There is no end to the amount of utilities that proclaim to “help” you out with your computer, by scanning files, cleaning things up and grabbing system information. Its an area of software that is fraught with danger, though. Many are unreputable and some even pop up messages warning you of danger to your system in an effort to prompt you to purchase them. Others simply either do not work or work a little too well, giving unknowledgeable users the opportunity to harm their own system by removing a file that Windows finds essential to run.
If you are careful, however, you can find some good utilities. Pay attention to reviews and what experts have to say and, when in doubt, simply avoid the software.
One of the better apps for gathering information about what is going on with your computer is called PC Hunter, which was recently updated to version 126.96.36.199.
The app is free and comes ePoolSoft, but the web site is simply is a help forum. The site is in Chinese, but if you are using Google Chrome then is should automatically translate for you. To get the program you can head over to Download Crew.
The software is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 2000, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server, Windows Vista and Windows XP. It comes packaged in a 5.5 MB ZIP file and, once expanded, you will find both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions have been included — simply choose the one that is right for your system.
When the program launches you will be greeted with a number of tabs across the top of the screen, giving you what could almost be described as information overload. We will look at some of the more useful ones.
As the name suggests, this displays all of the running processes on your computer. This information can also be found by running Windows’ built in Task Manager, but PC Hunter goes the extra mile with information.
For example, if you’re having malware or virus problems then you may want to delete several files at once. That is not a problem: click Process, select the problem processes, right-click one of them, and there are options to kill all of the processes, “force kill” if they are stubborn, even delete the process executable after it has been terminated.
Network is not only a tab, but it also has a number of sub-tabs contained within it. By default, you will see a list of open network connections in the “Port” view.
- Ndis Handler
- IE Plugin
- IE Shell
- Hosts File
There is a lot of geeky information contained here and you can right-click on each entry for more options, such as Find Target, Disassembling entry, Restore, Properties and much more.
When you click the “File” tab you will get an initial view that somewhat resembles Windows Explorer. In other words, it displays your local drives in the left column — mapped network drives are not displayed.
Clicking on these entries, however, does not display the normal Explorer information, but instead files that are mostly otherwise hidden. These include swapfile.sys, recovery.txt, bootmgr and several others. These are all for the “C’ drive — optical drives will display no information, unless a program disc happens to be inserted.
This essentially is the same thing as heading to Windows – Run and typing “regedit”. You can get access to all of the same information right here. And yes, it is just as dangerous to mess with that data, so be careful what you do or it could results in an unbootable computer.
This is a diagnostic tool for your computer. By default, all items are set to be checked when you click the “Generate Examination Report” button.
- Kernel Module
- Ring0 Hooks
- Ring3 Hooks
- Startup Info
Rather than a scan, which can be time-consuming, clicking the button results in an almost instant report. It contains basic information at the top — I am running Windows 8, build 9200, 64-bit, IE version number and a bit more. Below that is more detailed data, such as examination items, processes, dll files and whole bunch more.
You can also export this data in order to save it for future reference, or to have an IT person look it over in the even you are having computer problems.
This allows the user to set exactly what the will happen for such events as a system reboot or what the utility does — for instance, go to the system tray in it is closed.
As the name suggests, this tab displays virtually everything that starts up with your computer. Again, it is information that Windows itself can display, but is handy to have here. This is not just programs — there are a lot of processes that startup in the background on every computer. Right-clicking on one give you the option to repair it, verify it, search for it online if it seems suspicious, or several other options.
There are numerous utilities available to Windows users and they can do almost anything a consumer could possibly want. There are also numerous fake ones that are either junk or, worse, malware. PC Hunter falls into the good category, and even better since it happens to be free.
The app, however, requires some working knowledge of your hardware and operating system. If you do feel comfortable with this then it probably should be left to an expert. The app can do a lot, but novices can also get themselves into some serious trouble with this utility.