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Basic Hardware Inventory: a system information tool you can customise (maybe)

27 July 2012, Mike Williams

Every PC owner will occasionally need to find out more about their system hardware, and Basic Hardware Inventory is a simple tool which will quickly display just about everything you might want.

This starts with the core ingredients which are essential to any system information tool: CPU model and speed, total RAM, hard drives and capacities, graphics card, monitor, network interfaces, motherboard model, BIOS type and date, and more.

But if you need more details on, say, your RAM, then clicking the “Details” button to the right of the “Memory” statistics and a window will open to display even more information (DIMM type, manufacturer, model name and more).

And you can also copy the report to the clipboard, save them as a file, or print them for reference later.

It's little more than a web page, but Basic Hardware Inventory still displays plenty of useful system information

None of this is particularly special, of course. There are many system information tools which deliver far more information and options in a considerably more attractive interface. But what makes Basic Hardware Inventory stand out is that it comes in the form of an HTML application (an HTA file).

The first benefit of this is its portability. The core Hardware.hta file is a tiny 132KB which you should be able to run on any PC which has a copy of IE5 or later installed.

But the second is that, if you’ve even just a little programming knowledge or experience, you can open Hardware.hta in Notepad, see how it works, then tweak or customise the program to suit your needs.

Okay, it’s true, this isn’t a project for the nervous. Hardware.hta contains almost 4,000 lines of code, including some quite technical functions which are probably best left alone, unless you know precisely what you’re doing.

The program has plenty of comments and sensibly-named variables to keep you on track, though, so if you’re interested in a simple system information tool which you might be able to extend and customise yourself then Basic Hardware Inventory could be worth a try.

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