[Review] System Information for Windows (Pro)

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

System Information for Windows (Pro)

Version reviewed:

v2010 Build 0310

Supported OS:

Windows 98+

Price:

Prices vary depending on version and license amount, but a single “Technician’s License” starts at $69 (USD) but you can get it for free for a limited time at Giveawayoftheday.com!

Software description as per the developer:

SIW is an advanced System Information for Windows  tool that gathers detailed information about your system properties and settings and displays it in an extremely comprehensible manner.

————————-{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Straightforward and easy to use.
  • Displays detailed information about user’s computer from hardware to installed software and everything in between.
  • Allows user to output “reports” in multiple different formats (HTML, CSV, TXT, XML).
  • Comes with a handful of useful “extra” tools such as a password revealer, MAC address changer, etc.
  • Has a portable version.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • The password revealer doesn’t work very well.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”10″}Very easy to use. However, keep in mind that by nature of this type of software, SIW will display a lot of “technical” information so you may feel overwhelmed if you don’t know what they all mean.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”9″}Claimed the name of my Windows is “Windows 7 (Business)” in one place and “Windows 7 Professional” in another. I am using Windows 7 Professional. Also the password revealer doesn’t work very well. Otherwise, though, performs really well.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”5″}I can see some people finding it useful, while some won’t.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”7″}Although $69 may seem very high, the price is around the ballpark when compared to the price of rival commercial software. Keep in mind, also, that there is a freeware version for home/non-commercial users.
{/for}
{for=”Arbitrary Equalizer” value=”9″}This category reflects an arbitrary number that does not specifically stand for anything. Rather this number is used to reflect dotTech’s overall rating/verdict of the program in which all the features and alternatives have been considered.
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_badb}

If you decide to use the installer version of System Information for Windows, during installation you will be prompted by an OpenCandy advertisement asking you if you want to install a third party software, like so:

Be sure to select “Do not Install…” unless you specifically want to install the third party software. (You don’t need to install the third party software for System Information for Windows to work properly.) If you want to avoid being presented with this advertisement, use the portable version of System Information for Windows.

{/rw_badb} –>

{rw_verdict}[tupr]
{/rw_verdict} –>

System Information for Windows is a PC “diagnostic/system information” software; it “audits” your PC and tells you what it finds. In other words, it scans your computer and displays a ton of information about it, ranging from your hardware, to your software, and everything in between (it even knows what underwear your computer is wearing).

This is what System Information for Windows’ main program window looks like:

Do note that when you first run SIW it will open fully maximized. However, if you resize the program window, every time after that the program will start sized at that window size you set it at.

This is all the information SIW can find and display for you:

You simple need to click on the category of information that you want and SIW scans your computer, then displays it for you, like so:

If you right-click on the information displayed, you can copy the information (all of the information in that category) to clipboard, print it, or export it to a HTML, CSV, TXT, or XML file:

In addition to being able to generate a “report” of individual categories like I just mentioned, users are also able to generate a report of multiple categories. To do this, simply go to “File” -> “Create Report File” and select the type of report desired (HTML, CSV, TXT, or XML):

Examples of how each type of report will look like can be found at the following links: CSV, HTML, TXT or XML. If XML is selected, users can use download a SIW Viewer to view the XML report.

The categories that will be included in the multiple-category report is determined by the ones that are selected under “Options” (“Tools” -> “Options”):

In addition to the system information/diagnostic features of SIW, SIW includes a handful of other “tools” for users to use:

  • Eureka!

Eureka is a “password revealer”; it shows the hidden password behind the asterisks. The only problem is during my tests Eureka doesn’t work very well at all. In fact, I couldn’t even get it to reveal one password.

  • MAC Address Changer

MAC Address Changer allows you to change the MAC address of various of your computer’s devices.

  • Broadband speed test opens a link to the developer’s website where you can conduct a speed test.
  • Wake on LAN

Wake on LAN allows you to wake up computers on your LAN (if supported).

  • CPU and Memory Usage

A monitor for CPU and memory usage.

  • Win9x Password Cracker

(Screenshot taken by the developer.)

Tries to crack the password if you are on Windows 9x

  • Win9x Performance Monitor

(Screenshot taken by the developer.)

