Ezine 131 – BgInfo (Background Information) – Free Utility

Ezine 131 – BgInfoBgInfo

This week’s tip is short and sweet; get your free copy of BgInfo (Background Information). What this utility does is provide interesting, even crucial information about your machine, and then displays it as a desktop wallpaper.

It was Paul DeBrino who drew my attention to this handy utility.  There are over 20 fields to choose from, for example, OS Version, DNS server, Network Speed, and my favorite, Logon Server.  Neat is an overused word, but it describes this utility perfectly.  The configuration is intuitive, the display versatile, and the resulting information is attention-grabbing.

Where BgInfo is particularly useful is where you have multiple servers, and wonder which one you have logged onto, especially if you are coming in via Terminal Services or Remote Desktop.

More good news, BgInfo is free.  The one surprise is that BgInfo works on every Microsoft operating system from Windows 95 to Vista.  After you have installed BgInfo take a minute to examine the command line switches, the /taskbar option interested me the most.

Command Line Switches

BgInfo command line switches

Bryce Cogswell is the author of BgInfo and publishes it on the Systinternals website.  Hardly a week goes by without one of my readers mentioning a utility on this site, so when you download your free copy of BgInfo have a look around for other promising programs.

BgInfo Screen Shots

bginfo desktop

Readers Comments

Dave Heller wrote in saying:

We use bginfo to display the computer name on the users desktop so when they call for support it’s easy to see their system name and tell us. It works regardless of the their personal background pics they like to load.

Michael wrote in with these observations

The benefit of BgInfo is the following:

Each and every computer in the office has a number and as well the name of the person sitting at that computer at all times which give us the administrators quick response time because we rather know where the people are sitting but not the computer 123456, meaning, you can go through the DB overview quickly. If however, the person logging onto that machine is not corresponding to the name of the computer, we need to check what is the "problem"

We also see instantly if we have problems with that specific computer, i.e.

  • If it is getting old
  • If the free disk space is getting too low
  • If the network card is of wrong type.
  • We see the IE version and which service pack has been installed as well.


Of course there are other tools on the market that can extract this, however, so far, this BgInfo the easiest way for us.

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Create your own Gadget?

As I enjoyed using BgInfo I thought to myself, ‘This utility cannot have been too difficult to create’.  What I want to do next is plant the seed of an idea that you may be able to create a utility yourself.  I really believe that you don’t have to have great programming experience, just the perception to see a niche, coupled with the flare to employ existing technology.  One place to start would be with Vista’s Gadgets.  Microsoft even provide a development center for budding Gadget men to create a mini-application dedicated to one particular task.

Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT) IP Tracker

Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets.  IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:

For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges. 

For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker

Will and Guy’s Humour

This week Will and Guy have been working on a handy desktop gadget.  See here if you would like to order one for free.

Lots of useful computer services

Solarwinds Orion NPM Review  • How to Shut Down Win8   •Win8 Eventlog   • Win8 FAQ  • Ezines

E 167 WinDiff  •E 131 BigInfo  •E 123 WinDiff   • E 102 SysPrep  •E 69 Perfmon  •E62 WinDiff

E 25 Event Trigger   • E 24 CacheMov  • E 18 Services  •E 16 Perfmon  • Exchange Monitor