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Best Free System Information Utility

In a Hurry?

  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 

Introduction

The freeware utility AIDA32 was for a long time the best system information / inventorying tool ever, regardless of price.  It documented just about every aspect of your hardware and software configuration as well as checking networks and providing memory benchmarks. However the developer announced in March 2004 that the free product had been frozen and development work shifted to another organization where AIDA32 was re-launched as a commercial product called Everest. Then in 2010 Everest was aquired by FinalWire who shut down Everest and released AIDA64.

 

Discussion

You can however still find the old AIDA32 and the non-discontinued free version of Everest called Everest Home. The old AIDA32 works better across networks while Everest Home covers more modern hardware than AIDA32.

If you only need to inventory a single PC then you should also check out Belarc Advisor. It's free for non commercial use and while not quite as thorough as AIDA32, it has the advantage of being actively developed.


HWiNFO is an excellent system profiler that provides in-depth hardware information for Windows and the new top pick in the category. The program is portable and frequently updated and can be used by beginners and power users alike. HWiNFO greets you with 2 windows on startup: A nifty System Summary window that immediately makes available the most important details regarding our system and a Detailed Information window for pretty much every single piece of hardware bundled in the system. All components are organized in a tree view that provides easy to read reports for every item. The interface is extremely customizable providing variety of options.

HWiNFO has real time system monitoring that allows you to see a live view of various system sensors and accurately monitors each system component for status and failure predictions as well as system logging facilities. The progam is always up-to date supporting various latest technologies and standards. The software can also be extended using various 3rd party add-on's like RainMeter plug-in, LCDHost plug-in etc. HWiNFO also provides benchmark tests in it's feature set.

The information retrieved is presented in a logical and easy to understand form, which can then be saved in multiple formats like Text, HTML, XML, MHTML etc. HWiNFO is also available as SDK suitable for furthur integration. The application analyzes your system and provide detailed information about every hardware installed and present on your PC.


SIW utility written by Gabriel Topala "displays detailed specs for motherboard, BIOS, CPU, devices, memory, video, disk drives, ports, printers, operating system, installed programs, processes, services, serial numbers (CD keys), users, open files, system uptime, network, network shares, as well as real-time monitors for CPU, memory, page file usage and network traffic. It also displays currently active network connections, passwords hidden behind asterisks, installed codecs, and more." That's impressive enough for a freebie but my favorite feature is SIW does not need installing; all you need to do is run the executable. This means one less installed program on your PC as well the fact that you can run the program directly from a USB flash drive.

Note: SIW has fallen out of favor because the free version is no longer updated, has to upgrade to Pro version to work on Win8 and above systems, the standard installer contains OpenCandy and the free version is no longer present on their homesite.


PC Wizard is a system information utility that is strong in workstation description and benchmarking. It's a well implemented program with a nice multi-panel display with different analysis functions easily selectable using sidebar buttons. Overall it provides a little less system information that SIW but the benchmarking feature makes up for it. Benchmarks can be run on individual parameters such as processor performance, memory and cache speed, video performance and hard drive speed or can be run be for all functions with the single press of a button. In the latter case an overall numeric system performance index is also calculated. Overall PC Wizard is an impressive system utility well suited to those who want to get a better understanding of their PC's configuration and performance. The fact that it is regularly updated adds further to its appeal.

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Quick Selection Guide

HWiNFO
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
In depth hardware information, real time system monitoring, can be extended using 3rd party add-on's, frequent updates.
Report generation produces blank details for items deselected.
http://www.hwinfo.com/
4.26
2.8 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
DOS, Win 95 - Win 8.1
SIW (System Information for Windows)
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
detailed results, portable
Does not support Windows 8 and above, free version no longer updated.
http://www.gtopala.com/
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Win 2000 - Win 7.
PC Wizard
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
strong in workstation description and benchmarking, regularly updated
The installer is bundled with the "Ask Toolbar". Installation of the toolbar is optional.
2010.1.961
5.0 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 95 and above.
Belarc Advisor
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
actively developed
not as powerful as AIDA32
http://www.belarc.com/
8.2F
2.8 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 7, 2008 R2, Vista, 2008, 2003, XP, 2000, NT 4, Me, 98 and 95.
Everest Home
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
powerful tool, covers more modern hardware than AIDA32
discontinued (2005)
2.20
4 MB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000
AIDA32 - Personal System Information
2.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
powerful tool, works well across networks
discontinued (2004), does not cover modern hardware
3.93
2.9 MB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP, 2000

Tags

System software, system tools, utility software

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Comments

by Anonymous on 13. May 2008 - 23:57  (462)

Just a few notes about Spiceworks. Not only is it a network inventory tool (and a great one at that), but it also has a *fabulous* helpdesk ticketing system. For the user, it authenticates using your networks Active Directory credentials using an easy-to-use helpdesk web portal. Updates are automatically sent to the user (unless you as the techie specify otherwise).

