Taking Inventory

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Back to school often means a new computer and/or selling the “old” computer. If you watch carefully, there are some good deals to be had.

So you want to sell. How do you know what’s in that computer? So you want to buy. How do you know you got what you paid for? In either situation, you should take inventory.

When I first go to a client’s home or office, before I do anything else with the computer, I want to know how big/how full the hard drive is, how much memory the computer has, and what version of Windows and what Service Packs are installed. Once I know that, I can look at more detailed information.

The simplest way to obtain the basic information about your computer is built right into Windows.
Right-click on the “My Computer” icon on your desktop
Click on “Properties”
Select the “General” tab

You’ll see the basic information about your Windows Operating System in the top half of the tab, and information about the processor speed and the amount of memory in the bottom half of the tab.

To see more, and more advanced, information, with the Properties still open,
Click on the Hardware tab
Click on Device Manager

You’ll see all the hardware in your system listed there. Click on the plus signs to show even more detail. You can print this information by clicking on the printer icon at the top of this tab.

If you want a more thorough inventory of the hardware and software on your computer, try the Belarc Advisor, available free here: http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html. The Advisor builds a detailed inventory and displays it in your web browser. It will even tell you what Microsoft hotfixes are installed and which ones are missing. A similar tool, also free, breaks down each section of your inventory. Karen’s Computer Profiler is a great tool, available here: http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptprofiler.asp. Either program will let you save and/or print the results.

If you’re selling, you can have a printout of your computer’s assists handy for prospective buyers’ inspection. If you’ve bought a computer, before you install anything else (except the printer. Install that!), install the Belarc Advisor or Karen’s Computer Profiler, print the results and compare them to your packing list, parts list, or sales receipt. Make sure you have the equipment and software you paid for. If you don’t see it listed, it’s either not there or not properly connected (if it’s hardware), or not properly installed (if it’s software). That would be a problem, and you should work with the seller to resolve it.

Thank you to everyone who wrote with comments on last week’s column (http://rlis.com/columns/column57.htm) about the clutter of wires and cables under and behind desks. One of the best suggestions comes from Richard, who says,

I use the 3/4 in or larger grey polystyrene insulating tubing available at all hardware stores...Makes a nice bundle against a wall, is easy to open and tuck a new cable inside it...works like a charm and looks good.

And thanks to everyone for your continuing readership and comments. Have a safe holiday, and don’t forget to slow down in the school zones!

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Computer Care Kelowna

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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