Description of Windows XP System Information (Msinfo32.exe) Tool


This article describes the System Information tool (Msinfo32.exe) that is included with Windows XP. You can use this tool to gather information about your computer, to diagnose issues with your computer, or to access other tools that are included with Windows XP.

More Information

System Information collects system information, such as devices that are installed in your computer, or device drivers that are loaded in your computer, and provides a menu for displaying the associated system topics. You can use System Information to diagnose computer issues. For example, if you are having display issues, you can use System Information to determine what display adapter is installed on your computer, and to view the status of its drivers.

System Information maintains a history of device drivers that are installed on your computer. If you are unsure of a computer's recent history, you can use System Information to better understand what has happened in the past. If a device does not work correctly, and its history indicates a recent upgrade to a new driver, replace that driver with the original driver, and test to see if doing so resolves the issue.

System Information also provides access to tools you can use for troubleshooting your computer.

If you install an update from the Windows Update Web site, and it fails to meet your expectations, restore the original files by running the Update Wizard Uninstall from the Tools menu in the System Information tool. If your computer worked fine yesterday, but is not working properly today, try restoring yesterday's configuration files by running the System Restore utility from the Tools menu in the System Information tool.

For more information about tools that are included with System Information in Windows XP, see the "Tools Menu" section later in this article.

To start Microsoft System Information, use either of the following methods:

  • Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Information.
  • Click Start, click Run, type msinfo32.exe in the Open box, and then click OK.
The information that is displayed in System Information is divided into the following five categories:
  • Hardware Resources
  • Components
  • Software Environment
  • Applications
  • Internet Explorer
The following sections describe the categories, and sub-categories that are displayed in System Information, and explain how you can use this information when you troubleshoot issues with your computer.

System Summary

The System Summary category provides a general profile of your computer. This information includes:
  • The version of Windows
  • OEM System Information (manufacturer, model, and type)
  • The type of central processing unit (CPU)
  • The amount of memory and system resources
  • BIOS version
  • Locale
  • Time zone
  • User name in the format DOMAINNAME\USERNAME (only present if the computer is configured to log into a domain)
  • Boot device (if multiple devices are present on the computer)
  • The path to the Page file
Use this information at the beginning of the troubleshooting process to develop a basic picture of the environment in which the issue occurs.

Hardware Resources

The Hardware Resources category displays hardware-specific settings, such as assigned, or used interrupt requests (IRQs), input/output (I/O) addresses, and memory addresses. The following list provides the sub-categories that are included in the Hardware Resources category.


Lists the identified resource conflicts between Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) devices, and identifies resources that are shared by Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) devices. Use this information to help identify hardware conflicts.


Reports the direct memory access (DMA) channels that are in use, the devices that are using them, and those that are available for use.

Forced Hardware

Lists hardware devices in which the Plug and Play (PNP) configuration has been disabled ,and resource settings have been manually set to user-specified resources. Forced hardware would also apply to devices that do not participate in the PNP process such as legacy ISA devices. This information is useful when you want to troubleshoot Plug and Play resource conflicts.


Lists all I/O port ranges that are in use, and the devices that are using each range.


Summarizes IRQ usage, identifies the devices that are using the IRQs, and lists the available IRQs.


Lists memory address ranges that are in use by devices.


The Components category displays information about your Windows XP system configuration. This includes the status of your device drivers, network components, and multimedia software. There is also a comprehensive driver history, and a summary of devices that may not be working correctly. The following list provides the sub-categories that are included in the Components category.


Lists sound card, and game controller information.

Multimedia - Audio

Lists the audio codecs that are loaded.

Multimedia - Video

Lists the video codecs that are loaded.

Multimedia - CD-ROM

Lists the drive letter and model of your CD-ROM drive. If a data CD-ROM is in the drive, System Information also performs a data transfer test.

Multimedia - Sound Device

Lists the name and manufacturer of your sound device(s). This also lists the status, I/O port, IRQ, DMA channel, and the drivers that are used for your sound device(s).


