More details than you’ll ever want, but your tech-support help will appreciate it.
Msinfo32 is a program included with Windows that generates a report about Windows.
When I say “about”, I really mean it. The report is lengthy, detailed, and contains much more info than you probably care about or understand.
For a person helping you with your computer problems, on the other hand, it can be a veritable gold mine of information.
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Msinfo32: System Information
Run “msinfo32” to get a very detailed report of your machine’s configuration and current state. You can then save that information to a “.txt” file using the Export option, and send it to someone assisting you with your computer.
You won’t find it on the Start menu. The easiest way to run msinfo32 is to type +R, enter msinfo32, and click OK.
The program starts, as shown in the image at the top of the page.
An alternative is to run Command Prompt or PowerShell “as Administrator” (right-click on the Start button and click the appropriate “as administrator” option) and run the command from there.
In theory, the resulting report may be slightly more detailed, but I’ve yet to run into a noticeable difference.
Generating a report for someone else
We’ll explore msinfo32 itself in a moment. Your most common use of the tool will probably be to generate a report you can send to someone else, so let’s walk through that first.
In msinfo32, click on the File menu, then Export…. This will open an “Export As” dialog.
Enter the name of the file you want the report saved to. I’ve entered “my-report” above, so the result will be “my-report.txt”. Click Save. It may take a few seconds for the tool to refresh information and generate the report.
Since the report is a plain text file, you can view what it contains by opening it in Notepad or any other word-processing app.
Scroll though it, and you’ll see there’s a LOT of information. My example report above has almost 3,000 lines of information.
If someone’s helping you with your computer, sending them this text file as an attachment will provide them with all this information about your machine.
In the left-hand pane are three subsections. To expand a subsection, click on the boxed plus sign to its left.
In the example above, I’ve expanded Components, and then underneath that, Storage, and then clicked on Drives. The result is information about the disk drives on this machine.
In this example, I’ve expanded Software Environment and then clicked on Running Tasks. The right-hand pane shows all the processes running on the machine.
I feel I have to include a disclaimer or two about Running Tasks.
- It’s common to have many running processes. A hundred or many more, depending on how you’re using your machine, is not uncommon.
- An informational item that says something “failed” is not a sign of a problem. All it usually means is that an attempt to see if your machine has a certain thing failed because your machine doesn’t have that thing.
- Empty items are also not uncommon and don’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. In most cases, it simply means that the item is not currently in use or present.
And of course, it’s quite common to see lots and lots and lots of gibberish you don’t understand. This information is really targeted at technicians and other professionals who at least understand the information related to their areas of expertise.
With those concerns out of the way, definitely feel free to poke around in msinfo32. It only shows information and makes no changes. You can’t hurt anything just by looking.
Run msinfo32 to get a detailed report of your machine’s state and configuration now to become familiar with its contents and how to export the information. Next time you’re looking for help, mention that you can provide this information. It’s not helpful for every situation, but when it is, the person helping you may be quite appreciative.
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