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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Table of Contents........................................................................................................................................................... 2
Copyright & Credits ..................................................................................................................................................... 13
Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................... 14
Before Using this Book .............................................................................................................................................. 15
Basic Requirements ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 15
Different Versions of Windows ......................................................................................................................................................................... 15
Where are the Pictures? .................................................................................................................................................................................... 15
Why is the Book So Long? ................................................................................................................................................................................ 15
Where Do I Start? ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 16
Recommended Software ................................................................................................................................................................................... 16
Problems with the Book ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 16
Your Responsibilities .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 16
Basic PC Terminology ................................................................................................................................................ 17
Bits & Bytes .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 17
Data ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 18
PC .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 18
CPU ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 18
Motherboard ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 18
Memory ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 18
Storage Drives ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 19
Graphics Card ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 20
Display Device ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 20
Sound Card .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 21
Speakers .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21
Power Supply Unit .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 21
Cooling Devices .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21
Case ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 22
Peripheral ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 22
Operating System and Software ...................................................................................................................................................................... 22
New & Common Features .......................................................................................................................................... 23
Windows Aero ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 23
Taskbar ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 24
Windows Explorer ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 25
Search Box ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 26
User Account Control ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 26
Administrator Command Prompt ...................................................................................................................................................................... 27
Windows Mail ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 27
Ribbon ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 27
Drivers ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 28
Compatibility Issues ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 28
Windows Control Panel ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 29
Keyboard and Mouse Substitutes .................................................................................................................................................................... 29
Keyboard Shortcuts ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 29
System Specifications ................................................................................................................................................ 31
System Information Tools .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 31
Windows Experience Index ............................................................................................................................................................................... 31
Windows System Information Tool .................................................................................................................................................................. 31
Device Manager .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 32
DirectX Diagnostics ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 32
3DMark ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 32
SIW ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 32
Sandra................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 33
CPU-Z ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 33
GPU-Z ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 33
HD Tune ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 33
Providing System Specifications ............................................................................................................................................................................... 34

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Backup & Recovery ..................................................................................................................................................... 35
Windows Backup and Restore .................................................................................................................................................................................. 35
Automated Backups ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 35
Manual Backups .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 38
Organizing Data .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 39
Managing Backups ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 40
Restoring Backups .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 40
System Protection ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 42
System Restore ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 42
Previous Versions ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 44
Resizing System Protection's Reserved Drive Space .................................................................................................................................. 45
Backing Up & Restoring Passwords ........................................................................................................................................................................ 46
Backing Up Login Password ............................................................................................................................................................................. 46
Restoring Login Password ................................................................................................................................................................................ 46
Recovering Login Password ............................................................................................................................................................................. 47
Storing Passwords .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 47
Recovering Other Passwords ........................................................................................................................................................................... 48
Other Backup Methods ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 48
Third Party Drive Imaging Software ................................................................................................................................................................. 48
Online Backup ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 49
Custom Backups ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 49
Data Recovery ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 50
Recovering Deleted Files .................................................................................................................................................................................. 51
Permanently Deleting Files ............................................................................................................................................................................... 51
Low Level Format & Zero Fill ............................................................................................................................................................................ 52
System Recovery ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 52
Basic Troubleshooting ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 52
System File Checker .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 54
Advanced Boot Options ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 55
Windows System Recovery Options ........................................................................................................................................................................ 57
Startup Repair ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 58
System Restore ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 58
System Image Recovery .................................................................................................................................................................................... 58
Windows Memory Diagnostic ........................................................................................................................................................................... 59
Command Prompt ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 59
BIOS & Hardware Management ................................................................................................................................ 60
The BIOS ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 60
Post Screen .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 60
BIOS Settings ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 60
BIOS Updates ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 61
Firmware Updates ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 61
Hardware Management .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 62
Handling Hardware ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 62
Thermal Compounds .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 63
Surge Protectors ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 63
Power Supply Unit .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 63
Cooling .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 64
Device Manager ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 67
Resource Allocation ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 68
Device Power Management .............................................................................................................................................................................. 69
Problematic Devices ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 69
Disabling or Removing Unused Devices ........................................................................................................................................................ 70
Devices and Printers ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 71
Device Stage ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 72
Windows Installation ................................................................................................................................................... 74
Prior to Installation ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 74
Check your Hardware and Software for Compatibility ................................................................................................................................. 74
Disable Unused Resources in the BIOS ......................................................................................................................................................... 74
Scan for Malware ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 75
Prepare Backups ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 75
Custom or Upgrade Install & Data Migration ................................................................................................................................................. 75
Modifying The Windows Installation Disc ....................................................................................................................................................... 78
Preparing the Drive ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 80
Formatting ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 80

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Partitioning ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 82
RAID Configuration ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 84
Dual Boot or Multibooting .................................................................................................................................................................................. 85
32-bit vs. 64-bit ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 86
Installing Windows ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 88
Step 1 - Launch the Installer ............................................................................................................................................................................. 88
Step 2 - Install Now............................................................................................................................................................................................. 89
Step 3 - Get Important Updates for Installation ............................................................................................................................................. 90
Step 4 - Select Upgrade or Custom (Advanced) Install ............................................................................................................................... 90
Step 5 - Where Do You Want to Install Windows .......................................................................................................................................... 90
Step 6 - Automated Installation ........................................................................................................................................................................ 91
Step 7 - Set Up Windows .................................................................................................................................................................................. 91
Step 8 - Windows Startup .................................................................................................................................................................................. 93
Boot Configuration ...................................................................................................................................................... 95
Boot Files ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 95
Boot Configuration Data ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 95
BCDEdit ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 95
Startup and Recovery ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 96
MSConfig .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 96
EasyBCD .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 97
Custom Boot and Login Screens .............................................................................................................................................................................. 99
Bootdisks ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 99
Windows Activation .................................................................................................................................................. 100
Licensing Agreement ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 100
OEM vs. Upgrade vs. Retail Editions ............................................................................................................................................................ 100
General Conditions of Use .............................................................................................................................................................................. 101
Activation ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 102
Product Key ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 102
Activation Process ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 102
Failed Activation ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 103
Validation .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 104
Failed Validation ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 104
Windows Explorer ..................................................................................................................................................... 105
Basic Features ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 105
Search Box ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 105
Address Bar ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 105
Navigation Pane ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 106
Command Bar ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 109
Folder Views ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 110
Folder Options ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 113
General ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 113
View ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 114
Search ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 116
Personal Folders ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 116
Libraries .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 117
Customizing Libraries ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 118
Disabling Libraries ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 119
Directory J unctions and Symbolic Links ................................................................................................................................................................ 120
Advanced Features ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 122
Set Windows Explorer Startup Folder ........................................................................................................................................................... 122
Manipulate Multiple Files ................................................................................................................................................................................. 122
Explorer Restart substitute for Reboot .......................................................................................................................................................... 123
Dual Window Explorer View ............................................................................................................................................................................ 123
Customize Folder Icons & Folder Pictures ................................................................................................................................................... 124
Expanded Context Menus ............................................................................................................................................................................... 125
Edit Context Menus .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 125
Edit 'Open With' Context Menu ....................................................................................................................................................................... 126
Edit 'Send To' Context Menu .......................................................................................................................................................................... 127
Add 'Copy To' and 'Move To' Context Menu Items ..................................................................................................................................... 127
Add 'Open with Notepad' Context Menu Item .............................................................................................................................................. 127
Increase Menu Display Speed ........................................................................................................................................................................ 128
Fix Changing Folder Views ............................................................................................................................................................................. 128


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Windows Drivers ........................................................................................................................................................ 130
Driver Compatibility ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 130
Finding Compatible Drivers ............................................................................................................................................................................. 130
Driver Installation Difficulties ........................................................................................................................................................................... 131
64-bit Compatibility ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 131
Driver Signature ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 132
Signature Warnings .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 132
Signature Verification ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 133
Driver Installation ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 133
Step 1 - Service Packs ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 133
Step 2 - DirectX ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 134
Step 3 - Windows Update ................................................................................................................................................................................ 134
Step 4 - Motherboard Drivers ......................................................................................................................................................................... 136
Step 5 - Graphics Drivers ................................................................................................................................................................................ 137
Step 6 - Sound Drivers ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 138
Step 7 - Peripheral Drivers .............................................................................................................................................................................. 139
Step 8 - Windows Update Revisited .............................................................................................................................................................. 139
Manually Updating or Uninstalling Drivers ............................................................................................................................................................ 140
Viewing Driver Details ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 140
Manually Updating Drivers .............................................................................................................................................................................. 140
Going Back to an Earlier Driver ...................................................................................................................................................................... 141
Selecting Another Installed Driver .................................................................................................................................................................. 142
Uninstalling Drivers ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 142
Removing Stored Drivers ................................................................................................................................................................................ 143
Driver Verifier ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 145
General Driver Tips ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 146
User Accounts ............................................................................................................................................................ 148
User Account Types .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 148
User Account Scenarios ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 149
Managing User Accounts ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 150
Parental Controls ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 151
Advanced Settings .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 154
User Profiles ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 154
Advanced User Accounts Control Panel ....................................................................................................................................................... 155
Hidden Administrator Account ........................................................................................................................................................................ 156
PC Security .................................................................................................................................................................. 158
Security Threats ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 158
Viruses & Worms .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 158
Trojan Horses .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 159
Spyware .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 159
Adware ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 159
Rootkits ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 159
Phishing .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 159
Windows Action Center ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 160
Security Categories .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 160
Disabling Action Center ................................................................................................................................................................................... 161
User Account Control ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 162
The UAC Process ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 162
Detecting Malware Using UAC ....................................................................................................................................................................... 163
File System and Registry Virtualization ........................................................................................................................................................ 165
Customizing UAC .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 166
UAC and the Language Bar ............................................................................................................................................................................ 170
Access Control and Permissions ............................................................................................................................................................................ 171
Taking Ownership ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 171
Altering Permissions ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 171
Windows Defender .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 173
Configuring Windows Defender ...................................................................................................................................................................... 174
Windows Defender Cache ............................................................................................................................................................................... 176
Disabling Windows Defender .......................................................................................................................................................................... 176
Windows Firewall ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 177
Basic Configuration........................................................................................................................................................................................... 177
Advanced Configuration .................................................................................................................................................................................. 178
Local Security Policy ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 179
Account Policies ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 180

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Local Policies ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 180
Data Execution Prevention ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 181
Address Space Load Randomization ..................................................................................................................................................................... 182
Structured Exception Handling Overwrite Protection .......................................................................................................................................... 182
Safe Unlinking ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 182
Kernel Patch Protection ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 183
Encrypting File System ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 183
Backup Encryption Key .................................................................................................................................................................................... 183
BitLocker Drive Encryption ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 184
Essential Additional Security ................................................................................................................................................................................... 185
Malicious Software Removal Tool .................................................................................................................................................................. 186
Microsoft Security Essentials .......................................................................................................................................................................... 186
A-Squared Free ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 189
Spybot Search & Destroy ................................................................................................................................................................................ 190
Phishing Protection ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 191
Firewalls .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 192
Important Security Tips ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 192
Malware Avoidance Methods .......................................................................................................................................................................... 192
Balancing Security vs. Convenience ............................................................................................................................................................. 196
Memory Optimization ................................................................................................................................................ 197
Memory Hardware ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 197
CPU Cache ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 197
Physical RAM .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 197
Video RAM ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 198
Windows Memory Management ............................................................................................................................................................................. 199
Maximum Supported RAM .............................................................................................................................................................................. 199
SuperFetch ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 200
Desktop Windows Manager ............................................................................................................................................................................ 201
Fault Tolerant Heap .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 202
ReadyBoost ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 202
ReadyBoot .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 203
Resource Exhaustion Prevention and Resolution ....................................................................................................................................... 204
Memory Dump ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 204
Virtual Memory .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 206
Upgrading Memory .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 209
Drive Optimization ..................................................................................................................................................... 210
Windows I/O Management ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 210
Hard Disk Drives ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 211
Optical Drives ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 211
Solid State Drives ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 211
Virtual Hard Disk ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 213
Multibooting Windows 7 ................................................................................................................................................................................... 213
Creating a VHD ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 214
Mounting and Detaching a VHD ..................................................................................................................................................................... 215
Accessing a System Image Backup VHD ..................................................................................................................................................... 215
Windows XP Mode ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 215
RAM Disk .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 216
Disk Management ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 217
Disk Diagnostics ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 218
Check Disk ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 218
Drive Controllers ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 219
AutoPlay ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 221
Master File Table ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 221
Windows Disk Defragmenter ................................................................................................................................................................................... 222
Advanced Defragmentation ............................................................................................................................................................................. 223
Windows Control Panel ............................................................................................................................................ 225
Customizing Windows Control Panel ..................................................................................................................................................................... 225
Action Center .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 226
Administrative Tools .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 226
Component Services ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 226
Computer Management ................................................................................................................................................................................... 226
Data Sources (ODBC) ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 226
Event Viewer ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 226
iSCSI Initiator ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 227

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Local Security Policy ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 227
Performance Monitor ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 227
Print Management ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 227
Services .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 227
System Configuration ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 227
Task Scheduler ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 227
Windows Firewall with Advanced Security ................................................................................................................................................... 227
Windows Memory Diagnostic ......................................................................................................................................................................... 227
Windows PowerShell Modules ....................................................................................................................................................................... 227
AutoPlay ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 228
Backup and Restore .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 228
BitLocker Drive Encryption ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 228
Color Management .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 228
Credential Manager ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 228
Date and Time ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 228
Date and Time ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 228
Additional Clocks ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 229
Internet Time ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 229
Default Programs ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 229
Set Your Default Programs ............................................................................................................................................................................. 229
Associate a File Type or Protocol with a Program ...................................................................................................................................... 229
Change AutoPlay Settings .............................................................................................................................................................................. 230
Set Program Access and Computer Defaults .............................................................................................................................................. 230
Desktop Gadgets ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 230
Device Manager ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 230
Devices and Printers ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 231
Display ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 231
Ease of Access Center ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 231
Folder Options ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 231
Fonts ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 231
Getting Started ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 231
HomeGroup ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 231
Indexing Options ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 232
Internet Options ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 232
Keyboard ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 232
Location and Other Sensors .................................................................................................................................................................................... 232
Mouse .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 232
Buttons ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 232
Pointer Options .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 233
Wheel .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 233
Network and Sharing Center ................................................................................................................................................................................... 233
Notification Area Icons .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 234
Parental Controls ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 234
Performance Information and Tools ....................................................................................................................................................................... 235
Personalization........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 235
Phone and Modem .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 235
Power Options ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 235
Programs and Features ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 239
Recovery ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 241
Region and Language .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 241
Formats ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 241
Location .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 241
Keyboards and Languages ............................................................................................................................................................................. 241
Administrative .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 242
RemoteApp and Desktop Connections ................................................................................................................................................................. 242
Sound ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 242
Speech Recognition .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 242
Sync Center ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 242
System .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 243
Computer Name ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 243
Hardware ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 243
Advanced ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 243
System Protection ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 244
Remote ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 244
Taskbar and Start Menu ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 244

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Troubleshooting ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 244
User Accounts ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 244
Windows CardSpace ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 244
Windows Defender .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 244
Windows Firewall ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 245
Windows Update ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 245
Startup Programs....................................................................................................................................................... 246
Finding Startup Programs ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 246
Microsoft System Configuration Utility .......................................................................................................................................................... 246
Registry Editor ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 247
Autoruns ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 247
Identifying Startup Programs ................................................................................................................................................................................... 248
Removing Startup Programs ................................................................................................................................................................................... 249
Startup Problems ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 249
Regular Maintenance ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 250
Services ........................................................................................................................................................................ 251
Services Utility ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 251
Backing Up Services ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 252
Customizing Services ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 252
Non-Microsoft Services .................................................................................................................................................................................... 256
Change Service Status via Command Line ................................................................................................................................................. 256
Trigger Start Services ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 257
Permanently Deleting Services ...................................................................................................................................................................... 258
Background Tasks ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 259
Task Scheduler ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 259
Force Idle Task Processing ............................................................................................................................................................................. 260
Create a Task .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 260
Windows Registry ...................................................................................................................................................... 262
Backup and Restore the Registry ........................................................................................................................................................................... 262
Backing Up the Entire Registry ....................................................................................................................................................................... 262
Backing Up Portions of the Registry .............................................................................................................................................................. 263
Registry Editor ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 264
Registry Structure ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 264
Editing Registry Entries .................................................................................................................................................................................... 265
Creating and Deleting Registry Entries ......................................................................................................................................................... 266
Registry Permissions ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 267
Maintaining the Registry ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 267
Group Policy ............................................................................................................................................................... 269
Local Group Policy Editor ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 269
Hide Specific Control Panel Items ................................................................................................................................................................. 270
Prevent Access to a Specific Windows Feature .......................................................................................................................................... 270
Prevent Automatic Restore Point Creation................................................................................................................................................... 270
Modify CTRL+ALT+DEL Screen .................................................................................................................................................................... 270
Turn off Thumbnails .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 271
Hide Notification Area ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 271
Turn Off Aero Shake ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 271
Add Search Internet Link to Start Menu ........................................................................................................................................................ 271
Block Removable Storage Access ................................................................................................................................................................. 271
Prevent Windows Media DRM Access.......................................................................................................................................................... 271
Prevent Windows Media Player Codec Download...................................................................................................................................... 272
Handling of Windows Live Mail Attachments ............................................................................................................................................... 272
Windows Search ........................................................................................................................................................ 273
Search Methods ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 273
Search Box ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 273
Advanced Search .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 275
Federated Search ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 277
Search Configuration ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 277
Search Index .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 278
Performance Impact ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 279
Customizing the Index ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 280
Indexing and File Properties ........................................................................................................................................................................... 282
Disabling Windows Search.............................................................................................................................................................................. 282


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Internet Explorer ........................................................................................................................................................ 284
Basic Settings ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 284
General ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 284
Security ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 286
Privacy ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 287
Content ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 288
Connections ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 288
Programs ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 288
Advanced ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 289
InPrivate Browsing ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 292
InPrivate Filtering .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 292
Accelerators ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 293
Advanced Settings .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 294
Customize Internet Explorer 8's Appearance .............................................................................................................................................. 294
Change or Disable Click Sound ..................................................................................................................................................................... 294
Windows 7-Specific Features ......................................................................................................................................................................... 295
Use Internet Explorer 64-bit ............................................................................................................................................................................ 295
Start with InPrivate Browsing Mode Enabled ............................................................................................................................................... 295
Start with InPrivate Filtering Mode Enabled ................................................................................................................................................. 295
Customize IE Title Bar ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 296
Built-In Flash Blocking ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 296
FTP with Explorer-Based Windows ............................................................................................................................................................... 296
Fix Internet Explorer 8 ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 297
Increase Maximum Simultaneous Connections .......................................................................................................................................... 297
DNS Cache Issues ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 297
Other Internet Browsers ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 298
Windows Live Mail ..................................................................................................................................................... 299
Customizing the Interface ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 299
Step 1 - Email Accounts .................................................................................................................................................................................. 300
Step 2 - Import Saved Mail .............................................................................................................................................................................. 300
Step 3 - Folder Pane & Unified Inbox ............................................................................................................................................................ 301
Step 4 - Customize Toolbars and Columns ................................................................................................................................................. 302
Step 5 - Add Color ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 302
Basic Settings ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 303
General ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 303
Read .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 304
Receipts .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 304
Send .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 305
Compose ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 305
Signatures .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 305
Spelling ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 306
Connection ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 306
Advanced ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 306
Safety Options ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 307
Options ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 307
Safe Senders ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 308
Blocked Senders ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 308
International ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 309
Phishing .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 309
Security ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 309
Windows Contacts ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 310
Mail Rules ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 311
Backing Up ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 312
Backing Up Emails ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 312
Backing Up Accounts ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 312
Other EMail Clients ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 312
Windows Media Player ............................................................................................................................................. 313
Initial Settings ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 313
Views ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 314
Library View ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 314
Now Playing View ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 316
Basic Settings ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 317
Player .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 317
Rip Music ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 318

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Devices ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 319
Burn ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 319
Performance ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 320
Library ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 321
Plug-ins ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 322
Privacy ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 322
Security ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 324
DVD ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 324
Network ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 324
Advanced Features ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 325
Enhancements ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 325
Skins .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 326
Taskbar Player Mode ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 326
Audio & Video Codecs .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 327
Viewing and Editing Codecs ........................................................................................................................................................................... 327
Obtaining Codecs ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 328
Digital Rights Management ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 329
Other Media Players ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 330
Graphics & Sound ..................................................................................................................................................... 331
Windows Aero ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 332
Requirements .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 332
Personalization........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 335
Change the Visuals and Sound on your Computer .................................................................................................................................... 335
Desktop Background ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 335
Windows Color .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 337
Sounds ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 338
Screen Saver ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 338
Saving Themes ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 339
Change Desktop Icons ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 339
Change Mouse Pointers .................................................................................................................................................................................. 339
Change Your Account Picture ........................................................................................................................................................................ 339
Visual Effects ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 340
Display Settings ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 340
Adjust Resolution .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 340
Calibrate Color ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 342
Adjust ClearType text ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 342
Multiple Monitors ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 342
Magnifier ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 343
Taskbar ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 343
Taskbar Icons & Effects ................................................................................................................................................................................... 343
Jump Lists .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 344
Thumbnail and Full Screen Previews ............................................................................................................................................................ 345
Taskbar Customization .................................................................................................................................................................................... 346
Toolbars .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 347
Additional Features ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 348
Start Menu .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 349
Customize Start Menu ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 349
Classic Start Menu ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 353
Notification Area......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 354
Gadgets ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 356
Add or Remove Gadgets ................................................................................................................................................................................. 356
Customize Gadgets .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 357
Image capture and manipulation ............................................................................................................................................................................ 357
Image Capture ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 358
Image Viewing & Editing .................................................................................................................................................................................. 358
Fonts ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 359
Font Clarity ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 359
Font Size ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 360
Font Management ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 360
Custom Fonts .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 360
Icons ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 361
Remove Text from Desktop Icons .................................................................................................................................................................. 362
Remove Shortcut Arrows from Icons ............................................................................................................................................................. 362
Remove '- Shortcut' from New Shortcuts ...................................................................................................................................................... 363
Repair Incorrectly Displayed Icons ................................................................................................................................................................ 363

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Save Desktop Icon Positions .......................................................................................................................................................................... 363
Set Spacing Between Icons ............................................................................................................................................................................ 363
Create Custom Shutdown, Restart, Sleep or Lock Icons .......................................................................................................................... 364
Icon Creation and Customization ................................................................................................................................................................... 365
Sound ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 366
Volume Control .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 366
Playback ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 367
Recording ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 368
Sounds ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 369
Gaming ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 370
DirectX 11 and Gaming .................................................................................................................................................................................... 370
Games Explorer ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 370
Older Games...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 374
Overclocking ............................................................................................................................................................... 375
Benefits and Drawbacks ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 375
Benefits ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 375
Drawbacks .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 376
Methodology ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 377
CPU Overclocking ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 377
RAM Overclocking ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 377
Graphics Card Overclocking ........................................................................................................................................................................... 378
Voltage Adjustment........................................................................................................................................................................................... 378
Stability ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 379
Power Supply Unit ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 380
Cooling ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 380
Comparing Overclocks ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 380
Researching Overclocking .............................................................................................................................................................................. 381
Performance Measurement & Troubleshooting ................................................................................................. 382
Windows Experience Index ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 382
Windows System Assessment Tool .............................................................................................................................................................. 384
Reliability Monitor ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 385
Troubleshooting ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 386
Problem Steps Recorder ................................................................................................................................................................................. 387
Windows Action Center ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 387
Event Viewer .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 389
Performance Monitor ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 391
System Health Report ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 392
Resource Monitor ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 392
Task Manager ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 394
Applications ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 394
Processes ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 394
Services .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 395
Performance ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 395
Networking ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 397
Users ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 397
General Usage .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 397
Processor Affinity and Priority ......................................................................................................................................................................... 398
Process Explorer ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 399
Windows Memory Diagnostic .................................................................................................................................................................................. 400
Windows Errors .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 401
Third Party Tools ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 402
3DMark ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 402
Unigine Heaven ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 402
RTHDRIBL ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 402
Lightsmark .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 403
FurMark............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 403
Game Benchmarks ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 403
PCMark ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 403
Sandra................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 403
Prime95............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 404
Super PI .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 404
HD Tune ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 405
MemTest ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 405
Memtest86+ ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 405

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Cleaning Windows ..................................................................................................................................................... 406
Recycle Bin ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 406
Remove Recycle Bin from Desktop ............................................................................................................................................................... 406
Disk Cleanup .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 407
Advanced Disk Cleanup .................................................................................................................................................................................. 408
CCleaner ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 409
Manual Cleaning ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 410
Deleting 'In Use' Files ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 411
Regular Maintenance ................................................................................................................................................ 413
Step 1 - Maintain Security ............................................................................................................................................................................... 413
Step 2 - Check Startup Programs & Services .............................................................................................................................................. 413
Step 3 - Backup ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 413
Step 4 - Clean Windows .................................................................................................................................................................................. 414
Step 5 - Check Disk .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 414
Step 6 - Defragment ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 414
Scheduled Maintenance .................................................................................................................................................................................. 414
Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................................. 415
Version History ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 415

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COPYRIGHT & CREDITS


The contents of thi s book are Copyri ght Koroush Ghazi and protected under US, Australi an and
Internati onal Copyri ght laws. No unauthori zed reproducti on, al terati on or di stri buti on of the book, i n part
or i n whol e, in any language, i s permi tted. All Trademarks used in thi s publ icati on are the property of their
respecti ve owners.

HOSTING, DISTRIBUTION AND TRANSLATIONS OF THIS BOOK

Reproduci ng, al teri ng, hosti ng, or mass di stri buti ng thi s book i n any way i s not permi tted. The latest version
i s al ways avai labl e from TweakGui des.com.

Transl ati ons of thi s book are not permi tted, as I have absolutel y no way to determi ne the quali ty and
accuracy of any transl ati ons, parti cul arl y gi ven the somewhat compl ex and often del i cate procedures i n thi s
book. Professi onal translati ons of thi s 250,000 word book i nto the mul ti pl e l anguages requi red woul d cost a
great deal , and amateur translati ons are unacceptabl y shoddy.

If you wi sh to spread the word regarding the book, pl ease li nk to the TweakGui des Tweaking Compani on
downl oad page.

I've i nvested a huge amount of ti me and effort i nto creati ng thi s book, and I al so provide a free versi on of
thi s book which i s easil y accessi bl e so that the wi dest possi ble audience can benefi t from i ts contents. There
i s no reason for anyone to publ i cly reproduce or di stri bute thi s book when the l atest versi on i s al ways
avai labl e for free from my si te. Peopl e who host thi s book or porti ons of i t are usual l y doi ng so to generate
easy traffi c, income or credi t for themsel ves usi ng my hard work, whi ch is not acceptable. Appropriate
acti on wi ll be taken agai nst any such i ndi vi dual s who do not respect the concept of author ri ghts.

For those who do not understand the stri ctness of these condi ti ons, pl ease see the TweakGuides FAQ.

CREDITS

Thi s book i s a reference compi l ati on borne out of a great deal of testi ng, research, readi ng and personal
experi ence. I gi ve full credi t to any websi tes and authors l i nked i n this book, as wel l as al l the software
devel opers whose excell ent tool s I recommend i n this book, especi al l y those who provi de thei r software for
free. It i s amazi ng that they i nvest so much ti me and effort i nto devel opi ng and testi ng thei r software and
then provi de i t free to all PC users. I encourage you to support thei r work wi th donati ons and purchases
where rel evant, because givi ng is a two way street.

Thank you to my readers who, si nce TweakGuides began i n Apri l 2004, have provi ded a great deal of
support. From those who support the site by l i nki ng to i t on vari ous websi tes and forums, to those who take
the ti me to wri te to me wi th thoughtful and constructi ve contri buti ons, and i n parti cular to those who
donate to the si te or purchase the Del uxe Edi ti on of the TGTC - I trul y appreci ate i t. The only thi ng whi ch
moti vates me to keep wri ti ng gui des i s the fact that I know there are i ntell i gent peopl e out there who are
pati ent enough to take the ti me to read them, and to use the material i n the spi ri t i n whi ch it i s i ntended: to
l earn more about thei r PCs, and to thi nk for themsel ves and resol ve thei r own probl ems.

Special thanks to Mi crosoft, and i n particular Nestor Porti ll o, for generousl y provi di ng me wi th access to the
fi nal buil d of Wi ndows 7 pri or to i ts publ i c rel ease.


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INTRODUCTION

After much anti ci pati on, Wi ndows 7 was offi cial l y rel eased to the publi c on 22
October 2009. For those of you upgradi ng from Windows XP, many of the
features and functi onal i ty in Wi ndows 7 may be new and confusi ng; for those
accustomed to Wi ndows Vista, they wi l l be much more fami li ar. Regardl ess,
I've made sure that the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for Windows 7 caters
equall y to both categories of users, as well as to those compl etel y new to
Wi ndows.

Wi ndows 7 is an evol uti on of Wi ndows Vista. This shoul d not be consi dered a
bad thi ng; Vista has been unfai rl y maligned. The i mportant thi ng to keep i n
mi nd i s that the jump from Wi ndows XP to Vista was qui te si gni fi cant,
i ntroduci ng a range of i mportant and necessary new technol ogies and
features. In goi ng from Vi sta to Wi ndows 7, Mi crosoft has attempted to refi ne
and buil d on these features - and has done so qui te successfull y i n my
opi ni on.

When examined cl osely, Wi ndows 7 has a large number of improvements over previous versi ons of
Wi ndows, both above and beneath the hood. However there are also some areas where you may fi nd the
changes undesi rabl e. The pri mary ai m of thi s book i s to objecti vel y expl ai n al l the features and functi onal i ty
i n Wi ndows 7 i n an easy to understand manner. The book then provi des detail s on how to customi ze
Wi ndows 7 to better sui t your parti cular tastes and needs, hel ping you to mini mize any negati ve i mpacts
whi ch may flow from the changes, and fi nd better ways of usi ng Wi ndows 7.

As wi th my earli er TweakGuides Tweaking Companions for Wi ndows XP and Windows Vista, fi rst rel eased i n
2005 and 2007 respecti vel y, I understand that the l ength of thi s book wil l no doubt frustrate peopl e who are
l ooki ng for a handful of qui ck fi xes to 'make Wi ndows faster'. Clearl y that is not the sol e ai m of thi s book.
My goal i s to expl ai n how thi ngs work i n si mple but suffi ci ent detai l so that readers can customi ze and
opti mi ze their machi nes appropri ately whi l e l earni ng more about them. Computers are now i ntegral to
many aspects of our l i ves, so i t i s si mply not possi bl e to pretend that i t i s not i mportant to know how they
work. The book i s l ong because I make sure that whether novi ce or advanced, you are gi ven enough details
to actual ly understand the l ogi c behi nd Windows functi onal i ty as wel l as any recommendati ons I provi de,
rather than bei ng treated l ike a small chil d who i s si mpl y tol d to do somethi ng wi thout a second thought.

I promi se you that i f you pati entl y work your way through thi s book over the course of several days, that
you wil l come out at the other end wi th not onl y a better performi ng, more stable and better customized PC,
you wi ll also be much more comfortabl e wi th usi ng Wi ndows 7 on a dai ly basis; the mystery wil l disappear.
More i mportantl y, you wi l l be abl e to better diagnose, i ndeed prevent, any probl ems on your PC i n the
future. In any case, the choice as to how best to use the book is l eft up to you.

In cl osi ng, i f you fi nd the book useful , I ask that you consi der maki ng a donati on or purchasi ng the
enhanced Del uxe Edi ti on of thi s book at www.TweakGui des.com. Thi s support wi l l al l ow me to conti nue
rel easi ng a free versi on of thi s book, and to al so conti nue creati ng new works i n the future.


Cheers,

Koroush Ghazi
Owner/Author
In honor of 2,500 years of Persi an Cul ture
TweakGui des.com
Dedi cated to the nobl e i deal s of Cyrus the Great

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BEFORE USING THIS BOOK


BASIC REQUIREMENTS
There are three key requi rements you must meet to use thi s book successfull y:

You wi l l need access to an Admi ni strator l evel user account to make many of the changes i n thi s book.
The defaul t account created duri ng Windows i nstallati on is one such account. See the User Accounts
chapter for detai ls.
You shoul d prepare backups of all your i mportant data pri or to undertaki ng any of the changes detail ed
i n thi s book. See the Backup & Recovery chapter for detai ls.
You shoul d have a Wi ndows 7 DVD. Thi s i s recommended, as you may not be abl e to reverse certai n
changes wi thout i t. However under Windows 7, PCs wi thout a Wi ndows 7 DVD can access a bui l t-in
System Recovery parti ti on and/or create a System Repai r Disc pri or to proceedi ng, whi ch i s suffi ci ent for
repai ri ng Windows. See the Backup & Recovery chapter for detai l s.

I do not recommend applyi ng any of the changes covered i n this book unl ess you meet al l three of the
requi rements above, however the bare mi ni mum requi rement i s that you must have Admi nistrator access.

DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF WINDOWS
Thi s book i s designed only for Wi ndows 7 - there are separate TweakGui des Tweaki ng Compani on books
for Wi ndows Vi sta and Wi ndows XP, to whi ch users of those operati ng systems shoul d refer. The major
content di fferences between the vari ous edi ti ons of Wi ndows 7 are covered i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e and this
Wiki pedia Arti cl e, and are taken i nto consi derati on and noted throughout thi s book. However there are no
content di fferences between the OEM, Academi c, MSDN, TechNet, Upgrade and Retai l edi tions of Wi ndows
7 - these are all i denti cal in terms of performance and content. The actual di fference i s that certai n l i censing
and usage condi ti ons apply to each of them - see the Wi ndows Acti vati on chapter for detai ls.

WHERE ARE THE PICTURES?
There is a di sti nct l ack of pi ctures i n thi s versi on of the book. The Del uxe Edi ti on of this book does contain
detail ed screenshots and il l ustrati ve i mages, as well as other useful features whi ch make usi ng thi s book
much more conveni ent, such as hi gh quali ty text resoluti on for better pri nt quali ty, full bookmarks for
qui cker chapter and secti on access, and the abi li ty to copy text whi ch i s handy for purposes such as correctl y
assi gni ng Regi stry val ues or enteri ng compl ex Command Prompt commands. If you want the book wi th
these features, and more i mportantl y want to show your support, pl ease consi der purchasi ng a Deluxe
Edi ti on from the l i nk above, the el ectroni c versi on of whi ch i s only a few dollars.

WHY IS THE BOOK SO LONG?
Thi s book is intended pri maril y as an educati onal and reference source. It i s not i ntended for peopl e seeki ng
qui ck fi xes. I provi de expl anati ons for a wi de range of features and procedures for a relati vel y broad
audi ence so that anyone can gai n a good understanding of what they're doi ng, and make up thei r own mi nd,
rather than just taki ng my word for i t. I fi rml y bel ieve i n the ol d sayi ng: Give a man a fish and he will eat for a
day; Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. To fi nd i nformati on on any topi c i n the book at any ti me,
you can use the Tabl e of Contents or press CTRL+F to bri ng up the PDF search functi onal i ty. I wil l not be
rel easi ng a cut-down versi on of this book; there are no '10 best tweaks' or a handful of changes which
magi cal l y speed up or fi x Wi ndows 7. It i s a complex i nterrel ationshi p of hardware and software settings
whi ch determi ne how fast and how stabl e your PC runs, and i t requi res understandi ng and thought to
correctl y optimi ze and customi ze a system.


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WHERE DO I START?
Thi s book has been desi gned to cater to both those who are doi ng a new i nstallation of Wi ndows 7 and those
who are usi ng an existi ng i nstal lati on of Wi ndows 7. The chapters foll ow a roughl y sequenti al order as to the
types of thi ngs I woul d personal l y configure before and after doi ng a new i nstal lati on. However any chapter
or even any secti on can be read i n any order you wi sh, because where any procedures or detai ls from other
chapters are requi red, they are referenced accordi ngl y. If you don't wi sh to read the book sequentially, I
strongl y recommend readi ng the Basi c PC Termi nol ogy and New & Common Features chapters before
readi ng anythi ng else. Then I suggest becomi ng famil iar wi th the contents of the Wi ndows Expl orer,
Wi ndows Drivers, PC Securi ty and Graphi cs & Sound chapters as soon as possi bl e, as these cover the most
i mportant i nterface, functionali ty and securi ty-rel ated topi cs.

RECOMMENDED SOFTWARE
Li sted throughout thi s book i s a range of software whi ch I recommend to enabl e you to carry out some of the
procedures in the book or to provi de addi ti onal functi onali ty i n Wi ndows. If you do not feel comfortable in
downl oadi ng or i nstal li ng thi s software for whatever reason, you shoul d i gnore those procedures whi ch rel y
upon i t, as none of them are cri ti cal to the functi oni ng of Wi ndows 7. Furthermore, at no poi nt do you have
to purchase any software. I am not pai d or sponsored by any software or hardware company, so I generally
recommend the best free software availabl e to do the job. In a few cases the software may requi re purchase,
but usual ly the tri al versi on of i t retai ns enough functi onal i ty to compl ete the job for whi ch I have
recommended i t. Of course i f you do find any of the software useful I encourage you to purchase i t or donate
to the software's author. Not everythi ng on the Internet i s free, nor should i t be.

PROBLEMS WITH THE BOOK
Whi le I have made every effort to ensure that thi s book i s as cl ear and accurate as i t can be, I hope you can
appreciate the fact that I cannot possi bly test the i nformati on and recommendati ons i n thi s book on every
potenti al combi nati on of PC hardware and software avail abl e. If there i s anythi ng i n the book whi ch you
bel i eve is genui nel y i naccurate or mi sleadi ng, or if you just want to report a broken l i nk, pl ease Emai l Me
wi th speci fi c detail s and i f appropriate I wi ll recti fy i t i n the next versi on of the book. You can also emai l me
i f you wi sh to share any general feedback or thoughts you have about the book.

However I must stress that the book i s provi ded 'as i s', and I cannot provi de techni cal support of any ki nd. It
si mpl y i sn't vi abl e or appropri ate for me to do so, so under no ci rcumstances wi ll I provide personal ized
opti mi zati on, customizati on or purchasing advi ce/feedback, or any other form of techni cal support rel ated to
the i nformation i n thi s book. The whole reason for wri ti ng this book i s to give each and every reader a
thorough rundown on all the steps necessary to customi ze and opti mi ze their system. As such, there are
suffi ci ent resources and l inks i n this book to hel p anyone learn more about thei r system and sol ve most any
probl em when combi ned wi th addi ti onal research and thought.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
The basi c theme throughout thi s book is that as l ong as you read and consi der the advi ce gi ven careful l y and
use common sense when appl yi ng any changes, you wi ll remai n probl em-free. I have made every reasonable
effort to ensure that the contents of thi s book are compl etel y accurate to the best of my knowl edge, and that
the si tes and uti li ti es li nked to i n the book are free from any malware or decepti ve practi ces at the ti me of
wri ti ng. In all respects the book is safe to use i f fol lowed correctl y, wi th careful consi derati on and taki ng
appropriate precautions. However for l egal reasons I cannot take any responsibi l i ty for any damage or l oss
i ncurred through the use of thi s book. It is a condition of use for this book that you agree to take full
responsibility for any of your actions resulting from reading this book. If you do not wish to take full
responsi bi li ty for usi ng thi s book and any resul ti ng impacts, then do not proceed any further - cl ose the book
i mmediatel y.


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BASIC PC TERMINOLOGY


Thi s chapter expl ai ns i n layman's terms commonl y used techni cal termi nol ogy. Al l of the major hardware
components found i n a modern PC are also covered. Whi l e advanced users may want to skip thi s chapter,
everyone shoul d read the Bi ts & Bytes secti on bel ow to cl ari fy a common poi nt of confusi on.


BITS & BYTES
You wi ll often see the terms Bi ts, Bytes, Kil obytes, Megabytes and Gi gabytes (or thei r abbrevi ations) bei ng
thrown around. Understandi ng these is very i mportant to l earni ng more about PC usage. To start wi th, a Bi t
(Bi nary Digi t) i s the l owest form of computer i nformati on, and can take the value 0 or 1 (i.e. Off or On). Al l
computer functi onali ty i s deri ved from the behavi or of bi ts. For the purposes of thi s book, the most common
uni ts of measurement are:

8 bi ts (b) = 1 Byte (B)
1,024 Bytes = 1 Kil obyte (KB)
1,024 Ki l obytes = 1 Megabyte (MB)
1,024 Megabytes = 1 Gi gabyte (GB)

Note that bi ts are shown as a smal l 'b', and Bytes are shown as a capi tal B - thi s is an i mportant di sti ncti on.
For exampl e 512kbps is 512 ki l obits per second, whi ch converts to 64KB/s (Ki l obytes per second).

For most users, knowi ng the above conversi on factors i s suffi ci ent for understandi ng the termi nol ogy used
i n thi s book and around the Internet, as wel l as for general PC usage. However stri ctl y speaki ng, the values
shown above are not correct, as explained i n thi s arti cl e. The discrepancy stems from the fact that the
commonl y used metri c prefi xes Kil o, Mega, Gi ga and so forth are based on the deci mal (base ten) system,
whi l e as noted, computers are based on the behavi or of bi ts, whi ch i s a bi nary (two di gi t) system. Therefore
whi l e 8 bi ts sti l l equals 1 Byte under ei ther system, the correct prefi xes to use i n other cases are:

1,024 Bytes = 1 Kibibyte (KiB) 1,000 Bytes = 1 Kil obyte (KB)
1,024 Ki bi bytes = 1 Mebibyte (Mi B) 1,000 Ki l obytes = 1 Megabyte (MB)
1,024 Mebi bytes = 1 Gibibyte (Gi B) 1,000 Megabytes = 1 Gi gabyte (GB)

What's the di fference? Wel l one Kil obyte (KB) actuall y equal s 1,000 bytes, since 'ki l o' i s a deci mal prefi x
meani ng 'thousand'. Yet one Ki l obyte as i nterpreted by a computer i s actuall y 1,024 bytes, so 'kil o' i s not the
appropriate prefi x to use, Ki bi byte (Ki B) i s the correct term referri ng to mul ti ples of 1,024 bytes. Thi s
di screpancy may seem minor at fi rst - onl y 24 bytes di fference between 1KB and 1KiB - but as the values
grow, i t becomes more si gni ficant, so i t i s i mportant to understand the di fference. Thi s is parti cularly true
because hardware and software manufacturers often use these prefi xes differentl y, causi ng PC users a great
deal of confusi on.

The best practi cal example of thi s di screpancy is dri ve capaci ty. A dri ve adverti sed as havi ng 150GB of
storage space i s a techni cal l y correct use of the term Gi gabyte, because i t holds 150,000,000,000 Bytes of
storage. However purchasers of the drive soon become confused when they see that Wi ndows typi call y
reports the dri ve as havi ng onl y 139GB of usabl e space. Thi s i s because 150,000,000,000 Bytes translates to
139GiB i n the bi nary system the computer uses, as opposed to 150GB i n the deci mal system, but Wi ndows
i ncorrectly shows GB i nstead of Gi B. Thi s resul ts i n many users feel i ng ri pped off because thei r usabl e dri ve
space does not match the adverti sed storage capacity. As dri ve capaci ti es grow, the di screpancy between
advertised and reported space becomes much larger, causi ng even greater concern among consumers.

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In any case, to avoid further confusi on, throughout thi s book I wil l conti nue to refer to val ues based on the
accepted (but techni call y inaccurate) common usage, i .e. the way i n whi ch hardware manufacturers report
them, and the way i n whi ch Wi ndows reports them, despi te the di screpancy. Eventuall y however
wi despread adopti on of the correct terms wil l be necessary to prevent growi ng consumer confusi on.

DATA
In the context of PCs and technol ogy, Data i s a general term referri ng to any amount or type of i nformation
whi ch is stored and used by a computer.

PC
A Personal Computer (PC), also referred to as a System, Machi ne, Ri g or Box, i s a coll ecti on of hardware
(el ectroni c components) whi ch functi on as a uni fi ed system through the use of software (programmed
i nstructi ons).

CPU
The Central Processi ng Unit (CPU), also referred to as the Processor, i s the si ngl e most i mportant component
of a PC. The CPU chi p i s typi cal ly a small thi n square chi p whi ch i s seated fi rml y on your Motherboard, and
usual l y covered by a large metal heatsi nk and fan to cool i t. The CPU control s and co-ordi nates the acti ons of
the enti re PC under i nstructi on from software. It has the rol e of determi ni ng whi ch hardware component
does what, assigni ng tasks and undertaki ng compl ex cal culati ons whi ch are then fed through the vari ous
rel evant components and back.

MOTHERBOARD
The Motherboard, also called a Mai nboard or Mobo, i s the l arge rectangul ar Pri nted Ci rcui t Board (PCB) i nto
whi ch all of the el ectroni c components are connected i n a PC. The motherboard is typi call y fi rml y attached
to the i nsi de of a PC Case. The motherboard provi des a network of pathways for the CPU to communi cate
wi th the various hardware components, and a range of ports for standard peri pheral s and other devi ces to
pl ug i nto the PC.

MEMORY
A PC uses several different types of Computer Memory to store data, whether temporaril y or permanently,
for the purposes of speeding up processi ng performance. Memory chi ps are fast because unl i ke other forms
of data storage, such as physi cal Hard Dri ves or Opti cal Dri ves, they have no movi ng parts. The mai n types
of PC memory are covered bel ow:

Random Access Memory (RAM), al so call ed System RAM or si mpl y just Memory, i s the most common form
of hardware used by a PC. RAM usually comes i n the form of a l ong thi n PCB sti ck (a DIMM) that plugs into
the motherboard and through i t provi des a place for the CPU and other components to temporaril y store
any data which the system needs to rapidl y access. RAM only holds data whi l e i t has a source of power; if a
PC i s rebooted or swi tched off, any data i n RAM i s i nstantl y l ost. For thi s reason, this type of memory i s
referred to as Volati le Memory.

Read Onl y Memory (ROM) i s a more permanent form of memory, and works si mi lar to RAM, however
unl ike RAM it can onl y be read from and not wri tten to under normal ci rcumstances. Furthermore i t wi l l not
cl ear when i t has no source of power; that i s, when the system i s rebooted or swi tched off i t does not l ose i ts
contents. For thi s reason, thi s type of memory i s referred to as Non-Vol atil e Memory. ROM is pri mari l y used
to hol d smaller amounts of i mportant data, such as the Basi c Input Output System (BIOS) - the program
whi ch tel ls the computer how to functi on when i t i s fi rst swi tched on - stored on the ROM chi p i n the
motherboard. Certai n ROMs can be wri tten to by use of a process call ed Fl ashing, such as when the BIOS is
flashed wi th a newer version of i ts programmi ng.

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The CPU and other hardware such as hard dri ves often have small memory chips of thei r own call ed Caches
to temporari ly hol d data. Thi s memory i s typi call y a smal ler RAM chi p and is used as another poi nt of
temporary storage to further speed up data transfers.

STORAGE DRIVES
As noted under Memory above, RAM i s only a temporary form of storage, and whi l e able to store data
permanentl y i n the absence of power, ROM has typi call y been too small to store l arge volumes of data, and
i s al so not desi gned for bei ng frequently wri tten to. Therefore modern computers empl oy one or more of
several forms of storage dri ves desi gned to permanentl y hol d data i n l arge quanti ti es and wi th varyi ng
degrees of portabi li ty. Storage dri ves pl ug i nto one of four mai n types of drive control l ers found on the
motherboard, l isted from slowest to fastest bel ow:

Fl oppy Di sk Control l er (FDC);
Integrated Dri ve El ectroni cs (IDE) / Paral l el ATA (PATA);
Serial ATA (SATA); or
Smal l Computer System Interface (SCSI), i ncludi ng Seri al Attached SCSI (SAS).

The control l er avail abl e for any parti cular dri ve to use depends on both the dri ve type and the motherboard
type. Some storage dri ves can also plug i nto the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port of a PC, however thi s i s a
mul ti-purpose port and not a dedi cated dri ve control ler, so i t i s not l i sted above.

The vari ous types of dri ve hardware are covered bel ow:

A Hard Disk Dri ve (HDD) i s a magnetic storage devi ce that acts li ke Memory, except i t i s semi -permanent,
sl ower and far larger i n capaci ty. The hard dri ve is a rectangul ar metal li c box i nside which i s a stack of
round pl atters and a read/wri te head. Whenever the PC requi res data, i t must fi rst be read from the hard
dri ve, usual ly i nto RAM, from where it i s then accessed by the CPU and other devi ces. Data wri tten to the
hard dri ve wi l l remai n on the dri ve regardl ess of whether the system i s rebooted or swi tched off. Because a
hard dri ve has movi ng physi cal components, such as the read/wri te head and a spi nni ng di sk, i t can never
be as fast as memory chi ps - whi ch have no movi ng parts - i n provi di ng data. As a resul t, a system may sl ow
down or stutter whi le wai ti ng for more data to be l oaded up from or wri tten to a hard dri ve. The amount of
data stored on the hard dri ve i tsel f usuall y has no signi fi cant i mpact on i ts performance, however if the data
on the dri ve becomes fragmented, thi s wi ll reduce performance.

A Sol id State Dri ve (SSD) is a memory-based storage devi ce whi ch combi nes the advantages of the speed of
computer memory wi th the more permanent nature and larger capaci ti es of hard di sk dri ves. By usi ng a
type of Non-Volati le memory call ed Fl ash Memory, whi ch i s si mil ar to ROM as covered under the Memory
secti on above, an SSD can store data even when the PC i s rebooted or swi tched off. Unl i ke a hard dri ve, an
SSD has no mechani cal movi ng parts, and as such i s much faster i n accessi ng i ts stored data. As SSDs
become cheaper, faster and more reli abl e, they are steadil y replaci ng hard di sk dri ves for consumer PC
usage. Wi ndows 7 is the fi rst versi on of Windows to provi de ful l support for SSDs.

An Opti cal Di sc Dri ve i s a di sc-based data storage devi ce that reads from and someti mes wri tes data onto
CD, DVD or Bl u-Ray discs vi a laser or other l ight-based methods, hence the use of the term 'opti cal '. These
portabl e discs permanently hol d thi s data unti l overwri tten or deleted. Opti cal dri ves usual ly come i n pl asti c
rectangular boxes wi th a loadi ng sl ot or extendabl e tray i n the front. Whi l e much sl ower than hard dri ves or
SSDs due to physi cal l i mi tati ons, the mai n advantage of opti cal dri ves i s the portabi li ty and relati vel y l ow
cost of their medi a, al ong wi th the fact that such medi a can al so be pl ayed on a variety of non-PC devi ces,
such as standal one DVD or Blu-Ray players. Note that the term disk usual ly refers to magneti c media, li ke a
fl oppy di sk, whi l e the term disc refers to opti cal medi a, such as a DVD di sc.


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A Fl oppy Disk Dri ve (FDD) is a magneti c storage devi ce whi ch reads and writes data on thi n plasti c 3.5"
Fl oppy Di sks. The fl oppy dri ve comes i n a rectangul ar plasti c box wi th a l oadi ng sl ot at the front and a
manual ejection button. Floppy dri ves are extremely sl ow compared to any other form of dri ve, and al so
hol d very l i ttl e data (around 1.44MB), and hence are a l egacy devi ce no l onger used on most modern PCs.
Some PC users retai n a fl oppy dri ve for Wi ndows recovery purposes, or to flash the BIOS, however thi s is no
l onger necessary as most modern PCs now full y support the use of opti cal di scs or USB dri ves for these
purposes i nstead. In fact the onl y major advantage of fl oppy dri ves - the relati ve portabi li ty of thei r 3.5" disk
medi a - has been compl etel y superseded by USB dri ves whi ch are much smaller, faster, sturdi er and more
rel iabl e, and can hol d several GB of data as opposed to just 1.44MB.

A USB Flash Dri ve i s extremel y si mi lar to an SSD, i n that i t al so uses Non-Volati l e Flash memory to store
data. However USB dri ves are typi cally much smaller i n capaci ty and physi cal size, and offer much sl ower
performance and rel iabi li ty than an SSD. Thei r main advantage i s that of l ow cost and portabi li ty due to
thei r very small size, whi ch i s why they are also known as thumb or key dri ves. They pl ug i nto a standard
external USB port on a PC, maki ng them much easi er to use for connecti ng to and transferring data between
di fferent PCs, si nce unl ike a standard dri ve they do not need to be connected to a motherboard dri ve
control l er found i nsi de a PC.

GRAPHICS CARD
The Graphi cs Card, also call ed the Vi deo Card, GPU, Graphi cs Adapter or VGA Adapter, is a mi niature
computer of i ts own dedicated solel y to processi ng compl ex graphi cs-related data. It i s a thi n rectangular
pl astic PCB wi th a Graphi cs Processi ng Uni t (GPU), also known as the Core, and Vi deo RAM (VRAM), al so
known as Video Memory. The GPU and VRAM are the graphi cs-speci fi c equi val ents of the CPU and System
RAM on a PC, and the graphi cs card i tself has Pi peli nes for transferri ng data internall y, simi lar to the data
pathways on a motherboard. The graphi cs card pl ugs i nto the motherboard through one of the fol l owi ng
i nterfaces, sorted from sl owest to fastest:

Peri pheral Component Interconnect (PCI);
Accel erated Graphi cs Port (AGP); or
Peri pheral Component Interconnect Express (PCI-E).

Graphi cs cards typi call y come wi th some form of cool i ng encl osure bui l t around them, to ensure that the
GPU and the VRAM remain cool enough to operate correctl y. The graphi cs card undertakes the majori ty of
2D and 3D graphi cs cal culati ons under Wi ndows 7, and also sends data di rectl y to a Di splay Devi ce. Some
motherboards have bui l t-in graphi cs functi onali ty that works i n much the same way as a pl ug-i n graphi cs
card, but i s referred to as Onboard or Integrated Graphi cs. PCs wi th such graphi cs functionali ty typi cally
process graphi cs-related data far less qui ckly than those wi th pl ug-in graphi cs cards.

DISPLAY DEVICE
A Di splay Devi ce, more commonl y referred to as the Moni tor, is the devi ce through whi ch the PC's data
output i s di spl ayed graphi cal ly. Thi s graphi cal data typi cal ly comes di rectl y from the graphi cs card, and a
di splay device must be pl ugged i nto the graphi cs card to faci l i tate thi s. Some computers sti ll have a
tradi ti onal Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) moni tor as thei r pri mary di splay device, however most modern PC
moni tors now uti l ize Liqui d Crystal Di splay (LCD) technol ogy. Furthermore a modern PC can al so be
pl ugged i nto a tel evi si on set of any type, such as CRT, LCD, Pl asma, Rear or Front Projector, and other
si mil ar technol ogy sets if the user desi res, or even a combi nati on of mul ti pl e displ ays at once i f the graphi cs
card supports such functi onali ty.

Di splay devices have the abi li ty to di spl ay graphi cs at vari ous Di splay Resol uti ons, typi cally expressed in
number of Pixel s wi de by number of Pixel s hi gh (e.g. 1920 x 1200). A Pi xel i s the small est component of a
di gi tal i mage, thus the hi gher the resoluti on, the more pi xel s are displayed on the display devi ce and the

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cl earer the i mage. At each resol uti on a di spl ay devi ce can al so redraw the i mage a number of ti mes per
second, referred to as the Refresh Rate whi ch is expressed i n hertz (Hz). Refresh rate i s not to be confused
wi th Frame Rate, whi ch is expressed in Frames Per Second (FPS). Refresh rate i s a physi cal li mi tati on of a
di splay devi ce i n refreshi ng the i mage on the screen a certai n number of ti mes per second. Frame rate on the
other hand is the number of ti mes per second that the software and graphi cs devi ce can provi de a whole
new frame of i magery.

SOUND CARD
The Sound Card, also call ed the Audi o Card or Audio Devi ce, i s a thi n PCB that acts as a dedi cated CPU for
cal culati on of audi o data. It typi cal ly pl ugs i nto the motherboard, and usual l y has no form of cooli ng
encl osure around i t. Some motherboards have buil t-in audi o functi onal i ty that works i n much the same way
as a sound card, but i s referred to as Onboard or Integrated Sound. PCs wi th such audi o functi onali ty may
process audio-related data l ess qui ckly or wi th l ess addi ti onal functi onali ty than those usi ng pl ug-i n sound
cards.

SPEAKERS
A PC usually comes wi th some form of sound output devi ce, typi cal ly a bui l t-i n PC speaker to provi de
audi bl e warni ngs i n the form of beeps or tones. Users wi th a Sound Card or Integrated Sound can attach
more functi onal sound output devi ces, such as Speakers or Headphones, directl y i nto the sound card or
i ntegrated sound devi ce through the back of the PC. The addi ti on of speakers or headphones all ows the user
to experi ence hi gher quali ty sound and also a potentiall y hi gher number of di screte Audi o Channels whi ch
can i ncrease the reali sm of sound reproducti on.

POWER SUPPLY UNIT
The Power Suppl y Uni t (PSU) i s a square metal box whi ch i s connected to mai ns power from the back of the
PC, and i nsi de the PC i s cabl ed to several major components, as wel l as to the motherboard whi ch regul ates
thi s power to the remai ni ng components. Thus the PSU i s the primary source of power which all ows the PC
to functi on; if the PSU cannot provi de suffi ci ent stabl e power to the hardware components of a PC, i t can
cause errati c behavi or or even a fail ure to start up.

COOLING DEVICES
El ectroni c components can generate a great deal of heat, especi all y when under heavy l oad. The hardware
components i n a PC most suscepti ble to heat buildup, such as the CPU and GPU, come wi th cool ing
sol uti ons designed to di ssipate the heat i nto the surroundi ng ai r. The two most common types of PC Cool ing
sol uti ons used are:

A Heatsi nk i s a square or rectangul ar sol id metal object typi cal ly wi th a perfectl y flat surface on one side,
and mul ti pl e spi nes, fi ns or rods on the other si de(s). The rol e of a heatsi nk is to si t on top of the component
to be cool ed, and draw out the heat from the component through conducti on. Thi s heat then travels al ong
the heatsi nk unti l cool er air and a large surface area hel p i n accel erati ng the dissi pati on of the heat.

A Fan i s designed to draw i n col d ai r or expel hot ai r. Fans can ei ther be empl oyed on thei r own, such as case
fans whi ch simpl y suck i n or bl ow out ai r from a PC case; or they can be mounted on or near heatsi nks to
assi st i n more rapi dly removi ng the heat drawn out from hardware components. The larger the fan and/or
the faster i t rotates, the greater the vol ume of ai r i t can move, hence the greater the potenti al cooli ng, at the
cost of addi tional noi se.

Other forms of cool i ng, such as Watercool i ng, are much l ess common due to thei r addi ti onal cost, risk and
compl exi ty.


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CASE
The PC Case i s a hardened structure, usual l y made of thi n but strong metal and/or pl asti c, whi ch encl oses all
the PC components and onto whi ch the motherboard i s fi rml y attached. The case provi des the basic
framework requi red for holdi ng together and protecting al l the components of a modern PC. However a case
also i ncreases the potenti al for heat bui ldup around components, and can also trap dust whi ch can cause
hardware to overheat and malfuncti on if not cleaned out regularly.

PERIPHERAL
Peri pheral i s a general term referri ng to any devi ce attached or used external ly to a PC, such as a mouse,
keyboard or pri nter for exampl e. The term specifi cally i ndi cates that the devi ce tends to li e outsi de the cl ose
peri phery of the PC case. The onl y thi ng peri pheral s have i n common wi th each other i s that they provi de
addi ti onal i nput and output capabi li ti es to a PC.

OPERATING SYSTEM AND SOFTWARE
The Operati ng System (OS), such as Windows 7, i s a vi tal pi ece of software - a compi lati on of i nstructi ons
that tel l s all the hardware and software components i n a PC how to functi on to achi eve particular outcomes
i n a uni fi ed manner. An OS is a necessi ty on all modern PCs si nce wi thout an overarchi ng program to
provi de core functi onali ty, al l the computer components woul d not be abl e to functi on as a si ngl e machine.
The OS also provi des the mai n i nterface for users to i nteract wi th the PC hardware and software.

Software i s a more general term, referri ng to a col l ecti on of programmed i nstructi ons whi ch through
i nteracti on wi th hardware provi de vari ous functi onality on a PC. Whi le the OS i tself is part of the software
on a PC, and provi des a great deal of functi onali ty, addi ti onall y i nstall ed software provi des further
functi onali ty to perform more speci al ized tasks, such as word processi ng or gami ng.


Hopeful ly the i nformati on i n this chapter has hel ped you to better understand common techni cal
termi nol ogy used throughout thi s book. I encourage you to research further about any particular concept or
component whi ch may confuse or i ntri gue you, as i t i s i mportant to have a sol id groundi ng i n the basi c
concepts and terms before movi ng on to more advanced material. The better you understand the basi cs, the
more readil y you wi ll grasp the more compl ex topi cs covered i n this book.


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NEW & COMMON FEATURES


Thi s chapter bri efl y covers the most i mportant and most commonl y used features of Wi ndows 7, some of
whi ch have exi sted i n one form or another i n previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows, and some of whi ch are enti rely
new. Ful l detail s of all of these features are provi ded i n the rel evant chapters of thi s book as i ndi cated. Do
not ski p thi s chapter - i t i s a crash course i n the fundamental features referred to often throughout thi s book,
so you need to be famil iar wi th al l of them before del vi ng further i nto Wi ndows 7.


WINDOWS AERO
Wi ndows Aero i s the gl ass-l ike user i nterface fi rst i ntroduced i n Wi ndows Vista. It has had some
modi fi cati ons and new features added to i t as of Wi ndows 7. When Aero i s enabl ed, the Wi ndows Desktop
i s no l onger a si mpl e 2D envi ronment; i t can have both 2D and 3D el ements at the same ti me. To qui ckl y see
i f you are currentl y running full Aero, and to demonstrate i ts 3D capabil i ti es, press WINDOWS+TAB to
tri gger the Fl ip 3D task switchi ng function.

In Wi ndows 7 the performance of Aero and rel ated graphi cs i nterface functi onal i ty has been i mproved. For
those who do not l i ke Aero or do not have the graphi cs hardware to support i t runni ng smoothl y, the Aero
i nterface can be di sabl ed by ri ght-cl i cki ng on the Desktop, sel ecti ng Personali ze, and then sel ecti ng the
Wi ndows 7 Basi c theme. However the Aero i nterface i n Wi ndows 7 is desi rabl e because asi de from i ts
aestheti c appeal, i t al so al lows a range of useful functi ons, i ncl udi ng:

Thumbnail and Full Screen Previews - Movi ng your mouse poi nter over the i con for an acti ve program i n the
Taskbar bri ngs up l i ve Thumbnail Previ ew(s) of i ts current contents, as i t di d i n Vista. You can go to any
acti ve program or wi ndow by l eft-cl i cki ng i ts Thumbnai l Preview, and you can also cl ose i t by cl i cki ng the
red X i n the Thumbnail Previ ew. Addi ti onall y i n Wi ndows 7, i f you move your mouse poi nter over a specific
Thumbnail Previ ew, a Full Screen Previ ew suddenly appears. Move your mouse away from the Thumbnail
Previ ew and the Full Screen Preview di sappears.

Flip & Flip 3D - Wi ndows Fli p i s essenti all y the ALT+TAB task swi tchi ng functi on avai labl e i n previ ous
versi ons of Wi ndows. However under the Aero i nterface, accessi ng Fli p by usi ng ALT+TAB bri ngs up a set
of thumbnai l previ ews of all open wi ndows. Furthermore, by using WINDOWS+TAB for Fl i p 3D, you can
swi tch to an ani mated 3D representati on of all open wi ndows.

Aero Peek - New to Wi ndows 7, i f you want to qui ckl y glance at what is currentl y on your Windows Desktop,
you don't need to mi ni mize or cl ose your open windows. Move your mouse poi nter over the small glassy
rectangle at the far right of the Wi ndows Taskbar next to the cl ock i n the Notifi cati on Area to i nstantly make
everythi ng i n front of the Desktop transparent. Move i t away to agai n see your wi ndows as before. If i nstead
you cl i ck on the rectangl e, you wi ll i nstantl y swi tch to the Desktop, and cli cki ng i t agai n wi ll restore al l
mi ni mized wi ndows.

Aero Snap - Wi ndows 7 now provi des nati ve support for the use of basi c mouse gestures on the Wi ndows
Desktop. The two most common categori es of mouse gestures are call ed Aero Snap and Aero Shake. Aero
Snap al l ows you to qui ckly resize open wi ndows by draggi ng the wi ndow i n a parti cul ar di recti on. Drag an
open wi ndow to the far left or far ri ght edges of the screen and i t resizes, or 'snaps', to take up exactly half
the screen. Drag a wi ndow to the very top of the screen and i t becomes maxi mized. Drag a maxi mi zed
wi ndow downwards and it converts to its regular windowed mode.


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Aero Shake - Based on the same pri nci pl e as Aero Snap, Aero Shake al lows you to qui ckl y mini mize al l open
wi ndows except one. Grab and rapi dl y shake the window of your choi ce l eft and right and/or up and down
repeatedl y to mi ni mize all other open wi ndows at once. Doi ng the same thing agai n wil l restore all the
wi ndows to thei r previ ous state.

Gadgets - Fi rst avai labl e i n Vi sta as part of the Windows Si debar, Windows 7 has removed the Si debar and
now onl y has free-fl oati ng Gadgets whi ch also use l ess resources. Gadgets are small graphi cal appli cati ons
whi ch si t on your Desktop and can provi de a range of useful i nformati on and functi onal i ty at a gl ance.

For detail s of how to use and customize these and other i nterface features see the Graphi cs & Sound chapter.

TASKBAR
The Wi ndows Taskbar i s the bar whi ch l i es across the bottom of the screen. Windows 7 bri ngs a noticeable
change to the way the Taskbar is displ ayed and used, maki ng i t a uni fi ed l ocation for i nteracti ng wi th
programs i n a range of ways. By defaul t the Taskbar is now full y transparent and sli ghtly larger, wi th bi gger
i cons representi ng both those programs whi ch are permanentl y pinned to the Taskbar, as wel l as programs
currentl y open i n Wi ndows. The i cons are now freel y rearrangeable on the Taskbar, whether pi nned or not.
Addi ti onal l y, under the Aero i nterface the Taskbar provi des extra functi onal i ty i n the form of thumbnail
previ ews. The other key features of the Taskbar i nclude:

Jump Lists - When a Taskbar i con i s right-cl icked, or if the i con i s dragged upwards, a context menu of
vari ous opti ons known as a Jump Li st appears. Commonl y the Jump Li st wil l show any recentl y opened fi l es
or fol ders for the program, all ow the user to pi n/unpi n the program to the taskbar, and also provi de the
abi li ty to open new i nstances of the program, as wel l as cl ose any exi sti ng instances of i t. Other features
avai labl e on the Jump Li st depend on the l evel of support the appl i cati on has for thi s new functi onal i ty in
Wi ndows 7.

Notification Area - Al so referred to as the System Tray in previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows, the Noti fi cati on Area
i s the smal l secti on of the Taskbar whi ch by defaul t shows the ti me and date, as wel l as the small Volume,
Network and Acti on Center i cons. Addi ti onal i cons may appear in thi s area dependi ng on how i ndi vi dual
programs are set up to noti fy the user. In Wi ndows 7 the Noti fi cati on Area has had some changes,
parti cul arl y wi th the addi ti on of the Aero Peek i tem, and the fact that by defaul t i t hi des most i cons unti l
otherwi se customi zed by the user - these hi dden i tems can be accessed by cli cki ng the small whi te tri angl e to
the l eft of the Noti fi cati on Area. You may also noti ce that the Network i con i s no l onger animated to show
Internet traffic acti vi ty.

Start Menu - The Start Menu i s accessed vi a the Start button at the far l eft of the Taskbar. The Start Menu
all ows users to pi n a range of shortcuts on the l eft side, as wel l as access documents and several commonl y-
used Wi ndows features on the ri ght side of i t, i n one easi ly accessi bl e l ocati on. It al so contains a Search Box
at the bottom whi ch provides easy access to the Wi ndows Search functi onali ty. The Start Menu has not been
si gni fi cantl y changed si nce Vista, however i t i s notabl y different from that used i n XP. The most noti ceabl e
change for all users i s that the l i nks to personal fol ders are now to the rel evant Li brary, and not di rectl y to
the fol der i tsel f. Jump l ists are now al so avai labl e for di spl ayi ng recentl y opened fil es for certai n programs
that are pi nned to the Start Menu, denoted by a small black arrow to the ri ght of the pi nned item. Note that
Cl assi c Vi ew i s no l onger avail able for the Start Menu.

More detai ls of the Taskbar and Start Menu can be found i n the Graphi cs & Sound chapter; the Search Box is
covered i n the Wi ndows Search chapter.


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WINDOWS EXPLORER
Wi ndows Expl orer is the mai n i nterface used to mani pulate fi l es and fol ders in Windows. It can be opened
vi a the Computer i tem on the Start Menu, by pressi ng WINDOWS+E, or by cli cki ng the yellow fol der i con
found on the Taskbar. Many of the i nterfaces i n Wi ndows are based on Wi ndows Expl orer. Whi le Wi ndows
Expl orer shoul d be famil iar to users of previ ous Wi ndows versi ons, the major changes and features of
Wi ndows Expl orer i n Wi ndows 7 i ncl ude:

Libraries - The most noti ceabl e change in Wi ndows Expl orer, Li brari es are vi rtual fol ders not to be confused
wi th the tradi ti onal My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos user-specifi c personal fol ders.
Al though the defaul t Li braries have simi lar names to these user di rectories, Li brari es are a user-defi ned
vi rtual col l ecti on of content, not an actual directory or storage l ocation i n thei r own ri ght. Li brary fol ders are
all hel d under the Li brari es category i n Wi ndows Expl orer, whereas your personal fol ders are l ocated under
the \Users\[Username] di rectory by defaul t. The key di fference i s that Li brari es can provi de a uni fi ed di splay
of the contents of vari ous di rectories. For exampl e, you can add all the vari ous fol ders under whi ch you
store pi ctures and photographs across your dri ve(s) to the Pi ctures l i brary, and it wi ll then displ ay all these
fi les i n a si ngl e vi ew, sorted to sui t your taste. Your ori gi nal fil es and fol ders remai n where they are, but the
Li brary all ows you to manipul ate and view these fil es i n a si ngl e l ocati on.

Li brari es are ti ghtl y i ntegrated i nto Windows 7. For exampl e, the Documents, Pi ctures, Musi c and Videos
i tems on the Start Menu al l poi nt to the Li brari es of the same name, not your personal folders; when you
open Wi ndows Expl orer, by defaul t the Li brari es folders are exposed, even if you l i nk di rectl y to a parti cular
user di rectory; and some appl icati ons such as Windows Media Pl ayer 12 incorporate the media-related
Li brari es for use i n media di splay and sel ecti on.

Details Pane - The Detai ls Pane is the small area at the bottom of Wi ndows Expl orer whi ch, when a fil e is
sel ected, i nstantl y displays basi c detai l s about that fi le at a glance.

Preview Pane - The Previ ew Pane i s a larger area to the ri ght of Wi ndows Expl orer whi ch, when a fil e i s
sel ected, al l ows you to previ ew i ts contents i n real -ti me. It can be toggl ed on or off at any ti me usi ng the
'Show/Hide the previ ew pane' button at the top ri ght of the Expl orer wi ndow. The Previ ew Pane has been
i mproved si nce i ts i mplementati on i n Windows Vista. For exampl e, if you hi ghli ght a vi deo fi le wi th the
Previ ew Pane open, you can pl ay the video i f you wish; i f you hi ghl i ght an audi o fil e, you can l i sten to i t i n
the Previ ew Pane, and so forth.

Content View - New to Windows 7, Content vi ew i s a combi nati on of several other vi ew types, providi ng a
range of i nformati on and a Li ve Icon previ ew of the file as wel l if avail abl e, al l owi ng you to better determi ne
i ts contents at a glance. Content vi ew i s best sui ted to browsi ng mul ti medi a fi les - if i t isn't al ready in
Content vi ew, right-cli ck i n your Musi c Li brary and sel ect Content for exampl e to see how i t looks.

Live Icons - First i ntroduced i n Vi sta, Live Icons di spl ay content from the fi l es on whi ch they're based. The
most promi nent exampl e of Li ve Icons are pi cture and vi deo thumbnail s, whi ch when vi ewed i n Icon,
Content or Ti l e vi ew i n wi ndows expl orer, change from generi c thumbnai l i cons to i cons wi th i mages
deri ved from the fi l e's actual content. These i cons are al so ful l y scalabl e ei ther by ri ght-cli cki ng i n the folder
and selecti ng a rel evant i con si ze under the Vi ew menu, or by hol di ng down the CTRL key and usi ng your
mousewheel to resize the icons when i n Icon vi ew.

More detail s of all Wi ndows Expl orer-rel ated functi onali ty can be found i n the Wi ndows Expl orer chapter.


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SEARCH BOX
Fi rst i ntroduced i n Wi ndows Vi sta and refi ned i n Wi ndows 7, the mai n Search Box can be found at the
bottom of the Start Menu, however versi ons of i t also appear throughout the Windows i nterface, typi cal ly at
the top ri ght of any Expl orer-based wi ndows. The aim of the Start Menu Search Box i n parti cular i s not onl y
to fi nd l ost fi les, i t i s pri mari l y for al l owing fast access to any program, fil e or Windows feature - si mpl y type
the fi rst few l etters of i t to bri ng i t up for sel ecti on. As such, throughout thi s book I frequentl y refer to
Start>Search Box as a pl ace to l aunch programs or access Windows features. Stri ctl y speaki ng i t is not a
command l i ne i nterface l ike the Wi ndows Run box - whi ch you can access by pressi ng WINDOWS+R or
usi ng the Run i tem on the Start Menu. However i t i s much qui cker to use than goi ng through menus to find
the rel evant shortcut, or typi ng an exact executable or command name i n the run box.

More detail s of the search functi onali ty can be found i n the Wi ndows Search chapter.

