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Learn, Unlearn and Relearn

January 2010 - Posts

Windows 7 first look clinic

 

Windows 7 has been making headlines for a few months now. If you've read one or two of the stories and reviews dedicated to it, you might think that you know about all that it contains: new touch screen features, a revamped taskbar with larger thumbnail previews, Internet Explorer 8, easier networking and so on.

While that sounds reasonable enough, it's not exactly exciting. It might even have given you the impression that Windows 7 isn't very different from Vista. That assumption, however, would be a mistake.

The reality is that Windows 7 is packed with new developments – it's just that most people aren't talking about them.

Would you like to be able to defrag multiple hard drives at the same time, or create a sandboxed PC user account for your kids so that they won't be able to mess up your Windows or program settings any more?

What about working with – and even booting from – virtual hard drive (VHD) files, the ability to encrypt USB flash drives to protect the data you're carrying, and tools for calibrating your display to ensure that you're seeing accurate colors and crisp, clear text? Windows 7 has all these features, and a whole lot more.

Security

1. Keep your PC clean

If you share your PC with less experienced computer users then you'll know the problems that can arise as they mess up your settings and unknowingly install dodgy software. Windows 7 can help you to avoid these problems.

Enable PC Safeguard on the kids' account and they'll be able to log on and play as normal – but when they log off , any settings they've changed are reversed, files they've saved are deleted and your hard drive is returned to its original state.

2. Restrict other users

If Safeguard isn't enough, try AppLocker. It gives you even more control, restricting users to only the programs you specify. It's able to automatically create rules for your installed programs, and other rules can be added in seconds.

3. Action Center

Windows 7 replaces the Security Center with the more all-purpose Action Center, which warns you of PC maintenance and back-up issues as well as potential security problems. It's prone to complaining if your security settings don't meet its approval, but at least now there's an effective solution.

If you regularly see messages telling you that you've turned the Windows firewall off , say, then you can choose to disable just those while leaving the more useful alerts active.

4. Tone down UAC

User Account Control irritated many Windows Vista users with its constant warnings that 'Windows needs your permission to continue'. Windows 7 improves the situation by displaying fewer warnings and providing additional UAC tweaks.

Tell the system not to raise warnings if you change Windows settings and you'll be able to use the Control Panel without any prompts. Alerts will only appear if a program tries to perform a similar action.

5. BitLocker to go

Encryption isn't just for hard drives anymore: the Windows 7 version of BitLocker can protect removable (and easily lost) devices such as USB flash drives, too.

Right-click the device in Explorer, select 'Turn on BitLocker' and then enter and confirm a password to protect your data from snoopers.

6. 'Run as' returns

Right-click a program in Windows XP and you'll see a 'Run as' option that allows you to run the program as a different user. This is very useful if you'd like to run an app that requires different privileges to your current account.

The option disappeared in Vista, but Microsoft has relented: hold down [Shift] while right-clicking a shortcut and you'll see that the 'Run as' option has returned.

7. Find and fix problems

Windows has always had plenty of troubleshooting tools, but they've been scattered around many different places. Windows 7 brings order to this situation by placing all of the most important troubleshooters in the new Find and Fix Problems applet, located in the Control Panel.

These fix common problems, check for incorrect settings, clean up your PC and more. Developers can create additional troubleshooters, too. You can read more about that at Within Windows.

8. The Problem Steps Recorder

As a knowledgeable PC user, it's likely that you're called upon to troubleshoot friends' computer problems, which can be tricky if they find it difficult to describe what's going on. Windows 7 has a handy tool to solve this problem.

If an application is misbehaving under Windows 7, all the flummoxed PC user needs to do is launch the Problem Steps Recorder, click 'Record' and work through whatever task they're trying to complete.

Every click and keypress that they make will be recorded, packaged up with screen grabs and saved into a single zipped MHTML file, ready for emailing to you. It's a simple tool that's going to save many people hours of time.

9. Extended System Restore functionality

System Restore has always been a very handy troubleshooting tool, and Windows 7 extends it in a couple of useful ways. A single click will now tell you exactly which programs and drivers will be restored or deleted if you choose a particular restore point, and there's now an interface that lets you configure the amount of disk space allocated to System Restore.