  • Shutdown/Restart

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

SIW has a free for non-commercial use version. This chart explains the differences in features (there aren’t that many differences):

All of these tools are “system information/diagnostic” tools:

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}System Information for Windows is a terrific application. It is light, provides a whole lot of information, comes with a handful of useful tools, and even has a portable version. I give it two thumbs up and highly recommend it to anyone that needs it. (Remember that SIW has a freeware version for home users so not everyone needs to purchase it.)
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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31 comments

  1. MikeR

    @ Worried:

    Many thanks for posting back and good to hear all’s well — any queries, just post here.

    Though the thought occurs: does this mean you’re going to have to change from posting as Worried to, um, Unworried?

    :wink:

  2. Worried

    @Phaedron:

    Thanks for the information – both to you and to MikeR. KeePass looks like a fine substitute for what I have been using.

    Again, Thank you for the time to answer and steer me in the right direction.

    No longer worried!

  3. MikeR

    Hi Patrick:

    Some nice thoughts there.

    Your motto about always being alert should be a given where every computer user is concerned but to judge from complaints that appear now and again on GOTD it seems there are many who can’t be bothered to read the screens that may pop up during a software installation routine.

    The result is unwanted crap on the user’s machine followed by a tirade directed at the software developer (most recently, a GOTD poster warned everyone to avoid ‘FormatFactory’ because it was riddled with spyware. The idiot had only himself to blame for installing an Ask Toolbar. . .)

  4. Patrick

    Re. Opencandy

    @ all concerned
    @ Ashraf
    @ MikeR

    Sorry for this late comment. Ran a deep scan of my system after installing SIW just to make sure ànd defragged all my HD’s. Took some time :)

    From the information I found I gathered it’s the developers who make it possible that a one time “special offer” popup screen appears during installation of their software (in this case the SIW developer) and are probably paying the Candyman a fee for each time a customer accepts the offer.

    I also understood (from the sources I mentionned earlier) that the user who accepts the extra may have some candy leftover(s) on his system and that it’s not evident nor easy to trace and delete those. But, as I have declined the freebie I can’t be certain about that…

    So, as long as you answer “No” to the Candyman’s invitation -which clearly some people don’t- there should be no problem.

    I’m glad that my interpretation roughly agrees with MikeR’s and Ashraf’s :)

    I downloaded SIW without any hassle and during installation got the same offer Ashraf got (Xonobi indeed), declined and continued installation. Runs beautifully!

    I also noticed, Ashraf, that you included a warning at the beginning of your review after you became aware of this confusing add coming with GAOTD SIW. I appreciate (again) your concern for accurate information.
    I’m afraid that the people at GAOTD don’t consider it part of their mission to evaluate or test the software they offer to a degree that would anticipate user’s wories about stuff like Opencandy because they correctly consider it not to be malware or spyware.
    Their assessment (guarantee) that all offers are free of malignant code holds, but users obviously remain critical -which I believe to be a good thing in all circumstances anyway. Always be on your “qui vive”.

    Conclusions:
    - no harm done, all’s well that ends well
    - we have learned something new, at least in my case that is :)

    Recommendation:
    - open a thread on the Forum that specifically and exclusively deals with confusing adds during installation of any software
    - open a thread on the Forum that specifically and exclusively deals with security issues
    [I may have overlooked such threads, in which case I beg you excuse me. Perhaps some security related items are hidden in other threads? I have searched but...]

    Thanks and happy weekend to all!
    Patrick.

  5. MikeR

    I do think things are getting a bit out of hand when ‘threats’ get misrepresented and innocent parties get blamed.

    As I posted at #16 and as Ashraf posted independently at #19, OpenCandy is NOT malware, NOT a threat and NOT an infection.

    As it seems a relatively new promotional platform, it’ll likely appear with increasing frequency in software downloads whether they’re from GOTD or not.

    Seeking to persuade the innocent and unwary by asserting “the developer of this software recommends” is a marketing tactic as pathetic as it’s shabby.

    But that’s all it is. Just refuse to accept the ‘recommendation’ and ignore any OpenCandy software client.

    And when OpenCandy rears its head again, as it will, please don’t blame GOTD, either: Ashraf / dot.tech may well at some future date recommend an app whose developer may be on an earner from OpenCandy — but Ashraf won’t know about it in advance, and nor will anyone else.

    I appreciate the dangers that arise when computer users aren’t savvy enough to spot a threat. But dangers also arise when threats are flagged without justification: crying ‘fire’ is one thing, crying wolf, another.

