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Jan's Computer Basics:

Hands On: Info?

When you ask someone to help you with a computer problem, you will probably be asked some standard questions about your system and programs. Be prepared and have the info ready.

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Questions for You

Kind of computer More than the brand name. What kind of processor and speed, like - Intel Pentium E5400 / 2.7 GH or AMD Phenom II X4 3.4 GHz
Memory in MB (megabytes) or GB (gigabytes)
Free hard disk space in MB (megabytes) or GB (gigabytes)
Operating system The exact version, like Windows 10 Home 64 bit, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, Windows XP SP2, System X...
Program Exact version number and (for company tech support) registration code.
Anti-malware , firewall, and other programs If there are known conflicts with other software, you may be asked if you are running those other programs, especially anti-malware and firewall programs.
Description of problem What are the symptoms? Can you reproduce the problem? Details are important here. Be a good research scientist before you ask for technical support. If you cannot consistently reproduce the problem, at least make good notes that describe what happens.

Where to find system info?

DOS icon(Old) In DOS look at your boot screens for processor and speed and memory info.

From the command line type mem /p and you will get memory information. Look especially at Total Memory.

Results of mem command in DOS

The command msd will start Microsoft Diagnostics which will give even more info. The operating system version is shown. Look at Disk Drives for free space on each drive.

Win95 iconControl Panel: System - In Windows open the Control Panel and then System to get the System Properties dialog.
You'll see your Windows version, registration code, processor type, and memory (RAM).

Dialog: System Properties > General tab (WinXP)  Dialog: System (Vista) Dialog: System (Win10)

Win95 icon Win10: Settings > System > About - Same information

Settings > System > About (Win10)

Win95 iconControl Panel:Device Manager - Shows your devices and what drivers they are using. This can be useful if the problem is related to a device.

Dialog: System Properties > Hardware tab (WinXP)Dialog: Device Manager (WinXP) Dialog: Device Manager (Vista) Dialog: Device Manager (Win10)

For free disk space, in Windows open My Computer/Windows Explorer/File Explorer and select the drive.

My Computer showing space on Drive C (WinXP) Icon: WinXPWinXP: The size of the hard disk and the amount of free space shows in the Details about the drive (bottom section of the left pane)
Versions after WinXP: In the Details Pane you will see Free Space. You may have turn on the display of the Details pane. In Vista and Win7 show the Details pane at the bottom of the window, so a short window may not have room to show the free space. In Win8, Win8.1, and Win10, the Details pane is on the side and has plenty of room.

 Explorer window showing free space on drive C (Vista) Details pane showing free space for drive (Win8.1)

Screen Tip: Free space on drive (Win8.1)Icon: Win8 Icon: Win8.1 Icon: Win8.1 Win8, Win8.1, Win10: Hover over the icon for a drive and a screen tip appears that includes the free space. In some views this information shows directly by the icon.

Dialog: Properties for drivie - Free Space (Win8.1)Versions after WinXP: Right click on the drive in any My Computer or Explorer window to open a context menu and select Properties. The dialog that opens shows the total space, used space, and free space on the General tab. It may take a few moments for the dialog to show the calculated Free Space.

Where to find program info?

Collage of dialogs from About... commandFor a program's version number and your registration code, go to the program's Help menu and choose About > [name of program].

You'll get some kind of window or web page that shows the program's name, version number, author, etc. The illustration shows how creative the authors' can be with such dry information. Some will provide buttons or links to system information or to technical support pages. Some will even play music for you! It is rather amazing how varied such About... displays are.

Corel registration cardIf the registration code is not in the About window, it might be on the CD box or on a separate paper or registration card. You should keep this somewhere safe or keep a list of all such numbers for all of your installed programs. A password management program may have a Notes field that you could store this in, along with your log in for the software's web site.

If you cannot find the registration code, most programs have a web site where you can submit a request for this information. That will work ONLY IF you registered the product to start with and if you know what email address you used in the registration!