Whether you want help monitoring your PC's activities, the ability to check your hard drive for problems or even a fun way to distinguish between folder, there's plenty of free system tools out there to help you. Here's our pick of five of the best.
1. Seagate SeaTools for Windows 126.96.36.199
Seagate SeaTools for Windows is a collection of tools that will check your hard drives for hardware problems. (Seagate are the authors, but it works at some level with most drives, regardless of the manufacturer.)
The program can check a drive's S.M.A.R.T. status, for instance, if it supports that technology. You're able to run a quick drive self-test, allowing it to report problems. Simple read tests allow you to confirm that a drive is still working correctly, and a Long Drive Self Test may also be able to repair damaged sectors.
2. LookInMyPC 1.0
The key to troubleshooting PC problems comes in gathering all the necessary data. You could try to do that manually, running MSCONFIG, REGEDIT, various Control Panel applets, Task Manager and more, then manually noting down important points. But it's a lot easier to use LookInMyPC, which automatically locates and assembles all the information for you.
LookInMyPC collect real-time information on running applications, processes, and the users logged into your PC. Software-related data includes everything from the list of installed applications, to your service settings, Windows startup programs, antivirus and firewall programs. And there's basic hardware details on your CPU, BIOS, DVD, hard drives, RAM and more.
3. Folderico 4.0 RC8
The most obvious way to distinguish between folders in Windows Explorer is by name – but a cursory glance can make it difficult to differentiate between folders with similar name. Folderico is a simple utility that makes it possible to change the icon for individual folders.
The program has been designed for 32-bit versions of Windows 7 and can be used in one of two ways. The first option is to change icons for individual folders from within the program itself, but Folderico also integrates with Explorer. This means that you can right click on a folder and select a new icon from the context menu.
4. DriveLetterView 1.05
Many computers now have two or more hard drives installed, and in addition to this, removable drive, media card readers and CD/DVD drives can means that when you open up Explorer there are a large number of drive letters listed. DriveLetterView is a free tool that enables you to take control of these devices and better manage drive letter that have been assigned to them.
In the case of memory card readers, it is common to find that even empty media slots are listed in Explorer and have been assigned a drive letter. When the time comes to copy files to a drive, it can be difficult to determine which is the one that you should be using. Using DriveLetterView you can opt to hide drives that are not being used and easily change drive letters to suite your needs.
5. SIV 4.17
SIV is an extremely comprehensive system information tool that tells you everything you could ever want to know about your PC.
For example, when you launch the program you'll see a button called Volumes, and so you might think this would lead to a screen that lists your PCs drives, their free space and so on.
What you actually get is much, much more. Like pointers to your various drive types, manufacturers, serial numbers and controllers. There's geometry data (the number of cylinders, tracks, sectors and more). Information on partition layouts. And live file system statistics, so you can see which drives are being accessed the most.