You can also decide not to back up Windows settings. This means that only files will be backed up, so you'll be able to squeeze more restore points into the available disk space.

10. Discover bottlenecks

If your Windows 7 PC seems sluggish, the new and extended Resource Monitor should help you to sort things out. It's like a more powerful version of Task Manager that not only shows you the processes running on your PC, but also reveals how they're using your CPU, RAM, hard drive and network.

A couple of clicks can show you who the biggest resource hogs really are.

11. DIY system discs

Windows 7 includes a new option to burn a bootable system repair disc. If your PC won't start, pop in the repair disc and it'll do its best to restore normal operations. There's no new technology involved – it's just a CD version of the Start-up Repair tools on your Windows Vista disc – but this functionality will be useful for people who never get a full Windows 7 DVD.

It's also safer to carry one of these around with your laptop rather than risk damaging or losing your original Windows disc.

12. Faster IE startups

Some heavyweight Internet Explorer add-ons can take a while to start. IE8 can help you spot the worst off enders.

Click 'Tools | Manage Add-ons', peruse the Load Time column and you'll immediately see which extensions are putting a brake on your browsing.

13. Simultaneous disk defrags

Ever wondered why you can't defrag both your hard drives at the same time? There's no reason why not – and now in Windows 7 you can through the command-line defrag tool. Other new switches run the defrag at a higher priority and provide regular progress reports. Enter 'defrag /?' in a command-line window to fi nd out more.

14. Multithreaded Robocopies

The command-line Robocopy tool also sees new optimisations, including an '/MT' switch that can improve performance by carrying out multithreaded copies (you can specify up to 128 threads).

Enter 'robocopy/?' at the command line for the full details, though Robocopy newbies should be aware that there are an enormous number of switches to examine.

15. Search connectors

Windows 7 adds support for search connectors. These are small configuration files that extend the Windows Search tool to include online resources. To add Flicker support, for example, visit http://redirectingat.com/?id=92X363&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.istartedsomething.com%2F20081120%2Fflickr-search-connectr-for-windows-7-search-federation%2F search to download and open the connector.

This will add a Flicker Search option to your Searches folder, and you'll be able to search the site from within Explorer.

Posted: 01-17-2010 12:22 PM by RAVI SINGHAL with 4 comment(s)

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Administrator :- Enable and Disable

Many friends ask me why there is no built-in Administrator account available in Windows Vista and 7 like previous Windows versions? Why can't we use the default Administrator account? The answer is "Yes! The default Administrator account is created in Vista and 7 but its disabled by default for security purposes."

You might want to enable it for troubleshooting or to get rid of the annoying UAC prompts while tweaking your system. So here I'll describe a few methods to enable / activate the hidden Administrator account in Windows Vista and 7:

1st Method:

1. Right-click on My Computer icon on Desktop and select "Manage", it'll open "Computer Management" window. ( You can also open it by giving "compmgmt.msc" command in RUN dialog box or Startmenu Search box).

2. Goto "Local Users and Groups -> Users". In right-side pane double-click on "Administrator" account. It'll open its Properties. Deselect "Account is disabled" option and Apply it.

2nd Method:

1. Type "secpol.msc" in RUN dialog box or Startmenu search box, it'll open "Local Security Policy" window.

2. Goto "Local Policies -> Security Options".

3. Double-click on first option "Accounts: Administrator account status" and select "Enabled" and apply it.

3rd Method:

1. Click on “Start button -> All Programs -> Accessories“. Right-click on “Command Prompt” and select “Run As Administrator“. If you are prompted to enter password, enter the password and continue. You can also open Command Prompt in Administrator mode by typing “cmd” in Startmenu Search box and press “Ctrl+Shift+Enter“.

2. Now provide following command:

net user administrator /active:yes

3. Thats it. The Administrator account will be enabled. If you want to disable it again, simply replace "yes" with "no" in above command.

NOTE: Never activate the hidden Administrator account until required. Its better to use other general accounts for better security. Also the Administrator account has no password, so if you enable it then don't forget to set a strong password for it.

Posted: 01-14-2010 7:45 AM by RAVI SINGHAL with no comments