Windows Utilities Lab

Windows Utilities Lab Overview

Windows Utilities are useful programs that allow you to examine your computer’s hardware, troubleshoot hardware and software related issues, update device drivers, and configure important system settings. In this lab you will use the following Windows Utilities to obtain information about your particular computer:

– Device Manager (devmgmt.msc),
– System Information Tool (msinfo32.exe),
– DirectX Diagnostic Tool (dxdiag.exe),
– Resource Monitor (perfmon.exe),
– System Configuration Tool (msconfig.exe)

Basic knowledge of these diagnostic tools and how to access them is important for the CompTIA A+ exams. A quick way to launch any of the tools listed above is to press the Windows Start Button and in the “Search Programs and Files” dialogue box type in the name of the utility programs above and press enter. Lets go through each tool and extract a piece of computer system information.

Device Manager

The device manager is an important tool for identifying hardware devices that are not functioning correctly or are not being properly recognized by the Windows Operating System. The Device Manager can be used to identify which software device drivers are being used for a particular hardware device like a video card or a network adapter.

1. Launch the Device Manager – press the Start menu button > right+click on Computer > press Properties > and press Device Manager in the left hand column. You can also find the Device Manager in the Control Panel by going to Start > Control Panel > choose View by: Small icons.

2. Using the Device Manager pull-down menu  choose View > Devices by Type scroll down to Processors and click the arrow icon.

Question A: What processor (CPU) name is identified in the device manager? Is the processor name listed more than once? If so, why?

     Question B: Under what arrow heading in the Device Manager list would you locate the drivers for your graphics card? Examples: Disk Drives, Keyboards, Security Devices, etc.


System Information Tool

The System Information Tool provides information about your computer’s resources, hardware devices, your operating system environment, and running processes.

1. Launch the System Information Tool – press the Start menu button > type in msinfo32.exe in the Search programs and files search box, highlight the program or press enter. You can also find it under Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Information.

2. There is useful information in the first screen under the System Summary heading. See if you can locate the following information:

Question C: What is the BIOS manufacturer and version?

3. Examine the information under the other listed headings. Can you find the following information:

    Question D: What is your hard drive manufacturer and model number?

    Question E: Under what heading can you find Problem Devices? Do you have any listed? 

    Question F: Find the filename and file path to either your Gigabit Ethernet network adapter driver or wireless network adapter?

DirectX Diagnostics Tool

DirectX are the APIs and runtime libraries that allow windows to achieve advanced multimedia and 3D graphics. The DirectX Diagnostics Tool can be used to check the version of DirectX currently installed on the computer system, whether or not DirectX features like DirectX Draw, DirectX 3D, and AGP Texture are enabled, and whether or not there are any problems related to the video, graphics, sound, and input hardware device drivers and DirectX features.

1. Launch the DirectX Diagnostic Tool – press the Start menu button > type in dxdiag.exe in the Search programs and files search box, highlight the program or press enter.

2. In the DirectX Diagnostics Tool click on the Display, Sound and Input tabs and look to the notes area for any listed problems

Question G: Are there any problems listed in the Notes area of the Display, Sound and Input tabs?

3. Notice the “Run 64-bit DxDiag” button at the bottom of the window which will run the 64bit version of the program.


Resource Monitor

The Resource Monitor is a great tool for monitoring processes as they run as well as seeing which processes and programs are utilizing the most CPU, memory, and network resources.

1. Launch the Resource Monitor Tool – press the Start menu button > type in resource monitor perfmon.exe in the Search programs and files search box, highlight the program or press enter. You can also find it under Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Resource Monitor.

2. In the Resource Monitor Tool you can hover over the column headings like Image, PID, Description, etc. for a description of the column information. Click on the CPU tab and under Processes order the information by clicking on the various column headings.

Question H:  Which program is utilizing the most CPU resources?

3. Click on the Memory tab.

Question I: Under Processes which heading will tell you the program that is utilizing the most physical memory? Which program is it?

4. Click on the Network tab.

Question J: Under Processes with Network Activity which program is sending and receiving the most information over the network?

System Configuration Tool

The System Configuration Tool can be used to configure how Windows behave on startup. If there are multiple operating systems installed on the hard disk drive you can define which one will boot by default. You can also define which services and programs will launch on startup. This can be useful if you find that Windows is running a lot of programs on startup that you do not need or want. You can also use the System Configuration Tool to boot to a Diagnostic startup or boot to safe mode.

1. Launch the System Configuration Tool – press the Start menu button > type in msconfig.exe in the Search programs and files search box, highlight the program or press enter.

2. In the System Configuration Tool click on the Startup tab and examine the programs that are launching on startup.

Question K: Do you notice any programs that are unnecessarily running all the time by launching on startup? Which ones?