Gadgets in Windows 7 can do more than show the weather or news. Many gadgets are useful as system monitoring tools that keep track of Windows 7 resources like CPU, memory, hard drive and network usage.
Below are the best free Windows 7 gadgets that can be used to help keep track of system resources.
In a hurry? Take a quick tour of these Windows 7 gadgets to see which ones you like best.
Need Help? See How to Install a Windows Gadget.
Note: I tested most of these gadgets in Windows 7 but each should also work in Windows Vista.
The CPU Meter Windows gadget for Windows 7 or Windows Vista displays two dials – one that tracks your system’s CPU usage and another that tracks physical memory usage, both in percentage format.
This is a pretty basic Windows gadget in that there are no fancy options, but it does what it does well.
If you like to keep track of how much memory and CPU is being used at any given time, give the CPU Meter gadget a try.
The DriveInfo Windows 7/Windows Vista gadget monitors the free space available on one or more of your PC’s hard drives. It displays the free space in both GB and percentage. The DriveInfo gadget is very easy to configure and is an especially attractive addition to your other Windows gadgets.
The DriveInfo gadget is available as a free download from the Windows Live Gallery for your Windows Vista Sidebar or Windows 7 desktop.
If you frequently check the free space available on your hard drives, the DriveInfo gadget will definitely save you some time.
The System Control A1 gadget is a fantastic resource monitor for Windows 7 or Windows Vista. It tracks CPU load and memory usage.
The System Control A1 gadget is freely available from the Windows Live Gallery.
The best thing about the System Control A1 gadget is that it supports up to 8 CPU cores, making it fully compatible with the latest multi-core CPUs. The interface is superb as well which helps balance out the fact that there are absolutely no user options.
The best thing about the Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor gadget is that it looks cool. You can see available wireless network connections, verify wireless coverage, and lots more in a unique interface.
Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor packs a lot of useful information into a single gadget, maybe too much. For me, the Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor gadget seems a bit “heavy” with the radar display running all the time and the huge Xirrus logo. Still, it’s powerful gadget and you might find it really useful.
The Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor gadget is a free download from the Windows Live Gallery.
The System Monitor gadget for Windows 7 and Windows Vista is an excellent multifunction monitor. System Monitor can track CPU usage (up to quad core) and RAM usage but also can display internal and external IP addresses, the current time, battery usage, and even has a wireless network monitor.
System Monitor is very well designed and has numerous options. Nearly every aspect of this gadget is configurable.
I highly recommend that you try the System Monitor gadget.
The margu-NotebookInfo2 Windows gadget has a funny name but it’s serious about packing a lot of system monitoring into a single gadget.
With the margu-NotebookInfo2 gadget, you can track system uptime, CPU and RAM use, wireless network strength, battery level, and much more.
margu-NotebookInfo2 is put together very well and should be an excellent addition to any Windows Vista or Windows 7 PC.
The iPhone Battery Windows 7/Windows Vista gadget has to be one of the coolest gadgets around. The battery indicator is an excellent knock-off of the glowing battery level indicator on the iPhone and looks great on a Windows desktop.
With the iPhone Battery gadget, you can also mimic an antique meter, a Duracell® battery, among other cool things.
The iPhone Battery gadget is free from the Windows Live Gallery and installs on your Windows Vista Sidebar or Windows 7 desktop.
If you’re on a laptop or other portable Windows 7 or Windows Vista device, the iPhone Battery gadget should definitely help you keep a closer eye on your available power.
The Wired Network Meter Windows 7/Windows Vista gadget provides all kinds of useful information about your wired network connection like current internal and external IP address, current upload and download speed, and total bandwidth usage.
There are several useful configurations available with Wired Network Meter including background color, bandwidth scaling, network interface card selection, and more.
The Wired Network Meter gadget is a free download from the Windows Live Gallery and installs on your Windows Vista Sidebar or on your Windows 7 desktop.
If you’re troubleshooting a local network issue or are always checking your external IP, the Wired Network Meter gadget could be very useful.
The Wireless Network Meter Gadget is essentially the same as the Wired Network Meter Gadget above – they’re obviously from the same developer.
The most obvious differences are the addition of the SSID, signal strength, and whether or not your wireless connection is secure.
The Wired Network Meter gadget is free from the Windows Live Gallery.
The All CPU Meter gadget keeps track of CPU usage and your used and available memory. What makes ALL CPU Meter stand out from the crowd is its support for as many as eight CPU cores!
There are only a few options but background color is one of them. That might seem like a small advantage, but if you’re a regular user of Windows gadgets, you know that making it fit with your desktop scheme is an important factor.
I also like the quick 1 second update time and well designed graph in All CPU Meter.
The All CPU Meter gadget is available for free from the Windows Live Gallery for your Windows 7 desktop or Windows Vista Sidebar.
11. Memeter Gadget
The Memeter Windows Vista / Windows 7 gadget monitors all sorts of things about your CPU, RAM, and battery life. It’s a great gadget to use to keep track of the major hardware resources currently being used by Windows.
The Memeter gadget is also freely available from the Windows Live Gallery.
If your memory, CPU, or battery usage is something you need (or like) to watch, the Memeter gadget will really come in handy.
The Wireless Network Windows gadget is a very useful one if you connect to the rest of the world via a wireless network. It monitors both your wireless network’s strength and security.
The Wireless Network gadget is well designed and should be an attractive addition in Windows 7 or in Windows Vista.
The Wireless Network gadget is freely available from the Windows Live Gallery.
CPU Meter III is, you guessed it, a CPU resource meter gadget for Windows 7 or Windows Vista. In addition to tracking CPU usage, CPU Meter III also tracks memory usage.
There’s nothing that special about CPU Meter III – it only tracks one CPU and meter display isn’t quite as polished as other similar gadgets.
However, there is one redeeming feature – it’s responsive. Very responsive! It appears to be live and not a one or two second update like other gadgets. This I love. The other thing I like is how big the gadget is. Some CPU meter gadgets are so small it’s hard to see what’s going on.
Definitely try CPU Meter III out. I think you’ll like it.
The Drive Activity gadget for Windows 7 and Windows Vista graphs the workload of your hard drives. Seeing how hard your hard disks are working could be useful in determining where you might have performance issues.
There are a few options in the Drive Activity gadget – you can choose the type of graph to display (polygon or lines) and also which of your hard drives to include in the display. My biggest issue with this Windows gadget was the inability to change colors. Blue on black is unlikely to satisfy many users… personally, I find it hard to see.
The Drive Activity gadget is a free download from Sascha Katzner.
15. Uptime Gadget
The Uptime Windows gadget keeps track of how long your Windows 7 or Windows Vista system has been powered on. That’s all it does. It resets every time the system is restarted.
The Uptime gadget is also available as a free download from the Windows Live Gallery.
System uptime trackers are useful to show how stable (or unstable) an operating system is since an unstable or error-prone system will usually need restarted on a regular basis.
16. AlertCon Gadget
The AlertCon gadget is a unique one. AlertCon provides a visual representation of the current state of security across the Internet. Large scale issues like fast spreading malware and major security holes would prompt an increase in the threat level.
IBM’s Internet Security Systems group operates the AlertCon system.
The AlertCon gadget is a free download from the Windows Live Gallery and installs on your Windows 7 desktop or Windows Vista Sidebar.
If you’d like a DEFCON-style representation of Internet-wide issues right on your desktop, the AlertCon gadget fits the bill. Just don’t expect it swing up and down regularly – the Internet as a whole isn’t typically under serious threats.