It is almost a given when troubleshooting a problem to attempt to gather system information. You often want to know the current configuration state so you can compare it against some baseline or to test a hypothesis. Sometimes you gather system information in hopes of identifying a potential problem before it becomes a serious problem.

Windows 7 offers a few, but powerful, tools for gathering advanced system information. I'm also talking about more than just your WinSAT score. Although as I discuss in my article, that's a good start. Windows 7 includes a graphical system information tool that has been around since the days of Windows XP. Although I think many administrators didn't know about it then.

Another handy tool is a system health reporter. This tool combines performance counter analysis with WMI queries to produce a detailed report about a system's state. You might be surprised what you can discover. For example, do you know how to find which files and processes are consuming the most disk space? In my video I show you how to look at system configuration and performance reporting.

In addition to the GUI-based tools for discovering detailed system information, we have Windows PowerShell. Certainly there are some cmdlets like Get-Process, Get-Service, Get-HotFix and Get-Counter that can provide excellent information when working on a problem. Very often, you can also get this information remotely.

But the big kahuna for system information is WMI and in Powershell that means the Get-WMIObject cmdlet. You have to have some WMI knowledge so you know what to query. Although in my article I'll give you a short list of classes to get you started. For example, in troubleshooting a disk issue on computer DESK01, I might use a command like this.

PS C:\> get-wmiobject win32_logicaldisk -filter "drivetype=3" –computername Desk01 | Select DeviceID,Size,Freespace,FileSystem,VolumeDirty
DeviceID    : C:
Size        : 487439986688
Freespace   : 202181967872
FileSystem  : NTFS
VolumeDirty : False
DeviceID    : H:
Size        : 500105216000
Freespace   : 121609383936
FileSystem  : NTFS
VolumeDirty : False

Gathering system information with PowerShell does not require any scripting, is immediate and includes countless ways to handle the returned data.

Of course, some shops may need more than these tools can offer which is why vendors exist. But if you are willing to invest a little something extra, I can show you what you can accomplish with Windows 7 right out of the box.

Have you found an easier way to gather system information from your desktops?