Get details about Y2K Check-It: This utility suite will tell you everything you need to know about your computer.

November 09, 1998|By Jack Warner | Jack Warner,COX NEWS SERVICE

At last, there is hope of a good night's sleep. No more fear, no more fretting. My computer is ready for the millennium.

Actually, I have never worried about whether my computer was ready for what us computer geeks knowingly refer to as Y2K. The major question is whether I am ready for the millennium, and so far as I am aware there is no software available to prepare me for it.

There is, however, software to prepare a PC for the coming of 2000.

It is part of a large suite of utilities called Check-It 98, from Touchstone. Check-It, however, is more interesting from a standpoint of what it tells you than what it does. It provides an enormous amount of information on your system, and runs a great many internal tests to make certain everything is working properly.

If it finds something wrong, then either the program or the manuals packed with it will provide some advice on what to do. In terms of cures, Check-It provides very little. Its system tuneup, for instance, consists of running Windows 95's ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter.

But in terms of testing and presenting detailed information on a computer's components, I've seen nothing to equal it. It will run separate tests on the drives, the system memory, the modem, the motherboard, the ports and the video. It provides extremely detailed information on all those items plus your Internet setup, PCI bus, printer, available resources, SCSI setup if any, sound system, PCMCIA cards. USB port, power management, networking and other things so arcane that I'm not sure what they are.

Most of the time, of course, this information is of no use at all to the average user. However, let's say you're trying to install a new video card and you can't seem to make it work. You call the maker of the card for tech support. If a few usual approaches don't work, one of the things the technician is going to ask you is, "What motherboard are you using?"

"The one that came with my computer" is not the right answer. There's every chance that the documentation that came with your computer isn't going to tell you, either. This is part of the information that Check-It provides; my motherboard is an Intel 686, Model 5, Revision 1, with the Intel 440BX revision 2 chipset.

The technician might also ask about your PCI bus, and Check-It will provide you with enough information to melt his pocket protector.

There is a Tools section that allows you to maintain a benchmark routine for your computer. It tests every portion of it, records the results and compares them to the next set of benchmark tests you run. This tells you whether something is gradually going south. It will also back up a handful of files it considers most critical to the operation, and restore them if necessary.

Check-It also comes with FastMove, a utility for the quick transfer of files between two computers and a serial cable to accomplish it, and with NetOptimizer, a modem utility I reviewed and found very useful.

Check-It is a very good utility to have, even for its rather steep $90 price tag. Most users, unfortunately but understandably, don't find utilities very sexy. If you wait until you've got a problem to get something like this, it will help, but not nearly as much as it would if you had been running it regularly before the trouble came along.

Pub Date: 11/09/98

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