How to Use the PC Audit and Speccy Programs

Along with using the program Belarc Adivsor for a software inventory of your PC; there are two programs I recommend for a hardware inventory.

One is the freeware program called PC Audit; a system, hardware and software information tool. It extracts details of all components of the PC, shows installed software with version and product key. The free PC Audit does not require installation and can be used as a portable application. It can be run from a removable storage device such as a CD-ROM drive, USB flash drive or flash card.

This professional tool is designed to collect and present the maximum amount of information possible about your computer’s hardware and software which makes them suitable for users searching for driver updates, computer manufacturers, system integrators and technical experts as well.

The program is compatible with: from Windows NT up to Windows 10 and the Mac

Just click here to download PC Audit. Then click the Free Download button. You can either save the executable file to your download folder or just click the executable file (located in the lower left hand corner of your browser) to run. The program will present your machine’s hardware as shown below:

PC Audit Results
PC Audit Snapshot

In my limited research, I only found a trial network version for a hardware inventory of a Mac. You can check it out here.

The other program is also a free program called Speccy. (Their is a Pro version available for a price.) Speccy is the place to start if you need to know what’s inside your PC. See a quick summary, or dive deeper into every aspect of your PCs hardware so you can make informed upgrade and purchasing decisions.

Speccy gives you detailed information on every piece of hardware in your computer. Save time trawling through your computer for stats like CPU, motherboard, RAM, graphics cards and more. See everything laid out for you in one clean interface.

Speccy allows you to save your scan results directly as a snapshot, XML or text file for easy sharing. Handy for making sure your new computer has the right specs, or if tech support need to diagnose an issue with your computer.

My favorite of these two programs is Speccy. The program is from the same company that makes CCleaner discussed in an earlier post.

System requirements:

  • Windows 10, 8.1, 7, Vista and XP. Including both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but not RT tablet editions.

Installation

Click here to download Speccy; then click on the Download Free Version button. The screen will scroll to the bottom. Just click on the Free Download button. Finally, click on the Download button for the free version. They go through all these hoops in an attempt to get you to buy the Pro version.

The company does not have a Mac version but there are alternatives. Click here for the Mac downloads.

To install, click on the executable file in the lower left hand of your browser and follow the install instructions. A shortcut will be installed on your desktop. Once installed, click on Run Speccy button as shown below:

Speccy Install
Speccy Run screen

Viewing Speccy Results

Below is an actual screenshot of my Dell XPS hardware:

Speccy Results
Speccy snapshot of my PC

From the Main Menu, click on File for loading, saving, publishing, etc a snapshot of your results. You can save the results to a XML or text file.

Just click on the various menu options to expand that section. Check on the CPU option to see how “Hot” your PC is running or the RAM option to see what brand and type of memory modules are installed. You may want to upgrade or add more RAM. The items in blue and the little blue arrows are expandable; just click on them to see more or less detail.

Leave a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment about using these programs. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Using Belarc Advisor for software inventory

How to Use the Belarc Advisor Program

Many years ago I ran across this funny name program called Belarc Advisor. As an IT consultant, this program helped me a lot in ascertaining what hardware and software was installed on a machine.

The Belarc Advisor program is a free download licensed for personal use at home or work on a standalone machine. (Their is a network version for a price.) The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, local network inventory, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, security benchmarks and displays the results in a Web browser. Sorry, their is no free Mac version but you can find alternatives, just click here.

Belarc Advisor excels at providing those hard to find product keys or serial numbers for your installed programs.

Belarc products are used world wide in over 50 million computers. All of the profile information is kept private on your computer and is not sent to any web server. Some requirements are as follows:

  • Operating Systems: Runs on Windows 10, 2016, 8.1, 2012 R2, 8, 2012, 7, 2008 R2, Vista, 2008, 2003 SP2, XP SP3. Both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows are supported. Their commercial products also run on all other versions of Windows and on the Macintosh OS X, Linux, and Solaris operating systems.
  • Browsers: Runs on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and many others.

Installation

  1. Download your copy of Belarc Advisor.
  2. Either save the installer executable file to your download folder and run from there or click the file located in the lower left hand corner to install.
  3. You may get a popup dialog box about Windows is protecting your PC. If so, click on the More Info link then click Run anyway.
  4. Follow the install instructions.
  5. Click Yes to check for new Advisor definitions. When finished, click OK.
  6. Advisor will now build a profile of your machine and check your local network.
  7. A profile will be presented in your browser as noted in below screenshot:
Belarc Advisor Results
Partial snapshot of my Dell XPS machine using Belarc Advisor

Your Machine Profile Results

  1. In the upper left hand corner is a menu for the sections of the profile. Just click on one or scroll.
  2. Under the section Software Versions and Usage, you can click on the “i” for details.
  3. Your product keys are in the Software Licenses section. These are the ones the program was able to find.
  4. Pay attention to the Virus Protection, Missing Security Updates and Installed Microsoft Hotfixes sections to see if your machine is up-to-date.
  5. Since the profile is presented in your browser, you can right click anywhere and select Print to print the results.

