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Using SysChk to Examine Your PC

Now that you have your SysChk boot disk ready, you can begin to examine the configuration setup of your PC.

Task: Running SysChk

Follow these steps to run SysChk against your computer system:

  1. Place the boot disk you just made into drive A.

  2. Reboot your PC either by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys or by turning the power off and then back on again. If you are running Windows 95/98/NT, make sure that you shut down your system properly first. If your PC prompts you to enter a date and time, press the Enter key at each prompt.

  3. To start SysChk, type syschk and press the Enter key. In a few seconds, the SysChk main screen appears displaying an overview of your system (see Figure 3.3).

    Figure 3.3 The opening screen of SysChk displaying an overview of your system.

As you can see on the Summary screen, SysChk displays a general overview of your system, providing information on the following:

  • CPU type and speed

  • Total memory and memory usage

  • Serial and parallel ports installed

  • Video mode

  • Disk drives installed

To obtain more detailed information, select one of the items listed in the window on the left side of the screen. The detailed information about that component is then displayed in the window on the right side of the screen.

Task: Examining Your Disk Drives

To show you how SysChk can display detailed information about the components and systems in your PC, let's use it to examine your disk drives.

  1. Select option number 4, Disk Drives, from the left side of the screen using the up-arrow and down-arrow keys to highlight that selection. SysChk displays detailed information about the number and type of drives installed in your PC, beginning with the floppy disk drive (see Figure 3.4).

    Figure 3.4 SysChk displaying information about the floppy disk drive installed in your PC.

  2. Use the left-arrow and right-arrow keys to select Disk 1 from the top of the right side of the screen; this is the first physical hard disk drive in your PC. SysChk displays information about that hard disk drive (see Figure 3.5). If you have more than one physical hard disk drive, SysChk displays a second selection called Disk 2, and so on, for as many physical hard disk drives as are installed in your PC.

    Figure 3.5 SysChk displaying information about your first physical hard disk drive.

  3. If your hard disk drive is partitioned into multiple logical drives, you can also display this information by selecting Logical from the top of the right side of the screen (see Figure 3.6).

    Figure 3.6 SysChk displaying logical information about the selected hard drive.

  4. If you want to find out whether your hard drive is using an IDE or SCSI interface, select option number 5, IDE/SCSI, from the left side of the screen. Next, select IDE 1 Info from the top of the right side of the screen; if your hard disk is IDE, SysChk displays IDE configuration information. If your hard disk is not IDE, SysChk does not display any information. If no information appears under IDE, select SCSI Info from the top of the right side of the screen and see whether SysChk displays configuration information about your hard drive interface (see Figure 3.7).

    Figure 3.7 SysChk displaying information about your hard drive interface.

Using the up/down and left/right arrow keys, you can select all the components in your system and obtain detailed information about each one.

Task: Printing Your Configuration Information

In addition to displaying information about your PC, SysChk can also produce a printed copy of the information it obtains.

  1. Select the P) Print option from the left side of the screen; SysChk displays its print menu (see Figure 3.8).

    Figure 3.8 SysChk's print menu.

  2. Select one of the available options depending on whether you want to send the output to a printer or to a file.


    Make a hard copy printout of your system configuration and keep it in a safe place. This way you have a complete record of your PC's system information in the event that any or all of it has to be reentered into your PC.

    Interrupt Conflicts

    One of the most pressing problems you occasionally still encounter as you begin to upgrade different components in your PC is "interrupt conflicts." Most of the devices in your PC either directly or indirectly use an interrupt request, usually abbreviated IRQ, to communicate with the CPU. There are a total of 16 IRQs available in your PC (labeled 0 though 15); about half of them are already assigned to specific devices (for example, keyboard, floppy drive, printer, and so on). The number of free IRQs available for you to use varies according to what components are installed in your PC by the manufacturer.

    If you use only Plug and Play components, interrupt conflict can be almost eliminated. Just remember, even though plug-and-play devices can resolve most interrupt conflicts, they can still occur. The basic rule is that each device must be assigned its own IRQ. When you have a conflict, you might get some type of error message from Windows or your software that a conflict exists, but there is no guarantee that any warning will be issued. In some cases, the device simply won't work and you won't discover the conflict until you go looking for it. Be sure to thoroughly check your component documentation for assigning or changing IRQs and what to do if a conflict occurs. Your documentation will also specify what IRQs you can assign to a particular device.

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