Inheriting an old computer can be fraught with mystery. Learning what version of Windows the computer is running and how it is configured can be illuminating.
Fortunately, recent versions of Windows come with a tool called, appropriately, System Information. You can find out what's on your computer and learn about any potential conflicts and problems that might lurk within.
To run System information, choose Start|Programs|Accessories|System Tools|System Information. You'll see a summary of your system appear on the screen. It tells you the version of Windows you are running and information about your computer, such as the manufacturer and processor speed.
Depending on the version of Windows you are using, the screen may look a little different, but you'll also see areas for hardware resources, components, and the software environment. You may also see areas for various applications that you can look at to see more information.
If you have conflicts on your system, you'll see entries in red. So for example, if you inherited a computer that used to be networked and has had its configuration changed or the network card removed, you'll probably see evidence of those activities.
Similarly, if you plan to add components, you'll want to take particular notice of what peripherals are already in your computer and what resources they are using. Take my word for it, you really don't want to find out what happens when you install a component using settings that another peripheral is using.