It is advertising driven, but the ads are mostly off to one side and non intrusive. If you wish you can pay $10 a month (or $110 / year) for an ad-free experience.

Way too many feature to describe here, but if you are looking for a network inventory / helpdesk tool, Spiceworks is a *great* way to go.

posted by Keith Richmond, the Canadian Tech Guy.
http://canadiantechguy.blogspot.com

by Anonymous on 2. June 2008 - 3:04  (1482)

SIW has a portable edition & is EXCELLENT..........Even better than the ones above it

by Anonymous on 1. August 2008 - 8:04  (5297)

Thanks for the tip about SIW I was hoping that it would also provide information about Outlook accounts - ie user names and passwords and set up details. Can you find this information with SIW? Is there another similar program that will give Outlook details

Phil S

by Anonymous on 5. August 2008 - 9:25  (5586)

Running SIW under Software | Secrets you will find Resource Type , Resource Name, User Name and Password (!) for past and present accounts. So when you have your computer serviced.........
For setup details ( I assume you mean server names) I go to the site of the ISP. Although that might be a problem if you have only one computer without a running connection.
Hans M

by Anonymous on 20. August 2008 - 3:10  (6311)

Ummm.... CPU-Z?

by Anonymous on 21. August 2008 - 16:47  (6721)

Just thought you should include LogInventory here - not as intuitive as Spiceworks, but a very comprehensive auditing tool nonetheless.

At the time of writing, Loginventory will scan 20 machines for free - more than enough for most home networks. I trialed both Loginventory and Spiceworks at work, and found that Loginventory was (only just), better than Spiceworks: it was faster to use, crashed less and provided more information.

However, this was some time ago now - so both products will have improved with age, one hopes. Recent tests with Spiceworks does show a distinct advantage for business users, as the built in HelpDesk solution is very capable - though not really in the Remedy or Lan Desk arena.

But for FREE, Spiceworks is very likely unbeatable.

by Anonymous on 19. October 2008 - 22:56  (9344)

An extensive System Information tool is Fresh Diagnose ( http://www.freshdevices.com ). It has frequent updates and is extensive. It also has benchmark utilities.

by Bob on 13. November 2008 - 17:11  (10450)

Thanks Jason, I too like SIW.
Any views perhaps on WinAudit?
http://pxserver.com/WinAudit.htm

by Anonymous on 11. December 2008 - 15:46  (11764)

The problem with SIW is that it doesn't work in a domain environment.

by Anonymous on 24. January 2009 - 2:46  (14543)

Can we get something here that will analyze S.M.A.R.T. logs to give a user an idea as to why a one may have a S.M.A.R.T. failure as it checks several things that may not constitute a drive replacement (such as spin up time, bad sectors ect)

Thanks

by Anonymous on 24. January 2009 - 2:52  (14544)

Edit.. it appears that PC Wizard dose this, but is not quite as pronounced as I was anticipating, also it dose not interpret the data simply displays the values. Anyone know of something that will also interpret for me (I really don't feel like having a cheat sheet of hex codes!)

by DesElms on 5. February 2009 - 1:06  (15364)

I've been in the computer industry for 32 years, and I've seen just about everything out there. I'm also a huge fan of this web site. The article by jason on this page is excellent, but if he doesn't mind, I'd like to add...

As jason has noted, AIDA32 and EVEREST HOME are officially both gone; and so any version of them which one may download from anywhere now is going to be sorely out-of-date. Hardware is moving so fast these days that old versions of this sort of software can kick out all kinds of unreliable results; and so should be used with caution... if at all. Further (and this is something not often talked about in places like this, but), it's actually possible (darned rare, mind you... but technically still possible) for out-of-date software of this type -- especially if it deep tests, benchmarks and/or remediates -- to actually do damage to hardware. Granted, in order to so do said hardware must typically be implemented in some weird or non-standard way which fails to comply with generally-accepted engineeering standards... but it can still happen, however rarely; and using out-of-date software of this particular category's type can actually marginally increase the possibility. It's statistically highly improbable, I realize... but I felt I had to at least mention it as long as it's out on the table here.

So, then, I guess my point, in part, is that the sadly-not-free EVEREST may very well be best-of-breed these days... especially since the 2008 demise of a PC version (e.g., a version for DOS or Windows) of the venerable old TouchStone Software product "CheckIt" (or "WinCheckIt")... the last version (7.1) of which was released in July of 2008 right about the time that Phoenix Technologies bought TouchStone and then summarily killed CheckIt for PCs, leaving only Smith Micro's version of CheckIt for the Mac (which costs a whopping hundred bucks).

