Windows

Get better system information from the Help and Support Center

Microsoft Windows XP's alternate System Information tool is your one-stop center for information about your system hardware and software. Greg Shultz explains how to navigate to this useful system information.

When you need to investigate Microsoft Windows XP system hardware and software, you probably use the System Information tool found on the Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools menu. However, Windows XP's Help and Support Center provides an alternative System Information tool that you definitely should investigate and keep handy.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic Download.

Instead of a tree-like structure like the one in the main System Information tool, the one in the Windows XP's Help and Support Center essentially creates a Web page, complete with tables and graphics. Here's how to access the Help and Support Center's System Information tool:

1. Go to Start | Help And Support.

2. Under the Pick A Task heading on the Help And Support Center page, click Use Tools To View Your Computer Information And Diagnose Problems.

3. On the Tools page (Figure A), select My Computer Information in the Tools column.

4. On the My Computer Information page, select any of the links to view a graphical report of your system.

Figure A

The Tools page -- an alternative for System Information
As you can see (Figure B), this interface not only makes the information easier to digest but includes links to other resources, both in the operating system and on the Internet, that will help you gather more information or solve problems.

Figure B

A different interface for viewing System Information

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

31 comments
philsandra3
philsandra3

I'm not too bright so bear with me! If the Hard Drive crashes and you can't recover Windows, are you left with re-installing Windows, then using the backup you've made? Or is there a way of "slip-streaming" all the progs and data you had so that you can set it to restore all of this data? I realize this would be a very large file but you could put it on several DVD's and use autorun.

twistedg
twistedg

I came across this months ago on my own but completely forgot where to find it agian. Thanks for the refresh!

oddacorn
oddacorn

The quickest way to bring up the Help and Support Center (or what I tend to think of as Windows Help) is to press the Windows Logo Key plus F1. This works even if you have your Start Menu set up not to show the Help & Support link. Todd Corson Houston, TX

svasani
svasani

My device manager lists two CPUs. However, the Help & Support Center lists only one. Its a dual core (that might be the reason). But then isn't that a disconnect? Shouldn't the device manager and the Support Center generate identical results?

scs68
scs68

Is there a way to do this in Vista?

gmiles1
gmiles1

Great article - didn't know it could do so much. Thanks.

techrep
techrep

I have my disk partitioned to C: D: ... up to K: but "Find information about the hardware installed on this computer" show me C: and D: only.

olson.bob
olson.bob

My Help and Support Center looks nothing like that. HP pavilion 910n.

24ggirl
24ggirl

In this post when you say go to Start/Help and Support to access this, can you please tell me where to find the Help and Support. Thank you and have a great day!!!

libskrap
libskrap

Haven't looked in help and support for quite a while. browsed it just now and found some good stuff that I'd forgotten was there. Thanks for the article.

shasca
shasca

F1 brings up Help and Support on my Vista PC. It is also displayed in the Classic Start Menu

martian
martian

Are you sure some of those "drives" aren't the mappings for any card readers? Most I've seen tend to grab about 4 mappings. Tends to cause issues with network drives, so end up having to re-map them as admin so users get their network drives properly.

Chipv
Chipv

Hello Tech Rep, Most Laptops and PCs only have 1 hard drive partitioned for 2 or 3 drives(c:,d:). Are the drive letters from E thru K network Drives?? Network Drives will not show up.

norwoodsh
norwoodsh

This is very helpful for a helpdesk technician to point a user to for information. Is there a way to create a shortcut to this to put on the users desktop?

Your Mom 2.0
Your Mom 2.0

My guess is that HP has "customized" your Help and Support Center to make it more specific to your HP system. Most OEMs do that. Most of the HP bloatware that came pre-installed can be removed without consequence. I find that most of the pre-loaded software from an OEM is useless and just takes up space or shoves advertisements in your face.

solson
solson

Bob, this should not depend that much on what computer you have but it would have more to do with what version of windows you have.

paul.eggers
paul.eggers

That's not even a real computer, is it? :-) (Sorry... I just had to say that. HP does not know how to make a computer.) Dell all the way!

fredsc
fredsc

I have the same problem Help & support has suddenly dispeared from my Windows XP

jm-commercial
jm-commercial

This is as cute as a bug in a rug! I click on the first link, "View general system information about this computer" and a page is automagically generated. That page shows: - "Please wait while information is being collected" - a status bar, which fills - below the bar, the message "% (collecting information)" The text at changes as the bar fills. When the status bar is filled, the line below the bar reads "100% (collecting Local Disk information)" And the "Please wait" message is replaced with this: " 'undefined' is null or not an object " and that's all, Folks! But... I already knew that undefined is not an object. [I have XP SP 3 and all since offered Windows updates.)

rwbyshe
rwbyshe

Just click on "START" and you will see "Help and Support" in the list that pops up.

techrep
techrep

Yes, I'm sure. All these drives are partitions on single hardisk. Removable disks (e.g. flashdisk) are mapped from M: to Q:, DVD driver is mapped as R: and ZIP drive is mapped as Z:. I'm IT professional but somebody in Microsoft maybe not :-)

techrep
techrep

No, all partitions are on single hardisk. C: is for system and related programs, D: is for Foxpro projects, E: is for few used programs, F: is for Perl projects etc.

Your Mom 2.0
Your Mom 2.0

You mean, like right-click dragging the Help and Support start menu icon to the desktop, releasing the button, and then choosing "copy here"?

yyiann
yyiann

Dear Sir, I have the same problem.If you solved the issue can you please forward me the solution. Thanks in advance

Your Mom 2.0
Your Mom 2.0

Sounds like someone is using the "Classic" start menu... Change it back to the default XP Start menu, or just minimize all your open programs so that all you see is the desktop, and then press F1. F1 is used as the "help" key for 99% of all Windows programs, including Windows. It works many times when the Help menu doesn't work (like when a program opens another window that takes precedence over the main window where the Help menu is located).

Your Mom 2.0
Your Mom 2.0

Oh, my mistake. Anyway, here is the location of the "My Computer Information" link in Help and Support: hcp://system/sysinfo/sysinfomain.htm I dragged the link from the Help and Support menu into a new Outlook message and was able to see the path to the HTML file. Then it was just a matter of copying the path from the new email message body, right-clicking on the desktop, choosing New->Shortcut, and pasting the address into the box and naming the shortcut.

norwoodsh
norwoodsh

That I can do. I was hoping for a shortcut that actually produced the computer information from the desktop without having to drill down.

martian
martian

Actually, I have mine here at work with classic menu, and Help and Support does show up. I don't know what the OP has done to their menu, but it should be there.