How to Keep Track of Changes to Your PC with a Free Microsoft Tool

Do you ever wonder exactly what is being added or modified on your PC by that new application that you are trying out? Do you wish that you had a record of the changes to the Windows Registry and system files that happen every time you install something? Several free programs are available to do all that and there is a list of some at this link. One of them is from Microsoft.

 It is called the "Windows System State Analyzer" but it isn’t easy to find since it is buried in a package called the "Windows Software Certification Toolkit". It comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions and can be used for all current Windows editions. The .NET Framework 2.0 is required. You can find a description and download links at this Microsoft blog.

To try out the system analyzer, download the x86 or x64 installation file from the link near the end of the Microsoft blog post. It is labeled “Server Logo Program Software Certification Tool” but do not be put off by the name. When you install it, choose a custom installation since you probably want to install only the component “System State Analyzer’. The graphic below shows the installation dialog with only the system state analyzer selected.

Installing System State Analyzer

The Microsoft blog explains how to use the analyzer. Be aware that the first time a system snapshot is taken it may take quite a while, especially if you choose to monitor everything on your computer. You may want to monitor only certain files or Registry keys. As the next figure shows, you can select whether to monitor all or just parts of your system.

System State Analyzer

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including  a computer education website and a site for learning about the command line.

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Comments

by DimitriAus on 31. January 2014 - 1:45  (114091)

Thank you

by Ritesh Shah on 9. April 2013 - 4:03  (106927)

tried it but it didnt work for windows 7 x 64.

thanks for guiding others.

by gkramer on 9. February 2012 - 16:32  (88592)

I've tried this on two different PC's and both give:

"Application has encountered serious error ... will now exit"

Any ideas?

by Remah on 8. February 2012 - 23:27  (88544)

Great tip. TechNet blogs have a lot of excellent info. Thanks Vic.

by MrDog (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 22:15  (88538)

Seems to be no option for a custom install so I installed it all (from dwainwood's link) and none of the apps that are installed seem to give this interface.

by MrDog (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 22:22  (88539)

So I then did it from the original link in the article (MSI file) and it worked fine

by dwainwood on 8. February 2012 - 17:47  (88523)

I saw notes that it didn't work under Windows 7 and to go this site to get the Windows 7 32 bit and 64 bit versions.
https://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=857&hash=yIRpLzHvz...

by MrWednesday7 on 9. February 2012 - 19:48  (88599)

I tried this, all I got was an empty folder, which I cannot get rid of as it says I am not an administrator. Single user computer, I am the admin! Feel free to email direct.

Ah, the execrable, Captcha, oops, sorry "Word verification".

by v.laurie on 8. February 2012 - 18:27  (88525)

You are right about the notes and there seems to be some confusion about which version is now available. This link (http://blakehandler.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/microsoft-releases-system-s...) is supposed to be for Windows 7 but when I tried it, it seems to be the same software that I got from the link in the tip above. The link you give is an EXE file and the others are MSI files. I tried installing the EXE and still seemed to get the same application. As far as I can tell, the version numbers are the same.

by Roger Bertrand (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 17:40  (88521)

This is of great potential for those meticulous with what gets o their system. Thanks for dugging it out.

by Manuel L (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 16:37  (88517)

Does it work in Windows XP?

by v.laurie on 8. February 2012 - 17:01  (88519)

I haven't tried it on XP.

by jecson gonzales (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 15:09  (88509)

you know that im very happy because all requesting immediate we have for free thank you for everything god bless you always......

by Serge (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 14:23  (88505)

Wow! Great tool. Thanks.
System state monitor is very useful too.

by Ianeon (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 13:31  (88498)

Thank you for that information.

This is a very useful programme

by AJNorth on 8. February 2012 - 13:24  (88497)

OUTSTANDING!

by jSwann0 (not verified) on 8. February 2012 - 11:03  (88493)

Thanx, v.laurie !

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