EVEREST can be had from Lavalys for around thirty five bucks for the personal edition of its "ultimate" version; and it is probably the best solution if one insists on AIDA32's kind of comprehensive inventorying, testing, benchmarking and reporting.

It's worthy of note that EVEREST is the utility-of-its-type of choice of Hewlett-Packard's "HP Direct Manufacturing Center," which I mention here only as a sort of anecdotal indicator of at least one very large and well-known PC maker's opinion of EVEREST. That said, DOWNLOAD.COM's reviewers, though generally favorable about EVEREST, had some very serious reservations.

So, as should be painfully clear, EVEREST is by no means perfect... and can even be overkill in many (maybe even most consumer) instances. But, like it or not, it's just about the best there is, now, all things considered, across all commercial and/or open source and/or freeware products in this category... or so it is my opinion and two cents worth (which my ex-wife will enthusiastically attest is typically all it's worth).

Some of what's left out there as an alternative, though, is quite good; and jason, in this article, mentioned at least two of them, to wit: Belarc Advisor and PC Wizard. I also agree with jason that the SIW utility is quite good. Sadly, many of these products (save for PC Wizard) are only informational (though in that area they nevertheless excel) and so will not do any kind of serious testing, burning or benchmarking like, for example, EVEREST can do.

For what it's worth, whenever someone asks me for my list of the top contenders (be they free or commercial) in this particular category of utility, I provide the following:

EVEREST
http://www.lavalys.com/products.php?lang=en

CPU-ID's PC WIZARD
http://www.cpuid.com/pcwizard.php
Freeware

SiSoftware's SANDRA
http://tinyurl.com/6v7xt

Belarc Advisor
http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html
Freeware

Look-In-My-PC (similar to Belarc)
http://www.lookinmypc.com/
Freeware

HW INFO (for DOS and Windows)
http://www.hwinfo.com/
Freeware

I had intentionally left SIW off of that list, but having read jason's words here I may add it back in. He's right that it's really is quite nice... deceivingly so, actually, considering its simplicity. But it, like the others (except for EVEREST and PC Wizard) lacks deep testing/benchmarking.

Personally, I try to use the freebies as much as I can (and of course, like jason, I prefer to recommend only freebies to others), but when I need more than just information (e.g., true testing and/or benchmarking), I often find myself forced to step up to EVEREST. Clearly PC Wizard will test/benchmark, too; but, sadly, it only takes a simple product like SIW to out-do its system informational side. EVEREST, at least, is strong in both areas... too strong, in fact (almost to the point of overkill) some would (and have... and continue to) say.

As for SPICEWORKS, I think it's absolutely terrific... but almost (and I stress the word "almost") inappropriate for this product category because of its decidedly network-oriented approach pretty much to the exclusion of reasonably easy use on a single PC. When I think of this catetory, I think of informational (and preferably also burning/testing/benchmarking) utilities for one PC at a time... but that's just me. That said, EVEREST excels in a network environment as well. Nevertheless, my bottom line regarding SPICEWORKS is... well... wow!

DISCLAIMER: I am a completely independent consultant who works for (and/or has an affiliation with) none of the vendors (and/or the products) discussed here. My opinion is strictly from my experience, and I simply wanted to share it here with Gizmo's readers... for whatever that's worth. If I'm being inappropriate, then I welcome Gizmo's removal of this posting. I recognize that the whole point of this web site is to discuss free products; and so, technically, I suppose my talking so positively about the commercial EVEREST is off-topic here. However, since AIDA32 (and its successor EVEREST HOME) are listed here; and since they're no longer available (except in archives), I thought I'd at least help the reader get a sort of updated overall lay of the land regarding this particular category of software utility. Just tryin' to help.

_______________________________
Gregg L. DesElms

by Anonymous on 28. February 2009 - 12:28  (16923)

SiSoftware Sandra Lite is the best free utility around.

by MidnightCowboy on 28. February 2009 - 13:03  (16928)

Hi, Can I add a recommendation for a program that doesn't do too much, but what it does it does very well. Kiwi Application Monitor enables you to select any application and will then give details of current/average memory use, CPU and run time etc. It will also give statistics about such important things as mouse cursor and key movements associated with the program being monitored! Additionally to can set it to provide alerts for excess memory load and run time. If you just want something to "memory watch" which is usually the top priority for most of us then I think this is unbeatable. Aslo contains a process and startup monitor. There is also a paid version offering more facilities.

by MidnightCowboy on 1. March 2009 - 11:50  (16972)

