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Five Apps: Windows 7 Gadgets that gather system information

Five Windows 7 Gadgets to keep you informed about your system

This gallery is also available as a TechRepublic article.

Although Microsoft pulled support for Desktop Gadgets, they are still a handy way of getting an on-the-fly snapshot of your system and system resources. Some would argue, if Microsoft no longer supports the system - why bother? However, for many users, having instant, up-to-date, information about a system means an efficient work environment. If you're one of those users, you'll be glad to know that Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets still work and there are plenty out there to satisfy your need for as much information as possible.

I've tracked down five such gadgets that will fill the void of information that the standard Windows desktop leaves. Just remember, these Gadgets do take up resources (though not much). As with anything on the Windows 7 desktop, you'll want to make sure you have plenty of RAM to work with. Now, let's see if any of the following Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets will offer up enough information for you.

Credit: Images by Jack Wallen for TechRepublic


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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

8 comments
rgeiken
rgeiken

I use almost every one of the gadgets mentioned and it gives me the information that I want on what the system is doing. It is like having gauges on your car. I suppose a lot of us can remember the idiot light that was supposedly watching out for us. With the gadgets and notification area and quick launch area and Start Menu on W7, I have full control and information on everything that is going on in my computer. I am not going to W8 since none of these things are supported there. I would feel like I was cut off at the legs.  CPU information and Top Processes are to of my must haves. I also have the Calender, Network Meter Clock and Temperature on the far right, and have the Wi-Fi meter of all the computers operating nearby and the gadget that tells you information on all your drives and for good measure an earth quake gadget that tells me about earth quakes around the world. If you customize your computer as much as possible, you will have a more satisfying experience. If all of a sudden you get excessive ram usage, you can tell what is doing it and if is something that you may not want, then you can likely stop it. Thank god for these gadgets, since it makes W7 more enjoyable to use. Ta a lot of people, W8 seems like the skunk at the picnic, so we are content to stay on the version we are on. If you buy any new computer, get an i 7 processor and 8 gig of ram and if possible W7, and you will have a computer that will be a pleasure to use many years into the future. Also if you have ever had a BSOD, get Blue View which allows you to see what caused it. A lot of times, it is much more harmless than the Window would like to make you think.

firstaborean
firstaborean

I use both Drives Meter and Network Meter, and they are even more useful than the article indicates.  Contrary to what Microsoft says, these Gadgets help make my system more secure by allowing near-real-time monitoring of activity.  The historigraphs can be customized so as to have fixed ranges as well as to auto-range.

jmward
jmward

Nearly forgot - Mike Batt's Desktop Ticker widget, across the top of the desktop, for continuous RSS feed summaries.  Not strictly a gadget, but still indispensable.


jmward
jmward

Your choice of gadgets is pretty much the same as mine, but you've left out an important one: Top Process Monitor, which lets you know which processes are maxing out your CPU as indicated by your Core Temp gadget.  Also I have Brandon Paddock's Windows Search Indexer Status Gadget, which shows you how far indexing has got and lets you speed it up if necessary.  I also have Networx' network widget as well as Network Meter, and AddGadgets do a nice little digital clock that gives you a beep every hour and tells you how long it is to New Year.

I'm using Windows 8 Pro, so my gadgets come courtesy of 8GadgetPack.  I don't buy Microsoft's reason for discontinuing them on security grounds; they are no more or less insecure than any other program you install, and just as easily covered by antimalware software.  The real reason is that Microsoft didn't want any distractions from the wonderful new Metro/Modern interface, or from their policy of keeping out as many of the useful, interesting, and visually attractive bits of Windows 7 from the new OS as possible.

By the way, I tried Bodhi Linux the other day, for all of about an hour.  Terrible interface and lousy fonts, and no capabilities to compensate.  Waste of a DVD.  Linux Mint Mate is the only one I have any patience with.  Sorry about that.

LouDamelin1
LouDamelin1

Also consider Balarc Adviser and CPUID.  Both of these are free downloads and provide a lot of detail about your system. 

Gisabun
Gisabun

Errrr. I hope you know that Microsoft stopped supporting gadgets because of a vulnerability that won't be fixed.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

@jmward 

"I don't buy Microsoft's reason for discontinuing them on security grounds; they are no more or less insecure than any other program you install, and just as easily covered by antimalware software.  The real reason is that Microsoft didn't want any distractions from the wonderful new Metro/Modern interface, or from their policy of keeping out as many of the useful, interesting, and visually attractive bits of Windows 7 from the new OS as possible."

Agreed.
IMO, Apps are inherently insecure, as they interact with each other and can send that data to the Internet.

"Linux Mint Mate is the only one I have any patience with."

Linux Mint MATE is nice.