Category Archives: SysInternals

SysInternals – BgInfo

I work in a lot of Virtual PCs and remotely controlled pc’s via Remote Desktop. It’s gets confusing at times determining which PC I’m working in, especially when I step away for more coffee/hot tea or am interrupted.

BgInfo has really helped with this issue. It takes your current desktop (in my example I just have a plain black background) and overlays current system info, as is seen on my desktop below.

[Picture of my desktop with BgInfo's information on it.]

You can pick and choose the details you want to display, and reorder them in any order you want, using the interface.

[Picture of BgInfo's configuration screen.]

You can also configure BgInfo to run at every startup, or launch it at your convienience. In my normal day to day setup I selected half a dozen of the most useful items to display, but for my example above I left everything in.

Again, a very useful tool if you are in and out of virtual or remotely controlled machines every day.

SysInternals – Contig

Along the same lines as PageDefrag is Contig. Contig is a command line utility that will allow you to defrag a single file or group of files, instead of having to defragment your entire disk. Here’s the command line help:

Contig v1.53 - Makes files contiguous
Copyright (C) 1998-2006 Mark Russinovich Sysinternals - http://www.sysinternals.com

Contig is a utility that relies on NT's built-in defragging support to make a specified file contiguous on disk. Use it to optimize execution of your frequently used files.
Usage:
contig [-v] [-a] [-s] [-q] [existing file]
or contig [-v] -n [new file] [new file length]
-v: Verbose
-a: Analyze fragmentation
-q: Quiet mode
-s: Recurse subdirectories

Usage is pretty simple, just type in Contig followed by the file (or file spec, such as *.mdb) you wish to defragment. This can be useful if you have some larger database files or other files to process that are running slowly. Use contig prior to running your large jobs and you’ll see a nice speed boost.

Also useful if you just want to see if your file is fragmented, just add the –a switch prior to the file name and it will tell you how many pieces your file is fragmented into.

Note, with all these tools you use at your own risk. Always make sure to backup important files prior to running any of these tools on them.

SysInternals – PageDefragmentor

Next up is another startup tool, PageDefrag. As we all know, Windows relies heavily on it’s PageFile.Sys to manage memory. When your pagefile gets fragmented, performance can really take a hit.

Page Defrag will let you tell windows to defrag your system files the next time you boot, or everytime you boot. As you can see below my pagefile is not fragmented, but you might be surprised by yours. Give it a try, you might be startled at the performance boost you get.

[Picture of PageDefrags user interface.]

SysInternals

Scott Hanselman (http://www.hanselman.com/blog/) recently got with Carl Franklin (http://www.intellectualhedonism.com/) on Dot Net Rocks Episode 35 (http://www.dnrtv.com/default.aspx?showID=35) for an hour long presentation on the great tools from SysInternals (http://www.sysinternals.com/).

SysInternals is a collection of freeware tools that allows you to extract some really great info from the Windows OS, or adds some nifty extra utilities. If you don’t have an hour to invest right now, or are bandwidth impaired, I thought it’d be useful to spend a few blog posts talking about these tools.

One great feature of all the SysInternals tools is that none of them require installation. They can all be run without leaving footprints on the host system. I keep them on my USB thumb drive, so I can quickly and easily diagnose issues on users PCs.

A quick note, the parent company of SysInternals is WinTernals. WinTernals was recently purchased by Microsoft (shows you how cool the tools were). Soon many of the WinTernals / SysInternals tools will have Microsoft labels on them. Microsoft has pledged that SysInternals tools will continue to be free. Check the SysInternals blog for updates on the tools as time goes by.

To start things off, we’ll talk about a tool that helps you with your computer’s start up. Autoruns lets you examine everything that your computer launches. You can look at everything at once, or handy tabs let you look at it by category.

[Picture of AutoRuns user interface.]

Clicking on an item will populate the window with info about that item:

[Picture of the information area of the window.]

Want to learn more about an item? Right click on it, and select Google from the menu. Autoruns will launch a Google search in your browser of choice on the program in question, letting you learn more about it, to determine if you actually need this piece of software to load in your system.

If you decide you don’t want it, simply uncheck the box. Next time you boot that particular software won’t load. Discover you need it? No problem, simply launch Autoruns again and check it on, reboot and all is well. Autoruns preserves all of the settings you had on the auto launch so it can easily be restored.

If you happen to have the SysInternals Process Explorer tool (I’ll blog about this shortly) you can actually see how much memory, etc. the particular item is taking up.

I like this tool, it’s simple, and focuses on one thing, controlling what starts automatically on your pc. Easy to use, and it’s free!