USER ACCOUNT CONTROL
User Account Control (UAC) was i ntroduced i n Wi ndows Vista, and to understand the rati onal e behi nd it,
you need basi c understandi ng of User Accounts. In Wi ndows the two mai n l evel s of User Accounts are
Admi nistrators and Standard users. When User Account Control is di sabl ed, Admi ni strator l evel users -
such as the account created when you fi rst i nstal l Windows 7 - have the greatest freedom, abl e to make any
system change and i nstal l any software, however thi s also bri ngs wi th i t potenti al securi ty and conveni ence
i ssues. A Standard User Account on the other hand i s deli beratel y designed to restri ct users from maki ng
certai n changes whi ch coul d al ter system setti ngs i n undesi rable ways, and also all ows the conveni ence of
havi ng mul tipl e users on the same PC in i sol ati on from each other.

When enabl ed, UAC ensures that whether an Admini strator or Standard user, your account actual ly runs
wi th onl y Standard l evel pri vil eges regardl ess. Then whenever you attempt to make certai n system-i ntrusi ve
changes, you may see an el evation prompt known as a UAC Prompt appear. If you're runni ng a Standard
user account, the prompt wi ll ask for an Admi ni strator password; if you're runni ng an Admi ni strator
account, you can si mpl y cl i ck Yes to the prompt i f you wish to proceed. Importantl y, this UAC prompt
contai ns a range of detai ls regardi ng the program name, al l of whi ch can be used to ascertain whether you
actuall y want to all ow the program i n questi on to make system-i ntrusi ve changes.

Note that programs or Wi ndows opti ons whi ch may tri gger a UAC prompt when launched are usual ly
denoted wi th a smal l shield symbol i n thei r shortcut.

UAC has been i mproved i n Wi ndows 7, fi rstl y to al low Standard users to undertake several common and
non-i ntrusi ve tasks wi thout bei ng prompted. The number of redundant UAC prompts has also been
reduced, and by defaul t many Wi ndows appli cati ons wi ll not raise a UAC prompt, maki ng changes to
common Wi ndows setti ngs much easier to perform. Furthermore, Wi ndows 7 adds user-customi zabl e UAC
noti fi cati on level s, accessi ble under the User Accounts component of the Wi ndows Control Panel , by cli cki ng
the 'Change User Account Control Setti ngs' l i nk.

Some ol der programs not designed speci fi cal ly for Wi ndows Vista or Wi ndows 7 may not l aunch properl y
or have ful l functi onali ty when UAC is enabl ed, because they don't ask for admi ni strati ve access to the
system even when i t i s requi red. In such cases, launch the program by right-cl i cki ng on i ts executabl e or
l aunch i con and sel ect 'Run as Admi ni strator' to ensure i t wil l have correct functi onali ty.

Don't al ter your UAC settings unti l you have a greater understanding of both User Accounts and UAC.
More detail s of UAC can be found i n the User Account Control secti on of the PC Securi ty chapter, and more
detail s on User Accounts can be found in the User Accounts chapter.


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ADMINISTRATOR COMMAND PROMPT
One i mportant UAC-related i ssue i s that of the MS DOS-based Command Prompt. You wi l l sometimes
requi re what i s known as an Admi nistrator Command Prompt to successfully use certai n command-l ine
commands. If ever a parti cular command l i ne opti on i s not executing properl y or appears to have no i mpact,
i t i s most li kel y because you need to use i t i n an Admi ni strator Command Prompt. There are several ways to
l aunch one:

Go to Start>Search Box, type cmd, then ri ght-cl i ck on the cmd.exe item whi ch appears i n the Start Menu
and sel ect 'Run as Admi ni strator'.
Go to Start>Search Box, type cmd, then press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER.
Go to Start>Search Box, type cmd, then ri ght-cl i ck on the cmd.exe i tem, sel ect Send To>Desktop to create a
shortcut on your Desktop. Ri ght-cl i ck on thi s shortcut, select Properti es, cli ck the Advanced button
under the Shortcut tab and ti ck 'Run as Admi ni strator'. You can now use thi s shortcut to always launch
an Admi nistrator Command Prompt as requi red.

Note that when an Admi ni strator Command Prompt i s correctl y l aunched, you wil l see the word
Administrator at the top l eft of i ts ti tl e bar. You can also launch any program or Wi ndows feature di rectl y
from an Admi ni strator Command Prompt wi thout requi ri ng a re-confi rmation through UAC, because i t
al ready has elevated pri vi leges.

WINDOWS MAIL
One of the most noti ceabl e di fferences between Wi ndows 7 and previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows i s the absence
of a mail program. Wi ndows XP had Outl ook Express, Wi ndows Vista had Windows Mai l , but Wi ndows 7
has no emai l cl i ent whatsoever by defaul t. It's al so worth noti ng that Wi ndows 7 sees the exclusi on of not
onl y Wi ndows Mai l, but Wi ndows Movie Maker has al so been removed, the Windows Photo Vi ewer bui l t-i n
i mage vi ewi ng program now has no i mage edi ti ng capabi li ti es, and Parental Control s no l onger i ncludes any
web fil teri ng features.

If you type Windows Mail or Movie Maker i n the Start>Search Box for example, you wi ll see that Mi crosoft
encourages you to obtai n these, and other components, from the free Wi ndows Li ve Essentials sui te
avai labl e onl ine. You can however i nstall any thi rd party versi on of these appl i cati ons i nstead if you wi sh.
Thi s book provi des appropri ate li nks and i nstructi ons, gi vi ng you enough i nformati on to make the choi ce
whi ch sui ts you best. In parti cular there i s a detail ed chapter on how to confi gure Wi ndows Li ve Mai l to
more cl osel y match the l ook and behavior of previ ous Wi ndows mail cl i ents.

More detai ls can be found i n the Wi ndows Li ve Mai l chapter, as wel l as the Parental Controls secti on of the
User Accounts chapter and the Wi ndows Media Pl ayer chapter.

RIBBON
The Ri bbon user i nterface came to promi nence i n Mi crosoft Offi ce 2007, and i s i dentified by a seri es of
overl appi ng tool bars sel ected via tabs. Wi ndows 7 introduces nati ve support for the ri bbon framework, and
has i ncorporated the ri bbon i nterface, most notabl y i n the new versi ons of the Pai nt and Wordpad uti li ti es. If
you're not fami l iar wi th the ri bbon i nterface, note that asi de from the mai n opti ons on the ri bbon whi ch are
sorted under tabs, you can cl i ck the small button at the top l eft of the screen to see a drop-down box wi th
further opti ons, and for easy access you can pi n any ri bbon opti ons to the smal l tool bar at the top l eft of the
wi ndow by right-cl icki ng on them and sel ecti ng 'Add to Qui ck Access Tool bar'.


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DRIVERS
A dri ver is software specifi call y designed to l et Wi ndows communi cate wi th your hardware. Wi ndows 7
empl oys the same dri ver archi tecture as Wi ndows Vista, whi ch i tsel f was a major departure from Wi ndows
XP - thi s means that whi le dri vers speci fi cal ly designed for Windows 7 are the best choi ce for opti mal
performance and functi onali ty, dri vers ori gi nal l y desi gned for Vi sta can also be used i n Windows 7, though
thi s can resul t i n the l oss of some benefi ci al performance and functi onal i ty. Fortunatel y, major hardware
manufacturers such as ATI/AMD, Nvi dia, Intel and Creati ve Labs have already prepared stabl e and
functi onal Wi ndows 7 drivers. Gi ven the popul ar appeal of Windows 7, dri ver support wi l l conti nue to
i mprove. Fortunatel y for owners of older hardware who may not have access to appropri ate dri vers,
Wi ndows 7 improves generi c support for a range of common devi ces, and si mpl y connecti ng them i n most
cases wil l see the i nstal lati on of the appropri ate dri ver.

32-bit vs. 64-bit Support - As wi th previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows, software designed for Wi ndows 7 32-bit
should function wi thout any i ssues under the 64-bi t versi on of the OS. Windows 7 64-bi t users shoul d also
note that under normal circumstances you cannot run dri vers which are unsi gned, or whi ch are desi gned for
32-bi t Wi ndows, under 64-bi t Wi ndows.

Device Stage - A new feature of Wi ndows 7 desi gned as a central l ocati on for accessi ng the common features
of your connected devi ce(s), Devi ce Stage opens automati cal l y when a supported devi ce i s detected, and
all ows access to a range of useful functi ons for the devi ce wi thout the need to i nstall addi ti onal software.

Devices and Printers - While Devi ce Stage i s for i ndivi dual devi ces, Devi ces and Pri nters is another new
feature of Windows 7 which provi des a central l ocation for maki ng i t easi er to access and confi gure a range
of devi ces on your system. It al so replaces the Pri nters fol der as the locati on to access pri nt-rel ated functi ons.

See the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter for more detail s, as well as the 32-bi t vs. 64-bi t secti on of the Wi ndows
Install ati on chapter; the Devi ce Stage secti on of the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter; and fi nall y the
Graphi cs & Sound chapter for i mportant detail s on graphi cs and sound dri ver-rel ated i ssues.

COMPATIBILITY ISSUES
Wi ndows 7 is based heavil y on Wi ndows Vista, and because software devel opers have had three years or
more to make thei r software compati ble wi th Vi sta, the good news is that recent versi ons of most promi nent
software al ready provi de decent support for Wi ndows 7. Make sure to check for newer versi ons of your
favori te software regul arl y and upgrade or update as necessary. For most systems, compati bi li ty i ssues
should be almost non-existent, especial l y i f your system ran fi ne under Wi ndows Vi sta. However Wi ndows
7 provi des vari ous solutions if you experi ence what you believe are genui ne compatibi l i ty probl ems,
parti cul arl y wi th ol der software whi ch i s no l onger bei ng updated:

Run as Administrator - As noted i n the User Account Control section above, i f UAC is enabled and you are
havi ng problems wi th a program, manuall y l aunch i t i n Admi nistrator mode to see i f thi s resol ves the i ssue.

Compatibility Mode - If probl ems persi st, run the program i n Compati bi li ty Mode. Thi s option i s found by
ri ght-cl i cki ng on the fi l e or shortcut, selecti ng Properti es, then under the Compati bi li ty tab ti cki ng the 'Run
thi s program i n compati bi l i ty mode for' box and selecti ng the previ ous versi on of Wi ndows best sui ted to
the program. For more recent programs si mply runni ng a program i n 'Wi ndows Vi sta' compati bi li ty mode
wi ll fi x any qui rks. For ol der programs try 'Wi ndows XP Servi ce Pack 2' mode i nstead, as i t i s the most
common Wi ndows OS confi gurati on.

Compatibility Wizard - Found under the new Troubleshooti ng component of the Wi ndows Control Panel ,
cl i ck the Programs i tem then sel ect the Program Compati bi li ty troubl eshooter to start a wi zard whi ch wi ll
guide you through a process that can automati cal l y resol ve certai n compati bi li ty i ssues.

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Windows XP Mode - For programs whi ch onl y function under a true Wi ndows XP envi ronment, Wi ndows 7
users can access a new feature call ed Wi ndows XP Mode. Not install ed by defaul t, but avail abl e as a free
downl oad to owners of Wi ndows 7 Professi onal , Ul ti mate, and Enterpri se edi ti ons, XP Mode i s a ful ly
l i censed copy of Wi ndows XP SP3 running under the Wi ndows Vi rtual PC envi ronment i n Windows 7.

See the Wi ndows Instal lation, Wi ndows Dri vers and Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapters
for detail s on sorti ng out compati bi li ty issues; see the Vi rtual Hard Di sk secti on of the Dri ve Opti mi zation
chapter for detai ls of Wi ndows XP Mode.

WINDOWS CONTROL PANEL
Thi s book assumes that you are viewing the Wi ndows Control Panel i n ei ther Large Icons or Smal l Icons
vi ew, not Category vi ew, as ei ther of these vi ews provi des the greatest l evel of detail . You can change the
vi ew usi ng the 'Vi ew by' l ink at the top ri ght of the Wi ndows Control Panel. I recommend swi tchi ng to this
vi ew now before proceedi ng.

KEYBOARD AND MOUSE SUBSTITUTES
If you're having probl ems usi ng your keyboard or mouse, ei ther because one or the other i s broken, or you
are differently abl ed, there are two substi tute methods you can use i n Wi ndows:

Microsoft Onscreen Keyboard: Thi s util i ty can be accessed by going to the Ease of Access Center i n the
Wi ndows Control Panel and sel ecti ng it, or go to Start>Search Box, typi ng osk and pressi ng Enter. A vi rtual
keyboard wi ll be di splayed, all owi ng you to use your mouse to cl i ck on vi rtual keys as though you were
usi ng a keyboard. To make thi ngs easi er, i t al ways remai ns on top of other wi ndows. Next, cl ick the Opti ons
button at the bottom ri ght of the onscreen keyboard. Here you can sel ect the 'Hover over keys' opti on i f you
can't cli ck the l eft mouse button to sel ect keys, or just want a qui cker way of selecti ng keys. Set the l ength of
ti me needed to hover over a key before i t regi sters as an entry, and now you can rapi dly move your mouse
cursor over keys on the Onscreen Keyboard and it wi l l register as a keystroke. You can al so enabl e text
predi cti on via the 'Use Text Predi cti on' opti on, whi ch can assist i n increasi ng typi ng speed.

Mouse Keys: If i nstead of your keyboard you're havi ng probl ems usi ng the mouse, you can enable the
Wi ndows MouseKeys functi onali ty by goi ng to the Ease of Access Center component i n the Wi ndows
Control Panel and sel ecti ng 'Make the mouse easi er to use', then ti cki ng the 'Turn on Mouse Keys' option.
MouseKeys al l ows you to use the Numpad keys - the numeri cal keys on the far ri ght of your keyboard - to
move the mouse cursor around on screen. You can confi gure these keys further by cl i cki ng the 'Set up
Mouse Keys' l i nk.

There are a range of features desi gned to make usi ng the Wi ndows 7 i nterface conveni ent for a range of
tastes - see the Graphi cs & Sound chapter for more detail s.

KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS
The standard usage for keyboard shortcuts i n thi s book is to refer to the pressi ng of two or more keys
si mul taneousl y by usi ng the '+' si gn. For exampl e, when referri ng to ALT+TAB, thi s means you shoul d press
both the ALT key and the TAB key on your keyboard. Si mil arl y, CTRL+ALT+DEL means pressi ng the
Control (CTRL), ALT and Del ete (DEL) keys together, and so forth. Also note that any references to the
WINDOWS key are to the key found on most PC keyboards between CTRL and ALT, and l abel ed wi th a
Wi ndows Logo.

On the next page is a consol idated table of the major common keyboard shortcuts you can use to qui ckly
access useful functi ons i n Wi ndows 7:


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Keyboard Combination Function

CTRL + C Copy sel ected item(s)
CTRL + X Cut sel ected i tem(s)
CTRL + V Paste copi ed/cut i tem(s)
CTRL + Z Undo l ast acti on
CTRL + Y Redo l ast acti on
CTRL+ + Force all col umns to be shown i n Expl orer i nterfaces
SHIFT + DEL Del ete hi ghl i ghted item, bypassi ng Recycl e Bin
WINDOWS Open Start Menu. You can also use the arrow keys to sel ect an i tem and
press Enter
WINDOWS + Number Open pi nned i tems on Taskbar. The number used corresponds wi th the
order of the i tem on the Taskbar
WINDOWS + Spacebar Aero Peek. Temporari l y makes all open wi ndows transparent to di spl ay
the Desktop
WINDOWS + D Mi ni mi ze/Restore all Windows
WINDOWS + E Open Windows Expl orer
WINDOWS + F Open Windows Search
WINDOWS + L Lock Workstation
WINDOWS + M Mi ni mi ze open wi ndows
WINDOWS + SHIFT + M Restore open wi ndows
WINDOWS + P Open qui ck select menu for mul ti -displ ay output
WINDOWS + R Open Windows Run box
WINDOWS + T Cycl e through all Taskbar i cons, press Enter to sel ect any one
WINDOWS + F1 Open Hel p & Support
WINDOWS + TAB Swi tch between acti ve programs i n 3D Fli p mode -
CTRL + WINDOWS + TAB opens 3D Fl i p permanentl y,
TAB or Arrow Keys to cycl e elements, ESC to exi t
WINDOWS + Arrow Key WINDOWS + Up Arrow - Maxi mi zes wi ndow
WINDOWS + Down Arrow - Mi ni mi zes wi ndow
WINDOWS + Left Arrow/Ri ght Arrow - Cycl e through Aero Snap
ALT + TAB Swi tch between acti ve programs i n 2D Task Swi tcher -
CTRL + ALT + TAB opens Task Swi tcher permanentl y,
TAB or Arrow Keys to cycl e elements, ESC to exi t
CTRL + SHIFT + ESC Open Task Manager
ALT + F4 Cl ose hi ghl i ghted program
Show PC Shutdown opti ons if on Wi ndows Desktop
SHIFT + LEFT CLICK Sel ect mul ti pl e i tems wi thi n a range
CTRL + LEFT CLICK Sel ect mul ti pl e non-sequenti al i tems i ndivi duall y
TAB Step forward through screen el ements
SHIFT + TAB Step backward through screen el ements
F2 Rename/Enter text for i tem
F5 Refresh active wi ndow
SHIFT + RIGHT CLICK Open Expanded Context Menu for hi ghl i ghted i tem


Thi s chapter has briefl y highl ighted some of the more noti ceable changes and commonl y used features i n
Wi ndows 7. There are however a l arge number of changes, some l arge and some smal l , for whi ch you must
steadi l y read through thi s enti re book to l earn more about. Addi tionall y, most any Wi ndows feature can be
customized, so i f there are features you don't li ke or fi nd annoyi ng, the book wi ll show you how to al ter
thei r behavi or to better suit your needs. From this poi nt you can read the book sequentiall y, or jump to any
chapter you wi sh, though I recommend becomi ng fami li ar wi th the contents of the Wi ndows Expl orer,
Wi ndows Drivers, PC Securi ty and Graphi cs & Sound chapters as soon as possi bl e.


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SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS


The fi rst step i n opti mizi ng or customizing your PC is to fi nd out preci sel y what hardware components you
have, and what thei r various capabil i ties are. Thi s is known as your System Speci fi cati ons, and to fi nd out
the speci fi c detai ls of your hardware you wil l require an appropri ate set of tool s. Information about your
system specifi cati ons i s vital both for usi ng thi s book and for general PC usage and maintenance i n the
future. For exampl e you must know the model and chi pset type of your motherboard before you can
upgrade your BIOS or i nstal l the correct motherboard dri vers; you must know the full capabi li ti es of your
graphi cs card i f you want to know if i t can run Aero, to update i ts dri vers, or to see whether i t can run the
l atest games; or you may have a compl ex probl em whi ch you wish to resol ve yoursel f, or provi de detai ls of
to a Techni cal Support person. Thi s chapter covers the tool s you need and the methods you can use to obtain
all the rel evant system i nformati on.


< SYSTEM INFORMATION TOOLS
There are a range of good free system informati on uti l i ti es to choose from, i ncl udi ng some comprehensive
ones bui l t i nto Windows 7. A combi nati on of these programs wi ll tel l you everythi ng you need to know
about your system specifi cati ons and capabi li ti es:

WINDOWS EXPERIENCE INDEX
Found under the Performance Information and Tools component of Wi ndows Control Panel, or by goi ng to
Start>Search Box, typi ng performance information and pressi ng Enter, the Wi ndows Experi ence Index (WEI) is
a bui l t-i n benchmark data designed to rate the performance of your system i n five separate categories. It is
covered i n detail under the Wi ndows Experi ence Index secti on of the Performance Measurement &
Troubl eshooti ng chapter, and if you haven't run the WEI yet I recommend doing so now. For the purposes of
system i nformati on, cli ck the 'Vi ew and pri nt detailed performance and system i nformati on' li nk. This will
open a new screen wi th more detai led informati on on your system specifi cati ons. The i nformati on provided
i s certai nl y useful as a starti ng poi nt, however i t i s not detai l ed enough for our purposes, as i mportant
i nformati on such as the make and model of your motherboard are not provi ded for exampl e.

WINDOWS SYSTEM INFORMATION TOOL
You can access the Wi ndows System Informati on Tool by goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng msinfo32 and
pressi ng Enter. The Wi ndows System Informati on Tool presents a range of basi c i nformati on about your
system. Some of i ts more useful functi onali ty i ncl udes:

A li sti ng of your hardware components by type under the Components secti on.
Al l the system dri ver fi l es and thei r current status under Software Envi ronment>System Dri vers.
IRQ all ocati ons under Hardware Resources>IRQs.
Check for shared IRQs and other potenti al confl i cts under Hardware Resources>Confl i cts/Shari ng.
Recent Wi ndows errors are found under Software Envi ronment>Wi ndows Error Reporti ng.

In general the System Informati on Tool is best used by medium to advanced users who can comprehend the
more compl ex i nterface and detail ed i nformati on much more easi ly than a beginner. Its main advantage is
that i t is a free buil t-i n util ity that anyone can easil y access.


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DEVICE MANAGER
You can access Devi ce Manager under the Wi ndows Control Panel , or by goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng
device manager and then pressi ng Enter. As a buil t-in Windows uti li ty you can gai n a great deal of useful
i nformati on about your hardware and associated drivers from this tool . Your major devi ces are di splayed
under vari ous categori es, and you can even choose to update i ndivi dual devi ce dri vers or uni nstal l a devi ce
al together shoul d you wi sh. The Devi ce Manager has several i mportant rol es and is covered i n more detail
under the Devi ce Manager secti on of the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter.

DIRECTX DIAGNOSTICS
You can access the Di rectX Di agnosti c Uti li ty (DXDi ag) by going to Start>Search Box, typi ng dxdiag and
pressi ng Enter. DXDi ag is another buil t-i n Wi ndows Di agnosti c/System Informati on tool that i s part of the
Di rectX 11 - see the Graphics & Sound chapter for more i nformati on on Di rectX 11. The mai n tab of DXDiag,
call ed System, displays basi c i nformati on about your system such as your Processor (CPU) type and speed,
amount of Memory (physical RAM) and the Pagefi l e (Vi rtual Memory) usage among other thi ngs. Under the
Di splay, Sound and Input tabs you can fi nd more i nformati on about the parti cul ar hardware you are
runni ng for each of these functi ons. Any probl ems found by DXDiag i ndi cate that there may be an i ssue wi th
your hardware or dri vers - see the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter.

The most useful functi on for DXDi ag i s i ts abil i ty to generate a detai l ed text fi le wi th all your major system
i nformati on, incl udi ng your mai n hardware speci fi cations, dri ver fi les, and envi ronmental setti ngs. To create
thi s text fi l e cl i ck the 'Save Al l Information' button found at the bottom of the mai n DXDiag screen. You wil l
be prompted to save thi s report somewhere, and the defaul t of the Wi ndows Desktop i s fine. You can now
doubl e-cli ck thi s DXDiag.txt fi l e to read through i ts contents. It can also be attached to an email you can send
to a techni cal support person, or i ts contents can be copi ed and pasted onto an onl i ne forum to all ow others
to hel p you wi th any probl ems you may be experi enci ng. It doesn't contai n any i nformation such as serial
numbers or passwords, so i t i s safe to post publ i cl y.

3DMARK
You can downl oad the l atest versi on of 3DMark from the Futuremark Websi te, and you can read more about
i ts mai n functi onali ty under the Thi rd Party Tool s secti on of the Performance Measurement &
Troubl eshooti ng chapter. 3DMark i s primaril y designed as a graphi cs benchmarki ng uti li ty, however i t has a
system i nformati on section that gi ves you a bri ef snapshot of major system i nformati on. Make sure to sel ect
the Custom i nstall ation opti on and unti ck all unnecessary components except the 'Shortcut on Desktop'
opti on. You wi ll al so need to obtai n a free registration key via email to use thi s program. Start 3DMark and
on the mai n screen cli ck the System Info tab, then cl i ck the 'Vi ew System Info' button and a browser wi ndow
wi ll open wi th a range of informati on about your system. General l y i t i s best to go to the troubl e of setting
up 3DMark if you are al so consi deri ng usi ng i t as a 3D benchmark - as covered i n the Thi rd Party Tools
secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter.

SIW
SIW is the System Informati on for Windows tool whi ch can be downl oaded from the SIW Websi te. Once
you've downl oaded the standal one versi on of the program, you can si mpl y run i t from the fi le - there's no
need to i nstall anythi ng. The i nterface is i ntui ti ve; click i tems i n the l eft pane to see more detail s about them.
For exampl e, to fi nd out more about your motherboard, cl i ck the Motherboard i tem under the Hardware
secti on, and the detai ls will be shown i n the right pane. Al ternati vel y, you can access each i tem by goi ng to
the Software or Hardware menus at the top of the screen. Note that SIW also has a range of other tool s buil t
i nto i t, but I don't recommendi ng changi ng anything usi ng them - the best use for thi s uti l i ty i s si mply for
vi ewi ng system i nformati on.


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SANDRA
Sandra stands for System ANal yser, Diagnosti c and Reporti ng Assi stant. You can downl oad Sandra from the
SiSoftware Websi te - the Li te versi on i s free, and once i nstall ed, you wi ll see a wi de sel ecti on of i nformati on
and benchmarki ng modules to choose from. Note that duri ng i nstall ation of Sandra, you can disabl e the
Remote Network Servi ces, Pri ce Engines and Rank Engi nes as they are not cri ti cal, however the Rank
Engi nes opti on does all ow Sandra to di splay a compari son of your score wi th others who have run the
benchmark, whi ch can be useful. If you've enabl ed the Rank Engi ne, after i nstall ati on you can customize i t
so that your resul ts aren't made publi c for exampl e. Note that Sandra i nstall s a new Servi ce for i tself call ed
the 'SiSoftware Depl oyment Agent Service' whi ch you shoul d l eave at i ts defaul t of Manual .

Sandra Li te has many i nacti ve (grayed out) modul es, however the mai n ones we need have suffi cient
functi onali ty for our purposes. For exampl e, i f you want to know more about your system, doubl e-cli ck the
Hardware i con (or sel ect the Hardware tab) and then doubl e-cl ick on the Computer Overvi ew modul e. It
wi ll di spl ay a range of useful i nformati on about your system, such as the CPU speed and type, your
motherboard Chi pset, and your Memory Modul e brand and speed. If you then want to know more about
your motherboard i n parti cul ar for exampl e, open the Mai nboard modul e, and i t wi ll di splay more detai l ed
i nformati on. Sandra al so has several useful benchmarki ng and stress testi ng features that are covered in
more detai l in the Thi rd Party Tool s secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter.

CPU-Z
A hi ghly recommended tool , you can downl oad CPU-Z from the CPU-Z Websi te. Run the program and i t
wi ll provi de you wi th al l the major i nformati on you requi re about your hardware. It has hi ghl y detailed
i nformati on about your processor under the CPU and Caches tabs, such as the CPU brand, socket type,
speeds and vol tage, and the vari ous cache sizes. It al so provi des key motherboard detai ls under the
Mai nboard tab, and your RAM's complete detai ls under the Memory and SPD tabs, al though note that for
i nformati on to appear under the SPD tab you must first sel ect the sl ot(s) on the motherboard that your RAM
sti ck(s) occupy. CPU-Z even provi des detail s about your graphics card under the Graphi cs tab, as wel l as
PCI-E l i nk speeds under the Graphi cs Interface secti on of the Mai nboard tab.

GPU-Z
Another hi ghl y recommended tool , you can downl oad GPU-Z from the GPU-Z Websi te. Note that GPU-Z i s
di sti nct from the CPU-Z uti l i ty covered above; i t relates to your GPU (Graphi cs Processi ng Uni t), whi ch i s
typi call y your graphi cs card. Run the GPU-Z.exe fi le, and much l i ke CPU-Z, it wi l l provi de you wi th all the
i nformati on you need to know about your graphi cs card. Under the mai n Graphi cs Card tab you wi ll see all
the speci fi cati ons for your graphi cs hardware, i ncl udi ng the amount and type of Vi deo RAM, the l evel of
Di rect X support, the BIOS versi on and the cl ock speeds. Under the Sensors tab you wil l find your current
cl ock speeds, temperatures, fan speed and so forth. Fi nal l y, note that the Vali dati on tab i s there onl y if you
want to submi t your specs to the GPU-Z Statisti cs Database, whi ch i s not essential.

HD TUNE
HD Tune i s a tool for quickl y gai ni ng an i nsi ght i nto your dri ve detail s and current capabil i ti es. The free
(non-Pro) versi on has suffici ent functi onali ty to provide i mportant dri ve detail s incl udi ng a l ist of supported
features, the dri ve standard, fi rmware versi on, serial number, as wel l as the current temperature of the drive
and the heal th of the dri ve. It even i ncl udes a benchmark, whi ch i s covered under the Thi rd Party Tool s
secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter.


There are many other system i nformation tool s whi ch are avai lable, some of whi ch are not free. However a
combi nati on of the tools in thi s secti on shoul d be more than enough to gi ve you all the detail s you need for
every aspect of the hardware that i s i n your PC. I strongl y encourage you to make sure that you are ful ly

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aware of your hardware speci fi cati ons and capabil i ti es, as i ncorrect knowl edge can cause major probl ems
when you try to i nstal l drivers or make changes i n software or the BIOS for exampl e. Also make sure you are
fami li ar wi th the contents of the Basi c PC Termi nol ogy chapter i n thi s book.

< PROVIDING SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS
If you ever requi re techni cal assistance for a computer-rel ated probl em, you wil l i nevi tabl y have to provide
your system speci fi cati ons. Whether to a qual ifi ed techni cal support person, or for computer enthusiasts on
an onl i ne forum, you shoul d provide your speci fi cations i n an appropri ate format. Si mply copyi ng the enti re
contents of a DXDiag text fil e for exampl e might be qui ck and easy, but few peopl e have the patience to
wade through i t, so I recommend usi ng the format shown bel ow unl ess i nstructed otherwi se.

Al so bear i n mi nd that no-one can magi cal l y sol ve a probl em si mpl y by l ooki ng at your system
speci fi cati ons, no matter how detai l ed. There i s no real substi tute for becomi ng extremel y fami l iar wi th your
own system, for a range of reasons beyond si mpl y troubl eshooti ng probl ems.

Use several of the system informati on tool s covered above to fil l in the appropri ate detai ls in the categories
shown bel ow. The more detai l you can provi de, the better - the bare mi ni mum i s the brand and model
number of your major components, but you should add i n detai l s li ke whether any of the components are
overcl ocked or physi cal l y modi fi ed i n any way. I have fi ll ed i n some sample i nformati on from my own
system i n i tali cs:

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 CPU @ 2.66GHz, stock speed, stock cooling
Motherboard: Asus P6T Deluxe X58
Graphics card: Leadtek Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 1GB, stock speed
Monitor: 24" Samsung 2443BW LCD
Sound Card: Onboard ADI AD2000B HD Audio Chipset
RAM: 6GB (3 x 2GB) G.Skill 1333MHz DDR3
Storage Drive(s): Western Digital 150GB VelociRaptor SATA2
Western Digital 74GB Raptor SATA
Optical Drive(s): Pioneer DVD-RW 216BK SATA
Power Supply: Seasonic 700W M12
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, including latest Windows Updates
Other Details: 195.55 Nvidia Forceware graphics driver
6.10.0002.6585 SoundMax HD Audio sound driver
System not overclocked, not physically modified

You can al so provi de detail s of your other hardware, such as the keyboard, mouse, speakers/headphones
and case, however these are usuall y not cri ti cal to solvi ng most PC probl ems, at l east not i n the fi rst i nstance.

I must stress agai n that i t is an extremely i mportant el ement of PC opti mi zati on and customizati on that you
have more than just a passi ng acquai ntance wi th your hardware components. Becomi ng fami li ar wi th
hardware speci fi cati ons and what they mean not only all ows you to di scover areas of potenti al opti mization
on your system and assist wi th troubleshooti ng probl ems, i t also gi ves you the abil i ty to make better
purchasi ng deci si ons when buyi ng a system or upgradi ng any hardware components i n the future.


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BACKUP & RECOVERY


Computers can store a great deal of valuabl e i nformati on. Over ti me your PC may come to hol d a l ot of
i mportant, pri vate, i rreplaceabl e data such as digi tal photographs, home movi es, fi nanci al documents,
email s, bookmarks and l ogi n detail s. It i s of cri ti cal importance that you establish an appropri ate method for
regul arl y backi ng up this i nformati on, so that i f your PC i s stolen, damaged, or i ts data is corrupted or
acci dentall y overwri tten, that you do not l ose all thi s valuabl e data permanentl y. Hence backing up is a vi tal
and unavoi dabl e part of sensi bl e computi ng.

Thi s chapter not onl y covers vari ous backup strategi es and tool s, i t also detai ls a range of useful data
recovery methods you can use to regai n valuabl e i nformati on whi ch has been l ost through forgetting
passwords, acci dental del eti on of fi l es, data corrupti on or damage to your Wi ndows i nstall ation. You shoul d
have at l east one backup copy of all your i mportant and i rreplaceabl e data proceedi ng any further wi th thi s
book. If you al ready have a recent backup of all your i mportant data, you can ski p to the BIOS & Hardware
Management chapter and return to thi s chapter at a later poi nt.


< WINDOWS BACKUP AND RESTORE
Wi ndows 7 comes wi th an automated Backup and Restore feature that al l ows you to create both backups of
speci fi c folders, and al so an exact copy of an enti re dri ve, to a l ocati on of your choi ce. To access Backup and
Restore, open the Backup and Restore component of the Wi ndows Control Panel , or go to Start>Search Box,
backup and press Enter. Unl i ke Windows Vista, al l the major features of Backup and Restore i n Wi ndows 7
are availabl e to owners of any edi tion, except savi ng to a network l ocati on whi ch i s only possi ble i n the
Professi onal , Ul ti mate or Enterpri se edi ti ons of Wi ndows 7.

The process for backi ng up and restoring data usi ng thi s uti li ty is covered below, both for full y automated
backups and for manuall y i ni tiated backups:

AUTOMATED BACKUPS
Before bei ng abl e to automati cal ly backup your data on a regular schedule, Wi ndows needs to know the
l ocati on to whi ch your backups wi ll be saved, the type of backup you wi sh to make, and the frequency wi th
whi ch thi s occurs. This i s al l done vi a the 'Set up backup' l i nk shown i n the Backup and Restore wi ndow, or
i n the Acti on Center noti ficati on i n your Notifi cati on Area. Once opened, run through these seri es of
deci si ons:

Backup Destination: The backup desti nation can be any l ocati on detected by the system - except for the l ogi cal
dri ve contai ni ng your exi sti ng i nstal lation of Wi ndows 7, or the logi cal dri ve used to boot up the system.
You can backup to another parti ti on on the same drive, though thi s i s strongly di scouraged. You can al so
backup to a USB flash drive or external dri ve - if the relevant drive(s) are currentl y not connected to your
system, connect them and cl i ck the Refresh button to have them show up on the li st of desti nati on dri ves.
Importantl y, the dri ve must be i n NTFS format for i t to be avai lable i n the l i st of dri ves. Note further that thi s
backup process does not reformat, al ter or erase any of your exi sting data on the desti nati on dri ve, al though
i t wi ll replace any existi ng system i mages created by Wi ndows on that dri ve.

Type of Backup: Once a desti nati on is chosen, you wi ll have to sel ect the type of backup Wi ndows will be
maki ng. There are two main choi ces:

Let Wi ndows Choose - If thi s opti on i s sel ected, Wi ndows wil l automati cal l y choose the fol lowi ng data to
backup wi thout any i nput from you:

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Fi l es i n the Li brari es, however thi s excludes any fil es l ocated on the Internet, on another computer i n a
network, on a non-NTFS dri ve, or on the dri ve on whi ch the backup i s bei ng made.
Any fil es on the Wi ndows Desktop.
Al l fil es and fol ders under the \AppData, \Contacts, \Desktop, \Downloads, \Favorites, \Links, \Saved
Games, and \Searches di rectori es for every user on the system.

Thi s typi call y means that every defaul t fol der under the \Users directory wi ll be backed up. Thi s i s one of
the reasons why you shoul d get i nto the habi t of stori ng al l your data under these defaul t Wi ndows
di rectories and/or i n a local Li brary - see the Personal Fol ders and Li braries secti ons of the Wi ndows
Expl orer chapter for details.

Furthermore, i f there is suffi ci ent space on your destinati on dri ve, Wi ndows will al so create a System Image,
whi ch is an exact copy of the enti re contents of your system dri ve(s), whi ch are the dri ve(s) requi red to run
Wi ndows. A system i mage contai ns al l the data necessary to recreate your enti re i nstal lati on of Windows,
i ncludi ng al l i nstal l ed programs and setti ngs, and all your user data, to exactly the state i t was i n when the
system i mage was created. Thi s means i t can be extremel y l arge as a resul t.

Let Me Choose - If you wish to have greater control over whi ch parti cular fol ders are backed up, sel ect thi s
opti on and you can then manuall y select whi ch folders you wi sh to i ncl ude. The 'Back up data for newly
created users' i s a generi c opti on whi ch, i f ti cked, ensures that for automated backups, i f any new user
accounts are created i n the future, Windows wi ll automati cal ly i nclude thei r Li brari es and personal data in
the backup. The '[username] Li brari es' opti on, whi ch i s ti cked by defaul t, i ncl udes all of the defaul t fol ders
under the \Users\[username]\ di rectory, but you also can manuall y sel ect any folders you wish i nstead of, or
i n addi ti on to these, by expandi ng the fol der li st under the Computer i tem. Regardl ess of which fol ders you
choose however, Wi ndows wil l not save the fol l owi ng data as part of the backup:

Fi l es whi ch are defaul t components of i nstal l ed programs - thi s excl udes saved games and thi ngs l ike
custom setti ng/confi guration fil es, whi ch can be backed up.
Fi l es that are i n the Recycl e Bi n.
Temporary files on dri ves less than 1GB i n si ze.
Fi l es on non-NTFS dri ves.

If the 'Incl ude a system image of dri ves' box at the bottom of the wi ndow is al so ti cked, Windows wi l l
i nclude an addi ti onal ful l system i mage of your system dri ve(s) as part of your backup, space permi tti ng.

Frequency of Backup: The fi nal step before the backup i s created is to revi ew your setti ngs and i n parti cul ar
confi rm the schedule for backi ng up. Thi s opti on appears towards the bottom of the 'Revi ew your backup
setti ngs' wi ndow, and can be easy to mi ss, al though i f i t can't be sel ected, thi s is because your chosen
desti nati on dri ve does not support scheduled backups. By default the automated backup is set to run at
7:00pm every Sunday night, however you can cl i ck the 'Change schedul e' link to bri ng up a new box,
all owi ng you to choose whether to run the backup dail y, weekl y or monthl y, the parti cul ar ti me and date,
and most i mportantl y, whether you want to di sable schedul ed backups al together. You can also turn off an
exi sti ng schedul e at any time by cli cki ng the 'Turn Off Schedul e' link i n the l eft pane of the mai n Backup and
Restore wi ndow.

Once done cli ck OK, then to commence backup cli ck the 'Save setti ngs and exit' button and Wi ndows wil l
begi n backi ng up your selected data to the desti nati on dri ve. The process may take qui te a whi l e dependi ng
on the destinati on dri ve's speed and the vol ume of data i nvolved. Once thi s process i s compl eted, the
desti nati on dri ve wi ll contai n one or both of the foll owi ng:


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A WindowsImageBackup folder - Thi s contai ns a ful l system i mage, and under normal ci rcumstances, you
cannot vi ew or extract i ndi vi dual fil es or fol ders from thi s fol der because i t stores your system i mage i n
a si ngl e Vi rtual Hard Dri ve (.VHD) fi l e. However see the Vi rtual Hard Disk secti on of the Dri ve
Opti mi zati on chapter for detail s of how to manual ly extract i ndivi dual fi l es or fol ders from a system
i mage fi le wi thout overwri ti ng your exi sti ng data.
A [Computername] folder - Thi s contai ns i ndi vi dual fil es and fol ders not i n a system i mage. By defaul t
thi s fol der i s named after your computer name, which for standard home users i s typi cal ly '[username]-
PC'. Under thi s mai n folder there are subfol der(s) wi th the name(s) Backup Set [date of backup], and under
that a si mi lar fol der Backup Files [date of backup], and ul ti matel y, a seri es of .ZIP archives whi ch
col l ecti vel y hol d all the i ndi vi dual fil es and folders that were backed up to that parti cul ar set. These can
be manual l y vi ewed and extracted if desi red, but that i s not the recommended method for doi ng so.

Both of these fol der types are desi gned to be used by the Wi ndows Restore feature to restore your data - see
Restori ng Backups further bel ow.

Incremental Backups: Note that when these backups are updated by Wi ndows, whether on a scheduled basi s,
or i f you manual l y i ni ti ate another backup run through the Windows Backup functi on at any ti me, Wi ndows
wi ll onl y add any new or changed data to the backup set, i t won't create an enti rel y new backup. This
appl i es equall y to system i mage or i ndi vi dual fi l e backup methods. Thi s saves space and means that
subsequent backup runs are not as l engthy as the fi rst ti me. If you want to manage al l the previ ous versi ons
of your backed up data, see the Managi ng Backups secti on further bel ow.

Optimal Backup Strategy: Gi ven the wealth of choi ce avail able as to how you backup your data, and what to
i nclude i n the backups, here are some important thi ngs to consi der whi ch wil l hel p you deci de on the best
backup strategy for you:

To begi n wi th, the benefi ts of backi ng up i ndi vi dual fol ders i n combi nati on with a ful l system i mage need to
be expl ai ned further. A system i mage is i deal i f you experi ence a si gni fi cant probl em, such as major drive
corrupti on or damage, or a serious malware i nfecti on, and l ose the abi li ty to boot i nto Wi ndows or have
massi ve data l oss of some ki nd - i t all ows you to restore your system to exactl y the way i t was when the
i mage was made, even to another dri ve of the same type. A system i mage is not i deal on the other hand i f
you just want to restore a fi le or fol der whi ch you acci dental ly l ost or del eted for exampl e, because i t does
not al l ow the restorati on of i ndi vi dual fi l es or fol ders under normal ci rcumstances - thi s i s what the backi ng
up of i ndi vi dual user fol ders is meant to address.

By havi ng a combi nati on of both a system i mage and all your i mportant folders i ndi vi dual l y backed up by
Wi ndows, you are covered for any eventuali ty, whether i t i s a total rebui l d of your system after catastrophi c
fai lure, or quickl y restori ng a copy of a singl e fi l e. Thi s i s why i t i s strongl y recommended that you choose to
create both types of backups on a regular basis. If dri ve space i s preventi ng you from doi ng both however,
you should al ways choose to back up your i mportant personal folders, as these are much easi er to restore
i ndi vi duall y when requi red i n a range of scenari os.

Another i mportant consi derati on i s the portabi li ty of the backup. If your pri mary concern is the abil i ty to
move your backups around, whether from system to system, or for the sake of stori ng i n a secure l ocation
l i ke a safe, then I recommend usi ng a USB flash dri ve, or ideall y a l arge capaci ty external dri ve for your
backups. These dri ves are hi ghly portabl e, easy to store and protect, and can be pl ugged i nto any PC via an
external port for qui ck and easy access.

If you don't have the opti on of a large external storage or separate i nternal dri ve for thi s purpose, then I
recommend manuall y selecti ng only your most important personal fol ders or Li brari es for backup to
rewri teabl e DVDs. Thi s i s the l east costly method and wi ll use the l east amount of space, typi cal ly spanning

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onl y a few DVDs, and provi des excell ent portabi l i ty and ease of access on any PC. However make sure to
use good qual i ty DVD medi a and remember to update the backups on a regul ar basi s.

If you are a Wi ndows user who experi ments a great deal , often i nstall i ng potenti all y unsafe or unstable
software, or overcl ocki ng your hardware for exampl e, then ideall y you shoul d create a system i mage
i mmediatel y pri or to commenci ng any hardware or software experi mentati on. Thi s wil l ul timatel y save you
a great deal of ti me and effort, because at the fi rst si gn of system corrupti on or i nfecti on, you can si mply
reformat your system dri ve - or swap i t for a si mi lar dri ve - and i nstall the system i mage on i t i n far l ess time
than i t woul d take to try to undo the damage, or rei nstall Wi ndows and all your software from scratch.

Fi nal ly, I strongl y recommend agai nst simpl y backi ng up to another parti ti on on your system dri ve, because
whether through physi cal dri ve fail ure or data corrupti on, you may need to reformat/reparti ti on the enti re
dri ve, or fi nd that the dri ve i s unusabl e, and you wi ll l ose both your ori gi nal data and the backups. Dri ves
can often fail or become corrupt wi th li ttl e or no warni ng, and thi s can affect all parti ti ons on a dri ve.
Parti ti oni ng may be a useful data storage strategy but i t is not an appropri ate data backup strategy.

MANUAL BACKUPS
The Backup and Restore functi onal ity i n Wi ndows 7 i s desi gned pri mari l y so that Wi ndows can
automati cal ly backup on a fi xed schedule. Thi s i s because a backup i s most useful when i t i s as up-to-date as
possi ble. Unfortunately peopl e tend to be forgetful when i t comes to backi ng up on a regular basi s, thus the
automated method covered above i s the most fool proof opti on. However there are ti mes when you may
wi sh to manuall y create backups on an irregul ar basis, especi al ly for use i n case of emergency. Furthermore,
you may wish to create a system i mage whi ch contains more than just the data on your system dri ve(s) for
exampl e. In such cases you can use the Create a System Image and/or Create a System Repai r Disc features
i n Backup and Restore as covered bel ow:

Create a System Image: By defaul t a system i mage created by Wi ndows i s an exact copy of the contents of your
system dri ve(s). Once created, i t can be used at any time to restore your system to exactl y the state i t was in
when the i mage was made. When the 'Create a System Image' opti on i s cl i cked i n the l eft pane of Backup
and Restore, as wi th the automated backup method, you must first choose your desti nati on dri ve. Then,
unl ike the automated system i mage method, here you can speci fy addi tional avail able dri ve(s) to be
i ncluded i n the system i mage i f you wish. Remember that you can't i nclude dri ves whi ch aren't connected,
or the dri ve onto whi ch the backup is bei ng made. Al so keep i n mi nd that the desti nati on dri ve's exi sting
contents wi ll not be overwri tten by the system i mage, so take thi s i nto account i n terms of avai labl e free
space. Once sel ected, cl i ck Next, review your backup setti ngs, and cl i ck the 'Start Backup' button to begi n the
backup process.

Create a System Repair Disc: A System Repai r Di sc is used i n cases where you can't boot up i nto Wi ndows for
some reason. It can be used to boot your PC i nto the System Recovery Opti ons menu, al l owing you to repai r
Wi ndows or restore a system i mage you created earli er. Your Wi ndows 7 install ation DVD is one such
system repair di sc, however by cl i cki ng the 'Create a System Repai r Di sc' opti on i n the l eft pane of Backup
and Restore, you wil l be prompted to enter a bl ank CD or DVD whi ch Wi ndows wi ll then turn i nto another
system repai r disc. See the System Recovery secti on in thi s chapter for full detail s of how to use a system
repai r di sc and the associ ated system recovery opti ons i t provi des.

If you've set up an automati c backup, you can al so update that backup at any ti me, regardl ess of the
schedul e, by goi ng to the mai n Backup and Restore wi ndow and cl i cki ng the 'Back up Now' button - thi s wi ll
i mmediatel y i ni tiate an i ncremental backup run, whereby Wi ndows wil l add any new or changed fi les to the
exi sti ng backups.


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ORGANIZING DATA
Thi s secti on provi des detail s on how best to organi ze the data on your dri ve, pri mari l y to ensure that all
your i mportant data i s backed up correctl y usi ng the Wi ndows Backup method, but to al so take maxi mum
advantage of Wi ndows 7's other features whi ch are covered i n more detai l later in thi s book.

Libraries: Your defaul t personal fol ders are found under the \Users\[username] di rectory, and much l i ke
previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows, there are several cl earl y-named subfol ders designed for speci fic content such
as musi c or pi ctures. However Wi ndows 7 has also i ntroduced Li brari es, whi ch go beyond your defaul t
personal fol ders, al l owi ng you to access and mani pulate fi l es of di fferent types across a range of l ocati ons in
a si ngle vi rtual folder. Of rel evance here i s that the Wi ndows Backup feature i ncorporates full support for
thi s new Li brari es functionali ty. The 'Let Wi ndows Choose' opti on i n Wi ndows Backup for exampl e
automati cal ly ensures that all the data stored i n your Li brari es i s backed up; simi larly, the 'Let Me Choose'
opti on has a si ngl e ti ck-box enti tl ed '[username]'s Li braries', whi ch i s ti cked by defaul t, maki ng i t qui ck and
easy to backup your i mportant fil es wi th confidence.

The poi nt i s that - asi de from any other benefi ts - by setti ng up your Li brari es so that they i ncl ude all your
i mportant personal fol ders across all your storage locati ons, i t makes sure that all your data i s backed up
wi thout having to manuall y fi nd and sel ect each and every fol der on each and every dri ve, and thus possibl y
forgetti ng to i nclude i mportant fol ders. Remember that you can create new Li brary fol ders at any ti me i f
some of your personal fi les or fol ders don't fi t i nto any exi sti ng category. For exampl e, create a
Mi scel laneous Li brary and you can then add fol ders for data you don't want to store i n the other fol ders.
Note that you shoul d not store any personal fil es on the desti nati on dri ve sel ected for Wi ndows Backup, nor
on a network, because by defaul t Wi ndows Backup wi ll automaticall y excl ude any such fi l es when backi ng
up a Li brary.

The Li braries feature i s covered i n detail i n the Li braries secti on of the Wi ndows Expl orer chapter.

Settings and Bookmarks: Some of your important data may not be i n a readi ly accessi ble form, or might be
contai ned i n a fol der whi ch also has a large number of unnecessary fil es or program fil es you don't wish to
backup. I'm referri ng here to thi ngs l ike your bookmarks for thi rd party web browsers l i ke Fi refox, or
setti ngs and saves for certai n games, parti cularl y older games, which are hel d in a vari ety of fol ders spread
throughout your Wi ndows i nstallati on. An easy opti on i s to manual l y fi nd and add all such fol ders to your
Li brari es. A better opti on i f you want to save space and al so make i t easi er to restore these setti ngs i n the
future i s to sort out onl y the rel evant fil es and back them up i ndi vi duall y to a Li brary. Each browser shoul d
provi de the abi li ty to i mport/export bookmarks, so use thi s feature to export a copy of your bookmarks
regul arl y to a Li brary of your choi ce. For games, check the documentati on or go to the onl i ne support forum
and fi nd the defaul t l ocations for stori ng saved game and confi gurati on fi les. You may then wi sh to copy
and archi ve these fi l es, and store thi s archi ved copy i n a Li brary - al though bear i n mi nd that i f you are
havi ng problems wi th a game, or change your hardware before restori ng a backup, that i t is not
recommended that you use your saved confi guration fi l es; only backed-up saved games are fi ne i n such
ci rcumstances.

Programs: An i mportant note regardi ng i nstall ed programs - don't attempt to backup an enti re program
di rectory, or all the components of an i nstal l ed program, as you cannot restore most programs i n thi s
manner; they wi l l not run properl y if they are copi ed back onto another i nstal lati on of Wi ndows 7 due to the
l ack of appropri ate Registry entri es and rel ated fi l es spread throughout vari ous other di rectori es. You must
use the original i nstal lati on di sc or fi l es to rei nstall a game or program correctly. Wi ndows 7 also purposely
ski ps addi ng program fil es and fol ders as part of the Wi ndows Backup functi onali ty for thi s reason.

Usernames/Passwords: You can store all your usernames and passwords securel y electronicall y - see the
Backi ng Up & Restori ng System Passwords secti on further below. If you have no fai th i n el ectroni c storage
systems then compi l e a wri tten l ist or pri ntout of the major usernames and passwords on your system.

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However you must then store thi s li st safel y i n a physi call y secure pl ace li ke a safe, and keep i n mi nd that
any ti me you wri te down or store your passwords in unencrypted format i n any l ocati on you are faci ng a
securi ty ri sk if i t fal ls i nto the wrong hands, parti cularl y i f you share your PC wi th other users.

In any case organi zi ng your data correctl y i n Wi ndows 7 has a range of benefi ts, parti cul arly i f you become
accustomed to usi ng the Li brari es. Whi l e i t may be unfamil iar or counter-i ntui ti ve at fi rst, the l ong term
advantages are numerous and worthwhi l e, not just for backup purposes, as we wi ll see later in thi s book.

MANAGING BACKUPS
Once you've created your backups usi ng Windows Backup, you can manage them to ensure opti mal use of
space on your desti nati on dri ve. To do thi s, go to Backup and Restore, and cl ick the 'Manage Space' li nk
found beneath the Locati on secti on. Al ternati vel y, go to the dri ve whi ch hol ds the backup, right-cl ick on the
rel evant fol der (typi cal ly [username]-PC), and then sel ect Restore Opti ons>Manage Space Used by thi s
Backup. Thi s opens a new wi ndow, provi di ng you wi th a summary of the space taken up by vari ous backup
fi les. You wi ll then be able to access separate features to manage any i ndi vi dual fol der backups as well as
any system images:

Data File Backup: When you cli ck the 'Vi ew backups' button, you wil l see any data fil e backups that are
currentl y avai labl e. These are backups of personal fol ders and/or any i ndi vidual fol ders you sel ected. Thi s
does not i nclude a system i mage or any part of i t. You can del ete any ol der backups i f you wi sh, as thi s wi ll
hel p save space, but bear in mi nd that because Wi ndows usuall y backs up on an i ncremental basis, i t al ready
saves space by not dupl i cati ng the same data each time; onl y new or changed data is backed up. Thi s is why
the Backup Peri od shown wi ll span several days for a si ngl e backup. However peri odi call y, Wi ndows wil l
create an entirel y new ful l-sized backup and hence begi n a new backup peri od. If you have no need for older
versi ons of fil es and fol ders, you can del ete any previ ous backup peri ods shown here, whi ch wil l hel p
reclai m dri ve space wi thout l osi ng the l atest copy of your backed up fol ders. If only one backup peri od is
shown, del eting i t wi ll delete al l your backed up folders, so that is obvi ously not recommended unl ess you
speci fi call y want to remove your backup al together.

System Image: If you've created a system i mage, you can cli ck the 'Change setti ngs' button here to access
opti ons whi ch all ow you to control how backups of system i mages are managed. When the defaul t 'Let
Wi ndows manage the space used for backup hi story' opti on i s sel ected, Wi ndows keep as many copi es of
system i mages as i t can - except on network l ocations where onl y one system i mage can be kept. If the
desti nati on dri ve's free space fal ls bel ow 30% of i ts total si ze, Wi ndows wi ll begi n del eti ng ol der system
i mages to prevent the dri ve runni ng out of space. If you wish to onl y keep a si ngl e system image (the latest)
i nstead, you can sel ect the 'Keep onl y the latest system i mage and mi ni mi ze space used by backup', freei ng
up the amount of space i ndi cated through removal of older system i mage(s).

Both opti ons are real l y onl y desi gned to reduce the amount of space taken up by backups. If you're not
concerned about the si ze of your backups, and want the conveni ence of havi ng mul ti pl e backups i n case you
need to restore di fferent versi ons of the same fil e for exampl e, then the defaul t setti ngs are fine. However if
space i s li mi ted, I recommend frequently checki ng and removi ng al l but the latest backups.

RESTORING BACKUPS
If at any ti me you want to restore or simpl y vi ew any fil es and fol ders backed up vi a the Wi ndows Backup
feature, then you should go to the Backup and Restore wi ndow and cl i ck the 'Restore my fil es' button.
Al ternati vel y, go to the drive whi ch holds the backup, and for the relevant folder (typi cal ly [username]-PC),
ei ther doubl e-cli ck i t or right-cl ick and then sel ect Restore Options and sel ect one of the Restore opti ons
avai labl e. This opens a Restore Fil es wi ndow whi ch all ows you to browse to any parti cular dri ve whi ch
hol ds an appropri ate Wi ndows Backup di rectory, and fi nd a specifi c fil e or fol der to restore.


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If you have a good i dea as to where the backup fi le or fol der resi des, cl i ck the 'Browse for fi l es' or 'Browse for
fol ders' button - dependi ng on whether you want to restore a speci fi c fil e or an enti re folder - and once
you've found the appropri ate fil e or folder on the backup dri ve, doubl e-cli ck on i t or hi ghlight i t and cl ick
the 'Add...' button, and i t wi ll be added to a li st of fil es and/or fol ders to be restored. If you don't know
where the fi le resi des, cli ck the Search button, and enter some or al l of the filename and cli ck the Search
button to have Wi ndows search through your backups to see i f i t exi sts. You wi l l be presented wi th a li st of
found fi l es whi ch you can ti ck and then cl i ck OK to add to your l ist of fil es to be restored. You can repeat the
above process as often as necessary until you have added all the files and/or fol ders you want to restore.

Note that by defaul t Wi ndows wi ll restore the l atest versi on of the fi le(s) or fol der(s) you've sel ected. To alter
thi s, cli ck the 'Choose a di fferent date' l ink at the top of the Restore Fi les wi ndow and sel ect a previ ous date
(if avai labl e).

Once you've sel ected the fi l es or fol ders to be restored, cl i ck the Next button and you wil l be prompted to
ei ther have the fi le/fol der restored to i ts ori gi nal l ocation i n each i nstance, or you can specify a new l ocati on.
I strongl y recommend sel ecti ng the second opti on and speci fyi ng an empty directory of your choi ce. Thi s
prevents the backup versi on from overwri ti ng the exi sti ng version of the file or fol der, whi ch may be
undesi rabl e especiall y i f the backup wi nds up bei ng the wrong versi on or is somehow corrupt or i nfected. In
any case fortunately Wi ndows 7 doesn't automati call y overwri te existi ng versi ons even if you choose the
fi rst opti on - you wi ll be prompted i n the event of any confl i cts and asked to choose whether to overwri te or
rename the fi l e or fol der, or cancel the transfer al together. However restori ng your backup fil e(s) and/or
fol der(s) to an empty l ocati on i s best as i t al l ows you to properl y check to ensure they are the versi on you
desi re and are worki ng correctl y and remai n free from mal ware. You can then del ete your current versi on of
the fi l e(s) and/or fol der(s) to the Recycl e Bi n as an added safety precaution, and move the backup to its
ori gi nal l ocati on manual l y. Note that i t i s fi ne to l eave the 'Restore the fi l es to thei r ori ginal subfol ders'
opti on ti cked, as i t wil l si mpl y create the appropri ate subfol ders under the new di rectory you speci fy, whi ch
can be hel pful i n sorti ng restored fi les.

If you wi sh to restore an enti re system image rather than i ndi vi dual fi les or folders, you can do so by booti ng
up your system usi ng a startup repair di sc or the Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on DVD and usi ng the System
Recovery Opti ons covered i n detai l under the System Recovery secti on of thi s chapter. Al ternati vely you can
restore a system i mage by goi ng to Control Panel>Recovery and then cl i cking the 'Advanced recovery
methods' li nk i n the Recovery wi ndow. Thi s wi ll al low you to sel ect the opti on 'Use a system i mage you
create earl i er to recover your computer'. Because restori ng a system i mage wil l overwri te all of the exi sti ng
content on your system dri ve, if you want to retain any of the exi sti ng data on the dri ve, copy i t to a non
system dri ve to ensure i t i s not l ost when the dri ve i s overwri tten wi th the system i mage. You can then
conti nue, fol lowi ng the prompts to restore your system i mage.

If for some reason you must attempt to restore i ndi vidual fi les or fol ders from a system i mage, i t is possi ble
to do so but i t requi res a more compl ex set of steps, and i s onl y avai lable to Windows 7 Ul ti mate or
Enterpri se users:

1. Open Admi nistrati ve Tool s i n the Wi ndows Control Panel and sel ect Computer Management.
2. In Computer Management, select the Disk Management component.
3. Under the Acti on menu i n Di sk Management sel ect 'Attach VHD'
4. Browse to the l ocati on of the .VHD system i mage fi le. I recommend ti cki ng the 'Read-onl y' box before
cl i cki ng OK, as any changes to thi s .VHD fil e can make the Backup corrupt.
5. The VHD fi l e wi ll be mounted as the type of dri ve the VHD fil e i mage was ori gi nall y saved as.

Thi s dri ve wil l now appear as an identical copy of your system dri ve usi ng a new dri ve l etter, and you can
browse i t i n Wi ndows Expl orer just as wi th any other dri ve. Once fi nished, make sure you detach the VHD

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dri ve under the Acti on menu i n Disk Management. See the Vi rtual Hard Di sk secti on of the Drive
Opti mi zati on chapter for more detai ls.

Some more thi ngs to note regardi ng restorati on of backups:

Wi ndows 7 is abl e to restore fil es from a backup made usi ng the Wi ndows Vista Backup and Restore
Center.
System i mages can also be used to as part of the System Restore feature to provi de additi onal restore
poi nts you can use - see the System Protecti on secti on bel ow.
If you si mpl y want to restore an earl i er versi on of a fi le, due to acci dental del eti on or recent uni ntended
changes for exampl e, then i t i s best to fi rst try usi ng the Previous Versi ons functi onali ty as covered
under the System Protecti on secti on bel ow.

< SYSTEM PROTECTION
Wi ndows 7's System Protecti on features, enabled by defaul t on your system dri ve, are a set of basic
safeguards put i n place to ensure that you don't uni ntenti onall y al ter your fi les wi thout some form of
backup to fall back on, and that any changes to i mportant system fi les and setti ngs can be easi l y reversed if
necessary. To access the mai n confi gurati on opti ons for System Protecti on, open the System component of
the Wi ndows Control Panel and cl ick the System Protecti on l i nk i n the l eft pane, or go to Start>Search Box,
type systempropertiesprotection and press Enter.

Under the mai n System Protecti on properti es wi ndow you wil l see the i ndi vidual dri ves on your system for
whi ch system protecti on i s currentl y enabl ed. By defaul t your mai n system dri ve wil l have system
protecti on shown as bei ng On; any addi ti onal drives wil l not have i t enabled by default. Al so note that
system protecti on can onl y be enabled on NTFS dri ves.

To al ter system protecti on on any dri ve, fi rst sel ect the dri ve from the l i st shown, then cl ick the Confi gure
button. In the wi ndow which opens, you can select the foll owi ng:

Restore system setti ngs and previ ous versi ons of fi l es - Sel ecti ng thi s opti on enabl es both System Restore
and Previ ous Versi ons on the dri ve;
Onl y restore previ ous versi ons of fil es - Thi s opti on di sabl es System Restore and l eaves Previ ous Versi on
functi onali ty enabl ed;
Turn off system protecti on - Di sabl es all system protecti on functi onali ty and del etes al l restore poi nts
and previ ous versi ons.

You can al so determi ne the maxi mum amount of space all ocated to potenti al use by system protecti on
features here.

To understand how best to configure these opti ons for your system, read the foll owi ng:

SYSTEM RESTORE
System Restore is not a general backup and restore uti l i ty, and shoul d not be mistaken as one - i t is a system
state backup and recovery tool . System Restore does not back up or mai ntai n any copi es of your personal
fi les, such as your emai ls, pi ctures, documents or musi c; i nstead it creates periodi c Restore Poi nts whi ch are
a snapshot of your system state at a poi nt i n ti me. Thi s restore poi nt saves i nformati on rel ated to key
Wi ndows system-related fil es and programs, as wel l as the Wi ndows Registry.

Creating Restore Points: Typi cal ly a restore poi nt i s automati cal ly created before any si gni fi cant changes to the
system, such as when i nstal li ng a program, a dri ver, or a Windows update. Windows also automati call y
creates a restore poi nt once every seven days, if no other restore poi nts were created wi thi n that peri od. You

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can also manual l y create a new restore poi nt at any ti me. Go to the mai n System Protecti on properties
wi ndow and cl i ck the Create button. In the box whi ch appears, enter a descri ptive name for the restore point
- note that Wi ndows automati cal ly appends the ti me and date to each restore poi nt so you don't need to
manuall y enter these - and then cl i ck Create agai n. A new restore poi nt wi ll be created for all the dri ve(s) on
whi ch you have enabled system protecti on.

Restoring Restore Point: At any ti me if you wi sh to use an exi sti ng restore poi nt to return your system state to
the way i t was when that poi nt was created, fol l ow these steps:

1. Open System Restore - thi s can done i n a range of ways, i ncludi ng: Goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng
rstrui and pressi ng Enter; goi ng to the Wi ndows Control Panel and sel ecti ng Recovery, then cli cki ng the
'Open System Restore' button; and under the Backup and Restore component of the Wi ndows Control
cl i cki ng the 'Recover system setti ngs or your computer' li nk and then cl i cki ng the 'Open System Restore'
button.
2. Cl i ck the Next button i n the System Restore box whi ch appears, and you wi ll be abl e vi ew all of the
avai labl e restore poi nts, sorted by the date they were created. Restore poi nts are l abeled cl earl y under
both the descri pti on and type col umns, maki ng i t easi er to differenti ate when and how each restore
poi nt was made.
3. If you have made any system i mage backups usi ng the Wi ndows Backup feature covered earl i er i n this
chapter, then you can ti ck the 'Show more restore poi nts' box, and each system i mage wil l provi de at
l east one addi ti onal poi nt whi ch can be restored. Note that even though a system i mage contai ns both
system and personal fi les, usi ng a system i mage as a restore poi nt source wi ll not restore or overwri te
personal fil es, onl y system fi les.
4. To restore a speci fi c restore poi nt, hi ghli ght that restore poi nt. It i s recommended that you then cl i ck the
'Scan for affected programs' l i nk, and Windows wi ll provi de a li st of programs, dri vers or updates whi ch
wi ll ei ther be del eted or restored (i n part or i n ful l) as a resul t of the changes brought about by restori ng
that parti cular poi nt. Cli ck Next if you sti ll wish to conti nue - on the next screen you wil l be abl e to
revi ew your choi ces before proceedi ng wi th the actual restorati on.
5. To compl ete the process, cli ck the Fi ni sh button. Your system wil l need to restart so your system fi les can
be reverted to the way they were at the ti me of the restore poi nt. You wi ll be noti fi ed if the restore was
successful.
6. If you fi nd that usi ng the restore poi nt was no hel p at all , or made thi ngs even worse, you can undo the
use of that restore poi nt by openi ng System Restore agai n, cli cki ng 'Undo System Restore' and then
cl i cki ng Next. Note that the abil i ty to undo a restore i s not avai labl e if you use System Restore i n Safe
Mode.

Disabling Restore Points: If you wi sh to turn off System Restore, go to the mai n System Protecti on properti es
wi ndow and hi ghli ght a dri ve of your choi ce. Cl i ck the Confi gure button and to turn off onl y the System
Restore functi onali ty of System Protecti on, sel ect the 'Onl y restore previ ous versi ons of fi l es' option.
Al ternati vel y you can sel ect the 'Turn off system protecti on' opti on i f you also wi sh to disabl e the Previ ous
Versi ons functi on, effecti vel y disabl i ng System Protecti on al together. Importantl y, doi ng thi s removes all
exi sti ng restore poi nts and previ ous versi ons.

Di sabl i ng System Restore i s not recommended, as i t can be i nvaluable i n recoveri ng from unforeseeabl e
probl ems whi ch can affl i ct even the most advanced user. For exampl e i f you install a beta dri ver whi ch i s
unstable or makes an undesi rable change to the Windows Regi stry, and i n turn prevents you from booti ng
i nto Wi ndows, thi s can be di ffi cul t and ti me consuming to resol ve manuall y. With System Restore enabl ed,
you can si mpl y boot i nto Safe Mode, open System Restore, sel ect the restore poi nt Wi ndows automati cally
made just before the dri ver was i nstall ed, reboot, and the changes are i nstantl y undone.

System Restore has no performance penal ty; the onl y possi bl e di sadvantage to l eavi ng i t enabl ed i s the
amount of dri ve space i t can take up - by defaul t System Restore i s al l owed to use up to 5% of your drive

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space. It requi res at least 300MB of free space on each dri ve to work properl y, and only works on drives
l arger than 1GB. Over ti me System Restore wi ll del ete ol der restore poi nts automati cal ly so as not to exceed
i ts size li mi t. Fortunately Wi ndows 7 has al so added the abi li ty to readil y select exactl y how much drive
space to al l ocate to System Protecti on features - see further bel ow for detai ls.

Deleting Restore Points: Wi ndows automati call y del etes ol der restore poi nts once System Restore hi ts i ts space
l i mi t on your dri ve. However i f you want to save disk space, you can manual l y del ete all ol der restore poi nts
except the very l atest one at any ti me by usi ng the Di sk Cl eanup uti li ty - see the Di sk Cl eanup secti on of the
Cl eani ng Wi ndows chapter. If you want to del ete all restore poi nts, i ncl udi ng the l atest one, open the System
Protecti on properti es wi ndow, cli ck the Configure button, and then cl ick the Del ete button. Whil e thi s wi ll
remove all restore poi nts as wel l as al l previ ous versi ons of fi l es, it doesn't prevent Wi ndows from creating
new ones agai n i n the future - that wil l onl y occur i f you choose to turn off system protecti on al together.

PREVIOUS VERSIONS
Al though System Restore does not restore copi es of your personal fil es as part of a restore poi nt, the System
Protecti on feature ensures that Shadow Copi es, al so known as the Volume Shadow Copy Servi ce (VSS), or
more commonl y known as Previ ous Versi ons, are automati cal ly created for most non-system fi les duri ng the
creati on of restore poi nts. As l ong as you keep System Protecti on enabl ed on a parti cul ar drive, then shadow
copi es wi ll al so be made of rel evant fi les whenever they are al tered. While shadow copi es are not a
substi tute for taki ng proper backups of your i mportant fi l es, thi s is an added safety feature i n Wi ndows 7
whi ch remains much the same as when i t was i ntroduced i n Vista. Its aim i s to make recovery from
acci dental del eti on or al terati on of important fi l es much easier, and is yet another reason why it i s
recommended that you do not di sable System Protecti on.

Just to be cl ear: the mai n di fference between System Restore and Previ ous Versi ons i s that System Restore is
used for restori ng system-related fi l es and setti ngs, whi l e Previ ous Versions is for restori ng personal and
other non-system fi l es; Previ ous Versi ons of Wi ndows system fi l es, such those under the \Windows
di rectory, are not kept.

To vi ew and/or restore any exi sti ng Previ ous Versi ons of a fil e, do the fol l owi ng:

1. Open Wi ndows Expl orer and browse to the sel ected fi l e, whether under i ts ori gi nal l ocati on or i n the
appropriate Li brary.
2. Ri ght-cli ck on the fi l e and sel ect 'Restore previ ous versi ons', or al ternati vel y right-cl i ck on the fi le, sel ect
Properti es and cli ck on the 'Previ ous Versi ons' tab.
3. Under the Previ ous Versi ons tab you wi l l see all avai labl e previ ous versi ons l isted i n order of the date
upon whi ch the fi l e was last modi fi ed, not the date it was saved. If the fi l e was not modifi ed si nce the
l ast restore poi nt or Wi ndows Backup was taken, there wil l be no previ ous versi ons available. Note al so
that i f you want to restore a fi le whi ch has been del eted, and thus i s not availabl e for you to sel ect and
exami ne i ts Previ ous Versions tab, then you can l ook at the Previ ous Versi ons tab of the folder i n whi ch
i t ori gi nall y resi ded i nstead and restore a previ ous versi on of the enti re fol der.
4. To previ ew the contents of a previ ous versi on before restori ng it, hi ghl ight the versi on you wi sh to
restore and cli ck the Open button.
5. Once you have found the versi on of the fil e or fol der you wish to restore, you can ei ther cli ck the Restore
button whi ch wi l l overwri te your exi sti ng versi on of that fil e wi th the previ ous versi on, or you can cl i ck
the Copy button whi ch al l ows you to copy the previ ous versi on to another directory. The Copy opti on is
recommended, especiall y i f you are restori ng an enti re fol der, because thi s all ows you to keep and
compare both versi ons of the fi l e or fol der, and then di scard whi chever fi l es you no l onger need.
6. If you sel ect the Copy opti on you wil l be prompted to choose a directory i n whi ch to pl ace the previ ous
versi on - I recommend an empty di rectory. If you choose the Restore opti on and a current versi on of the
fi le or fol der al ready exist, you wi ll be prompted to confi rm the choi ce and i f you cl i ck Restore agai n, i t
wi ll overwri te any exi sti ng versi on on your dri ve. Note that shadow copi es as part of a restore poi nt are

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stored on your mai n Wi ndows dri ve and wi ll be restored i mmedi atel y, whereas shadow copi es whi ch
are part of a Wi ndows Backup wi ll be stored on another dri ve and requi re that you to have that
parti cul ar drive connected before you can restore the fi l e.

How recent your previ ous versi ons are depends on how frequentl y you use the Wi ndows Backup and
System Restore functi ons, so thi s i s not a fool proof method of restori ng a fil e to preci sel y the desi red version,
especiall y for fi les whi ch you change very often. Also, dependi ng on the amount of dri ve space you have
made avail abl e to System Protecti on and the number of fil es on your system, over ti me you wi ll l ose older
previ ous versi ons. Note al so that if you access your mai n Wi ndows 7 dri ve with a versi on of Wi ndows pri or
to Vi sta, because of the di fferences in NTFS, the ol der versi on of Wi ndows wi l l automati call y del ete all
shadow copies, whi ch means the del etion of Previ ous Versi ons as well - keep thi s i n mi nd if you are dual -
booti ng Wi ndows 7 wi th Wi ndows XP for exampl e.

Previ ous Versi ons i s a very useful functi on, and makes a very strong case for not di sabl i ng System
Protecti on, especi al ly as i t has no performance i mpact. It i s certai nly much qui cker and easi er to use Previ ous
Versi ons for undoi ng accidental del eti ons and uni ntended changes to fil es than any other method. However
I must stress that i t i s not a substi tute for taki ng proper backups, because shadow copi es are stored on your
system dri ve, and i n the event of dri ve corrupti on or compl ete fai l ure, you wi ll l ose both the ori gi nal s and
the Previ ous Versi ons at the same ti me.