It's good that people with knowledge in particular areas can take the time to produce a constructive in depth post for the rest of us to share. Like it or not the reality is that many people let loose with a computer soon get bored with YouTube and start surfing their software instead! As you quite rightly point out a lot of people have no need for this type of application but nevertheless will use one. I have already made a similar point elsewhere on the site relating to file, disk and registry cleaners. I'm certain that the problems caused by the use of such tools (for the average person) far outweigh any likely benefits. I've used SIW for ages because it enables me to keep track of what's where, and if at sometime I am unable to resolve a situation the information from SIW just might help someone else to find a solution. I have a contact here locally for instance who has years of software experience and he can look at a list of installed applications and go...."conflict!....conflict!....conflict!". This knowledge and ability is invaluable but of course you first need the information to make a diagnosis from. Many thanks again for your well structured and informative post.

by Anonymous on 25. March 2009 - 11:04  (18519)

Can you find this information with SIW? Is there another similar program that will give Outlook details.

by jason on 6. April 2009 - 12:33  (19400)

Gregg, I appreciate your input and clearly this seems to be an area you have some experience with.

As you mentioned the software I mentioned represented tools that were purely "informational" by nature. I deliberately tried to avoid extending the scope of this category - "Best Free System Information Utility" - as testing and diagnostics could well have another category dedicated to it. All of the programs mentioned were chosen simply on the ability to produce hardware/software inventory information. In the same way, I ignore "registry cleaning" functionality in CCleaner - for the "Best File Cleaner" Category.

Perhaps we need some more categories along the lines of Best Free Memory Testing Utility - perhaps you might enquire about writing for a new category for Best Free Hardware Testing & Diag software?

by Anonymous on 15. April 2009 - 2:47  (19888)

Why isn't SiSoftware Sandra Lite on this list?

by Anonymous on 17. April 2009 - 12:44  (20031)

A question I think is half-on-topic:

At boot-up windows XP detects hardware and tries to find a driver then finally fails. It gives no information on what it has found or thought it's found, so I can't search for a driver myself or do anything to resolve this. Everytime I boot up the same problem.
I think the problem started after I updated .NET framework to 3.0 and hasn't gone away with .NET 3.5. Of course this may not be related at all.
Can any system checker be used to find unknown/not-installed hardware or do they just give summaries of the configured system?

Thanks!

by Anonymous on 20. April 2009 - 12:52  (20179)

Still no takers on this?
Does anybody know how to find out what 'new' hardware XP is detecting and failing to find a driver for each and every boot-up?
It's a Toshiba Tecra laptop with bio-metric finger scanner alongside the usual built-in peripherals, not much else to say excapt no new hardware was added in the last 3 years!
It's only a minor annoyance but naturally I want a clean boot-up...
G

by Anonymous on 28. April 2009 - 1:44  (20686)

SiSoftware Sandra Lite = No.1

by Anonymous on 29. April 2009 - 17:29  (20784)

I build a support lots of Windows PCs from spare parts for cheapskate friends, family, etc.

I'm looking for a good burn-in freeware product, that will put a PC through a series of intense hardware and software tests, to help make sure it's in good shape before I hand it over.

Seems this is the closest category to find something like this, but I don't see one listed. Maybe a "Best Free System Burn-In Utility" category could be added. :)

Thanks,
Scott C

by Anonymous on 23. May 2009 - 17:25  (22211)

S.I.W. and Aida is my preferance.

by Dragon on 22. June 2009 - 5:38  (24225)

Is one program I've used which seems to have quite a bit of information. I admittedly, haven't tried any of the above-mentioned programs, yet.

by Anonymous on 30. July 2009 - 0:50  (25993)

Download unknown device identifier.

Unzip it & run it.

Use the number of the device (the device identification string) to locate drivers on the web for it.

by Anonymous on 1. August 2009 - 4:26  (26094)

WinAudit and SiSoftware Sandra Lite should feature here IMHO.

by Anonymous on 6. September 2009 - 9:31  (32221)

here is another freeware: freshdiagnose
it is free for personel use and effective...
http://www.freshdevices.com/

by M.Broderick on 28. September 2009 - 15:14  (33477)

I agree with WinAudit, but SiSoftware's Sandra Lite is just a free version of the full suite so it's not really 'freeware'. Therefore, it can't be listed under the Gizmo requirements. Hopefully Jason will see this and add WinAudit.

by Anonymous on 11. October 2009 - 8:34  (34317)

It is really good. You are doing a very good job. I like your work, it is really helpful. It helps me to solve many problems of my PC.

by Anonymous on 4. November 2009 - 17:02  (35819)

The freeware version of SIW is not "Unrestricted Freeware", and is limited to non-commercial use only...
http://www.gtopala.com/siw-diff.html