It has come to my attention that some people, occasionally have to reinstall Windows over and over again (sympathies, J).  Some people actually endorse reinstalling Operating Systems regularly, be they OS X, Windows or Linux as a housekeeping measure.  Personally, I keep a full disk image of my clean Operating System (fresh install), a full disk image of my Operating System with my core applications installed (Microsoft Suite, Adobe Suite, etc), a full disk image of my recent system (usually update this every week or three).   This is on top of nightly backups of quickly changing files/folders and the usual restore points.  Perhaps a bit excessive, but once you are in the habit, though, it can save you days getting your system set back up by traditional methods.

This information, however, is for those people  that just want an inventory of what they currently have installed on their system. Perhaps they are wiping their system, installing a new Operating System with no upgrade path or setting up a new physical computer and don’t want to overlook any applications from their old system.

You could simply go into Control Panel and take a screen capture of the Uninstall programs list but I found this a bit lacking. It’s not text readable and I find that regardless of advances, it still missing things.  Another low-tech method is export the installed software folder from the Registry, but many people are leery (rightly so) of mucking about in the Registry and sometimes the names used in the Registry aren’t as intuitive as they could be.

Enter Belarc Advisor.  This piece of software has been floating around for some time and I keep a copy on my shuttle drive for various diagnostic purposes, but it is also very good at scanning a system and making a clear, easy to read list of installed programs on a system.  These reports are generated as local web page, viewable in any browser.  They can be exported, printed or edited with a text editor if need be. Here is a snippet run on my system:

This section of the Belarc report also includes last used information, handy for determining if you really use and need that obscure application using up hard drive space… hrmn, why do I still have an older version of Logmein installed? I need to fix that.  :-)

? Marks software last used within the past 7 days.
?? Marks software last used within the past 90 days, but over 7 days ago.
??? Marks software last used within the past year, but over 90 days ago.
???? Marks software last used over 1 year ago.

Advisor offers a lot of other helpful information in it’s report such as detailed hardware profiles, networking and communications information and a list of installed/missing patches and hotfixes.

One thing Belarc does not appear to do, which would be very useful is to scan and list plugins and add-ons for all web browsers on the system.

Disclaimer: I do not work for our receive any compensation from Belarc.

You can learn more about Belarc Advisor and download the program for free from the Belarc Advisor website.