RESIZING SYSTEM PROTECTION'S RESERVED DRIVE SPACE
As noted under System Restore, for ful l functi onali ty the System Protecti on features requi re a 1GB or larger
dri ve, at l east 300MB of free dri ve space, and can use up to 5% of your total dri ve space on your mai n
Wi ndows drive by default. In Wi ndows Vista you were onl y abl e to al ter these setti ngs by usi ng the
vssadmi n command wi th appropriate parameters in an Admi nistrator Command Prompt. Whil e you can
sti ll use this command i n Wi ndows 7, i t i s no l onger necessary because al l the rel evant informati on and
resizi ng capabi l i ties are provi ded i n a graphi cal user i nterface. Go to the mai n System Protecti on properti es
wi ndow, found by cl i cki ng the 'System Protecti on' link i n the System component of the Wi ndows Control
Panel . Then hi ghli ght the rel evant dri ve and cl i ck the Confi gure button. Under the Di sk Space Usage section
of the wi ndow you can see the amount of space currentl y used by System Protecti on. To l i mit the maxi mum
amount of space avai labl e to System Protecti on, move the sli der to the appropriate percentage of your drive
space and then cl i ck the Appl y button.

By reduci ng the maxi mum amount of space usabl e by System Protecti on, you may l ose ol der restore poi nts
and previ ous versi ons, and i f set too l ow thi s may make System Protecti on effecti vel y usel ess by not bei ng
abl e to protect all of your fil es, fol ders and setti ngs. I recommend that you set at least 2GB of dri ve space,
preferabl y more if you have more fi les on the dri ve, parti cul arl y if they are l arge fi l es. If i n doubt, do not
al ter thi s setting from i ts defaul t.

Remember that you can manuall y remove ol der restore poi nts at any ti me to reduce di sk space usage
wi thout compl etel y l osi ng the protecti on afforded by these features - see the Disk Cl eanup secti on of the
Cl eani ng Wi ndows chapter. In the end if you trul y resent any space bei ng taken up by System Protecti on
features, or just don't have the space to spare on your dri ve, then i t may be best to si mply di sabl e System
Protecti on for that dri ve al together rather than cri ppl e i t and hence have a fal se sense of security.

Regardl ess of whi ch opti on you choose, I strongly recommend that you make sure to regularly back up all
your i mportant and i rreplaceabl e fi l es often and to mul ti ple l ocati ons, i n case of acci dental deleti on, mal ware
i nfecti on, drive fail ure, theft, or fi re. System Protecti on i s onl y one component of an appropriate backup
strategy.


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< BACKING UP & RESTORING PASSWORDS
Backi ng up and restori ng l ogi n passwords i s a unique case worth consi deri ng on i ts own. Thi s i s because
Windows does not automati call y backup usernames and passwords as part of any of i ts usual Backup
features, nor i s i t general l y recommended that you simpl y wri te down or type up a li st of your usernames
and passwords and save them as a standard document or text fi le for example - thi s i s a bi g securi ty risk.
Thi s secti on provi des several al ternates whi ch al l ow you to make sure your i mportant passwords are
accessi ble if you forget them.

The fi rst and most i mportant password to consi der is the l ogi n password you use for the mai n Protected
Admi nistrator account i n Wi ndows, i.e. the first User Account you create when Wi ndows 7 is i nstal l ed. If
thi s User Account i s password protected - and note that thi s i s not necessary in certai n scenari os as covered
i n the User Accounts chapter - then forgetti ng the password is a major headache. With the NTFS fi l e system
i t i s qui te diffi cul t to access the data on your dri ve wi thout the correct l ogi n password. Clearl y the best thi ng
to do i s backup your password now before anythi ng happens, so that i f necessary you can restore i t wi thout
any di ffi cul ties. The recommended way to securely back i t up is as fol l ows, though note you wil l requi re a
fl oppy di sk or preferably a USB fl ash drive for thi s procedure:

BACKING UP LOGIN PASSWORD
1. Open the User Accounts component of the Wi ndows Control Panel and cli ck on your User Account.
2. Connect your USB fl ash drive or i nsert a fl oppy di sk as appl i cabl e.
3. Cl i ck on 'Create a Password Reset Di sk' i n the l eft pane. The Forgotten Password Wizard wil l open up,
cl i ck Next.
4. Sel ect the appropri ate drive when prompted. Note that i f you need to format the USB drive or fl oppy
di sk fi rst, open Wi ndows Expl orer, ri ght-cli ck on the dri ve and select Format.
5. You wi ll be prompted to enter the current User Account password (or leave bl ank i f i t has none). Do so
and cl i ck Next.
6. Once the password reset di sk has been created, select Fi nish. Store thi s di sk/sti ck somewhere safe, as
anyone can now use i t to effecti vel y access your account.

I encourage you to purchase a smal l USB fl ash dri ve just for thi s purpose. The added securi ty and protecti on
agai nst l oss of your l ogi n password i s wel l worth thi s ti ny i nvestment.

RESTORING LOGIN PASSWORD
If you ever need to restore your password from the backup created above, foll ow these steps:

1. Boot your PC as normal , and on the Windows Logi n screen sel ect your User Name.
2. Try enteri ng your password (or just press Enter), and if i t's i ncorrect you'll get a message sayi ng the
Username or Password i s incorrect. Cli ck OK and then sel ect 'Reset Password', inserti ng the password
reset di sk or USB flash drive you created earli er.
3. Fol l ow the Password Reset Wizard to set a new password and l og back i nto your system.

The password reset disk needs to be wri te-enabl ed so that Windows can update i t wi th the new password
automati cal ly duri ng thi s procedure. When done, you shoul d once agai n put i t away i n a physi call y secure
pl ace.

Note that the mai n Admi nistrator account on a PC can l og i n at any ti me and change the password for other
accounts, i n case they are forgotten. However doi ng so wi ll prevent those users from accessi ng any exi sting
encrypted fi les or fol ders for that account, so the best method to prevent password l oss and hence potenti al
data l oss is to use the password reset disk method above, regardl ess of whether you are an Admi ni strator or
a Standard user of the PC.

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RECOVERING LOGIN PASSWORD
If you've compl etel y l ost your l ogi n password, you don't have a password reset di sk, and you don't have any
other Admi nistrator who can reset i t for you then general l y you're i n a l ot of troubl e. Usual ly you wil l have
to si mpl y reformat and reinstall Wi ndows.

However i f you are reall y desperate to regai n access to your user account and you have the ti me, you can try
the Offli ne NT Password & Regi stry Edi tor for cracki ng your Windows account password. I am provi ding
thi s i nformation i n good fai th for users who want to restore thei r own account, not to attempt to hack other
accounts. If you are al armed at the existence of cracking tool s and methods for getti ng account passwords in
Wi ndows then I strongl y recommend that fi rstly you set your user account password to somethi ng strong
such as a 12 character (or more) base64 or base95 random password. For exampl e, you can use thi s onl i ne
Password Generator to generate one. These compl ex passwords are extremely di ffi cul t to crack, especi ally
the more characters you use. Secondl y and most i mportantl y, I recommend that you restri ct physi cal access
to your machi ne to onl y those peopl e you absolutely trust, and i f i n doubt, make sure to observe the use of
your PC by others to ensure they don't use a tool l ike the one above to compromi se your account's securi ty.

STORING PASSWORDS
Rememberi ng username and passwords for vari ous websi tes and software soon becomes extremel y di ffi cul t
to do. Most users wi nd up usi ng si mpl e passwords, such as a common word or name al ong wi th a number
or two at the end of i t. Thi s i s not opti mal for securi ty purposes, and whi l e most peopl e are now aware that i t
i s best to have compl ex passwords consi sti ng of a combi nati on of random l etters (both uppercase and
l owercase) and numbers, and even some symbols thrown i n for good measure, vi rtual l y no-one can
remember these passwords. Web browsers make the process easi er by al l owing storage of usernames and
passwords for automati c entry i nto rel evant prompts on websi tes, however thi s sti l l doesn't sol ve the
probl em of potenti all y l osing your passwords i n the event of an emergency, such as dri ve corrupti on, or if
you want to transfer the passwords to another machine, or if you si mpl y don't wi sh to trust your browser to
store your passwords.

Credenti al Manager i s a new feature i n Wi ndows 7 based on a very si milar feature found in Wi ndows XP
and Vista under an advanced User Account confi gurati on screen accessed by running the control
userpasswords2 command. Credenti al Manager can now be accessed di rectly under the Control Panel , or by
goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng credential manager and pressi ng Enter.

The mai n purpose for Credenti al Manager is to store logi n credentials for accessing other computers, servers
or si tes whi ch support this feature. You can add the rel evant credenti al details by cl i cki ng the Add l i nk on
the ri ght si de of the three mai n categories: Wi ndows Credenti al s, Certi fi cate-Based Credentials, or Generic
Credenti al s. Wi ndows credenti al s are pri maril y for si gni ng into other computers and Wi ndows-based
resources; Certi ficate-Based credentials are for resources whi ch requi re a vali d certifi cate; and Generi c
credential s are for standard web-based servi ces. However the resource requesti ng the username and
password must be desi gned to i nteract wi th Credenti al Manager (or the previ ous versi ons of the same
feature) i n Wi ndows, otherwi se your entered data wi ll not have any i mpact. Thi s means that Credenti al
Manager is not as useful for the average PC user.

Importantl y, the i nformation you enter here i s stored as part of the Wi ndows Vaul t, whi ch i s an encrypted
fi le you can backup to any l ocati on - preferabl y a removabl e source such as a USB flash dri ve - and then use
on other machi nes as requi red. If any data has been entered i n Credenti al Manager i t wi ll displ ay a 'Back up
vaul t' l i nk at the top whi ch al l ows you to do preci sely thi s, and the 'Restore vaul t' li nk can si mi larl y be used
to restore a previ ousl y backed up vaul t.


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If i nstead you si mply want to hol d al l your usernames and passwords i n a relati vel y strai ghtforward central
database protected by hi gh l evel encrypti on, whi ch also provi des the abi li ty to securel y export and store the
database for backup purposes, use the free KeePass Password Safe uti li ty. There i s both a Cl assi c Edi ti on and
a newer version avai labl e to downl oad. The di fferences i n features are spell ed out i n thi s table, but for the
most part all the functi onal i ty requi red, i n addi ti on to portabi li ty and smal ler footpri nt, can be found i n the
Cl assi c Edi ti on (ZIP Package) versi on of thi s software, whi ch i s the one I recommend and descri be bel ow.

To use KeePass, launch KeePass.exe and sel ect New under the Fi l e menu, then enter a Master Password
and/or sel ect a Key Fil e. These measures are used to secure the password l ist, and whi le the key fi le is not
essential, make sure to enter a master password whi ch has a hi gh bi t-rate by usi ng a combi nati on of l etters
both l owercase and uppercase, as wel l as numbers, and not just a common word or name. Thi s master
password is a cri ti cal component - if you forget i t, there is no way to unl ock your password li st. Once the
database is created, you can populate it. The database i s sorted by groups, whi ch are si mply categori es of
passwords. You can ri ght-cl i ck i n the l eft pane and add new groups, or add sub-groups under the existi ng
groups, or remove any group or sub-group as you wi sh. Hi ghli ght the group whi ch you beli eve your
username/password combi nati on is best stored under, and i n the ri ght pane ri ght-cli ck and select 'Add
Entry' to create a new entry contai ni ng your username and password combi nati on for a parti cular Wi ndows
feature, other software, or a websi te. Do thi s as many ti mes as requi red to populate the database wi th al l the
username and password combi nati ons you wi sh to store.

You can backup thi s password database to any l ocati on you wi sh by usi ng the 'Export To' feature under the
Fi l e menu. I strongl y recommend exporti ng the database as a KeePass Database .KDB fil e. Thi s database can
then be stored or backed up wherever you wish, and i ts contents can only be successfull y vi ewed by usi ng
KeePass to open the fi l e and enteri ng the correct master password. Because the database is encrypted, it i s
vi rtual ly i mpossi bl e to access the database contents wi thout the right password/key fi l e.

RECOVERING OTHER PASSWORDS
If you haven't properl y stored your passwords and you've managed to forget or l ose an i mportant password
whi ch you can't si mpl y reset, such as your Windows l ogi n password, there are util i ties you can use to
recover or crack these passwords. The best free tool whi ch works i n Wi ndows 7 is Ophcrack, though you can
also try the free Cai n & Abel. However I cannot go i nto detai l regardi ng these tool s, as i t i s beyond the scope
of thi s book. The presence of these types of tool s shoul d agai n l et you see that nothi ng i s compl etel y safe on
your machi ne, so i t i s very i mportant to al ways restri ct physi cal access to your machi ne onl y to those people
you trust, and al ways follow the ti ps provi ded i n the PC Securi ty chapter.

< OTHER BACKUP METHODS
The bui l t-i n backup and system protecti on methods i n Wi ndows 7 are extremel y useful and shoul d not be
i gnored. In general they are more than suffi ci ent for you to come up wi th a reasonabl e strategy for
protecti ng your data from l oss. However there are several other ways you can create and maintai n backups,
whether because the Wi ndows functi onali ty i s not suffi ci ent for your needs, or si mpl y because you want
other al ternati ves to suppl ement the Wi ndows features. This secti on provi des such al ternati ves.

THIRD PARTY DRIVE IMAGING SOFTWARE
There are thi rd party programs avai labl e whi ch can provi de features simi lar to the system i mage
functi onali ty i n Wi ndows Backup. The two major software packages for i maging dri ves quickl y and easily
are Norton Ghost and Acroni s TrueImage. However nei ther is free, so they wi ll not be covered here i n any
detail - refer to the rel evant Norton Ghost Manual or the Acronis TrueImage User Gui de for more detai l s.
The mai n benefi t of thi rd party i magi ng uti li ti es over Wi ndows 7's bui l t-i n system i mage option i s that they
all ow a wi der choi ce of opti ons, but i n practi ce they are not essenti al as the Windows Backup system i mage
feature should meet the majori ty of your needs.


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ONLINE BACKUP
Onl i ne backup servi ces allow you to back up data to a secure l ocati on, typi cal ly a remote data center. Thi s
ensures that your data is encrypted and stored safely, but thi s not a free servi ce, so i t i s only recommended i f
you genui nely need that level of protecti on agai nst data l oss or theft. This form of backup i s not absol utel y
necessary for the average user, but i t provi des addi ti onal securi ty and peace of mi nd, particularly i n the
event of fi re or theft, whereby your PC and your onsi te backups may all be destroyed or stol en, l eavi ng you
wi th nothi ng to rel y on for restori ng your data. For the average user however there are several ways of using
free onl i ne servi ces to provi de added securi ty agai nst such data l oss:

ISP Storage: Many Internet Servi ce Provi ders (ISPs) provi de thei r customers with a basi c web space to whi ch
you can upl oad personal data. This i s a relati vely secure and typi cal l y free method of stori ng your data
offsi te - check your ISP's websi te or contact them di rectl y for further detail s. Even i f a small fee i s i nvol ved i n
obtai ni ng such a facil i ty, i t can be worthwhi l e gi ven the added protecti on i t provi des you as another l ocation
to store your backups.

Email Storage: Free emai l servi ces such as Gmai l provi de extremely l arge amounts of storage space - i n the
order of several Gi gabytes. Whi l e I do not recommend upl oadi ng/emai ling any sensiti ve data to these
l ocati ons, as they are not compl etel y secure, they do serve as good hol di ng spots for addi tional backups of
di gi tal photos and other i mportant i rrepl aceabl e fi les. In fact you can use free uti l i ties such as GSpace or
Gmai l Dri ve to make storage of data on a Gmai l account much easi er to manage, though bear i n mi nd that
Gmai l and other free email provi ders may take steps to prevent thi s practi ce i f i t becomes wi despread.

Photo Storage: There are a range of free photo al bum provi ders whi ch wil l all ow you to upload and keep a
l arge li brary of di gi tal photos, whi ch i s extremel y useful agai n as yet another pl ace to store photos whi ch are
otherwi se i rrepl aceabl e i n case your ori gi nals are ever l ost. The most popul ar free photo gall ery provi ders
are Fl i ckr, Photobucket and Pi casa. Make sure to read the i nstructi ons for the gal l ery and enable al l the
pri vacy features so that members of the publ i c cannot vi ew your gall ery contents wi thout your permissi on.
Regardl ess of such features, a di rect li nk to a parti cul ar photo can often be publ i cl y di scovered, so I do not
recommend upl oadi ng sensi ti ve photos to such galleri es.

Ul ti matel y, if you beli eve your data i s worth preservi ng agai nst all eventual i ties, or you need to store i t wi th
maxi mum securi ty, i t i s necessary that you consi der a professi onal remote data storage service to hol d your
backups. The free opti ons whi l e conveni ent do not provi de sufficient securi ty agai nst unauthori zed access.
Of course most Wi ndows users do not requi re this level of protecti on; regularl y taki ng both system i mage
and personal fol der backups and also keepi ng a copy of your backups i n a fi reproof safe for exampl e is
suffi ci ent protecti on.

CUSTOM BACKUPS
The Wi ndows Backup functi onali ty i n Wi ndows 7 now all ows any user the abil i ty to not onl y select
i ndi vi dual folders for backup, but to al so create a ful l system i mage backup as wel l, and do so on a schedul e.
As such I strongl y recommend that you take advantage of this functi onali ty. However I al so recommend that
you create addi ti onal custom backups of your data for one very i mportant reason: any automated backup
uti li ty you use, whether the Windows uti l i ty or a thi rd party one, may i nevi tably backup probl emati c or sub-
opti mal settings or conditi ons. Thi s means that any ti me you restore such backups, even after a clean
reformat and rei nstall of Windows, you may al so be restori ng the probl emati c fil es or setti ngs as wel l. It i s
common for fi les and settings to become i nfected, corrupted or contai n i ncorrect i nformati on (e.g. after a
change of i nstal l ed hardware). These probl ems may not be easi ly detectabl e or reversi bl e, and wi ll work
thei r way i nto your schedul ed backups, maki ng them much l ess useful when the ti me comes to use them.
There's al so the added i ssue of not being abl e to readil y use backups made usi ng the Windows 7 Backup
uti li ty on ol der versi ons of Wi ndows, such as Wi ndows XP, or on other machi nes.


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So i n addi ti on to taki ng regular system i mage and personal fol der backups usi ng Wi ndows Backup, I
strongl y recommend that you create a custom 'clean' backup copy of al l your i mportant fil es whi ch is hi ghl y
portabl e and stored separatel y to your PC. The qui ckest way to do thi s i s:

1. Manual ly scan your enti re system thoroughly for mal ware usi ng the mal ware scanners covered i n the
PC Securi ty chapter.
2. Fi nd a good qual i ty USB flash dri ve or several rewri teabl e CD, DVD or Bl u-Ray di scs. For the USB dri ve,
make sure to format i t fi rst i n FAT32 format by connecti ng i t your PC, and under Wi ndows Expl orer,
ri ght-cl i ck on the dri ve, sel ect Format, then sel ect FAT32 under the Fi l e System box and cl i ck Start.
FAT32 i s the most compatibl e fi l e system, whi ch i s why i t i s recommended for a USB fl ash dri ve.
3. Open Wi ndows Expl orer and manual ly copy across every si ngle fi l e and folder whi ch you consi der
i rreplaceabl e and you wi sh to backup. Al so remember to generate a new backup of your bookmarks
usi ng the bookmark management options i n your browser, copy across any saved games (but not
setti ngs) you wi sh to keep, and also export your stored email s to an empty fol der and then store the
enti re exported fol der(s) in an archi val format li ke .ZIP for easi er handli ng - see the Backi ng Up secti on
of the Wi ndows Li ve Mail chapter of thi s book for more detail s of how to do thi s. Si nce you are onl y
copyi ng across the most important personal data, there shoul dn't be a large vol ume of data; certai nl y i t
should all fi t on an 8 - 16GB USB dri ve, or at most a box of CDs/DVDs or a si ngl e Bl u-Ray disc.
4. Once compl eted, store thi s backup i n a secure l ocati on - at the very l east i n a l ockabl e drawer of some
ki nd.

Whi le the above procedure may seem excessi ve, i t reall y does provi de both addi ti onal safeguards against
l osi ng your valuabl e data, and i mportantl y, al l ows you to do a clean reformat and rei nstall of any versi on of
Wi ndows and si mpl y copy your i mportant fi l es back across for instant use, secure i n the knowl edge that no
probl emati c or i nfected fi les, regi stry setti ngs or settings of any other ki nd are bei ng restored as well . It al so
provi des the portabi li ty necessary to make secure storage of your most i mportant fil es easi er, or i f you wish
to qui ckly view or restore them on another machi ne at any ti me.


In general , the Wi ndows Backup features i n Wi ndows 7 are an excell ent method of generati ng and
mai ntai ni ng up-to-date backups of your system, and I strongl y encourage you to use them. Remember that
the System Protecti on features also provi de an i mportant l evel of protecti on agai nst acci dental del eti on or
modi fi cati on of your personal and system fi l es, whi ch even advanced users shoul d use to thei r advantage. In
combi nati on wi th custom backups, appropri ate data storage practices and some common sense, you wi ll be
protected agai nst l osi ng your i mportant data i n virtuall y any scenari o. It may seem extremel y tedi ous at
fi rst, but once you get i nto the habi t of backi ng up the ri ght way, the peace of mi nd i t offers far outweighs
the i nconvenience.

< DATA RECOVERY
Acci dental del eti on of fil es is one of the most common ways i n whi ch fi les are l ost. By defaul t Wi ndows 7
provi des protecti on agai nst thi s wi th i ts bui l t-i n Backup and System Protecti on features as covered earl i er i n
thi s chapter. You shoul d al so l eave the Recycl e Bi n enabl ed and confi gure i t appropri ately to make sure that
del eted fil es are moved to the Recycl e Bin - see the Recycl e Bi n secti on of the Cl eani ng Wi ndows chapter.

However i n the end for one reason or another you may sti ll wi nd up permanentl y del eti ng a necessary fi le,
and have no previ ous backup, restore poi nt or previ ous versi on avai labl e. Fortunatel y, when you del ete a
fi le from your system the fi le i s removed from vi ew and you regai n the space on your dri ve, however i t i s
not actuall y permanentl y del eted from your dri ve. In fact, nothi ng on your drive i s permanentl y removed
when you del ete i t. Whenever you del ete a fi l e Wi ndows si mpl y marks i t for del eti on. The enti re fi le i s sti ll
si tti ng on your dri ve, but i s not vi si ble. Wi ndows then all ows other fi l es to wri te over the space where i t
resi des i f requi red, but the fi l e is not compl etel y gone from your dri ve unti l i t i s full y overwri tten at some

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poi nt. Thi s means that you can someti mes recover fi les that have been 'permanentl y' del eted, but you need
to act qui ckl y and wil l requi re speci al software to do so.

RECOVERING DELETED FILES
There are several tool s I recommend that you use to potenti all y recover your deleted fi l es:

Recuva: To use Recuva, after i nstal li ng it you can si mpl y foll ow the wizard which appears. For more opti ons,
cl i ck the 'Switch to advanced mode' button i n the mai n Recuva wi ndow, or di sabl e and exi t the wi zard at
startup. Essenti all y once you specify the parti cular dri ve to scan, or all avai labl e dri ves i f you so wi sh, you
then speci fy the fil e type you're l ooki ng for - whether by usi ng the drop-down l ist, or entering a porti on of
the fil ename (or leave the box bl ank for al l fil es), and then cl i ck the Scan button. One of the benefi ts of
Recuva is that i t provi des a previ ew of the recovered fi les wherever possi bl e, maki ng i t easi er to determine
whi ch may be the sui tabl e one to restore. Another benefi t is that Recuva can fi nd and restore del eted email s.
If nothi ng is found after a basi c scan, you can opt for an i n-depth scan if prompted, or cl ick the Opti ons
button and under the Actions tab ti ck the 'Deep Scan' box and scan agai n, but bear i n mi nd thi s could take
qui te a whil e.

Restoration: To use Restorati on fi rst downl oad the fil e and run i t to extract the contents to an empty di rectory,
preferabl y on a USB flash dri ve or another dri ve. Then run the Restoration.exe fil e as an Admi ni strator and
ei ther enter a fil ename i n the search box, or a fi l e extensi on (e.g. JPG, DOC, TXT), or l eave the box bl ank (to
fi nd all recoverabl e del eted fi les) and cli ck the 'Search Del eted Fi les' button. Restorati on wil l scan your dri ve
for fi l es whi ch can be restored and l ist them. Once done, you can hi ghli ght a fil e and cli ck 'Restore by
Copyi ng' to recover i t.

IsoBuster: If you want to recover del eted or damaged fi les on a CD or DVD disc, you wil l have to use a more
speciali zed uti li ty such as IsoBuster. Whi le i t can be downloaded for free, IsoBuster requi res pai d
registrati on for ful l functionali ty. However you can use the free versi on to fi rst check to see i f there is any
recoverabl e data on your parti cular di sc. There i s no guarantee that any usabl e data can be recovered from a
damaged or del eted di sc - parti cul arl y if i t has been overwri tten.

Regardl ess of whi ch tool you use, the more acti vi ty there i s on the medi um where the del eted fi les resi de, the
l ess chance you can ful ly recover them, si nce porti ons of i t may have been overwri tten by new data. This i s
why the fi l es recovered by any tool are often not compl ete si nce porti ons of them have al ready been
overwri tten, so there i s no guarantee you can recover a usabl e fi le thi s way. For thi s reason, i f you have
acci dentall y del eted an i mportant fi l e, try and mi nimi ze any further acti vi ty before runni ng a data recovery
uti li ty. If you can't run a recovery uti li ty straight away i t i s best to shut down Wi ndows immedi atel y to
prevent a background task from commenci ng (e.g. a schedul ed defragmentati on) as these wi l l potenti al ly
overwri te the areas where del eted fil e porti ons are si tti ng. Furthermore i t i s best to i nstal l on and run a
recovery uti lity from another dri ve, agai n to prevent overwri ti ng data on the dri ve where the del eted files
resi de.

PERMANENTLY DELETING FILES
As you may have noti ced, i t i s enti rel y possi ble to recover some or all of a fi l e after i t has been 'permanentl y'
del eted i n Windows. If you ever want to trul y permanentl y del ete a fil e so that others can't recover i t i n any
practi cal sense, you can use the Recuva, Restorati on or CCl eaner programs to do thi s - see the CCl eaner
secti on of the Cl eani ng Windows chapter for detai l s of thi s functi onal i ty i n CCl eaner.

To securely permanentl y del ete a fi l e, fi rst del ete the fi l e as normal i n Windows - i .e. hi ghl ight i t i n Wi ndows
Expl orer, press Del ete, then empty the Recycl e Bi n.


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Next, i f usi ng Recuva, l aunch i t and do a scan for that fi lename (or al l fi l es) as normal , and i t shoul d show up
i n the l i st of recoverabl e fi l es. Ri ght-cl ick on the fi l e and select 'Secure Overwri te Hi ghl ighted'. Thi s wi ll
overwri te all areas of that fi l e wi th data such that i t can't be recovered. If you want to adjust how secure the
overwri ti ng is, cl i ck the Opti ons button and under the General tab, select the desi red l evel of overwri ti ng for
the 'Secure overwri ti ng' opti on; the more passes the more secure i t wi ll be.

If usi ng Restorati on, then launch i t and enter the name of the fi le (or l eave blank for all fi l es) and cl i ck 'Search
Del eted Fi les'. When Restorati on fi nds the fil e and l ists i t, highli ght the fi le and go to the Others fi le menu i n
Restorati on and sel ect 'Delete Compl etely'.

These methods wi ll permanentl y del ete a fi le so that i t i s effecti vel y unrecoverabl e by vi rtuall y any program
or method. However there al ways remai ns the possi bi li ty that the fi l e may sti ll be recoverabl e by l aw
enforcement agenci es usi ng speciali zed methods, al though i t is hi ghly unl i kely that anyone coul d recover
the bul k of thi s data regardl ess of the methods used.

LOW LEVEL FORMAT & ZERO FILL
Peopl e might suggest that you Low Level Format your dri ve to permanentl y remove data or fi x a dri ve
probl em. This is not recommended unl ess you are experi enci ng severe hard drive probl ems, and even then i t
i s not possi ble on most modern hard dri ves due to the compl exi ty i nvol ved. Modern hard dri ves are l ow-
l evel formatted at the factory to create tracks and sectors and do not need to have i t done agai n. The correct
course of action i s to Zero Fi l l your drive, whi ch peopl e often confuse for a l ow-l evel format. Thi s method
overwri tes the enti re hard dri ve wi th bl ank data, ensuri ng that everythi ng i s del eted permanentl y for most
i ntents and purposes, but it i s not as i ntensi ve or potenti all y di sk-damagi ng as a l ow-l evel format. A zero fill
i s your best bet i n getti ng back to a 'good as new' hard dri ve.

A qui ck and easy way to zero fil l a hard dri ve and error check i t at the same ti me i s to use the bui l t-in
formatti ng functi onali ty of Wi ndows i tsel f to do a ful l format - see the Preparing the Dri ve secti on of the
Windows Instal lati on chapter for more detail s. If however you i nsi st on l ow l evel formatti ng a hard dri ve
and/or usi ng a custom diagnosti c program to error check i t and ensure that i t is wi ped absolutel y cl ean, then
check your hard dri ve make and model and consul t your manufacturer's websi te for an appropri ate utili ty
such as: Seagate Di skWizard & SeaTool s for both Seagate and Maxtor dri ves, Western Di gi tal Data
Li feGuard, or Hi tachi Dri ve Fi tness.

If you are using an SSD, you wi ll need to use a custom uti l i ty to secure erase a dri ve - see the Sol id State
Dri ves secti on of the Dri ve Opti mi zati on chapter for more detai ls.

< SYSTEM RECOVERY
Thi s secti on covers the main methods and i mportant Wi ndows tool s whi ch can assi st you i n attempti ng data
recovery and/or regai ni ng the abil i ty to boot i nto Wi ndows after experi enci ng major system i ssues.

BASIC TROUBLESHOOTING
The most li kel y cause of a major system probl em i s one or more of the foll owi ng:

Overheati ng and/or Overcl ocki ng - See the Overcl ocki ng and BIOS & Hardware Management chapters
for detail s. An overheati ng and/or overcl ocked component can malfuncti on in unusual ways, or cause
other components near i t to overheat and mal functi on.
Bad shutdown - If your system suddenly reboots i tsel f or you see a Wi ndows Bl ue Screen error message,
or i f the power i s l ost to your PC whi l e i t i s on, thi s prevents Wi ndows from closi ng down properl y, and
can resul t i n data corrupti on l eadi ng to vari ous probl ems. See the Wi ndows Errors secti on of the
Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng secti on for more detai ls.

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Faul ty software - Install ati on of a faul ty dri ver or program can cause data corrupti on or harm to
i mportant Windows setti ngs or fil e. This al so i ncludes the i nstall ati on of mal ware as covered under the
PC Securi ty chapter.
Faul ty hardware - If a component i s physi call y defecti ve or damaged, i t can corrupt your Wi ndows
i nstal lati on or process data i ncorrectl y, causi ng a range of problems. Thi s i ncl udes an i nsuffi ci ent or
unstable suppl y of power from your PC's Power Suppl y Uni t. See the Hardware Management secti on of
the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter.

There are three mai n scenari os whi ch determi ne the basi c procedures you should fol l ow:

If you can't switch on your PC or the problem occurs immediately after the PC is switched on: If your probl em i s
wi th a PC that won't turn on properl y, or whi ch crashes or shows screen corrupti on i mmedi atel y after you
swi tch the PC on, or at any ti me pri or to the Wi ndows startup procedure, then i t can be stated wi th absolute
certai nty that the i ssue is wi th your hardware confi gurati on, not Wi ndows or your i nstal led programs,
dri vers, or software setti ngs. This i s parti cularl y true i f you can't enter Safe Mode - see the Advanced Boot
Opti ons section bel ow. Thi s i s an i ndi cati on of probl ems such as a bad BIOS setti ng, faul ty or missi ng
hardware connecti ons, unstabl e power suppl y, overcl ocki ng, overheati ng, or faul ty hardware - see the BIOS
& Hardware Management chapter for detai ls of thi ngs to check for.

If you can't boot into Windows: If your system appears to start correctl y and runs wi thout probl ems or vi sible
screen corrupti on up to Wi ndows startup, but you can't boot successfull y i nto Wi ndows, then you wi ll have
to use the Advanced Boot Opti ons at Wi ndows startup to attempt to fi x the issue, such as runni ng System
Restore i n Safe Mode, or runni ng the automated Startup Repair functi on. See the Advanced Boot Opti ons
secti on bel ow, as well as the Wi ndows System Recovery secti on further bel ow for detai ls of these
procedures.

If you can boot into Windows: If you can boot i nto Wi ndows but experi ence major probl ems once i n the
Wi ndows envi ronment, try these steps:

1. Run a range of mal ware scanners to make sure your system i s free of any mal ware whi ch may be the
cause of the probl ems - see the PC Securi ty chapter for detail s. You may need to run these mal ware
scanners i n Safe Mode if they don't launch under the normal Wi ndows environment.
2. Run System Restore and revert to the most recent Restore Poi nt avail able - see System Restore earl ier i n
thi s chapter. Thi s i s the qui ckest method for undoi ng potenti all y harmful changes to system fi les wi thout
affecti ng your personal fi l es.
3. If you don't have any recent restore poi nts, try to restore a recent full Registry backup, as corrupti on or
bad setti ngs in the Wi ndows Regi stry are a major source of problems. See the Backi ng Up and Restori ng
the Regi stry secti on of the Wi ndows Regi stry chapter.
4. If you don't have any recent backups or restore poi nts of any ki nd, try uni nstal li ng any recently i nstall ed
software and/or dri vers - see the Manual l y Updating or Uni nstall i ng secti on of the Wi ndows Dri vers
chapter i n parti cular for ways of cl eani ng out badly install ed dri vers whi ch do not uni nstal l correctl y.
5. Use the System Fil e Checker as detail ed bel ow to scan for any changes to your Wi ndows system fil es.

If these methods don't work, refer to the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter for more
advanced tool s and methods, though bear i n mi nd that major probl ems can someti mes only be sol ved by
reformatti ng and rei nstall ing Wi ndows.

The rest of this secti on covers the mai n Wi ndows tool s used for system recovery.


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SYSTEM FILE CHECKER
The System Fi l e Checker i s a bui l t-i n functi on of Wi ndows that al l ows the system to go through and check all
protected Windows system fi les to ensure they have not been corrupted or al tered i n any way. This i s
extremel y handy i f you suspect that corrupted/tampered system fi les are leadi ng to unusual Wi ndows
behavi or. To access the System Fi l e Checker foll ow this procedure:

1. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt.
2. To scan for and automati call y fi x any errors type sf c / scannow then press Enter to start an i mmediate
scan of your system fil es. Al ternati vely, if you just want to scan for errors/mi smatches but not have
Wi ndows fi x them (e.g. i f you have deli berately al tered certai n system fil es), then type sf c
/ ver i f yonl y and press Enter.
3. The System Fi l e Checker wi l l check al l of your i mportant system files and make sure they have not been
al tered i n any way. If the / scannow opti on i s used, where major system fi l es are corrupted or shown to
be different from the ori gi nal, they wi ll be replaced with cached origi nal s or from your Wi ndows 7 DVD.
4. Reboot your PC if requi red, as this may be necessary to compl ete any repai rs.

If your system i s fi ne, you shoul d see the message 'Wi ndows Resource Protecti on di d not fi nd any i ntegri ty
vi olati ons'. If you fi nd that certai n fi les coul d not be repaired, or i f you used the / ver i f yonl y opti on, you
can view the detail s of which system fil es Wi ndows has flagged as probl emati c by doi ng the fol l owi ng:

1. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt.
2. The ori gi nal SFC l og data i s hel d wi thi n the CBS.log fil e found under your \Windows\Logs\CBS\
di rectory, however i t can't be opened directl y. To fi l ter the relevant contents and vi ew them, you need to
type the foll owi ng at the Admi ni strator Command Prompt:

f i ndst r / c: " [ SR] " %wi ndi r %\ l ogs\ cbs\ cbs. l og >%user pr of i l e%\ Deskt op\ sf cdet ai l s. t xt

Note that the / c: above shoul d be changed to the drive on whi ch you ran SFC if i t i s not C: dri ve.
3. The resul ti ng sfcdetails.txt fi le wi ll appear on your desktop by defaul t, and can be opened wi th a text
edi tor l i ke Notepad to reveal the process SFC ran through. Check for any errors or unrepairabl e fil es.

You can al so use System Fi l e Checker to check the i ntegri ty of i ndi vi dual system fi l es i f you don't wi sh to
run a ful l scan. To do so, do the fol l owing:

1. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt.
2. Type the fol lowi ng and press Enter:

sf c / ver i f yf i l e=[ f i l ename]

Where the [filename] must incl ude the full path to the fi l e, as wel l as the fil ename itsel f - e.g.:

sf c / ver i f yf i l e=C: \ Wi ndows\ Syst em32\ i mager es. dl l

3. If the fil e is unchanged, you wi ll be tol d there are no i ntegri ty vi olati ons. Otherwi se i f the fi le has been
changed i n some way, you wil l need to refer to the CBS.log fil e found under your \Windows\Logs\CBS\
di rectory.

Full usage opti ons for the System Fil e Checker can found i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e. The System Fi l e Checker
does not repai r general system i ssues such as Regi stry corrupti on for exampl e, however i t does ensure that
i mportant system fi l es are unal tered, whi ch removes one vari abl e from the equati on when troubl eshooti ng a
probl em.


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ADVANCED BOOT OPTIONS
To access a range of more advanced startup opti ons for Wi ndows 7, reboot your PC and keep pressi ng the F8
key duri ng startup. You wi l l come to a screen wi th the headi ng Advanced Boot Opti ons, provi di ng a range
of opti ons, i ncl udi ng some or all of the fol l owi ng:

Repai r your Computer
Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Networki ng
Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Enabl e Boot Loggi ng
Enabl e l ow-resoluti on video
Last Known Good Configurati on
Di rectory Servi ces Restore Mode
Debuggi ng Mode
Di sabl e automati c restart on system failure
Di sabl e Dri ver Si gnature Enforcement
Start Wi ndows Normall y

The most useful of these are covered below i n more detai l:

Repair your Computer: Sel ecti ng thi s opti on l eads to the System Recovery Opti ons menu - see the Wi ndows
System Recovery Opti ons secti on further bel ow for detai ls.

Safe Mode: Safe Mode i s an i mportant Wi ndows mode whi ch only l oads up the bare essentials required for
Wi ndows to functi on. Thi rd party dri vers, graphi cal enhancements, startup programs, unnecessary
processes etc. are all ski pped and onl y the mi ni mum requi red to di splay and use Wi ndows and access your
pri mary hardware devi ces i s provi ded. Safe Mode i s provi ded preci sel y for troubl eshooti ng purposes and
not for general usage. The i dea is that by reducing the number of software vari abl es i nvol ved i n the
Wi ndows envi ronment, i t becomes easier to i denti fy the true cause of a probl em. You can read the detai ls of
the specifi c devi ces, dri vers and servi ces whi ch are l oaded up i n Safe Mode i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e.

There are three types of Safe Mode you can l aunch:

Safe Mode - Thi s i s the basic Safe Mode and i s usuall y the opti on you shoul d sel ect.
Safe Mode wi th Networking - Loads up Safe Mode wi th network dri vers, al l owi ng Internet access. You
should not sel ect thi s mode to start wi th i f your i ssue i s potenti al ly connected wi th networki ng devi ce
dri vers or a mal ware i nfestati on.
Safe Mode with Command Prompt - Loads up Safe Mode wi th a Command Prompt i nterface i nstead of
a graphi cal user i nterface - use this if you have probl ems enteri ng normal Safe Mode. Note this i s not the
same as DOS mode.

When you enter Safe Mode you wil l see the Wi ndows Desktop, typi call y shown at l ower resoluti on, and
wi th no graphi cal enhancements such as Aero or even the background wal l paper. The words 'Safe Mode'
appear around the edges of the screen to i nform you that you are runni ng a cut-down versi on of the
Wi ndows 7 envi ronment. The mai n use for Safe Mode i s to determi ne whether your devi ce dri vers or
recentl y i nstal l ed software are the source of a problem you are currentl y experi enci ng, and all ow you to
uni nstall them or al ter your system as necessary to be abl e to restart normall y. Because Safe Mode does not
l oad any of your i nstall ed thi rd party devi ce dri vers - i nstead usi ng the defaul t versi ons buil t i nto Windows -
and because Safe Mode does not load up any startup programs or non-essenti al servi ces i nto the
background, thi s gi ves you the opportuni ty to determi ne whether your software or startup programs are
causi ng problems.


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If you coul dn't boot i nto Wi ndows normall y, but you can boot into Safe Mode for example, that i s a clear
si gn that one of your recentl y i nstall ed dri vers or programs is the l ikely cause of the probl em. You can
choose to permanentl y remove/rol l back or temporaril y di sabl e the rel evant programs or dri vers by usi ng
Devi ce Manager or MSConfi g for exampl e. Furthermore i f you made a change to a system setti ng or the
Wi ndows Regi stry that may have caused the probl em, you can undo the setti ng i n Safe Mode, or use System
Restore to revert to an earl ier restore point, or restore a Regi stry backup here.

Fi nal ly, a major use for Safe Mode i s the removal of mali ci ous software such as vi ruses, trojans or spyware.
Many of these can l oad i nto memory areas of Wi ndows that cannot be unl oaded duri ng normal Wi ndows
operati on, preventi ng proper removal . However i n Safe Mode there are no such protected memory areas,
and no startup programs or servi ces are l oaded wi th Wi ndows, so thi s i s the best way to remove such
troubl esome software. Enter Safe Mode and fi nd and del ete the probl emati c fi le(s), edi t your startup i tems or
Servi ces to remove unusual or harmful entri es (See the Startup Programs and Servi ces chapters), or run a
sui tabl e scanner i n Safe Mode to fi nd and remove any mal i ci ous software (See the PC Securi ty chapter).

In extreme cases where you cannot resol ve your probl em usi ng Safe Mode, then at the very l east Safe Mode
provi des you wi th the opportuni ty to access and backup your important personal fi les before rei nstall ing
Wi ndows or restori ng a system i mage for exampl e

Note that i f you cannot boot i nto Safe Mode usi ng the F8 method duri ng bootup, another method (i f you can
boot i nto Windows) i s to use the MSConfi g util i ty to select Safe Mode - see the Boot Confi gurati on Data
secti on of the Boot Confi gurati on chapter for detail s of how to do thi s. Importantl y, once you have entered
Safe Mode usi ng thi s al ternate method, you need to run MSConfig agai n and di sabl e the 'Safe Boot' opti on
under the Boot tab of MSConfi g so you can reboot i nto the normal Wi ndows envi ronment agai n.

If you fi nd that you cannot boot i nto Safe Mode, or are havi ng si mil ar probl ems i n Safe Mode as you are i n
normal Wi ndows - for exampl e your graphi cs are garbled or show gl i tches - then the probl em i s li kely
hardware-based one such as overclocki ng, excess heat, permanent damage to a component/faulty
component(s), or a bad BIOS setti ng or i ncompati bi li ty - see the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter.

Enable low-resolution video (640480): This opti on starts Wi ndows usi ng a l ow resol uti on of 640x480 pi xel s and
a l ow refresh rate supported by all moni tors. This is useful i f you've sel ected di splay setti ngs whi ch are
unsupported by your monitor and your screen goes bl ank for exampl e - hol d down your PC's power button
for up to fi ve seconds to force Wi ndows to shut down and sel ect thi s opti on i n the Advanced Boot Opti ons
upon restart.

Enable Boot Logging: Thi s opti on l ogs al l the dri vers whi ch are l oaded at startup to a fi l e call ed ntbtlog.txt i n
your \Windows di rectory. Thi s can be useful for more advanced users troubl eshooti ng startup probl ems.

Last Known Good Configuration: You shoul d sel ect this opti on i f trying to resol ve probl ems wi th Wi ndows not
booti ng up or acti ng strangel y. Thi s mode uses the driver and Registry setti ngs whi ch were i n effect the last
ti me you successfull y managed to boot i nto Wi ndows. It wil l not al ter or revert your personal fi les to an
earl i er state, onl y system-rel ated fi l es/setti ngs and the Wi ndows Regi stry.

Disable automatic restart on system failure: This opti on disabl es the automati c restart whi ch occurs when
Wi ndows experi ences a major error such as a Bl ue Screen of Death. I recommend you permanentl y disable
thi s functi on wi thi n Wi ndows, as i t all ows you to have enough time to read and record the detail s of an error
- see the Wi ndows Errors secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter for detail s.
However this opti on exi sts to al l ow you to temporaril y di sabl e thi s functi on at any ti me, parti cul arl y i f
you're stuck in a l oop whereby Wi ndows attempts to boot, experi ences an error, then restarts and attempts
to boot, hi ts the error again, restarts and so on.


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Disable Driver Signature Enforcement: Thi s i s an opti on referri ng to an i mportant securi ty feature of 64-bi t
versi ons of Wi ndows whi ch i s detai l ed in thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e. By defaul t, the 64-bi t versi on of Wi ndows 7 -
and Vi sta before i t - onl y load up a Kernel -mode driver i f Wi ndows can veri fy the di gi tal signature of the
dri ver. Unsi gned dri vers therefore wil l not be l oaded by 64-bi t Windows - see the Dri ver Signature secti on of
the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter for detail s. You can press F8 duri ng bootup and select thi s opti on to
temporaril y di sabl e dri ver si gnature enforcement by Wi ndows, all owi ng you to boot i nto Wi ndows and use
the unsi gned dri ver for that sessi on only, however the next reboot wi l l requi re the same procedure agai n.
One al ternative i s to use the Sl eep or Hi bernate feature i n Windows to cl ose down Windows wi thout
restarti ng, and hence keepi ng thi s setti ng i n effect - see the Power Opti ons secti on of the Windows Control
Panel chapter. The permanent sol uti on is to use a signed dri ver downl oaded from a trusted source, however
some manufacturers wil l not rel ease such dri vers on a frequent basi s, nor wi ll they rel ease such dri vers for
ol der hardware. For more detail s of the key differences between 32-bi t and 64-bi t Windows, see the 32-bi t vs.
64-bi t secti on of the Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter.

Start Windows Normally: Thi s mode i s the fi rst one you shoul d sel ect i f you encounter the Advanced Boot
Opti ons unexpectedl y. Wi ndows typi call y di splays these opti ons automati call y after a bad shutdown of
Wi ndows, and i n most cases, si mply restarti ng Wi ndows normall y wi ll resul t i n booti ng up i nto Wi ndows
wi thout any i ssues. If you can boot i nto Wi ndows you wil l have to determi ne what caused the bad
shutdown i f it wasn't an obvi ous one-off (such as l oss of power).

< WINDOWS SYSTEM RECOVERY OPTIONS
The Wi ndows Recovery Envi ronment was i ntroduced i n Wi ndows Vista, and whi l e remai ni ng much the
same, has been some refi nements added i n Wi ndows 7. More commonl y referred to as the System Recovery
Opti ons, this feature of Wi ndows attempts as much as possi ble to si mpl ify and automate the process of
recoveri ng from any major system i ssues preventi ng you from booti ng up successfull y i nto Windows. There
are several ways to access the System Recovery Options menu:

Automatic Access: If Wi ndows detects that i t i s having a probl em booti ng up normall y, i t may automati cally
prompt you to l aunch a component of the System Recovery Opti ons such as Startup Repai r - whi ch you
should do - or automati call y l oad up the Advanced Boot Opti ons menu, at whi ch you can sel ect the 'Repair
your Computer' l i nk to launch i nto the System Recovery Opti ons.

System Reserved Partition: By defaul t Windows 7 wil l i nstal l a smal l 100MB System Reserved Parti ti on, al so
known as a Recovery Parti ti on, as part of normal Wi ndows i nstal lati on under certai n ci rcumstances. This
parti ti on contai ns your Wi ndows boot fil es, the requi red tool s to run System Recovery Opti ons, and is
requi red for the Bi tLocker Dri ver Encrypti on feature. Al ternati vely, if you purchased your PC wi th
Wi ndows 7 al ready i nstalled, this parti ti on may have been created by the manufacturer. Note that i n some
scenari os Windows 7 wi ll not create thi s parti ti on duri ng i ts i nstall ati on, or i f you speci fy that you do not
want i ts creati on duri ng Wi ndows i nstal lati on. In these cases, the contents of the Recovery Parti ti on wi ll
i nstead be created under a hi dden and protected \Recovery di rectory found on your main Wi ndows dri ve.
More detai l s regardi ng this System Reserved Parti ti on can be found i n the Instal l i ng Wi ndows secti on of the
Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter.

Regardl ess of where thi s recovery data si ts, if you keep pressi ng F8 to enter the Advanced Boot Opti ons
screen at Wi ndows startup - see Advanced Boot Options earli er i n thi s chapter - then you shoul d be abl e to
sel ect the 'Repai r your Computer' li nk to launch System Recovery Opti ons.

Booting Off the Windows 7 DVD: All Windows 7 i nstall ati on DVDs come wi th the Wi ndows System Recovery
tool s. To access these tool s i n case you can't access them usi ng any other method, i nsert your ori ginal
Wi ndows 7 DVD and restart your PC. Your computer shoul d boot from thi s DVD, but if it doesn't, go into
your BIOS and set your DVD dri ve as the fi rst boot devi ce then reboot, and if prompted, press any key to
boot from the DVD. Once you reach the mai n Windows i nstall ati on screen, select your l anguage and

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keyboard layout, then cli ck Next. On the next screen cl i ck the 'Repai r your computer' li nk at the bottom l eft
of the box.

System Repair Disc: In the event that you cannot access the bui l t-i n Wi ndows System Recovery tool s and you
don't have a Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on DVD, you can use a custom System Repai r Disc to l aunch System
Restore. Thi s di sc must fi rst be created i n advance under the Backup and Restore component of the
Wi ndows Control Panel by cli cki ng the 'Create a system repai r di sc' li nk i n the l eft pane and i nserti ng a
formatted DVD - see the Backup and Restore section of thi s chapter for detail s. Once created, you can boot
up from i t using the same instructi ons as those provi ded for booti ng off the Wi ndows 7 DVD just above.

Once you have l aunched the System Recovery Opti ons usi ng one of the methods above, you wi ll be
presented with prompts to fi rstl y sel ect the rel evant OS, then select your keyboard i nput method, and to
then l og i n to your User Account - note that i f your User Account has no password, l eave the Password box
bl ank and cl ick Next. Fi nal l y, you wil l see the mai n System Recovery Opti ons menu, whi ch i s covered i n
more detai l bel ow:

STARTUP REPAIR
Startup Repai r i s the most i mportant feature of Wi ndows 7's recovery opti ons. It i s the pri mary tool that
anyone can uti li ze to diagnose and automati call y fi x i ssues whi ch are preventi ng you from booti ng up
properl y i nto Wi ndows. It i s al so the fi rst opti on whi ch shoul d be tri ed i n the event of boot fai l ure. Cli ck thi s
opti on and al l ow i t to scan your system for any potenti al problems. If i t can resol ve the i ssue, such as a
damaged or mi ssi ng system or boot fi l e, i t wi ll do so automati cal ly, rebooti ng as often as requi red, and wi ll
provi de li nks at the end of the process whi ch you can cl i ck to see preci sel y what i ssues have been found and
resol ved. Note that Startup Repair cannot fi x certain i ssues resul ti ng from any type of hardware fai lure,
certai n types of mal ware, or if your system dri ve i s not bei ng correctl y detected for exampl e. If Startup
Repai r cannot detect or repai r the probl em, then i t tends to i ndi cate the probl em is more compl ex and
requi res more attenti on to both potenti al hardware-based i ssues such as a physi cal faul t, overcl ocki ng or
overheati ng, or perhaps the resul t of harmful software on your system.

SYSTEM RESTORE
Thi s util i ty has been covered i n detail under the System Restore secti on earl i er i n thi s chapter. Thi s opti on
all ows you to l aunch System Restore and use any avail able restore poi nts i n case you can't access System
Restore from wi thi n Wi ndows or Safe Mode. Obvi ously thi s requi res that a suitabl e restore poi nt be present
and abl e to be used. Thi s is yet another reason why you shoul d keep System Restore enabl ed. Note that if
usi ng System Restore sti ll doesn't resolve the probl em, then thi s tends to i ndi cate the probl em i s more l i kel y
to be hardware-rel ated.

SYSTEM IMAGE RECOVERY
Thi s uti li ty has been covered i n detai l under the Wi ndows Backup and Restore secti on of thi s chapter. If your
Wi ndows i s not recoverable, thi s opti on i s a last resort, all owi ng you to restore your system to the way i t was
when you took a ful l system i mage backup at an earl i er date. By defaul t you wi ll be prompted to restore the
l atest avai labl e system i mage. Look at the date and ti me shown - i f you don't bel i eve i t i s the l atest i mage
you have made, attach any other devi ce or di sc whi ch hol ds a more recent system i mage, choose the 'Sel ect a
System Image' opti on, then ei ther sel ect from the li st of system i mages shown, or cl i ck the Advanced button
to all ow you i nstal l any necessary devi ce dri vers which wi ll al l ow System Recovery to properl y detect any
unl isted attached devi ces. Obvi ousl y i f you haven't made any system i mage backups then thi s opti on i s not
very useful, as i t cannot operate on partial backups of fil es for exampl e. Note that restori ng a system i mage
means that i t overwri tes al l your existi ng data wi th that contai ned in the backed up i mage of your system at
the ti me i t was taken. Thi s is why i t i s i mportant to take a full system i mage and regul arl y backup to i t using
the Wi ndows Backup tool, so that i t doesn't get too far out of date.


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WINDOWS MEMORY DIAGNOSTIC
Thi s opti on al l ows you to run the Wi ndows Memory Diagnosti c tool i mmedi atel y by cl i cking the 'Restart
now and check for probl ems' l i nk, or 'Check for problems the next time I start my computer'. The fi rst opti on
i s fi ne unl ess you have other thi ngs you sti ll wish to do i n the System Recovery Opti ons fi rst, i n whi ch case
choose the second opti on. If the tool detects any errors wi th your memory i t wil l l et you know, though thi s
doesn't automati cal ly mean your RAM i s physi call y faul ty - other aspects of your memory subset coul d be at
faul t, i ncluding memory-rel ated BIOS setti ngs for exampl e. See the Wi ndows Memory Diagnosti c section
under the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter for more detail s.

COMMAND PROMPT
Thi s opti on all ows you to open a MS DOS Command Prompt wi ndow to enter a range of commands. Thi s is
useful if you want to access specifi c DOS commands for advanced repai r functi onali ty, or attempt to browse
for parti cular fil es or di rectori es on the stri cken dri ves and try to copy them to another dri ve. It i s also useful
for parti ti oning and formatti ng a dri ve i n preparati on for i nstall ati on of Wi ndows, to prevent automati c
creati on of the System Reserved Parti ti on duri ng Wi ndows Setup - see the Installi ng Wi ndows secti on of the
Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter.

The System Recovery Opti ons replaces the Wi ndows XP Recovery Consol e, however al most all of the most
useful Recovery Consol e commands from XP can sti ll be used i n Wi ndows 7. There i s a full l i st of l egacy XP
Recovery Consol e Commands at the bottom of thi s Mi crosoft Arti cle, and when combi ned wi th a li st of those
whi ch have changed or no l onger work i n Wi ndows 7, you have a range of commands you can try for
advanced recovery purposes. Note that you can enter any command wi th the / ? parameter to see the help
descri pti on (e.g. BOOTREC / ?).

In parti cular, the foll owi ng commands may be useful :

Use the CHKDSK / R command to do a dri ve check and fi x any errors if possi bl e.
Use the BOOTREC command to rebui ld or repai r the boot-rel ated aspects of the dri ve (e.g. BOOTREC
/ FI XBOOT or BOOTREC / FI XMBR). More detail s on how to use BOOTREC are i n this Mi crosoft Arti cl e.
Use the CD [ di r ect or y pat h] command to go to a speci fi c directory, then use the COPY [ f i l ename]
[ dest i nat i on dr i ve] command to copy a fil e.

If none of the System Recovery Opti ons hel p you i n repai ri ng or restori ng your Wi ndows i nstall ation, then
your probl em i s more compl ex than simpl e Wi ndows system file corrupti on, and l ikely a hardware-related
i ssue of some ki nd. Furthermore, unl ess any such issues are correctl y di agnosed and resolved properl y, i t
may be a waste of ti me to devote too much ti me and energy i nto repai ri ng or rei nstall i ng Wi ndows, as the
same issues wi ll reappear agai n i n due course. Read the rest of this book, parti cularly the BIOS & Hardware
Management and Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapters for more detai l s of how to ensure
that your hardware i s set up and functioni ng correctl y. If necessary, seek addi tional techni cal support from
your hardware manufacturer if you bel ieve your hardware may be faul ty.

Ul ti matel y the best course of acti on if you can't recover Wi ndows i s to reformat your dri ve and ei ther
rei nstall Wi ndows 7 on i t, or restore a fai rly recent system i mage whi ch you bel i eve was taken when the
system was stabl e and free from mal ware. Then run further di agnosti cs wi thi n Wi ndows as necessary.


The most i mportant poi nt throughout thi s enti re chapter i s that i t i s absolutel y cri ti cal that you become
fami li ar wi th all of Windows 7's backup and recovery features, and get i nto the habi t of regularly backi ng up
your i rreplaceabl e fil es and doi ng so to a range of places, and using a range of methods preci sel y so that i n
the event of any ki nd of issue, you have peace of mi nd knowi ng that you're not goi ng to l ose i mportant data.


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BIOS & HARDWARE MANAGEMENT


Before del vi ng any further i nto Wi ndows opti mi zation or customi zati on, i t i s very i mportant to fi rst ensure
that your hardware and connected devices are correctl y confi gured for opti mal operati on. Regardl ess of any
changes you make i n Wi ndows or your software, i f your hardware i s not configured properly i ts capabi li ti es
wi ll not be correctl y uti li zed, i ndeed serious probl ems such as random crashes or data corruption may occur.
Whether you've bui l t a PC or purchased a pre-buil t machi ne, you shoul d make certai n that all of the setti ngs
i n the BIOS are correct, that the hardware i s properly cool ed, and that al l of your devi ces are confi gured to
functi on optimall y i n Wi ndows. Thi s chapter covers all of these topi cs i n detail .

Note that thi s chapter does not provi de informati on on how to sel ect and purchase a PC from new, however
i f you are i nterested i n that type of i nformati on, see my Hardware Confusi on arti cl e for general gui dance.


< THE BIOS
The BIOS (Basi c Input/Output System) i s a program hel d on a small ROM chi p on your motherboard. It
provi des the i nstructi ons for what your PC should do as soon as i t turns on. Your BIOS i s independent of
your Operating System, whi ch means i t i s not di rectly affected by the operati ng system you use, or whi ch
dri ver versi on you've i nstall ed, or what your setti ngs are i n Wi ndows for exampl e. The BIOS supersedes all
of that, and your dri vers and operati ng system wi ll load after the BIOS has l oaded up. The BIOS controls a
range of hardware-related features and is the mi ddl e-man between your CPU and other devi ces.

If there i s an i ncorrect setti ng i n your BIOS - that is a setti ng whi ch is not opti mal or correct for your
hardware confi gurati on - then you wil l have probl ems regardl ess of what setti ng you change in Wi ndows, or
whi ch dri ver versi ons you i nstal l . Importantl y, the BIOS i s best configured correctl y before i nstal li ng
Wi ndows, as thi s reduces the number of unnecessary servi ces and dri vers whi ch Wi ndows may i nstal l, and
hel ps reduce the potenti al for devi ce confl icts.

POST SCREEN
As your BIOS starts to l oad, the first thi ng i t does is the Power-On Self Test (POST), a di agnosti c program
whi ch qui ckly checks your components and makes sure everything i s present and worki ng OK. The POST
sequence is usuall y extremel y fast; you wi ll onl y reall y noti ce i t if it stops when encounteri ng an error. POST
error messages can be a bit obscure, but usuall y gi ve you a l ead as to where to l ook i n your BIOS setti ngs. A
qui ck general gui de to what the startup error beeps may mean i s thi s POST Error Codes, but a more accurate
descri pti on speci fi c to your hardware is usual ly found i n your motherboard's manual.

If you have no i ni ti al POST errors you wi ll then see your PC's startup screen, whi ch shows such i nformati on
as your BIOS type (e.g. Ameri can Megatrends), the key to press to access your BIOS setti ngs (e.g. DEL, F1 or
ESC), the type of processor and i ts speed, RAM amount and RAM test resul ts, dri ve i nformati on, and so
forth. Note that i f any of thi s i nformation i s i ncorrect, i t may be that your hardware i s extremel y new and
hence not recogni zed correctl y by the current BIOS versi on; you've overcl ocked your PC too far; or you have
bad hardware or i ncorrect BIOS setti ngs.

BIOS SETTINGS
To access the detail ed settings i n your BIOS, you typicall y need to press a parti cular key (e.g. the Del ete key)
repeatedl y as your system i s booti ng up - check your motherboard manual. If your BIOS al so has a password
then you'll need to enter i t fi rst to access your BIOS setti ngs; i f you've forgotten the password, then try thi s
BIOS Password Si te. Once i n your BIOS screen you wi ll see a mul ti tude of setti ngs. The l ayout of the BIOS,

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and the names of the vari ous setti ngs vary greatl y dependi ng on the parti cul ar motherboard brand and
model you own, so I cannot possi bly cover them al l here. The best reference source i s thi s Defi ni ti ve BIOS
Opti mi zati on Gui de - scrol l down that page to fi nd the 'Free Access' li nk to the gui de. It covers all the
common BIOS setti ngs, and combi ned wi th your motherboard's manual and Googl e, you can understand
what all of your BIOS setti ngs do and thus undertake the very i mportant task of opti mizi ng your BIOS
before doi ng any Wi ndows tweaki ng.

I cannot stress the i mportance of maki ng sure al l the major setti ngs i n your BIOS are correct for your
parti cul ar hardware setup and i mportantl y that you've di sabl ed all unnecessary devi ces and opti ons. It may
take some time and some research, but i t ensures maxi mum performance and stabil i ty. No amount of
Wi ndows customi zati on can overcome a badl y set up BIOS.

BIOS UPDATES
The BIOS is wri tten on a rewri teabl e ROM chi p, whi ch means that i t can be updated (or 'flashed') wi th new
i nformati on. Motherboard manufacturers rel ease new BIOS versions that can improve performance, stabil ity
and compatibi l i ty, add new features or modi fy exi sti ng features, and fi x known bugs. These new BIOS
versi ons are avai labl e for downl oad on the manufacturer's websi te. I can't li st all the manufacturer websites
here, as there are far too many, however i f you have a l ook through your motherboard manual you should
see a li nk to the appropri ate websi te. Downl oad the l atest BIOS for your exact motherboard brand and
model number and foll ow the i nstructi ons on the si te to Fl ash (reprogram) the BIOS chi p on your
motherboard wi th thi s new BIOS versi on. A word of warni ng: flashi ng the BIOS i s not to be taken li ghtly. If
somethi ng does go wrong then your PC may not boot up and you may have to take your motherboard to a
deal er to have the BIOS chi p repl aced or reprogrammed. Whi le thi s i s rare, when updati ng your BIOS make
sure you fol l ow the i nstructi ons provi ded to the l etter.

Note that most modern motherboards all ow flashi ng the BIOS from a CD/DVD or USB fl ash dri ve, so
i nstal li ng a floppy di sk drive on your PC i s no l onger necessary.

FIRMWARE UPDATES
Your motherboard i s not the onl y devi ce whi ch has a BIOS. Many components, i ndeed most major el ectroni c
equi pment l ike TVs, DVD pl ayers and mobi l e phones have thei r own i nbui l t BIOS chi ps. The software on
these chi ps is typi call y referred to as Fi rmware, and all fi rmware can be updated usi ng the correct
equi pment and software. For consumer el ectroni c equi pment this i s usuall y done by a quali fied techni cian,
but for PC components, i t can be upgraded i n much the same way as fl ashi ng your BIOS. You wil l need to
check your manufacturer's websi te for more recent versi ons of the BIOS/fi rmware you requi re, and any
speci fi c i nstructi ons or software necessary. The most common fi rmware updates are for opti cal dri ves. If you
want to fi nd out more about these updates, check your hardware manufacturer's websi te, and see thi s
Fi rmware Database i n parti cular for opti cal dri ves. A fi rmware upgrade can hel p resol ve probl ems like
di ffi cul ties readi ng from a parti cular disc type, 'di sc not detected' errors, and other i ssues. Just l i ke BIOS
flashi ng i t i nvol ves an el ement of ri sk, so pl ease read any i nstructi ons carefull y before proceedi ng.


The motherboard BIOS i s a cri ti cal component of the PC whi ch i s often overl ooked, so I urge you to take the
ti me to become more fami l iar wi th your own BIOS, and to configure i t correctl y. Of course i f you are not
sure what a setti ng i n the BIOS does, do not change i t from i ts defaul t. If necessary check your hardware
manufacturer's websi te for more detai ls, or do a thorough search on Googl e. It mi ght be tedi ous at fi rst, but
i t's typi call y a once-onl y job - once you've done i t, you don't need to go back and customize the BIOS setti ngs
agai n, you can reap the benefi ts of an opti mal BIOS from that poi nt onward.


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< HARDWARE MANAGEMENT
It i s i mportant to properl y mai ntai n your hardware, to ensure i t remai ns i n good operati on. The i nformation
i n thi s secti on wi ll hel p you understand how to keep your components operati ng smoothl y.

HANDLING HARDWARE
If you have to physi call y handle the hardware components i n your system at any ti me, such as removi ng or
i nstal li ng a component, checki ng component connecti ons, or cl eani ng components, you shoul d make sure to
foll ow these ti ps to prevent any permanent damage to the components through mi shandli ng:

Before opening your case and/or handling any of your components, al ways shut down your PC and turn
off the power di rectl y at the wall socket - the el ectri ci ty i n your PC can kil l or i njure you, especi al ly the
dangerous vol tages contained i n your Power Supply. Even when swi tched off at the wal l, the PSU can
retai n a l ethal charge for qui te some ti me, so on no account shoul d you ever open your PSU or i nsert any
metal objects i nto i ts casi ng.
Once you've turned off your system at the wal l, press and hol d the PC power button for several seconds
to di scharge any resi dual charge i n the motherboard's capaci tors.
Whi le handling computer components, make sure you regularl y di scharge any stati c el ectri city i n your
body by touchi ng any 'earthed' object - that i s any object that can harmlessl y di ssi pate stati c el ectri ci ty.
Typi cal ly i f you l eave your Power Suppl y Uni t plugged i nto the wall socket (but swi tched off) then
peri odi cal l y touchi ng the si de of the metal PSU case wi ll harml essl y discharge any stati c el ectri ci ty. You
can also purchase an anti-stati c wrist strap if you handle components regularly. If you are goi ng to
handle components try to mi ni mize how much arti fici al fabri cs and material s you are weari ng as these
can hel p to bui ld up a signi ficant el ectrostati c charge i n your body. An el ectrostati c di scharge from your
body can damage or ki ll an el ectroni c component, so do not take thi s l ightl y as i t can actual ly happen.
Do not use a vacuum cl eaner to cl ean the i nsi de of your computer and i ts components, preci sel y because
vacuum cl eaner nozzl es can discharge stati c el ectrici ty and zap your components. Use a cl ean barely
damp li nt-free cl oth or barel y damp q-ti ps to wi pe dust from most surfaces, maki ng sure you don't
scrape the Pri nted Ci rcuit Board (PCB). Don't use any detergents and most certai nly don't spray
anythi ng onto the components. Ideall y i f i t i s avai labl e to you, use a can of compressed air (or an ai r
compressor) to bl ow dust from hard-to-reach or sensi ti ve surfaces as thi s is much safer and far more
effecti ve.
If bl owi ng dust from a fan, especiall y if usi ng a high pressure source l i ke compressed air, i nsert and hol d
somethi ng l i ke a pen i n the fan's spokes to prevent i t from suddenly spi nni ng rapi dl y as thi s can damage
the fan's beari ngs
Do not force any plugs, cabl es or components i nto sockets that do not appear to be accepti ng them. Even
i f the two ends appear to be matched, the pi n arrangements may be sl i ghtl y different or out of al i gnment
and hence forci ng a fi t may actuall y bend or break some of the pi ns and make the connecti on usel ess or
permanentl y damaged. Computer hardware i nterfaces are desi gned to fi t together wi th firm but not
excessi ve force. Thi s i ncludes components l i ke the CPU chi p whi ch fi ts i nto the appropri ate socket on the
motherboard - al ign al l the pi ns perfectl y and press evenl y but not too hard and they wi l l mate safely.
Force the fi t and you may just end up maki ng your CPU unusable.
Most devi ces i n your PC requi re a source of power, however the vol tage they requi re i s very speci fi c. If
you connect the wrong plug to the component (whi ch is hard to do), or forget to attach a necessary
power connector (whi ch i s qui te common), then the component wi l l appear to be dead or may
malfuncti on. You wi ll have to check your component documentati on and especi al ly the motherboard
manual to ensure that al l components are pl ugged i n correctl y and fi rml y to recei ve suffi ci ent power.
Most hardware components are sensi tive to physi cal i mpact and strong vi brati ons. Avoid si tuati ons
whi ch resul t in the bumpi ng or bangi ng of these components, or for exampl e mounti ng heavy fans onto
them i nsecurel y whi ch can pass vi brati ons to these components or warp them under the wei ght.
Do not handl e l iqui ds around el ectroni c components. Any spil lage can resul t i n di sastrous short-
ci rcui ti ng.

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Do not pl ace excessi ve wei ghts on PCBs as this can crack or warp them such that they wil l be
permanentl y damaged. Don't even rest a l arge object temporaril y on the motherboard or a component
for exampl e, put them on another surface until you need to use them.

El ectroni c components these days are qui te hardy, and can wi thstand some abuse, but gi ven how valuabl e
they are I suggest that you don't take any risks when handli ng them and i n thei r general usage, so the ti ps
above are best observed i f you want to mai ntai n your PC and your el ectroni c components i n good condi tion.

THERMAL COMPOUNDS
Thermal compounds of vari ous types are used to provi de greater conducti vi ty between two surfaces, such as
the heat spreader on a CPU chi p and the base of a CPU heatsink. Thermal compounds are essential to
ensuri ng optimal mati ng between the two surfaces, fi ll i ng i n any ti ny surface imperfecti ons. If they are not
used, thi s usual l y resul ts in severe overheati ng or hot spots on a component whi ch can shorten i ts l i fespan
consi derably and/or cause i t to mal functi on or shut down wi thi n moments. Whi le most users who bui ld
thei r own PC are famil iar wi th the use of thermal compounds, especiall y for the mounti ng of CPUs,
unfortunately most peopl e do not fol l ow the i nstructi ons whi ch come wi th these compounds and appl y
ei ther too much or too l i ttl e. Fol l ow the i nstructi ons exactl y as shown, as extensi ve testi ng has shown these
to be the best method. Attempti ng to evenl y spread the thermal compound manuall y for exampl e is not
recommended. Whether you put too l i ttl e or too much compound on your component, the end resul t wil l be
the same: the component wi ll overheat, as i t wil l ei ther have i nsuffi ci ent compound to provi de optimal
conducti vi ty, or too much compound whi ch actual ly prevents proper conducti vi ty and bui l ds up heat.

Al so keep i n mi nd duri ng the appl i cati on of any thermal or adhesi ve compounds of any type that most of
these can conduct el ectri ci ty and hence cause a short-ci rcui t - apply them cautiously and don't just assume
that any excess wil l dry up and disappear; remove al l excess thermal compounds thoroughl y wi th a cl oth or
appropriate cl eaner. The best way to prevent such probl ems i s to make sure you don't use excessi ve amounts
and that you don't place any thermal compound too cl ose to the edge of a component, as under pressure
they wi ll spi ll over the edge.

SURGE PROTECTORS
Make sure you i nvest i n a good qual i ty Surge Protector for your PC and all your other sensi ti ve el ectroni c
devi ces. Asi de from typi cal l y l etti ng you pl ug i n mul ti pl e devi ces i nto one outlet, surge protectors serve an
i mportant functi on: they prevent spi kes i n vol tage - whi ch can occur for a range of reasons - from harming
your components. Vol tage surges needn't be sudden or catastrophi c; even mi nor i ncreases i n vol tage can
reduce your component's l i fespan over a peri od of ti me. Note that most surge protectors wi ll not protect
your equi pment from the surge generated by a di rect l i ghtni ng stri ke on or near your house, so during
heavy thunderstorms i t is recommended that you turn off your PC and any other expensi ve el ectronic
equi pment and di sconnect thei r power pl ugs from the wall socket to provi de fool proof protecti on against
any surge. Thi s also i ncludes any phone l i nes used for DSL for exampl e.

POWER SUPPLY UNIT
Your Power Suppl y Uni t (PSU) i s an essenti al part of your system, and one that i s often i gnored. It i s cri ti cal
to system stabi l i ty, and i f after readi ng the i nformation bel ow you feel that there may be cause for doubting
the qual i ty or capabil i ty of your exi sti ng PSU to service your PC properl y, you may wish to purchase a new
and more adequate uni t before i nvesti ng too much ti me i nto opti mi zi ng your Wi ndows i nstal lati on. This i s
because no amount of customi zati on or opti mi zati on can overcome the probl ems caused by a poor quali ty
PSU, and i t al so jeopardizes your other components, potenti al ly damagi ng them over ti me. A more effi cient
PSU can al so save you money by usi ng l ess electri ci ty.

For basi c detail s regardi ng PSUs see thi s PSU FAQ whi ch tal ks about the common output speci fi cati ons for
PSUs and what they mean. In parti cular you should consi der three key factors when determi ni ng the quali ty

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and adequacy of a PSU for your system: Wattage, PSU effi ci ency, and total amps deli vered on the +12V rail .
These fi gures shoul d be readil y avail able from the PSU's specifi cations.

Wattage: To work out a rough esti mate of the PSU Wattage which i s suffi ci ent for a particular system, use
thi s Interacti ve PSU Cal culator. It i s fai rl y strai ghtforward to use, however note that there are some traps
you can easi ly fal l i nto whi ch wi ll resul t i n overesti mati ng your power usage. For exampl e under the 'System
Type' box, you shoul d al ways sel ect 'Singl e Socket' unl ess you actuall y have mul ti ple CPU sockets on your
motherboard. A Core i 7 CPU for exampl e has four cores, but i t i s stil l a si ngl e socket CPU; vi rtuall y no
desktop system has more than one CPU socket on the motherboard, so pay careful attenti on to the
descri pti ons whi l e goi ng through the cal cul ator.