You may be surprised at all the hardware and software installed on your machine.

My next post will deal with a detailed hardware inventory. Belarc Advisor is mainly for a listing of your installed software.

Leave a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment about using Belarc Advisor. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Using PC Audit and Speccy for hardware inventory

How to Tweet a Live Photo as a GIF

Starting with the iPhone 6s series, taking a Live Photo is on your device. This tip applies to iPhone and iPad.

This is for iPhone, iPad and Mac or similar devices.\

How to Take a Live Photo

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Make sure that your Camera is set to photo mode and that Live Photo is turned on. When it’s on, you see the Live Photo button (3 concentric circles icon) highlighted at the top of your Camera.
  3. Hold your device still
  4. Tap the shutter button

Live Photo is on by default. If you want to take a still image, tap the Live Photo button to turn off Live Photo. You can preserve your Camera settings so that Live Photo is always on or off. Go to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings.

Tweet Your Live Photo as a GIF

  1. Open your Twitter app
  2. In the bottom right hand corner, tap on the Compose button. Its icon features a feather encased in a blue circle.
  3. Locate and tap on your Live Photo in the quick-access image bar. You should see the Live icon overlayed on the thumbnail. If you are unable to find the Live Photo, select the Gallery button and then tap on your desired image.
  4. With the Live Photo loaded into the Tweet preview, tap on the “GIF” button found in the lower left hand corner. The Live Photo will be converted into a GIF and will play. You can select the Play button that appears when it stops to see the animation again.
  5. Type a brief message to go along with your GIF and tap the Tweet button.

That’s it. You are done.

How to find and play your Live Photos

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Go to the Photos tab
  3. Tap the Live Photo
  4. Firmly press the screen and hold

Also, you can Edit or add Effects to your Live Photo by tapping the appropriate option.

What if you want to transform a Live Photo to a static photo?

Instructions are for iOS 13:

  1. Open your Photos app
  2. Select the Live Photo
  3. Tap Edit
  4. Tap the Live Photo icon at bottom of the screen from the available actions
  5. Tap the Live Photo icon at the top of the screen so that it is not enabled
  6. Tap Done

Now, if you press hard on the photo, you won’t see any movement. You can always restore a Live Photo that you’ve edited by following those steps and tapping the icon to highlight it.

Leave a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

How to Use the Autoruns Program

Autoruns Results
Screenshot of Autoruns under Everything Tab

This is the third post in a series on “cleaning” your machine. The instructions are for a PC using the free program Autoruns from Sysinternals.

This is for Windows based operating systems

Before following this post, refer to the previous posts on Delete Junk Files and Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions.

Introduction:

This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and when you start various built-in Windows applications like Internet Explorer, Explorer and media players. These programs and drivers include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. Autoruns reports Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond other autostart utilities.

By default Autoruns starts by the Hide Signed Microsoft Entries option which helps you to zoom in on third-party auto-starting programs. Also, by default, the option to Hide Empty Locations is turned on. I recommend keeping these options.

You’ll probably be surprised at how many programs are launched automatically!

Running Autoruns:

  • Close all running programs
  • Empty your Recycle Bin
  • Click the following for Autoruns for Windows. We are going to just run the program instead of installing. If you want to install, click the download link at the top of the page and follow its instructions..
  • Click the Run Now from Sysinternals Live. Its located at the top underneath the download link. The autoruns.exe file should appear at the bottom of your screen.
  • Click on the file to run

The program has several options in the main menu to include File, Entry, Options and Help that you can explore. For our purposes, you want to know what entries cannot be found. To do this:

  • Click on each tab, like Logon, and look for any entry highlighted in yellow as shown in the image at the top of this post. At the end of the entry, the program will say “File Not Found”. Uncheck the box at the beginning of the entry. This lets Autoruns bypass this entry, in our case, on Logon. The Logon tab is the most important as it depicts what programs are loaded when you start your PC. If you want to stop a program on startup, just uncheck the box for the entry.
  • Do this for every tab at the top of the screen as shown below:
Autoruns Results
My screenshot for Logon Tab

When you uncheck a yellow highlighted entry, you may get the following popup dialog box:

If so, click on Run as Administrator and the program will restart giving you Admin privileges. Now you are able to uncheck the “File Not Found” entry(s).

Do this for every tab at the top of the program

Close Autoruns and any other running programs and reboot your PC.

Leave a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Delete Junk Files
Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions

How to Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions

This is the second post in a series on “cleaning” your machine. The instructions are for a PC using the free program Defraggler. For a Mac, the best solution is also free: Back up your drive using Time Machine and do a clean install.

