video card
- Other cards
Once you've completed the form, simply tape it inside the computer's case. Be sure to keep it out of the way of any ventilation holes, heat sinks, fans, or other moving parts; you don't want a loose piece of paper flapping around inside the PC. If you really want to get fancy, you can attach an antistatic bag inside the computer case and place the form within the bag.
Download TechRepublic's computer hardware inventory list
You can download our computer hardware inventory list by following this link or by clicking on the Downloads link in the navigation bar to the left of this page. TechRepublic has many useful documents, templates, and applications available for download, so be sure to check out our other offerings.
TechRepublic's computer hardware inventory list is available as a Microsoft Word document. To increase download speed, we've zipped the file. You will need an unzip utility, such as WinZip, PKZIP, or WinAce, to expand the zipped file. You will also need Microsoft Word.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.