Efficiency: This doesn't represent how much of a PSU's power i s usabl e - all good PSUs should provi de up to
thei r maxi mum rated wattage wi th stabi l i ty i f requi red. Furthermore, contrary to popul ar bel i ef, whether a
hi gh or l ow wattage PSU, the PSU only provi des the amount of power the system needs, so buyi ng a l arger
PSU than you requi re won't resul t i n extra power usage al l by i tsel f. PSU effi ciency i s the proporti on of the
power the PSU draws from your power socket that is relayed to your system. For example a PSU wi th 80%
effi ci ency provi di ng 400W of power to your system wi l l actual ly draw 500W from the power socket on your
wall whi l e doi ng so. In practi ce effi ci ency wil l di ffer at different l evel s of l oad on different PSUs, and i t's an
i mportant fi gure to l ook out for. Ideal ly you want 80% effi ci ency or hi gher at your expected load l evel on the
PSU - the hi gher the effici ency, the more money you save i n el ectri ci ty bil l s.

Amperage: The Amperage on the +12V rail, a key factor i n system stabi l i ty. For exampl e if you l ook at the
speci fi cati ons of some graphi cs cards, they wil l say that they requi re a current of a certai n number of amps
on the +12V rail (e.g. 40A on +12V for an Nvi dia GeForce GTX 285). You shoul d refer to the speci fi cati ons of
the PSU to see i f the +12V rail (s) provi de that much amperage i n total. Note that some PSUs may have
mul ti ple 12V rail s - this i s techni cal ly a safety requi rement to prevent potenti al overl oad on a si ngle 12V rai l,
but i s not a necessi ty, and some even consi der i t undesi rabl e. In practi ce as l ong as the amps and total
wattage suppl i ed al ong the 12V rail (s) are sol id and suffi ci ent for the job requi red, i t shoul dn't make a huge
di fference whether you have si ngl e or mul ti ple 12V rai l s.

The probl em i s that beyond tryi ng to take note of the key factors above, an accurate revi ew i s requi red to tel l
you whether a PSU i s genui nel y good quali ty or not. As thi s arti cl e poi nts out, specialized measurement
i nstruments are necessary to determi ne thi s, not just measuri ng vol tages wi th a mul ti meter. Hence most PSU
revi ews are i naccurate and effecti vel y usel ess. Accurate PSU revi ews can be found at si tes l i ke
Sil entPCReview and JonnyGuru, so start there if you want to know more about a parti cular PSU.

As a fi nal note, i f you li ve i n an area where the mains power suppl y i s not stabl e or you can suffer peri odi c
outages, I strongl y recommend i nvesting i n a good quali ty Uni nterrupti bl e Power Supply. Thi s wil l i ncrease
the l ife of your components, and i s i mportant i n preventi ng potenti al data l oss resul ti ng from a power
outage, such as when you enabl e the performance features covered under the Dri ve Control l ers secti on of
the Dri ve Opti mizati on chapter.

COOLING
One of the most common reasons for a range of probl ems i n Wi ndows has nothi ng to do wi th Wi ndows or
software; i t i s actual l y the hardware-related phenomenon of overheati ng. Overheati ng hardware can cause
all sorts of strange errors, crashes and probl ems, and i s often misdiagnosed as bei ng a software or dri ver
probl em. Most computer hardware generates heat due to the power i t consumes, and this heat needs to be
di ssi pated somewhere. A typi cal computer case i s desi gned such that i t traps heat, and hence as heat builds
up i n a PC case, i t wil l cause components to malfuncti on and even become permanentl y damaged over ti me.
Overheati ng can occur i n both stock systems and overcl ocked systems; i t al l depends on a range of factors
we l ook at bel ow. Before spendi ng ti me opti mi zi ng your Windows, you must make sure your system i s
properl y cooled.

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Measuring Temperatures: The fi rst step in determi ni ng whether a component i s runni ng too hot i s to measure
i ts temperature. On modern PCs the CPU, graphics card and motherboard al l have buil t-i n di odes that
measure the temperature for these components. The CPU temperature moni tor is a reasonably accurate
measure of the temperature at or near the core of the CPU; the graphi cs card temperature moni tor provi des
an i ndi cati on of the temperature near the GPU core; whi l e the motherboard temperature moni tor i s a good
measure of the general temperature wi thi n the PC case, otherwi se known as the ambi ent temperature. Some
other hardware components such as power suppl y uni ts and hard dri ves may also come with temperature
measurement devi ces you can access.

To actuall y see the temperature readi ngs from your components, you can check the key readi ngs i n your
BIOS setti ngs screens, typicall y under a Hardware Moni tor section or si mil ar. Thi s gi ves you the CPU and
motherboard temperatures, perhaps al so the PSU temperatures as wel l. Cl earl y you need a more conveni ent
method of checki ng temperatures under Wi ndows, especiall y when runni ng system i ntensi ve appl i cati ons
or games. Most motherboards already come wi th such software, so check your motherboard manual and
dri ver CD, or the motherboard manufacturer's websi te for an appropri ate moni tori ng uti li ty. However for
the most accurate and consi stent temperature readi ngs I recommend one of the fol l owi ng free uti l i ties whi ch
work on al most any system:

Real Temp - Pri maril y for measuri ng CPU temperatures, parti cularly across the i ndi vi dual cores of a mul ti -
core CPU. Also provi des a basi c GPU temperature readi ng.
Core Temp - Si milar to Real Temp, is desi gned to measure CPU temperatures.
GPU-Z - Covered under the System Specifi cati ons chapter, GPU-Z has a range of GPU temperature
moni tori ng capabil i ti es found under i ts Sensors tab. It also has basi c CPU and motherboard temperature
moni tori ng.
HWMoni tor - Can moni tor a range of system temperatures as wel l as system vol tages and fan speeds.
HD Tune - Covered under the System Specifi cations chapter, the free versi on of HD Tune provi des a
temperature readout towards the top of the HD Tune wi ndow, showi ng the current temperature of the
sel ected dri ve.
SpeedFan - A more general temperature moni tori ng uti li ty whi ch can provide CPU, motherboard and hard
dri ve temperature readouts, as well as al l owi ng manual fan speed adjustment.

Once you have the appropri ate uti li ti es, moni tor your component temperatures at both i dl e and when your
system is under heavy l oad. If parti cul ar components reach what appear to be very hi gh temperatures when
under l oad, then those components may mal functi on whi l e undertaki ng strenuous acti vi ti es on your PC for
a sustai ned peri od of time, such as pl ayi ng games. However even when i dl e, your PC may begi n to
malfuncti on if heat steadily buil ds up in your PC case and is not cleared fast enough.

Safe Temperatures: Most peopl e wil l want to know what the 'safe' temperature is for a parti cular component
i n thei r system. Unfortunatel y there i s no easy answer - safe temperatures di ffer based on different hardware
archi tectures, as some are desi gned to run hotter than others. However you can ascertai n a reasonabl y
normal temperature range for your component by searchi ng Googl e usi ng the specifi c brand and model of
the component al ong wi th the word 'temperature' to see if any user feedback or revi ews of your hardware
states what temperature ranges are normal . As a very general rule of thumb, at the ti me of wri ti ng, both the
current generati on of CPUs and GPUs shoul d not exceed 90-100C under 100% load; and for hard dri ves, no
more than 50-60C i s normal when under maxi mum sustai ned l oad.

The best way to tel l i f your component i s overheati ng is to watch for potenti al symptoms:

CPUs - An overheati ng CPU wi ll usual l y throttl e down i ts speed when under i ncreasi ngly heavi er l oads,
resul ti ng i n noti ceably reduced performance. Use a uti l i ty li ke CPU-Z (See the System Specifi cati ons chapter)
to moni tor your CPU frequenci es and run a CPU-i ntensi ve program such as Pri me95 (See the Performance

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Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter). If under 90 - 100% l oad you fi nd that the CPU i s not reachi ng i ts
full advertised frequency then there i s a strong l i kel i hood i t i s overheati ng, especiall y i f temperature
moni tori ng also reveals a very high temperature under full l oad.

GPUs - An overheati ng GPU wil l result i n graphi cal corrupti on and/or crashes, whether on the Wi ndows
Desktop or wi thi n graphi call y i ntensi ve appl i cati ons l i ke 3D games. Usi ng GPU-Z, under the Sensors tab tick
the 'Conti nue refreshi ng thi s screen whi l e GPU-Z is i n the background', then l aunch a modern game or
stressful 3D appl i cati on - see the Thi rd Party Tool s section of the Performance Measurement &
Troubl eshooti ng chapter for some free ones you can obtai n. Watch for any noti ceabl e anomali es i n the
graphi cs, such as fl i ckeri ng textures, dots, or strange col ors, and then after a few mi nutes qui t the game and
cl i ck the 'GPU temperature' l i ne of GPU-Z, sel ect 'Show Hi ghest Readi ng' to see what the hi ghest
temperature was. A moderatel y hi gh temperature combi ned wi th si gns of graphi cal anomal ies or corruption
i s al most al ways a cl ear sign of an overheati ng graphics card.

HDDs - An overheati ng hard dri ve i s l ess common, and al so harder to spot, however any strange noises
from the dri ve, any signs of data corrupti on, or any probl ems or l ong delays in accessi ng the dri ve tend to
i ndi cate a probl em whi ch may be caused by overheati ng. Note that SSDs are not the same as HDDs and are
unl ikely to suffer from heat-related i ssues because they have no movi ng parts.

If you beli eve you're experienci ng any heat-rel ated issues i n your system, see the ti ps bel ow.

Cooling Tips: If you are experi enci ng probl ems wi th heat i n your system, or more i mportantl y i f you want to
prevent any heat-rel ated probl ems from occurri ng in your system, the fol l owi ng basi c cooli ng ti ps should be
observed. This appl i es equall y to overclocked and non-overcl ocked systems:

Remove any obstructi ons from around your case. For exampl e don't obscure any of your case gril l s/ai r
hol es, such as havi ng them pressed agai nst a wall , bl ocked by dust etc. Insuffi ci ent fl ow of ai r i nto and
out of the case i s the number one cause of heat bui l dup and heat-rel ated probl ems. No matter how much
cool i ng you have i nside a case, i f ai r can't easi l y get i nto and out of the case then your system wi ll
overheat.
If you have few or no major case fans drawi ng i n cool ai r and expell i ng hot ai r, remove the sides of your
case so that the fans on the CPU, graphi cs card and Power Supply can get a fresh suppl y of cool er air,
and can expel hot air outside the case.
If you do have several case fans, arrange them so that some are to the front and low i n the case, sucki ng
ai r i nto the case (as the air near the fl oor i s cool er) and some are to the rear and/or the top of the case,
bl owi ng hot ai r out of the case (where the hot ai r expel l ed wi ll rise away from the case). In thi s si tuation
make sure to keep the si des of your case cl osed so that the fans have more pressure to suck/bl ow air
through the case's contents l ike a wi nd tunnel .
Don't posi ti on a sucki ng and a bl owi ng fan too cl ose together as they wi ll 'short ci rcui t' each other - that
i s they wil l pass ai r through the shortest l i ne between the two, bypassi ng your components and hence
not cool i ng them as effi ci entl y. Agai n, fans sucki ng ai r i nto your case shoul d be l ow and on the furthest
si de of the case from the blowi ng fans that expel heat from the case.
If one component i s sheddi ng a l ot of heat, pay extra attenti on to perhaps provi di ng greater cool i ng to
the components i mmediatel y around i t. Often the excess heat from one component can cause another
nearby component to overheat.
Ti dy the i nternal components of your case. Thi s means al l ri bbon cabl es, power cabl es, etc. shoul d be
cl i pped or twi sty-tied to be as neatl y arranged as possi bl e, pri mari l y to avoi d bl ocki ng the flow of free
ai r around components, especiall y near the CPU and graphics card which are the two hottest
components i n most cases. Secured cabl i ng and snug pl ug connecti ons also means you can be sure
nothi ng becomes accidentall y unplugged or short-ci rcui ted over ti me and hence cause mysteri ous
hardware-based errors that wi ll confuse you i n the future.

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If usi ng addi ti onal i nternal cool i ng li ke larger heatsi nks or fans, make sure they are not too heavy for the
surface they are mounted on. For exampl e, usi ng extremel y l arge heatsi nks on a graphi cs card can resul t
i n the card actuall y bendi ng under the wei ght and hence becomi ng permanently damaged. Even a large
heatsi nk mounted on a motherboard can cause i t to warp or crack, once agai n damagi ng the
motherboard PCB beyond repai r. If you feel you requi re such hefty cool i ng you should consider i nstead
buyi ng a larger case that has better airflow properti es.
Make sure your dri ve(s) are not smothered by cabli ng or crammed i nto a stuffy area of the case wi th no
nearby cool i ng or fresh ai r. Hi gher speed hard dri ves i n parti cular (i .e. 10,000 RPM or faster) can heat up
qui te a bi t. Hard dri ves are often overlooked i n cooli ng, and yet they are a vi tal system component, and
as such you shoul d make sure they aren't confi ned to an extremel y hot secti on of your case.
Make sure that any heatsinks or heatpipes on the motherboard i tself are not covered or bl ocked by other
components or cables, or covered i n dust. There is a reason why these heatsinks are there: because the
chi ps on a motherboard often require cool i ng otherwi se they can mal functi on due to excessi ve heat just
l i ke any other major component. Don't assume a heatsi nk or heatpi pe without a fan i mpl i es the
component requi res mi nimal cool i ng, as someti mes manufacturers ski mp on putti ng a fan on these
components, whi ch si mpl y means the heatsi nks have to do more work, so keep them well exposed to
cool ai r. You may even consi der posi ti oni ng a fan near them i f you wi sh to aid i n system stabili ty.

Whi le non-overcl ocked components can overheat, overcl ocked components heat up much faster and are a
very common cause of system i nstabi lity and a range of probl ems. If experi encing probl ems on your system
make absolutel y certai n that as part of your i ni tial troubl eshooti ng you return all your components to thei r
defaul t setti ngs to see i f thi s removes or reduces the severi ty of the probl em - see the Overclocki ng chapter
for more detai l s.

Thermal compounds are covered i n more detai l earlier i n thi s chapter, however i t shoul d be noted that a
common cause for component overheating i s the i ncorrect appl i cation of thermal compound by the user. Too
much or too li ttl e thermal compound can cause a component to overheat dramati call y, so always foll ow the
appl i cati on instructi ons to the l etter and don't i mprovi se unl ess you are highl y experi enced. You may also
wi sh to consider purchasing better qual i ty thermal compound for use on your components.


The most si mpl e of al l of these ti ps which anyone can undertake is to provi de greater access to fresh cool air
for the case's contents and regularly clean the case to remove dust buil dup. Dust i n parti cul ar can reduce
ai rfl ow si gnifi cantly, so keep your case and your components dust-free usi ng a barely damp cl oth, q-ti p or
compressed ai r. Furthermore the next time you go to upgrade your PC, consider buyi ng a larger case wi th
pl enty of venti l ati on as the si ngl e best i nvestment i n cool i ng and hence general system stabi li ty.

< DEVICE MANAGER
Once you have confi gured your BIOS opti mall y and made sure that your hardware i s correctl y connected
and cool ed, the Devi ce Manager i n Wi ndows i s the central l ocati on you shoul d use for appropri ate software
confi gurati on of all the hardware on your system. You can al so use the Devi ces and Pri nters component
under the Windows Control Panel to access a range of hardware functi onal i ty and confi gurati on opti ons for
connected devi ces, however thi s i s covered i n more detai l under the Devi ces and Pri nters secti on i n this
chapter.

To access Devi ce Manager, go to the Windows Control Panel, or go to Start>Search Box, type device manager
and press Enter. The mai n Devi ce Manager wi ndow l i sts al l your detected hardware grouped by category,
and you can expand parti cular categories to see i ndi vi dual devi ces. Doubl e-cli ck on any particular devi ce to
see more detai l s on i t.


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RESOURCE ALLOCATION
ACPI is the Advanced Confi gurati on and Power Interface standard, and i s an i mportant part of the way
Wi ndows and dri vers communi cate wi th your hardware. In versi ons of Wi ndows pri or to Wi ndows 7 and
Vista you coul d run hardware whi ch di dn't support ACPI, or even di sabl e ACPI i f you wanted to attempt
manual resource all ocati on. However thi s i s no l onger possi bl e as of Wi ndows Vi sta - Vista and 7 requi re
ACPI for hardware to functi on. That means that you cannot di sabl e ACPI, and ol der hardware whi ch i s not
properl y ACPI-Compl iant wi l l not run on Wi ndows 7. Only systems based on motherboards whose BIOS i s
ACPI Compli ant and dated 1 January 1999 or newer can be used. If you're runni ng ol der hardware thi s
means you shoul d update to the l atest avai labl e BIOS for your motherboard and also ensure that any ACPI
opti ons are enabl ed for Windows to i nstall and run wi thout probl ems.

Wi ndows 7 does not fundamental ly change the way resources are handled compared to previ ous versi ons of
Wi ndows. Since Wi ndows 7 onl y accepts ACPI-compl i ant systems, and because most recent hardware
supports Plug and Play functi onali ty, resource all ocati on i s handl ed automati call y and qui te effi ci entl y and
should not be a major i ssue. However one practi cal aspect of ACPI i s covered below.

Interrupt Requests (IRQs) are the way in whi ch al l of your major system devi ces get the CPU's attenti on for
i nstructi ons/interacti on as often as necessary. There are usuall y 16 - 24 mai n hardware IRQs avai labl e i n a
modern PC, and these are usual l y assigned to i ndi vidual components or hardware functi ons. To vi ew your
current IRQ all ocati on open Devi ce Manager and under the Vi ew menu sel ect 'Resources by Type', then
expand the 'Interrupt Request (IRQ)' i tem. You wil l see al l the devi ces currently acti ve on your PC, wi th the
IRQ number showi ng as the number i n brackets, e.g. IRQ 0 i s shown as (ISA) 0x00000000 (00) System Timer.
Whi le you may see IRQs numbered up to 190 or more, all of the IRQ numbers above 24 are for l egacy
Industry Standard Archi tecture (ISA) or non-Pl ug and Pl ay devi ces, not for your mai n system hardware, so
the key IRQs to exami ne are those numbered up to 24.

For an easi er method of vi ewi ng IRQs and checking for potenti al IRQ confl i cts, use the bui l t-i n System
Informati on tool (see the System Specifi cati ons chapter). To access i t go to Start>Search Box, type system
information and press Enter. Expand the 'Hardware Resources' i tem i n the l eft pane, and click the IRQs i tem
to see IRQs l isted i n order from 0 upwards. Cli ck the 'Confli cts/Shari ng' i tem to see a summary of sharing
confli cts. Don't pani c if you see confl i cts, thi s doesn't mean your system i s unstabl e or confi gured i ncorrectly.
In many cases some hardware wi ll be shari ng a si ngl e IRQ or resource and there's not much you can do to
prevent or al ter thi s, i t i s normal behavior.

Wi ndow al l ows several devi ces to share an IRQ wi thout any major i ssues, and in general thi s shoul d be fi ne.
However i n cases where two or more hi gh-performance components, such as your graphi cs card, sound
card, or Ethernet control l er are shari ng a si ngl e IRQ, thi s may be a source of potenti al probl ems. High
performance hardware is best on i ts own IRQ, but unfortunately you can't al ter the IRQ all ocati ons from
wi thi n Wi ndows, as they are automaticall y handl ed by ACPI. Onl y l egacy devi ces wil l have the opti on to
attempt manual al terati on of thei r resources under the Resources tab of the rel evant devi ce Properti es in
Devi ce Manager; most other devi ces do not al l ow the 'Use automati c setti ngs' opti on to be unti cked. The
onl y ways to prevent or mini mize the i mpact of IRQ shari ng are:

Di sabl e unused devi ces - Covered i n more detail further bel ow, di sabl i ng unused devi ces i n the BIOS
and i n Devi ce Manager i s a way of reduci ng unnecessary resource usage and speedi ng up boot ti me, and
also preventing IRQ sharing-rel ated probl ems. This i s best done fi rst i n the BIOS pri or to i nstal li ng
Wi ndows.
Move Confli cti ng Devi ces - On an exi sti ng i nstallation of Windows 7 you can attempt to reduce IRQ
shari ng by movi ng a device. Physi cal ly move one of the i tems to another l ocati on on your system if
possi ble, such as shi fti ng a sound card from one PCI/PCI-E sl ot to another, or i f a USB Host Control l er i s
shari ng wi th a major device, avoi d pl uggi ng any USB devi ce i nto the speci fi c USB hub that control l er

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relates to. If nei ther of the shared devi ces can be physi call y moved then you wi l l have to accept the
si tuati on. Remember that Wi ndows can share IRQs wi thout major probl ems i n most cases.

If after the above procedures you sti l l have difficul ti es or reduced performance whi ch you feel are
attri butabl e to IRQ shari ng, the fi nal opti on i s to reformat and rei nstal l Wi ndows 7, fi rst maki ng sure of
course to fi rst correctl y confi gure your BIOS and di sabl e al l unnecessary devi ces. Even then there i s no
guarantee that major devi ces won't wi nd up bei ng shared agai n. Unl ike previous versi ons of Wi ndows, you
cannot disable ACPI to force manual IRQ all ocati on, as Wi ndows 7 must have ACPI enabl ed to work
properl y.

DEVICE POWER MANAGEMENT
Asi de from the gl obal Power Opti ons avai labl e under the Wi ndows Control Panel and covered under the
Power Opti ons secti on of the Wi ndows Control Panel chapter, you can access i ndi vi dual devi ce-specifi c
power management setti ngs i n Devi ce Manager for certai n types of devi ces (e.g. Keyboards, Mi ce, HID and
USB devi ces). To do so, open the Properti es of any speci fi c devi ce and if there is a Power Management tab,
cl i ck on i t and you wil l typi cal l y see two opti ons, one or both of whi ch are avai labl e:

Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power: Thi s opti on l ets Wi ndows power management di sabl e a
devi ce if i t consi ders i t i dl e. However unfortunately USB devices i n parti cular seem to have performance
i ssues if thi s opti on i s ti cked, so I recommend unti cki ng i t.

Allow this device to wake up the computer: If sel ected, thi s al l ows the devi ce to wake the computer up from
Sl eep mode i f i t is used. It shoul d be only enabled i f you want that to occur, otherwi se unti ck i t.

In most cases both boxes shoul d be unticked i f you want to mi ni mi ze probl ems wi th a devi ce, parti cularly
USB devi ces.

PROBLEMATIC DEVICES
Devi ces wi th a questi on mark or exclamati on mark next to them i n Devi ce Manager wil l need further
troubl eshooting to correctl y i dentify and i nstal l , as by defaul t Windows i s unabl e to use the Pl ug and Play
system to i denti fy what they are. Until Wi ndows can i dentify a devi ce properl y, i t cannot be used even i f it i s
correctl y connected to your system and i dentifi ed by your BIOS for exampl e. The key to Windows detecti ng
the devi ce properl y i s the i nstal lati on of an appropriate dri ver - see the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter for full
detail s.

The fi rst thi ng you shoul d try i s usi ng the new Hardware and Sound Troubl eshooter function found under
the Troubl eshooti ng component of the Wi ndows Control Panel - thi s is covered i n more detail under the
Troubl eshooti ng secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter.

However if after foll owi ng the advi ce i n the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter and usi ng the Troubl eshooter you sti ll
can't get your devi ce to work, you can use the 'Add Legacy Hardware' opti on of Devi ce Manager, found
under the Acti on menu, to manual l y add a devi ce. Once thi s opti on i s sel ected, a wizard wil l open, gui di ng
you through the process.

The fi rst step i s to sel ect the 'Search for and i nstal l the hardware automaticall y opti on'. Thi s wi l l force
Wi ndows to attempt to redetect any newl y connected hardware and i nstall i t usi ng any existi ng dri vers. If
thi s opti on fai l s, you need to sel ect the second 'Instal l the hardware that I manuall y sel ect from a li st opti on'.
You wil l be taken to a l i st of hardware categori es, and you shoul d then sel ect the category whi ch you believe
i s the cl osest for your device, then cl i ck Next. A l i st of several Brands and Model s of that parti cular device
category wil l then be shown, and you can sel ect the one whi ch you bel i eve is cl osest i n functi onal i ty and
compati bi li ty to your device. If you fi nd none of the opti ons is appropri ate, and you have another dri ve you

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want to manual l y i nstall , cl i ck the 'Have Di sk' button and di rect Wi ndows to the dri ve/di rectory where the
dri ver fil es are hel d.

Ul ti matel y i f you cannot fi nd any appropri ate driver for the devi ce, i t wil l be diffi cult to resol ve the
probl emati c devi ce and hence use i t wi th ful l functi onali ty.

DISABLING OR REMOVING UNUSED DEVICES
One of the best ways to reduce startup ti mes i n Wi ndows, reduce resource usage, and prevent potenti al
hardware confl icts i s to di sabl e or remove unused devi ces. The recommended way to do thi s i s to fi rst
di sabl e any unused devi ces i n the BIOS before i nstal ling Wi ndows 7. However i f thi s i s not possi bl e, i t is still
useful to disabl e devi ces i n the BIOS on an existi ng i nstall ation of Wi ndows - see the BIOS secti on earl ier in
thi s chapter.

Some examples of common devi ces that can be disabled - if you're not goi ng to use them - are:

Unused IDE Channels
Unused SATA Channel s
RAID opti ons
Onboard Audi o
Onboard Video
Game Port
Mi di Port

Once these have been di sabl ed i n the BIOS, boot i nto Wi ndows and make sure that all your normal
functi onali ty i s unaffected. You can al ways re-enable any devi ce in the BIOS at any ti me, so thi s i s by no
means a permanent di sabl i ng of parti cular devi ces. However you shoul d only di sable devi ces i n the BIOS
that you are certai n wil l not be used duri ng your normal Wi ndows usage; di sabl i ng a necessary devi ce may
see you unable to boot i nto Wi ndows.

Di sabl i ng unused devi ces not onl y frees up unreserved IRQs and reduces the chances of resource shari ng, i t
speed up bootup ti me noticeabl y because fi rstl y your BIOS wil l not spend ti me tryi ng to detect and enabl e
these functi ons, and secondl y, Wi ndows won't l oad up dri vers for these devi ces at startup. Once you've
di sabl ed a devi ce i n the BIOS and are certai n that there has been no l oss of functi onali ty, you can then move
on to di sabli ng or removi ng relevant components i n Devi ce Manager, as covered bel ow.

If you aren't usi ng certai n devi ces whi ch appear i n Devi ce Manager, you can safely disabl e them by ri ght-
cl i cki ng on the devi ce and sel ecti ng Disabl e. Thi s i s general ly only recommended for more advanced users,
as di sabli ng necessary devi ces can cause a l ot of probl ems. In parti cular I don't recommend di sabli ng any
devi ce found under the Computer, Processors or System Devi ces categori es as these are all needed. If in
doubt, do not di sable anythi ng.

Furthermore, for each devi ce that has ever been connected to your system, Devi ce Manager wi ll retai n a
range of entri es i n the Windows Regi stry relati ng to the devi ce type, and the dri vers and setti ngs i t used.
That way if it i s ever reconnected i t can be qui ckly recognized agai n. However there are ti mes when you
have permanentl y discontinued the use of a devi ce, or through a change i n the BIOS, the devi ce no l onger
uses those parti cular resources. To vi ew and remove unused devices i n Devi ce Manager, fi rst use System
Restore to create a restore poi nt as a precauti on, then do the fol l owi ng:


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1. Open an Admi ni strati ve Command Prompt.
2. Type the fol lowi ng l i nes, pressi ng Enter after each one:

Set devmgr _show_nonpr esent _devi ces=1

Devmgmt . msc

3. In the Devi ce Manager wi ndow that opens go to the Vi ew menu and sel ect 'Show Hi dden Devi ces'. Now
expand al l the categories and start l ooki ng through al l the devi ces. Devi ces i n gray are usual l y for
ol d/unused/di sconnected devi ces and safe to remove by ri ght cl i cki ng on each one and sel ecti ng
'Uni nstall '. However don't uni nstall a devi ce you know you wil l be reconnecti ng to Wi ndows soon.
4. In parti cular, you mi ght find several entri es under the Moni tors and Di spl ay Adapters secti ons from
previ ous graphi cs dri ver or graphi cs card i nstal lati ons. You should del ete al l of these grayed out entri es,
but at l east one un-grayed entry should remai n. You may al so fi nd grayed entri es for dri ve control l ers
you no l onger use, and these shoul d be safe to remove.
5. Do not remove any Mi crosoft devi ces such as those under the 'Sound, video and game control l ers', or
those under 'Storage volume shadow copi es'. If i n doubt, do not remove an i tem, gray or otherwi se.
6. Once done, you can cl ose Devi ce Manager the usual way and the next ti me you open i t up i t wi l l not
show unused devi ces unti l you agai n use thi s method to do so.

Use thi s method wi th cauti on. In many cases if you acci dentall y uni nstal l a hardware devi ce whi ch i s
currentl y connected to or requi red by your system, you can si mply di sconnect and reconnect the devi ce, or
reboot Wi ndows, and i t wi l l be redetected by Wi ndows and the appropri ate dri vers i nstal l ed agai n - so this
method doesn't permanentl y remove any devi ce such that i t prevents i t from bei ng detected or used agai n i n
the future usage. In some cases however removi ng important devi ces may prevent Wi ndows from booti ng
up, whi ch is where an appropri ate restore poi nt comes i n handy to undo the damage.

< DEVICES AND PRINTERS
A new component i n Wi ndows 7, Devi ces and Pri nters i s desi gned to consolidate a range of functi onal ity
related to devi ce management and usage i n one easy-to-use l ocati on. You can access Devices and Pri nters
from under the Wi ndows Control Panel , or by goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng Devices and Printers and
pressi ng Enter, or typi cal ly by attachi ng a rel evant devi ce. Aside from l isti ng your PC and moni tor, the types
of devi ces whi ch are li kely to appear in Devi ces and Pri nters i ncl ude any portabl e devi ces whi ch you have
connected to the PC, USB devi ces, wireless devi ces, pri nters and any detected network-based devi ces.

Unl ike Devi ce Manager, Devi ces and Pri nters i s not designed to be a l i sti ng of all the hardware and devi ces
on your PC, such as your CPU, hard dri ve or graphics card - i t i s pri mari ly aimed at provi di ng qui ck access
through a graphi cal i nterface to common functi onali ty for connected peri pherals such as cameras, phones
and pri nters.

To confi gure the general setti ngs for Devi ces and Pri nters, ri ght-cl i ck on your PC devi ce - the devi ce wi th
your computer name i .e. [username]-PC, and sel ect 'Devi ce Install ati on Settings'. This opens the setti ngs,
all owi ng you to choose whether you all ow Wi ndows to automaticall y downl oad dri vers and real i sti c i cons
for your devices. There are essenti al ly two di fferent functi ons to whi ch this questi on relates - the first is
whether you all ow Wi ndows to automati call y detect, downl oad and i nstall what i t consi ders opti mal dri vers
for your hardware. The second i s whether Wi ndows downl oads any custom icons and devi ce i nformation
whi ch your hardware manufacturer has provi ded to Mi crosoft. Thi s does not affect the devi ce's functi onali ty
at al l , but i t does make the devi ce easi er to i denti fy i n the Devices and Pri nters wi ndow, as i ts i con will
change to an exact i mage of the devi ce you have connected rather than a generi c Wi ndows devi ce i con.

If you sel ect the 'Yes, do thi s automati cal l y' opti on, Wi ndows wi ll connect to the Internet and automati cally
downl oad any dri vers i t consi ders best for your connected devi ce(s) from Wi ndows Update wi thout
prompti ng you, and wil l also update your generi c devi ce i cons wi th any custom ones whi ch have been

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provi ded by the manufacturer. This i s the best opti on i f you are a rel ati vel y new user, and wi ll al l ow you to
qui ckly use your devi ces.

For more advanced users I recommend the second opti on 'No, always l et me choose what to do' - thi s gives
you abil i ty to ensure that outdated or undesi rabl e dri ver versi ons are not automati cal ly i nstall ed over more
recent or custom dri vers you have i nstal l ed yoursel f. Then I recommend sel ecti ng 'Instal l dri ver software
from Wi ndows Update i f i t i s not found on my computer', as thi s means onl y devi ces for whi ch you have not
al ready i nstall ed a dri ver wi ll be updated. Whether you ti ck the 'Replace generi c device i cons wi th enhanced
i cons' opti on i s up to you; as noted i t does not affect functi onality as such, i t si mply repl aces the generi c
i cons wi th more real istic ones and can provi de more i nformati on about the devi ce, whi ch i s generally
desi rable.

Now connect your devi ce(s) to the PC and all ow Wi ndows to detect them one by one. If a devi ce i s not
detected, cl i ck the 'Add a devi ce' button at the top of them Devi ces and Pri nters wi ndow to force Wi ndows
to search for all attached devi ces and l ist them. Each devi ce should appear i n Devi ces and Pri nters, even i f i t
i s not i dentifi ed correctly or does not have ful l functi onali ty. If i t sti ll does not appear, see the
Troubl eshooti ng secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter.

Once a devi ce appears i n Devi ces and Pri nters, probl emati c devices wi ll be i denti fi ed wi th an exclamation
mark - right-cl i ck on these and sel ect Troubl eshoot to all ow Wi ndows to attempt to fi nd the best solution.
Typi cal ly this i nvol ves Wi ndows fi nding appropriate dri vers, whether on your system or on Wi ndows
Update, or both, depending on your setti ngs. You can then apply the fi x and i f successful the devi ce will be
i nstal l ed properl y and the excl amati on mark wi ll be removed. If unsuccessful, you can expl ore further
opti ons as prompted by Wi ndows, but usual l y thi s si mpl y means you wi ll have to manual ly fi nd and i nstall
rel evant dri vers - see the Devi ce Manager secti on further above as well as the Wi ndows Drivers chapter.

Once a devi ce i s correctl y i nstal l ed, you can ri ght-cl i ck on i t for a menu of avail able functi ons and setti ngs,
dependi ng on the devi ce. Whi le all of these functi ons and setti ngs can be accessed i n vari ous other areas of
Wi ndows, the ai m of Devices and Setti ngs i s to all ow qui cker access i n one l ocati on. The most useful uni que
setti ngs relate to pri nter functi onal i ty, because Devices and Pri nters replaces the ol d Pri nters fol der which
was used i n previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows. Ri ght-cli cki ng on a pri nter i n Devices and Pri nters bri ngs up a
range of printer-related opti ons, l etting you access pri nter preferences, see what's pri nti ng and set the
defaul t pri nter.

Note that the i con for any devi ce i n Devi ces and Printers can al so be sent to the Desktop as a shortcut by
ri ght-cl i cki ng on i t and sel ecti ng 'create shortcut'; or you can simpl y drag and drop the i con to another
l ocati on to place a shortcut there, such as on the Start Menu. This shortcut retai ns all the functi onal i ty it
woul d normal l y have wi thin Devi ces and Pri nters, i ncl udi ng the useful ri ght-click context menu i tems.

< DEVICE STAGE
Devi ce Stage i s si mi lar i n intent to the Devi ces and Pri nters functi on - i t i s desi gned to be a central l ocation
provi di ng relati vely strai ghtforward access to the major functi ons of a parti cular devi ce wi th an easy-to-use
graphi cal i nterface. If you connect a compati bl e devi ce to your PC, Devi ce Stage wil l automati cal ly open,
however you can also open Devi ce Stage by doubl e-cl i cki ng on a supported devi ce i n Devi ces and Pri nters.
When opened, a l arge pi cture of your devi ce al ong wi th i ts full name wi ll appear at the top of the Devi ce
Stage wi ndow. At the bottom of the window are a range of opti ons as rel evant to your parti cul ar devi ce. A
new i con of the devi ce wi l l al so appear i n your Taskbar, and ri ght-cl i cki ng on i t wi ll provi de a range of
custom tasks i n the Jump Li st.

Devi ce Stage i s mai nly i ntended for mobi l e phones, di gi tal cameras, portabl e musi c pl ayers and vari ous
pri nters. A devi ce's compati bi l i ty wi th Devi ce Stage i s determi ned by the support provi ded by the hardware
manufacturer. Thi s means that certai n devi ces, particular older devi ces, may not do anythi ng more than

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open the normal AutoPlay prompt when connected - see the AutoPl ay secti on of the Dri ve Opti mi zation
chapter. Other devi ces may open a basi c Devi ce Stage wi ndow wi thout much customi zati on or speci fi c
brandi ng. Ful l y supported devi ces open a Devi ce Stage wi ndow wi th feature-ri ch content and devi ce-
speci fi c pi ctures and Taskbar i con.

For the most part Devi ce Stage i s very conveni ent, and al though most of i ts functi onali ty i s avail abl e through
a range of other Wi ndows setti ngs and appli cati ons, the fact that i t al l exists in one l ocati on makes thi ngs
much easi er for both novice and advanced users. Mi ni mi zed to your Taskbar, a parti cular Devi ce Stage
wi ndow i s very handy for qui ck access. Note that when you di sconnect a devi ce, any Devi ce Stage wi ndows
for i t al so automati cal ly close, whi ch means i t doesn't unnecessari ly add to Desktop cl utter.


Thi s chapter has attempted to hi ghlight the i mportance of maki ng sure that your BIOS i s correctl y
confi gured, that your hardware is appropri atel y connected, maintai ned and cool ed, and that your devi ces
are al l detected and availabl e for use i n Wi ndows. No amount of software tweaki ng wi l l resol ve odd
probl ems i n Wi ndows i f they are hardware-based, so i f there are any areas of doubt or confusi on relati ng to
your hardware, I strongl y suggest cl ari fyi ng them wi th further research, perhaps even contacti ng your
hardware manufacturer for more i nformati on, before movi ng on wi th Wi ndows opti mi zati on or
customizati on.


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WINDOWS INSTALLATION


Wi ndows 7 uses an i mage-based i nstall ati on method whi ch i s covered i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e. Your
Wi ndows 7 install ation DVD actual l y contai ns all the di fferent consumer edi tions of Wi ndows 7, however at
the start of i nstall ation, a small confi gurati on fil e on the disc identifi es the speci fi c edi ti on you've purchased
and wi ll be abl e to i nstall . As i nstal lation begi ns, i nstead of sel ecti vel y copyi ng across a large number of
i ndi vi dual fi les, a compl ete compressed 'hardware neutral ' i mage of a standard Wi ndows 7 i nstallati on is
copi ed across to the target dri ve, is uncompressed and overwri tes the dri ve contents. As the i nstallation
conti nues, Wi ndows then i denti fi es your hardware and reconfi gures i tself accordi ngly. Thi s i nstallati on
method has a range of practi cal i mpacts whi ch are di scussed further bel ow.

Thi s chapter covers a seri es of i mportant thi ngs you should consider pri or to i nstall ation, as wel l as al l the
steps i nvol ved duri ng the actual i nstall ati on of Wi ndows 7, and i mmediatel y afterwards. Even i f you've
al ready i nstall ed Wi ndows 7, some of the i nformati on i n this chapter is stil l appli cable and worth readi ng.


< PRIOR TO INSTALLATION
Before we move onto the Wi ndows i nstal lati on process, we first look at the vari ous preparati ons you should
make and the i ssues you shoul d consider pri or to starting Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on.

CHECK YOUR HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE FOR COMPATIBILITY
Ideall y before i nstal li ng or even purchasi ng Wi ndows 7, you shoul d make sure that al l your hardware
components are compati ble wi th Wi ndows 7 and wil l run on i t reasonably wel l. You shoul d al so check to see
i f your current software will run under Windows 7. Use the foll owi ng resources to do both:

Wi ndows 7 System Requi rements - Li sts the mi ni mum hardware requi red to run Wi ndows 7.
Wi ndows 7 Upgrade Advi sor - Scans your PC and connected devi ces and tel ls you if you wi ll have any
potenti al i ssues under Wi ndows 7. It also tel ls you whi ch Wi ndows 7 edi ti on you can upgrade to.
Wi ndows 7 Compati bi li ty Center - Lists al l the software which i s compati bl e wi th Wi ndows 7. Note that
there i s a 32-bi t and 64-bi t li st i n each category.
Wi ndows 7 Hardware Compati bi li ty Li st - Lists all the hardware certifi ed to be Wi ndows 7 compati bl e.
However if your hardware i s not on the l ist, that doesn't necessari l y mean i t's not Wi ndows 7 compati bl e.
Check your hardware manufacturer's websi te for Windows 7 support detail s.

Keep i n mi nd that Wi ndows 7 is usi ng the same basi c archi tecture as Vista, and is desi gned to be compati ble
wi th Windows Vi sta products, so if your system and software was abl e to run under Vi sta, i t i s hi ghly l i kely
to work wi th Wi ndows 7.

DISABLE UNUSED RESOURCES IN THE BIOS
As covered i n the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter, i t i s important to turn off any opti ons and devi ces
i n the BIOS whi ch you wi l l not be using pri or to i nstall i ng Wi ndows 7. This wi ll ensure that you speed up
Wi ndows startup, mi ni mize any shared resources or potenti al confli cts i n Wi ndows, and prevent the
i nstal lati on of unnecessary dri vers and services. Al so see the Prepari ng the Dri ve secti on further bel ow as
some BIOS opti ons need to be changed pri or to Wi ndows i nstal lati on for opti mal performance. Don't i gnore
thi s step.


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SCAN FOR MALWARE
If you are going to transfer any data or personal fil es from an exi sti ng i nstal lation of Wi ndows to your new
i nstal lati on of Wi ndows 7, it i s strongl y recommended that you do a compl ete mal ware scan of your exi sting
Wi ndows i nstal lati on. This ensures that you don't wi nd up copyi ng across infected fil es whi ch rui n your
new i nstal lation of Wi ndows. See the PC Securi ty chapter of this book for full detail s. Importantl y, i f you
pl an to run the Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on DVD from wi thi n your current i nstall of Wi ndows, make sure to
compl etel y di sabl e any anti -mal ware program(s) after your scan, as they can i nterfere wi th the proper
i nstal lati on of Wi ndows.

PREPARE BACKUPS
Once you're sure that your fil es are cl ear of any mal ware, the next step i s to prepare compl ete backups of all
your i mportant i nformati on. Thi s i s covered under the Backup & Recovery chapter of thi s book. Regardless
of whi ch type of i nstal l you're goi ng to undertake, even i f you choose an Upgrade i nstall for exampl e, I still
strongl y recommend having backups of your i rreplaceabl e data on di sc or another dri ve prior to i nstall ati on
of Wi ndows, just i n case anythi ng goes wrong and you l ose al l the exi sti ng data on your dri ve. It i s
genui nel y much better to be safe than sorry.

I al so recommend prepari ng a separate di sc or USB fl ash dri ve wi th a copy of the latest appropriate
Wi ndows 7 devi ce dri vers for all your key hardware. Instal li ng the correct dri vers as soon as possi ble after
i nstal li ng Windows 7 ensures opti mal stabil i ty, compati bi li ty and performance, and can prevent major
probl ems. You may even need certai n dri vers - especi al ly SATA, RAID or other dri ve-related dri vers - for
correct detecti on of your dri ves duri ng the Wi ndows i nstal lati on process. Prepare these i n advance and store
them on a CD/DVD, USB flash dri ve or external dri ve so that you can l oad them i f necessary duri ng the step
where you choose the target dri ve for Wi ndows i nstal lati on. Check the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter for more
detail s of where to obtai n these dri vers.

If you have any games i nstal l ed, after backi ng up the rel evant saved games and maki ng note of any custom
setti ngs or savi ng any custom confi gurati on fi les, uninstall your games i n your current version of Wi ndows
before i nstal li ng Wi ndows 7. Thi s i s necessary for any games whi ch are protected by onl i ne acti vation
protecti on mechanisms. For such games, uni nstal li ng the game, or i n some cases usi ng a speci al revoke tool ,
wi ll ensure that you do not run out of vali d acti vations when you next attempt to i nstal l or use the game. If
you are unsure i f your game i s protected i n thi s manner, I recommend uni nstall i ng i t anyway and then
checki ng the game's documentati on and websi te for more detail s of any addi tional procedures necessary i n
relati on to i ts copy protecti on mechani sm. This may al so appl y to certai n general software protected by
onl i ne acti vati on technol ogy.

CUSTOM OR UPGRADE INSTALL & DATA MIGRATION
An i mportant deci si on you wi l l have to make is how you want to install Windows 7. Thi s deci si on pri mari l y
affects the way i n whi ch your existi ng user data, programs and setti ngs are transferred to Wi ndows 7.
Dependi ng on whi ch versi on and edi tion of Wi ndows you are currentl y using, there are two di fferent
methods for install i ng Wi ndows 7:

Custom Install

Thi s i nvol ves i nstal li ng Wi ndows 7 onto a new blank dri ve, or onto a dri ve wi th exi sti ng data, but not
all owi ng Wi ndows 7 to attempt to upgrade any previ ous versi on of Wi ndows - a fresh new defaul t copy of
Wi ndows 7 wi ll be i nstalled. This i s call ed a Custom Install , also known as a Clean Instal l, and all ows you to
choose the parti ti on of the dri ve to whi ch Wi ndows 7 wi ll be i nstall ed. You can also choose to reformat the
dri ve or reparti ti on i t i n preparati on for i nstal li ng Windows 7, though note that i f you repartiti on your drive
i n Wi ndows Setup, this resul ts i n the creati on of a small addi ti onal System Reserved Parti ti on whi ch may not
be desi rabl e - see the Prepari ng the Dri ve secti on further bel ow for detai l s.

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A Custom i nstall is the recommended method for ensuri ng that Wi ndows 7 i s i nstal l ed as 'cl eanly' as
possi ble, devoi d of any potenti al setting or software confli cts or residue from previ ous install ations of
Wi ndows. However i t al so means that you wi ll have to manual ly backup any exi sti ng data you wish to keep
before commenci ng i nstallati on si nce i t wi ll be l ost, parti cularly i f the dri ve i s reformatted or the parti ti on is
del eted. You wi ll then have to manual ly restore thi s data once Wi ndows 7 is install ed. See the Backup &
Recovery chapter for appropri ate backup and restorati on strategi es.

Note that i f custom i nstal ling Wi ndows 7 to a parti ti on wi th an existi ng i nstal lati on of a version of Wi ndows
wi thout reformatti ng, fi l es under your user fol ders wi ll automaticall y be saved to a \Windows.old di rectory
on that parti ti on, but thi s i s not recommended nor a substi tute for taki ng a proper backup pri or to
commenci ng.

Upgrade Install

Thi s i nvol ves all owi ng Windows 7 to i nstall i tsel f through an exi sti ng acti vated i nstal lati on of Wi ndows and
sel ecti ng the Upgrade option, al so known as an In-Place Upgrade. Wi ndows 7 wi ll attempt to keep all your
fi les, setti ngs and programs i nstead of si mpl y replaci ng everythi ng wi th a fresh new defaul t Wi ndows 7
i nstal lati on. An i n-place upgrade can onl y occur from qual ifyi ng versi ons and edi ti ons of Wi ndows - detai l s
are provi ded i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e, and displayed graphi call y i n thi s Mi crosoft Chart.

Essentiall y, you cannot choose to do an i n-place upgrade to Wi ndows 7 from:

Any versi ons of Wi ndows pri or to Wi ndows Vi sta SP1.
A 32-bi t version of Wi ndows to 64-bi t, and vi ce versa.
Di fferent languages.

Note however that i t is possi bl e, but not recommended, to attempt an i n-place upgrade from a pre-release
versi on (e.g. Beta or RC) of Wi ndows 7 i f you modify the cversion.ini fil e as detail ed i n this Microsoft Arti cle.

Al l edi ti ons of Windows Vi sta SP1 or SP2, excl udi ng Enterpri se, can i n-place upgrade to Wi ndows 7
Ul ti mate. However aside from Wi ndows 7 Ul ti mate, Vista Home Basi c and Home Premi um users can onl y
i n-place upgrade to Wi ndows 7 Home Premium; Wi ndows Vista Busi ness can only i n-pl ace upgrade to
Wi ndows 7 Professi onal or Enterpri se; and Wi ndows Vista Ul timate users can onl y i n-place upgrade to
Wi ndows 7 Ul ti mate.

The mai n reason for thi s poli cy is that Mi crosoft cannot guarantee sati sfactory performance and
compati bi li ty i f ol der or different versi ons of Wi ndows are i n-place upgraded.

Upgrade Edition

An Upgrade Edi ti on is a di scounted versi on of Wi ndows 7 whi ch requi res that a qual ifyi ng ful l versi on of
Wi ndows 2000, XP or Vista al ready be i nstall ed on your system. Importantl y, an Upgrade Edi ti on i s not the
same as an i n-pl ace upgrade; i f you quali fy to use an Upgrade Edi ti on, you can al ways do a custom (clean)
i nstal l, however whether you al so qual i fy to undertake an i n-place upgrade i s another issue, as covered
further above. Basi cal l y:

Full versi on Wi ndows 2000 and Wi ndows XP owners can purchase and use any Upgrade Edi ti on of
Wi ndows 7. However no Wi ndows 2000 or XP user can do an i n-pl ace upgrade; Wi ndows wil l detect the
presence of a l egi ti mate Wi ndows 2000 or XP i nstall necessary to all ow the use of an Upgrade Edi ti on,
but then onl y provi de a Custom Instal l (i.e. Cl ean Install ) opti on for Wi ndows 7. There i s no way around

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thi s, nor woul d i t be recommended even i f i t were possi bl e, due to the major differences between the OS
archi tectures.
Full versi on Wi ndows Vi sta owners can purchase and use any Upgrade Edi ti on of Wi ndows 7, however
you can onl y do an i n-place upgrade to an equi valent or hi gher editi on of Wi ndows 7 as covered further
above.
Any full versi on 32-bi t Windows 2000, XP or Vi sta owner can use a 64-bi t Wi ndows 7 Upgrade Edi ti on,
but thi s precludes the abi lity to do an i n-pl ace upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bi t Windows or vi ce versa; onl y
a custom (cl ean) i nstal l i s possi ble, again due to key underlyi ng di fferences between the two types of
archi tectures.

If you are i n any doubt as to whether you qual ify to use an upgrade edi ti on of Wi ndows 7, use the Wi ndows
7 Upgrade Advi sor covered earli er i n thi s secti on to check. Also note that at any ti me wi thi n Wi ndows 7 you
can use Wi ndows Anytime Upgrade to purchase a new li cense and upgrade your current edi ti on of
Wi ndows 7 to a hi gher versi on automaticall y - see the thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e for detai ls.

If supported, an i n-pl ace upgrade should provi de a reasonably good foundati on for Wi ndows users movi ng
to Wi ndows 7 and not wanti ng to go through havi ng to rei nstal l and reconfigure all thei r i nstall ed
appl i cati ons and ri sk l osing user data. However this method is not advised for users who want to be sure
they start wi th the cl eanest and most opti mal configurati on for Wi ndows 7 - onl y a Custom Install can do
that.

Windows Easy Transfer

If you can't or don't want to do an i n-place upgrade install ation of Wi ndows 7, another opti on for mi grati ng
your user data and setti ngs across i n a rel ati vel y automated manner i s to use the Windows Easy Transfer
uti li ty. This all ows you to transfer your user data and certain setti ngs between previ ous versi ons of
Wi ndows (i ncl udi ng pre-final versi ons of Wi ndows 7) and Wi ndows 7. To access Wi ndows Easy Transfer i n
Wi ndows 7, go to Start>Search Box, type windows easy transfer and press Enter. If you are not al ready usi ng
Wi ndows 7, you can launch the Wi ndows Easy Transfer uti li ty under another versi on of Wi ndows by
i nserti ng the Wi ndows 7 DVD, exi ti ng the Wi ndows setup util i ty if i t appears, goi ng to the \Support\Migwiz
di rectory of the DVD and runni ng the migsetup.exe fil e there.

Once Wi ndows Easy Transfer i s launched, you wi ll enter a mi gration wi zard whi ch wi ll take you through all
the steps requi red to carry out the migrati on. For ful l detai ls of how best to handle the mi grati on, see thi s
Mi crosoft Arti cl e. To successfull y mi grate the data you wil l need a removabl e dri ve or USB flash dri ve, a
special USB Easy Transfer Cabl e, or be connected to a network. Note that the Windows Easy Transfer uti li ty
has been i mproved over previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows, such that you have a l ot more opti ons and thus
greater fl exi bi l i ty i n choosi ng preci sel y what to transfer to Wi ndows 7. In general any type of user-based
data can be transferred, but thi s does not i ncl ude i nstall ed programs.

Unl ess you are a begi nner, I recommend agai nst doing an i n-pl ace upgrade i nstall of Wi ndows 7, or even
usi ng Wi ndows Easy Transfer to mi grate data and setti ngs. Whi l e nei ther method i s l i kel y to cause you any
seri ous problems, to ensure that you have a perfectl y cl ean slate to begi n wi th, I recommend that you backup
your data, reformat your dri ve and start wi th a ful l clean Custom Install of Wi ndows 7, and then manual ly
copy back onl y your personal data. Any programs or games whi ch requi re configurati on i n Wi ndows 7 can
be done so wi th reference to the ori gi nal confi gurati on fil es you backed up, but not just by simpl y copyi ng
and pasti ng confi gurati on or setti ngs files i nto Windows 7. Thi s may take a whi l e l onger to do, but i t i s most
defi ni tel y worth the added effort i n the l ong run as i t provi des the most troubl e-free and performance-
maxi mizi ng method of i nstal li ng Wi ndows 7.


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MODIFYING THE WINDOWS INSTALLATION DISC
Wi ndows 7's i mage-based i nstal lati on system all ows easi er creation of a modifi ed i nstal lation di sc. All the
tool s you need to do thi s are i n the Wi ndows Automated Install ati on Ki t (WAIK). Combi ned wi th these
ImageX commands and the new Depl oyment Image Servi ci ng and Management (DISM) tool whi ch al lows
you to add or remove dri vers, updates and features, you can generate a new customized Wi ndows 7
i nstal lati on image for any edi ti on.

However for the average user, there are si mpl er al ternati ves to usi ng the tool s above. There are three
common scenari os for whi ch a user may wi sh to l egi ti mately al ter or transfer thei r Wi ndows 7 i mage, and
some rel ati vel y straightforward methods of doi ng so:

Changing Product Editions: Al l consumer edi ti ons of Windows 7 - excl udi ng Enterpri se - are i ncludi ng on the
si ngl e Wi ndows 7 DVD. Thi s means that even a Windows 7 Home Basi c DVD has Wi ndows 7 Ul ti mate on
the same di sc for example. Thi s i s the same as Windows Vista, however unl i ke Vista, the way i n whi ch
Wi ndows 7 determi nes the parti cular product edi tion to use duri ng i nstall ati on i s not through the Product
Key entered, but through the use of the data i n a small ei.cfg fi le found under the \Sources di rectory of the
Wi ndows 7 DVD. Thi s fil e can be opened wi th a text uti l i ty like Notepad, and the contents show whi ch
edi ti on of Windows 7 the di sc is designed to i nstal l. You can make a custom Wi ndows 7 DVD for any editi on
of Wi ndows 7, or i ndeed confi gure Wi ndows so i t prompts you to choose an edi ti on from a menu duri ng i ts
i nstal lati on.

Thi s method requi res that you ei ther edi t ei.cfg to change the text under the [EditionID] secti on to the desi red
edi ti on, i.e. Ultimate, Professional, HomePremium, HomeBasic or Starter as required; or remove the ei.cfg fi l e
al together to force Wi ndows to present a choi ce of edi ti ons duri ng i nstal l. To modi fy or remove ei.cfg and
successfull y create a working Wi ndows 7 DVD containi ng thi s or any other change, you wil l need to use a
tool whi ch allows you to make a bootable .ISO i mage. Thi s i s i mportant, because i f the ISO i s not bootabl e i t
won't work as a proper Windows 7 i nstal lati on DVD. There are several methods for attempti ng thi s, whether
you have a Wi ndows 7 .ISO i mage, or onl y the Wi ndows 7 DVD:

You can use Ul traISO to edi t or remove ei.cfg and subsequently create a new .ISO i mage. Thi s i s the
si mpl est method, however Ul traISO i s not free.
If you al ready have a Windows 7 .ISO i mage, you can use the free Edi ti on Swi tcher uti l i ty to al ter or
remove the ei.cfg fil e from the i mage wi thout al teri ng i t i n any other way, then burn the .ISO as normal .
Import the fi les from the Wi ndows 7 DVD or .ISO i mage to a temporary di rectory, make the relevant
changes to ei.cfg, then l aunch the free vLi te uti li ty (see bel ow) to create a bootable .ISO i mage from these
fi les.

Note the fol l owi ng:

For the purposes of viewi ng or extracti ng contents from an .ISO fil e, you can use the free 7-Zi p uti li ty.
Once a bootabl e .ISO has been created, you can use the burn opti ons i n vLi te to create the DVD, use the
free ImgBurn uti li ty to burn an .ISO to DVD, or use the Wi ndows Di sc Image Burner.
If you sti ll can't successfull y create a bootabl e .ISO for a worki ng Windows 7 DVD, the al ternati ve i s to
use a USB fl ash dri ve, as covered bel ow.

Remember that al teri ng the product edi ti on does not mean you can acti vate that edi ti on of Wi ndows 7
unl ess you have a vali d product key for that edi ti on. The mai n use for thi s method woul d be i f you have l ost
your Wi ndows 7 DVD for exampl e and usi ng another person's Windows 7 DVD you can create a new i nstall
DVD to sui t your product versi on.


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USB Drive Windows 7 Installation: If you wish to make a worki ng Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on disc - whether
modi fi ed or unmodi fi ed - one of the si mpl est methods i s to copy all the Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on fi les to a USB
flash dri ve and boot from there whenever you wi sh to i nstal l Windows 7. This i s much more portabl e and
typi call y much faster than i nstal li ng from a DVD. Fi rst, I recommend maki ng sure the USB dri ve i s bootabl e
by foll owi ng these i nstructi ons:

1. Insert your USB flash dri ve, and backup any exi sti ng data on i t as it wi l l al l be erased i n Step 4 bel ow.
2. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt and type the foll owi ng, pressi ng Enter after each command:

Di skpar t

l i st di sk

3. Determi ne the disk number for your USB dri ve based on i ts size, then type the fol l owi ng and press
Enter:

sel ect di sk [ di sk number ]

4. Type the fol lowi ng to cl ean the exi sti ng contents of the dri ve, create a si ngl e Primary parti ti on, and sel ect
that parti ti on and make i t acti ve. Press Enter after each command:

cl ean

cr eat e par t i t i on pr i mar y

sel ect par t i t i on 1

act i ve

5. Type the fol lowi ng to format the dri ve and press Enter. Note that ei ther NTFS or FAT32 can be used
after the f s= command, but FAT32 i s the most compati bl e for a USB devi ce and hence is recommended,
as some procedures (e.g. flashi ng a motherboard BIOS) require a FAT32 formatted USB dri ve to be
correctl y detected:

f or mat f s=FAT32

6. Once the format procedure i s compl ete, type the fol l owi ng and press Enter to assi gn a dri ve letter to
your USB fl ash dri ve i n Windows - note that you can change thi s dri ve l etter by usi ng the Di sk
Management uti li ty as covered under the Di sk Management secti on of the Dri ve Opti mi zati on chapter.

assi gn

7. You can now type Exi t to cl ose Di skpart and then cl ose the Command Prompt.

At thi s stage, you cannot si mpl y attach the USB devi ce and boot i nto Wi ndows or DOS mode from i t. It
requi res a boot i mage of some ki nd to be trul y bootabl e. See the Boot Di sks secti on of the Boot Confi gurati on
chapter for more detai ls. If you just want to create a Wi ndows 7 i nstall ati on i mage, you can si mply foll ow
the steps bel ow:

8. Copy the enti re fil e contents of your Wi ndows 7 DVD or .ISO across to a temporary fol der on another
dri ve, make any modifi cations if requi red, then copy all these fi l es to the USB fl ash dri ve.
9. Set your BIOS to boot from a 'Removabl e Devi ce', USB dri ve or si milar, dependi ng on the opti ons you
are presented i n your BIOS. You may need to al ter other BIOS setti ngs i n conjuncti on wi th thi s for your
USB devi ce to be bootabl e - check your motherboard documentati on.
10. Connect the USB dri ve and reboot, and Wi ndows 7 setup shoul d automati call y boot from the USB dri ve
and begi n as normal.

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vLite: For any general al terati ons or customi zati ons to your Wi ndows 7 i nstal lation i mage, the easi est method
i s to use vLi te. It i s a free automated uti li ty for creati ng a custom Wi ndows 7 di sc image for use i n
i nstal lati on. It al l ows you to sel ect the components you wi sh to remove from Wi ndows, as wel l as thi ngs you
mi ght l ike to add, such as parti cular Wi ndows Updates, the latest dri vers and so on. Once you have
i ntegrated the rel evant components and removed the components you don't need, vLi te generates an ISO fi le
whi ch you can burn onto CD or DVD and use as your Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on di sc. Note that vLi te was
ori gi nal l y desi gned for Windows Vista, but also works for Windows 7. Al so note that i t requi res the
wimgapi.dll fi le from WAIK to work correctl y, see the i nstructi ons here.

Importantl y, i t has been demonstrated i n the past that peopl e who used vLi te or any other method to
remove Wi ndows components coul d not i nstall new Servi ce Packs for that OS properl y. Therefore I strongl y
recommend agai nst removi ng anythi ng from the Wi ndows 7 install ation image si mpl y because you thi nk
that i t somehow 'speeds up' your PC or 'removes bloat'. Removing most components si mpl y reduces disk
space, i t doesn't i ncrease speed i n the vast majori ty of cases. Don't fall i nto the trap of thi nking that i t i s cool
to stri p out vi rtual ly every component of Wi ndows and replace it wi th a thi rd-party al ternati ve - you are
more li kel y to i nadvertentl y cri ppl e desi red functi onali ty or cause other probl ems for yoursel f down the
track whi ch onl y a rei nstall of Wi ndows 7 can fi x. Thi s i s parti cul arl y true as vLi te is not speci fi cally
designed for Wi ndows 7, so onl y advanced users shoul d remove components usi ng vLi te.

For most users I recommend usi ng vLite to add useful components to the Windows 7 i nstall ati on i mage,
such as dri vers and offi cial updates, as thi s i s a relativel y safe process. Once Wi ndows is i nstal l ed, you can
then remove a range of Windows components usi ng the 'Turn Windows features on or off' opti on under the
Programs and Features component of Wi ndows Control Panel - see the Programs and Features secti on of the
Wi ndows Control Panel chapter. Wi ndows 7 has i ncreased the number of i ntegral components you can
uni nstall i n thi s way, i ncludi ng Internet Expl orer 8, Wi ndows Search, Wi ndows Medi a Player, Wi ndows
Media Center, etc. That way i f you need to restore any component or turn any feature or resources back on
at any ti me, you can si mply re-enabl e them qui te easi ly from wi thi n Wi ndows, whereas removi ng somethi ng
from the Wi ndows 7 i nstall ati on i mage can make i t next to i mpossi bl e to fi x certai n i ssues wi thout havi ng to
rei nstall Wi ndows 7 agai n.

Fi nal ly, be aware that Windows 7's i mage-based i nstal lati on system means that you are potenti all y exposed
to mal ware if you use a downl oaded Windows 7 i nstall ati on i mage whi ch you yourself have not created. Do
not downl oad or use any untrusted i nstall ation i mages as asi de from l egal i ssues, you could be i nstall i ng
undetectabl e mal ware or bui l t-i n securi ty vul nerabi li ti es and expl oi ts on your system i n the process,
bypassi ng al l Wi ndows securi ty features and renderi ng them usel ess.

< PREPARING THE DRIVE
Before you can i nstall Windows, you need to thi nk about how best to confi gure your target dri ve(s) for
opti mal functi onali ty to properl y meet your needs. Thi s i ncludes consi deri ng whether you want to
(re)format or (re)parti tion any of the dri ves, whether you want to use a RAID confi gurati on, and whether
you want to dual boot Windows 7 wi th an earl i er versi on of Wi ndows or another OS. It i s al so much better
to parti ti on and format dri ves pri or to Wi ndows i nstal lati on, though i t i s sti ll possi bl e to do so after you
i nstal l Wi ndows. Make absolutel y certai n to read the fol l owi ng i nformati on before proceedi ng with
Wi ndows i nstal lati on.

FORMATTING
A dri ve needs to be Formatted before i t can be used to store data. As covered under the Backup & Recovery
chapter, hard dri ves i n parti cular are 'l ow-l evel ' formatted at the factory, and thi s does not need to be done
agai n. However a 'high-l evel ' format i s usual l y required on any type of dri ve to set up a fi l e system on i t and
create an appropri ate boot sector, and thi s i s most commonl y what the term format refers to. In Wi ndows 7

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and Vi sta the format command has changed from that of XP, as detail ed i n this Mi crosoft Arti cl e. Formatting
a dri ve i n Windows 7 automati cal ly deletes al l of the dri ve's contents and zero-fi ll s i t. Furthermore, you wi ll
usual l y have the opti on of formatti ng the dri ve usi ng a Qui ck format method. Choose the quick opti on i f you
want a fast zero fi ll wi th no real error checki ng, otherwi se use the defaul t full format opti on to both zero fi l l
and error check the dri ve to ensure optimal data i ntegri ty.

There are several ways to format a dri ve i n Wi ndows:

Open Wi ndows Expl orer, ri ght-cl i ck on the dri ve of your choi ce and sel ect Format.
For more detail ed control over formatti ng, parti ti oni ng, vol ume l abel s, dri ve l etters and so on go to
Start>Search Box, type computer management and press Enter. In the Computer Management wi ndow
sel ect the Disk Management i tem i n the l eft pane. See the Di sk Management secti on of the Dri ve
Opti mi zati on chapter as wel l as further bel ow for more detai ls of thi s functi onali ty.
From any Command Prompt, use the Format command. Type For mat / ? for hel p.
Boot up your PC from the Wi ndows 7 DVD, begi n the i nstal lati on of Windows 7, sel ect a Custom Instal l,
then hi ghli ght a dri ve or parti ti on i n the selecti on wi ndow and cli ck the Format opti on.

Whi chever method you choose, I strongl y recommend doi ng a full format of the dri ve before i nstal ling
Wi ndows - thi s wi ll ensure that data i s onl y wri tten to error-free porti ons of the dri ve. However if the dri ve
i s not parti ti oned yet, you wi ll not be abl e to do a format, so see the Parti ti oni ng secti on bel ow.

File System

If you choose to format a dri ve, you may be presented wi th the opti on of choosi ng the Fil e System to use.
The common choi ce i n Windows 7 is either the NTFS (NT Fi le System) or FAT (Fil e Al l ocation Tabl e) fil e
system. The fi l e system used on a dri ve determi nes how the dri ve wi ll store and organi ze data, so i t i s an
i mportant choi ce. You can see a compari son of the two fil e systems i n this Mi crosoft Arti cl e. Wi ndows 7
actuall y uses an enhanced versi on of NTFS cal l ed Transacti onal NTFS whi ch al lows i t to perform si ngle and
mul ti ple fil e operati ons more securel y and wi th greater data i ntegri ty. Thi s newer versi on of NTFS was
i ntroduced i n Vi sta, and al lows other changes, such as Directory Juncti ons and improved searchi ng - see the
Wi ndows Expl orer and Wi ndows Search chapters for detai ls. A range of functi onal i ty in Wi ndows 7 wi l l
onl y work on dri ves wi th the NTFS format, such as Wi ndows Backup.

Thus for your non-removabl e dri ves I strongly recommend choosi ng the NTFS format. Thi s ensures full
support for all of Wi ndows 7's features and opti mal performance and securi ty. The onl y reason for usi ng the
earl i er FAT32 fi l e system on a dri ve or parti ti on woul d be for compati bi li ty purposes i f you wi sh to i nstall
another OS or a much ol der versi on of Wi ndows, such as Wi ndows 98, on that dri ve or parti ti on.

Wi ndows 7 al so sees the i ntroducti on of ful l support for exFAT (Extended FAT Fi l e System), desi gned for
flash dri ves and portabl e devi ces. However because i t i s a recent propri etary format, i t does not have the
same l evel of compati bil i ty that NTFS and FAT have wi th previous versi ons of Wi ndows, and thi s may
cause probl ems i f you wish to use your devi ce on non-Windows systems. For thi s reason I recommend
formatti ng USB flash dri ves i n FAT32, parti cul arl y as thi s ensures that you can use them for fl ashi ng the
BIOS and transferri ng data between vari ous systems.

If you want to convert an exi sti ng FAT32 dri ve or parti ti on to NTFS, i t i s strongl y recommended that you
reformat the dri ve i n NTFS for opti mal performance. However if that i s not possi bl e or not desi rable, you
can convert the FAT32 dri ve/parti ti on to NTFS without reformatti ng by using the i nstructi ons i n this
Mi crosoft Arti cl e. Conversel y, if for any reason you want to convert an NTFS dri ve/parti ti on to FAT32, see
thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e.


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PARTITIONING
Before formatti ng a dri ve you must fi rst Parti ti on i t. Parti ti ons are fenced-off porti ons of a dri ve, and there
must be at l east one on a dri ve before it can be used. You can i nstead create mul ti ple parti tions, effecti vel y
di vi di ng a singl e dri ve i nto several small er l ogi cal dri ves of varyi ng size, each wi th thei r own dri ve l etter.
There are vari ous advantages and di sadvantages to parti ti oni ng a dri ve, but it i s i mportant to understand
that you shoul d never create mul ti pl e parti ti ons under the false impressi on that thi s i mproves performance.
On a hard dri ve, the fi rst (Pri mary) parti ti on is al ways the fastest, and subsequent parti ti ons are not as fast.
On an SSD, parti ti oni ng makes no di fference to performance as al l parti ti ons can be sought out wi th equal
speed.

In any case, whether SSD or HDD, parti ti oni ng does not repl icate the performance benefi ts of having
mul ti ple separate dri ves, such as i n a RAID configurati on (see further bel ow). On a si ngle hard dri ve i n
parti cul ar, performance i s sti ll l i mi ted by how fast the si ngl e dri ve head can seek (move around to read or
wri te) i nformati on. It can't be i n two pl aces at once, whereas wi th two physi call y separate hard dri ves, each
hard dri ve's head can seek i nformati on i ndependentl y, such as one dri ve readi ng game i nformati on whi l e
the other concurrentl y reads/wri tes Virtual Memory i nformati on i n the Pagefile. Therefore parti ti oni ng is
most useful as an organizati onal tool , not an opti mizati on procedure.

The mai n reason you may wi sh to create mul ti pl e parti ti ons on your dri ve is so that you can install Wi ndows
7 on one parti ti on, have your user fi les and fol ders on another partiti on, and use other parti ti ons for stori ng
other data or other operating systems. Thi s way you can reformat one parti tion for exampl e and the others
wi ll be unaffected. Importantl y though, parti ti oni ng on the same dri ve is not recommended as part of a valid
backup strategy, because dri ve fail ure can affect all parti ti ons on a dri ve - see the Backup & Recovery
chapter for detai ls.

If you're stil l not certai n of how many parti ti ons you wi sh to use, it i s useful to know that Windows 7 all ows
you to create, del ete and resize parti ti ons from wi thi n Wi ndows at any ti me, so you are not l ocked i nto a
parti cul ar parti ti on configurati on on your dri ve once you've formatted i t and install ed Wi ndows. Therefore
i f i n doubt, start wi th one parti ti on and you can always change thi s wi thi n Wi ndows 7 at a later poi nt i n
ti me.

Creating Partitions

Before i nstal li ng Wi ndows, you must make sure your dri ve is parti ti oned. You can do thi s duri ng the
Wi ndows Setup procedure, as covered later i n thi s chapter, however i t i s recommended that you parti tion
and format your dri ve prior to enteri ng the Wi ndows Setup. The reason for thi s i s that a dri ve parti ti oned
and formatted wi thi n Windows Setup wi ll resul t in the creati on of a separate 100MB System Reserved
Parti ti on, necessary for the Bi tLocker Dri ve Encrypti on util i ty, and whi ch al so contai ns Recovery and boot
data.

To prevent the creati on of thi s extra parti ti on, I recommend using the Di skpart command. Boot up your
system wi th the Wi ndows 7 DVD, then at the mai n Wi ndows i nstal lati on screen sel ect your l anguage and
keyboard l ayout, then cl i ck Next. On the next screen cl i ck the 'Repai r your computer' l i nk at the bottom l eft.
In the System Recovery Opti ons menu, sel ect the Command Prompt opti on. At the prompt, type the
foll owi ng, pressi ng Enter after each li ne:


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Di skpar t

l i st di sk

sel ect di sk [ di sk no. ]

The commands above start the Di skpart uti li ty, l ist the avail abl e di sks, you can then specify the parti cular
di sk you wi sh to parti ti on (e.g. sel ect di sk 0). If there are exi sting parti ti on(s) on the dri ve, you can delete
them as foll ows:

l i st par t i t i on

sel ect par t i t i on [ par t i t i on no. ]

del et e par t i t i on

The foll owi ng command creates a pri mary parti ti on of any size (e.g. cr eat e par t i t i on pr i mar y
si ze=51200 to create a 50GB parti ti on), or i f you leave the si ze parameter out, it uses the enti re dri ve for the
pri mary partiti on - that i s, just enter cr eat e par t i t i on pr i mar y to parti ti on the enti re drive as a si ngle
pri mary partiti on:

cr eat e par t i t i on pr i mar y [ si ze=MB]

Once the parti ti on has been created, you can then format i t:

f or mat f s=NTFS

The f s val ue above can be =FAT32 i f you wi sh rather than NTFS, though thi s i s not recommended. If you
created more than one parti ti on, you will need to use the foll owi ng commands instead:

sel ect par t i t i on [ par t i t i on number ]

act i ve

f or mat f s=NTFS

Once compl eted, you can exi t the Di skpart util i ty and the Command Prompt by typi ng:

exi t

exi t

Then restart your PC and commence i nstall ation of Wi ndows as normal.