Before following this post, refer to the previous post on Delete Junk Files. There is no sense in defragging junk files.

This is for Windows based operating systems

Definitions:

Fragmentation occurs on a hard drive, a memory module, or other media (like SSD) when data is not written closely enough physically on the drive. Those fragmented, individual pieces of data are referred to generally as fragments.

Defragmentation, then, is the process of un-fragmenting or piecing together, those fragmented files so they sit closer, physically, on the drive or other media, potentially speeding up the drive’s ability to access the file.

Why Fragmentation:

Fragments, like you just read, are simply pieces of files that aren’t placed next to each other on the drive. That might be kind of strange to think about, and nothing you would ever notice, but it’s true.

For example, when you create a new Microsoft Word file, you see the whole file in one place, like on the Desktop or in your Documents folder. You can open it, edit it, remove it, rename it, whatever you want. From your perspective, this is all happening in one place, but in reality, at least physically on the drive, this is often not the case.

Instead, your hard drive is probably saving portions of the file in one area of the storage device while the rest of it exists somewhere else on the device, potentially far away… relatively speaking, of course. When you open the file, your hard drive quickly pulls together all the pieces of the file so it can be used by the rest of your computer system.

When a drive has to read pieces of data from multiple different areas on the drive, it can not access the whole of the data as fast as it could if it had all been written together in the same area of the drive.

Over time, as more and more fragmentation occurs, there can be a measurable, even noticeable, slowdown. You might experience it as general computer sluggishness but, assuming excessive fragmentation has occurred, much of that slowness may be due to the time it takes your hard drive to access file after file, each in any number of different physical places on the drive.

A dedicated defragging tool is what you need. Disk Defragmenter is one such defragger and is included for free in the Windows operating system. That said, there are many third-party options as well, the better of which do a considerably better job at the defragmentation process than Microsoft’s built-in tool.

Installation

Defraggler is hands down my favorite one.

  • Close all running programs
  • Empty your Recycle Bin
  • Click here for Defraggler Download at from Piriform
  • At the top you see the Download Free Version button
  • Click on Download Free Version. The screen will scroll to the bottom.
  • Click on the Free Download button
  • Click on the Download button. I don’t know why they make this so difficult.
  • Follow the download instructions. Below is an image of what to expect:
Install Defragger
Download of Defraggler
  • After downloading, click the Install button
  • After installation has finished, you are presented with two options: Reboot Now or I want to manually reboot later. For this demonstration, I am choosing the second option.
  • Click the Finish button
  • A shortcut will appear on your desktop

Run Defraggler Analyze

Now we are ready to run the Defraggler program

  • First, restart/reboot your machine
  • Click on the desktop Defraggler shortcut
  • You are presented a screen like my image below
Analyze option

Next highlight a drive other than as SSD drive or flash drive and click the Analyze button. It is not recommended you defrag an SSD drive or a flash drive. These drives have no moving parts. Starting with Windows 7 these drives automatically have a TRIM operation to free up space. If I get a decent response to this post, I will explain how to check to see if TRIM is enabled in a future post.

If the Disk Health does not show GOOD in green you may have a problem. Your hard disk is either bad or is going bad. I recommend closing any open programs and shut down your machine. Kindly take the PC to your local Geek shop, like Geek Squad at Best Buy, and have them take a look at your hard drive. If it needs to be replaced, hopefully, they can copy your data from the old drive to the new one.

Following is my screenshot showing the Analyze results of my drives:

Analyze results

Now I want to show you what the Windows 10 Optimizer stated about the status of my hard drive.

Windows analyze results

There is a big difference on C and D drives. Windows Optimizer says 0%, Defraggler has much different results; C drive is 6% and D drive is 11% defragged. In my experience, Defraggler is the best software to defrag your hard drive(s) and/or partitions.

On my PC, I have one hard drive split into 3 partitions, C, D and E. C is an SSD drive that contains the Operating System. D drive contains all my programs. E drive stores my backup data. (G and L partitions are for my external backup drive.) By doing this, I can easily backup all my data because its only located in one place, the E drive. Windows wants to store your data all over the place. So, if you are buying a new machine, I recommend partitioning your hard drive into 3 partitions and point any program data to the E drive. Install all your programs on the D drive. Some programs give you no options on where to store the program or data; these programs default to drive C. Okay, enough of my soap box drama. Lets continue.

After Analysis is completed, if any drive shows greater than 10% fragmentation, I recommend you defrag the drive.

Run Defraggler Defrag

To run properly, Defraggler needs at least 10% free space on your hard drive. It will run, rather slowly, if there is less than 10% free space available.

Click on the drop down box of Defrag and choose Quick Defrag. This defrag process can take several hours. You can pause or stop the defrag and continue later. I recommend defragging just before you go to sleep; let the program run all night. Also, I recommend you turn off your screen saver before running.

