Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Know Better The Windows 7 System Recovery Options

There are actually several ways that you can get to the System Recovery Options, and the method you choose will depend on your situation.

  • If your system will still attempt to start Windows, then you can attempt to access the System Recovery Options from your hard disk.
  • If Windows won’t start at all, you can access the System Recovery Options by booting from the Windows 7 DVD.
  • If you have created a System Repair Disc, you can boot from that disk as well and access the System Recovery Options. (I’ll cover the creation of a System Repair Disc next time.)

For example, let’s suppose that your system will still attempt to start Windows, but it fails to complete the boot-up process. To access System Recovery, you will need to first power down the system and then turn it back on. After the system boots up and as soon as you hear the beep that signals the beginning of the Windows boot, press and hold the [F8] key.

When you see the Advance Boot Options screen, select the Repair Your Computer option. As you can see from the description at the bottom of the screen, selecting this option will display a list of system recovery tools that you can use to repair startup problems, run diagnostics, or restore your system. To continue, just press [Enter].

When you do, you’ll see a screen that tells you that Windows is loading files. Then you’ll see a boot screen with a green animated progress bar. After a few moments, you’ll be prompted to choose a keyboard input method,. To continue, click the Next button.

You’ll then see the logon screen. You should log on with an account that has administrative privileges. When you do, you will see the System Recovery Options menu.

As you can see, there are five options on the System Recovery Options menu. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Startup Repair: This should be your first choice if it did not run automatically when a boot problem was encountered. Keep in mind that Startup Repair is designed to fix only certain problems, such as missing or damaged system files. It is not designed to fix problems caused by hardware failures, such as a failing hard disk.
  • System Restore: As you know, this tool is designed to restore Windows system files to an earlier point in time without affecting your data files, such as email, documents, or photos, in any way. To accomplish this feat, System Restore continuously monitors your system, looking for significant changes to the operating system, such as an application or driver installation or an operating system update procedure, and will automatically create a Restore Point when it senses such an impending change. Restore Points are essentially snapshots of your system state, which include crucial system files and certain parts of the registry. System Restore maintains multiple restore points, which gives you the choice of restoring your computer to any number of previously saved states. As such, running System Restore and choosing a recent restore point is a good way to recover from an unbootable system.
  • System Image Recovery: If for some reason System Restore is unable to do its job and you have recently created a system image of your hard disk, you can use the System Image Recovery option to revive an unbootable system. A system image includes the operating system and all your system settings, your programs, and all your files. Keep in mind that when you restore your computer from a system image, it will actually perform a complete restoration of your entire system, which means that all your current programs, system settings, and files will be replaced with the versions that were current when you made the system image.
  • Windows Memory Diagnostic: If in addition to having problems starting Windows, you’ve been encountering application failures, operating system faults, or Stop errors, you can use the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool to test the RAM chips in your system and investigate the possibility of defective or failing RAM. Essentially, the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool performs its test by repeatedly writing values to memory and then reading those values from memory in order to verify that the data has not changed.
  • Command Prompt: When you select the Command Prompt option, you’ll be able to run a specific set of command-line tools that you can use to perform recovery operations as well as other types of diagnostics.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Few Tricks for Windows 7

Still, as good as Windows 7 is, it’s not perfect out of the box. Here are a few tweaks and tricks you can use to make this excellent OS even better.
1. Get Quick Launch
Once you have the Quick Launch bar on your taskbar, you can drag programs to it as you did in Vista. See my Quick Launch bar in Figure A, on the right side of the taskbar next to the notification area.

Figure A

2. Bring back the Vista taskbar look and behavior
Even though I like the new taskbar, I know some people don’t. They’d prefer to have the old Vista/XP look and behavior, where the taskbar uses less screen space. If you’re in that camp, it’s easy to change the taskbar so it will be similar to the old look:
  1. Right-click the Start button and select Properties.
  2. Click the Taskbar tab.
  3. Select the Use Small Icons check box and click Apply.

If you don’t like the way Windows 7 combines icons for all instances of an application, you can change that, too. On the same tab, click the down arrow on the Taskbar Buttons box and select Combine When Taskbar Is Full.

This dialog box also allows you to select the taskbar location on the screen (bottom, top, left, or right), customize which icons appear in the notification area (system tray), and decide whether to temporarily minimize all open windows when you place your mouse on the far end (or bottom) of the taskbar (Desktop Preview).

3. Put different wallpapers on multiple monitors

If you’re using Windows 7 with two or more monitors, you’ll be pleased to find that multi-monitor support has been improved. One thing I really like about Windows 7 is that when I connect to it via Remote Desktop from another computer, it doesn’t rearrange all my icons as Vista often did with multiple monitors. However, one thing Microsoft didn’t build into Win 7 that some of us were hoping for is the ability to set different wallpapers on different monitors.

In XP and Vista, I used UltraMon to do that, but it costs $40. In a tough economy, many people don’t want to spend that much for a program of that kind. Besides, based on what I read in the forums, it doesn’t yet work reliably on Windows 7. Luckily, I was able to hunt down another application called DisplayFusion. The free version gives you multiple wallpaper support, and the paid version, which costs $20 less than UltraMon, gives you multiple taskbars and window management features. I’ve installed it on two Windows 7 computers and it works great. As you can see in Figure B, you can configure a variety of settings.