Altering Partitions Within Windows

You can reparti ti on a dri ve on an exi sting i nstal lati on of Wi ndows 7 at any ti me usi ng the bui l t-i n Computer
Management features. To add or resize parti ti ons i n Wi ndows 7 follow these i nstructi ons:

1. Open the Admi ni strati ve Tool s component of the Wi ndows Control Panel and sel ect Computer
Management, or go to Start>Search Box, type computer management, then press Enter.
2. In the Computer Management box, cli ck the 'Di sk Management' i tem i n the l eft pane.
3. Sel ect the drive for whi ch you want to al ter a parti ti on from the l ist at the top of the screen.
4. If there i s no unal l ocated space avail able, ri ght-cl i ck on the dri ve and sel ect 'Shri nk Vol ume' - thi s wi ll
reduce the si ze of the existing parti ti on, freei ng up space for a new parti ti on(s) to be made.
5. In the next di al og box enter the amount i n MB you want to use for the new parti ti on; the maxi mum
amount avai labl e i s the amount of free space l eft on the dri ve.
6. When done, cl i ck the Shrink button and the exi sti ng parti ti on will be reduced by the amount you chose
above.

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You can now create a new parti ti on in thi s freed up space. There are a range of other functi ons possi bl e
under Di sk Management, but these are covered i n more detai l under Di sk Management secti on of the Dri ve
Opti mi zati on Chapter.

GParted

If you want to undertake more compl ex parti ti oni ng of your dri ve, you can use the free GParted tool i nstead.
It i s not a Windows-speci fi c tool , however i t supports al l Wi ndows fi l e systems and works wi th Wi ndows 7.
It won't be documented here as i t is qui te detail ed i n functi onal ity, and recommended for more advanced
users, however refer to these i nstructi ons if you wi sh to l earn more.

Short Stroking

It i s worth noti ng that there is a parti tioni ng procedure whi ch may i mprove performance on a hard dri ve
(but not an SSD). It i s referred to as Short Stroki ng, and essentiall y invol ves restricti ng the dri ve such that the
head movements on the hard dri ve are kept only to the outer sectors of each platter i n the dri ve, whi ch are
the qui ckest to access. The probl em wi th short stroki ng is that it si gnifi cantl y reduces the usabl e storage
capaci ty of the hard dri ve, al though gi ven the l ower cost of large hard dri ves, and when combi ned i n a RAID
confi gurati on (see bel ow), you can stil l generate a reasonabl y large amount of storage usi ng mul ti pl e short-
stroked hard dri ves, al bei t at a hi gher cost. Short stroki ng can also reduce the li fespan of the hard dri ve.

In any case, the easi est way to achi eve the short stroke effect on a hard dri ve i s to create only a si ngl e small
parti ti on (i .e. around 10% of the total dri ve capaci ty or l ess i n si ze), whi ch i s automati cally pl aced at the
outer edge of the dri ve, and thi s may i mprove performance for the drive. Note that the real -worl d
performance benefi ts of short stroki ng are somewhat dubi ous, because the benefi ts are mostl y seen i n
syntheti c benchmarks. On balance thi s is not a procedure I woul d recommend for most peopl e - i f you value
performance over dri ve space, then consi der purchasi ng an SSD i nstead as they wi ll provi de a range of
benefi ts i ncl udi ng much greater real -worl d performance gai ns than any short stroki ng ever coul d, as well as
qui eter operati on and l ower heat, at a cost that i s rapidl y decli ni ng.


In general I recommend havi ng a si ngle pri mary parti ti on for Wi ndows 7 and your data, as thi s keeps things
si mpl e and performance wi ll be opti mal. For proper data securi ty and genui nel y i mproved performance I
recommend usi ng two or more physi cal dri ves i nstead - this may be more expensi ve but i t noti ceably
i mproves performance, especiall y duri ng mul ti -taski ng, and allows the use of a much more fool proof
backup and recovery strategy. As noted, by defaul t Wi ndows 7 may create an addi ti onal 100MB System
Reserved Parti ti on automati call y duri ng i nstall ati on of Wi ndows pri mari ly for Bi tLocker Drive Encrypti on,
as wel l as for stori ng the Recovery Environment and boot fi l es - for more details see later i n thi s chapter as
wel l as the Wi ndows System Recovery Opti ons section of the Backup & Recovery chapter.

RAID CONFIGURATION
RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Di sks) is a common method of confi guri ng mul ti ple dri ves to
perform better and/or provi de protecti on agai nst data l oss. The vari ous RAID l evels are best demonstrated
i n thi s RAID Arti cl e - cl ick the numbers at the top ri ght of the arti cl e to see the vari ous RAID levels
demonstrated graphi cal ly, i ncludi ng the common RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 and RAID 0+1
confi gurati ons.

To set up a RAID array you need two or more dri ves, whether HDD or SSD, preferabl y of the same size and
speed, and a motherboard wi th RAID support. You wil l then need to i nstal l the dri ves as normal and
confi gure the appropriate RAID opti ons i n your motherboard's BIOS - see your motherboard manual for
i nstructi ons. If your motherboard supports RAID, and most motherboards do, then there is no addi ti onal

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hardware requi red, i t i s al l dri ven by Wi ndows and the motherboard. Once confi gured correctl y, the RAID
confi gurati on of mul ti pl e dri ves wi ll be seen as a si ngle dri ve by Windows, and treated as such.

To determi ne whi ch RAID confi gurati on best sui ts your needs if any, you wi l l need to read the arti cles
l i nked above and consi der your most common PC tasks. For the average user the most commonl y used
RAID array i s a pai r of si mil ar dri ves i n RAID 0 formati on, whi ch provi des the best al l-round performance at
mi ni mal cost. RAID 0 usual l y beats a si ngl e dri ve confi gurati on i n terms of speed, parti cularly for large fi le
movements, due to there bei ng two i ndependent dri ves seeki ng data i n pl ace of one. However RAID 0 al so
provi des absol utely no faul t tol erance at all , and i n fact doubl es the chance for data l oss. If one of the drives
suffers a serious error or i s damaged, you l ose all the data on both dri ves since the data i s spl i t evenly
('stri ped') across both dri ves. Therefore i f you require proper protecti on against data l oss, combi ned wi th
good desktop performance, you should consi der a RAID 5 or RAID 10 configurati on whi ch i s more costly,
but far safer.

Whi le setti ng up stri ped RAID arrays - that i s, RAID arrays which spli t data evenl y across two or more
dri ves (such as RAID 0 or RAID 5), you wil l need to determi ne a Stri pe Size - the small est uni t of data
all ocati on - to be used i n your RAID BIOS. In general , i f you are uncertai n of the size to choose, use the Auto
setti ng (if avai labl e) or a 64kb stri pe. If you use the drives pri mari ly for gami ng I suggest a small er stri pe size
such as 16kb, as thi s can assi st i n reducing stutteri ng i n games.

In any case once you have connected your dri ves and set up your RAID array usi ng the opti ons i n the
motherboard's BIOS, you may need to have a di sc or USB flash dri ve handy wi th the correct RAID dri vers
pri or to starti ng the Wi ndows 7 i nstal lati on procedure. Then duri ng Wi ndows i nstal lati on, on the screen
where you sel ect whi ch drive to i nstal l Wi ndows onto, i f your RAID dri ves are not shown as a si ngl e l ogi cal
dri ve wi th the correct si ze and vol ume name, you wi l l need to cl i ck the 'Load dri ver' li nk, insert a di sc or
connect a devi ce wi th the appropri ate SATA/RAID dri ver, l oad up the rel evant dri vers, then cl i ck Refresh on
the dri ve sel ecti on screen. If you mi ss thi s step, the RAID dri ves may not be correctl y detected by Wi ndows
as one large dri ve, and you wil l not be abl e to i nstal l Wi ndows on them properly or you wil l break the RAID
array and l ose the benefi ts of RAID.

Once Windows 7 i s successful ly i nstal l ed on your RAID dri ves, from that poi nt onwards there are no special
consi derati ons as such; the dri ves are treated as one large normal dri ve for all intents and purposes, though
remember that under certai n RAID confi gurati ons such as RAID 0, a si ngle faul ty dri ve can see the l oss of al l
your data on the RAID drives.

DUAL BOOT OR MULTIBOOTING
For those who want to consi der i nstal l i ng Wi ndows 7 al ongside another operati ng system on the same
machi ne, dual booti ng or mul ti booti ng al l ows thi s. A Boot Menu wi l l l et you sel ect whi ch OS to boot i nto
each ti me your PC starts up. Such a confi gurati on does not provi de any performance benefi ts, i t i s si mpl y
designed to al l ow two or more di fferent operati ng systems to resi de on the same machi ne, total l y i sol ated
from each other.

Note that Windows 7 whil e relati vel y new al ready has excel l ent compati bi li ty, parti cularly wi th software
and dri vers created for Vista, and al so i ncl udes Wi ndows XP Mode functi onali ty for runni ng older
appl i cati ons that onl y run correctl y under Wi ndows XP - see the Virtual Hard Di sk section of the Drive
Opti mi zati on chapter for detail s. As such, there i s no real reason for anyone to dual boot Wi ndows 7 wi th
Wi ndows XP or Vi sta.

The i nstructions for creating a dual boot/mul ti boot system i n Wi ndows 7 are i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e, and i n
more detai l in thi s Mul ti boot Confi gurati on arti cl e whi ch appl ies equall y to Wi ndows 7 in conjuncti on wi th
these added notes. To begi n wi th you need to have at l east two or more parti tions on a dri ve (excl udi ng the
hi dden System Reserved Parti ti on) and/or have two or more dri ves. You shoul d then boot up i nto your

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exi sti ng version of Wi ndows and i nsert the Wi ndows 7 DVD and run Wi ndows setup from there. This
ensures that Wi ndows 7 wi ll see your exi sti ng Wi ndows i nstall ati on and confi gure the boot menu properl y
to gi ve you the choi ce of booti ng i nto ei ther OS - see the Boot Confi gurati on chapter. Importantl y, for
Wi ndows to correctl y i denti fy all of your dri ves prior to i nstall ati on, and correctl y confi gure the dual boot,
you may requi re appropriate SATA/RAID dri vers on a di sc or USB fl ash dri ve and i nsert them duri ng the
dri ve l isti ng stage of Wi ndows Setup.

In general I recommend havi ng Wi ndows 7 and any other OS on compl etel y separate dri ves, as thi s causes
the l east number of probl ems, parti cularl y i f you want to remove an ol der versi on of Wi ndows eventually.
Performance i s al so i mproved i f each OS resides on the fi rst pri mary parti ti on of a different dri ve - except on
SSDs where i t makes no di fference - so for opti mal performance i n Wi ndows 7, do not i nstall i t on a
secondary parti ti on of any hard dri ve. Some i mportant thi ngs to note about dual boot setups:

It i s strongly recommended that you i nstall the ol der versi on of Wi ndows fi rst (or i t must al ready exist)
before i nstal ling Wi ndows 7. It is possi bl e to i nstall Wi ndows 7 first and then install an ol der versi on of
Windows afterwards, but thi s requi res boot confi gurati on edi ti ng - see the Boot Confi gurati on chapter.
If your older versi on of Wi ndows i s the acti ve parti ti on on the fi rst boot dri ve (the dri ve or parti ti on
whi ch i s fi rst booted up by your BIOS), then i t wi l l be al tered to i nclude Wi ndows 7's boot manager fil es.
If you del ete or damage these boot fil es, or you remove the ol der OS or reformat that parti tion, then you
wi ll need to boot from the Wi ndows 7 DVD or access the System Recovery Opti ons i n another way and
run Startup Repai r to fi x Wi ndows 7's boot confi guration, otherwi se i t wi ll not bootup properly - see the
Backup & Recovery and Boot Confi gurati on chapters.
If you want to remove Windows 7 from a dual boot arrangement and return the boot record of your
earl i er versi on of Wi ndows to i ts normal state, see the Boot Configurati on chapter for detai ls.

For more detail ed i nstructi ons on how to manage dual booti ng wi th different versi ons of Wi ndows as wel l
as Li nux, see thi s Dual Booti ng Gui de.

< 32-BIT VS. 64-BIT
The fi nal choice to make is whether you i nstal l Windows 7 32-bi t (al so call ed x86) or Wi ndows 7 64-bi t (also
call ed x64). Every retai l edi ti on of Windows 7 - except for Home Basi c - comes wi th both 32-bi t and 64-bit
i nstal l DVDs, so this is a choi ce al most every Wi ndows 7 user must make, and i t is very i mportant.

The fi rst step i s to understand the di fference between 32-bi t and 64-bi t systems. On a system whi ch supports
64-bi t processi ng, a 64-bi t operati ng system al l ows the handli ng of l arger amounts of system memory more
effi ci entl y; the computer can store more data i n i ts temporary worki ng area, whi ch can potenti all y i mprove
performance under certai n scenari os, parti cul arl y when usi ng data-i ntensi ve programs. Whil e 64-bi t
computi ng is not a necessi ty yet, there i s no doubt that the move from 32-bi t to 64-bi t computi ng i s
i nevi tabl e, and adopti on of 64-bi t systems i s growi ng at a rapi d pace. For ful l detai ls of 64-bit computi ng see
thi s Wiki pedia Arti cl e and also see thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e.

Next you must determi ne i f your PC supports 64-bit processi ng. Wi ndows 7 64-bi t onl y runs on a 64-bit
capable CPU. Fortunatel y all recent CPUs are 64-bi t, but speci fi cal l y al l Intel Penti um D, Xeon, Core 2, Core
i 5, i7, i9 and Extreme Editi on based CPUs or newer, and all AMD Turi on, Opteron, Athl on64, X2 and
Phenom or newer CPUs support 64-bi t computi ng. See the System Speci fi cations chapter for detail s of how
to determi ne your CPU's speci fi cati ons and abi li ti es. For example, usi ng CPU-Z and checki ng under the
Instructi ons secti on of the mai n CPU tab, you should see a 64-bi t related i nstructi on set such as EM64T or
AMD64 li sted i f your CPU supports 64-bi t. A qui cker way to check i s to use the free SecurAbl e uti li ty whi ch
does not requi re i nstall ati on - si mpl y downl oad and run the small fi le and you wi ll see i n the 'Maxi mum Bi t
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Thi rdly, i t i s strongl y recommended that you use 64-bi t Wi ndows i f you have 4GB or more of system RAM
i nstal l ed. This i s because a 32-bi t OS cannot properl y make use of 4GB or more of RAM. As such, for peopl e
wi th 4GB or more of RAM, you should al most al ways choose 64-bi t Wi ndows by defaul t. If for some reason
you sti ll choose to i nstall a 32-bi t OS on a system wi th 4GB or more of RAM, you must use the Physi cal
Address Extensi on (PAE) opti on as covered under the Boot Confi gurati on Data section of the Boot
Confi gurati on chapter.

Fourthl y, keep i n mi nd that you cannot perform an in-pl ace upgrade from 32-bi t to 64-bi t of any versi on of
Wi ndows (or vi ce versa). Thi s does not mean that you can't use the 64-bi t Upgrade edi ti on of Wi ndows 7 if
you currently have 32-bi t Wi ndows, i t means you wi ll have to do a custom (cl ean) i nstall i f you want to
upgrade an exi sti ng Wi ndows 32-bi t to Wi ndows 7 64-bi t. Furthermore, even though you may have both a
32-bi t and 64-bi t Windows 7 DVD, you are onl y l i censed to use one versi on of Wi ndows 7 at a ti me - ei ther
32-bi t or 64-bit - not both separatel y on di fferent dri ves/parti ti ons or di fferent systems. Your product key will
work for ei ther versi on.

Fi nal ly, consider the foll owi ng poi nts:

Wi ndows 7 64-bi t requi res that al l device dri vers be desi gned speci fi cal ly for 64-bi t and that they be
di gi tall y si gned. Wi ndows 7 64-bi t cannot use 32-bi t dri vers, and can only use unsigned drivers wi th a
tedi ous workaround at each bootup (pressi ng F8 at each startup and sel ecti ng 'Di sabl e Dri ver Si gnature
Enforcement'). For most recent and popular hardware thi s shoul dn't be a probl em, as your manufacturer
wi ll usuall y have a si gned 64-bi t dri ver availabl e. However some ol der or less popular hardware may
never recei ve 64-bi t dri vers and/or si gned dri vers. Check your hardware manufacturer's websi te to
ensure that an appropriate si gned 64-bi t Wi ndows 7 or Vi sta dri ver is avail abl e for all of your major
hardware components - see the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter for more detai ls.
Wi ndows 7 64-bi t does not support 16-bi t programs, so i f you use very ol d 16-bi t programs thi s is worth
noti ng.
Wi ndows 7 64-bi t can use al most all 32-bi t programs, usuall y wi th no probl ems or performance
degradati on, nor any need to customize anythi ng. A few 32-bi t programs may experi ence compati bi li ty
i ssues or have i mpai red functi onali ty under Wi ndows 7 64-bi t, or requi re speci fic customi zati on, but this
i s rare and rapi dl y becoming a non-i ssue.
The 64-bi t versi on of a program may provi de i mproved performance under Windows 64-bi t compared
to i ts 32-bi t counterpart.
Wi ndows 7 64-bi t has added securi ty - see the PC Securi ty chapter for detail s.

In general , i t i s recommended that anyone wi th a modern PC choose Wi ndows 7 64-bi t. Unl ess you have
speci fi c hardware for which appropriate 64-bi t dri vers are not avail able, or you use programs whi ch you
know are not supported under 64-bi t, the choi ce of 64-bi t Windows i s opti mal. In fact i f you have 4GB of
RAM or more, there i s no reason to use Wi ndows 7 32-bi t, si nce doi ng so wi ll resul t i n much of the memory
effecti vel y bei ng wasted. The l evel of support for 64-bi t Wi ndows has grown dramati cally i n the past few
years, and thi s i s pri maril y because of the fact that 64-bi t computing i s a l ogi cal and i nevi tabl e evol uti on of
32-bi t computi ng, and must occur as programs become i ncreasi ngl y more compl ex and data-i ntensive,
especiall y games. Rapid adopti on of 64-bi t Wi ndows starti ng wi th Wi ndows Vista has ensured that dri ver
and program support is now excell ent.

If you choose to i nstall Windows 7 64-bi t, there wi ll be few i f any noti ceabl e differences between i t and the
32-bi t version on the surface. Most of the di fferences are not obvi ous to users; the most promi nent
di fferences users wi ll noti ce are:

In Wi ndows Expl orer you wil l see both the \Program Files di rectory and a new \Program Files (x86)
di rectory. The mai n Program Fil es directory i s for nati ve 64-bi t programs, whil e the (x86) versi on of the
di rectory i s for 32-bi t programs - Wi ndows 7 wi ll usuall y determi ne whi ch di rectory to i nstal l a program

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i n automati cal l y. In fact i t makes no practi cal difference whi ch di rectory a program is i nstall ed to, i t wil l
work regardless, so i f gi ven the choi ce, and you're not cl ear on whether a program i s a nati ve 64-bi t
appl i cati on, si mpl y choose the \Program Files (x86) di rectory.
In Wi ndows Expl orer you wi l l see a \Windows\SysWOW64 directory under the \Windows di rectory.
WOW64 stands for Wi ndows 32-bi t on Wi ndows 64-bi t, and i t handl es the emul ati on of a 32-bi t
envi ronment for non-64-bi t appli cati ons. You do not need to manual l y i nstall anythi ng i n thi s di rectory
nor do anything for thi s emulati on to functi on correctl y.
If you use the Wi ndows Regi stry Edi tor, you wil l see an opti on to create QWORD ( 64- bi t ) keys. In
practi ce i t is not necessary to use thi s feature unless speci fi cal ly i nstructed to.
In the Wi ndows Control Panel you wi ll see that certai n i tems have the (32-bi t) suffi x. Thi s has no
practi cal i mpact on the functi onali ty of these i tems.

For all i ntents and purposes 64-bi t Wi ndows 7 l ooks and feels preci sel y the same as 32-bi t Wi ndows 7, so
you shoul d not be concerned about any major changes i n functi onal i ty or usabi lity i f you are swi tchi ng to 64-
bi t Windows for the fi rst ti me. The most i mportant changes are under the hood, and provide the potenti al
for greater performance, securi ty and stabi l i ty. Onl y very ol d or l ow-end systems shoul d use Wi ndows 7 32-
bi t.

< INSTALLING WINDOWS
At thi s poi nt you shoul d have made the appropriate choi ces to be ready to begi n the actual i nstall ation
process for Wi ndows 7. Thi s secti on detail s the procedures requi red to i nstal l Wi ndows, but i t assumes you
have read the rest of thi s chapter, as wel l as the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter. If you haven't done
so yet, pl ease put some ti me asi de to research and make the necessary changes pri or to i nstal li ng Wi ndows 7
- there's no poi nt rushi ng the i nstal lati on of Windows onl y to have to go through i t agai n because you
overl ooked somethi ng or made the wrong choi ce.

The i nstall ation opti ons are covered briefl y i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cle, and i n more detai l step by step bel ow,
noti ng the vari ous opti ons avai labl e and i ncludi ng any recommendati ons:

STEP 1 - LAUNCH THE INSTALLER
There are two mai n ways to commence Wi ndows 7 install ation dependi ng on the type of i nstal l you want -
an Upgrade Install or a Custom (Cl ean) Install . The di fferences between these two are di scussed i n detai l
earl i er i n thi s chapter. Dependi ng on whi ch you've chosen, foll ow the i nstructi ons bel ow:

Upgrade Install or Dual Boot

An Upgrade Install or Dual Boot i nstal lati on of Wi ndows 7 requi res that you fi rst boot up i nto your existi ng
versi on of Wi ndows and then i nsert your Wi ndows 7 DVD. Thi s shoul d automati cal ly begi n the Setup
appl i cati on, however if i t doesn't, open Windows Expl orer, go to the Wi ndows 7 DVD and launch the
setup.exe fil e on i t. Setti ng up from wi thin a vali d exi sti ng versi on of Wi ndows i s necessary for Wi ndows 7 to:

Correctl y i denti fy your eligi bil i ty for usi ng an Upgrade edi ti on of Wi ndows 7.
Determi ne i f you can perform an i n-pl ace upgrade from thi s versi on of Windows.
Identi fy your exi sti ng versi on of Wi ndows and set up the correct boot fi l es for Wi ndows 7 if you want to
create a dual boot.

You can do a Custom (clean) Install of Wi ndows 7 usi ng an Upgrade edi ti on, i ncl udi ng the abi li ty to
reformat and reparti ti on the dri ve if you wi sh. All you need to do i s boot up and l aunch the Wi ndows 7
i nstal lati on process from wi thi n an existi ng qual ifying i nstal l of Wi ndows, and then sel ect the Custom Install
opti on to do a cl ean i nstall.


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However i t is al so possi ble to do a Custom (cl ean) Install of Windows 7 wi thout booti ng up i nto another
versi on of Windows fi rst. Thi s i s parti cularly useful i f you wan to parti ti on and format your dri ve outsi de of
Windows Setup. The detail s are provi ded here and i nvol ve si mpl y booti ng up from the Wi ndows 7 Upgrade
DVD, and sel ecti ng the Custom (cl ean) Install option duri ng i nstall ation. Once i nstal l ed, you can try to
Acti vate as normal. If thi s fai ls, you can then try the fol l owi ng method to Acti vate:

1. Open Regi stry Edi tor and go to the fol l owi ng l ocati on:

[ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHI NE\ SOFTWARE\ Mi cr osof t \ Wi ndows\ Cur r ent Ver si on\ Set up\ OOBE]

Medi aBoot I nst al l =0

Change the value of the DWORD above from 1 to 0.

2. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt and type the foll owi ng then press Enter:

sl mgr / r ear m

3. Reboot your system and you shoul d now be abl e to enter your product key and acti vate normall y via
Wi ndows Acti vati on.

If thi s method doesn't work, i nsert the Wi ndows 7 Upgrade DVD, l aunch Windows Setup from wi thi n thi s
new i nstall of Wi ndows 7, rei nstall Wi ndows 7 by choosi ng the Upgrade opti on thi s ti me duri ng i nstallati on,
and once rei nstall ed, Acti vate Wi ndows 7 as normal . Thi s i s effectivel y the same as a cl ean i nstal l.

Bear i n mi nd that these workaround methods for i nstall i ng an Upgrade edi ti on on a bl ank or newl y
parti ti oned and/or formatted dri ve are onl y l egal i f you actuall y own a quali fying val id ful l previ ous versi on
of Wi ndows, though at no poi nt does Wi ndows 7 check to confi rm thi s.

Custom Install

A Custom or Cl ean Install of Wi ndows 7 wil l erase any data on the target dri ve/parti ti on - i t wi ll not transfer
any existi ng fi l es or setti ngs on that dri ve. Make sure you have backed up any data on the drive whi ch you
wi sh to keep. To start a Custom Install , go i nto your BIOS and set your DVD dri ve as the fi rst boot devi ce,
and make sure al l your drives are correctl y connected, confi gured and detected i n the BIOS. Then i nsert your
Wi ndows 7 DVD and reboot your system, pressi ng any key when prompted on the screen to boot up vi a the
DVD dri ve.

STEP 2 - INSTALL NOW
On the fi rst Wi ndows 7 Install ation screen, if you booted from the Wi ndows 7 DVD you wi ll be asked to
sel ect your Language, Ti me & Currency Format and Keyboard method. Set these correctly and cli ck Next.

Once you've done thi s, or if you started Wi ndows 7 install ation from wi thi n an exi sti ng versi on of Wi ndows,
the screen you wil l now see shoul d have a large 'Install Now' button. Cl i ck thi s i f you want to start
i nstal lati on of Wi ndows 7.

Repair your Computer: Thi s functi onal ity i s covered under the Backup & Recovery chapter and i s onl y
necessary if you are troubleshooti ng a probl em.

If launchi ng Wi ndows 7 install ation from wi thi n an exi sti ng versi on of Wi ndows, you wi l l al so see the
foll owi ng opti on:


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Check Compatibility Online: If you aren't certai n of your hardware compati bi li ty wi th Wi ndows 7 then cl ick
the 'Check compati bi li ty onl i ne' button and you wi ll be taken through the Wi ndows 7 Upgrade Advi sor,
whi ch is covered earli er i n thi s chapter.

STEP 3 - GET IMPORTANT UPDATES FOR INSTALLATION
You wi ll be prompted to check for i mportant updates pri or to install ation. These i ncl ude securi ty updates
and any necessary dri ver updates. If you can connect to the Internet, i t i s recommended that you do so and
sel ect the fi rst opti on to get the l atest updates now, as i t wi ll make Wi ndows 7 install ation much si mpl er and
more secure. However i f you don't have an Internet connecti on or wi sh to ski p thi s step, i t i s not cri ti cal and
can be done later via Wi ndows Update.

At the next screen you wil l see the End User Li cense Agreement (EULA) - read thi s and tick the 'I accept
l i cense terms' box i f you wi sh to conti nue i nstall i ng Wi ndows 7, then cl i ck Next. To downl oad a full copy of
thi s li cense and read i t at your l ei sure, and to understand the key practi cal aspects of the li cense see the
Wi ndows Acti vati on chapter - you may wi sh to read that chapter now before you agree to the l i cense.

STEP 4 - SELECT UPGRADE OR CUSTOM (ADVANCED) INSTALL
At thi s poi nt, you wi ll get the choi ce to do an Upgrade i nstal l or a Custom (Advanced) i nstal l whi ch
translates to a clean i nstallati on. The Upgrade i nstallati on opti on shoul d onl y be chosen i f you want to do an
i n-place upgrade i nstal l; i t has nothi ng to do wi th whether you are usi ng an Upgrade Edi ti on of Wi ndows 7
or not. Otherwi se select the Custom (Advanced) i nstall opti on to begi n a cl ean i nstal lati on.

If the Upgrade i nstal l opti on i s avai labl e and you choose i t, your system wil l be scanned and you wil l be
presented with a Compatibi l i ty Report i ndi cati ng whi ch of your currentl y i nstall ed programs and dri vers
may be problemati c under Wi ndows 7, as wel l as any other i ssues whi ch need to be resol ved before you can
successfull y conti nue wi th Windows 7 i nstal lati on. You can stop i nstal lati on at thi s point wi thout any
probl ems or changes to your exi sti ng Wi ndows i nstall if you feel there are too many i ssues identi fi ed. If you
choose to proceed wi th the Upgrade i nstal lati on, ski p to Step 6 bel ow, since by necessi ty the target
dri ve/parti ti on automati call y has to be the one on whi ch your current i nstal l of Wi ndows is si tti ng.

Agai n, I general l y recommend agai nst an Upgrade i nstal lati on unl ess you are a relati vely new Wi ndows
user, or you are absol utely certai n you do not have the ti me to rei nstal l and reconfigure Wi ndows 7 from
scratch.

STEP 5 - WHERE DO YOU WANT TO INSTALL WINDOWS
Thi s screen all ows you to choose the l ogi cal dri ve where Wi ndows 7 wil l be i nstall ed. You shoul d see a l ist of
all the detected dri ve(s) currentl y connected to your system. They are di splayed i n the format: [Disk #]
[Partition #] [volumename] [driveletter]. If the dri ve(s) are not correctl y identi fi ed, or are
unparti ti oned/unformatted, then you wi l l see something l i ke Disk 0 Unallocated Space under the dri ve Name.
Al so check the Total Size and Free Space columns to make sure the si ze is correctl y i denti fied. Remember
though that adverti sed drive space i s different to the way Wi ndows displays i t due to a di screpancy between
Gi gabytes (GB) and Gi bi bytes (Gi B) - see the Bytes and Bi ts secti on of the Basi c PC Termi nology chapter for
more detai ls.

Load Drivers: If mul ti pl e dri ves i n RAID formati on are not displayi ng as a singl e dri ve, or any dri ves are
showi ng i ncorrect si zes, or formatted and parti ti oned dri ves are showi ng up as unformatted and/or
unparti ti oned, then your dri ve(s) are not bei ng correctl y detected. You wi ll need to cl i ck the 'Load dri ver'
l i nk at the bottom of thi s box, and then insert or attach an appropri ate di sc or dri ve contai ni ng the necessary
dri vers (e.g. RAID dri vers) and l oad all the rel evant control l er drivers needed. Once done, cli ck the Refresh
l i nk at the bottom of the screen and your dri ves shoul d now be di splayed correctl y. If they sti ll aren't then
you may have to abort i nstal lati on (cl i ck the red X button at the top ri ght of the box) and either downl oad

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appropriate dri vers from your motherboard manufacturer's websi te and/or check your BIOS to see i f the
dri ves are detected and confi gured correctl y there. The bottom l i ne i s that if Wi ndows 7 does not detect your
dri ves properl y at this stage you wil l ei ther be unabl e to i nstall Windows, or the i nstal lati on wi ll not work as
i ntended especi al ly i f you are attempti ng to use a dual boot or RAID configurati on.

Format, New, Delete, Extend: If you booted up wi th the Wi ndows 7 DVD to do a Custom i nstal l , you wil l also
see these addi ti onal options here; if you started the setup from wi thi n Windows you wi ll not see these
opti ons. Format all ows you to (re)format the sel ected dri ve. This i s recommended for any dri ve wi th exi sti ng
data. A full format usi ng the NTFS fil e system is strongl y recommended for ensuri ng opti mal compati bil i ty,
performance and data i ntegri ty. You can also use the New, Delete, and Extend opti ons to (re)parti ti on a
dri ve i f you wi sh, whi ch i s necessary for a new drive. See the Prepari ng the Dri ve secti on earli er i n this
chapter for ful l detai l s of important consi derati ons i n relati on to formatti ng and parti ti oni ng.

System Reserved Partition: Importantl y, if i nstal li ng Wi ndows on a bl ank new dri ve, or if you manuall y delete
all the parti tions on an existi ng dri ve and reparti ti on i t wi thi n Windows setup, Windows wi l l i nform you
that 'To ensure that all Windows features work correctl y, Wi ndows mi ght create addi ti onal parti ti ons for
system fi les'. Thi s prompt i ndi cates the automati c creati on of an addi ti onal 100MB System Reserved
Parti ti on, a hi dden parti tion wi th no dri ve l etter, created specifi call y for the Bi tLocker Dri ve Encrypti on
feature to hol d unencrypted boot fi l es and al so stores the System Recovery Opti ons. There i s no harm i n
l etti ng thi s parti ti on be created, however i f you don't wi sh to have mul ti ple parti ti ons on your system dri ve,
and you are certai n you wi ll not use the Bi tLocker Dri ve Encrypti on feature, then i t is best to prevent thi s
System Reserved Parti ti on from bei ng created. This wi l l pl ace the boot fi l es and Recovery Opti ons i n hi dden
fol ders i n the base di rectory of your system dri ve.

The way to prevent creati on of the System Reserved Parti ti on i s to cancel out of any prompts and exit
Wi ndows Setup. Then (re)parti ti on and (re)format the dri ve before l aunchi ng Wi ndows Setup. Wi ndows 7
wi ll not create a System Recovery Parti ti on on a dri ve wi th parti ti ons whi ch are al ready defi ned before
enteri ng Wi ndows Setup, onl y on a drive where parti ti ons are not defi ned (i .e. a new bl ank dri ve), or drives
where the user del etes al l parti ti ons and creates new parti ti on(s) duri ng Wi ndows Setup. See the Parti ti on
secti on earli er i n thi s chapter for detai ls of how to create a parti tioned and formatted dri ve i n Wi ndows 7
before entering Wi ndows Setup.

Once your dri ve(s) are parti ti oned and formatted the way you want them and are detected correctly,
hi ghli ght the rel evant l ogi cal dri ve to whi ch you want to i nstal l Wi ndows 7 and cl i ck the Next button. The
exi sti ng contents of the target l ogi cal dri ve wil l be lost as Wi ndows 7 i nstal ls over i t, however i f i nstall ing
Windows 7 over an exi sti ng i nstall ati on of Windows wi thout first formatti ng that parti ti on, Windows 7 wi ll
attempt to save user-related fi l es and move them i nto a \Windows.old di rectory once Wi ndows 7 i s i nstalled.
Thi s i s not a substi tute for havi ng prepared a proper backup, and i n general I strongl y recommend that you
format a partiti on first before i nstall i ng Wi ndows 7 to prevent residue from previ ous Wi ndows i nstall s.

STEP 6 - AUTOMATED INSTALLATION
From thi s poi nt on, no user i nteracti on i s requi red for some ti me as Wi ndows 7 begi ns to copy across the
compressed image of i tsel f to your target dri ve, expands i t and confi gures the requi red features and updates.
Your PC wi ll then restart several ti mes to compl ete i nstall ation.

STEP 7 - SET UP WINDOWS
Wi ndows 7 wi ll then commence the fi nal phase of the i nstall ati on whi ch requi res your input. Note that at
thi s poi nt you can remove the Wi ndows 7 DVD from your dri ve and put i t away if you wi sh, as i nstallati on
i s now occurri ng from your pri mary system dri ve. Also remember to reset your pri mary system dri ve as the
fi rst boot devi ce i n your BIOS when your system next reboots.


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Wi ndows 7 wi ll run through some addi ti onal configurati on and performance checks, before arri vi ng at the
user i nput stage, each section of whi ch is covered below:

Username & Computer Name: Thi s i s an i mportant step. You wi ll be asked to enter your preferred Username
for the fi rst User Account on thi s system. Thi s fi rst user account wi ll have the Admi ni strator-l evel pri vil eges,
and i s call ed the Protected Admi ni strator account. The User Account username wi l l al so be used to l abel the
root di rectory of your personal fol der under the \Users directory, so choose somethi ng relati vel y si mple but
descri pti ve, like your fi rst name. Once you've entered a username, Wi ndows 7 wi ll automaticall y generate a
Computer Name for the system - thi s is reall y onl y used to i denti fy thi s parti cular machi ne i n a network of
computers. For most home users who don't connect to a network of other PCs, the Wi ndows 7 default of
[Username]-PC i s perfectly fi ne, otherwi se i f you do want to run thi s PC on a network then choose a
descri pti ve name. Cl i ck Next when done.

Password: Here you wil l be prompted to enter a password for the user account whose username you entered
i n the previ ous screen. If you share this PC wi th others, parti cularly if you want to have mul ti pl e User
Accounts on the one PC, or i f the PC i s physi call y accessi bl e by others you don't ful l y trust, or you si mply
want a very hi gh l evel of securi ty, then enter an appropri ate password. If these scenari os do not appl y to
you, then for conveni ence's sake I recommend not enteri ng a password - l eave the Password fiel ds blank and
cl i ck Next. You can al ways add a password to your user account later if you wi sh.

See the User Accounts chapter as well as the User Account Control secti on of the PC Securi ty chapter for ful l
detail s of how User Accounts work i n Wi ndows 7.

Product Key: You wi ll be prompted to enter your Windows Product Key i n the format XXXXX- XXXXX- XXXXX-
XXXXX- XXXXX. Dashes are entered automati cal ly, and case i s not i mportant. Importantl y, you don't have to
enter your product key if you don't wi sh; you can cli ck Next to conti nue Wi ndows i nstal lati on wi thout i t. As
noted earl i er i n thi s chapter, unl i ke Wi ndows Vi sta, the product key i s not what Windows 7 uses to i dentify
whi ch edi ti on of Wi ndows to i nstal l - that i s determi ned by the confi gurati on data al ready hel d on your
Wi ndows 7 install ation DVD. However i t i s strongly recommended that you enter your product key now,
because i t i s best to determi ne at thi s poi nt i f your product key i s val i d for your current edi ti on of Wi ndows.
For exampl e, i f you ski p enteri ng the key now and at a later date wi thi n Wi ndows you enter a perfectl y val id
product key but one whi ch i s i ncorrect for your i nstal l ed edi ti on of Wi ndows (e.g. i f you used someone else's
Wi ndows 7 DVD) then Wi ndows wi ll not accept the key and wi ll not be abl e to acti vate, necessi tating a
rei nstall of Wi ndows 7 usi ng the correct DVD. Mi crosoft does not encourage or support the tri al use of
Wi ndows 7 by ski ppi ng entry of the product key.

Al so note that the 'Automati call y acti vate Wi ndows when I'm onl i ne' box, i f ti cked, wil l begi n Acti vation
shortl y after you have l oaded up Wi ndows 7 for the fi rst ti me and an acti ve Internet connecti on i s detected. I
recommend unti cki ng thi s opti on for the moment and manual ly acti vati ng when you are ready - see the end
of thi s chapter for the reasons, and refer to the Wi ndows Acti vati on chapter for more detai ls.

Help Protect Your Computer and Improve Windows Automatically: You wil l be asked how you wi sh to configure
Wi ndows 7's securi ty and onl i ne update setti ngs. Speci fi cal ly, these setti ngs rel ate to the foll owi ng features:

Wi ndows Update - Automati c securi ty updates and dri ver updates downl oading and i nstall ati on. See
the Dri ver Instal lati on section of the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter for detai ls.
Detai led Devi ce Information - Downl oads detai led i nformati on for any devi ces you have connected. See
the Devi ces and Pri nters secti on of the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter for detai ls.
Wi ndows Defender - Enabl es full Defender anti-mal ware functionali ty. See the Wi ndows Defender
secti on of the PC Securi ty chapter for detail s.

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Wi ndows Probl em Reporti ng - Enables Wi ndows to report any probl ems to Mi crosoft for better
i dentifi cati on of potenti al sol uti ons. See the Wi ndows Acti on Center secti on of the Performance
Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter for detai ls.
Wi ndows Customer Experi ence Improvement Program - Thi s program coll ects informati on whi ch is not
personal ly i denti fiabl e about your hardware and the way i n whi ch you use Wi ndows. It sends thi s
i nformati on to Mi crosoft to all ow i mprovement of Wi ndows functi onali ty as detail ed i n thi s Mi crosoft
Arti cl e. You can al ter thi s setti ng at any ti me i n Acti on Center - go to Start>Search Box, type Action
Center, press Enter and in the l eft pane cl i ck the 'Change Action Center setti ngs' li nk, then cl i ck the
'Customer Experi ence Improvement Program setti ngs' li nk at the bottom of the box whi ch opens.
Wi ndows Onl i ne Hel p & Support - Al lows the Wi ndows Hel p feature to downl oad newer content for
Hel p & Support functi onali ty. You can al ter thi s setting at any ti me by openi ng Hel p & Support - press
F1 whi l e on the Wi ndows Desktop, or go to Start>Search Box, type Help and Support and press Enter. In
the Hel p and Support box, cl i ck the Opti ons button at the top l eft and sel ect Setti ngs, then ti ck or unti ck
the 'Improve my search resul ts by usi ng onl i ne Hel p' box.
Wi ndows Hel p Experience Improvement Program - Thi s program col l ects any words or phrases you
enter i nto the Hel p and Support feature and sends i t to Mi crosoft to al l ow MS to i mprove the Hel p
functi onali ty. You can al ter thi s setti ng at any ti me by openi ng Hel p & Support - press F1 whi l e on the
Wi ndows Desktop, or go to Start>Search Box, type Help and Support and press Enter. In the Hel p and
Support box, cl i ck the Options button at the top l eft and sel ect Setti ngs, then ti ck or unti ck the 'Joi n the
Hel p Experi ence Improvement program' box.

If you sel ect 'Use recommended setti ngs', all of the above features wi ll automaticall y be enabled. If you select
'Install i mportant updates onl y' then only the Wi ndows Update-rel ated setti ngs wi ll be enabled. If you select
'Ask me later' then none of these features wil l enabl ed unless you choose to al ter them manuall y i n
Wi ndows. If you have privacy concerns see this Mi crosoft Arti cl e. I recommend the 'Ask me l ater' opti on, as
we wil l be modi fyi ng al l of the rel evant opti ons above later i n the book anyway.

Review Your Time and Date Settings: Set your correct ti me zone, ti me and date, and al so I recommend ti cking
the 'Automaticall y adjust clock for Daylight Savi ng Time' box.

Select Your Computer's Current Location: Thi s screen asks you to set your l ocation for networki ng/Internet
connecti vi ty purposes. The opti ons are Home network, Work network or Publi c network. Ironi cal ly, for the
average standal one home PC connected to the Internet the best choi ce i s actually 'Publ i c Locati on' not Home,
as thi s al l ows you to connect to the Internet wi th full functi onali ty but mai ntai ns ti ghter securi ty. The other
opti ons are onl y rel evant i f you are actuall y connected to a network of other computers (excludi ng the
Internet), such a col l ecti on of networked PCs i n your home, or when connected to your empl oyer's network.
See the Network & Shari ng Center section of the Wi ndows Control Panel chapter for more detail s.

STEP 8 - WINDOWS STARTUP
Wi ndows 7 then l aunches i nto i ts fi nal setup phase, whi ch may take a whi l e - you wi ll see the prompt
'Prepari ng your desktop' and you wi ll eventuall y reach the Wi ndows 7 Desktop. From thi s poi nt onward
Windows i nstal lati on i s compl ete and you can begi n usi ng Wi ndows 7 as normal, conti nui ng wi th the rest of
thi s book.

A few thi ngs to keep i n mind i mmedi atel y after i nstal l i ng Wi ndows:

Make sure to remove the Wi ndows 7 DVD and/or any removabl e devi ces i f you haven't al ready before
rebooti ng Windows.
Make sure to go i nto your BIOS and reset your mai n system dri ve as the fi rst boot devi ce i f you had set
your DVD dri ve or a removabl e devi ce as the fi rst boot devi ce for Wi ndows i nstal lati on purposes.
Li mi t any general Internet browsi ng or other onl i ne acti vi ti es unti l after you've compl eted the PC
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Don't Acti vate your Wi ndows strai ght away i f possi bl e. If you pl an on maki ng any major physi cal
changes to the hardware confi gurati on of your PC, or if you wi ll be experi menti ng heavil y, or i f you
si mpl y aren't sure i f your system is functi oni ng properl y and/or i f you are pl anni ng on rei nstall i ng
Wi ndows agai n wi thi n the next 30 days then wai t unti l you've bedded down your configurati on before
acti vati ng. Thi s i s because mul ti pl e acti vations wi thi n a short peri od of ti me may be vi ewed as
suspi ci ous by Mi crosoft. See the Wi ndows Acti vati on chapter for detail s.


At thi s poi nt, you can conti nue readi ng thi s book sequenti al ly, or you can ski p to any chapter whi ch takes
your fancy. However I strongl y recommend readi ng the Wi ndows Expl orer, Wi ndows Drivers, PC Securi ty
and Graphi cs & Sound chapters as soon as possi bl e to cover the key functi onali ty, stabi li ty and securi ty-
related topi cs.

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BOOT CONFIGURATION


Wi ndows 7 and Wi ndows Vi sta have a substantiall y di fferent boot confi gurati on than earli er versi ons of
Windows. Instead of using a si mpl e Boot.ini fi l e as i n Windows XP, Windows 7 has a special Boot
Confi gurati on Data (BCD) database to hol d all the rel evant bootup parameters, and to al l ow compati bili ty
wi th newer bootup methods. However thi s al so makes boot confi gurati on and edi ti ng much tri cki er.

For the most part, edi ti ng boot confi gurati on i s for more advanced users. You shoul d not need to edi t or alter
the Wi ndows 7 boot confi gurati on unl ess you're troubl eshooti ng a more compl i cated bootup-related
probl em, attempti ng to use 4GB or more of system RAM on 32-bi t Wi ndows, or modifyi ng or repairi ng a
mul ti boot setup. For basic boot-rel ated probl ems, the automated Startup Repai r uti li ty in the System
Recovery Opti ons is recommended, as covered under the Wi ndows System Recovery Opti ons secti on of the
Backup & Recovery chapter.


< BOOT FILES
The Wi ndows 7 boot configurati on are hel d i n a hidden \Boot folder, and the bootmgr and BOOTSECT.BAK
fi les, al l required for starti ng up Wi ndows. If your dri ve has a smal l 100MB System Reserved Parti ti on whi ch
was created when i nstal ling Wi ndows 7, then these fi les wi ll be located there. Thi s is part of the requi rement
for Bi tLocker Dri ve Encrypti on, si nce the boot fi les cannot be encrypted i f they are to be read properly at
startup, so they must be stored as unencrypted fil es i n a separate parti ti on. Thi s parti tion i s hi dden by
defaul t and i s not assi gned a dri ve l etter, however you can prevent i ts creati on - see the Instal li ng Wi ndows
secti on of the Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter for more detai ls.

You can vi ew the presence or otherwise of thi s System Reserved Parti ti on on your dri ve by goi ng to the
Wi ndows Control Panel, openi ng the Admi ni strati ve Tool s component, l aunchi ng the Computer
Management tool and cli cki ng the 'Di sk Management' i tem i n the l eft pane. It wi ll be shown as a separate
100MB System Reserved parti ti on wi th no dri ve l etter.

If you don't use Bi tLocker, and have successful ly prevented thi s parti ti on from bei ng created duri ng
i nstal lati on, then the boot fi les and fol der wil l be l ocated i n the base directory on the pri mary parti ti on of
your system dri ve, whi ch i s recommended. However if the System Reserved Parti ti on has al ready been
created on your dri ve, then you shoul d not attempt to remove i t, as thi s can render your system unbootable,
and wi ll then requi re you to use the Startup Repai r method to fi x your boot confi gurati on.

< BOOT CONFIGURATION DATA
There are several ways you can vi ew and modify your Wi ndows 7 boot confi gurati on data, and each i s
covered i n more detai l below.

BCDEDIT
BCDEdi t i s a bui l t-i n command l i ne tool for al teri ng the boot confi gurati on i n Wi ndows 7. To use i t, open an
Admi nistrator Command Prompt and type bcdedi t / ? for a ful l l i st of commands, or refer to thi s Mi crosoft
Arti cl e for a command li st. One exampl e of usi ng BCDEdi t is provi ded bel ow, as i t al so assi sts i n fi xing
common boot probl ems.

If you fi nd that your Windows 7 boot screen has changed to a Wi ndows Vista boot animati on, due to a
probl em wi th the boot l oader, then you can fi x i t usi ng a si mple BCDEdi t command as fol l ows:


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1. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt.
2. Enter the fol lowi ng and press Enter:

bcdedi t / set {cur r ent } l ocal e en- US

3. Note that if your l ocal e i s di fferent from Engli sh US, then enter i t i n place of en- US above.

Gi ven i t i s a compl ex tool to use, BCDEdi t cannot be covered i n detai l here. I strongl y suggest usi ng the
EasyBCD tool bel ow to edit your boot confi gurati on instead, at l east to start wi th, and onl y turn to BCDEdi t
i f you have no other opti ons, and only after appropri ate research, as i t i s very ri sky to edi t your boot
confi gurati on wi thout proper knowledge.

STARTUP AND RECOVERY
The easi est method to al ter your basi c Wi ndows bootup-related opti ons i s to go to open the System
component of Wi ndows Control Panel, cl i ck the 'Advanced system setti ngs' link, or go to Start>Search Box,
type systempropertiesadvanced and press Enter. Then cl i ck the Setti ngs button under the 'Startup and
Recovery' secti on of the Advanced tab.

In the Startup and Recovery wi ndow, under System Startup i f you want a Boot Menu to be shown when
your PC fi rst l oads wi th a l i st of al l i nstal l ed Operati ng Systems, ti ck the 'Ti me to di spl ay li st of operating
systems' box and i n the box next to i t choose how many seconds you want the Boot Menu to remai n on
screen before i t automati cal l y l oads up the defaul t OS. If you onl y have a si ngle operati ng system l i sted (i.e.
Wi ndows 7), then thi s boot menu has no i mpact, so unti ck the box.

The 'Ti me to di splay recovery opti ons when needed' box shoul d be ti cked. Enter a reasonabl e amount of
ti me, such as 15 or 30 seconds. The Recovery Opti ons menu wil l onl y appear i f you run i nto probl ems wi th
Wi ndows, and i ts features are covered under the Backup & Recovery chapter.

For detai ls about the System Fail ure setti ngs, see the Wi ndows Memory Management secti on of the Memory
Opti mi zati on chapter.

MSCONFIG
A relati vel y strai ghtforward way to al ter the boot confi gurati on i s to use the Mi crosoft System Confi gurati on
uti li ty (MSConfi g). Go to Start>Search Box, type msconfig then press Enter. Go to the Boot tab of MSConfig
and you wi ll see under the 'Boot Options' secti on there are several opti ons for al teri ng the way your PC
boots up. These are pri maril y used for troubl eshooti ng purposes. Hi ghli ght the i nstal l of Wi ndows 7 you
wi sh to al ter, then you can sel ect one of these opti ons to appl y to i t:

Safe Boot: If sel ected, the next boot wi l l be i nto Safe Mode, as detail ed under the System Recovery secti on of
the Backup & Recovery chapter. Defaul t Safe Mode i s call ed Mi ni mal ; 'Al ternate Shell ' i s Safe Mode wi th
Command Prompt i nstead of GUI; 'Acti ve Di rectory repair' is Safe Mode wi th GUI and Acti ve Di rectory;
Network i s Safe Mode wi th GUI and Networki ng features enabl ed.

No GUI boot: Removes the defaul t Windows 7 animated Wi ndows l ogo startup screen when booti ng up,
repl aces i t with a bl ack screen until you reach the Wi ndows wel come screen. See further bel ow for more
detail s of customi zi ng the Wi ndows boot and l ogi n screens.

Boot log: Records all the dri vers whi ch Wi ndows di d or di d not successful ly l oad up duri ng bootup and
saves i t i n a logfil e stored under your \Windows di rectory as ntbtlog.txt.


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Base video: Boots up Wi ndows usi ng the defaul t Windows graphi cs dri ver rather than the speci fi c graphi cs
dri ver for your graphi cs hardware. Useful i f a recent graphi cs dri ver i nstal lati on i s preventi ng you from
booti ng up.

OS boot information: Shows the names of all the dri vers on screen as they're bei ng l oaded during bootup.

The Ti meout value i n the box on the ri ght is the same as the 'Time to di spl ay a li st of operati ng systems'
setti ng covered under 'Startup and Recovery' further above - i t control s how l ong the boot menu for
operati ng system sel ecti on i s shown and hence is irrelevant i f you onl y have one operati ng system i nstal l ed.

If you cli ck the 'Advanced Opti ons' button you wil l see more advanced bootup opti ons for troubl eshooti ng:

Number of processors: If you have a mul ti-core CPU, ticki ng thi s opti on all ows you to manual ly force some or
onl y one of the processors (cores) on the CPU be detected and used by Wi ndows duri ng bootup. However,
thi s i s not a performance opti on, i t i s onl y rel ated to troubl eshooti ng by arti fi ciall y li mi ti ng the number of
cores on your CPU bei ng used to determi ne if there is a faul t wi th one of them. The defaul t setti ng of havi ng
thi s box unti cked i s opti mal and resul ts in the best bootup ti me.

Maximum Memory: Al l ows you to manual l y force Wi ndows to onl y use a certai n amount of RAM on your
system, up to and i ncludi ng your ful l physi cal RAM amount, for troubl eshooting purposes. Amount entered
i s i n Ki l obytes (KB).

PCI Lock: Stops Wi ndows from dynamicall y assigni ng system resources to PCI devi ces. The devi ces wil l use
the BIOS confi gurati on i nstead. Of no practi cal use to most users.

Debug: Starts Wi ndows i n debuggi ng mode. Ti cki ng thi s opti on ungrays a range of addi ti onal opti ons as to
where to wri te the debug output. Agai n, of no practi cal use to most users.

Once done sel ecti ng whi ch bootup opti ons you wish to appl y to the boot confi gurati on, cl i ck the Apply
button i n the MSConfi g Boot tab and these opti on(s) wi ll come i nto effect on next boot. Shoul d you wi sh to
appl y any permanentl y, you can ti ck the 'Make all boot setti ngs permanent' box. If you wish to undo these
changes at any ti me, the qui ckest way i s to go to the General tab under MSConfi g and select the 'Normal
startup' opti on.

Use MSConfig onl y to test a boot opti on, or for troubl eshooti ng purposes. Use BCDEdi t bel ow to make any
desi red changes to the boot confi gurati on permanent.

EASYBCD
There i s a tool you can use to make changes to your boot configurati on i n a much more user-fri endly
manner. The most up-to-date free uti li ty for edi ti ng the Wi ndows 7 boot configurati on i s EasyBCD, though
note that at the ti me of thi s wri ti ng you must regi ster on the NeoSmart forums to downl oad the beta versi on
of EasyBCD 2.0 whi ch works properly i n Wi ndows 7. The other popul ar BCD edi ti ng uti li ty VistaBootPro
sti ll works i n Wi ndows 7, however i t i s not free. There i s an older free versi on you can use whi ch appears to
work wi th Wi ndows 7, but i t may be probl emati c.

I recommend before you do anythi ng else i n EasyBCD that you backup your exi sti ng Bootloader setti ngs so
they can be easi ly restored if requi red. Cl i ck the 'Manage Bootl oader' button and under the 'Backup and
Restore Bootloader Setti ngs' secti on, select a desti nati on di rectory and cli ck the 'Backup Setti ngs' button to
create the backup .BCD fi l e. If your system i s currentl y probl em-free then I al so strongl y recommend
creati ng a full backup of your system, as detail ed i n the Backup & Recovery chapter, before conti nui ng wi th
the use of EasyBCD or any other BCD edi ti ng uti li ty.


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EasyBCD has a range of functi ons, but we'l l cover onl y the major ones here. On the mai n 'Vi ew Settings'
screen you can see a summary of the data hel d i n the BCD. You can vi ew thi s i n si mpl e (Overvi ew) mode, or
i f you prefer the raw data, sel ect the Detail ed opti on. The i nformation here i s useful for troubleshooti ng, and
also gi ves you an idea of the ki nd of data held i n the BCD.

If you want to al ter these entri es, cl i ck the 'Change Setti ngs' button. Here you can set the Defaul t OS and the
ti meout, though these are best al tered usi ng the normal Wi ndows Startup and Recovery opti ons as covered
earl i er i n thi s chapter. Of use for mul tibooters, you can rename the OS entri es whi ch show up i n the Boot
Menu. To hel p prevent confusi on and make thi ngs neater, cli ck on each OS l i sted and ti ck the 'Rename
sel ected operati ng system' checkbox - new opti ons wi ll appear al l owi ng you to provi de a new name and also
change the dri ve l etter i f necessary. When done, cl ick the 'Save Setti ngs' opti on i n each secti on to save your
changes.

The 'Add/Remove Entri es' button takes you to a screen where you can add or remove other operating
systems as part of a mul ti boot system. You can even boot up i nto newl y supported Wi ndows 7 Virtual Hard
Di sk (VHD) images here, speci fi ed under the Virtual Di sk tab. The l i sti ng also al l ows you to rearrange the
order i n whi ch the OS entries are presented if you wi sh.

The 'Advanced Opti ons' incl ude vari ous advanced features whi ch the MSConfi g uti li ty and other Wi ndows
uti li ti es can accompl i sh. Most of these features are descri bed elsewhere i n thi s book and i n general shoul d be
al tered usi ng the rel evant Wi ndows setti ngs. The speci fi c features whi ch you can and should use EasyBCD
to more easily al ter are:

DEP/NoExecute: Data Executi on Preventi on (DEP) is covered i n the Data Execution Preventi on secti on of the
PC Securi ty chapter. You can al ter i ts basi c setti ngs wi thi n Windows, however the full range of opti ons i s
provi ded here:

OptIn - The same as the Wi ndows 'Turn on DEP for essential Wi ndows programs and servi ces onl y' DEP
setti ng.
OptOut - The same as the Wi ndows 'Turn on DEP for all programs and servi ces except those I sel ect'
DEP setti ng.
Al waysOn - Forces DEP to be enabled wi thout any excepti ons.
Al waysOff - Compl etel y di sabl es DEP, agai n wi thout any exceptions.

PAE Support: Thi s opti on provi des control over Physical Address Extensi on (PAE) i n Windows. Thi s i s onl y
necessary for correct memory detecti on and usage i f you have 4GB or more of RAM i n the 32-bi t versi on of
Wi ndows 7, in whi ch case you can Force Enabl e i t here. Note that thi s does not si mul ate the benefi ts of a 64-
bi t envi ronment - see the 32-bi t vs. 64-bi t secti on of the Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter for detail s of the
di fference between the two archi tectures.

Under the 'Manage Bootl oader' secti on of EasyBCD, asi de from creati ng a backup of your setti ngs as covered
earl i er, you can also rei nstall or uni nstal l the bootl oader. Thi s all ows you to repai r any probl ems caused by
uni nstall i ng or formatti ng an OS i n a mul ti boot confi gurati on, or due to some other form of probl em. Sel ect
the rel evant opti on and cli ck 'Wri te MBR' to complete the change. You can also use the 'Diagnosti cs Center'
for further troubl eshooti ng assi stance as a last resort.

EasyBCD is a very useful tool for easy BCD edi ti ng as the name suggests, however i t al so carri es some ri sk,
so i f i n doubt do not al ter any setti ngs, and if you wi nd up seriously damagi ng your BCD or any other
Wi ndows boot fil es, try to restore the Bootl oader backup from wi thi n EasyBCD, or al ternati vely use the
Startup Repair functi onal i ty of Wi ndows to fi x the probl em.


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< CUSTOM BOOT AND LOGIN SCREENS
Thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e i ndi cates cl earl y that unli ke previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows, Wi ndows 7 does not all ow
customizati on of the boot screen. Thi s i s a del i berate design deci si on i ntended to prevent any arbi trary
el ements being l oaded i nto memory at boot ti me, because thi s i s a cri ti cal peri od duri ng whi ch certai n
securi ty checks are not yet possi bl e. As such, I strongl y recommend agai nst using any tool whi ch purports to
provi de thi s functi onal i ty, as i t may cause probl ems and/or i ncrease boot ti me at best, or si mpl y mal i ci ous at
worst. At present there are no such uti li ti es whi ch can successful l y al ter the boot screen i n Wi ndows 7.

Note that i f you fi nd your boot screen has reverted back to the Vi sta boot l ogo, thi s i s due to damage to the
boot l oader - see the Boot Confi gurati on Data secti on further above for a fi x.

If you si mpl y want to repl ace the defaul t Wi ndows 7 ani mated boot screen wi th a bl ank boot screen, you can
do so usi ng the No GUI Boot opti on, avail able under the Boot tab of the MSConfi g util i ty, covered further
above.

Customi zi ng the Wi ndows Logi n Screen - which onl y appears by defaul t if you have more than one User
Account, or if your User Account has a password - i s much easi er to do. To use an automated tool to change
the background i mage on the Logi n screen use this free Logon Changer. It can use any i mage you wish for
the Logi n screen background, automaticall y resizi ng and compressi ng the i mage to meet the 245KB limi t
i mposed by Wi ndows.

< BOOTDISKS
The ori gi nal Wi ndows 7 DVD is effecti vel y a boot di sc, however you can now also create a System Repai r
Di sc for the same purpose i f you don't have an ori ginal Wi ndows 7 DVD, or simpl y as a backup. If you're
havi ng problems booti ng up i nto Wi ndows, you can then boot up usi ng one of these discs, use Startup
Repai r to automati cal ly detect and repai r any issue preventi ng proper Wi ndows startup. Detai ls of these
functi ons are covered i n the Backup & Recovery chapter.

If you want to start up your PC i n very basi c DOS mode, then bear i n mi nd that Command Prompt mode of
the Wi ndows 7 System Recovery Opti ons i s onl y appropri ate for certai n purposes. Wi ndows does not have a
pure DOS envi ronment, i t onl y provi des an emulated DOS-li ke Command Prompt i nterface. You can run a
range of DOS commands from thi s prompt, but i t i s not the same as a DOS envi ronment, whi ch some
programs requi re for correct functi onali ty.

So i f you wish to boot i nto DOS to flash a hardware component for exampl e, then you must use the
i nstructi ons and tool s provi ded at BootDi sks or the Ul ti mate Boot CD uti l i ty to create a bootabl e fl oppy or
CD. Al ternativel y, you can use the i nstructi ons provided here to make your USB flash dri ve bootabl e i nto
DOS mode, but bear i n mind that you al so need to alter your BIOS opti ons to all ow correct bootup from a
removabl e devi ce li ke a USB fl ash dri ve.


On bal ance there aren't many reasons to manual l y al ter your boot confi guration under normal
ci rcumstances, so approach the use of the tool s and methods i n thi s chapter wi th cauti on rather than any
desi re to experi ment. If you run i nto boot-related probl ems, al ways turn to the bui l t-i n Wi ndows tool s first,
parti cul arl y the automated Startup Repai r, before delvi ng i nto more compl ex boot edi ti ng.


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WINDOWS ACTIVATION


To confi rm that you are runni ng a l egiti matel y purchased copy of Wi ndows 7 i n accordance wi th the terms
of the End User Li cense Agreement (EULA), Mi crosoft rel i es on Wi ndows Product Acti vati on, better known
as si mply Acti vati on, whi ch verifi es your Product Key and hardware configurati on onli ne or over the phone.
Thi s i s combined wi th Vali dati on, a process whereby your Wi ndows i s peri odi call y checked to ensure i t is
genui ne. Whi l e acti vati on and vali dation have been used i n Wi ndows XP and subsequent versi ons of
Wi ndows, these measures have been ti ghtened and i mproved i n recent years. In Wi ndows 7, Mi crosoft
bui l ds on the Mi crosoft Software Protecti on Platform first bui l t i nto Wi ndows Vista. Col lecti vel y, product
acti vation and vali dati on are now referred to as Windows Acti vati on Technol ogi es (WAT) i n Wi ndows 7,
and are very si mil ar to the protecti on methods empl oyed as of Wi ndows Vi sta Servi ce Pack 1 (SP1).

Thi s chapter looks at the practi cal aspects of how your l i cense to use Wi ndows works, al ong wi th exami ning
the way i n whi ch acti vati on and val i dati on operate i n Wi ndows 7.


< LICENSING AGREEMENT
The End User Li cense Agreement (EULA) for Wi ndows 7 contai ns the terms and condi ti ons of acceptabl e
usage. Thi s secti on attempts to provi de the most i mportant practi cal consi derati ons whi ch arise from the
standard user l i cense i n pl ai n Engl ish. Importantl y however, what fol l ow are my i nterpretati ons of the
l i cense terms based on research, but for l egal reasons thi s shoul d not be consi dered a repl acement for
actuall y reading the li cense yourself, as your l i cense terms and condi ti ons may differ for a range of reasons.

The reason you requi re a li cense for Windows 7 i s that, as wi th previ ous versi ons of Wi ndows, and i ndeed
most modern software, you do not actual l y own the software outri ght. Mi crosoft gi ves you permi ssi on (a
l i cense) to use a copy of thei r software as l ong as you operate i t i n accordance wi th certai n terms and
condi ti ons, to whi ch you expl i ci tly agree duri ng the i nstal lati on of Wi ndows. The key poi nts are expl ai ned
bel ow.

OEM VS. UPGRADE VS. RETAIL EDITIONS
Whi le thei r contents do not di ffer, there are some notabl e differences between the l i cense condi ti ons for OEM
(Ori gi nal Equi pment Manufacturer) or 'System Bui l der' edi ti ons of Wi ndows 7, versus the Upgrade and
Retai l edi tions:

OEM: An OEM edi ti on of Wi ndows 7 usual l y comes pre-i nstall ed on, or accompanyi ng, a new PC or the
purchase of one or more major hardware components. The l i cense i s bound speci fi cal ly to the fi rst PC on
whi ch i t i s i nstall ed. If you substantially al ter that PC's hardware, or you attempt to rei nstall the OEM copy
on a different PC, you may fai l acti vati on si nce you have techni cal ly breached the l icensi ng condi ti ons. There
are other li mi tati ons applyi ng to OEM versi ons, i ncl udi ng l i mi ted or no techni cal support from Mi crosoft.
Thi s i s why OEM copi es are the cheapest edi ti ons to purchase. OEM versi ons can onl y be used to do a
Custom (cl ean) i nstal l .

Upgrade: An Upgrade Edi ti on of Wi ndows 7 requi res that you al ready own a ful l Retail or OEM edi ti on of a
quali fyi ng previ ous versi on of Wi ndows. In the case of Wi ndows 7 thi s means you must own and have
i nstal l ed a ful l Retail or OEM edi ti on of Wi ndows 2000, XP or Vi sta. When usi ng an Upgrade Edi ti on of
Windows 7, you must fi rst boot up your existi ng quali fyi ng previ ous versi on of Wi ndows, then you can
choose to do ei ther a Custom (cl ean) i nstall , or an In-Place Upgrade onl y from Windows Vista SP1 or newer,
to an equi valent or higher versi on of Wi ndows 7. There is a workaround to thi s method covered i n the
Install i ng Windows secti on of the Wi ndows Install ati on chapter, all owi ng you to i nstall an Upgrade Edi ti on

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on a brand new or freshl y formatted dri ve, however thi s method i s not supported by Mi crosoft, and i s not
consi dered l egal i f you do not own a full Retail or OEM edi ti on of a quali fyi ng previ ous versi on of Wi ndows.
In terms of upgradi ng your PC hardware or transferri ng Wi ndows 7 to a new PC, there are no speci fic
l i mi tati ons on the number of ti mes you can do thi s.

Retail: The full Retail Edi ti on does not requi re the ownershi p or i nstal lati on of any other versi on of Wi ndows,
and can be i nstall ed on any PC. You can choose to do ei ther a Custom (cl ean) install , or an In-Place Upgrade
onl y from Windows Vista SP1 or newer, to an equi valent or hi gher versi on of Wi ndows 7. The Retail Edi ti on
all ows unl i mited upgrades or moves to another PC. It i s the most fl exi ble edi ti on, whi ch is why i t i s also the
most expensive edi ti on.

For detail s of eli gi bi li ty for i n-pl ace upgrades, and related upgrade i nformati on, see the Pri or to Install ati on
secti on of the Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter.

GENERAL CONDITIONS OF USE
Asi de from the specifi c l i censi ng condi ti ons covered above, all editi ons of Wi ndows 7 must also adhere to
some general condi ti ons of use. These are spell ed out bel ow:

The OS i s li censed to one speci fi c devi ce at any ti me, namel y the PC on whi ch i t i s currently i nstall ed.
You can't i nstal l the same copy of Wi ndows 7 on mul ti ple PCs unl ess you have speci fi cally purchased
mul ti ple li censes - one for each PC.
If the edi ti on i ncludes both the 32-bi t and 64-bi t versions of Wi ndows 7, you can use one or the other, but
not both at the same ti me, whether on the same machi ne or on separate machines.
The same product key can be used to i nstall ei ther the 32-bi t or 64-bi t versi on of your current edi ti on of
Wi ndows 7.
If you i nstal l an Upgrade Edi ti on of Wi ndows 7, you l ose the l i cense for the previ ous ful l versi on of
Wi ndows. For exampl e i f you use an upgrade edi ti on to i nstall Wi ndows 7 from your retail edi ti on of
Wi ndows XP, you l ose your XP l i cense.
Except for the OEM version, you can upgrade or al ter the hardware i n the PC on whi ch Wi ndows 7 is
i nstal l ed as often as you wish.
Except for the OEM versi on, you can transfer Wi ndows 7 from one PC to another as many times as you
want, as l ong as i t is not i nstal l ed on more than one machi ne at a time.
The OEM versi on can onl y be transferred wi th the origi nal computer on whi ch i t i s i nstall ed.
You must Acti vate your copy of Wi ndows wi thi n 30 days of install ation, and you must all ow i t to
peri odi cal l y connect to the Internet to val i date - see further bel ow for full detail s. Some OEM versi ons of
Wi ndows 7 come pre-i nstal l ed and al ready acti vated, so manual acti vati on i s not requi red.
You are permi tted to make one backup copy of the Wi ndows 7 DVD, or transfer one copy on di sc or
other media if you purchased the software as a di gi tal downl oad.

The above has been provided for i nformati on purposes only and cannot be the sol e basi s for any acti ons you
take - you must read the speci fi c EULA whi ch accompani es your parti cul ar editi on of Wi ndows carefull y to
ensure you understand all the l i censi ng terms and condi ti ons as appl i cabl e to you i n your country and based
on your particular circumstances. For exampl e, i f you have purchased a PC with Wi ndows 7 pre-i nstall ed
from a certain hardware manufacturer, your OEM copy of Wi ndows 7 may have different or addi ti onal
terms and condi ti ons than those speci fied here or el sewhere.


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< ACTIVATION
Thi s secti on goes through the procedure for Wi ndows Product Acti vati on, simpl y referred to as acti vati on,
and any associ ated i ssues.

PRODUCT KEY
When you first i nstal l Windows 7, you wil l be prompted to enter your Product Key, which appears as a
seri es of 25 l etters or numbers separated by dashes i n the format: XXXXX- XXXXX- XXXXX- XXXXX- XXXXXX. Thi s
key can be found on a sti cker on your computer i f you purchased the PC wi th Wi ndows 7 pre-i nstal l ed, on
the i nstall ati on di sc hol der of your Wi ndows 7 package, or on the Wi ndows 7 manual . The product key i s
very i mportant because i t i s i ntegral to vali dati ng and acti vati ng your copy of Wi ndows 7. If the key i s used
by anyone else at the same ti me as you, or on another one of your PCs, thi s wil l breach your li cense terms
and can i nvali date your key for use on any PC. Make sure you keep your product key i n a safe pl ace, do not
share i t wi th anyone el se and i f your PC or copy of Wi ndows 7 di d not come wi th a product key then contact
your retai l er or the person from whom you purchased the Wi ndows 7 DVD and ask them to gi ve you one as
i t i s absolutely necessary - unl ess you are i n a corporate or busi ness envi ronment.

In Wi ndows 7 you can legi ti matel y ski p the entry of the product key when prompted duri ng Wi ndows
i nstal lati on. However unli ke Vista thi s does not al l ow you to choose the edi ti on of Wi ndows 7 you wi sh to
use, as by defaul t the specifi c edi ti on whi ch i s i nstal led i s embedded i n the parti cul ar Wi ndows 7 DVD you
use. It i s recommended that you enter your product key duri ng i nstal lati on to confi rm that i t i s correct,
rather than findi ng out after i nstallati on that i t does not match the product versi on you i nstall ed and hence
can't be acti vated. Detai ls on customi zing your Wi ndows 7 i nstall ati on DVD to another editi on are provided
i n the Pri or to Installati on secti on of the Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter.

If you have lost your ori ginal product key and wi sh to extract i t from your current i nstallati on of Wi ndows,
you can use the free Magi cal Jell y Bean Keyfi nder or ProduKey util i ties. Note that some anti-mal ware
programs fl ag them as suspi ci ous, but they are perfectl y safe to use. However i f i n doubt, the safest way to
obtai n your product key i s to contact your hardware vendor or Microsoft. If you wi sh to al ter your product
key from wi thi n Wi ndows 7, you can do so at any time by goi ng to the System component of the Wi ndows
Control Pane and cli cki ng the 'Change product key' l ink. Enteri ng a new key wil l requi re you to reacti vate. If
you want to look at opti ons for purchasing addi ti onal Product Key(s) onl i ne from Mi crosoft see here.

ACTIVATION PROCESS
Acti vati on i s designed to joi n your product key to your speci fi c hardware speci ficati ons, checki ng to make
sure that your key i s val i d and not i n use on more systems than the l i censi ng terms all ow, whi ch i s usuall y
onl y one system for a standard home l icense. Once you have i nstal l ed Wi ndows 7, you wi ll have exactl y 30
days wi thi n whi ch to activate Wi ndows. Duri ng thi s ti me you can use Wi ndows 7 as normal , but you wi ll be
prompted on a dail y basi s to acti vate, culmi nati ng i n prompts every four hours i n the fi nal 3 days before the
deadl i ne for acti vation, and every hour on the day of the deadl ine. To see how many days you have left
before your acti vati on grace peri od runs out, ei ther click the prompt whi ch appears i n the Noti ficati on Area,
or go to the System component i n the Wi ndows Control Panel and cl i ck the acti vati on li nk at the bottom of
the wi ndow, or go to the Start>Search Box, type slui and press Enter.

If you are aware that your PC may undergo some further changes shortl y, such as the i nstal lati on or removal
of key pi eces of hardware, i t i s recommended that you do not acti vate Wi ndows ri ght away. You have 30
days wi thi n whi ch to bed down your fi nal hardware confi gurati on and I suggest you use i t. Acti vating
before your hardware setup i s fi nalized coul d see you havi ng to re-acti vate repeatedly, i ncludi ng havi ng to
call Mi crosoft to compl ete acti vati on or runni ng into other potenti al compli cati ons. Mi crosoft general l y
vi ews mul ti ple acti vati ons in a short space of ti me as suspi ci ous.


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If you need l onger than 30 days to bed down your hardware, there is a bui l t-i n tool you can use to extend the
grace peri od before acti vati on i s mandatory by another 30 days each ti me, up to a maxi mum of 120 days i n
total , before you must acti vate. Fol low these steps to do so:

1. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt.
2. In the Command Prompt type the fol l owi ng and press Enter:

sl mgr / r ear m

3. Reboot your PC and you shoul d now have an addi tional 30 days before acti vati on.
4. You can repeat Steps 1 - 3 above to gi ve you a total of 120 days maxi mum before acti vati on i s requi red.