After running, if the fragmentation still shows greater than 10%, then run the Defrag option from the drop down box.

Below is the image after I defragged partition D:

Defraggler results

Notice that partition has no fragmented files. I recommend analyzing your hard drive every 4 months and defragging if necessary. The only sub option I use is the File List to see which files are fragmented.

Remember, your SSD or flash drives will not need to be analyzed/defragged by Defraggler.

Shut down Defraggler and any other running program and reboot your PC.

Leave a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Delete Junk Files

How to Delete Junk Files on a PC

This is the first post in a series on “cleaning” your machine. The instructions are for a PC using the program CCleaner. There is a Mac version of CCleaner.

Your desktop and/or laptop needs a regular cleaning, like washing your car. When your system crashes, programs crash, your Internet browser fails to work properly, you perform lots of searches on the Internet; these issues leave junk files and traces of information on your Solid State Device (SSD) or hard drive(s). The more of these situations you experience, the slower your PC.

CCleaner can delete temporary files for Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Firefox. Some of the major options are built into Windows 10 latest update; you just have to find them. Some experts say that CCleaner is no longer needed. But I still find it useful. The details on how to use Windows 10 features similar to CCleaner will be available in a later post.

This tip explains how to get rid of these Junk files. You can do this manually or setup a schedule (Professional version only). I recommend you run this program for your PC desktop and/or laptop at least once a month.

The basic steps are to install the CCleaner program. The program is free or you can upgrade to a professional version for a price. Once installed (you only have to do this once), you can let the program Analyze your PC. Then you can Clean your machine.

I have used this program in many countries on all types of PCs. CCleaner has been in existence since 2004. By running this program at least once a month, your PC will be faster and smoother.

This is for Windows based operating systems

Install the program CCleaner (you only have to do this once).

  • Close all running programs
  • Empty your Recycle Bin
  • Click here for CCleaner Download at from Piriform
  • For the Mac version, click here
  • Scroll down till you see the Download button (this is the Free version)
  • Click on Download
  • Follow the download instructions. Below is an image of what to expect:
Install CCleaner
CCleaner download

On your initial install you can immediately run the program. You are doing the Easy Clean option of CCleaner.

  • After downloading, click the Install button
  • Click the Run CCleaner button
  • Click the Start button
  • CCleaner may want you to close some programs. If so, click on the Close All button
  • The program analyzes your machine and presents you with the following screen:
CCleaner Results
CCleaner analyze

Do not be surprised if you see tens of thousands of Junk files.

Now you are ready to click the Clean All button. When the program has finished you will be presented with the following screen:

CCleaner Results
CCleaner results

Now close CCleaner and restart your machine.

That’s it. You are done! CCleaner will add a shortcut to your desktop.

There are other options available:

  • Custom Clean for a more robust cleaning by changing the settings. I do not recommend changing any of these settings. If you do change them, they will remain set for subsequent runs of CCleaner or until you download a new version.
  • Registry allows you to find and fix Registry issues (always backup the registry first). I do not recommend you use this feature.
  • Tools has many sub options. The most useful for me is the Uninstall option which allows you to uninstall a program. If you highlight and right-click on a program name, you are presented with other options. I recommend only using the Uninstall option or click on the Uninstall button.
  • Options has many sub options as well. Sadly the Scheduling option is only available in the Professional version. I use none of these options.
  • Upgrade option is for updating the Free version to the Professional version.

On any screen you can Check for Updates. Just click to check.

My next post with be a will cover the topic of disk fragmentation; how to check and resolve the issue.

Leave a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions
Wise Disk Cleaner

How Do You Start Safari With a Blank Page?

This is the second post in a series on Apple iPhone and its Safari web browser.

In the “old days”, back to iPhone 4, Safari was slooooow to load. By default, Safari either loads the last page you visited or your bookmarks. This tip will start Safari with a blank page. Then you can immediately begin searching for a particular topic without having to wait for graphics and text to load.

This is for iPhone, iPad and Mac or similar devices

Following are the steps to do this:

  • Tap on Safari, usually located in bottom right of your Home page
  • Tap on URL field and type “about:blank” (without quotation marks)
  • Tap Go (for iOS13)
  • Tap on the bottom Share arrow icon and scroll
  • Select “Add to Home Screen” to create a bookmark
  • Label the bookmark to something like “Blank Safari” (without any quotation marks)
  • Tap Add (for iOS13)
  • You will see a white blank Safari icon on your Home page. If you have several pages, it will appear on an empty icon space
  • You can drag this icon to wherever you want
  • When you tap this icon, Safari will instantly load a blank page

Your blank Safari screen should look like the following image

Safari Blank Page
Just highlight the about:blank URL and enter your search criteria.

Leave a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.