Lists video card, and monitor information.


Lists Infrared device information.


Lists keyboard, and mouse information.


Lists information about any miscellaneous components.


Lists modem information.


Lists network adapter, client, and protocol information. Network protocol information is now presented in much greater detail than in Microsoft Windows 98. The new presentation of network protocols includes much more granular configuration information on the protocol, related to how it operates on the network.

Network - Winsock

Lists Winsock version, description, and status information.


Lists serial, and parallel port information.


Lists information about hard disks, floppy drives, removable media, and controllers. Each drive is presented with information including drive letter, total size, free space, file system, compression status, drive type, and volume letter.


Lists installed printers, and printer drivers.

Problem Devices

Lists devices with problems. Lists each device that is flagged in Device Manager, and displays the corresponding status information.


Lists Universal Serial Bus (USB) controllers, and drivers that are installed.

Software Environment

The Software Environment category displays the software loaded in your computer's memory.


Lists the drivers currently loaded into memory.

Environment Variables

Lists the Windows XP global environment variables. The Global Environment Variables formerly in the Autoexec.bat, and Config.sys files are migrated to the registry, and are shown here.

Print Jobs

Shows the printing jobs currently in the print queue.

Network Connections

Lists all current network connections.

Running Tasks

Lists the currently running executable files or programs. This provides a comprehensive view of the processes that are running on your computer.

Loaded Modules

Lists all modules currently loaded into memory.

Program Groups

Lists programs that are in the Start menu group for every user that has a profile on the computer. Lists the group name, the name of the program itself, and the profile to which the program group belongs.

Startup Programs

Lists programs started automatically either from the registry, the Startup folder, or the Win.ini file.

OLE Registration

Lists Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) file associations that are controlled by the registry and various .ini files

NOTE: Hardware information is not available in Safe mode. While System Information can be run in Safe mode, it is limited to displaying information about system components, and the software environment.


Microsoft Office 2000 adds information to the System Information tool for each program that is installed on your computer. Unlike System Information in Windows 98, complete Office program information is not displayed in Windows XP unless that program is running. Refreshing the view may not completely populate the data. Close System Information, start the program, and then re-open System Information for complete information.

Tools Menu

The Tools menu contains links to several tools and control panels: Backup, Network Connections, Hardware Wizard, Disk Cleanup, Net Diagnostics, System Restore, Network Diagnostics, File Signature Verification Tool, DirectX Diagnostics Tool, and Dr. Watson.

For additional information about these tools, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

308422 HOW TO: Use Backup to Back Up Files and Folders on Your Computer in Windows XP
320820 How to Use the Backup Utility to Back Up Files and Folders in Windows XP Home Edition
306084 HOW TO: Restore Windows XP to a Previous State
310312 Description of the Disk Cleanup Tool in Windows XP
308514 HOW TO: Verify Unsigned Device Drivers in Windows XP
314067 How to Troubleshoot TCP/IP Connectivity with Windows XP
308538 Description of the Dr. Watson for Windows (Drwtsn32.exe) Tool
For information on the Update Wizard Uninstall tool, click Start, click Help, search for Update Wizard Uninstall, and then click Search.

View Menu

Two new additions to the View menu enable you to view an overall history of changes to the computer, and connect to a remote computer to view System Information data.

System History

System Information in Windows XP provides a new view of changes to the computer. Rather than a separate history view for each category as was shown in Windows 98, Windows XP enables you to view all changes to the computer since a certain date, and time.

The history information is provided in the same three main categories that were provided in the Standard view: Hardware Resources, Components and Software Environment. History Information is provided by WMI, and is stored in the Extensible Markup Language (XML) data files located in Windows\PCHealth\HelpCtr\Datacoll.

Remote Computer

The View menu provides the ability to connect to a remote computer to view system Information. By default, this only enables connections to Windows 2000-based computers.

Article ID: 308549 - Last Review: Oct 23, 2008 - Revision: 1