WinSleuth Gold Plus. (Windows diagnostic and analysis program) (Evaluation)
by J. Blake Lambert
Computers are like cars. Some people just want to use them; they don't care how they work. Others want to pop the hood and look inside, even if they might not really understand everything that's going on in there. WinSleuth Gold Plus, a Windows diagnostic and analysis program, is for the latter group.
WinSleuth's main screen presents basic information and a toolbar with icons. The program has a file editor and a Tune Up feature, which makes some suggestions for optimizing your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files. You can also save your CMOS settings and other important system files to a bootable disk.
The System icon accesses BIOS and CMOS details, along with all 256 hardware and software interrupt vectors (listed and described) and network information (if connected). It also provides tests for your CPU (including a benchmark test), keyboard, mouse, and internal speaker.
The Environ icon provides DOS and Windows info (version, files, buffers, Windows files added, control blocks, and LASTDRIVE settings) and disk cache version, size, and effectiveness. There's a wealth of Windows information here--the program lists all active Windows tasks and modules, displays all terminate-and-stay-resident programs and drivers, shows current windows and window class info, and describes all currently open files.
If you want to look into how Windows uses memory, WinSleuth can help. It displays graphs of memory usage for conventional (including upper) and global memory (extended, expanded, virtual), and the GDI and User Heaps. For the hard-core Windows investigator, the program displays the Windows Descriptor Tables (an index to physical memory) and all memory objects. It also runs memory benchmarks and a memory test (DOS-based).
The Disk section lists basic info, BIOS definitions for hard drives, and partitions. It performs a percentage usage analysis, benchmark tests, and disk integrity checks as well. (However, the program found nothing but errors on the noncompressed portion of a drive that was working fine, and it provided no explanation.)
Looking into video is easy. WinSleuth describes in great detail which basic, raster, curve, line, polygonal, and text routines your video supports. System Metrics lists a plethora of parameters regarding windows, frames, cursors, scroll bars, and so on. Hardware Info lists more details, and there are extensive benchmarks and tests.
You can check your ports, printer capabilities (similar to the information on the video system), multimedia extensions, and--with optional hardware loop-back plugs--serial and parallel ports. (For some reason, WinSleuth incorrectly identified both of my serial ports as having 16550 chips; only one port actually does.)
Installation Assistant is handy when you're installing new expansion boards. It lets you look for free I/O port addresses, DMA channels, and IRQs specifically or by range. You can load and save test parameters, including some standard configurations.
The WinSleuth manual is helpful, providing some background explanations and even some useful suggestions; but the Help files are weak, lacking depth and having a rough, unfinished appearance.
WinSleuth could be improved with thorough, context-sensitive help, and with advice on what upgrades might make the most cost-effective improvements to a particular system. Still, the program makes it easy to thoroughly access a wealth of information about your PC's hardware and software.
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