    @ Worried: Phaedron beat me to it. KeePass is pretty darn good.

  6. Phaedron

    [ NOTE to Ashraf: the world seems to be capable of only one-syllable words. You almost got the longer version of *star* right: it's as-ter-isks. Props. :-) ]

    To Worried: I’ve been a long-time user of the freeware KeePass app. Drag’n’drop, hotkeys, TANs, more..

    To 22 Ashraf: it’s ‘consolation’. ;)
    To 20 Ann J: Giveaway is one word. GotD. ;)

    To Ashraf: Many thanks.

  7. Worried

    @MikeR:

    Thanks for commenting on the password protection. I have been using an old program called ‘whisper’ for many years and thought they were safe. I’m currently looking for something better. From #15, it looks like Sxipper or Lastpass are the first to try. Any recommendations?

  8. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Ann J.: Ann, as I explained in my comment just above yours, OpenCandy isn’t malware as far as I can tell. It is an advertising platform, like how Google AdSense is for websites. It is the equivalent of being prompted to install a third party toolbar, such as what happens with CCleaner. The difference is the OpenCandy platform allows developers to not have to bundle third party software with their installers; OpenCandy handles the advertisements so I believe OpenCandy “calls home” just like how Google AdSense “calls home” – so it can find out what ad to display. I don’t think its malware although I can’t be sure since I don’t know exactly how it works.

    Even though I don’t like these types of “install this other program during installation” types, I really appreciate that OpenCandy is making the advertisements opt-in instead of opt-out; this way people don’t install third party software without knowing it.

    However, all that said, yes I would also prefer if OpenCandy was not included in the installer. People can use the portable version, though, if that is a problem.

    Lastly, OpenCandy has nothing to do with GOTD. OpenCandy is directly from the developer of SIW; I do believe GOTD is not at fault for this one although they should have vetted the software and told the developer to remove OpenCandy before appearing on GOTD.

  9. Ann J.

    I had the same problem. I figured that if you cut the Internet connection just after GAOTD activation that would stop opencandy from “phoning home.” Tried this method on two other systems, and the “question” did not come up.

    I cannot guarantee there’s no other adware (or spyware) but this did work.

    Interesting note: I posted this on gaotd’s site, and they CENSORED the comment! I usually posted there when I found problems in their offerings and 95% of the time my comments also wouldn’t post or would be removed. It seems gaotd is heavily censored in favor of the developers. Unfortunate has they have posted a number of junkwares which were downright dangerous, and my warnings went unheard. How many other warnings from other IT pros go unheard? (And I’ve been a pro for 30+ years back to when I and five others were on the ‘Internet’ [called telnet LOL!] >!< * chatting, gaming and even researching at times.)

    Ashraf, you have helped more people than you know. Apparently they don't censor your comments I'm guessing, although you may have had similar experiences. Your ratings are KEY.

    Good luck with gaotd and BE CAREFUL!

  10. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Ashraf: Okay I just downloaded the installer version and I see what everyone means – during installation you are promoted to install another program (for me it was Xonobi or something); however unlike other installers for this one you are given clear options for “yes” or “no” and “yes” is not preselected; in other words it is not an opt-out like many others. So I don’t think there is not anything to be afraid of here; users can always download the portable version if they are afraid to click “no” for the installer version. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

    EDIT: Also as far as I can tell, “OpenCandy” is not malware. It is an advertising platform that basically prompts users to install third party software during installation. Think of it like being asked to install a toolbar, more or less. That is not to say I am in favor of it; rather that I think the fear around it is unfounded.

  11. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    OpenCandy? What is going on? I havn’t downloaded this from GOTD so I don’t know – I used the portable version from the developer’s website and it is OpenCandy-free.

  12. Jopja

    Not downloading because of the Open Candy (opencandy.com) threat. Not posting this comment on GAOTD because all negative comments I’ve ever posted on GAOTD were either filtered out or later removed.

    My comments are similar to that above (no bad language). Threatening, isn’t it? LOL. Free speech not allowed??…conclusion…GAOTD is a scam.

  13. MikeR

    @ Patrick:

    There’s no Candy to open.

    During the install process of GOTD’s SIW (Business) app on my computer, a small advisory screen appeared to the effect that:

    “this developer recommends you install”

    something or other — I think it was an app from UniBlue.

    I’m assuming Uniblue is a client of the Candyman, and that the advisory screen was a ‘promotional platform’ engineered by Mr Candy in hope of making a fast buck.