Figure B

4. Turn off Aero Snap

A new feature in Windows 7 is Aero Snap, which causes your application windows to automatically snap into a preconfigured place when you move them to the edges of the screen. Drag a window to the far right, and it will size itself to fill exactly half the screen. Drag it to the top corner and it will maximize to fill the whole screen. This can be handy, but it can also be annoying if you prefer that your windows stay the size you made them. Luckily, you can easily turn Snap off. Here’s how:

  1. Click Start and select Control Panel.
  2. Click Ease of Access Center.
  3. Click Make the Mouse Easier to Use.
  4. Select the Prevent Windows From Being Automatically Arranged When Moved To The Edge Of The Screen check box and click OK.
5. Display Control Panel applets with small icons
By default, the Windows 7 Control Panel shows the Category view (Figure C), similar to the default in Windows Vista.
Figure C

The default Control Panel view in Windows 7 is Category.
You can easily change to a more classic view by clicking All Control Panel Items at the bottom of the categories list, but that gives you a list of the items represented by large icons, as shown in Figure D.
Figure D

Clicking All Control Panel Items gives you a view of the applets with large icons.
What if you’d like to display the items with small icons so more of them will fit in the same space? Your first thought might be to click the View menu on the taskbar, but at least in the public beta (build 7000), the icon size choices are all grayed out. However, there’s a little trick: Right-click on an empty space in the window, and you’ll get a context menu from which you can pick View Small Icons. Selecting this command will allow you to display many more items in the same size window.

6. Format the text in sticky notes
Another new feature in Windows 7 is the built-in Sticky Notes application. You’ll find it on the Start menu. You’ve probably already discovered that you can change the color of notes by right-clicking and selecting a new color. You may also have figured out that you can use the Ctrl + B and Ctrl + I shortcuts to format the text as bold or italic. But did you know that you can make bulleted and numbered lists in your sticky notes, and increase or decrease the text size? Here are some more handy keyboard shortcuts that work within sticky notes:

  • Ctrl + Shift + L (once): Bulleted list
  • Ctrl + Shift + L (twice): Numbered list
  • Ctrl + Shift + >: Increase text size
  • Ctrl + Shift + <: Decrease text size
  • Ctrl + U: Underline
  • Ctrl + T: Strikethrough
7. Turn off Windows features
Microsoft gives you much more flexibility with Windows 7, allowing you to turn off Windows components — such as Internet Explorer, Windows Search, the Gadget platform, and media features — that you couldn’t disable in earlier versions of Windows. Here’s how:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel and select Programs And Features.
  2. In the left pane, click Turn Windows Features On Or Off.
  3. Simply select or deselect the check boxes to enable or disable the various Windows features,
8. Make Adobe Reader display PDFs properly
If you’ve installed Adobe Reader in Windows 7, you may notice that sometimes when you try to open a PDF file, you get an error message and the file doesn’t open. It seems Adobe doesn’t play well with IE 8 in Windows 7 and won’t open the files (or at least won’t open some of them) in the browser.

If you set Adobe not to display PDFs in the browser, it will open them without any problems. Here’s how to configure that:

  1. Open Adobe Reader.
  2. Click Edit | Preferences.
  3. Click Internet in the left Categories pane.
  4. Under Web Browser Options, deselect the Display PDF In Browser check box and click OK.
9. Use the new keyboard shortcuts

If you’re a fast typist and hate having to move your hands from the keyboard to the mouse, you’ll be happy to know that Windows 7 provides new shortcut key combos to let you do more without mousing. Here are a few to try out:

  • Windows + E will open a new Explorer window.
  • In Windows Explorer, press Alt + P to turn the preview pane on.
  • Windows + P opens the Display Switcher applet.
  • Windows + Spacebar shows the desktop (makes active windows transparent).
  • Windows Logo Key + Plus (+) key turns on the Magnifier to zoom in on the desktop. Windows Logo key + Minus (-) key zooms back out.
  • Ctrl + clicking an icon in the taskbar toggles between the open instances of the program.
  • Windows Logo key + Left or Right Arrow key will shift the active window to the left or right side of the screen and make it fill half the screen (same as dragging the window to the left or right edge of the screen but without using the mouse).
  • Windows Logo key + Shift + Left or Right Arrow key (with multiple monitors) will move the window to the left or right monitor.
10. Install Windows 7 from a USB thumb drive

If you’re so impressed with Windows 7 on your desktop computer that you want to install it on your laptop, what do you do if the laptop is an ultra compact that doesn’t have a DVD drive? Of course, you could connect a USB DVD drive, if you have one. Or you could put the installation files on a network drive and connect to it over the network.

But here’s another option that works surprisingly well: Copy the contents of the Windows 7 ISO image to a 4 GB or larger USB thumb drive (or a flash memory card, if the laptop has a built-in reader). Installing the OS this way is likely to be faster than using a DVD.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Modifying Windows 7 Boot Loader

In Windows 7, if you ever have two operating systems and now you have removed one of them, then in Windows 7 Boot Loader, one of removed operating system is still there. You're forced to make the selection advance. This is so annoying. Now these are little steps to remove it:
To begin, open the Start menu, select All Programs, and then choose Accessories. Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run As Administrator. Once in the command window, type bcdedit.This will return the current running configuration of your boot loader, showing any and all items that can boot on this system.
Select one of Windows Boot Loader that has no identifier {current}, it has rows of numbers and letters in identifier line.

Then type Bcdedit /delete {boot loader identifier} , braces included. That's all.
Warning: Don't you try to delete Windows Boot Manager ! you may render your computer unbootable. You may only delete Windows Boot Loader.