Note that the sl mgr command has a range of other opti ons whi ch you can see by si mpl y typing sl mgr i n the
Command Prompt and pressi ng Enter.

In any case bear i n mi nd that at some poi nt you must acti vate your copy of Windows 7 for it to be l egal , as
Mi crosoft does not vi ew the use of Wi ndows wi thout acti vati on as a l egi ti mate method of 'triali ng' Wi ndows
7 - the 30 day grace peri od offered by acti vation i s si mpl y to allow ampl e l eeway for peopl e to acti vate
Wi ndows when i t i s conveni ent. It shoul d not be consi dered a tri al peri od. If you genui nel y wi sh to try out
Wi ndows 7 you can download the free Wi ndows 7 Enterpri se Trial Versi on and run i t for 90 days.

Once you are ready to acti vate Wi ndows, go to Start>Search Box, type sl ui and press Enter. Cl i ck the
'Acti vate Windows onl i ne now' button. When activati on commences, you wi l l automati call y connect to a
Mi crosoft server and send several pi eces of i nformati on specifi c to your system i ncl udi ng:

The versi on of the OS and the versi on of the acti vati on software.
Your language.
Your Product Key.
The Internet Protocol (IP) address of your PC.
A set of non-unique hardware hashes generated based on your hardware confi gurati on. These hashes
don't have any personal i nformati on, nor can they be used to determi ne the make/model of your PC.

The enti re process shoul d take l ess than a mi nute. If automati c acti vati on fail s or you are not connected to
the Internet, you wi ll be gi ven i nstructions on how to acti vate Windows by contacti ng Mi crosoft over the
phone. If activati on succeeds you wi ll not be requi red to reacti vate Wi ndows 7 agai n unless:

You substanti al l y al ter the PC's mai n hardware components, or possi bl y i f a dri ver update makes your
key hardware component(s) appear to be different.
Your product key i s found to be i n use by another system or turns out to be an ill egal l y obtai ned one.
There are si gns of tampering wi th Wi ndows to circumvent the Windows Acti vati on Technologi es.

For more detail s of exactl y what Acti vati on entai l s, and under what ci rcumstances you may need to do i t, see
thi s Acti vati on FAQ.

FAILED ACTIVATION
If you have not acti vated Wi ndows successfull y wi thi n 30 days, or i f you do not reacti vate wi thi n 3 days
after any major hardware changes, or you are found to be runni ng a non-genuine versi on of Wi ndows at any
ti me, you wi ll enter a reduced functi onality state i n whi ch you wi ll experi ence the foll owi ng:

A message from the system tray once every hour remi ndi ng you to 'Acti vate Windows Now'.
A desktop message i ndi cati ng that Wi ndows is non-genui ne.
A non-genuine message that appears when the Windows Control Panel is l aunched.

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The Desktop Wal l paper wil l turn bl ack. Even i f you reset the wal lpaper to somethi ng el se, i t wi l l agai n
turn black withi n an hour.
You wil l not be abl e to recei ve opti onal updates from Wi ndows Update.

You wil l need to successful ly acti vate your copy of Wi ndows 7 wi th a vali d product key to remove these
effects and get back to normal. If you were lead to bel i eve your copy of Wi ndows was genui ne when you
purchased i t, contact Mi crosoft and report the detai ls of where and how you purchased thi s copy. If you
knowi ngl y used an i ll egal product key or use the key i n breach of l i censi ng condi ti ons (e.g. the same key on
mul ti ple machi nes), then you can stil l obtai n a l egi timate key and return Wi ndows to normal as covered in
thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e.

< VALIDATION
Al ongsi de product acti vation, Mi crosoft has buil t additi onal anti-pi racy features into Wi ndows 7 cal l ed
Val idati on, previ ousl y known as Wi ndows Genui ne Advantage (WGA). Whi l e acti vati on veri fi es your
product key, vali dati on is an ongoi ng process that peri odi cal l y checks your Wi ndows to ensure that no
tamperi ng has taken place to bypass activati on, and that your product key is stil l l egi ti mate and not i n use i n
breach of l i censi ng condi tions. When val i dati on occurs, Wi ndows wi ll connect to Mi crosoft servers to send
i nformati on si mi lar to that descri bed under the acti vati on procedures further above. Thi s val i dati on may
also occur when you connect to Wi ndows Update or downl oad certai n Mi crosoft updates. If val i dati on fail s,
you wi ll not be abl e to downl oad updates from Mi crosoft, and can onl y download cri ti cal securi ty updates
through the Mi crosoft Downl oad Center or through Wi ndows Update if set to automati cally update. You
may also drop down i nto the reduced functi onali ty mode descri bed further above.

FAILED VALIDATION
If you are havi ng problems wi th vali dati on when using a l egi ti mate product key, vi si t the Windows Genuine
Advantage Di agnosti c Si te. To manual l y val i date your Windows at any ti me, use thi s offi cial Val idate Now.
If you fail vali dati on but sti l l bel i eve your product key i s l egi timate, check to see i f your Certi fi cate of
Authenti ci ty (COA) sti cker on your PC or copy of Wi ndows 7 i s genui ne usi ng the i nformati on i n thi s
Mi crosoft Arti cl e. If you are hesi tant to all ow val i dati on and have concerns about your pri vacy and the
i nformati on bei ng transmi tted to Mi crosoft, read the Microsoft Pri vacy Statement Hi ghl ights for
summarized detail s i n pl ain Engli sh.

If you conti nue to have probl ems wi th acti vation or vali dati on, the onl y correct course of acti on i s to contact
Mi crosoft Techni cal Support for your parti cular country.


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WINDOWS EXPLORER


Wi ndows 7 uses the Explorer-based i nterface as the pri mary means for manipul ati ng fil es and fol ders i n
Windows. Thi s i nterface i s used by Wi ndows Expl orer as wel l as by many appl icati ons. It shoul d be fami liar
to all Wi ndows users, however there have been some notabl e changes i n Wi ndows 7, bui l di ng on the
changes whi ch Wi ndows Vi sta i ntroduced.

Wi ndows Expl orer can be accessed i n several ways, i ncludi ng by goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng windows
explorer and pressi ng Enter, by usi ng the Computer li nk i n the Start Menu, by cl i cki ng the fol der i con i n the
Taskbar, or by pressi ng WINDOWS+E. Thi s chapter covers al l of the i mportant new and existi ng features of
Wi ndows Expl orer and Expl orer-based i nterfaces i n Wi ndows 7, all owi ng you to make better use of thi s
frequently-accessed tool and customize i t to sui t your needs.

Note that the other common Wi ndows graphi cal user i nterfaces often used i n conjuncti on wi th Expl orer-
based i nterfaces, such as Wi ndows Aero, the Taskbar, Start Menu, and Wi ndows Desktop, are all covered i n
detail i n the Graphi cs & Sound chapter.


< BASIC FEATURES
Thi s secti on covers the basic features of Wi ndows Expl orer i n detai l .

SEARCH BOX
The Search box i s present i n al l Expl orer-based i nterfaces, i ncl udi ng Wi ndows Expl orer and most open
wi ndows, shown at the top ri ght of the wi ndow. This is a very useful feature whi ch all ows you to qui ckl y
refi ne what is di spl ayed in the current wi ndow or fol der by typi ng i n a search term or even partial
characters. For exampl e, to qui ckly show any executabl e fi les i n a l arge folder, open that folder i n Wi ndows
Expl orer, type *.exe i n the Search Box to fil ter out other fi l es and show onl y .exe fi l es.

In Wi ndows 7 any previ ously entered fi l ters are now di spl ayed i n a drop down box for qui ck sel ecti on, as
wel l as a range of suggested fil ters. You can al so use advanced fil ters based on the vari ous fi le properti es and
Wi ndows wi ll show common val ues in the drop box. For exampl e type bitrate: i nto the Search Box and
Wi ndows displ ays common values for you to sel ect such as Near CD Quality (over 128 Kbps), or you can enter
your own value.

The Search Box and associated search functi onal i ty is covered i n ful l detail i n the Wi ndows Search chapter.

ADDRESS BAR
At the top of each Expl orer-based wi ndow i s a web browser-l ike Address Bar whi ch has back and forward
arrows at the far l eft, a refresh button at the far right, and the path to the currentl y displayed di rectory or
wi ndow i n the address box. Useful aspects of the Address Bar i ncl ude:

You can jump to any avail able subdi rectori es under each branch of the di spl ayed path by cl i cki ng the
small bl ack arrow next to that parti cular di rectory branch.
You can go to a specifi c directory or path by l eft-cl i cki ng on an empty space i n the navi gati on pane and
enteri ng the ful l path or the di rectory name. If the directory doesn't exi st, Wi ndows wil l l aunch a web
search on your defaul t browser usi ng the search stri ng entered.
You can vi ew and select recentl y opened di rectori es by cl i cki ng on the smal l Recent Pages down arrow
found between the Address Bar and the ri ght arrow on the l eft side of the wi ndow.

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You can vi ew and sel ect previ ousl y opened l ocati ons by cl i cki ng the smal l Previ ous Locati ons down
arrow found to the l eft of the Refresh button at the far ri ght of the Address Bar.
You can copy the current di rectory path, or a porti on of i t, by right-cli cki ng on the appropriate di rectory
and sel ecti ng 'Copy address as text'.

Note that to cl ear the stored hi story of recentl y vi ewed and previously opened l ocati ons at any ti me, right-
cl i ck i n the Address Bar and sel ect 'Delete Hi story'. Then cl ose and reopen Windows Expl orer and you wi ll
see that the Recent Pages arrow is grayed out, and the Previ ous Locati ons drop-down box is empty.

NAVIGATION PANE
Thi s i s the area i n the l eft pane of Wi ndows Expl orer wi th l i nks to vari ous folders. Thi s secti on detai ls the
i ndi vi dual components of the navi gati on pane, and how to customize the navigati on pane vi ew.

Favorites

Thi s feature is not rel ated to the Favorites functi on of Internet Expl orer or any web browser. Shortcuts to
commonl y visi ted fol ders can be stored under the Favori tes folder at the top of the navi gati on pane for qui ck
access - by defaul t Desktop, Downl oads and Recent Places are shown. You can remove any shortcut here by
ri ght-cl i cki ng on i t and selecti ng Remove; thi s removes the shortcut onl y, not the ori gi nal di rectory. To add a
new shortcut to Favori tes, fi rst navi gate to any di rectory i n Windows Expl orer, then ri ght-cl i ck on the
Favori tes fol der and sel ect 'Add current locati on to Favori tes', or simpl y drag the di rectory fol der and drop i t
on Favori tes.

The Favori tes fol der i s actual l y an extensi on of the \Links fol der found under your user di rectory, so i f you
del ete the Links folder, i t wi ll remove all the saved shortcuts under Favori tes, l eavi ng the Favori tes folder
i ntact wi th no vi si bl e subdi rectories. If you wi sh to regai n ful l Favori tes functi onali ty you can manual ly
create a new fol der call ed Li nks under your user di rectory (i .e. \Users\[username]), however addi ng fol ders
to Favori tes wi ll resul t i n the -shortcut extensi on al so bei ng added for each folder shortcut. Instead of thi s, go
to the \Users\Default\Links di rectory and copy that fol der across to si t under your mai n user di rectory, and
thi s wil l re-enabl e the normal Favori tes functi onal i ty exactl y as before.

You can't del ete the Favori tes fol der, however i f you wi sh to rename i t you can do so by goi ng to the
foll owi ng l ocati on i n the Regi stry:

[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ CLSI D\ {323CA680- C24D- 4099- B94D- 446DD2D7249E}\ Shel l Fol der ]

Ri ght-cli ck on the key above, and if necessary change the permi ssi on to all ow you to edi t i t - see the
Wi ndows Regi stry chapter for detail s on how to edit the Registry correctl y, and see the Access Controls and
Permi ssi ons secti on of the PC Securi ty chapter for detail s on permissi ons.

At t r i but es=a0900100

Change the DWORD value above to a0900130 i n Hexadeci mal vi ew.

Restart Wi ndows or l ogoff and l ogon and you wi ll now be abl e to access Rename and Del ete opti ons when
you ri ght-cl i ck on the Favori tes category. Whil e deleti ng Favori tes wi ll not work permanentl y, you can
rename i t if you wish.

Libraries

The Li brari es feature i s covered i n full detail later i n thi s chapter. However if you si mply wish to remove the
Li brari es category from the Navi gati on Pane, go to the foll owi ng l ocati on i n the Regi stry:

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[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ CLSI D\ {031E4825- 7B94- 4dc3- B131- E946B44C8DD5}\ Shel l Fol der ]

Ri ght-cli ck on the key above, and if necessary change the permissi on to all ow you to edi t i t.

At t r i but es=b080010d

Change the DWORD above to b090010d i n Hexadecimal vi ew.

Restart Wi ndows or l ogoff and l ogon and the Li braries category wil l no l onger be shown i n Wi ndows
Expl orer, however the Li brari es functionali ty has not been di sabl ed - you can sti ll access the l i braries
through supporti ng appli cations, and the origi nal Li braries sti ll si t under the
\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries di rectory.

To restore Li brari es i n the navi gati on pane, si mpl y fol l ow the steps above and change the At t r i but es
value back to b080010d.

Homegroup

If you have enabl ed the HomeGroup feature, typi call y by setti ng your Network Locati on to Home duri ng
Wi ndows i nstal lati on or at a later date, then you wi ll see thi s category i n the Navi gati on Pane. For users who
are not part of a network of computers (excl udi ng the Internet), and are not using network resources i n any
way, thi s i s an unnecessary feature which can be safel y di sabl ed, removi ng this i tem i n the Navi gati on Pane.

To remove the HomeGroup i tem, right-cl i ck on the Homegroup category, sel ect 'Change HomeGroup
setti ngs', or go to the HomeGroup component i n Windows Control Panel . Cl i ck the 'Leave the homegroup'
l i nk, then select 'Leave the homegroup' to confi rm. You may al so have to di sable the two HomeGroup-
related servi ces whi ch are currentl y runni ng by openi ng the Services util i ty and setti ng both 'HomeGroup
Li stener' and 'HomeGroup Provi der' servi ces to Di sabl ed - see the Servi ces chapter for more detail s of how
to do thi s.

See the HomeGroup secti on of the Control Panel chapter for more detail s of this functi onal i ty.

User Folder

Dependi ng on the opti ons you've enabl ed under Fol der Opti ons (See Fol der Opti ons further bel ow), a
category which may appear on the navi gati on pane is your user fol der whi ch has your [username] as i ts ti tl e.
To see your user folder and subfol ders as a separate category on i ts own, you need to go to Fol der Opti ons i n
the Wi ndows Control Panel and under the General tab, ti ck the 'Show al l fol ders' box and cl i ck Apply.
Al ternati vel y you can ri ght-cl i ck i n an empty area of the Navi gati on Pane and ti ck the 'Show all fol ders'
opti on. Thi s wi ll display your mai n user fol der al ong wi th the standard subfol ders such as My Documents,
Downloads, My Music, My Pictures, My Videos etc.

You may al so see a range of addi ti onal fol ders - marked wi th shortcut arrows - whi ch are actual l y Di rectory
Juncti ons, not real fol ders - see the Di rectory Juncti ons and Symboli c Li nks section bel ow for more detail s. It
i s not necessary for you to see these addi ti onal i tems i n the Navi gati on Pane as they are not desi gned to be
di rectly accessed by users, and onl y end up cl uttering your vi ew i n Wi ndows Expl orer. You can remove
them from view by goi ng to the Vi ew tab i n Fol der Opti ons, ti cking the 'Hi de protected operati ng system
fi les', then cl icki ng Appl y, and cl osi ng and re-openi ng Wi ndows Expl orer.

More detail s regardi ng your user fol der are under the Personal Fol ders secti on later i n thi s chapter.


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Computer

Al l your connected dri ves wi ll be li sted under the Computer category. Note that i f the 'Show all fol ders' box
i s not ti cked in Fol der Options, then drives whi ch are currently empty, such as DVD dri ves whi ch contain no
di scs, wi ll not be displayed as a separate i tem under the Computer category i n the Navi gati on Pane,
however they wi ll be shown i n the ri ght pane when the Computer category i s highl i ghted.

Network

The Network category appears i n al l versi ons of Wi ndows 7, even i f you are not on a home or work network.
To remove the Network i tem from the Navi gati on Pane, go to the fol l owi ng l ocation i n the Registry:

[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ CLSI D\ {F02C1A0D- BE21- 4350- 88B0- 7367FC96EF3C}\ Shel l Fol der ]

Ri ght-cli ck on the subfol der above, and i f necessary change the permi ssi on to allow you to edit i t.

Pi nToNameSpaceTr ee

Ri ght-cli ck on the val ue shown above and del ete i t. Restart Wi ndows or l ogoff and l ogon and the Network
category wi ll no l onger be vi si bl e i n the Navi gati on Pane. To undo thi s change at any ti me, simpl y go to the
subfol der above, ri ght-cl ick i n the ri ght pane, create a new STRING wi th no val ue data and name i t
Pi nToNameSpaceTr ee then restart Windows or l ogoff and l ogon.

Customizing Navigation Pane Views

If you do not l ike the contents of any of the mai n Navi gati on Pane folders such as Favori tes, Li brari es or
Computer clutteri ng the Navi gati on Pane, asi de from removi ng certai n components as covered above, you
can al so customi ze them i n a relati vely si mple manner from wi thi n Wi ndows wi thout resorti ng to any
advanced methods, or i n conjuncti on with the advanced methods.

To start wi th, you can mi nimi ze any major category by si mply doubl e-cli cki ng on the fol der, or ri ght-cl i cking
on i t and sel ecti ng Coll apse to cl ose the fol der, reducing i ts presence. Then to make thi s setting sti ck so that
each ti me you open Wi ndows Expl orer the mi ni mized fol ders remai n as such, go to Folder Opti ons i n the
Wi ndows Control Panel and under the General tab, unti ck the 'Automati call y expand to current fol der' item
and cli ck Appl y. If you wish, you can also unti ck the 'Show al l fol ders' opti on so that Windows mi ni mizes al l
fol ders except Li brari es and Favori tes, and you can then choose whether to mi ni mize Librari es and/or
Favori tes as wel l, creati ng an extremel y compact Navi gati on Pane.

For example, unti ck both the boxes under the Navigati on Pane opti ons i n Fol der Opti ons as covered above,
manuall y add al l your commonl y used di rectori es to Favori tes, then mi ni mize Li brari es, Computer and
Network, l eavi ng onl y the Favori tes folder maxi mized. Then each ti me you open Wi ndows Expl orer you
wi ll have a very clean layout wi th qui ck and easy access to your commonl y used folders under Favori tes.

Al ternati vel y, i f you make use of the Li brari es feature, then do the same as above, however mi ni mize every
other folder except your Librari es, and you can now qui ckl y access all your fil es in that manner.

Fi nal ly, if you onl y want your user folders showi ng as expanded, then under the Navigati on Pane opti ons i n
Fol der Opti ons l eave only the 'Show all fol ders' box ti cked, then i n Expl orer mi ni mi ze all other fol ders
except your user fol der.

Obvi ousl y you can experiment wi th a combi nati on of these opti ons to obtai n the layout whi ch sui ts you best.
Note that regardl ess of how you customi ze the Navi gati on Pane, by defaul t Wi ndows Expl orer selects the

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Li brari es category whenever Expl orer i s opened. You can al ter the defaul t fol der chosen i n Wi ndows
Expl orer when opened by usi ng the ti ps under the Advanced Features secti on later i n thi s chapter.

COMMAND BAR
Beneath the Address Bar and the Menu Bar (i f showi ng) at the top of Wi ndows Expl orer and some Explorer-
based wi ndows i s the Command Bar whi ch contains a range of buttons. These buttons are context-sensi ti ve
and wi ll i nstantl y change dependi ng on the fol der or fi l e type you are viewi ng or have hi ghli ghted. For
exampl e if you highli ght an .MP3 music fil e, the command bar wi ll change to di spl ay a Pl ay button. Other
buttons you may see i ncl ude but are not l i mi ted to: Open, Incl ude i n Li brary, Share With, Burn, New Folder,
E-mai l, New Contact, Pri nt, and Sl ide show.

You wil l al ways see the Organi ze button on the command bar; thi s all ows you to access a range of useful
functi ons that l et you customi ze the Expl orer i nterface. Under this button, asi de from common tasks such as
Copy, Paste, Rename and Properti es are the fol l owi ng useful features:

Menu Bar

Under the Layout i tem you can sel ect whether to displ ay the Menu bar at the top of the screen - i f selected
the Menu Bar wi ll be enabl ed permanentl y i n Explorer and Expl orer-based interfaces, whi ch i ncl udes most
normal wi ndows. If you don't wi sh for i t to be permanentl y displayed, unti ck the opti on here. Al ternati vel y,
you can al so choose to enabl e or disabl e the Menu Bar's permanent di spl ay by usi ng the 'Al ways show
menus' opti on i n Fol der Opti ons - see the Folder Opti ons secti on later i n thi s chapter.

Note that even i f the Menu Bar i s not displ ayed i n a wi ndow, you can toggl e i t on or off temporaril y at any
ti me by pressi ng the ALT key whil e i n an Expl orer-based wi ndow.

Details Pane

Under the Layout i tem you can select whether to displ ay the Detail s Pane. The Detail s Pane i f enabl ed si ts at
the bottom of the Expl orer wi ndow, and di spl ays rel evant detai l s about any hi ghli ghted fi le or fol der,
i ncludi ng i nformati on from i ts Properti es tab, as wel l as an i con or thumbnai l previ ew of i ts contents. Note
that you can also qui ckl y edi t the properti es for a fil e by cl i cki ng on any of the customi zabl e fi el ds i n the
Detai ls Pane and enteri ng new i nformati on, as l ong as the fi l e is not read-onl y. Leavi ng thi s opti on enabl ed
should have mi ni mal performance i mpact when browsi ng fil es, however browsi ng more compl ex fil es,
especiall y picture and video fi l es, may be sl ower, especiall y i f Wi ndows has to generate a new live
thumbnai l for the fil e's content.

Note that you can resize the Detai l s Pane by ri ght-cli cki ng i n an empty area i n the Detai l s Pane and sel ecting
Smal l , Medi um or Large from the Size menu.

Preview Pane

Under the Layout i tem you can sel ect whether to displ ay the Previ ew Pane. The Previ ew Pane i f enabl ed si ts
at the ri ght side of the Expl orer wi ndow, and i s usuall y empty if no fi le i s hi ghl ighted. Once you highli ght a
parti cul ar fil e, a previ ew of the contents wi ll be di splayed where possi bl e. Thi s previ ew can be i n the form of
text or mul ti medi a. Thi s can i ncrease fil e browsi ng ti me, so di sabl e i t if you don't need this functi onal i ty,
especiall y when browsi ng through a l ot of fi les for exampl e.

Note that the Preview Pane can be toggl ed on or off at any ti me usi ng the separate Previ ew Pane button
found at the far ri ght of the Command Bar, next to the ci rcular Hel p and Support button. Thi s means you
can qui ckl y enabl e or disabl e thi s functionali ty as desi red. Note further that i f the 'Show preview handl ers in

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previ ew pane' opti on i s disabl ed i n Fol der Opti ons, mul ti medi a fil es wil l not have playback capabil i ty, and
many fil es wil l not even show a previ ew of their contents - see the Fol der Opti ons secti on further bel ow.

Navigation Pane

Under the Layout i tem you can sel ect whether to di splay the Navi gati on Pane. The Navi gati on Pane i s
covered further above. Unti cki ng thi s opti on removes the whol e Navigati on Pane, leavi ng Wi ndows
Expl orer i n a si ngl e pane view, whi ch is general ly not recommended.

Folder and Search Options

Sel ecti ng this i tem opens up Folder Opti ons, whi ch i s al so accessi bl e from the Wi ndows Control Panel .
Fol der Opti ons is an i mportant component and i s covered i n more detail i n i ts own secti on further bel ow.

Views

Thi s functi onali ty is covered i n more detail i n the Fol der Vi ews section just bel ow.

FOLDER VIEWS
Every di rectory i n Wi ndows Expl orer and Expl orer-based i nterfaces can di splay i ts contents usi ng one of a
vari ety of pre-defi ned vi ews. The avail abl e views can be accessed in three mai n ways:

Cl i ck the 'Change your vi ew' button at the ri ght si de of the Command Bar. Ei ther cl i ck the button unti l a
vi ew you l i ke appears, or cl i ck the small down arrow next to the button to sel ect the desired view.
Ri ght-cli ck i n an empty area of a fol der, then sel ect the View i tem and the desi red vi ew.
Hol d down the CTRL Key and scrol l the mousewheel to acti vel y cycl e through all the avai labl e vi ews.

The standard Wi ndows vi ew types are descri bed bel ow:

Icon - You can sel ect Small Icons, Medium Icons, Large Icons and Extra Large Icons vi ews. Icon vi ew
shows al l files as i cons, sorted by the fi lename by defaul t. These i cons are typi cal l y the standard
Wi ndows i cons for each file type, however mul ti medi a fil es such as musi c, pi ctures and video fil es, and
even document fi l es, wi ll di splay as Live Icons i n Icon vi ew by defaul t, provi di ng a snapshot of the
actual contents of the fi l e, and are covered i n more detai l under Live Icons further bel ow. The i con si ze
can al so be dynami cal l y scal ed to sui t your taste by hol di ng down your CTRL key and scrol l i ng up or
down wi th the mousewheel .
List - This view i s the most basi c, and si mpl y li sts al l the fi l es with thei r fi lename and a small generi c
i con, wi th no other detai l s shown. By defaul t the fil es are sorted by fil ename down as many col umns as
can fi t wi thi n the pane. No Li ve Icons are shown i n List vi ew.
Details - Thi s vi ew provi des much greater potenti al for di splayi ng and sorti ng items based on a range of
fi le properti es. Fil es are li sted by name, wi th addi ti onal col umns such as Size, Type, Date Modi fi ed and
so forth avai labl e to be added, resized or removed as desi red. To add or remove a col umn and change
sort order see the Sorti ng secti on further bel ow. No Live Icons are shown i n Detai l s vi ew.
Tiles - In thi s vi ew, fil es are displayed as a range of 'ti l es', wi th each ti l e contai ning the fi lename, fi l e type
and fil e size, al ong wi th a medi um-sized i con. Li ve Icons are shown i n Ti l es view by defaul t.
Content - New to Wi ndows 7, Content vi ew i s a combi nati on of vari ous other vi ews, pri mari l y used for
more convenient browsi ng of mul ti medi a fi l es. Each fi le i s l isted al ong a si ngl e row, wi th a small Li ve
Icon and a range of i nformati on such as fi le size and date modi fi ed. It al so i ncludes detai ls such as pl ay
l ength for musi c or movies, pi cture or vi deo di mensi ons, and other useful metadata from mul ti media
fi les, al l availabl e at a glance.


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Live Icons

When i n Icon vi ew, but al so when usi ng Content or Ti l es view, the i cons for certai n fi l es wi ll be shown as
Li ve Icons, not generi c Windows appli cati on i cons. Li ve Icons provi de a sample of the fi l e's contents as a
thumbnai l image. For exampl e, wi th Li ve Icons enabl ed, a .JPG i mage fi le wi ll have a thumbnail of that
i mage shown as i ts i con; an .AVI or .WMV video fi le wi ll have a sampl e scene from the video shown as a
thumbnai l i nstead of a generi c i con; and .DOCX or .PDF documents wi ll have a page of thei r contents shown
as the thumbnail - dependi ng on certai n factors covered bel ow.

Icon View i s enabl ed by defaul t when usi ng the vi ew types menti oned above and i n combi nati on wi th an
Aero-enabled desktop - see the Graphi cs & Sound chapter for more detai ls. However you can di sabl e i t at
any ti me by goi ng to Folder Opti ons in the Wi ndows Control Panel, and under the Vi ew tab ti cki ng the
'Al ways show i cons, never thumbnai ls' box, then cl icki ng Appl y. Doi ng thi s wil l repl ace all Li ve Icons with
generi c Wi ndows i cons for that parti cular fi l e type. Di sabl i ng Li ve Icons can speed up fi l e browsi ng ti me,
especiall y on systems wi th very sl ow graphi cs capabil iti es, and also on any system when vi ewi ng a di rectory
wi th fil es whi ch have not yet had a Li ve Icon thumbnail generated by Wi ndows. However once the i con i s
generated, i t i s stored i n a Wi ndows thumbnai l database, and on a moderate to fast system i t then takes not
much l onger than normal to vi ew a folder wi th Li ve Icons as opposed to generi c i cons, and consi deration
should be gi ven to i ts useful ness i n assisti ng i n the rapi d vi sual i dentifi cati on of fi l e contents i n certain
fol ders.

If you've enabl ed Li ve Icons but they are not bei ng di splayed correctl y, then you need to consi der several
thi ngs. Under Wi ndows 7 64-bi t, even though 32-bi t appl i cati ons can run wi thout any issues, when i t comes
to Wi ndows Expl orer, i t runs as a 64-bi t appli cati on by defaul t, and requi res that al l the shel l extensi ons
(extra i nterface features) i t uses are also compi l ed as nati ve 64-bi t appl i cati ons for full functionali ty. In pl ai n
Engli sh this means under Wi ndows 7 64-bi t the defaul t program/codec/pl ugi n associ ated wi th vi ewi ng
parti cul ar content needs to al so be a 64-bi t appl i cation or the Li ve Icon wil l not be correctl y generated.

Thi s shoul dn't be a probl em i f you associ ate the standard Wi ndows programs wi th pl ayback of audi o and
vi deo and the vi ewi ng of pi ctures for exampl e. However if these are changed, or for fil e types whi ch are
bei ng handled by 32-bi t appl i cations, you need to i nstal l and/or associate a 64-bi t appl i cati on or medi a
handler wi th that fil e type. See the Codec secti on of Wi ndows Medi a Pl ayer for further detail s i n relati on to
common multi media codecs and plugi ns.

Note that i n the case of documents saved usi ng Mi crosoft Offi ce 2007, i t i s a 32-bi t-onl y appl icati on, so Li ve
Icons for documents won't be shown i n 64-bi t Wi ndows 7. However there i s a way around thi s: when savi ng
a document in Offi ce 2007, sel ect the 'Save As' opti on and the ti ck the 'Save Thumbnail ' box, then save the
document. It wi ll now be saved wi th the equi val ent of a Li ve Icon thumbnail previ ew, whi ch can be seen i n
Icon View i n Wi ndows Expl orer for exampl e.

Whether you are runni ng Wi ndows 7 64-bi t or not, you may sti ll fi nd the Li ve Icons not di spl ayi ng properly
or displayi ng ol d content for an updated fi l e. You wi l l need to clear the Icon Cache and al l ow Wi ndows to
rebuil d i t agai n, whi ch shoul d restore or create al l Li ve Icons as desi red - see the Icons secti on of the
Graphi cs & Sound chapter for more detail s of how to do thi s properl y.

Sorting

The contents of any fol der di splayed can be sorted by a range of properti es. By defaul t the contents are
automati cal ly sorted i n Ascendi ng order by Name (fi l e name), and the sorti ng i s dynami c; that i s, there is no
need to refresh the screen whenever new fi l es are added, Wi ndows 7 shoul d automati cal l y resort everything
i nstantly to mai ntai n appropri ate order.


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Sort By: To sort by somethi ng other than fil e name, ri ght-cli ck on a bl ank spot i n the fol der and sel ect 'Sort
By', and you wi ll see the common properti es such as Date Modified, Type and Size on whi ch you can sort
the contents, ei ther i n Ascendi ng or Descendi ng order. You can cl ick the More opti on and select any one of a
l arger range of properti es upon whi ch to sort the current vi ew of contents.

Group By: You can create subcategori es wi thi n a content vi ew by ri ght-cli cki ng on an empty area i n a fol der
and sel ecti ng 'Group By', then sel ecti ng the parti cular property by whi ch you wi sh to group the contents.
Thi s wi ll arrange the contents under headi ngs for each subcategory. Once agai n you can sel ect the More i tem
to see addi ti onal properti es for use i n groupi ng contents. If you wi sh to remove grouped vi ew, right-click,
sel ect 'Group By' then choose the (none) i tem.

Filter By: If you onl y want to vi ew a certai n subset of the contents i n a fol der, aside from usi ng the Search box
you can swi tch to Detail s vi ew, move your mouse over a column header and cl i ck on the small black arrow
whi ch appears at the ri ght si de of the header. You wi ll then be abl e to sel ect a check box to fi l ter the contents
by one or more of the speci fi c categori es di splayed. If the category you wi sh to use for fil teri ng isn't
avai labl e, you can add more column types by ri ght-cl i cki ng on a col umn header, sel ecti ng the More i tem and
sel ecti ng which addi ti onal col umns to add.

Note that the 'Stack By' sorti ng opti on avail abl e i n Windows Vi sta has been removed i n Wi ndows 7.

Changing Folder Views

Wi ndows deci des the defaul t vi ew for a parti cular fol der based on the type of fol der i nvolved and/or the
types of fi l es wi thi n a fol der. Wi ndows 7 assi gns a folder type based on fi ve di fferent categories:

General Items
Documents
Pi ctures
Musi c
Vi deos

You can see the defaul t vi ews for each of these types by goi ng to your personal folders under the
\Users\[username] directory and sel ecting the My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, and My Videos fol ders
whi ch each take on the fol der type of the same name; also see a fol der li ke Downloads or \Windows for an
exampl e of the General Items fol der type.

To vi ew a parti cular fol der's fol der type, right-cli ck on that folder and sel ect Properti es, then under the
Customi ze tab l ook under 'Opti mi ze this fol der for'. If you wish to change thi s fol der's type, you can do so
here, and note that you shoul d ti ck the 'Also appl y thi s templ ate to al l subfol ders' box i f you want al l of the
sub-di rectories under thi s fol der to al so be set to the same fol der type. Cl i ck the Appl y button when done to
i mpl ement the change.

You can al ter the vi ew for a speci fi c fol der, or all fol ders of a parti cular type, and make thi s change
permanent so that each time you open that fol der or fol der type, the vi ew remai ns the same. However thi s
requi res that you foll ow a speci fi c set of procedures, otherwi se Windows may automati call y al ter the fol der
type and/or the vi ew type used whenever the fol der's contents change, whi ch can be qui te annoyi ng. Foll ow
the steps bel ow to ensure your vi ew selecti ons are made permanent unti l you choose to manuall y al ter them
agai n:

To begi n wi th, for every fol der type, you wil l have to go to at l east one fol der of that type and set the view
preferences. I recommend that you open Wi ndows Expl orer and go to your My Documents, My Pictures, My
Music, My Videos and Downloads fol ders found under \Users\[username] and then do the foll owi ng for each:

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1. Adjust the view to sui t your preferences usi ng the methods covered earli er. Add or remove and/or resi ze
any col umns i f appli cabl e, resize any i cons shown i f requi red, and choose your sort order for fi l es.
2. Once done, then you must cl i ck on the Organize button i n the Command Bar and sel ect 'Fol der and
search opti ons' to open Fol der Opti ons - don't open Fol der Opti ons vi a Wi ndows Control Panel or any
other method, do i t from the Organize button.
3. Wi th Fol der Opti ons open, go to the Vi ew tab and cli ck the 'Appl y to Fol ders' opti on, and cl i ck Yes when
prompted. Thi s forces Windows to recogni ze that the changes you have made to the vi ew i n thi s fol der
appl y to al l fol ders of the same fol der type. So for exampl e usi ng thi s method, the changes you make to
the vi ew i n your \Users\[username]\My Pictures folder wi ll apply to al l fol ders currently fl agged wi th
the Pi ctures fol der type.
4. Cl i ck OK to cl ose Fol der Opti ons.
5. Repeat Steps 1 - 4 above for each of the fi ve mai n fol der types.

Once done, close Wi ndows Expl orer, then open i t again and check a range of fol ders to see i f the vi ews have
stuck. For any fol ders which don't appear to be sti cki ng, check and sel ect the correct fol der type and then
manuall y al ter the vi ew to sui t your taste if requi red, and they shoul d al so sti ck.

Note that setti ng the views i n thi s manner does not appl y them to your Li brari es, as they need to be set
separatel y - see the Li braries secti on below. Note further that some system fol ders wil l not have a Customize
tab; thi s i s normal and their defaul t view shoul d correspond to the General Items fol der type.

Some fol der customizati ons and setti ngs are stored i n a fil e cal l ed Desktop.ini i n each fol der. These fil es are
hi dden by defaul t unl ess you disabl e the 'Hi de protected operati ng system fil es' opti on under the Vi ew tab
i n Fol der Opti ons, whi ch is not recommended. Do not del ete or move these fi l es, they need to remai n where
they are to mai ntai n specifi c custom folder setti ngs in Wi ndows 7.

Despi te foll owi ng these procedures, you may someti mes fi nd that Wi ndows sti l l changes the fol der vi ews,
for a range of reasons i ncl udi ng Regi stry corrupti on and/or the fol der type setti ng bei ng overri dden by
another applicati on or when Wi ndows detects mul timedi a fil es i n that fol der. To resol ve i ssues wi th fol der
vi ews not remai ni ng the way you want them, see the Fi x Changi ng Fol der Vi ews ti p under the Advanced
Features section later i n this chapter.

To al ter other vi ew-related aspects of folders, you wil l need to refer to the Fol der Opti ons section bel ow.

< FOLDER OPTIONS
Fol der Opti ons can be found as a separate component under the Wi ndows Control Panel , under the Tool s
menu i n the Menu Bar, or by pressi ng the Organi ze button i n the Command Bar of Wi ndows Expl orer and
sel ecti ng 'Folder and search opti ons'. As the name suggests, Fol der Opti ons has a range of opti ons whi ch
affect the way fol ders are vi ewed, as wel l as the appearance of Wi ndows Expl orer. It also has i mportant
Search-related opti ons. Each tab of the Fol der Opti ons box is covered separately bel ow:

GENERAL
Browse folders: If 'Open each fol der i n the same wi ndow' i s chosen, then l aunchi ng a Wi ndows opti on or
uti li ty from a wi ndow wi l l mean that i t opens i n the exi sti ng wi ndow. If 'Open each fol der i n i ts own
wi ndow' is chosen, a new wi ndow wi ll open for each uti l i ty or opti on l aunched from wi thi n an existing
wi ndow. I recommend the fi rst opti on, as this reduces the number of open wi ndows whi ch in turn reduces
resource usage and Desktop cl utter.


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Click items as follows: The 'Doubl e-cli ck to open an i tem (si ngl e-cl ick to sel ect)' opti on i s the defaul t behavi or
most Wi ndows users are fami li ar wi th, and the one whi ch i s assumed when provi di ng descri pti ons i n this,
and most other books. If you prefer a more web-li ke behavi or, you can sel ect the 'Si ngl e-cli ck to open an i tem
(poi nt to select)', and further choose whether to have selectabl e i tems and i cons underli ned all the ti me, or
onl y when you hover your mouse over them. In general the doubl e-cli ck method i s most famil iar and
prevents accidental launchi ng of programs or opti ons from wayward mouse cli cks, so i t i s recommended.

Navigation pane: These opti ons are covered usi ng practi cal exampl es under the Navi gati on Pane section
further above. Basical l y the 'Show all fol ders' opti on i f ti cked shows al l the possi bl e fol der categori es i n the
navi gati on pane, i ncludi ng your [username] fol der and i ts mai n subdi rectori es. The 'Automati cal ly expand to
current fol der opti on if ti cked expands and shows all the level s of the di rectory tree leadi ng to the fol der
you've currentl y chosen, whi ch can overri de any mi nimi zati ons i n the Navi gati on Pane you wi sh to keep.

VIEW
Folder views: When you change the l ook and layout of a parti cul ar folder i n Windows Explorer, such as the
number and size of any col umns, the si ze of i cons, or the type of vi ew that fol der type has, to appl y your
changes to al l other fol ders of the same fol der type, cli ck the 'Apply to Fol ders' button. Conversely, to undo
your changes, cli ck the 'Reset Fol ders' button. More detail s on how to correctly set fol der vi ews for various
fol der types is covered further above.

Advanced Settings: Most of the opti ons i n thi s secti on of Folder Opti ons are dependent on your own
parti cul ar tastes i n functi onali ty and appearance. Below I bri efly cover all of these features, noti ng where
there may be performance or other i mpacts - these all have fai rl y si gni fi cant i mpacts on the way Wi ndows
Expl orer l ooks and i ts functi onali ty, so make sure you go through each opti on careful l y:

Al ways show i cons, never thumbnai ls - If ti cked, Li ve Icon thumbnai ls wi ll be di sabl ed and repl aced
wi th generi c associated appl i cati on i cons; see the Li ve Icons secti on above.
Al ways show menus - If ticked, al ways shows the Menu Bar whi ch resi des at the top of most wi ndows.
If unti cked, the Menu Bar i s hi dden unti l you press the ALT key to bri ng i t up temporaril y.
Di splay fi l e icon on thumbnai ls - If ti cked, di spl ays a smal l i con at the bottom corner of Li ve Icons
representi ng the defaul t appl i cati on associ ated wi th that fi l e.
Di splay fi l e si ze i nformation i n fol der ti ps - If ti cked, whenever you hover your mouse cursor over a
di rectory i n the right pane of an Expl orer-based i nterface, a smal l popup appears provi di ng detai ls on
the si ze of the di rectory and some of the fil es i t contai ns. Note thi s opti on only works i f the 'Show pop-
up descri pti on for fol der and desktop i tems' setti ng is al so ti cked (see bel ow). Thi s opti on i s general ly
unnecessary as i t may cause sl ight pauses when hoveri ng over fol ders i n the ri ght pane.
Di splay the ful l path i n the ti tl e bar - If ti cked, and onl y when using the Wi ndows Cl assi c theme, the full
di rectory path to the currentl y sel ected fol der wil l be shown as the ti tl e for Wi ndows Expl orer. For
exampl e, by defaul t i n Windows Cl assic theme, i f you're i n your Downl oads personal fol der on C: dri ve,
onl y Downloads i s shown in the ti tl e. Wi th thi s opti on enabled, C:\Users\[username]\Downloads wi ll be
shown i nstead. Has no i mpact on Aero or Wi ndows 7 Basi c Themes and hence can usual l y be disabl ed.
Hi dden fi l es and folders - If ti cked, shows all hidden system fil es, fol ders and dri ves, excludi ng
protected fil es and fol ders (see bel ow). It i s i mportant to have thi s opti on ti cked i f you want to see all the
i mportant files and folders on your system, especial l y when using thi s book, but al so for any future
tweaki ng.
Hi de empty dri ves i n the Computer fol der - If ti cked, wil l hi de any removabl e medi a drives, such as
card readers, whi ch do not hol d any medi a at the moment.
Hi de extensions for known fil e types - If ti cked, wi ll hide the extensi ons (e.g. the .exe porti on of a
setup.exe fi le) for al l known fi l e types. It i s strongl y recommended that you do not ti ck thi s opti on, as it
wi ll make file edi ti ng and tweaki ng diffi cul t and confusi ng. For exampl e if you are asked to create a
bl ank text file and rename i t to ei.cfg, wi th thi s opti on enabled, you wil l actuall y be renami ng the fil e

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ei.cfg.txt, which i s i ncorrect. You need to be abl e to clearl y see the ful l fi lename, incl udi ng any extensi ons,
so unti ck this opti on.
Hi de protected operati ng system fil es - Shows a range of additi onal hi dden system fil es and fol ders
whi ch under normal ci rcumstances shoul d be not be changed or del eted, such as Di rectory Juncti ons
(see bel ow), log fil es, desktop.ini fi les, and the Pagefil e. If unti cked, you wil l see these fi les and fol ders,
but thi s adds to cl utter and also resul ts in the temptati on to purposel y (or accidental ly) del ete i mportant
system fi l es. Unti cki ng thi s opti on is generall y onl y necessary as part of advanced tweaki ng or
troubl eshooting, and i s usual l y only a temporary measure, as i t shoul d be left ticked by defaul t.
Launch fol der wi ndows in a separate process - If ti cked, thi s opti on i ncreases stabi li ty at the cost of
performance by openi ng each wi ndow i n a separate process, i n effect isol ati ng that wi ndow and
preventi ng a crash i n one wi ndow from shutti ng down others. Generall y not recommended that thi s
i tem be ti cked - i f you are havi ng stabi li ty i ssues you shoul d check applicati on compati bil i ty and
undertake general system troubl eshooting to fi nd the root cause; i t i s not normal for a wi ndows to crash.
Restore previous fol der windows at l ogon - If ti cked, makes sure that Wi ndows remembers your speci fi c
fol der setti ngs for each open fol der when you l ast shut down Wi ndows, and restores them to the same
state the next ti me you boot back i nto Wi ndows. Thi s setti ng is a sessi on restore feature and does not
relate to saving different fol der vi ews in Expl orer, whi ch is covered further above.
Show dri ve letters - If ti cked, shows the dri ve l etter for every drive (e.g. C:, E:, G:, etc.). Whil e the dri ve
name wil l stil l be di spl ayed, I don't recommend unti cki ng thi s opti on as i t i s general ly i mportant that
you know the dri ve letter of specifi c drives for a range of purposes, such as runni ng certai n Command
Prompt commands.
Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files i n col or - If ti cked, hi ghlights fi l es which have been encrypted
or compressed i n a different col or. Can be useful if ti cked to hi ghl i ght whi ch fi les are compressed or
encrypted if you woul d otherwi se be unaware. If annoyi ng, can be disabl ed with no negati ve i mpact.
Show pop-up descri pti on for fol der and desktop i tems - If ti cked, thi s opti on wi ll rai se a small pop-up
whenever you hover your mouse cursor over a fil e or folder i n Expl orer-based wi ndows, or on any i tem
on the desktop. The pop-up usual ly contai ns a descri pti on of the fil e, fol der or desktop i tem, and i n
general this i s unnecessary and may sl ow down browsi ng if enabl ed.
Show previ ew handl ers in previ ew pane - If the Previ ew Pane i s enabl ed, as covered further above, and
i f this opti on i s unti cked, wherever possi bl e a previ ew i s provi ded of the fil e's contents and you can also
sel ect to pl ay the content of mul ti media fil es. If thi s opti on i s ti cked, mul ti medi a playback i s di sabled,
certai n fil es wi ll only demonstrate a stati c pi cture of thei r content, and some fil es wi ll have no previ ew at
all . This can speed up the sel ecti on of fi l es while the Previ ew Pane i s open, however i t i s not
recommended that you unti ck thi s opti on - i nstead i f you fi nd the Previ ew Pane annoyi ng or sl owi ng
thi ngs down, si mpl y toggle i t on or off as requi red using the button at the top ri ght of the Command Bar.
Use check boxes to sel ect items - If ti cked, thi s opti on al l ows a check box to appear next to every fil e and
fol der i n the ri ght pane of Wi ndows Expl orer whenever you hover your mouse cursor over that
fi le/folder. Thi s can make the sel ecti on of mul ti pl e objects much easi er, but i n general the easiest method
i s to si mply hol d down the CTRL key to sel ect mul ti ple i ndi vi dual fi l es, or sel ect the fi rst fi l e/fol der, hold
down SHIFT and cl i ck at the end of your sel ecti on to sel ect a continuous range of fi les/fol ders.
Use Shari ng Wizard - If ticked, thi s opti on pl aces a 'Share wi th' i tem i n the context menu whi ch appears
whenever you right-cli ck on a fil e or fol der. Thi s al lows you to more easil y share fil es and fol ders wi th
other users on your PC or network. If you do not wi sh to share anythi ng wi th anyone el se, parti cularly if
you are a singl e PC user on a non-networked machi ne, then you shoul d unti ck this opti on. See the
HomeGroups secti on i n the Wi ndows Control Panel chapter for more detai ls
When typi ng i nto l i st view - When a fol der i s sel ected, thi s opti on determi nes what happens when you
begi n typi ng. If the 'Automati cal ly type i nto the Search Box' opti on i s sel ected, then any text you enter
wi ll automaticall y be i n the Search Box at the top ri ght of the wi ndow. Note that one of the drawbacks of
sel ecti ng this opti on is that if you choose to create a new fil e or folder i n a di rectory, the cursor wil l
suddenl y jump to the Search Box if you attempt to type a name for that fil e or fol der. If the 'Sel ect the
typed i tem i n the vi ew' opti on i s sel ected, then the text you type won't appear on screen; the fi l e whi ch
most cl osel y matches what you are typing wil l be highl i ghted i nstead.

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Remember that as you ti ck or unti ck each i tem, you must cl i ck the Appl y button i f you want to i mpl ement a
change and see the i mpact straight away. When fi ni shed, cl i ck the Appl y button to i mpl ement all changes.

SEARCH
These setti ngs and rel ated features are al l covered i n detail i n the Wi ndows Search chapter.

< PERSONAL FOLDERS
Every User Account has a set of Personal Folders created for that account. They can be found under the
\Users\[username] di rectory, where the username matches your User Account name. Each user directory
contai ns speci fic subfol ders i ncludi ng: My Documents, My Pictures, My Music and My Videos. Note that i f you
choose to unti ck the 'Hi de protected operati ng system fil es' option i n Fol der Opti ons, you wi ll al so see a
range of l egacy personal fol ders whi ch used to exi st under Wi ndows XP (such as Cookies, Local Settings and
PrintHood) - these are Di rectory Juncti ons not actual fol ders, and are covered i n the Di rectory Juncti ons and
Symboli c Li nks secti on further bel ow.

Whi le you may be tempted to i gnore your personal fol ders or even del ete them and create your own ones
i nstead, I strongl y recommend agai nst doi ng so. Asi de from al ready bei ng qui te conveni ent for holdi ng
vari ous fi l e types, these fol ders are li nked to a range of i mportant features i n Wi ndows, such as Li brari es,
Search Indexing and of course your User Account. Furthermore, Windows security-related features take i nto
account that these personal folders are owned by you, and hence gi ve you the greatest freedom i n al tering
thei r contents wi thout bei ng potenti al ly faced wi th UAC prompts or needi ng to manual ly change ownershi p
of a fi le or folder.

Rename Personal Folders

To start wi th, i f you don't fi nd the names of some of your personal folders appeali ng, you can change them.
For exampl e you can safely rename the My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos fol ders to
drop the 'My' porti on of the name wi thout affecti ng thei r functi onali ty - just ri ght-cl i ck on the fol der, sel ect
Rename and edi t the name as normal .

You can rename other personal folders, such as Links or Desktop, and thei r functi onali ty will remai n i ntact,
however thi s i s not necessary nor i s it recommended, as asi de from causing confusi on when reading
references to these fol ders (e.g. such as those i n this book), i t may resul t i n appl i cati on errors and other
uni ntended consequences.

Relocate Personal Folders

You can safely move your personal folders to another l ocati on, whether on the same dri ve, or another dri ve,
wi thout affecti ng thei r l i nk to key Windows features. However to do so properl y, you need to foll ow the
steps bel ow:

1. Go to the rel evant fol der under your personal fol ders.
2. Ri ght-cli ck on i t and sel ect Properti es, then go to the Locati on tab.
3. Cl i ck the Move button and speci fy a new fol der and/or dri ve to move the current fol der to. Al ternati vel y
you can just type the new path i n the Target box. Note that I don't recommend enteri ng just a dri ve
l etter by i tself as thi s may cause problems. That i s, don't just enter D: or F: i n the l ocation box for
exampl e - enter a full di rectory path and cl i ck the Appl y button.
4. The folder and al l of i ts fil es wil l be moved to the new l ocati on.


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When you're done, Windows wi ll now recognize the new l ocati on as the home of thi s parti cular personal
fol der, and al l references to i t throughout Windows 7, i ncludi ng i n your Librari es and Search Indexing,
should poi nt correctl y to thi s new l ocation automati call y. If necessary cl ose and reopen Wi ndows Expl orer to
see the updated references to the new folder.

Customize Personal Folders

You can create as many subfolders under your personal folders as you wish - thi s i s useful i f you want to
organi ze your data i n various ways under the exi sting personal fol ders wi thout affecti ng thei r functi onali ty
wi thi n Wi ndows. In fact when combi ned wi th the abi l i ty to vi ew all your fi l es across vari ous directori es and
l ocati ons i n a uni fi ed view usi ng the new Li brari es feature i n Wi ndows 7, there i s no real drawback to
creati ng mul ti pl e subfol ders under the personal fol ders i f you wi sh to do so.

You can al so customize the i con used to represent any of your personal fol ders, i n fact al most any folder, by
foll owi ng the steps i n the Customi ze Fol der Pi ctures & Icons ti p under the Advanced Features secti on later
i n thi s chapter.

As a fi nal note, before undertaki ng any al terati ons to your personal fol ders, because of the el evated ri sk of
l osi ng personal data, I strongl y recommend creati ng both fresh backup of your personal data - see the
Backup & Recovery chapter.

< LIBRARIES
One of the most promi nent changes i n Wi ndows 7 that users of previ ous versions of Wi ndows wi ll noti ce are
Li brari es. Ti ghtl y i ntegrated i nto Wi ndows 7, Li braries are not a new set of fol ders i ntended to repl ace the
tradi ti onal personal fol ders such as My Documents and My Pictures. Instead Li brari es are vi rtual fol ders
designed as a compl ementary tool to assi st users i n more readi ly fi ndi ng and managi ng thei r content across
vari ous folders and/or dri ves from a si ngl e l ocati on.

A Li brary is a contai ner provi di ng a singl e l ocati on from whi ch you can access and mani pulate al l the fi les
and fol ders whi ch have been l i nked to that Li brary. At least one exi sti ng fol der must be assi gned to any
Li brary - the specifi c fol der(s) i ncluded i n a Li brary are vi si bl e when that Library i s expanded i n the left
pane, or by ri ght-cl i cki ng on a Li brary and sel ecting Properti es. These fol der(s) determine the content
di splayed i n a Li brary, however none of them has moved from i ts ori gi nal locati on, nor has the Li brary
created a copy of, or a shortcut to, these fi les or fol ders.

Any fi l e or fol der on a l ocal dri ve or on an external , removabl e, or network dri ve, can be l i nked to a Li brary.
However removabl e discs such as DVDs are not i ncl uded, nor are any dri ves or network l ocati ons whi ch are
currentl y di sconnected from the system.

Importantl y, even though a Li brary i s a vi rtual fol der, any changes you make to fil es and fol ders wi thi n a
Li brary wil l affect the contents of those actual fil es and fol ders. If you delete or rename a fi l e wi thi n a Li brary
for example, the ori gi nal fi l e or fol der wi ll be del eted or renamed. Del eti ng an enti re Li brary on the other
hand wi ll not del ete the fi les or folders it contai ns.

Si nce a Li brary i s a vi rtual fol der, when savi ng, copying or movi ng a fi le to a Li brary, by defaul t the fi l e will
actuall y be saved/copi ed/moved to the fi rst fol der l inked to the Li brary. Ri ght-cl i ck on the Li brary and select
Properti es to see the defaul t save l ocati on, i ndi cated by a small ti ck next to the fol der under the Li brary
Locati ons box. You can change the defaul t save l ocati on by hi ghlighti ng any fol der i n the Library Locati ons
box and cl i cking the 'Set save l ocati on' button - the ti ck mark should appear next to your sel ected folder.

Even though Li brari es are vi rtual fol ders, they exi st as separate physi cal fi l es wi th the fi l ename
[libraryname].library-ms under the \Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries

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di rectory. Li brari es are stored here as .XML defi ni tion fil es whose structure is expl ai ned i n thi s Mi crosoft
Arti cl e. You can edi t these fi les usi ng a text edi tor - see the Customi zi ng Li brari es secti on bel ow. The ori gi nal
l ocati on of the Li brary defi ni ti ons i s useful to know, because asi de from customi zati on, i t all ows you to
access them even i f you di sabl e Li brari es from being shown i n Wi ndows Expl orer, as covered under the
Navi gati on Pane secti on earl i er i n thi s chapter.

Wi ndows 7 ensures that Li brari es are tied i n to a range of key features, both to encourage thei r use, and to
make Li braries more useful . Li brari es are i ntegrated i nto the fol l owi ng promi nent Wi ndows features:

Start Menu - The Documents, Pi ctures, Musi c and Videos components on the Start Menu all l i nk to the
defaul t Wi ndows Li brari es of the same name, not di rectly to the personal fol ders whi ch hol d thi s
content. See the Start Menu secti on of the Graphi cs & Sound chapter for more detail s.
Wi ndows Expl orer - Asi de from havi ng a separate Li brari es category whi ch cannot be removed usi ng
normal methods, Wi ndows Expl orer also opens i n the Li brari es whenever i t i s launched usi ng a default
i con such as the one on the Taskbar. Both of these features can be customi zed - see the Di sabl i ng
Li brari es secti on bel ow, as wel l as the Advanced Features secti on in thi s chapter.
Wi ndows Search - Wi ndows Search i s synchronized wi th Li braries, automati call y addi ng al l fil es and
fol ders i n your Li brari es to the Search Index for fast access. See the Wi ndows Search chapter for detai l s.
Wi ndows Medi a Pl ayer - The buil t-i n Wi ndows Medi a Pl ayer 12 uti li ty works cl osely wi th the Musi c
Li brary, not your My Music personal folder. See the Windows Media Player chapter for more detai ls.

Many users wi ll i ni ti al ly fi nd Li brari es to be confusi ng, annoyi ng or redundant, and wil l want to remove
them or di sabl e thei r i ntegrati on i nto Windows. Whi le attempti ng to do thi s i s not advi sed given the i ntegral
nature of Librari es, methods of reduci ng the presence of Li braries i s covered further bel ow. I strongly
recommend that you attempt to work wi th the Li braries, customi zi ng them and addi ng new Li brari es for
vari ous content as you desi re. After a whi l e you shoul d fi nd that you become accustomed to them, and
actuall y fi nd them hel pful , the same way you may have become accustomed to the defaul t Wi ndows
personal fol ders.

CUSTOMIZING LIBRARIES
Just as wi th a regular fol der, you can adjust the fol der vi ew and the sorti ng method used to sui t your needs -
see the Fol der Vi ews section further above. Note that the vi ews you appl i ed to other fol ders and fol der types
do not automati call y apply to Li brari es, or vi ce versa. You wi l l need to set the vi ews you wi sh wi thi n each
Li brary, and then at any time i f you wish to return to the defaul t view for a Li brary, l eft-cl ick on the 'Arrange
by' li nk at the top ri ght and select 'Cl ear changes'.

By defaul t under the main Li braries category there are four existi ng Li brari es: Documents, Musi c, Pi ctures
and Vi deos. The content i n these corresponds to the content i n your My Documents, My Music, My Pictures
and My Videos fol ders respecti vel y. It also i ncl udes the contents of the non-user-specifi c Public Documents,
Public Music, Public Pictures and Public Videos fol ders as relevant, each found under the \Users\Public
di rectory. I don't recommend del eti ng these Li braries, as they are l i nked to Start Menu i tems of the same
name - for exampl e, del eting the Documents Li brary wil l make the Documents component i n the Start Menu
i noperati ve.

Fortunatel y you are not confi ned to these Li brari es or thei r defaul t contents. You can modify Li brari es as you
wi sh by openi ng Wi ndows Expl orer and foll owi ng these steps:

Add or Delete Library

To add a Li brary, ri ght-cli ck on the main Li brari es category heading and sel ect New>Li brary. You can name
thi s Li brary whatever you wish, though obvi ously the content it wi ll reference shoul d help determi ne i ts

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name for the sake of clarity. Once you've created a new Li brary, you must then tel l Wi ndows the speci fic
fol ders whi ch thi s Li brary wi ll reference for gatheri ng i ts content. To add or remove folders from a Li brary:

Add Fol ders - Sel ect the new Li brary and ei ther ri ght-cl i ck on i t and sel ect Properti es then cl i ck the
'Incl ude a folder' button, or cl i ck the 'Incl ude a folder' button i n the ri ght pane. Navi gate to the fol der
you wish to incl ude i n this Li brary and sel ect i t, cl i ck the 'Incl ude fol der' button and then cl i ck Appl y.
Bear i n mi nd that all the subdi rectori es of that fol der wi ll al so automati cal ly be incl uded.
Remove Fol ders - Thi s is an i mportant step whi ch needs to be done correctly. If you si mpl y want to
remove a folder from being referenced i n a Li brary, do not del ete i t - thi s wi ll del ete the ori gi nal fol der
and al l of i ts contents. To properl y remove a folder from a Li brary, ri ght-cli ck on that fol der and sel ect
'Remove l ocati on from l i brary'. Al ternati vel y, ri ght-cli ck on the Library, sel ect Properti es, highl ight the
fol der at the top of the box and cl i ck the Remove button, then cli ck Appl y.

To del ete an enti re Li brary, right-cli ck on a Li brary name under the mai n Li brari es category and select
Del ete. Thi s del etes the Li brary, but does not delete i ts contents - they are stil l stored i n thei r ori gi nal fol ders.
Al l you have done is del ete the vi rtual contai ner whi ch col lecti vely references those fi les and fol ders.

Changing Library Icons

The i cons used to represent vari ous Li braries can't be changed by defaul t. However you can change them if
you manually edi t the .XML defi ni ti on fil e for a Li brary. To do so, foll ow these steps:

1. Navi gate to the Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries di rectory.
2. In the ri ght pane, ri ght-cli ck on the Li brary whose properti es you wi sh to edi t and sel ect 'Open Wi th'.
3. If ei ther Notepad or Wordpad are availabl e, sel ect them here. Otherwi se sel ect 'Choose defaul t program'
and/or cli ck the Browse button and select Notepad or Wordpad i n the avail abl e li st. If none of these
methods work, see the Add Open wi th Notepad Context Menu Item ti p under the Advanced Features
secti on bel ow, and use that method.
4. Once open i n a text edi tor, l ook for the l i ne wi th the <i conRef er ence> tags. If thi s li ne exists, the text
between these <i conRef er ence></ i conRef er ence> tags poi nts to the l ocati on of the i con to be used. In
most cases i t wi ll be a reference a l ocati on i n a defaul t Wi ndows i con storage fi le, l ike imageres.dll. Make a
note of i ts existi ng contents i n case you wi sh to undo thi s change.
5. If you can't find an <i conRef er ence> l i ne, then manual l y i nsert one at the bottom of the fil e, one li ne
above the last </ l i br ar yDescr i pt i on> tag. Whether i t exi sts or not, the l i ne must l ook l i ke the
foll owi ng for thi s to work:

<i conRef er ence>[ pat h t o val i d . i co f i l e] </ i conRef er ence>

Where the path to the valid .ICO fi le shoul d be a full reference to where a custom i con defi niti on fil e
exi sts, e.g.:

<i conRef er ence>C: \ user s\ user 1\ pi ct ur es\ f avi con. i co</ i conRef er ence>

6. Save the fi l e and the change wil l be i mplemented i mmedi atel y. To undo thi s change, si mpl y del ete the
<i conRef er ence> l i ne, or revert i t back to the content i t previ ousl y hel d.

To fi nd or create a val id i con fil e see the Icons secti on of the Graphi cs & Sound chapter for detai l s.

DISABLING LIBRARIES
In actual i ty there i s no proper user-based method to compl etel y di sabl e every el ement of Li brari es as they
are full y i ntegrated i nto the Wi ndows shell . However there i s a method whi ch si mpl y removes Li brari es
from vi ew i n the Navigati on Pane of Windows Expl orer, and i s covered under the Navigati on Pane secti on

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earl i er i n thi s chapter. Whi l e not recommended, i t is relati vely safe to use because i t is easi ly undone, and
doesn't actuall y attempt to di sabl e Li brari es; i t si mpl y removes them from vi ew i n Wi ndows Expl orer, which
for most peopl e who di sl ike Li braries shoul d be suffi ci ent. They can stil l be accessed from the rel evant Start
Menu i tems and al so be found under the \Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries
di rectory.

If you fi nd the defaul t Windows Expl orer behavi or of openi ng at the Li brari es category annoyi ng, you can
also customize thi s easi l y usi ng the Set Wi ndows Expl orer Startup Fol der ti p under the Advanced Features
secti on bel ow.

There i s however a method whi ch attempts to remove the i ntegrati on of Li brari es i nto Wi ndows through a
l arge number of Wi ndows Regi stry changes. Thi s i s a very risky method and does not take i nto account the
i mpact of future updates or changes i n Wi ndows whi ch wil l require the presence of such Regi stry entri es or
the Li brary functi onal i ty. Purel y for the sake of compl eteness I am i ncl udi ng thi s ti p, however gi ven the
l ength and compl exi ty of the procedure i nvol ved, parti cularly to undo the changes, this i s one of the few
i nstances i n thi s book where I provide downl oad l i nks to pre-made Registry fil es whi ch you can execute to
automati cal ly make the rel evant changes to your Regi stry and al so undo them i f needed:
Di sabl eLi brari es.zi p. I strongl y advi se agai nst performi ng thi s change. If you do proceed, at the very l east
use System Restore to create a new restore poi nt, and preferabl y also make a ful l system i mage backup as
wel l - see the Backup & Recovery chapter. Note that I do not support automated changes to the Regi stry
because they encourage peopl e to remai n i gnorant about how the Regi stry works, and gi ven the cri tical
i mportance of the Wi ndows Registry, i t is not wise to make changes to i t whi ch you do not understand.

One l ast point regardi ng Li brari es: whether desi rabl e or not, Microsoft has made i t cl ear that i t wants to
promote the use of Li braries by users and software devel opers al i ke. This means that many future
appl i cati ons designed for Wi ndows 7 are l ikely to l ink to the Li braries functi onali ty i n some way, such as by
savi ng fil es to the rel evant Li brary by defaul t i nstead of to a speci fic user fol der. As such, i t i s best to l earn to
l i ve wi th Li braries and take advantage of them. You don't have to acti vel y use them however, and you can
mi ni mize thei r presence, but I recommend agai nst mangli ng Wi ndows i n an attempt to remove thi s core
pi ece of Wi ndows 7 functi onal i ty, at the very l east because of the future software and Wi ndows update
compati bi li ty i mpli cati ons.

< DIRECTORY JUNCTIONS AND SYMBOLIC LINKS
If you di sable (unti ck) the 'Hide protected operating system files' opti on under the Vi ew tab i n Fol der
Opti ons as covered i n the Fol der Options secti on, you wi ll notice that a range of new directori es become
vi si bl e among your personal folders. That i s, under the \Users\[username]\ di rectory you wil l see addi ti onal
sub-di rectories such as \Application Data, \Cookies, \Local Settings, \NetHood and \Recent. Yet when you cl i ck
on them, you wil l get an access error. Thi s i s because they are not actual di rectori es and don't contain
anythi ng, they are Di rectory Juncti ons, al so cal l ed Juncti on Poi nts. These are redi recti on li nks whi ch poi nt to
another di rectory, and this i s also why they are denoted wi th a small shortcut arrow i n thei r i con.

Di rectory Juncti ons exi st pri mari ly for compati bi li ty purposes, so that when an appl i cati on not desi gned for
Wi ndows 7 attempts to put fi l es or folders under a non-existent di rectory under your personal fol ders, such
as the \Application Data directory for exampl e, the \Application Data juncti on automati call y sends the data to
the correct \AppData\Roaming directory i n Wi ndows 7. This all ows the appl i cati on's requi rements to be
satisfi ed, maintai ni ng i ts functi onal i ty wi thout any errors or user i nterventi on, whi l e placi ng the data i n the
correct l ocation for Wi ndows 7. To test a Di rectory Junction's functi onal i ty for yourself, ri ght-cli ck on an
exi sti ng fi l e anywhere on your system and sel ect copy, then ri ght-cl i ck on a Di rectory Juncti on and select
Paste - a copy of the fil e wi ll i nstantl y be pl aced i n the di rectory to whi ch the Juncti on poi nts to.

Under Wi ndows 7 the juncti ons under your personal fol ders poi nt to the fol l owing real di rectori es:


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Junction / Windows XP Directory Corresponding Windows 7 Directory

Appl i cati on Data \AppData\Roami ng
Cooki es \AppData\Roami ng\Mi crosoft\Wi ndows\Cooki es
Local Setti ngs \AppData\Local
My Documents \My Documents
My Documents\My Musi c \My Musi c
My Documents\My Pictures \My Pictures
My Documents\My Vi deos \My Vi deos
NetHood \AppData\Roami ng\Mi crosoft\Wi ndows\Network Shortcuts
Pri ntHood \AppData\Roami ng\Mi crosoft\Wi ndows\Pri nter Shortcuts
Recent \AppData\Roami ng\Mi crosoft\Wi ndows\Recent Items
SendTo \AppData\Roami ng\Mi crosoft\Wi ndows\SendTo
Start Menu \AppData\Roami ng\Mi crosoft\Wi ndows\Start Menu
Templ ates \AppData\Roami ng\Mi crosoft\Wi ndows\Templ ates

The tabl e above i s parti cularly useful for Wi ndows XP users who may be confused as to where data
previ ousl y hel d under the personal folders i n XP now exi sts i n Wi ndows 7. For Vista users, the di rectori es
remai n the same, except you shoul d note that the Recent fol der has been renamed Recent Items i n Wi ndows 7.

A Di rectory Juncti on is actual l y part of a feature fi rst i ntroduced in Wi ndows Vista call ed Symbol i c Li nks. A
Symboli c Li nk i s li ke a shortcut, except a shortcut i s actuall y a type of fi le (.LNK), whereas a Symbol i c Li nk i s
not a fi le; i t i s a redi rection whi ch exists at the fi le system l evel i n the NTFS fi l e system. It can poi nt to
anywhere, whether a fil e, a di rectory, or even another dri ve.

You can rename or del ete Di rectory Juncti ons and other Symbol i c Li nks just l i ke any other fil e or fol der, but
to undertake advanced mani pulati on them, parti cularl y i f you wi sh to create a Symboli c Li nk of your own,
you must use the MKLi nk command. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt and type MKLi nk / ? for a
full l ist of parameters.

For example to create a l i nk si mply cal led ReadMe i n your current di rectory li nki ng to the file Text.doc under
C:\Users\User1\Downloads\, open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt and use the foll owi ng command:

MKLi nk ReadMe C: \ User s\ User 1\ Downl oads\ Text . doc

The Symboli c Li nk ReadMe wi ll be created under the exi sti ng directory i n whi ch the Command Prompt i s
poi nti ng to, denoted wi th a shortcut i con when vi ewed i n Wi ndows Expl orer. If you want to see where this
l i nk poi nts to, ri ght-cli ck on i t, sel ect Properti es and under the Shortcut tab cl i ck the 'Open fol der l ocati on'
button. You can also use the / J swi tch for the MKLi nk command to create a Directory Junction to l i nk to a
di rectory i nstead, e.g.:

MKLi nk Downl oads C: \ User s\ User 1\ Downl oads\ / J

Note that you can del ete a Symboli c Li nk and i t wi ll not del ete the fil e or fol der i t i s li nked to.

These features are not designed for the average user, they are more an i nternal mechanism for Wi ndows to
automati cal ly mai ntai n compati bi li ty wi th ol der appli cati ons and games, and general l y speaki ng you shoul d
not need to create or al ter Di rectory Juncti ons or Symbol i c Li nks unl ess troubleshooti ng a rel ated probl em.


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< ADVANCED FEATURES
The foll owi ng are some sl ightl y more advanced features of Wi ndows Expl orer whi ch go beyond the
common functi onali ty, i ncludi ng ti ps and tweaks for maki ng Explorer easi er to use.

SET WINDOWS EXPLORER STARTUP FOLDER
If you usual ly open Wi ndows Expl orer from a shortcut, thi s procedure all ows you to set whi ch di rectory it
wi ll open i n when l aunched from that shortcut. By defaul t the exi sti ng shortcuts to Wi ndows Expl orer, such
as the folder icon i n the Taskbar, open Wi ndows Expl orer i n the Li brari es category. To al ter thi s behavi or for
Wi ndows Expl orer, do the foll owi ng:

1. To customize any existi ng Wi ndows Expl orer shortcut, ri ght-cl i ck on the shortcut and sel ect Properti es.
For the fol der i con i n the Taskbar, right-cl i ck on the i con, then right-cli ck agai n on the Wi ndows Expl orer
i tem i n the bottom secti on of the Jump Li st whi ch opens and sel ect Properti es.
2. To create a new custom shortcut to Wi ndows Expl orer Ri ght-cl i ck on an empty area of the Desktop and
sel ect New>Shortcut.
3. In ei ther case, i n the Location or Target box use the fol l owi ng:

%wi ndi r %\ expl or er . exe / e, [ pat h]

In pl ace of [ pat h] above you shoul d enter the actual path to the directory you want open by defaul t, e.g.
C:\User\User1\Downloads. The path does not requi re quote marks around i t, however make sure not to
forget the comma and si ngl e bl ank space after the / e swi tch and before the path. E.g.:

%wi ndi r %\ expl or er . exe / e, C: \ User s\ User 1\ Downl oads

If you omi t the path (i .e. no text i s entered after the / e, ), thi s wil l simpl y open Wi ndows Expl orer i n the
Computer category i nstead.
4. For exi sti ng shortcuts, cl ick the Appl y button; for a new shortcut, cl i ck Next, then name the shortcut
somethi ng appropri ate, li ke Wi ndows Expl orer, and cl i ck Fi ni sh.
5. Thi s shortcut can now be used to al ways open a Wi ndows Expl orer wi ndow i n the di rectory speci fi ed.

Note however that i f the Taskbar i con i s al tered as above, other i nstances of Wi ndows Expl orer launched
from normal shortcuts wi ll be shown separatel y i n the Taskbar.

If at any ti me you quickly want to open Wi ndows Expl orer at any parti cular fol der on your system, go to
Start>Search Box and type (or paste) ei ther a parti al or full path of the fol der (wi thout quotes), then press
sel ect i t from the l i st shown i n the Start Menu. In the case of your defaul t Li brari es, si mpl y enter thei r name
i n Start>Search Box and press Enter - Windows Expl orer wil l open i n that Li brary.