    The business model, if it can be dignified as such, would therefore seem to be that Mr Candy gets lots of daft developers to pay for his services, in exchange for which he then offers developers of other software a small placement fee (or commission incentive) to allow Candyman clients’ software to be touted at the time of installation of the developer’s own software.

    Put it another way: Candyman isn’t an app, doesn’t ‘install’ and doesn’t threaten. It’s a marketing tool, and as such is as worthy of taking the slightest notice of as any other hype.

    Personally, I think Mr Candy’s on a loser here, as are any of his clients. The assertion that:

    “this developer recommends you install X product”

    when you know X product has nothing at all to do with the Y product you’re actually installing is as daft as it gets where experienced users are concerned.

    I’m not, then, going to be overly critical of the little developer of SIW (and we are talking about a relatively small business here) for earning a few bucks from the Candy snake-oil punt.

    But no kudos at all to the much larger UniBlue.

    In fact, the outfit’s just got itself black-listed where I’m concerned.

    It is aiding and abetting the exploitation of novice or unwary computer users — people likely to be suckered in by that Candy splash screen and sign up for software they don’t need / can’t afford but which, they believe, has been recommended to them in their own best interest.

    Yeeach, Uniblue. And yeeach, Candyman. Clearly, they deserve each other.

    @ Worried:

    I hesitate to ask, but. . . where the heck are you storing your passwords???

    The app being deployed by SIW is actually fairly primitive, so if it’s uncovering “each and every one” of your passwords then you’ve as near as darn it got ‘em in plain sight anyway.

  14. Pwnana

    Im gonna say that IMHonestO, this is better than Everest. As far s I can tell, it gives all the same hardware and system info as Everest, but also includes tons of other info like Drivers and Scheduled Tasks.

    As for passwords, it only found a few that were stored in Firefox. Any saved by Sxipper or LastPass are apparently secure enough.

  15. Patrick

    Hi Team!

    Re: opencandy – GAOTD 26-03-2010

    In response to Suggestion by Anonym: “installs adware/spyware crap called opencandy” and reading some comments, I Googled “opencandy”…

    From where I am located, I get :

    http://www.google.be/search?sourceid=navclient&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_nlBE332BE332&q=opencandy
    Resultaten 1 – 10 van circa 360.000 voor opencandy (0,06 seconden)

    And just picked out the following from the first resultspage:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCandy
    OpenCandy is a company based in San Diego which produces a Web 2.0 advertising software module. It is a Microsoft Windows library which can be incorporated in a Windows installer. When a user installs an application which has the OpenCandy library, they are presented with the option to install additional software that it recommends.[1]
    The software was originally developed for the DivX installation, by CEO Darrius Thompson. For example, when installing DivX, the user was prompted to optionally install the Yahoo! Toolbar. Divx received $15.7 million during the first nine months of 2008 from Yahoo and other software developers, after 250 million downloads.[2]
    For example, when installing the Miro Internet television application, OpenCandy can suggest that the user also install the Audacity digital audio editor.
    The recommendations are based on the choice of the developer, but also dynamically scan the users machine, and can take into account factors such as the operating system and the user’s geographical location.[2]
    Chester Ng, the former DivX business development director, is chief business officer. and Mark Chweh, former DivX engineering director, is the Chief technology officer.[2]
    References
    1. ^ Needleman, Rafe (11 November 2008), OpenCandy brings ad market to software installs. What?, CNET news, http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10094314-2.htmlcpart=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20, retrieved 2009-08-18
    2. ^ a b c Marshall, Matt (10 November 10, 2008), OpenCandy inserts recommendations when you install software, http://digital.venturebeat.com/2008/11/10/opencandy-recommends-software-when-youre-installing-stuff/, retrieved 2009-08-18

    http://www.techsupportforum.com/microsoft-support/windows-xp-support/347215-open-candy-file-problem.html
    Welcome to Tech Support Forum
    = just read this to keep an open mind? ?

    http://www.crunchbase.com/company/opencandy
    OpenCandy is the distribution and monetization platform exclusively for consumer software providers. The Company maximizes value for its partners by delivering compelling recommendations through an exceptional user experience. OpenCandy helps users discover useful applications by powering millions of recommendations during installation of the world’s best software every month.

    http://cranialsoup.blogspot.com/2009/05/opencandy-new-kind-of-adwarespyware.html
    They claim to be doing something noble, but the only thing sweet about OpenCandy
    is the sales pitch to naive developers that might just fall for it, tricking them into thinking it is somehow different than the typical common adware/spyware.
    A lot of developers do seem to be biting the bait, but no matter how you slice it, it’s still adware/spyware, and to me it stinks worse than the old fashioned kind.

