Windows XP / Beginners

System Information Tools

System Information also gives you a Tools menu that provides easy access to some features and tools in Windows XP. If you check out this menu, you see right away that you can access the Backup tool, the Network Connections folder, the Hardware Wizard, and a Disk Cleanup utility.

File Signature Verification Utility

To protect and ensure Windows XP's compatibility and security, Microsoft signs files that the operation system uses. You can use the Signature Verification Utility, to make certain that no unsigned files are in use on your system.

By default, Windows XP displays a warning message before you install unsigned files. You can use this tool to gather information about any unsigned files on your system. When you open Signature Verification, just click the Start button to run the verification scan.

Once the scan is complete, you see a report showing all of the unsigned files on your system. Generally, you shouldn't have to use this tool. However, if you have installed some programs on your computer that are giving you problems, you can run this utility to check for signatures. If you need to use the tool, you can specify a few options by clicking the Advanced button. This opens an Advanced properties dialog box, which includes a Search tab and a Logging tab.

On the Search tab you can specify search parameters to look for system or other files that are not signed. For example, if you want to look for all .DLL files that are not signed, you can perform that search here. You can also choose to search in a particular folder.

On the Logging tab you can choose to log the results of the scan. With each scan, you can either append the data to the existing log or overwrite the log each time. By default, the log file is named sigverif.txt.

DirectX Diagnostic Tool

DirectX is a graphics technology that enables you to play three-dimensional (3-D) games and use other multimedia software. However, you can have problems with various versions of DirectX and its operation with your system components. The DirectX Diagnostic Tool gives you an easy interface with a bunch of tabs.

The DirectX files, media files, and drivers tabs of this tool report a variety of information to you. The Display, Sound, Music, Input, and Network tabs give you information about how DirectX is interacting with these system resources. Each of these tabs also contains a test button so you can directly test how DirectX is interacting with the hardware. This is a great tool that can help you identify exactly what incompatibilities are occurring with DirectX and your hardware.

Dr. Watson

Dr. Watson is a Windows tool that can inspect your system and generate a detailed report after a system fault has occurred. Dr. Watson can tell you what went wrong and sometimes suggest what can be done to fix the problem. Should you ever need to contact technical support, the staff may have you run Dr. Watson in order to take a "snapshot" of your system. Once the snapshot is taken, the report may be helpful in solving the problem.

Note You can run this tool yourself, of course. The results are usually easy to understand. If you see a particular application or device listed, you may need to retry reinstalling the application or device in question-or just remove it from Windows XP altogether.

[Previous] [Contents] [Next]