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.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. Margu Notebook Info 2

Margu
Notebook Info 2
offers plenty of laptop/notebook-specific information, in a
simple to read layout. With this Gadget, you’ll have real-time updates for: user
selected WLAN and LAN interfaces, net usage, multicore usage, clock/calendar,
CPU, battery, uptime, power plans, RAM/CPU usage, and hard disk usage. You can
add/remove any of the information you want displayed and even rearrange the
order in which they are displayed. Margu will even automatically check for
updates and alert you should one appear. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop
for laptop information, Margu could possibly fit the bill.

2. Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor Gadget

Xirrus
Wi-Fi Monitor Gadget
gets you more useful information about nearby wireless
connections. You can see SSID, data rate, channel, signal strength, layout of
local connections, current IP address. You can also skin the widget and
configure the level of opacity. If you click on one of the wireless networks on
the Xirrus ‘map’ you will be presented with a usage history of the available
networks. The only downfall to this little widget is that, with its constant
sonar/radar-like movement, it can be a bit distracting. But for anyone that
needs more information about their wireless networks, this is a real gem.

3. Network Meter Gadget

Network Meter
Gadget
is one of the best of the wireless traffic monitors. In a single
glance you get information about: SSID, internal IP, external IP, blacklisted
IP ratio, speed test, firewall status, connection security status, signal, and upload/download
stats. The flyout features include: Name of network connection, name of
adapter, max speed, MAC address, subnet mask, DHCP lease obtained/expires,
default gateway, and much more. From the configuration screen, you can set up
such options as: polling interval as well as how often to save the chart data,
display options, color scheme, and more.

4. Drives Meter

Drives Meter
allows you to not only get a quick glimpse of the health and state of your
drives, but also allows you to set up warnings for low disk space. The disk
space warnings are based on remaining space left and will play a sound when the
threshold is met. The Gadget displays disk activity, used/remaining/total disk
space. This Gadget is incredibly handy if you’re looking to help troubleshoot
issues with a disk (finding out if a massive amount of data is being written),
or if you just need a little help knowing when you are close to reaching the
danger zone of disk space usage.

5. System Information

System
Information
is a sort of all-in-one Gadget that displays information about:
the operating system, uptime, CPU, memory, hard disk(s), network drives,
CD/DVD, battery, and network. You can have this Gadget display as much or as
little information as you need. There are three ‘modes’: Normal (all
information is displayed on screen at once), Compact (only headers are
displayed – information is displayed in fly-out windows when an icon is
clicked), Compressed (only one icon and all information is shown in fly-out
window when an icon is clicked).

Bottom line

Just because Microsoft has determined that Windows 7 Gadgets
are no longer supported, doesn’t mean you have to do without these helpful
tools. If you’re looking for Gadgets to hand out system information, take a
look at one (or more) of these and see if they don’t offer you all the data you
need for your Windows 7-based desktop.


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