MANIPULATE MULTIPLE FILES
If you have a range of fi l es you want to mani pulate together - e.g. move, copy, rename, change the properti es
of all of them - you can do so rapi dl y i n Wi ndows Expl orer by doing the fol l owi ng:

Hi ghl i ght the group of fil es you want to mani pulate in one of three ways:

Hol d down the SHIFT key and cli ck on the fi rst fi le in the group, then whi l e stil l hol di ng down SHIFT,
cl i ck on the l ast fil e i n the group and everythi ng i n between wil l al so be hi ghl ighted.
Hol d down the CTRL key and cli ck on any i ndi vi dual fi les you want to sel ect unti l all the fil es you want
to sel ect are hi ghli ghted.

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Under the Fol der Opti ons component of Wi ndows Control Panel enabl e the 'Use check boxes to sel ect
i tems' opti on under the View tab, then sel ect fi l es usi ng the check boxes whi ch appear when you hover
your mouse cursor over them, or all fil es i n a column by ti cki ng the check box at the top of the column.

You can al so combi ne these methods, e.g. SHIFT sel ect a large range of fil es, then use CTRL or the check box
method to add or remove indi vi dual fil es to or from the al ready highl ighted ones.

Wi thout cl i cki ng anywhere el se, you can now:

Drag and drop these fi les to move them.
Hol d down CTRL whi l e draggi ng and droppi ng to copy them.
Hol d down ALT whi le draggi ng and droppi ng to create shortcut links to them.
Ri ght-cli ck on the fi rst fi l e you want to mani pulate and sel ect Rename, Copy, Del ete, Properti es or any
other avail able opti ons.

If you choose to rename the fi l es, al l the hi ghl ighted fi l es wil l be renamed wi th the same name you gave the
fi rst fil e, however they wil l also be automati cal ly assigned a number i n brackets at the end of thei r fi l ename.
For example, i f you rename the fi rst in a seri es of hi ghli ghted photo fi l es SummerHoliday.jpg, the remaini ng
hi ghli ghted fil es wi ll automati cal ly be renamed SummerHoliday (1).jpg, SummerHoliday (2).jpg, and so on.

EXPLORER RESTART SUBSTITUTE FOR REBOOT
There i s a method of doi ng a reboot of the Expl orer process as a substi tute for havi ng to do a full restart of
Windows under certai n ci rcumstances. Thi s i s done as fol l ows:

1. Cl ose all open i nstances of Wi ndows Expl orer.
2. Open Task Manager - see the Task Manager secti on of Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng
chapter.
3. Under the Processes tab right-cl ick on the Explorer.exe process and sel ect 'End Process' - do thi s for every
i nstance. Confi rm the End Process prompt. Parts of the Taskbar and screen wil l go blank.
4. Sti ll i n Task Manager, go to the Fil e menu and sel ect 'New Task (Run...)'.
5. Type expl orer i n the box whi ch opens and press Enter. Expl orer wi l l be reloaded and the i nterface
should return to normal .

Thi s method can hel p resolve probl ems wi th the Wi ndows i nterface showi ng glitches or bei ng unresponsive,
or if a parti cular fil e or program i s not respondi ng. Furthermore i f you've i mpl emented a Regi stry change
then restarti ng Expl orer wil l often i mplement the change wi thout havi ng to reboot or l ogoff and l ogon agai n.
However thi s method does not repl ace the need to reboot i n most other ci rcumstances such as duri ng the
i nstal lati on of dri vers, or after seri ous errors. Furthermore i f your i nterface is constantl y showi ng gli tches,
thi s is a si gn of a probl em that you shoul d resol ve, as i t i s not normal.

DUAL WINDOW EXPLORER VIEW
If you want to undertake more compl ex fil e copyi ng/movi ng between vari ous fol ders/dri ves on your system,
Wi ndows Expl orer can be combi ned with Wi ndows 7's new Aero Snap feature - covered i n detail under the
Graphi cs & Sound chapter - to provi de a more effi cient method of util izi ng the Expl orer i nterface. Foll ow
these steps:

1. Fi rst open two separate i nstances of Windows Expl orer. A qui ck way to do thi s is to l eft-cli ck on the
fol der i con i n Taskbar once to open the first i nstance, then mi ddl e-cli ck on the folder i con again.
2. Now drag one Wi ndows Expl orer wi ndow to the far l eft of the screen until Aero Snap automati call y
resizes i t to fil l exactly half the screen.

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3. Drag the second Wi ndows Expl orer wi ndow to the far ri ght of the screen unti l Aero Snap resizes i t to fi ll
half of the ri ght si de of the screen.
4. A qui cker way of doi ng Steps 2 - 3 above i s to onl y have two Wi ndows Expl orer wi ndows open on your
Desktop, then ri ght-cl ick on an empty area of the Taskbar and sel ect 'Show wi ndows si de by si de'.
5. You now have two separate Wi ndows Expl orer wi ndows, i n effect si mulating a dual-window fil e
manager i nterface. You can choose the source di rectory i n the l eft wi ndow, and i n the ri ght wi ndow you
can sel ect a desti nation di rectory.
6. To qui ckl y move fi l es between the Expl orer wi ndows, select the rel evant fi l e(s) and drag and drop
between the open wi ndows. To copy fi les i nstead of movi ng them, hol d down the CTRL key while
draggi ng and droppi ng.

When you're done, cl ose one Expl orer wi ndow, then grab and flick the other one back towards the center of
the screen - it wi l l resi ze to i ts defaul t size and l ocati on. Al ternati vely you can just cl ose both Expl orer
wi ndows and the next ti me you open Windows Expl orer i t wi ll open wi th i ts defaul t si ze and l ocati on i ntact.

CUSTOMIZE FOLDER ICONS & FOLDER PICTURES
By defaul t, most fol ders i n Wi ndows use an i mage of an open yellow fol der as thei r i con - thi s is cal l ed the
Fol der Icon. Often another smal l er i mage i s also di spl ayed wi thin the Fol der Icon, representi ng the type of
data stored in that fol der - thi s i s call ed the Fol der Pi cture. Both of these can be customi zed by fol l owing
these steps:

1. Open Wi ndows Expl orer and navi gate to the fol der you wi sh to customize. Go to the full path found
under the Computer category i n the Navi gati on Pane, parti cularly if customi zi ng a personal fol der,
because the shortcuts to the personal folders found under i n the user category of the Navi gation Pane do
not di splay all the customizati on opti ons we need.
2. Ri ght-cli ck on the folder in questi on and sel ect Properti es.
3. Under the Customi ze tab, you can choose to change the Folder Pi cture and/or Fol der Icon.
4. To change a Fol der Pi cture - whi ch i s the pi cture that appears withi n the Fol der Icon i mage of an open
yel l ow folder - cl i ck the 'Choose Fil e' button and navigate to a val id fil e. Most standard pi cture and i con
formats are supported. Highl ight the appropri ate file and cl i ck Open to sel ect i t, then cl i ck the Appl y
button. To undo thi s change at any ti me, come back here and cli ck the 'Restore Defaul t' button, then cl i ck
Appl y.
5. To change the Fol der Icon - whi ch i s the actual i con used to represent the enti re fol der (and whi ch can
overri de the Fol der Pi cture) - cl i ck the 'Change Icon' button and either sel ect another standard Wi ndows
i con, or Browse to another l ocati on wi th a val i d i con stored i n a .DLL, .EXE or .ICO fi l e format. To undo
thi s change at any ti me, come back here, cli ck the 'Change Icon' button, then cl i ck the 'Restore Defaul ts'
button, and cli ck Appl y.

The i con or pi cture you've sel ected shoul d be appli ed i mmediately and vi si bl e in Wi ndows Expl orer. If the
fol der i s al so l i nked to the Start Menu, your new Folder Icon wi l l also appear at the top of the Start Menu
when the rel evant Start Menu i tem i s highl ighted - e.g. if you change the Fol der Icon for the \My Documents
personal folder, then i t wi l l appear whenever you select Documents from the Start Menu. Indeed wherever
your folder i s referenced wi th an i con, the i con shoul d have changed. Note that if you del ete an ori gi nal .ICO
i con fil e you poi nted to i n Step 5 above, the customi zati on wil l be lost. Al so, i t i s recommended that you use
proper scalabl e i cons so that the Folder Icon does not appear pi xelated at hi gher resol uti ons and sizes - for
exampl e there are a range of proper Windows i cons you can vi ew and use i n the Imageres.dll and Shell32.dll
fi les found under the \Windows\System32 di rectory.

Note that i f the i cons you've appl i ed don't appear to be worki ng, fi rst cl ose and reopen Wi ndows Explorer
and check agai n, then use the Repai r Incorrectl y Displ ayed Icons ti p found under the Icons secti on of the
Graphi cs & Sound chapter to rebuil d the Icon cache.


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For full detail s of Wi ndows i con creati on and customi zati on, see the Icons section of the Graphi cs & Sound
chapter.

EXPANDED CONTEXT MENUS
A context menu is the smal l menu whi ch pops up when you right-cl i ck on vari ous components, such as a
fi le, fol der or i con, whether i n Expl orer-based views or on your Desktop. If you want to vi ew an 'expanded'
context menu for a parti cular i tem, hol d down the SHIFT key whil e ri ght-cl i cki ng on i t. You'll see addi tional
opti ons such as 'Pi n to Start Menu' and 'Copy as Path', or other opti ons dependi ng on the parti cul ar fil e,
fol der or desktop i con. Interesti ngl y, the 'Send To' context menu i tem al so has a range of addi ti onal options
when usi ng the SHIFT ri ght-cl i ck method - typi call y your personal fol ders wi ll be shown al ong wi th the
standard i tems i n Send To.

EDIT CONTEXT MENUS
When you ri ght-cl i ck your mouse button on any l ocation you wil l see a range of context menu entri es. As the
name i mpli es, the entri es are dependent on the context i n whi ch the ri ght-cl i ck was used, whether i t was on
a fi l e, fol der, an empty l ocati on on the Desktop, and so forth. Unfortunately some of the entri es i n the context
menu have been unnecessaril y i nserted by programs you have i nstall ed, and you may wi sh to remove these.

The first step i n getti ng rid of any unwanted entries i nvol ves openi ng the programs to whi ch the entri es
relate and l ooki ng through the program's opti ons to see if you can unsel ect any 'shell i ntegration' or 'context
menu' setti ngs they have. If that doesn't work or i s not possi bl e, you can use several other methods to fi nd
and remove these entri es. Before making any changes to your context menus, make sure to use System
Restore to create a new restore poi nt, as some of these changes cannot be easil y undone.

Autoruns

The free Autoruns startup i denti fi cation uti li ty can be used in a rel ati vely strai ghtforward manner to
temporaril y di sabl e or permanentl y remove context menu entri es. For our purposes l ook under the Expl orer
tab of Autoruns - the majori ty of the entri es wil l be context menu entri es of one type or another. The
Descri pti on, Publi sher and Image Path col umns shoul d provide suffi ci ent informati on to i denti fy whi ch
Autorun entri es relate to whi ch parti cular context menu i tems. Unti ck any you wish to temporaril y di sabl e,
then cl ose Autoruns, reboot and check to see i f the undesi rabl e context menu entries are gone. To
permanentl y remove an i tem, right-cli ck on i t and select Del ete. For full detail s of how to use Autoruns, see
the Startup Programs chapter.

ShellMenuView

The free Shel lMenuVi ew uti l i ty is an automated tool whi ch di splays all stati c context menu i tems. Downl oad
and run the shmnview.exe fi l e to launch the uti l i ty - no i nstal lati on i s required. The i nterface i s confusi ng at
fi rst, but keep i n mi nd that most standard Wi ndows entri es are not bei ng di splayed as l ong as the 'Hi de
standard menu i tems' opti on i s ti cked under the Opti ons menu, so the bul k of these entri es relate to thi rd
party programs.

Each entry under the 'Menu Name' column i s preci sel y that, the name of a menu entry i n one of the context
menus on your system. To determi ne whi ch entries appl y to whi ch parti cular appli cati ons, expand the
col umns and l ook under the 'Fil e Type' col umn - the associated appl i cati ons for each menu entry are shown.
Hi ghl i ght the entri es you bel i eve you wi sh to remove, ri ght-cl i ck and sel ect 'Di sabl e sel ected i tems', and
check to see if thi s removes the rel evant entri es from your context menu. If not, you can easily undo thi s by
hi ghli ghti ng the same entries, ri ght-cli cki ng and sel ecti ng 'Enabl e sel ected i tems'. Note al so that i f you can't
di sabl e an i tem properl y, cl ose the program, right-cl i ck on the shmnview.exe fi le and sel ect 'Run as
Admi nistrator' to launch i t agai n wi th ful l Admi ni strator pri vi leges.

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ShellExView

Some context menu entri es are not stati c, they enabl e addi ti onal functi onal i ty whi ch makes them a shell
extensi on. You can use the free Shel l ExVi ew util i ty, whi ch is si mil ar to Shel lMenuVi ew, to vi ew and adjust
these. Download and run the shexview.exe fi le to launch the uti li ty - no i nstal lation i s requi red. The i nterface
i s once agai n sli ghtl y confusi ng at fi rst, however non-Wi ndows shel l extensi ons are highlighted i n pi nk by
defaul t, as l ong as the 'Mark non-Mi crosoft extensi ons' opti on i s ti cked under the Opti ons menu. Ri ght-click
on any extensi on you wi sh to disabl e and sel ect 'Di sabl e sel ected i tems'. Test to see if thi s di sabl es the i tem,
however you wi ll li kel y have to reboot to see the i mpact of the changes. Note also that if you can't disabl e an
i tem properl y, cl ose the program, ri ght-cl i ck on the shexview.exe fi l e and select 'Run as Admi ni strator' to
l aunch i t again wi th full Admi ni strator pri vi leges.

Windows Registry

The uti l i ti es above are recommended for most users as they are automated and provi de safeguards to more
easi ly undo changes. However if you wi sh to manual l y (and hence permanentl y) remove context menu
entri es vi a the Wi ndows Regi stry, l ook under the fol lowi ng l ocati ons usi ng the Regi stry Edi tor:

[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ *\ shel l ex\ Cont ext MenuHandl er s]
[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Al l Fi l esyst emObj ect s\ shel l ex\ Cont ext MenuHandl er s]
[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Di r ect or y\ shel l ex\ Cont ext MenuHandl er s]
[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Di r ect or y\ Backgr ound\ shel l ex\ Cont ext MenuHandl er s]
[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Dr i ve\ shel l ]
[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Dr i ve\ shel l ex\ Cont ext MenuHandl er s]
[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Fol der \ shel l ]
[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Fol der \ shel l ex\ Cont ext MenuHandl er s]

The subfol ders above are l ocati ons which hol d most context menu entri es i n Wi ndows. Under each, asi de
from standard Wi ndows items such as Shar i ng or Of f l i ne Fi l es, you may fi nd keys or val ues whi ch
relate to parti cul ar thi rd party programs. Right-cli cking on the relevant program key and sel ecti ng Delete
wi ll remove its context menu entries. In most cases as you remove unwanted program entries, you can test
the effects i mmedi atel y by checki ng to see if the rel evant entry was removed from the context menu. In some
cases - mai nly wi th shell extensi ons - you may need to reboot to see the effects. There i s no Undo functi on in
Regi stry Edi tor, so make sure to back up the rel evant branch before edi ti ng i t. See the Wi ndows Regi stry
chapter for ful l detai l s of Regi stry edi ti ng i nstructi ons.

EDIT 'OPEN WITH' CONTEXT MENU
Whenever you open a parti cular type of fil e wi th a program, i t wi ll usual ly be added to the 'Open With'
context menu for that file type. To edi t the programs whi ch are i ncluded in thi s l i st for a parti cular fi le
extensi on, fi rst open the fol l owi ng l ocation i n the Registry:

[ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Sof t war e\ Mi cr osof t \ Wi ndows\ Cur r ent Ver si on\ Expl or er \ Fi l eExt s]

Here you can sel ect the relevant fil e extensi on from the l ist of subfol ders shown. For exampl e to edi t the .AVI
vi deo fi l e extensi on, go to the . avi key here, then sel ect the OpenWi t hLi st key under i t, and i n the ri ght
pane you wi ll see a l ist of STRING entri es such as the ones bel ow:

a=wmpl ayer . exe
b=Vi r t ual Dub. exe

Each val ue corresponds wi th a parti cular program whi ch i s shown as an entry i n the 'Open Wi th' context
menu for that parti cular fil e extensi on. Ri ght-cli ck on val ues for the program(s) you wish to remove and
sel ect Del ete, and they wil l be i mmediatel y removed from the rel evant 'Open Wi th' context menu.


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EDIT 'SEND TO' CONTEXT MENU
When you right-cl ick on most fil es or i cons, you wil l see a 'Send To' context menu i tem whi ch has further
opti ons to sel ect. Typi cally you wi ll see opti ons li ke sendi ng the fil e to the Desktop (as a shortcut), or a
Compressed fol der, or to a Li brary. You can edi t the opti ons whi ch appear i n the 'Send To' context menu by
goi ng to the fol l owi ng fol der:

\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo

To remove any i tem from the 'Send To' context menu, si mpl y delete i t from this fol der, or preferably move it
to another folder to keep as a backup. To add a new 'Send To' i tem, such as a new fol der or program, si mpl y
copy i ts shortcut i nto thi s fol der.

ADD 'COPY TO' AND 'MOVE TO' CONTEXT MENU ITEMS
If you want to add two useful commands to your context menus - namel y 'Copy To' and 'Move To', then go
to the foll owing l ocati on i n the Regi stry:

[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Al l Fi l eSyst emObj ect s\ shel l ex\ Cont ext MenuHandl er s]

Copy To= {C2FBB630- 2971- 11d1- A18C- 00C04FD75D13}
Move To= {C2FBB631- 2971- 11d1- A18C- 00C04FD75D13}

To add one or both of these i tems to your context menu, create a new key under the
Cont ext MenuHandl er s fol der - that i s, ri ght-cl ick on the Cont ext MenuHandl er s subfol der, sel ect
New>Key, and name i t Copy To or Move To as desi red. Then left-cl i ck once on thi s new key, go to the right
pane i n Regi stry Edi tor and doubl e-cli ck on the ( Def aul t ) entry and assi gn the appropri ate val ue data as
shown above, i ncl udi ng the parentheses around the numbers. This wi ll create a new context menu entry that
all ows you to sel ect ei ther 'Copy To Folder...' or 'Move To Fol der...' i n the context menu for a parti cul ar fil e
or fol der and then speci fy the l ocati on to copy or move them to. Repeat these steps to create the other entry if
you wi sh to have both on your context menu. To remove ei ther of these entries si mply delete the rel evant
subfol der i n Regi stry Edi tor.

ADD 'OPEN WITH NOTEPAD' CONTEXT MENU ITEM
If you want to qui ckl y open any fi l e using Notepad, you can add a new 'Open wi th Notepad' context menu
i tem by goi ng to the foll owing l ocati on i n the Regi stry:

[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ *\ shel l \ ]

Ri ght-cli ck on the subfol der above, select New>Key and cal l i t Open wi t h Not epad. Then ri ght-cli ck on
thi s new key, select New>Key agai n to create a new key under i t cal l ed command, wi th the fi nal resul t
l ooki ng li ke thi s:

[ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ *\ shel l \ Open wi t h Not epad\ command]

Sel ect the command subfol der and i n the ri ght pane, doubl e-cli ck on the ( Def aul t ) entry and enter the
foll owi ng value data exactly as shown:

not epad. exe %1

Now whenever you ri ght-cl i ck on any file i t wil l have a new context menu entry call ed 'Open wi th Notepad',
whi ch when sel ected opens that fil e i nstantl y i n Notepad. To remove thi s context menu entry si mpl y delete
the Open wi t h Not epad subfol der.


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INCREASE MENU DISPLAY SPEED
You may wi sh to al ter the speed wi th whi ch certai n menus open i n Wi ndows, such as sub-menus under
context menus, or the All Programs i tem on the Start Menu. By defaul t Wi ndows wai ts just under hal f a
second before openi ng a menu, to prevent acci dental openi ng of menus. You can adjust thi s del ay by goi ng
to the foll owing l ocati on i n the Regi stry:

[ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Cont r ol Panel \ Deskt op]

MenuShowDel ay=400

The defaul t delay i s 400 mi l li seconds (1000 mi ll iseconds = 1 second). You can l ower this value to i ncrease
menu responsi veness. You wi ll need to restart Wi ndows or l ogoff and l ogon to see the i mpact of thi s change.

Note that the speed wi th whi ch many menu-l i ke features are opened, such as Thumbnail Previ ew wi ndows
i n the Taskbar, are based on other setti ngs - see the Taskbar secti on of the Graphi cs & Sound chapter for a
method of alteri ng this. Al so see the Personal izati on secti on of the Graphi cs & Sound chapter for Visual
Effects setti ngs whi ch can di sabl e vari ous ani mati on effects and thus further i ncrease responsi veness.
Fi nal ly, al so refer to the Wi ndows Aero secti on of the Graphi cs & Sound chapter for detai ls of how to
customize the Aero Peek responsi veness speed.

FIX CHANGING FOLDER VIEWS
Thi s i s an i ssue which fi rst came to promi nence i n Windows Vi sta, but can stil l occur i n Windows 7, al bei t it
i s l ess li kel y to occur i f you set your fol der vi ews correctl y as covered under the Fol der Views secti on earl ier
i n thi s chapter. If your fol der vi ews i n Expl orer-based i nterfaces are constantl y bei ng changed or shown
i ncorrectly, even after you have foll owed the i nstructi ons i n the Folder Views secti on of thi s book, then
foll ow these instructi ons to fi x thi s i ssue permanentl y. Go to the fol lowi ng l ocati on i n the Regi stry:

[ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Sof t war e\ Cl asses\ Local Set t i ngs\ Sof t war e\ Mi cr osof t \
Wi ndows\ Shel l \ Bags]

[ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Sof t war e\ Cl asses\ Local Set t i ngs\ Sof t war e\ Mi cr osof t \
Wi ndows\ Shel l \ BagMRU]

Ri ght-cli ck on the Bags subfolder i n the l eft pane and sel ect Del ete, then do the same thi ng for BagMRU. Thi s
wi ll remove most exi sti ng customizati ons for thi ngs li ke wi ndow si zes, posi ti ons and vi ews. Whi le stil l i n the
same pl ace i n the Regi stry Edi tor, you wi ll need to manuall y recreate one of these keys wi th a new setting.
Ri ght-cli ck on the foll owing subfolder i n the left pane:

[ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Sof t war e\ Cl asses\ Local
Set t i ngs\ Sof t war e\ Mi cr osof t \ Wi ndows\ Shel l ]

Create a new key call ed Bags to repl ace the one you just del eted. Ri ght-cli ck on Bags, sel ect New>Key and
name thi s new key Al l Fol der s. Right-cl i ck on Al l Fol der s, sel ect New>Key and name thi s new key
Shel l . The end resul t shoul d l ook li ke thi s i n Regi stry Edi tor:

[ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Sof t war e\ Cl asses\ Local Set t i ngs\ Sof t war e\ Mi cr osof t \
Wi ndows\ Shel l \ Bags\ Al l Fol der s\ Shel l ]

Now l eft-cli ck on the l ast Shel l key and i n the ri ght pane ri ght-cl i ck i n an empty area and select
New>Stri ng Val ue. Name thi s new val ue Fol der Type and once created, doubl e-cl i ck on i t and i n the Val ue
Data box enter Not Speci f i ed.

These steps wi ll reset your fol der vi ews such that they can be customi zed again usi ng the i nstructi ons under
the Fol der Views secti on of thi s chapter, thi s ti me wi thout bei ng changed once you've adjusted them.

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There i s one l ast step whi ch can help ensure these setti ngs remai n fi xed: i ncreasi ng the number of
customized fol der vi ews Wi ndows can hol d. To do thi s, go to the foll owi ng l ocati on i n the Regi stry:

[ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Sof t war e\ Cl asses\ Local
Set t i ngs\ Sof t war e\ Mi cr osof t \ Wi ndows\ Shel l ]

Left-cl i ck on the Shel l key and i n the ri ght pane, if you can see BagMRU Si ze then there i s no need to
undertake this step. If i t i sn't there however, ri ght-click and sel ect New>DWORD 32-bi t Value and name it
BagMRU Si ze. Now set thi s value to 10000 i n Deci mal vi ew.

The above steps shoul d ensure that your fol der views don't change agai n wi thout you changi ng them
manuall y. However i f you sti ll fi nd your fol der vi ews resetti ng or changi ng every once i n a whi l e even after
foll owi ng the steps above, i t i ndi cates that you may have data corrupti on issues (e.g. faul ty or overcl ocked
RAM or CPU), or a parti cul ar program you have i nstal l ed i s constantl y i nterferi ng wi th Expl orer-based
vi ews i n the Wi ndows i nterface.


Wi ndows Expl orer is an important component of Wi ndows, not onl y because i t i s used so often, but also
because i t i s the basi s for many Wi ndows and non-Wi ndows utili ti es. I recommend exercisi ng great cauti on
when customi zi ng or al teri ng Wi ndows Expl orer beyond the detai ls provi ded i n thi s chapter. Addi ng a
range of thi rd party enhancements to Expl orer, or install i ng programs whi ch automati cal ly do the same, can
make Wi ndows Expl orer more prone to crashi ng, freezi ng and general l y bei ng l ess conveni ent to use.



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WINDOWS DRIVERS


Devi ce dri vers are the software that i s necessary to give i nstructi ons to your hardware. Graphi cs dri vers for
exampl e tel l your graphi cs hardware what to do in vari ous si tuati ons, such as duri ng 3D games or when
di splayi ng the Wi ndows Desktop. Windows 7 comes wi th buil t-i n dri ver support for virtuall y any type of
common computer hardware, and hence most of your hardware wi ll operate i n Wi ndows even wi thout
i nstal li ng addi ti onal dri vers. However the bui l t-i n Wi ndows drivers are not opti mal and do not guarantee
that you wi ll get full effi ci ent functi onali ty out of your hardware. Thus wherever possi ble you need to
downl oad, i nstall and confi gure the latest avai lable Wi ndows 7-speci fi c device dri vers for your hardware to
make sure your enti re system performs opti mall y, with full functi onali ty and maxi mum stabil ity.

Wi ndows 7 is based on much the same dri ver model used i n Windows Vista, whi ch attempts to make the
i nstal lati on and usage of devi ce dri vers much si mpler, more secure and l ess l ikel y to cause cri ti cal system-
wi de i nstabi lity. Thi s is because much of the dri ver i s not i nvol ved wi th the Kernel - the core software of
Wi ndow - and thus i f a devi ce or driver mal functions then usuall y the system state can be restored by
restarti ng the dri ver rather than rebooti ng the enti re system. Thi s model also all ows for better shari ng of
resources, maki ng i t easi er to genui nel y mul ti task wi thout runni ng i nto seri ous probl ems.

Wi ndows 7 also i mproves dri ver compati bi l i ty, whi ch makes fi nding the ri ght dri vers for your devi ces much
easi er. However there are a range of i mportant considerati ons when i nstall i ng and configuring dri vers, and
thi s chapter runs through these i n detail .


< DRIVER COMPATIBILITY
Wi ndows 7 provi des i mproved dri ver compati bi li ty because i t i s based on the same dri ver archi tecture as
Wi ndows Vista. Thi s means that any hardware whi ch ran under Wi ndows Vista i s extremel y l ikely to
functi on correctl y under Wi ndows 7. Even i f the hardware manufacturer does not provi de Wi ndows 7
dri vers for a devi ce, you can use a dri ver desi gned for Vi sta under Wi ndows 7. For some devi ces, such as
pri nters for exampl e, you may even be abl e to use Wi ndows XP dri vers under Wi ndows 7.

For a range of reasons you may have diffi cul ty i n fi ndi ng and i nstall i ng compati bl e dri vers for your devi ce
i n Wi ndows 7. See the i nformati on bel ow for assistance.

FINDING COMPATIBLE DRIVERS
Ideall y before i nstall i ng Windows 7 you should have checked your hardware's compati bi li ty wi th Windows
7 - see the start of the Wi ndows Instal lati on chapter for l i nks to appropri ate resources to do so. Whi le
Wi ndows 7 supports a wide range of hardware, certai n hardware that i s ol der or l ess common may not be
compl etel y compati bl e with Wi ndows 7. You should also check your hardware manufacturer's websi te for
the l atest compati bi li ty detai ls. The Dri ver Instal lation secti on further bel ow provi des l i nks to some of the
manufacturer support si tes for your major hardware components, but you can al so fi nd your device
manufacturer's si te by checki ng the packagi ng or i nstructi on manual s for the devi ce, or searchi ng Googl e
usi ng the model name and number. Check to see i f there are any Wi ndows 7 drivers for your devi ce, or if the
manufacturer has made any announcements regardi ng provi di ng support for Wi ndows 7. Some
manufacturers have made it cl ear that they wil l not be provi di ng up-to-date support for older or superseded
hardware, i n whi ch case you need to l ook for rel evant Wi ndows Vista dri vers to use i n Wi ndows 7. If you
sti ll can't fi nd a sui tabl e dri ver there, check any di scs whi ch came wi th the devi ce to see i f they hol d
appropriate Wi ndows 7 or Vi sta dri vers you can attempt to use.


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If no Vista or Wi ndows 7 dri ver i s avail abl e for your devi ce, then you can use Windows Update to search for
any new or updated Wi ndows 7-compati bl e dri vers for your devi ce. See the Wi ndows Update secti on
further bel ow for detail s. You can al so manuall y search for dri vers usi ng the Mi crosoft Update Catal og. Once
at the Catal og si te, you can type i n part or al l of your hardware's brand and model number to see a ful l l i st of
Mi crosoft certi fi ed dri vers avai lable for i t. Note that you can sort by vari ous col umns; e.g. cl i ck the 'Last
Updated' column to sort the l i st so that the most recent dri vers are shown fi rst. Add any drivers you wi sh to
downl oad, then cli ck the 'Vi ew Basket' l i nk at the top ri ght and then cli ck the Downl oad button to obtai n the
dri ver for free.

If no appropri ate dri ver is avai labl e at all , then you can attempt to force Wi ndows to use a generi c Wi ndows
dri ver for a si mi lar devi ce, as covered under the Devi ce Manager secti on of the BIOS & Hardware
Management chapter. If that fail s, then you must si mpl y wai t for one to become avail able, whether from
your manufacturer, or from Mi crosoft vi a Wi ndows Update. Wi thout a sui table dri ver, most devi ces si mpl y
wi ll not functi on correctl y - i t is a necessary pi ece of software for whi ch there i s no substi tute.

DRIVER INSTALLATION DIFFICULTIES
If you fi nd what you beli eve i s an appropri ate dri ver for the device, and i t is from a trusted source, you may
sti ll have diffi cul ti es i nstal l i ng i t due to general compati bi li ty i ssues. If thi s i s the case, try al l of the
foll owi ng:

Ri ght-cli ck on the dri ver package and sel ect 'Run as admi ni strator' to ensure i t i s properly assigned full
Admi nistrator ri ghts.
Ri ght-cli ck on the dri ver package, sel ect Properti es, and at the bottom of the General tab cl i ck the
Unbl ock button (if i t exi sts) and cl i ck Appl y to overri de any potenti al securi ty bl ocks Windows has
pl aced on the fil e due to i t comi ng from an outsi de source.
Ri ght-cli ck on the dri ver package, select Properti es, and check under the Di gi tal Si gnatures tab for more
detail s of whether i t is a signed dri ver - see the Dri ver Si gnature secti on further bel ow for detail s.
Ri ght-cli ck on the dri ver package, sel ect Properti es, and under the Compati bi l i ty tab ti ck the 'Run thi s
program i n compati bi li ty mode for' box and set i t for 'Wi ndows Vi sta' - this i s parti cularly useful for
attempti ng to i nstal l Vi sta dri vers on Wi ndows 7. You may al so need to then l aunch the dri ver
i nstal lati on usi ng 'Run as Admi nistrator' to ensure proper i nstallati on i n compati bi l i ty mode.

If none these steps resol ve the probl em, check the i nformati on i n the rest of this chapter for other methods of
manuall y i nstal li ng a dri ver. Al so check the BIOS & Hardware Management as wel l as the Performance
Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapters for detail s of how to troubl eshoot a probl emati c devi ce.

64-BIT COMPATIBILITY
A cri ti cal compati bi li ty i ssue for any Wi ndows 7 user i s the fact that you cannot i nstall drivers desi gned for
the 32-bi t versi on of Wi ndows 7 or Vi sta on a 64-bi t install ation of Wi ndows 7, or vi ce versa. Thi s means that
i f you i ntend to use Windows 7 64-bi t, then you shoul d check to make sure that there are appropri ate 64-bi t
dri vers for al l of your key hardware components. There is no way to get around thi s requi rement.

In the absence of proper 64-bi t dri vers for your devi ce, you can use the bui l t-i n Wi ndows drivers and hope
that a si gned 64-bi t dri ver i s rel eased for your devi ce vi a Wi ndows Update. This may be fi ne as l ong as the
devi ce i s not a key hardware component l i ke your graphi cs card for example, otherwi se i t may not function
correctl y. Be aware that i n some cases the hardware manufacturer may deci de to never rel ease 64-bi t
compati bl e dri vers for ol der, superseded or l ess popular hardware, so I strongl y recommend checki ng the
avai labil i ty of 64-bi t dri vers for your hardware usi ng the procedures further above before deci di ng to use
Wi ndows 7 64-bi t.


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< DRIVER SIGNATURE
When a device dri ver is install ed, i t effecti vel y becomes a part of the operati ng system and has unrestri cted
access to much of the computer. Thi s means i t's i mportant to onl y i nstall dri vers you are famil iar wi th and
whi ch are from a reputabl e source, such as di rectl y from the company whi ch manufactured the hardware for
whi ch the driver i s i ntended. To ensure that the dri vers you are i nstal li ng are l egi ti mate and have not been
tampered wi th to i ncl ude mal ware for exampl e, Windows 7 prefers the i nstall ati on of Signed Dri vers. A
si gned dri ver has a val id di gi tal si gnature whi ch i ndicates that the publ isher of the dri ver is who they cl aim
to be, and that the contents of the dri ver package has not been al tered i n any way after the dri vers were
si gned.

Most si gned dri vers carry Wi ndows Hardware Qual ity Labs (WHQL) certi fi cati on, meani ng they have been
tested and digi tal l y signed by Mi crosoft. A Wi ndows 7 WHQL certi fi ed dri ver i s desirabl e, as i t i ndi cates
that the dri ver has been tested to be both secure and compati bl e wi th Wi ndows 7, and shoul d be rel ati vely
probl em-free. However WHQL certificati on does not necessaril y guarantee flawl ess operati on. Furthermore,
a dri ver does not have to be WHQL certi fi ed to be di gi tall y si gned, nor does a lack of WHQL certi fi cation
i ndi cate that the dri ver is probl emati c or i nsecure. It is si mply preferabl e that a dri ver be WHQL certifi ed.

SIGNATURE WARNINGS
If a dri ver has a val i d di gital si gnature then Windows wil l i nstall i t wi thout any warni ngs. However i f you
attempt to i nstall a dri ver whi ch is unsigned or appears to have been al tered after bei ng si gned, Wi ndows 7
wi ll hal t i nstal lati on and prompt you i n one of the fol lowi ng ways:

Windows can't verify the publisher of this driver software: Thi s means the dri ver is unsigned or the si gnature
cannot be veri fied. You shoul d onl y i nstal l such dri vers i f you have obtai ned them for a trusted source. In
most cases thi s shoul d be di rect from the hardware manufacturer's si te. If you are not compl etel y sure of the
trustworthi ness of the source, do further research before i nstall i ng the dri ver.

This driver hasn't been signed: This means the dri ver hasn't been digital ly si gned by a veri fi ed publ isher, or the
dri ver package has been al tered after bei ng si gned. It could be a custom modi fied dri ver, in whi ch case i f
you are aware of the ri sks and are downl oadi ng i t from a si te you trust, you can proceed. If you downl oaded
i t from an untrusted or unfami li ar source, such as through peer to peer or a generi c fil e hosti ng si te, then I
recommend agai nst i nstall ing the dri ver as there's a reasonabl e chance that i t contai ns mal ware or coul d be
probl emati c. If you downloaded i t from a hardware manufacturer, i t shoul d be safe to i nstal l but i t i s sti l l
wi se to do further research and seek user feedback before i nstall i ng thi s dri ver, as i t coul d be probl emati c.

Windows requires a digitally signed driver: In Wi ndows 7 64-bi t if you see this message you will not be all owed
to i nstall the dri ver, as i t does not have a val i d di gi tal si gnature. Thi s is because 64-bi t versi ons of Wi ndows 7
contai n a feature cal l ed Kernel Patch Protecti on (also known as PatchGuard), fi rst i ntroduced i n Wi ndows
Vista. PatchGuard is designed to protect the system Kernel even further - see the Kernel Patch Protecti on
secti on of the PC Securi ty chapter for detail s. However there i s a way around thi s l i mi tati on if you absolutely
must i nstal l an unsigned dri ver. Detail ed i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e, i t i nvol ves restarti ng your PC and duri ng
bootup conti nual l y pressing the F8 key unti l you come to the Advanced Boot Opti ons screen, where you can
sel ect the 'Disabl e Dri ver Signature Enforcement' option to prevent signature checks throughout the current
sessi on. You wi ll need to do thi s at every restart though, otherwise any unsigned dri ver(s) wi ll not l oad up
wi th Wi ndows. Note that Mi crosoft consi stently patches Wi ndows to disable or prevent other methods of
ci rcumventi ng thi s signature check on 64-bi t Windows, because they are consi dered securi ty hol es.


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SIGNATURE VERIFICATION
If your system i s sufferi ng from problems and general i nstabi li ty, i t mi ght be a good i dea to check to see
preci sel y how many unsigned dri vers you have on your system, and perhaps uni nstall the ones whi ch are
l east trustworthy for troubl eshooti ng purposes. The Fi l e Si gnature Veri fi cation uti l i ty is a si mple built-i n
Wi ndows tool for qui ckly checki ng the status of dri vers. Go to Start>Search Box, type sigverif and press
Enter. In the di al og box whi ch opens, cli ck the Start button and i t wi ll scan your system and display all the
unsigned drivers. You can cl i ck the Advanced button i n the uti li ty and al so tell i t to save the resul ts as a l og
fi le, as well as bei ng able to vi ew the current l og fil e.

You can al so check the WHQL certifi ed digi tal signature status of your dri vers by runni ng Di rectX
Di agnosti cs wi th the 'Check for WHQL di gi tal signatures' box ti cked. To run Di rectX Di agnosti cs, go to
Start>Search Box, type dxdiag and press Enter. See the System Informati on Tool s secti on of the System
Specifi cati ons chapter for more detai ls of DirectX Diagnosti cs.

Agai n, i nstal li ng unsi gned dri vers i s general l y not recommended unl ess you are absolutely certai n of the
trustworthi ness and reputati on of the source of the dri vers. Thi s usuall y means they should be di rect from
the rel evant hardware manufacturer's websi te. Some hardware manufacturers release unsigned drivers
whi ch are perfectl y safe and functi onal, typi call y i n the form of offi cial Beta dri vers, but you shoul d stil l try
to mi ni mi ze the number of unsi gned drivers on your system. Just because a dri ver package appears to be the
same as one your hardware manufacturer, doesn't mean i t hasn't been modifi ed by someone el se afterwards,
so by i nstall ing unsigned dri vers you are defeati ng a securi ty feature of Wi ndows, and potenti all y al l owing
mali ci ous or probl emati c software di rect access to your system.

< DRIVER INSTALLATION
Al l of your major hardware devi ces requi re the latest avail abl e Wi ndows 7-compati bl e drivers and related
updates to functi on at peak performance and wi th stabi li ty and ful l functi onal i ty. Indeed many probl ems i n
appl i cati ons and games often resul t from not usi ng the latest dri vers. It i s i mportant therefore to check for
and i nstal l al l the l atest rel evant dri vers for your key hardware components as soon as possi bl e after
i nstal li ng Windows.

A dri ver typicall y comes in the form of an executable (.EXE) package, whi ch you si mpl y need to launch by
doubl e-cli cking on the fi le, or by extracti ng the contents and runni ng Setup.exe for exampl e. Some dri vers
may come i n a form whi ch requires manual i nstal lation, or other procedures, and thi s i s covered under the
Manual ly Updati ng or Uninstall i ng Dri vers secti on further bel ow.

Duri ng the install ation of a dri ver, i f you are prompted to reboot at any time, you shoul d do so to all ow
proper dri ver i nstall ati on. Wi ndows 7 has a Restart Manager which i s desi gned to automaticall y attempt to
cl ose down al l non-cri ti cal processes and hence al l ow them to be updated wi thout a full system reboot, so
the i nstallati on of some dri vers may not requi re rebooti ng. However some devi ce dri vers may stil l need a
reboot i n order to compl ete ful l i nstal lati on, so reboot as often as requi red and not do anything el se on your
system unti l dri ver i nstallati on i s compl ete.

The speci fi c updates and dri vers you shoul d i nstal l, and thei r preferred order, i s provided bel ow i n a seri es
of recommended steps you shoul d fol low bel ow:

STEP 1 - SERVICE PACKS
A Servi ce Pack i s a compil ati on of i mportant securi ty, stabil i ty and performance updates for Windows. At
the ti me of wri ti ng there are no avai labl e Servi ce Packs for Wi ndows 7. When avai labl e, Servi ce Packs shoul d
al ways be i nstal l ed fi rst and foremost after a fresh i nstal lati on of Wi ndows.


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STEP 2 - DIRECTX
Install the l atest versi on of Mi crosoft DirectX. As covered under the Graphi cs & Sound chapter, Di rectX i s an
i mportant component of Wi ndows whi ch al l ows advanced mul timedi a functionali ty. Wi ndows 7 al ready
comes wi th Di rectX 11 i nstall ed, whi ch i s the l atest versi on of DirectX, however from ti me to ti me Mi crosoft
rel eases updates for Di rectX, and the l atest of these shoul d al ways be i nstal l ed to ensure the best
performance, compati bi li ty and stabi li ty.

STEP 3 - WINDOWS UPDATE
Wi ndows Update i s the mai n tool used to obtai n securi ty patches, as wel l as dri ver and feature updates in
Wi ndows 7. It i s covered at thi s stage because i t i s very i mportant to confi gure Wi ndows Update correctl y as
soon as possibl e after i nstal l i ng Wi ndows 7, both so you can downl oad and i nstal l rel evant securi ty updates
before doi ng anythi ng else, and al so to prevent Wi ndows Update from i nstall i ng any outdated device
dri vers until you fi rst get the chance to manuall y update all the important devi ces as per the fol l owi ng steps.
In Step 8 you wi ll revi si t Wi ndows Update to then change the setti ngs such that any newer or mi ssi ng
dri vers can also be found and i nstall ed.

By defaul t Wi ndows Update i s set to run a schedul ed check of the Mi crosoft Update si te for updates every
day, and to downl oad and i nstal l them automati cal ly as requi red. The i nformati on Wi ndows Update sends
to the Mi crosoft si te duri ng any update i s as fol l ows:

Computer make and model .
Versi on i nformati on for the operati ng system, browser, and any other Mi crosoft software for whi ch
updates mi ght be avai lable.
Pl ug and Play ID numbers of hardware devi ces.
Regi on and l anguage setti ng.
Gl oball y unique i dentifi er (GUID).
Product ID and product key.
BIOS name, revi si on number, and revi sion date.
Your Internet Protocol (IP) address.

Full detail s of what i nformati on i s col lected and how it i s used are in thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e.

To customize the Wi ndows Update setti ngs, open Wi ndows Update from the Wi ndows Control Panel and
cl i ck the 'Change setti ngs' li nk i n the l eft pane. Each secti on i s covered as foll ows:

Important Updates: These updates are securi ty and reli abil i ty-rel ated updates whi ch are i mportant i n keeping
your system operati ng properl y. The 'Check for updates but l et me choose whether to downl oad and i nstal l
them' opti on i s recommended, as i t will al l ow Wi ndows Update to regul arl y check for updates and l et you
know if any are found vi a a prompt i n the Notifi cati on Area, but i t wi ll not downl oad or install anything
wi thout your expl i ci t consent. Thi s lets you check the i ndi vidual updates to ensure nothi ng that i s
undesi rabl e or unnecessary wi ll be downl oaded or i nstall ed.

Recommended Updates: These updates address non-cri ti cal probl ems and provide addi ti onal features. If you
have foll owed the recommendati on for the Important Updates setti ng above, I recommend ti cki ng the 'Gi ve
me recommended updates the same way I recei ve i mportant updates' box so that once agai n Wi ndows will
check and list such updates i n Wi ndows Update, but wi l l not downl oad or i nstall them unl ess you
speci fi call y i ni ti ate the process.

Note that driver updates are usual l y presented as Opti onal i n Wi ndows Update. Opti onal updates are not
downl oaded or i nstall ed automati call y regardl ess of your setti ngs here.


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Who Can Install Updates: Thi s determi nes whether Standard level User Accounts can i nstall updates or not. If
the box i s ti cked, al l such accounts can i nstal l updates via Wi ndows Update; if unti cked, only Admi nistrator
l evel User Accounts can i nstall from Windows Updates.

The fol l owi ng opti ons only become avai labl e if you cl i ck the 'Fi nd out more' l i nk next to the 'Get updates for
other Mi crosoft products' secti on on the mai n Wi ndows Update screen. You wi ll be taken to the Mi crosoft
Updates websi te where you wil l have to agree to the Terms of Use for this service before bei ng able to access
thi s servi ce. Ti ck the box, cli ck Next, and sel ect 'Use current setti ngs' and cli ck Install to enabl e these opti ons:

Microsoft Update: If ti cked, the 'Gi ve me updates for Microsoft products and check for new optional Mi crosoft
software when I update Wi ndows' opti on all ows Wi ndows Update to also check for opti onal Microsoft
product updates, such as Office updates and add-ins, updates for any i nstalled Wi ndows Li ve programs,
and so forth. Thi s i s not an essenti al opti on to enabl e, but is useful i f you have vari ous Microsoft products
i nstal l ed. Nothi ng wi ll be install ed automati cal ly as long as the 'Important Updates' setti ng above i s set as
recommended.

Software Notifications: If the 'Show me detai l ed noti fi cati ons when new Mi crosoft software i s avail able' option
i s ti cked, you may recei ve regular noti ficati ons when new Mi crosoft products are released. Thi s i s not a
necessary opti on unl ess you l i ke to be i nformed of new Mi crosoft products. Note that i f you unti ck thi s
opti on, a 'Fi nd about more about free software from Mi crosoft Update' box wil l be shown at the bottom of
the mai n Wi ndows Update screen, whi ch you can i gnore.

Once you have changed al l the setti ngs, cli ck the OK button and Wi ndows Update wil l automati cal ly check
for updates - i f not, cli ck the 'Check for updates' l i nk in the l eft pane. If any updates are found, you wi ll see a
summary of the number and types of updates avai labl e i n the main Wi ndows Update wi ndow. Cl i ck one of
the l i nks to be taken to the 'Sel ect the updates you want to i nstal l screen'. You shoul d noti ce that there may
be tabs avai labl e at the l eft si de of the wi ndow, showi ng Important and Opti onal updates under each tab
respecti vely. Cl i ck each tab and unti ck any updates you do not wi sh to i nstall . To see more detai ls for any
update, highli ght i t and check the ri ght pane. If you are certai n the update i s not necessary for your PC,
ri ght-cl i ck on i t and sel ect Hi de to remove i t, though note i t i s not permanentl y removed; i t can be restored at
any ti me by cl i cki ng the 'Restore hi dden updates' li nk i n the l eft pane of Windows Updates, ti cki ng the
rel evant updates and cl i cki ng the Restore button.

Importantl y, if you've just install ed Windows, at thi s stage you shoul d make sure al l Opti onal updates which
appear to be related to drivers are unticked. You shoul d not i nstall any dri vers at thi s point unti l you can
fi rst i nstall the latest version of the rel evant dri vers as detai l ed i n the fol l owi ng steps of this chapter. Once
done, cl i ck OK and then cl i ck the 'Instal l updates' button on the mai n Wi ndows Update wi ndow. We wi ll
revi si t these Opti onal updates i n Step 8 bel ow.

I strongly recommend al lowi ng Wi ndows Updates to check for updates regularly. Do not set Wi ndows
Update to 'Never check for updates' as this opens your system up to recent security expl oi ts and
vul nerabil i ti es, whi ch nowadays can qui ckly ci rculate around the Internet wi thi n days or even hours. For
maxi mum securi ty you must al ways i nstall the latest i mportant updates as soon as they become avai lable -
see the PC Securi ty chapter for more detail s.

If you are recei vi ng an error when usi ng Wi ndows Update, check thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e for a l i st of errors
and soluti ons. If you cannot get Wi ndows Update to work for some reason then i n the i nteri m you must
manuall y check the updates li sted on the Wi ndows Securi ty Updates si te - cli ck the Released col umn to sort
by latest date first. Downl oad and i nstall any i mportant updates for Wi ndows 7 as often as necessary so that
the securi ty and stabil i ty of your machi ne i s not compromi sed whi l e you try to resol ve your parti cular
probl em wi th Wi ndows Update. The above si te i s also useful i f for some reason you want to downl oad
speci fi c updates and store or transfer them to another machi ne. I do not recommend any other method of

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getti ng security updates for Wi ndows, as there i s no guarantee of how secure they genui nely are, or what
i nformati on about your system you are provi di ng to a thi rd party - e.g. letti ng a thi rd party know all about
your unsecured vul nerabi li ti es.

Fi nal ly, by defaul t Wi ndows Update creates a restore poi nt pri or to i nstal li ng new updates, whi ch provi des
an extra l ayer of protecti on i n case an update goes wrong and you want to put your system back to the way
i t was before i t. I strongly recommend l eavi ng System Restore enabl ed to al l ow thi s to happen - see the
System Protecti on secti on of the Backup & Recovery chapter.

There's one more step to prevent Wi ndows from automati call y i nstal li ng outdated dri vers for any devices
you connect to your PC. Open the Devi ces and Printers component of the Wi ndows Control Panel , then
ri ght-cl i ck on the i mage of your PC - typi cal l y wi th the name [username]-PC, and sel ect 'Devi ce Install ation
Setti ngs'. Sel ect the 'No, l et me choose what to do' opti on and then sel ect 'Never i nstal l dri ver software from
Wi ndows Update', and click the 'Save Changes' button. See the Devi ces and Pri nters section of the BIOS &
Hardware Management secti on for more detai ls.

These measures prevent Wi ndows 7 from automati cal ly i nstall ing any devi ce dri vers for your hardware
components and peri pherals whi ch may be out of date, si nce devi ce dri vers found through on Wi ndows
Updates are often ol der than those on the manufacturer's websi te. It al so prevents i nstall ati on of other
software updates whi ch are not yet necessary. This is not a permanent set of opti ons - Devices and Pri nters
can be reconfigured appropri atel y under Step 7 bel ow, and Wi ndows Update i n Step 8 bel ow.

Note that i f for some reason you ski pped Steps 1 and 2 i n thi s chapter, Windows Update wi l l also i dentify
and provi de the opti on for i nstal lati on of any avai labl e Servi ce Pack(s) and DirectX updates. I recommend
i nstal li ng these separately as detai l ed in Steps 1 and 2, parti cul arl y as they can someti mes take a whi l e to
appear on Wi ndows Update. However they can also be i nstall ed vi a Windows Update wi thout any
probl ems i f that is your preferred method.

Once you are certai n that all i mportant securi ty and stabil i ty rel ated updates have been i nstall ed on your
system, rebooti ng as often as required to compl ete thei r i nstal lati on, you can then proceed to the next step.

STEP 4 - MOTHERBOARD DRIVERS
Install your motherboard dri vers. The motherboard i s the hardware foundati on of your enti re system, so
usi ng the l atest dri vers for i t i s i mportant i n achi evi ng opti mal, troubl e-free performance for your entire
system, as wel l as provi ding addi ti onal motherboard-specifi c functi onali ty such as onboard audi o, onboard
network adapter, RAID, and so forth.

Fi ndi ng all the correct motherboard dri vers i s not necessaril y a strai ghtforward task. To start wi th, i t's
i mportant to understand that the motherboard chi pset type i s not the same as the motherboard brand or
model number. The chi pset type i s based on the company that manufactures the actual chi pset archi tecture
used i n the motherboard. The motherboard's brand is based on the company that buys thi s chipset, packages
i t wi th certain features and sell s i t under i ts own brand name wi th a specifi c model number. For exampl e, an
ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard is manufactured by a company call ed ASUS, i t uses an Intel X58 Express
chi pset and i t has the specifi c model name P6T Del uxe. Al l of these detail s are i mportant when determi ni ng
the correct dri ver to use. A combi nati on of the uti l i ti es covered in the System Speci fi cati ons chapter, al ong
wi th your motherboard manual and Googl e wi ll gi ve you all of these detail s about your motherboard.

Your motherboard usually comes wi th a dri ver di sc whi ch contains the rel evant dri vers, however these are
usual l y wel l out of date. The fi rst pl ace you shoul d l ook for the l atest versi on of these dri vers i s on your
motherboard manufacturer's websi te - there are too many to l ist here, so check your motherboard manual
for a li nk. Once at the si te, under the Support or Downl oads section you wi ll usuall y fi nd several different
types of updates for your parti cular motherboard model . These are broken down by category bel ow:

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BIOS - These are not dri vers, they are BIOS updates for which you shoul d refer to the BIOS & Hardware
Management chapter for more detai ls.
Chipset - These are the core dri vers whi ch control your motherboard's key functionali ty. All systems require
these for optimal performance and functi onal i ty.
IDE, SATA, RAID - These dri vers are requi red for correct operati on of your motherboard's dri ve controll ers.
You may al so requi re these dri vers for correct detecti on of your dri ves duri ng the i nstal lati on of Wi ndows -
see the Prepari ng the Dri ve secti on of the Wi ndows Install ation chapter.
Video - If you are usi ng your motherboard's onboard or i ntegrated graphi cs capabil i ti es, then these dri vers
are necessary. If you are usi ng a separate graphi cs card, these are not necessary. Refer to Step 5 bel ow.
Audio - If you are usi ng your motherboard's onboard or i ntegrated audi o capabili ti es, then these dri vers are
necessary. If you are usi ng a separate sound card, these are not necessary. Refer to Step 6 bel ow.
USB - If you are usi ng the USB ports on your motherboard, you may requi re separate USB drivers for correct
functi onali ty, al though typi cal ly thi s feature i s al ready i ncorporated i nto the Chi pset dri ver.
LAN - If you are usi ng your motherboard's onboard network/Ethernet control l er, whether for an Internet
connecti on or a connecti on to a network of computers, then these dri vers are necessary.

There may be addi ti onal dri vers for other speci fi c functi onali ty on your motherboard, but the ones above are
the most i mportant, parti cularly the Chipset and IDE/SATA/RAID dri vers.

If you're not usi ng a particular functi on on your motherboard, I strongl y recommend di sabl i ng i t i n your
BIOS as detail ed i n the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter. Thi s wi ll prevent Wi ndows from
automati cal ly detecti ng them and i nstall ing dri vers for them as part of Step 8 further bel ow, and i n turn thi s
can reduces resource usage and speed up Wi ndows startup.

If there are no appropriate dri vers on your motherboard manufacturer's si te, or they appear to be fai rly ol d,
you can downl oad the latest dri vers di rectl y from one of the major chi pset manufacturers:

For Intel motherboards, downl oad and i nstal l the latest Intel Chi pset Software.
If you al so have a RAID dri ve or AHCI setup i nstall the Intel Matri x Storage Manager.
For Nvidia motherboards, downl oad and i nstall the latest nForce Dri vers.
For VIA motherboards, downl oad and i nstal l the latest VIA Hyperi on Dri vers.
For SiS motherboards, downl oad and install the l atest SiS Chi pset Software.

Note that some of these dri vers may contai n a mi x of dri ver components, i ncl udi ng chi pset, SATA/RAID and
LAN dri vers all i n one package. Read the dri ver notes on the si te for more detail s.

STEP 5 - GRAPHICS DRIVERS
Install your graphi cs card vi deo dri vers. Just as wi th motherboards, graphi cs chi psets are devel oped by one
company and then sol d to different manufacturers who then package them together wi th certai n features
and capabi li ti es and market them under thei r own brand name. The i mportant thi ng to know is the
manufacturer of the chi pset on whi ch your graphi cs card i s based - for most graphi cs cards thi s wi ll be ei ther
Nvi di a or ATI. For exampl e, an EVGA GeForce GTX 285 graphics card uses an Nvidia GeForce 200 seri es
chi pset, packaged and sold by the company EVGA under i ts own brand. The chi pset i s the determi nant of
whi ch dri ver to use, not the company sell i ng the card. Determi ne your chi pset and model name usi ng the
uti li ti es i n the System Specifi cati ons chapter, then downl oad and i nstal l the rel evant package:


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For Nvidia graphi cs cards, downl oad and i nstall the latest Forceware Graphi cs Dri vers.
For detail s on how to i nstall and set these up correctl y read the Nvidi a Forceware Tweak Guide.
For ATI graphi cs cards, downl oad and install the l atest ATI Catal yst Dri vers.
For detail s on how to i nstall and set these up correctl y read the ATI Catalyst Tweak Gui de.
For Intel graphi cs cards, downl oad and i nstal l the latest Intel Graphi cs Dri vers.
For SiS graphi cs cards, downl oad and install the l atest SiS Graphics Dri vers.
For S3 graphics cards, downl oad and i nstal l the latest S3 Graphics Dri vers.
For Matrox graphi cs cards, downl oad and i nstall the latest Matrox Graphi cs Drivers.
For motherboards wi th onboard graphi cs, check your motherboard manufacturer's websi te fi rst (See
Step 4), then check one of the si tes above for Integrated or Onboard Graphics dri vers.

Note that unli ke motherboards, you do not need to downl oad your graphi cs dri vers from your hardware
manufacturer's websi te. Install i ng the latest 'reference' chi pset dri vers shown above is the best method as
they are typi call y much newer.

Importantl y, under Wi ndows 7 graphi cs functi onal i ty has i mproved over the way i t was impl emented i n
Wi ndows Vi sta, whi ch i n turn was a major change over the way it was i mpl emented i n Wi ndows XP. In
short the main changes i nvol ve the use of a new version 1.1 of the Wi ndows Di spl ay Dri ver Model (WDDM)
as opposed to version 1.0 used i n Vi sta. In versi on 1.0 a large number of i mprovements and changes were
i ntroduced, such as all owing the Desktop Wi ndow Manager (DWM) to use both 2D and 3D effects as part of
the Aero i nterface. WDDM 1.1 bri ngs wi th i t addi tional i mprovements that i ncrease the effici ency of desktop
renderi ng, use l ess memory and provi de hardware-accel erated 2D graphi cs. To take advantage of these new
graphi cs features i n Wi ndows 7, you requi re graphics hardware wi th support for Di rectX 10 or hi gher, as
wel l as a WDDM 1.1-compati bl e graphi cs dri ver. You can sti ll use ol der Vi sta graphics dri vers as well as
ol der graphi cs cards i f necessary, but thi s wi ll not provi de the full benefi ts of the graphi cs improvements i n
Wi ndows 7. For full detail s see the start of the Graphi cs & Sound chapter.

STEP 6 - SOUND DRIVERS
Install your Sound card audi o dri vers. These vary dependi ng on the brand of the sound card you are
runni ng. Only the major brands are covered bel ow:

For Creative sound cards, downl oad and i nstall the latest Creati ve Audi o Dri vers.
For ASUS sound cards, downl oad and install the l atest ASUS Audio Dri vers.
For Auzentech sound cards, downl oad and i nstal l the latest Auzentech Dri vers.
For Turtle Beach sound cards, downl oad and i nstall the latest Turtl e Beach Audio Dri vers.
For Hercules sound cards, downl oad and i nstall the latest Hercul es Audi o Dri vers.
For AOpen sound cards, downl oad and i nstal l the latest AOpen Audi o Dri vers.
For motherboards wi th onboard audi o, check your motherboard manufacturer's websi te fi rst (See Step
4), then check your onboard audi o chi pset manufacturer's websi te such as Real tek.

Wi ndows 7 does not change a great deal i n the way i n whi ch audi o was i mplemented under Wi ndows Vista,
however Wi ndows Vista was a si gni fi cant departure from the way audi o was impl emented i n Wi ndows XP.
The mai n difference Wi ndows 7 and Vista audi o exhi bi t compared to Wi ndows XP is that sound cards no
l onger have as much i mportance i n Wi ndows. Wi ndows 7 uses the new Uni versal Audi o Archi tecture
(UAA) to provi de good quali ty audi o functi onal i ty, i ncl udi ng a range of enhancements, for al most any
sound devi ce wi thout the need for thi rd party dri vers. However a proper audi o dri ver from the
manufacturer's si te as l isted above i s strongl y recommended for ful l functi onali ty and opti mal performance.
For full details see the Sound secti on under the Graphi cs & Sound chapter.

If you are using a separate sound card, and if, after updati ng to the l atest Wi ndows 7 audi o dri vers you find
you are having strange performance issues i n games, or audi o probl ems such as crackl i ng, distorti on or
di sconnected sound, then I recommend that pendi ng newer dri vers for your sound card, you consi der

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di sabli ng or physi call y removi ng the sound card and tryi ng out the High Defi ni ti on onboard sound
functi onali ty whi ch most recent motherboards have. Onboard audi o i s speci ficall y desi gned for software-
dri ven audi o whi ch is what Wi ndows 7 excel s at, and hence i t is l ess l i kel y to be probl emati c, and for al l but
hi gh-end speaker setups, wi ll offer excel l ent audi o qual i ty wi thout any si gni fi cant performance difference.

STEP 7 - PERIPHERAL DRIVERS
Before i nstalli ng any dri vers or addi tional software for your peri pherals and portabl e devi ces, such as a
mouse, pri nter, or digi tal camera, fi rst connect these devi ces to your system one by one. Wi ndows 7 provides
i mproved bui l t-i n support for peri pherals and portabl e devi ces through a new feature call ed Devi ce Stage
whi ch handl es most common tasks for supported devi ces wi thout the need to install thi rd party dri vers or
software. If your devi ce appears to work fi ne and all the major functi ons you need are avai labl e then do not
i nstal l a dri ver for them. See the Device Stage and Pri nters and Devi ces sections of the BIOS & Hardware
Management chapter for more detai ls of thi s functi onal i ty.

The reason for thi s i s that such dri vers typi call y need to l oad i nto the background at Wi ndows startup and
usual l y add to overall resource usage, i ncrease startup ti mes, and qui te often don't add anythi ng of real
value to the devi ce's functi on beyond that al ready avai labl e i n Devi ce Stage. Furthermore many software
packages for peri pheral s install a range of unnecessary add-ons and programs whi ch once agai n i ncrease
background resource usage, i ncrease Windows startup ti mes, and can cause potenti al confl i cts.

Obvi ousl y shoul d your devi ce not functi on correctl y, or a feature that you want appears to be disabl ed, then
ul ti matel y you wi ll need to i nstal l a new dri ver for that devi ce as wel l as any necessary additi onal software.
In these cases I recommend you fi rst go to the devi ce manufacturer's website and downl oad the latest
avai labl e drivers rather than usi ng any dri vers that come on the di sc wi th the devi ce, as they are typi cally
ol der.

In any case there are far too many devi ce manufacturers to l i st here, but the websi te address i s usuall y li sted
on the devi ce's box and/or i n the manual. Where possi bl e fol l ow the devi ce i nstall ation i nstructi ons i n the
devi ce's manual (or on i ts websi te) for the best method of i nstall ati on.

If your devi ce i sn't bei ng detected correctl y, or you can't fi nd an appropriate dri ver for i t, or i f you si mpl y
want to search for any newer dri vers, go to the Devi ces and Printers component of the Wi ndows Control
Panel , ri ght-cl i ck on your computer i con wi th the name [username]-PC, sel ect 'Devi ce i nstallati on setti ngs',
then sel ect the 'Yes, do thi s automaticall y' opti on to all ow Wi ndows to automati cal ly search for and i f
necessary i nstal l newer drivers for your devi ce from Wi ndows Update. If thi s sti l l fail s, see the i nstructi ons
at the start of thi s chapter, as well as those further bel ow for more detai ls of how to fi nd and if necessary,
manuall y i nstall a devi ce dri ver under Wi ndows 7.

STEP 8 - WINDOWS UPDATE REVISITED
Now that you've i nstall ed al l the latest rel evant Windows 7-compati bl e drivers for your hardware, you
should run Wi ndows Update agai n to see i f any newer dri vers can be found for your devi ces, as wel l as any
dri vers for devi ces for whi ch you coul d not fi nd a dri ver.

Open Wi ndows Update and cli ck the 'Check for Updates' li nk i n the l eft pane. If Wi ndows Update fi nds any
new dri vers then cl i ck the li nk to vi ew the l ist of dri ver updates found and ti ck any you wish to i nstall . Cl ick
OK and then cl i ck the 'Install updates' button to i nstal l these dri vers. Any dri vers found usi ng thi s method
should be compl etel y safe to i nstall as they've been tested and WHQL certi fi ed by Mi crosoft before bei ng
i ncluded i n Wi ndows Update, and wi ll onl y be detected and shown i f they are appropri ate for your
hardware and newer than the current dri ver versi ons you are usi ng. If you have any doubts or don't wi sh to
i nstal l a particular dri ver, unti ck the dri ver, ri ght-cl ick on i t and Hi de i t i n Windows Update so i t doesn't
appear agai n.

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Once you've compl eted all the steps above, Wi ndows wi ll be up to date and your major devi ces shoul d all
have appropri ate dri vers to al l ow ful l functi onal i ty and opti mal performance. If there are any devi ces which
are not bei ng detected correctl y, or whi ch have i mpaired or probl emati c functi onali ty, then you may have to
wai t for updated dri vers to be released by your hardware manufacturer.

As the last step after i nstall i ng al l your dri vers, do a run of the Wi ndows Experi ence Index. Open the
Wi ndows Control Panel , go to the System component and cli ck on the Wi ndows Experience Index l i nk, then
run (or re-run) the assessment. Thi s all ows Wi ndows to correctl y detect your hardware performance
capabil i ti es, and enabl e or di sabl e certain features dependent on thi s. You can also compare your score to
any previ ous score to see i f the numbers have i mproved, or run other benchmarks to test and compare your
performance wi th others. See the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter for more detail s on
the Wi ndows Experi ence Index and a range of performance measurement tool s.

< MANUALLY UPDATING OR UNINSTALLING DRIVERS
To vi ew the current version of a dri ver for a parti cular hardware component, or to update or uni nstal l a
dri ver, you can use Devi ce Manager. You can access Devi ce Manager i n the Windows Control Panel, or go to
Start>Search Box, type devmgmt.msc and press Enter. Note that the general functi onali ty of Devi ce Manager
i s covered under the Devi ce Manager secti on of the BIOS & Hardware Management chapter, so i n thi s
secti on we l ook at dri ver-rel ated features.

VIEWING DRIVER DETAILS
To vi ew the current versi on of the dri vers i nstal l ed for a parti cul ar hardware component i n detai l fol l ow the
steps bel ow:

1. Open Devi ce Manager and expand the category under whi ch your parti cul ar hardware devi ce i s pl aced.
For exampl e to vi ew your moni tor dri vers, expand the Moni tors category and your moni tor(s) wil l be
l i sted underneath.
2. Doubl e-cli ck on the devi ce or ri ght-cli ck on i t and sel ect Properti es.
3. Under the Dri ver tab you wi ll see the speci fi c dri ver versi on, date and provi der. If the devi ce i s usi ng a
defaul t Wi ndows dri ver the Dri ver Provi der wi ll usual l y be li sted as Mi crosoft.
4. Cl i ck the 'Driver Detail s' button and you wi ll see the speci fi c dri ver fil es associated wi th that devi ce. You
can then cl ick on each i ndi vi dual fil e shown, and the provi der and versi on of that fil e wi ll also be
di splayed just bel ow i t.

For a more user-friendly di splay of dri ver detai l for your major components, use the tool s under the System
Specifi cati ons chapter.

MANUALLY UPDATING DRIVERS
Normal ly, when you wi sh to update a devi ce dri ver, the best course of acti on i s to downl oad the new dri ver
package and run i t. It shoul d automati cal l y execute and wal k you through the steps necessary to update the
devi ce. However i n some cases you may need to manual l y update a dri ver - for exampl e i f a dri ver does not
come i n an executabl e (.EXE) package, but rather as a set of fil es, perhaps withi n a .ZIP or .RAR archive.
Fol l ow the steps bel ow to manuall y search for and i nstall a new devi ce dri ver:

1. Open Devi ce Manager and expand the category under whi ch your parti cul ar hardware devi ce i s pl aced,
then doubl e-cl i ck on the devi ce or ri ght-cl i ck on i t and sel ect Properti es.
2. Under the Dri ver tab cl ick the 'Update Dri ver' button.
3. You wi ll have two opti ons; you can ei ther all ow Windows to 'Search automati cal ly for updated dri ver
software', or i f you know where the dri ver fi les are stored cli ck the 'Browse my computer for dri ver
software' option. The fi rst opti on i s recommended onl y if you do not al ready have the new dri ver fil es,

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or i f you are a novi ce user - i f you choose thi s option see Steps 4 - 5 bel ow. If you have the rel evant
dri ver fil es, or if you feel you are more advanced, choose the second opti on and go directl y to Step 6.
4. If you search automati cally, Wi ndows wi ll determi ne where to search based on the devi ce i nstal lati on
setti ngs you've chosen i n Devi ces and Pri nters - If you have selected 'Never i nstall dri ver software from
Wi ndows Update' i n Devices and Pri nters, then Windows wil l onl y search your computer; if you've
chosen 'Install dri ver software from Wi ndows Update i f i t i s not found on my computer' then Wi ndows
wi ll search your computer for dri ver fil es fi rst before checki ng Wi ndows Update; on the other hand if
you've chosen 'Al ways i nstall the best dri ver software from Wi ndows Update' under the Devi ces and
Pri nters settings, Wi ndows wi ll al ways search the Wi ndows Update dri ver catal og to see i f a newer
dri ver exi sts.
5. Once Wi ndows has searched i t wi l l i nstall any newl y found dri vers, or tel l you that your current versi on
i s the latest. Note however that Wi ndows onl y detects and i nstall s i ndi vidual dri ver fil es, and does not
l ook i nside dri ver packages. So i f the dri ver fi les are archi ved or in a sel f-executi ng dri ver package on
your system, Wi ndows will not detect these as containi ng a newer dri ver even if they does. If you know
there are newer dri ver files on your system and they're not bei ng detected, go back to Step 3 and sel ect
'Browse my computer for dri ver software' then foll ow Step 6 onwards.
6. Dependi ng on where the newer dri ver fil es are hel d, if necessary i nsert the appropri ate di sc, USB flash
dri ve or external dri ve and browse to a speci fi c directory where you know the newer dri ver fil es are held
- make sure the 'Incl ude subfol ders' opti on i s ti cked. Remember that Wi ndows onl y sees i ndi vi dual
dri ver fil es, not dri ver packages, so you may need to manuall y extract the contents of a dri ve package to
an empty di rectory usi ng an archi val uti l i ty l ike WinZi p or 7-Zi p before continui ng. Once at the correct
di rectory, click Next and Wi ndows shoul d detect the newer driver fil es i n that di rectory and i nstal l
them.
7. If the above steps fai l and you are certain you have newer dri ver fil es for the devi ce, then fol low Steps 1 -
3, sel ecti ng 'Browse my computer for dri ver software', then sel ect 'Let me pick from a li st of device
dri vers on my computer'. Thi s provi des a li st of all the dri vers which have been i nstal l ed on your system
to date and whose fi les sti ll resi de on your system.
8. In most cases you wi ll not want to rei nstal l an exi sti ng dri ver, so cl i ck the 'Have disk' button and
i nsert/attach or browse to the dri ve and di rectory where the newer dri ver fi les resi de. If an appropri ate
.INF fi l e i s found, cli ck on i t and cl i ck Open. If your hardware i s supported by that dri ver fil e you can
sel ect the speci fi c dri ver to i nstall .
9. If nothi ng el se works and you wi sh to install another dri ver for a devi ce si mi lar to yours, then fol l ow
Steps 1 - 3 above, then Step 7. Then unti ck the 'Show compati bl e hardware' box and you wi ll see a much
wi der range of dri vers. Sel ect one whi ch you beli eve would be most compati bl e wi th your devi ce,
though cl early i f you sel ect a dri ver not meant for your specifi c devi ce, you may not be al l owed to i nstall
i t, or i t may resul t i n a lack of correct functi onali ty or major probl ems. This is a last resort option.

GOING BACK TO AN EARLIER DRIVER
If you have recentl y i nstall ed a dri ver set whi ch you bel i eve i s causi ng you probl ems, then you may wish to
go back to the previ ous dri vers you were usi ng. To do thi s foll ow these steps:

1. Open Devi ce Manager and expand the category under whi ch your parti cul ar hardware devi ce i s pl aced,
then doubl e-cl i ck on the devi ce or ri ght-cl i ck on i t and sel ect Properti es.
2. Under the Dri ver tab cl i ck the 'Roll Back Dri ver' button. If i t i s not availabl e then you do not have any
earl i er dri ver versi ons i nstal l ed, or they may not be detected - see the manual i nstructi ons further bel ow.
3. Confi rm whether you want to do thi s, and your current dri vers wi ll be replaced wi th the previ ously
i nstal l ed versi on.


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SELECTING ANOTHER INSTALLED DRIVER
If you wi sh to i nstal l a speci fi c versi on of a dri ver, and you bel ieve i t al ready exi sts on your system (e.g. i t
was i nstal led i n the past and not uni nstall ed), you can choose to install i t manual l y. This also al l ows you to
revert to one of the standard Wi ndows dri vers for a devi ce for troubl eshooti ng purposes for exampl e. Foll ow
these steps:

1. Open Devi ce Manager and expand the category under whi ch your parti cul ar hardware devi ce i s pl aced,
then doubl e-cl i ck on the devi ce or ri ght-cl i ck on i t and sel ect Properti es.
2. Under the Dri ver tab cl ick the 'Update Dri ver' button.
3. Cl i ck the 'Browse my computer for dri ver software' opti on.
4. Sel ect 'Let me pi ck from a l ist of devi ce dri vers on my computer'.
5. Make sure the 'Show compati bl e hardware' box i s ti cked, and you wil l see al l the versi ons of compati ble
dri vers whi ch are avail abl e on your system for thi s devi ce. It may be di ffi cul t to determi ne the dri ver
versi ons from thi s l i st, in whi ch case hi ghli ght the rel evant dri ver and untick the 'Show compati bl e
hardware' box to show you the dri ver's manufacturer. This wil l at l east let you know whi ch dri ver i s a
standard Mi crosoft dri ver.
6. Sel ect the driver you want to i nstal l and cl i ck Next to install i t.

