7 handy commands for Windows users

When working on new or unknown systems, these useful commands will help you gain insight into the machine's hardware and Windows software.

workflow automation concept

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Any time I approach a new system or unknown piece of computing equipment, I like to find out a bit about the system before beginning to meddle with the hardware or software. Pertinent pieces of information, such as the hardware or software installed, operating system version and how long it's been running, as well as the list of users and storage resources are all good information to have.

There are also commands that help resolve issues quickly, or at least provide a quick way to check if one component works compared with another, providing an easy way to determine the operating status of fundamental processes within a given system. This list isn't exhaustive. Just a culling of commands that I find myself gravitating toward on most systems I touch before getting into troubleshooting, upgrading, or otherwise performing any in-depth work on a device.

Most of the commands (including the PowerShell cmdlets) here should work on different versions of Windows with little to no change. Many of these commands can also be strung together as a script to run on any new or unknown devices you might encounter to provide a more automated method for finding these details, even allowing the output to be collected to a file stored locally for easy reference.

SEE: Checklist: Securing Windows 10 systems (TechRepublic Premium)

1. Obtain the Windows version


2. Determine the Windows uptime status


3. Synchronize the date and time

net time /SET

4. Obtain a list of installed software

Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_Product

5. List of Microsoft updates installed


6. Generate a list of all users

wmic userAccount get Name

7. Determine the amount of data storage used

wmic logicaldisk get size,freespace,caption

dir /s "DirectoryName"

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