Five Windows 7 Gadgets to keep you informed about your system

For many users, having instant, up-to-date, information about a system means an efficient environment. Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets could be the answer.

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.

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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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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....