Note that if you see more than 2 - 3 i nstal l ed dri vers under Step 5 above, then thi s i ndi cates that you have
not properl y removed previ ous versions of dri vers from your system. Thi s dri ver resi due can cause
probl ems. If you beli eve a dri ver i s the cause of any i ssues on your system then I recommend cl eani ng out
your dri vers and i nstall i ng onl y the l atest versi on or the versi on whi ch you know works best on your system
- see the detail s bel ow.

UNINSTALLING DRIVERS
It i s strongly recommended that you do not mai ntain mul ti ple versi ons of a dri ver for any devi ce on your
system, as these leave various bi ts and pi eces - known as 'dri ver resi due' - on your system. Thi s i ncreases the
potenti al for dri ver-related probl ems, especiall y i f you ever go backwards i n dri ver versi on, si nce different
versi ons of dri ver-related fil es may i nadvertentl y be used together by Wi ndows and cause potential
probl ems.

To correctl y uni nstall a dri ver package through Wi ndows you shoul d first go to the Programs and Features
component of the Wi ndows Control Panel and on the mai n screen you wil l see most of the programs,
updates and dri vers currentl y i nstall ed on your system. Look for the dri ver manufacturer or rel evant device
name i n the l ist, and if found hi ghl ight the i tem (or ri ght-cl i ck on i t) and sel ect Uni nstal l, thus removi ng i t.

However i f a dri ver i s not li sted i n the Programs and Features l i st, you can uni nstall i t manual ly:

1. Open Devi ce Manager and expand the category under whi ch your parti cul ar hardware devi ce i s pl aced,
then doubl e-cl i ck on the devi ce or ri ght-cl i ck on i t and sel ect Properti es.
2. Under the Dri ver tab cl ick the Uni nstall button.
3. Make sure to ti ck the 'Del ete the dri ver software for thi s devi ce' check box i f avail able. If thi s opti on is
not avail abl e, i t means you are al ready usi ng a defaul t Wi ndows driver for the devi ce, i n whi ch case you
should not conti nue attempti ng to uni nstal l the devi ce unless you want the defaul t dri ver to rei nstall
i tself for some reason.
4. Cl i ck OK and the devi ce wi ll be uni nstal l ed from your system, and i ts currentl y-used dri ver fi l es wi ll
also be removed from your system, whi ch is desi rabl e. Restart your PC as prompted to compl ete the
process. Note that i f uni nstal li ng certain devi ces such as your graphi cs card or moni tor, your system
di splay may go bl ack. If after a peri od of ti me no i mage reappears, press the power or restart button on
your PC to tell Wi ndows to shut down and/or restart the PC.

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5. Once your system restarts, your devi ce wi ll be automati cal ly redetected by Wi ndows and the next
avai labl e dri ver or the defaul t Wi ndows dri ver wi ll be i nstall ed.

REMOVING STORED DRIVERS
Whenever you upgrade your dri vers or i nstal l a new dri ver i n Wi ndows, unless you uni nstall the previ ous
versi on, i t may be stored by Wi ndows and/or i ts fil es and Regi stry entri es may remai n on your system.
Someti mes even a ful l uni nstal l of a dri ver or program may leave dri ver residue throughout your system
because of a faul ty uni nstal l er or even as a deli beratel y measure by the devi ce manufacturer. The upshot of
all thi s i s that over ti me, parti cularly for users who frequentl y update and downgrade their dri vers, vari ous
versi ons of dri ver fil es wi ll come to be stored on your system. There are several methods you can use to
remove the bul k of these.

Driver Sweeper

If after usi ng the above methods you feel there i s stil l some dri ver resi due l eft on your system, you can use
the free Dri ver Sweeper uti l i ty to attempt to remove any remaini ng traces of the more common dri vers.
Fol l ow these steps:

1. Launch Dri ver Sweeper and make sure it has Admi nistrator pri vi leges.
2. Ti ck the dri ver(s) you wish to remove from the li st provi ded, and cl i ck the Anal yze button fi rst to see
what wil l be removed. You can manuall y unti ck any components you wish to keep.
3. If you wi sh to conti nue, cl i ck the Clean button and reboot your PC to make sure all dri ver fil es and
related Regi stry entri es are removed.
4. If you fi nd certai n dri ver el ements are sti l l not bei ng removed, reboot i nto Safe Mode and foll ow Steps 1
- 3 above again. Under Safe Mode no third party dri vers are i n use by Wi ndows, so none of them shoul d
be l ocked agai nst del eti on as l ong as you have Admi ni strator access to the system. See the System
Recovery secti on of the Backup & Recovery chapter for detai ls of usi ng Safe Mode.

Dri ver Sweeper onl y all ows the removal of the speci fi c dri vers i n the l i st i t provi des. Furthermore newer
versi ons of these dri vers may i nstall addi ti onal fi l es and Regi stry entri es whi ch an exi sti ng versi on of Driver
Sweeper cannot fi nd, so check for updates to Dri ver Sweeper and remember that no automated method i s
fool proof i n findi ng al l aspects of dri ver resi due, si nce dri vers are constantl y changi ng.

Autoruns

You can use the free Autoruns util i ty covered under the Startup Programs chapter to i denti fy, di sabl e or
permanentl y remove any dri ver fil es whi ch are l oadi ng up wi th Windows. Foll ow these steps:

1. Uni nstall any programs or dri vers you do not wi sh to use from the Programs and Features component of
the Wi ndows Control Panel . Reboot your system when fi ni shed.
2. Launch Autoruns and go to the Dri vers tab. Under the Opti ons menu, unti ck 'Hi de Mi crosoft and
Wi ndows Entri es' and 'Hi de Wi ndows Entri es', but make sure the 'Verify Code Si gnatures' i tem i s ti cked.
Press F5 or sel ect Refresh under the Fi l e menu.
3. In the l i st whi ch appears, most of the entri es are Mi crosoft drivers for Wi ndows and shoul d not be
unti cked or del eted. However under the Publ isher col umn you shoul d check every entry for whi ch the
provi der i s not 'Mi crosoft Corporati on', as most of these are third party dri vers i nstal l ed on your system
- though note that some are stil l generi c Wi ndows dri vers provi ded by other compani es. Check the
Descri pti on col umn to see whi ch appl i cati on or devi ce the dri ver rel ates to. Highl i ght the fi l e and l ook at
the detail s pane at the bottom of Autoruns to see the date and versi on number for the dri ver fi le.
4. For any dri vers you wish to remove, fi rst unti ck entry i n Autoruns, and when fi nished cl ose Autoruns
and reboot Wi ndows. After a peri od of time i f you believe there are no adverse impacts on your system,

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and requi red functi onali ty i s not affected, you can repeat Steps 1 - 3 above, but thi s ti me right-cl i ck on a
dri ver and select Del ete to remove i t.
5. Reboot Wi ndows and the dri ver fil e wi ll no l onger be l oaded or resi dent on your system.

The Autoruns method only removes speci fi c dri ver fi l es, usual l y .SYS fil es, and not enti re dri ver packages,
nor a range of Registry entri es whi ch a dri ver may have created, so thi s method does not remove all dri ver
resi due, onl y the fi les whi ch l oad up wi th Windows. See the Cl eani ng Wi ndows chapter for tool s whi ch can
assi st i n cl eani ng out unnecessary fi l es, and check the Mai ntai ning the Regi stry secti on of the Wi ndows
Regi stry chapter for a Registry cleani ng tool .

Windows Driver Store Repository

If you are still unabl e to find and remove certai n drivers, or you just want to see the contents of the dri ver
packages Window has i nstal l ed, then you shoul d note that si mi lar to Vi sta, Windows 7 holds al l the driver
packages i t uses for standard i nstall ati on under the \Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository
di rectory. These are not the actual dri ver fil es i n use by the system, those are hel d under the
\Windows\System32\drivers di rectory. Each separate dri ver package i s a subdirectory wi th the name of the
.INF fil e for the package. For exampl e the Nvi di a graphi cs dri vers can be found i n a subdi rectory starti ng
wi th nv_disp.inf and endi ng wi th a string of numbers. In parti cul ar you can use the dri ver reposi tory for
three thi ngs:

Manual ly di rect Wi ndows to a parti cular dri ver package if i t does not detect it automati call y. Do thi s
under Step 6 of the Manual l y Updati ng Dri vers secti on further above.
Remove traces of a faul ty or undesi rable dri ver - see the method below.
Fi nd and manual l y modify the dri ver package so that when Windows detects your devi ce i t uses the
modi fi ed contents to i nstall the dri ver - see the method bel ow.

In each case you must fi rst i dentify whi ch fol der under the \Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository
di rectory relates to the driver package you are seeking. The qui ckest way to do thi s i s to use the pnputi l
command. Use the foll owing steps:

1. Open an Admi ni strator Command Prompt.
2. Type pnput i l / ? for a full li st of commands. In this case we want to use the fol lowi ng command:

pnput i l - e

Thi s wi ll di spl ay al l the third party dri ver packages whi ch are held i n the dri ver store. Take parti cul ar
note of the Publ ished name (e.g. oem0.inf) as wel l as the dri ver date, versi on and package provi der - use
these to i denti fy the dri ver.
3. To remove a dri ver package from the dri ver store use the fol l owi ng command:

pnput i l - d [ Publ i shed name]

Where [ Publ i shed name] i s the name you di scovered under Step 2 above, e.g.:

pnput i l - d oem0. i nf

You wil l fi nd that the majori ty of the drivers stored under the Dri ver Store are defaul t Mi crosoft dri vers, and
hence you shoul d not attempt to manuall y al ter or del ete them. However i f you fi nd an i nstall ed dri ver
package that you are certai n you no l onger need then you can safel y del ete i t and hence prevent Wi ndows
from ever reinstall i ng i t.


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Al ternati vel y, i f you are an advanced user and you wi sh to modi fy a dri ver, you can modi fy the fol der
contents of the parti cular package as desi red, uni nstall the current dri vers for your device, and Wi ndows
wi ll then attempt to i nstal l thi s modi fi ed dri ver package when i t redetects your devi ce. Or you can si mply
poi nt Wi ndows to thi s folder when manual l y updating dri vers as detail ed further above.


The onl y foolproof method to successfull y remove driver resi due i s to manual ly fi nd and del ete every si ngle
fi le, fol der and Regi stry entry for a dri ver i n Wi ndows 7, and unfortunately thi s i s too compl ex a method to
detail here as i t rel i es on a great deal of research and of course every dri ver and program i nstall s i ts fi l es and
Regi stry entries i n different l ocati ons, and thi s changes over ti me wi th newer versi ons of dri vers. Automated
uti li ti es can onl y do so much preci sel y because they must be programmed to know where to l ook for every
di fferent type of dri ver. If you trul y bel i eve your system i s bogged down wi th dri ver resi due and hence your
probl ems relate to thi s factor, i t may be best si mpl y to backup all your personal fil es, reformat and rei nstall
Wi ndows 7 afresh, then restore onl y your personal fi l es and fol ders, and then i nstal l the latest versi on of
each of your dri vers. That i s the onl y guaranteed way of removi ng faul ty, mi smatched or undesi rabl e dri ver
fi les. It al so serves as a warni ng not to experi ment too much wi th l ots of different dri vers, as constantl y
i nstal li ng various dri ver versi ons can qui ckly make a mess of your system.

< DRIVER VERIFIER
If you bel i eve you're having dri ver-related problems, you can use an advanced tool whi ch comes wi th
Wi ndows call ed the Dri ver Verifier. To run i t, go to Start>Search Box, type verifier and press Enter. It i s a
compl ex tool , so read the detail ed i nstructi ons for i ts usage i n this Mi crosoft Arti cl e. Its basic usage detail s
are provi ded bel ow.

1. Once Verifi er starts, after a moment you wi ll see a di al og box open - l eave the opti ons at thei r default
and cl i ck Next.
2. On the next screen, you can ei ther choose to l et the Verifier test onl y unsi gned dri ver; dri vers bui l t for
ol der versi ons of Wi ndows; all dri vers; or sel ect from a l ist. I recommend the 'Select dri ver names from a
l i st' opti on to pi ck speci fi c dri vers you suspect to be probl emati c, and cli ck Next.
3. Place a ti ck agai nst all the dri ver fil es you bel i eve need to be checked. To make thi ngs si mpler, cl i ck the
Provi der column header so that the l i st i s sorted by the provi ding company, that way i f you want to
choose your graphi cs dri vers for exampl e you can ti ck al l the boxes for the files provi ded by Nvi dia or
ATI. Note that onl y dri vers whi ch are currentl y l oaded up by Wi ndows are shown. If for some reason
you want to add dri vers whi ch are not currently l oaded, cli ck the 'Add currentl y not l oaded dri ver(s) to
the l ist' button and sel ect the addi ti onal fi les. Once all the rel evant boxes are ti cked, cl i ck Fi ni sh.
4. You wi ll have to reboot your system, at whi ch poi nt duri ng or soon after your PC starts up agai n you
may see a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) error if the dri ver fi l e(s) you chose are potenti all y probl emati c. If
Wi ndows starts up normal l y and you see no BSOD after a whil e then the fi l e(s) have been veri fi ed as
bei ng fi ne.
5. If you can't find a probl em wi th the dri ver(s) you've sel ected, repeat the process above but thi s ti me at
Step 2 sel ect the 'Automaticall y select al l dri vers i nstall ed on thi s computer' opti on i nstead.

Importantl y, you wil l need to di sabl e Verifier once you've fi ni shed wi th i t, otherwi se i t wi ll conti nue to
veri fy the fil es at each Wi ndows startup. To do thi s, open Veri fi er agai n and sel ect 'Del ete exi sti ng setti ngs'
then cl i ck Fini sh. If you cannot access the Veri fi er user i nterface to turn it off, open an Admi nistrator
Command Prompt, or use the System Recovery Options Command Prompt and type ver i f i er / r eset and
press Enter. You can al so uni nstal l any dri ver which i s causi ng probl ems i n Safe Mode - see the System
Recovery secti on of the Backup & Recovery chapter.

Havi ng an error i n Dri ver Veri fi er i s not i ndi cati ve that a dri ver i s the pri mary source of your probl ems.
However i t is one more way of seei ng i f i t i s i ndeed a dri ver fi le whi ch may be contri buti ng to a probl em or
the source of a problem, or somethi ng else al together. Bear i n mi nd that the majori ty of system i ssues are the

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resul t of factors compl etel y unrelated to dri vers, such as overheati ng, overcl ocking, bad BIOS setti ngs, faul ty
hardware, one or more i nstal l ed programs causi ng confli cts, etc. Just because an error poi nts to a dri ver fi l e
i n i ts message, that doesn't mean the fil e i tself i s the cause of the probl em - dri vers often crash when a system
i s unstabl e for a range of reasons, and not because they are buggy or unstabl e themsel ves. See the
Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter for more ways of troubl eshooti ng a system i ssue,
i ncludi ng the use of Event Vi ewer to see specifi c error l ogs.

< GENERAL DRIVER TIPS
The foll owi ng is some general i nformation and advi ce regardi ng all devi ce dri vers:

Source of Drivers - Onl y downl oad and use dri vers di rectly from your hardware manufacturer's websi te,
Wi ndows Update, or from a reputabl e and wel l establ i shed thi rd-party source whi ch you know and trust.
Thi s does not guarantee thei r stabi li ty, but i t does help ensure that they do not contai n mal ware. Whil e many
peopl e thi nk nothi ng of downl oadi ng dri vers from file shari ng si tes for example, you are essenti all y putti ng
your trust i n peopl e you don't know, and who may even be i nfected wi th mal ware wi thout knowi ng i t. Then
of course there are peopl e who are del iberatel y mal ici ous and will use any opportuni ty to spread mal ware
through dri vers. The hardware manufacturer's si te shoul d al ways be your fi rst choi ce for obtai ni ng dri vers.

User Feedback - Be wary of general user feedback on dri vers on pl aces li ke publ i c forums and i n bl og
comments. In recent years more and more users have turned to bl ami ng dri vers (or Wi ndows i tself) for
vari ous problems on thei r system, when the probl ems are often actuall y the resul t of factors resul ti ng from
general user i gnorance or lack of system mai ntenance, such as overcl ocking, overheating, confli cti ng
software, or excessi ve dri ver residue. Thi s is parti cularl y true for graphi cs and audi o dri vers, wi th any audi o
or graphi cs-rel ated problem automati cal l y bei ng attributed to the dri vers by the average user, when i ndeed
many other factors can cause these i ssues. User feedback i s useful , but should not be the sol e or even the
pri mary basis for determi ning whi ch driver to i nstall .

Beta Drivers - Beta dri vers are pre-fi nal dri vers whi ch carry the risk of causi ng addi ti onal system probl ems
because they have not necessaril y undergone thorough testi ng, thus the hardware manufacturer provi des no
support to users of beta dri vers. Generall y speaki ng though, beta dri vers downl oaded di rectl y from your
hardware manufacturer shoul d be relativel y stabl e and safe to use, but best i nstall ed onl y if you are having
probl ems wi th your current dri ver and/or onl y if the rel ease notes and the consensus of user feedback cl earl y
i ndi cate that they provi de some signifi cant benefi t.

Alpha Drivers - Al pha drivers are even l ess poli shed than beta dri vers and thei r use can l ead to seri ous
probl ems such as major i nstabi li ty and even data l oss. They are onl y recommended for advanced users who
wi sh to experi ment, or for users who have absol utel y no other avai labl e opti on for obtaini ng a working
dri ver for thei r hardware. Make certai n you prepare a ful l backup before i nstal ling an al pha dri ver.

Leaked Drivers - Leaked drivers may be al pha, beta or fi nal versi ons, but they have been unoffi ciall y rel eased
to the publ i c, often agai nst the wi shes of the hardware manufacturer. They may be modi fied and/or not
di gi tall y signed, whi ch onl y i ncreases the risk that they contai n mal ware and/or may not provi de stable
functi onali ty for your device and resul t i n data l oss. As wi th al pha dri vers, I do not recommend usi ng l eaked
dri vers unl ess you have absol utely no other opti on, and onl y after maki ng proper backups beforehand.
Asi de from putti ng your data at ri sk of bei ng l ost, you are also putti ng your securi ty at ri sk.

Modified ('modded') Drivers - Current modi fi ed dri vers do not provi de any genuine benefi t over the standard
dri vers from your hardware manufacturer. Don't be fool ed by promi ses of large performance gai ns or magi c
fi xes - these are al most always unfounded or exaggerated clai ms desi gned to enti ce peopl e i nto usi ng the
dri ver. The onl y ti me I woul d recommend a modified dri ver i s if they have been .INF modi fi ed to al l ow
them to be i nstall ed and used on hardware they were not ori ginall y i ntended for. Thi s i s a si mpl e text fi le
modi fi cati on done pri maril y to provi de dri vers for hardware whi ch may otherwi se not have frequent driver

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support, such as laptop graphi cs chi psets. Obvi ously .INF modi fi cati on can resul t i n unexpected behavior
because the dri ver i s bei ng used on hardware i t was not desi gned for, but i t may be the onl y opti on available
to peopl e wi th certai n hardware. In al l other cases I recommend agai nst usi ng modi fi ed drivers for safety
and stabil i ty reasons. If a manufacturer has disabl ed a parti cular feature i n a dri ver, i t is for a good reason.


Dri vers are a cri ti cal component of the way your hardware i nteracts wi th Wi ndows, and have a signifi cant
i mpact on performance and stabil i ty, so i t i s best to make sure they are kept up to date, and that you do not
experi ment unnecessaril y wi th them. Regularl y refer to the front page of TweakGui des.com for the l atest
news on offi ci al dri ver updates.


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USER ACCOUNTS


User Accounts are a way of al l owi ng more than one person to use the same PC i n relati ve i sol ati on from one
another. These users can each have a different background wall paper, different setti ngs, and different
personal fol ders al l stored separatel y and wi thout i mpact on or access to each other. However User Accounts
are not sol el y designed for shari ng purposes; even i f there i s onl y ever one user of the machi ne, you wi ll still
need to know about User Accounts for securi ty reasons.

When you fi rst i nstall Windows 7, a defaul t User Account wi th Admi ni strator pri vil eges i s created usi ng the
username and opti onal password you choose just pri or to fi nali zi ng i nstall ati on - see the Wi ndows
Install ati on chapter. Every ti me you start usi ng Wi ndows from that poi nt onward, you are logged i nto thi s
User Account by defaul t, unl ess you create others and swi tch to them. Thi s first User Account i s actual l y
call ed the Protected Admi ni strator, and to understand the si gnifi cance of this and other aspects of User
Accounts, you need to read thi s chapter.


< USER ACCOUNT TYPES
There are different l evel s of pri vi l eges given to User Accounts, dependi ng on thei r type. In Wi ndows 7 there
are three main types of User Accounts: Guest, Standard and Admini strator. Each has different pri vi l eges:

Administrator: Thi s User Account type can undertake the ful l range of acti ons i n Wi ndows, from i nstall i ng or
uni nstall i ng any software or hardware, maki ng system-l evel changes, to viewi ng the fi l es and folders of
other User Accounts on the system (i f they are not password-protected accounts). Admi ni strators can also
create, change or del ete new or exi sti ng User Accounts. There must al ways be at l east one Admi nistrator
User Account on the system to be abl e to manage i t - whi ch i s why Wi ndows forces you to create one duri ng
the Wi ndows Installati on process.

Protected Administrator: The defaul t Admi nistrator l evel account i s actuall y known as a Protected
Admi nistrator (PA), and the key reason for thi s name i s because User Account Control (UAC) restri cti ons
appl y to the PA. If UAC is enabled, then the PA i s set to defaul t to Standard l evel pri vi leges, and can onl y
undertake Admi ni strator l evel tasks by confi rmi ng UAC prompts - see the User Account Control secti on of
the PC Security chapter for ful l detai ls.

Full Administrator: Whil e UAC can be di sabl ed, there i s actuall y a Full Admi nistrator account, known as the
Admi nistrator Account, whi ch is hi dden and disabl ed by defaul t, and i s not affected by UAC setti ngs, does
not have a password, and has full Admi ni strati ve pri vi leges at all ti mes. To enabl e thi s account, see the
Advanced secti on further bel ow. I must stress that you should not use thi s account regularly as i t i s a major
securi ty ri sk, si nce i t i s not protected by a password, nor i s i t affected by UAC. A user loggi ng i n under thi s
defaul t Admini strator account i s leavi ng a major securi ty hol e open. The pri mary use for thi s account would
be for troubleshooti ng purposes, such as resetti ng a forgotten password on the Protected Admi ni strator
account.

Standard: This User Account type l ets the user access most of the normal functi ons of Wi ndows. The main
restri cti ons are on i nstal ling or uni nstall certai n types of software and hardware, changing any Wi ndows
setti ngs whi ch affect other users, vi ewi ng other User Account fil es and folders, and del eting or al teri ng
cri ti cal system fil es. If User Account Control is enabl ed, you can remove these restri cti ons at any ti me by
enter the password for an Admi ni strator l evel account when prompted by UAC. In practi ce a normal
Protected Admi ni strator and Standard account both run wi th the same type of pri vi leges, the onl y di fference

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i s that the Admi ni strator does not need to enter a password to confirm a UAC prompt, whereas the Standard
user does.

Guest: This User Account type i s disabled by defaul t and i s onl y i ntended for all owi ng peopl e temporary
access to your machi ne. Any user who l ogs i n wi th a Guest l evel account can't i nstal l any software or
hardware, can't change setti ngs, nor set up passwords. Once they l ogoff the Guest account, all data i n the
profil e i s al so del eted. Thi s means that there i s mi nimum potenti al for them to do any harm to your system,
al though i t i s not recommended that you grant an untrusted user even thi s l evel of access to your machine.
To turn the Guest account on, cli ck the 'Manage another account' l i nk i n the mai n User Accounts wi ndow,
then cl i ck the Guest i con and sel ect the 'Turn On' button. Unl ess you are goi ng to acti vel y use thi s account
type, i t i s strongl y recommended that you leave the Guest account di sabl ed.

The reason there are different types of User Accounts i s to mi ni mi ze securi ty risks and the risk of i ntended
or uni ntended harmful changes to i mportant system setti ngs and software, as wel l as preventi ng di fferent
users on the same machi ne from automati cal ly being abl e to view and al ter each others' fi l es and fol ders.
Wi th the advent of UAC, Wi ndows has evol ved such that there i s greatly reduced risk in runni ng an
Admi nistrator l evel account as your normal account (i .e. the Protected Admi ni strator), si nce by defaul t you
onl y have Standard user pri vi l eges unti l you cli ck a UAC prompt to escal ate those pri vi l eges to
Admi nistrator l evel when requi red.

So whi l e many peopl e hate UAC and i ts i ncessant prompti ng, the benefits of UAC - and I strongl y
recommend you keep i t enabl ed - are that you don't need to expose yourself to the major securi ty ri sks of
runni ng a ful l unprotected Admi ni strator account on a regul ar basi s as has been the case i n previ ous
versi ons of Wi ndows such as XP; you can now run an Admini strator account as your mai n account for
conveni ence, and use UAC to have tighter securi ty as wel l.

< USER ACCOUNT SCENARIOS
Thi s secti on contai ns my advi ce on how to set up User Accounts on your system based on four common
scenari os. When you are setti ng up User Accounts i n Wi ndows, you must fi rst deci de on how many peopl e
you want to provi de access to your machi ne, and al so consi der whether the PC i s readil y accessi bl e by others
or i s relati vel y isolated from physi cal access. The number of users is an obvi ous factor, but the second
variabl e has to do wi th the fact that a PC whi ch can be physicall y accessed by other peopl e you don't
necessaril y trust requi res much ti ghter securi ty than one whi ch i s physi cally isolated. Bel ow are my
recommendati ons for the mai n general scenari os whi ch are possi bl e and the best way to confi gure one or
more User Accounts to sui t:

Single user, isolated machine: If the PC onl y has one mai n user and i s not physi call y accessi ble by untrusted
i ndi vi duals then the defaul t Protected Admi nistrator User Account created by Wi ndows duri ng i nstal lation
i s suffi ci ent. For maxi mum conveni ence you may also wi sh to l eave thi s Admi nistrator l evel account wi thout
a password, whi ch provi des the fastest startup i nto Wi ndows as you won't see a l ogi n screen.

Single user, accessible machine: If the PC has onl y one mai n user but other peopl e who are not necessari ly
trustworthy can physi call y access i t, or you are worried about sensi ti ve i nformati on and potenti al theft, then
the defaul t User Account created by Wi ndows i s sti ll suffi cient, but you must assi gn a strong password to
the account - see the Backi ng Up & Restori ng Passwords secti on of the Backup & Recovery Chapter for
detail s of how to generate a strong password and back i t up safel y to prevent l oss. Thi s password wil l need
to be entered at the l ogi n screen each ti me you start up Wi ndows, and as l ong as the password i s qui te
strong, wi ll prevent anyone el se from gai ni ng access to your machi ne. However there are ways of cracki ng
such passwords i f a person has physical access to the machi ne, so you may al so wish to al so use EFS
Encrypti on and/or Bi tLocker Dri ve Encrypti on if the data i s very val uabl e and/or the threat of physi cal
access or theft i s qui te hi gh - see Encrypti ng Fi l e System and Bi tLocker Dri ve Encrypti on secti ons of the PC
Securi ty chapter.

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Multiple users, isolated machine: If the PC has more than one user but i s only physi call y accessed by trusted
peopl e such as cl ose fami ly members then I recommend creati ng a Standard User Account for each of the
addi ti onal peopl e who wi ll be usi ng the machi ne, and keepi ng the defaul t Protected Admi nistrator account
for yoursel f to use. However i mportantly you must now use a password for your Admi ni strator account and
you must al so enabl e UAC. Asi de from mal ware ri sks, a password and UAC are requi red to prevent the
other User Accounts from maki ng system-wi de changes whi ch may destabil ize or harm the PC, and i t also
all ows you to use the Parental Control features detail ed further bel ow. Note that the Standard accounts
themsel ves don't have to have passwords, but i t is recommended that they do i n case one user acci dentally
or purposel y l ogs i n under another user's account and accesses sensi ti ve data or makes undesi red changes.
Furthermore Standard accounts whi ch don't have passwords can have the contents of thei r personal folders
vi ewed by Admi ni strators; if password protected, personal fol ders cannot be vi ewed by anyone else. By
vi rtue of having more than one User Account on the machi ne, you wi ll see a l ogi n page each ti me you start
Wi ndows, al lowi ng anyone to choose whi ch user to logi n as, as l ong as they enter the appropri ate password
i f requi red.

Multiple users, accessible machine: If the PC has more than one user, and i s al so physi call y accessi bl e by a range
of peopl e some of whom you may not compl etel y trust, or there is greater ri sk of theft, then I recommend the
same procedures as the scenari o above, however the Admi nistrator password must be made very strong,
and the Standard account passwords shoul d also be made qui te strong. Indi vidual users may al so wi sh to
use EFS encrypti on for thei r sensi ti ve fi l es or fol ders. In addi ti on, i f you want to all ow an untrusted person
l i mi ted access to your machi ne (e.g. for basi c web browsi ng), then turn the Guest account on as wel l and ask
them to use that. UAC must be enabl ed at all times i n thi s scenari o for maxi mum protecti on against
unauthorized changes and to prevent mal ware. It i s al so recommended that you supervi se the use of the PC
by any untrusted i ndi vi dual(s), as there i s stil l a possi bi li ty that they can crack the Admi nistrator password
and hence have unrestri cted access to your machi ne.

Note that on a PC wi th mul ti ple user accounts, you can qui ckly swi tch between accounts wi thout restarti ng
the machi ne by pressi ng CTRL+ALT+DEL and sel ecti ng 'Swi tch user', or by cl i cki ng the Start button, cl i cking
the small arrow next to the Shutdown opti on and sel ecti ng 'Swi tch user'. You can al so go back to the mai n
l ogon screen by selecti ng 'Log off' i nstead of rebooting.

For more detail s of how UAC works, and for detail s of addi ti onal ways to customize UAC to sui t your
speci fi c needs, see the User Account Control and Local Securi ty Pol i cy secti ons of the PC Securi ty chapter. I
also urge you to check the Backi ng Up and Restori ng Passwords secti on of the Backup & Recovery chapter
for detai l s of how to create, backup and protect agai nst password l oss or theft. There are a range of
techni ques whi ch peopl e can use to crack your system i f they have physi cal access to i t, so the si ngl e most
i mportant thing you can do to prevent a breach of your securi ty and pri vacy is to restri ct physi cal access to
your PC only to trusted indi vi dual s. On the other hand, the use of separate User Accounts and enabl i ng
UAC for scenari os where onl y trusted fami l y members have physi cal access to the PC i s more than suffi ci ent
to ensure securi ty and privacy i f al l accounts are i mpl emented wi th passwords.

< MANAGING USER ACCOUNTS
Once you've deci ded on the best strategy, you wil l need to create, del ete or modi fy existi ng User Accounts to
sui t your needs. Thi s is done by fi rst l oggi ng i n as the defaul t Protected Admi ni strator account, then goi ng to
the mai n User Accounts screen. Here you can ei ther edi t your own account, or by cl i cking the 'Manage
another account' l i nk you can edi t the detai ls of any other accounts on the system. Bel ow are the typi cal
range of opti ons shown when managi ng another account:

Create a new account: Thi s al l ows an Admi ni strator to create a new account, assi gni ng i t a name and an
account type. I strongl y suggest onl y creati ng as many addi ti onal Standard accounts as you actuall y need.
Each new account you create wi ll automati cal ly have a full set of personal folders created under the \Users

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di rectory the fi rst ti me that user l ogs on to that account, so unused accounts will si mply take up dri ve space
for no purpose. Note that an Admi nistrator can vi ew the fi l es and fol ders of other users who don't use a
password by goi ng to the \Users di rectory i n Wi ndows Expl orer and l ooki ng for the subfol der wi th that
User's account name. Remember al so that the more Admi nistrator l evel accounts you have, the more
l i kel i hood there is that a user can cause uni ntended harm to the system, or breach another user's pri vacy, or
i nadvertentl y all ow mal ware onto the system. For that reason i t i s best not to have more than one active
Admi nistrator account on the system - the Protected Admi nistrator account. Be sure to also di sabl e the Guest
account unl ess you actual ly need i t.

Change the account name: You can change an account name at any time i f you are an Admi nistrator, i ncluding
your own. However asi de from causi ng confusi on at l ogi n ti me, i t also causes further confusi on because the
actual name of the personal fol der for the user found at \Users\[username] wil l not be changed; i t wil l remai n
as origi nall y set. Do not manual ly change the name of the \Users\[username] fol der as thi s wil l cause
addi ti onal probl ems, si nce that User Account wi ll no l onger be using thei r personal folder i f i t i s renamed. If
you wi sh to rename the user's personal fol der you need to fol l ow the relevant procedure under the
Advanced Setti ngs section l ater i n this chapter.

Delete the account: You can del ete any account except your own by hi ghli ghting i t and selecti ng 'Del ete the
account'. Thi s i s obvi ously somethi ng that shoul d done wi th cauti on, si nce del eti ng an account not only
del etes al l that account's saved preferences, i t can al so del ete al l thei r personal fi l es and fol ders. For thi s
reason Wi ndows wi ll ask you whether you wish to save the account's personal fi les to a new di rectory before
del eti on, but note that you wi ll not be abl e to save thei r email s and personal setti ngs. You shoul d delete all
unused User Accounts on your system if you are sure they wil l not be needed agai n.

Create a password: If an account doesn't have a password and you need to create one then sel ect the account,
cl i ck this li nk, and enter an appropriate password. Any User Account wi th a password cannot have thei r
fi les and folders accessed by other users. Importantl y, if you l ose or forget the password for an
Admi nistrator account you wil l need another Admini strator on the same machi ne to hel p you - i f another
Admi nistrator doesn't exist you wi ll be i n seri ous troubl e - see the Backup & Recovery Chapter for recovery
opti ons. If a Standard user forgets their password, an Admi ni strator can cl i ck the 'Change the password' or
'Remove the password' l i nks as appropri ate to fi x thi s. However removi ng a password al so removes access
to password-protected resources for that account, such as EFS encrypted fi les. To change your own account
password at any ti me press CTRL+ALT+DEL and select 'Change a password'.

Change the picture: By defaul t each User Account has a smal l pi cture attached to i t to make identi fi cati on of
di fferent accounts easi er on the l ogi n screen and at the top of the Start Menu among other pl aces. Sel ect one
from the l i st shown, or to use your own custom pi cture cl i ck the 'Browse for more pi ctures' li nk at the
bottom of the i mages and fi nd an appropri ate i mage on your dri ve(s) to use - i t must be i n .BMP, .PNG, .GIF
or .JPG format. Note that you can qui ckl y open the User Account properti es by goi ng to Start Menu and
cl i cki ng thi s pi cture at the top of the menu.

Change the account type: An account can be changed from Admini strator to Standard user and vi ce versa,
though thi s is obvi ously somethi ng whi ch should be done wi th some consi derati on. In parti cular I don't
recommend changi ng the fi rst defaul t Protected Admi nistrator account created under Wi ndows to a
Standard user.

< PARENTAL CONTROLS
Parental Control s can be accessed di rectl y through the Wi ndows Control Panel , or via the 'Set up Parental
Control s' opti on under the 'Manage another account' secti on of User Accounts. One of the most common
uses of User Accounts i s by parents who want to restri ct thei r chi l dren from maki ng a mess of the fami ly
computer, or accessi ng undesi rable material on the Internet. Parental Control s was i ntroduced i n Vi sta and

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conti nues to be a handy tool i n Wi ndows 7 for addressi ng these si tuati ons. However Parental Control s i s not
just for control li ng chi l dren; i t all ows you to lay down addi ti onal li mi tati ons on any Standard User.

On the mai n Parental Control s screen you wil l see al l avai labl e User Accounts on the system i ncludi ng your
own. To customi ze Parental Controls for a user, you must fi rst sel ect thei r User Account, and i mportantl y,
your Admi nistrator l evel User Account must have a password for Parental Control restri cti ons to be
enforceabl e. When you select the user to whi ch you want to apply the restri ctions, you shoul d select the 'On,
enforce current setti ngs' opti on to enabl e Parental Control s for thi s user. Then adjust the vari ous setti ngs as
descri bed below:

Time Limits: Al l ows you to set the hours wi thi n whi ch the sel ected User Account can use the PC. On the
schedul e shown, areas shaded i n blue represent hours duri ng whi ch use is bl ocked. Areas i n whi te are
all owed usage peri ods. To appl y any time restri cti ons sel ect any peri ods you wi sh to bl ock and cl i ck OK.
When the user attempts to l og i n during these periods they wi ll see a message explai ni ng that due to ti me
restri cti ons they cannot l og on and should try agai n later.

Games: This area l ets you sel ect fi rstl y whether the user can play any games at all , and then you can block
games wi th parti cular rati ngs - these shoul d be set to match your local regi on's rati ng scheme. You can also
choose ei ther to all ow or bl ock unrated games, si nce some (mai nl y ol der) games may be unrated regardl ess
of thei r content type. Furthermore you can then manual l y speci fy whi ch of the exi sti ng games i nstal l ed on
the system you wish to bl ock or all ow.

If enabl ed, the user's acti vi ty wil l be l ogged. You can vi ew these l ogs here by cl i cki ng the 'View acti vi ty
reports' l i nk at the ri ght of the screen. You can see more detai ls by browsi ng the l og categori es i n the left
pane.

Allow and block specific programs: If you wi sh to bl ock the user from bei ng able to run particular programs,
cl i ck the '[user] can onl y use the programs I al l ow' opti on and then sel ect from the l ist of all i nstal l ed
programs shown. If a program fi le is missi ng from the l ist, cl i ck Browse and go to i ts di rectory then sel ect i t.

Importantl y, Mi crosoft has removed the web fil teri ng and acti vi ty reports features of Parental Controls,
previ ousl y avail abl e under Windows Vista. You must i nstal l addi tional software to enabl e this functi onal i ty
as detai led i n thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e. I recommend the free Mi crosoft Fami l y Safety software whi ch provi des
web fi l teri ng and detai l ed acti vi ty reports functi onal ity - see the Mi crosoft Arti cl e above for feature details.
Note however that unl i ke Wi ndows Li ve Mai l or other Wi ndows Li ve software recommended i n this book,
Wi ndows Li ve Fami ly Safety requi res that you l og i n wi th a vali d Wi ndows Li ve ID before you can use the
software, because i t i s an onl i ne-oriented tool . If you do not have such an account, you can create one for free
here.

To i nstall Windows Li ve Famil y Safety, downl oad from the l i nk provi ded above and run the i nstall er. In the
wi ndow which appears sel ect onl y the 'Famil y Safety' component and cli ck Install . Once compl eted, untick
the boxes at the end of i nstal lati on to prevent your defaul t search provider or homepage from bei ng
changed, then cl i ck Continue. Note that i f you are prompted to Si gn Up wi th a Wi ndows Li ve ID and you
al ready have a Li ve ID, you can ski p this step and cl ick Cl ose; otherwi se sign up for one as i t is necessary.

To open and use Wi ndows Li ve Famil y Safety go to Parental Control s and cli ck 'Sel ect a Provi der' box and
make sure 'Wi ndows Li ve Famil y Safety' i s chosen. When you then sel ect a user i n Parental Control s, you
wi ll be prompted to l ogi n to Wi ndows Li ve Famil y Safety. Enter your Wi ndows Li ve ID detai l s to conti nue,
or i f you don't wi sh to use the addi ti onal features, cli ck the red X at the top ri ght of the l ogi n wi ndow to
access the normal Parental Control s options. You can also access Wi ndows Li ve Famil y Safety di rectl y at any
ti me by goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng Family Safety and pressi ng Enter.


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Fol l ow these steps to configure the additi onal setti ngs:

1. There i s only one account requi red to logi n to Family Safety, and thi s account i s considered to be the
Parent. Other Wi ndows Live IDs may be required, for example to manage your chi l dren's email access
through the Contact Management setti ng.
2. Once you l og i n, you wil l be prompted to sel ect whi ch accounts are bei ng moni tored - select all rel evant
accounts by pl aci ng a ti ck i n the Moni tor account box next to each one. I don't recommend ti cki ng your
own Admi ni strator account.
3. Cl i ck Save when done.
4. To configure the actual setti ngs for the account(s) being moni tored, you wi ll need to cli ck the l i nk shown
under 'Customi ze setti ngs for your fami l y' secti on. Thi s wi ll open a browser window and automati cal l y
l og you i nto the Fami ly Safety onl i ne setti ngs area of the Windows Li ve Famil y Setti ngs si te.
5. Cl i ck the 'Edi t Setti ngs' l ink next to the User Accounts you are moni tori ng, and for each one you can
confi gure Web Fi l teri ng, Acti vi ty Reporti ng and Contact Management - al l of whi ch are covered further
bel ow.
6. If you wish to remove a user from bei ng moni tored, cli ck the Remove l i nk at the bottom of thi s screen.

Web Filtering: If enabl ed, there are two preset level s of Internet fil teri ng avai labl e here - Basi c and Stri ct. Strict
i s i ntended for very young chi l dren as onl y a very small number of ki ds-onl y si tes are all owed. Basi c is more
appropriate for ol der chi ldren. Al ternati vel y you can sel ect Custom and determi ne the categori es of web
content you wi sh to al l ow or bl ock. Regardl ess of whi ch opti on you choose, you can al so manual l y enter web
addresses for parti cular sites you wi sh to all ow or bl ock, and thi s l i st al ways overri de any other fi l tering
measures currentl y bei ng appl i ed. You can al so ti ck or unti ck the 'All ow [user] to downl oad fi les onl i ne' to
control whether fil e downl oads are all owed from any si te. Cl ick the Save button when done to save and
appl y these setti ngs for this user.

Activity Reporting: If enabl ed, Acti vi ty Reporti ng al lows you to record and displ ay the onli ne and offl ine
acti vi ty for thi s user. The categori es of acti vi ty recorded are: Web acti vi ty whi ch is browser-based acti vity;
Other Internet acti vi ty covers other types of web access, such as vi a the buil t-i n updati ng uti li ti es of a
program; and Computer Acti vi ty, which records general acti vi ty on the current computer, such as the
l aunchi ng of any games or programs.

Contact Management: If enabl ed, thi s setti ng determi nes the peopl e (Contacts) wi th which the chi l d can
exchange email s or have chat sessi ons. Your chi ld wi ll need to use a Wi ndows Li ve Hotmail account for
email , and Wi ndows Li ve Messenger for chat, for these features to be supported.

Requests: The Requests secti on all ows your chil dren to make requests for particular content they want to
vi ew, or contacts they wi sh to add, whi ch are currentl y bei ng blocked. You can approve or deny requests
l i sted here and they wil l automati cal l y be bl ocked or all owed as appropri ate.

Once you have compl eted setti ng up and savi ng all rel evant setti ngs, you can close the browser wi ndow. To
access Wi ndows Li ve Famil y Safety i n the future, you can cli ck the 'Wi ndows Li ve Famil y Safety' l i nk which
appears i n the Parental Control s opti ons when a user i s sel ected, or the rel evant Acti on Center noti fi cation
whi ch appears i n the Notificati on Area.

When the chi l d goes to access the Internet or undertake any other restri cted activi ty, they wi ll be presented
wi th a bl ocked message, givi ng them the opti on to Email you wi th a request whi ch wi ll appear under your
Requests secti on i n Fami ly Safety, or sel ect the 'Ask i n person' opti on whi ch raises a Parent Approval
prompt. To i nstantl y all ow access to the bl ocked resource, the Parent must then enter thei r Wi ndows Li ve ID
password and cli ck the Approve button, or they can si mply cl i ck Deny to conti nue bl ocking the requested
resource.


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It i s unfortunate that the web fi l teri ng and acti vi ty reporti ng features have been removed from Wi ndows
and repl aced wi th web-based components. Whil e not a major concern i n terms of pri vacy and safety, gi ven
Mi crosoft has al ways shown a strong commi tment to mai ntai ni ng both of these aspects for all users, the web
i nterface and need for Windows Li ve ID and Wi ndows Li ve-based appl i cati ons to support al l of these
features is annoyi ng. You can turn to a thi rd party sol uti on to provi de you with web fi l tering and acti vity
reporti ng functi onali ty, however the best of these are not free, and certai nl y don't provi de any better pri vacy
guarantees. I suggest you exami ne the fol l owi ng Windows 7-compati bl e software packages if you don't wi sh
to use Windows Li ve Famil y Safety:

Net Nanny
Safe Eyes

There is no other way of easil y restri cti ng or compl etel y disabl ing Internet access on a per-user basi s in
Wi ndows 7, parti cul arl y as many methods can be bypassed wi th the appropriate knowl edge. You must use
one of the software packages i n this secti on if you wish to restri ct Internet access to a parti cular User
Account.

The bui l t-i n Parental Control s are useful not just for chi l dren but to al so prevent certai n users from running
speci fi c programs for exampl e i f you know that such programs may potenti all y be harmful or i ntrusive.
Keep i n mi nd that as l ong as UAC is enabl ed at the defaul t l evel , even i f you don't bl ock harmful or i ntrusi ve
programs, Standard users cannot successful ly run programs whi ch make i ntrusive changes.

< ADVANCED SETTINGS
Thi s secti on covers some of the more advanced ways you can access and mani pulate User Account-rel ated
setti ngs.

USER PROFILES
Your User Profil e is the sum of everythi ng for your User Account, i ncl udi ng all the data you keep under
your personal fol ders - that i s, al l the files and fol ders under your \Users\[Username] di rectory - as wel l as
your user-speci fi c Wi ndows Registry setti ngs - that is, those i n the [ HKEY_CURRENT_USER] hi ve - stored in
the ntuser.dat system fil e under the root di rectory of your personal folders. Each User Account on your
computer has a User Profi le stored, and you can access a li st of these and change them by cli cki ng the
'Configure Advanced User Profil e Properti es' li nk in the l eft pane of the mai n User Accounts wi ndow.
However thi s onl y gi ves you access to your own User Profil e. To access all User Profil es open the System
component of the Wi ndows Control Panel and cli ck the 'Advanced System Setti ngs' l i nk, then under the
Advanced tab cl i ck the Setti ngs button under 'User Profil es'.

There shoul d be a Defaul t Profi l e here, as wel l as at least one User Profi l e wi th your username, and one for
every other User Account. You can Del ete or Copy other profil es i f you wish, though del eti ng a User
Account i s best done fi rst through the normal User Account management i nterface. Of greatest use here i s
the abil i ty to cl i ck the 'Change Type' button, l etti ng you swi tch a User Profil e between a Roami ng and Local
profil e i f you are on a network. A Roaming profil e al lows the user to mai ntai n a si ngle User Account on the
network's central server whi ch can be accessed on any machi ne on that network, and which remai ns up to
date; a Local profil e on the other hand i s si mpl y a l ocall y stored copy of your User Account and associated
User Profi l e data, any changes to whi ch are not accessi bl e on other machi nes i n a network. For standalone
home PC users thi s functi onali ty is i rrel evant as all profil es are l ocal l y stored.

One of the changes i n Wi ndows 7 i s the abi li ty to undertake peri odi c background upl oadi ng of the ntuser.dat
fi le to the network server to ensure that thi s data doesn't become outdated i n case of a probl em. The setti ng
whi ch control s thi s peri odi c updati ng is the 'Background upl oad of a roami ng user profi les registry file

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whi l e user i s l ogged on' setti ng avail able i n Group Pol i cy Edi tor - see this Mi crosoft Arti cl e for more detail s,
as network-rel ated functi onali ty is not covered i n detail i n thi s book.

If you wi sh to change or rename the personal fol der to whi ch a parti cular User Profil e is li nked, whi ch can be
useful if you have changed your account's username for exampl e, you can do so by foll owi ng these steps:

1. You must be logged i n as an Admi ni strator.
2. Make sure the User Account you are about to change i s l ogged off compl etel y.
3. Open Wi ndows Expl orer and go to the \Users directory and rename the personal fol der you wi sh to
change.
4. Go to the followi ng l ocati on i n Regi stry Edi tor:

[ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHI NE\ SOFTWARE\ Mi cr osof t \ Wi ndows NT\ Cur r ent Ver si on\ Pr of i l eLi st ]

Thi s l ocati on hol ds all the separate User Profi l es. One of the subfolders here contai ns the User Profi l e data
for the account you wi sh to change - find i t by cl i cki ng each one and l ooki ng at the Pr of i l eI magePat h
value unti l you fi nd the one whi ch matches the name of the User Profil e you're changi ng.

Pr of i l eI magePat h=C: \ User s\ [ user name]

Once found, edi t the path above to point to the folder you recentl y renamed. When that user next l ogs in
they wi ll be usi ng thi s personal fol der. Note that renami ng the personal fol der does not change the name of
the User Account and vi ce versa - see earl i er i n thi s chapter for the correct way to rename a User Account.

ADVANCED USER ACCOUNTS CONTROL PANEL
To access a second, more advanced User Accounts Control Panel , go to Start>Run, type netplwiz and press
Enter. The opti ons provi ded here requi re caution and are for more advanced users - i f i n doubt do not al ter
anythi ng. Below are the descri pti ons for these setti ngs:

Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer: If your system i s onl y usi ng one account - the
defaul t one created duri ng Wi ndows i nstal lati on - and you have not set a password, then i n effect you won't
see a l ogi n screen and won't have to enter a password at any ti me. However i f you have set a password for
your account, and/or have two or more User Accounts, you wi ll see a l ogi n screen at Wi ndows bootup, and
you may also be prompted for a password. To override thi s defaul t behavi or simpl y sel ect the account you
wi sh to have automati cal ly l oggi ng i n to Wi ndows from the l i st shown, unti ck the 'Users must enter a name
and password to use thi s computer' box, cl i ck Appl y, and enter any password i f appl i cabl e. Thi s account wi ll
then automati cal ly l ogi n each ti me you start Wi ndows. Thi s i s a major securi ty ri sk and i s not recommended
unl ess you are the sol e user of the machine and the machi ne is i n a physi call y secure envi ronment.

Users for this computer: Thi s area li sts al l the User Accounts on thi s PC. You can add or remove accounts here,
though i t is not recommended; you shoul d use the normal User Accounts wi ndow i nstead wherever
possi ble. Hi ghl i ght an account and cl i ck Properti es; asi de from l etti ng you change the name and descri ption
of the account, under the 'Group Membershi p' tab not onl y can you sel ect whether to set thi s as an
Admi nistrator or Standard account, you can al so sel ect one of the other more speci al i zed groups whi ch have
speci fi c l i mi tati ons. For exampl e you can sel ect the 'Backup Operators' group for a user whi ch all ows them to
perform a range of backup and restore-related tasks whi ch a Standard user woul d not otherwi se be abl e to
do. However you wi ll need to understand what each of the groups can do - see thi s Mi crosoft Arti cl e for
more detail s. You can al so use the Local Users and Groups Manager to see descri pti ons for each group - see
the Advanced User Management secti on bel ow for more detail s. For the most part groups are designed for
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Reset Password: All ows you to set a new password for the hi ghlighted User Account (i f i t has one). This is
useful if that user has forgotten thei r password. To change your own password press CTRL+ALT+DEL and
sel ect 'Change a password'.

The foll owi ng opti ons are under the Advanced tab:

Manage Passwords: Thi s opti on al l ows you store and backup vari ous passwords in the Credenti al Manager -
see the Backing UP and Restori ng Passwords secti on of the Backup & Recovery chapter for more detai ls.

Advanced user management: Cl i cki ng the Advanced button opens the Local Users and Groups Manager
wi ndow. You can also access the Local Users and Groups manager di rectl y at any time by goi ng to
Start>Run, typi ng lusrmgr.msc and pressi ng Enter. Here you can see and admi ni ster i ndi vi dual users on thi s
PC by cli cki ng the Users i tem i n the l eft pane, and then doubl e-cl icki ng on the parti cul ar user you wish to
vi ew/al ter. Importantl y, see the Hi dden Admi ni strator Account secti on bel ow for one useful functi on of thi s
uti li ty. Si milarl y, you can cl i ck the Groups i tem i n the l eft pane to vi ew al l the avai labl e groups to whi ch a
User Account can be assigned. There are descri ptions of the pri vi lege l evel s for each group. Agai n, thi s
functi onali ty i s pri maril y intended for network admini strators. For home users, even those runni ng a home
network, the normal Standard and Admi nistrator l evel accounts are suffici ent, gi ven a Standard level
account can now perform a range of addi ti onal non-i ntrusi ve tasks under Wi ndows 7.

Secure Logon: If you wi sh to have added securi ty, you can ti ck the 'Require users to press Ctrl +Al t+Del ete'
box, and thus whenever anyone tri es to l ogon on thi s PC, they fi rst have to press the CTRL, ALT and DEL
keys together to bri ng up the l ogon screen; i t wil l not di spl ay automati cal ly. This i ncreases securi ty because
i t pl aces the logon screen in Secure Desktop mode - as covered i n the User Account Control secti on of the PC
Securi ty Chapter - meani ng the l ogon screen cannot be faked by mal ware to capture your logi n detail s for
exampl e. This l evel of securi ty is generall y not necessary for the average home PC user.

HIDDEN ADMINISTRATOR ACCOUNT
Wi ndows 7 has a hi dden bui l t-i n Admi ni strator account whi ch is disabled by defaul t. The User Account you
create when you first i nstall Wi ndows 7 i s an Admini strator l evel account, however i t i s cal l ed a Protected
Admi nistrator because i t i s bound by the l i mi ts i mposed by User Account Control . The hi dden
Admi nistrator account has the hi ghest level of pri vi leges i n Wi ndows, and i s not bound by UAC, whether
enabl ed or not. It i s al so an Owner of all the fi l es and fol ders on the system, so it does not requi re addi ti onal
permi ssi on to al ter or del ete any such files and fol ders - see the Access Control and Permi ssions secti on of
the PC Security chapter. Thi s makes i t an extremel y powerful account, but also an extremel y dangerous one.

To vi ew thi s Admi nistrator account, open the Local Users and Groups manager as covered i n the secti on
above. Then cl i ck the Users i tem i n the left pane, and you wil l see an account wi th the name Admi nistrator.
Doubl e-cli ck on thi s account and under i ts properti es you can see that the 'Account i s disabl ed' box i s ti cked,
whi ch i s why i t i s not normall y accessibl e. If you wish to make thi s account accessi bl e, unti ck thi s box and
cl i ck Apply. If you go to the mai n User Accounts window under the Wi ndows Control Panel and cli ck the
'Manage another account' li nk, you can now see the Admi nistrator account showi ng. When next you start up
Wi ndows, if you l ogoff your current sessi on, or go to the Start button, cl i ck the arrow next to the Shutdown
button, and cli ck the 'Swi tch User' opti on, thi s account wi l l appear on the l ogi n screen and can be l ogged i nto
just li ke any other account.

Thi s account i s desi gned for troubl eshooti ng purposes, and for very advanced users who have need of this
functi onali ty to perform a range of system-i ntensi ve tasks wi thout bei ng repeatedl y prompted by UAC or
havi ng to constantl y al ter fil e permi ssions for exampl e. However i t i s not desi gned for dail y use by the
average home PC user as it i s i ncredi bl y powerful and does not have much protecti on agai nst abuse. If your
computer i s i nfil trated by mal ware whi l e you are usi ng thi s account, the hacker wi ll have compl ete
unrestri cted access to everythi ng on your PC. Even if your system i s total ly secure, you can uni ntenti onally

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make harmful changes to your system by acci dentall y del eti ng or al teri ng cri tical system fi les and setti ngs,
because no prompts wi ll appear to warn you.

For all these reasons you shoul d not enabl e thi s account permanentl y, and most defi ni tel y shoul d not use i t
as your dai l y account. The mai n reason you shoul d be aware of i ts exi stence i s as noted, for temporary use
duri ng system confi gurati on or for troubl eshooting purposes where you need the hi ghest l evel of
unrestri cted access to your system.


Li mi t the number of accounts you make to those you absolutel y need, have onl y one mai n Protected
Admi nistrator account on your system - do not use the hi dden Admi ni strator account - and encourage any
other users on your system to use passwords to protect thei r accounts and prevent accidental del eti on. If you
conti nual ly experi ence issues wi th a parti cular User Account and nothi ng el se works, the best sol uti on i s to
backup the important data from that account, del ete the User Account and create an entirel y new one and
copy back the data i nto the new personal folders for the account.


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PC SECURITY


Over the past few years PC securi ty has become a major i ssue of concern due to the i ncrease i n the number
of ways i n whi ch the securi ty of the average home PC user can be compromised. Accordingl y, Wi ndows
Vista saw a marked i mprovement i n securi ty features over Wi ndows XP, and Wi ndows 7 bui l ds on and
refi nes these features as covered i n this Mi crosoft Arti cl e. You may fi nd some of these features annoyi ng or
confusi ng, however I strongl y advi se you not to take the topi c of PC securi ty l ightl y or i gnore i t. It i s
extremel y i mportant that you become acquai nted wi th both the types of threats to the i ntegri ty and privacy
of your PC, as well as how the Wi ndows securi ty-related features actuall y work to counter them.

It i s i ncorrect to suggest that onl y the very carel ess or novi ce user wi ll succumb to a securi ty-related probl em
or Mal ware (mali ci ous software) i nfestati on. Even if you consi der yourself an advanced user, you need to
bear i n mi nd that mal ware threats these days are becomi ng i ncreasingl y compl ex and dangerous. In the past
a mal ware i nfestation woul d usuall y resul t i n l i ttl e to no real harm; you'd have to delete a few fil es or at
worst rei nstall Wi ndows or restore a backup. Now however, mal ware devel opment and di stributi on is often
coordi nated by organized cri me groups for fi nanci al gai n, so even a si ngl e i nci dence of malware i nfestation
can potenti all y resul t i n the l oss of money, software serial numbers, emai l account detail s, and other
sensi ti ve personal i nformati on. Havi ng a carefree atti tude towards PC securi ty i s a thi ng of the past.

However I do not advocate boggi ng your system down wi th securi ty software that runs i n the background,
sl owi ng thi ngs down, triggeri ng software confl i cts and crashes. Instead, thi s chapter expl ai ns the vari ous
types of threats to PC securi ty and provi des a range of i mportant ti ps for mai ntai ni ng a secure PC, because
educati on and awareness are the best defense agai nst mal ware. We exami ne the bui l t-i n tool s and features i n
Wi ndows 7 whi ch deal wi th these threats, and I al so recommend a set of thi rd party software to suppl ement
Wi ndows securi ty measures i n a non-i ntrusi ve manner wi th virtual l y no performance i mpact.


< SECURITY THREATS
There are a wi de range of securi ty threats whi ch Wi ndows users face, parti cul arl y from vari ous types of
mali ci ous software. Mal ware can enter your system and cause probl ems ranging from the very mi nor to the
very seri ous. Mal ware can remai n hi dden for l ong peri ods and have subtl e effects, or i ts i mpact can be
i mmediate and blatant. However i t i s i mportant to understand that malware does not damage your
computer hardware di rectly nor does i t actuall y physi cal ly 'i nfect' the hardware. Mal ware i s software-based,
and i ts threat i s to the i ntegri ty of your data, your pri vacy and your fi nances.

There are different types of mal ware and securi ty threats, and the major categori es of these are covered
bel ow:

VIRUSES & WORMS
Vi ruses are small programs that l oad onto your computer wi thout your permi ssi on and wi thout your
knowl edge of thei r real functi on. They are call ed vi ruses because just l ike a human vi rus they are desi gned
to sel f-repl i cate, attachi ng themsel ves to normal programs and fil es and spreadi ng to other computers
through exchange of these i nfected fi l es, where they repeat the same process once on the new computer.
Vi ruses range from the mi schi evous to the trul y harmful, destroyi ng val uabl e i nformation through data
corrupti on and causi ng a range of strange system behavi ors.

Worms are si mil ar to viruses, however they general l y do not attach to other fil es, they can spread
i ndependently.


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TROJAN HORSES
A Trojan, short for Trojan Horse, i s a mal i ci ous program that is often i nstal led on your system under the
guise of bei ng another, often useful, program. Trojans di ffer from vi ruses i n that they are used to provi de an
outsi de attacker wi th access to your system. Thi s may be for the purposes of steal i ng val uabl e i nformation,
i nstal li ng other forms of mal ware, or using your system as part of an i ll egal network such as a botnet.

SPYWARE
Spyware i s simi lar to a Trojan, i n that it i s software that i s usual ly i nstal l ed on your system purporti ng to
have di fferent functi onali ty, or as a component of a useful program. Spyware does not al l ow an outside
attacker to take control of your system, but i t does transmi t i nformati on about you and your system, such as
your passwords, keystrokes or Internet usage behavior to the distri butor of the spyware.

ADWARE
Adware i s simi lar to spyware, but is not necessari l y mal i ci ous, as i t i s mai nl y used to target onl ine
advertisi ng or create popup ads or redi rect/force your browser to vi ew pages wi th adverti si ng. However
agai n i t is usual l y i nstal led wi thout your ful l knowledge or permi ssi on. Despi te i t's relati vely l ess mali ci ous
nature, thi s software is usual l y undesi rabl e, breaches your pri vacy and uses system resources and
bandwi dth for no genui nely useful purpose.

ROOTKITS
A Rootki t i s a form of mal ware del iberatel y designed to mask the fact that your machi ne has been
compromi sed and i s now open to unauthori zed usage by an outside attacker. The rootki t wi ll prevent traces
of i tself or any associated mali ci ous activi ty from being detected by usual detecti on methods such as running
an anti-vi rus program or exami ni ng the Wi ndows Task Manager for unusual processes. At the same ti me, a
remote attacker can take advantage of the rootki t to access your machi ne for malici ous purposes.

PHISHING
Whi le not a form of mali cious software, Phi shi ng i s fast becomi ng a common and signifi cant securi ty threat.
Typi cal ly i t invol ves fool ing unsuspecti ng users i nto reveali ng i mportant personal i nformation such as credi t
card numbers or passwords. For exampl e a phi shi ng attempt may i nvol ve getti ng you to cl ick a l ogi n l i nk i n
a fake email from your bank, whi ch then takes you to a fraudul ent i mi tati on of the user's bank l ogi n page,
whereupon you enter your l ogi n detail s, gi vi ng the perpetrator al l the detail s they need to then l ogi n to your
real bank account and rob i t. Phi shi ng i s not mal ware as such, since i t does not usual l y i nvol ve software
i nfecti on, i t uses social engi neeri ng techni ques i nstead to tri ck and defraud i ts targets.


The categories above are i n no way conclusi ve or all -encompassi ng. There are many variants and
combi nati ons of the above securi ty threat categories, and more are emergi ng every day. Over the past few
years these types of threats have become ever-more sophi sti cated, i ntrusi ve and mali ci ous. Even relati vel y
tech-savvy users face the risk of pi cki ng up a seri ous pi ece of malware or even acci dentall y fal li ng prey to
phi shi ng. It may not happen often, but i t onl y takes one seri ous securi ty breach to resul t i n fi nancial l oss or
data l oss and the subsequent major hassl es of havi ng to obtai n new credi t cards, provi ng your case to a bank
or fi nancial insti tuti on, changi ng all your passwords, contacti ng software manufacturers for new seri al
numbers, and so forth. The peopl e behi nd the creati on of these securi ty threats are making large sums of
money from doi ng this, so they have the resources and the i ncentive to constantl y adapt to exi sti ng mal ware
defenses and i nnovate new and ever-more-i ntrusi ve forms of mal ware and onli ne scams.

Protecti ng yoursel f agai nst these securi ty threats i s not as si mple as i nstal l i ng lots of mal ware scanners and
turni ng them all on. Asi de from drai ni ng performance, causi ng software confl i cts and other system i ssues,
mal ware scanners often lag behi nd i n the detecti on of new securi ty vul nerabi l i ties and expl oi ts. The best

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defense agai nst mal ware i s a combi nati on of correctl y configuri ng bui l t-i n Wi ndows securi ty features, usi ng
appropriate thi rd party securi ty software, and most i mportantl y, bei ng educated and vi gil ant, and
understandi ng your own system. This is one of the reasons I urge users to l earn about how Wi ndows and
thei r PC works, because peopl e who gai n an i ntuiti ve understandi ng of the fundamental s stand a much
greater chance of avoidi ng a securi ty breach.

The rest of thi s chapter contai ns the tool s and methods you can use to counter a wi de range of securi ty
threats, starting wi th the securi ty features bui l t i nto Wi ndows 7.

< WINDOWS ACTION CENTER
The Wi ndows Acti on Center i s the repl acement for the Wi ndows Securi ty Center i n Wi ndows XP and Vi sta.
Acti on Center i s a central l ocati on for Wi ndows to provi de a range of al erts, and for users to qui ckly access
several Wi ndows features. Unl ike the Securi ty Center i n previ ous versi ons of Windows, Acti on Center i s not
restri cted to securi ty-related features - warni ngs on a range of general system mai ntenance i ssues are also
provi ded. Acti on Center is covered i n thi s chapter because i ts most i mportant functi on for the average user
i s stil l to provi de securi ty-related alerts; the other types of al erts are not as i mportant i f not acted upon and
can be accessed i n other ways.

Acti on Center can be opened through the Wi ndows Control Panel , by goi ng to Start>Search Box, typi ng
action center and pressi ng Enter, or by cl i cki ng the Acti on Center fl ag i con whi ch appears i n the Noti fi cation
Area and selecti ng the 'Open Acti on Center' l i nk. Once opened, Acti on Center can displ ay two major
categori es of i ssues - Securi ty and Mai ntenance. The Mai ntenance category i s covered under the Wi ndows
Acti on Center secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter

Acti on Center moni tors a range of securi ty features and setti ngs in Wi ndows. To see a ful l li st of these, cli ck
the smal l down arrow at the ri ght of the Securi ty category headi ng, and you wi ll see the speci fi c features
bei ng moni tored. These i nclude: Wi ndows Fi rewall , Wi ndows Update, Wi ndows Defender, Internet
Expl orer securi ty setti ngs, User Account Control and Network Access Protecti on - these Wi ndows features
are al l covered i n detai l under separate secti ons throughout thi s book. The status of each of these features is
di splayed here, e.g. On, Off, OK or Not Found. Where Wi ndows consi ders any of your setti ngs for these
features to less secure than i t recommends, speci fi c warni ngs wi ll be shown i n l arge yel l ow or red boxes at
the top of the secti on. Thi s is not necessari l y a cause for al arm.

SECURITY CATEGORIES
Asi de from Wi ndows Update, whi ch is a specifi c Wi ndows feature, the other categori es Acti on Center
moni tors are broader than may fi rst appear:

Network Firewall: Thi s category moni tors whether a software fi rewall i s i nstal l ed and enabl ed. I strongl y
advise agai nst runni ng wi thout an acti ve software fi rewal l i n Wi ndows. Si nce Wi ndows comes wi th the
bui l t-i n Wi ndows Fi rewall , as l ong as that is enabl ed then you wi ll not recei ve any warni ng here, and i ndeed
for securi ty purposes, the Windows Fi rewall i s perfectl y adequate - see the Wi ndows Fi rewall secti on i n this
chapter for detai ls. If you have i nstal led and confi gured a trusted thi rd party fi rewall package, but i t i s not
bei ng detected by Wi ndows, you can turn off the warni ng here. In any case, do not enabl e a thi rd party
software fi rewall i n conjuncti on wi th the Wi ndows Fi rewall , turn one of them off.

Windows Update: This category moni tors onl y the bui l t-i n Wi ndows Updates feature of Windows. As noted
under the Wi ndows Updates secti on of the Wi ndows Dri vers chapter, I recommend agai nst automati c
updati ng for i mportant updates, and i nstead advise the sel ecti on of the 'Check for updates but l et me choose
whether to downl oad and i nstall them' opti on to gi ve you maxi mum control over what i s downl oaded and
i nstal l ed on your system and when. Unfortunatel y, Acti on Center considers anythi ng other than automati c
updati ng by Windows Update to be l ess than ideal , and wi ll raise a warni ng here. You can safel y di sabl e thi s

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warni ng by cli cki ng the 'Turn off messages about Wi ndows Update', as l ong as you don't compl etel y di sable
Wi ndows Update at any poi nt, whi ch is defi ni tel y not recommended.

Virus Protection: Wi ndows uses the term Vi rus i n a general sense, as people have come to know the term to
not onl y apply to actual viruses, but simi lar types of malware such as worms or trojans. So vi rus protecti on
general ly means any of the recognized anti -vi rus scanners, whi ch can usual ly detect a range of mal ware as
wel l as just vi ruses. Windows does not have a bui l t-i n anti vi rus program, and unfortunatel y, even i f you
i nstal l the Microsoft Security Essentials anti -mal ware scanner as covered later i n thi s chapter, i f i t i s not set to
the maxi mum possi bl e setti ngs then a warni ng wil l appear here. If you've foll owed the advice i n thi s chapter
and i nstal l ed the appropriate anti -mal ware software, confi guri ng i t as recommended, and this warni ng sti ll
appears, you can di sabl e i t by cl icki ng the 'Turn off messages about vi rus protecti on' l i nk.

Spyware and Unwanted Software Protection: Thi s category moni tors any general anti-spyware package is
i nstal l ed and enabl ed. This i ncludes any anti-vi rus packages whi ch also contai n thi s functi onal i ty. However
because Wi ndows has the bui l t-i n Wi ndows Defender anti-spyware software, as l ong as you enabl e i ts real-
ti me protecti on feature, Wi ndows wil l consi der you adequately protected agai nst spyware and si mil ar
unwanted software. Wi ndows Defender i s covered i n detail later on i n thi s chapter, and there I recommend
di sabli ng the real -ti me protecti on feature. If you fol l ow the recommendati on i n thi s chapter and i nstall
Mi crosoft Securi ty Essential s, i t wi ll replace Wi ndows Defender and wi ll stil l adequately protect you agai nst
spyware. In ei ther case, you can safel y disabl e thi s warni ng by cl i cki ng the 'Turn off messages about
spyware and related protecti on'.

Internet Security Settings: Thi s category moni tors Internet Explorer's securi ty setti ngs, such as Protected
Mode, the Phi shi ng Fil ter and general Securi ty Level . If these are not at recommended l evels, Wi ndows 7
wi ll warn you and al low you to reset them to secure l evels again - see the Internet Expl orer chapter for
detail s of these features.

User Account Control: This category moni tors the buil t-i n User Account Control (UAC) feature i n Wi ndows.
UAC is covered i n full detail i n the next secti on bel ow, and I strongl y advi se agai nst disabl i ng UAC.

Network Access Protection: Thi s category relates to Network Access Protecti on (NAP), whi ch i s a feature
Network Admi ni strators can use to make sure that any computer connected to a network of computers
meets the mini mum security requi rements for that network. It serves no purpose for the standard home user
and shoul d be disabl ed, whi ch i t usual ly is by default.

DISABLING ACTION CENTER
Acti on Center can be useful as an i ni ti al remi nder to check various securi ty-related setti ngs and i nstall
rel evant software soon after i nstal li ng Wi ndows 7. However over ti me, once you have bedded down your
software confi gurati on and are comfortabl e wi th the l evel of security you have chosen, then for the most part
you can di sabl e the prompti ng behavior of Acti on Center as i t can become qui te annoyi ng. You can disable
i ndi vi dual prompts from wi thi n the Acti on Center, al l the way to removi ng the Acti on Center from the
Noti fi cation Area al together.

The qui ckest way to di sable the categories for whi ch you don't wish Acti on Center to al ert you i s to open
Acti on Center and i n the left pane cl ick the 'Change Acti on Center Setti ngs' l i nk. Here you can unti ck the
speci fi c categori es for which you do not want Acti on Center to al ert you, then cl i ck OK. There are also
mai ntenance and troubl eshooti ng message setti ngs you can al ter, and these rel ate to the Wi ndows Backup
feature whi ch i s covered in the Backup & Recovery chapter, as wel l as the Troubl eshooti ng feature covered
under the Troubl eshooti ng secti on of the Performance Measurement & Troubl eshooti ng chapter.


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To control the way i n which Acti on Center prompts appear i n the Noti fi cati on Area, go to the Wi ndows
Control Panel and sel ect the Noti fi cati on Area Icons component. Under the Icons col umn, l ook for the Acti on
Center and under the Behavi ors col umn you can sel ect from the followi ng opti ons:

Show i con and noti fi cati on - All ows Action Center to both noti fy you of any al erts, and shows the Acti on
Center's flag icon i n the Noti fi cati on Area.
Hi de i con and noti fi cations - Removes the Acti on Center flag i con from the Noti fi cati on Area and also
prevents any alerts from poppi ng up. You can sti ll access the Acti on Center icon by cli cking the small
whi te triangle i n the Notificati on Area, or through the Control Panel.
Onl y show noti fi cati ons - Thi s hi des the Acti on Center flag i con, however al erts wi l l sti ll pop up i n the
Noti fi cation Area peri odi call y.

So to effectivel y di sabl e the Acti on Center prompti ng behavi or compl etel y, sel ect 'Hi de i con and
noti fi cati ons' above. Fi nally, you can also prevent i t from acti vely moni tori ng securi ty-related setti ngs by
di sabli ng the 'Securi ty Center' Service - see the Servi ces chapter for detai ls. Thi s is onl y recommended i f
other methods of disabl i ng Acti on Center noti fi cations don't work and you are an advanced user.

< USER ACCOUNT CONTROL
A fundamental change i n securi ty for Wi ndows, fi rst i ntroduced i n Vi sta, is the restri cti on of Admi nistrator
pri vi leges for any User Account. Wi ndows 7 conti nues wi th thi s concept, known as User Account Control
(UAC), and now provi des users wi th greater control over the way i n whi ch i t i s i mpl emented.

The reason Admi ni strator access to a system may need to be restri cted i s that a user l ogged i n wi th a ful l
Admi nistrator User Account can do pretty much anythi ng to the system, from al teri ng or del eti ng system
fi les to i nstall i ng any software to creati ng or deleting other User Accounts. Thi s provi des a user wi th the
greatest power and fl exi bil i ty, and hence i s the preferred choi ce for most users, as opposed to a Standard
User Account. Detai ls of User Accounts are i n the User Accounts chapter.

The probl em i s that mal ware capi talizes on the fact that most peopl e run Admi ni strator User Accounts. It
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