    NOW… WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH THIS “OPEN CANDY”??
    Shall we open it or would we rather pass this “candy” candidly on?..

    I have been searching on GOTD ànd on http://dottech.org/ (forums and all)…
    Zilch ?

    All in all, it seems that you and I will have to go back to school again?

    PS: I am wondering: would Google give the same 1-on-1 results I get from where I am located? Or would it differ from country to country?
    Just wondering about China and such…
    ;-)

    Patrick.

    [This comment #69 at time of second submission to GOATD 22:55 GMT+1]

  16. Worried

    Ashraf-
    First, thanks for the critique of SIW Pro. Your major criticism is that it cannot find the passwords. It found mine – each and every one! I thought they were secure! Now I am worried that anyone else could find them so readily. Do you use anything special to keep them hidden?

    Many Thanks,

  17. Mags

    @Thomas Williams:

    To make the program portable:

    Install as per GOTD instructions, then go to the file where installed (default Program Files/SIW. Copy the siw.exe file and paste to your flash drive or whatever portable device you want and it becomes portable for use on other PCs.

    Hope this helps.

  18. OldElmerFudd

    I’ve used SIW Free for years, no problem. It comes as as a no-install stand-alone .exe in addition to the install version. I suspect the reason the Pro version gets flagged is because of the password revealer.

    If you need that function there are free programs that will help you:
    Password Revealer – http://www.rekenwonder.com/
    Password Revealer – http://www.deskperience.com/aqua-deskperience/password-revealer.html

    There’s a Firefox extension that serves a similar purpose. Show Passwords 1.4 –
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10174

  19. MikeR

    Mansion: I tend to use Google to look up an address.

    Re this version: I’m thinking it actually dfoes more in paid-for guise than the developer is advising.

    That said, I have SIW Free and it’s OK. . . but by no means exhaustive or definitive.

    This isn’t a criticism of SIW.

    Rather that — in my experience — it’s the usual one-finds-one, another-finds-something-else phenomenon, which in this instance means SIW, Everest and BELARC are all in a dead heat.

  20. Mansion Trash

    This is MansionTrash again,
    (Just so ya know, I puke off the back deck of a large house, and my friends, the so-called ‘trailertrash’, puke off the back porch of a small house. So can’t we all just get along?)
    Anyhow, I just wanted to comment here once again, as I have done in the past due to not having my ‘trojan’ warnings posted on the GAOTD site when a particular program offered there had an obvious trojan/backdoor. I have been using the paid-for version of SIW for a couple of years now, and many times used it to read the registry hive file from slaved drives that wouldn’t boot any longer in their system. It is a fantastic program for many other uses as well. However,, I cannot recommend todays offer to anyone after reading the comments on GAOTD about the possible DLL-download, or possible trojan activities. I do not have anything to hide, but I do have an issue with privacy theft. And for those that think its fine to be spied upon, please let me look up your dress !
    Sincerely, MansionTrash

  21. Thomas Williams

    Ashraf – you mention a portable version, but I looked carefully through the Setup procedure and did not see anything about that option. Did I miss something or is any installation portable?
    tswill2

  22. Samuel

    @meteorman: To reset a BIOS password, just take the watch battery out of the the system. Then after about 10 seconds to a minute put it back.

    I think if I get this that I’ll get the Free version so I don’t have to worry about reinstalling it.

  23. meteorman

    Hi Ashraf,
    Do you know of something that will debrief a password out of a Bios, or clear it. For some reason when I installed the Paragon Backup Capsule on my HP Compag laptop, it set a Bios setup password, that I can’t get rid of. I can still use the laptop, I just can’t enter Bios setup. I know the backup capsule modifies the MBR. Is there some arcane relationship between the MBR and the Bios setup password? Thank You for all that you do ;)

  24. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @RobCr: Sorry I forgot to mention. No, the free for home use version cannot create CSV, TXT, or XML reports. Otherwise, yes. I will update the post in one second.

    EDIT: Post updated. Please refer to the new chart I just posted under free alternatives.