Simple system snapshot offers no bells and whistles

Skip this free utility if you're looking for a system optimizer. It gathers system data in one handy interface, but you'll need to look elsewhere if you want to tweak your PC's performance.

Want to know what programs launch when you boot your system? Want to see a list of installed programs? This simple utility displays some basic info that's good to keep track of as you maintain your system.

Smart System Informer launches a small, tabbed window that's nothing fancy, but its functional appearance is easy to read and comprehend. It quickly scans your system and returns info about its BIOS, CPU chip, video and monitor, fixed and removable drives, memory use and currently running processes, a list of start-up programs, and a list of all installed programs.

This free utility performed quickly in our tests, although we didn't like that it installed two desktop icons: one for launching Smart System Informer itself, another to launch the developer's Web site, which merely promotes other products. However, we did like that we could open a program's folder or simply launch a selected app from the list of installed programs; and that we could launch a Google search about an app from the same list.

Saving a report about the Smart System Informer's system scan as either an HTML or text file was handy. But the app's lack of bells and whistles will keep it from appealing to experienced users since all this info is already available through Task Manager or Windows' Control Panel, and because Smart System Informer provides only a static snapshot of the PC. However, many novices will appreciate the simplicity of accessing all that data in one spot with this freeware.

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