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Archive for Windows

Changing the default "Program Files" folder

Wednesday, 2nd December 2009 7:55am
I normally prefer to install applications on Program Files on a partition rather than the default one on C: drive on my Vista install.

With most install programs I can change to the install directory during the installation process to be the one on the selected partition but with others there isn't that option.

This was the case when trying to install SQL Server 2008 and I so I decided to set the partition as the default folder instead.

To do that I had to change the registry and so the first step is to save the registry before making any changes.

So here are the steps:

Go to Start -> Run or Windows key + R then type regedit

Navigate to the key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion
Change ProgramFilesDir from the default C:\ProgramFiles to the new path in the partition

Whilst still there you can also change the CommonFilesDir from the default one on C to the same partition you would have chosen for ProgramFilesDir.

Reboot the machine for the changes to take effect.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

First problem with Vista

Wednesday, 31st December 2008 1:37pm
After almost two months of bliss with Vista I came across my first major problem last week when Vista could not boot.

The Vista splash screen would appear as normal and after that a blank screen would appear and just hang there.

After a few reboots I realised that the problem was not as simple as I had thought initially and so I decided to boot from the Vista install DVD and then go to the repair screen.

I tried to restore to an earlier restore point but I got a message that the system needed repair and upon clicking OK to repair the system the process just hung for hours.

My next approach was to go to the command line and try chkdsk and this did not work because the system just hang as well. I tried all the various switches that go with chkdsk and it was the same end result.

When I tried sfc /scannow I got the message that 'Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation' and so obviously the command line was not going to work.

The next step was to try and do a repair and this just hang overnight. The last step was to try and re-install and this also failed. I just got a screen that said 'Please wait' and waited for more many hours and nothing happened and finally I decided to just reformat the Vista partition and do a fresh install.

To reformat the drive I just used the XP install CD and after that finished I installed Vista and this time there were no problems.

I am still not sure what caused the problem in the first place but it looks like the Vista partition had some problems and I still think had chkdsk not hung the problems would have been solved.

At least now everything is back to normal.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Getting all application settings

Monday, 3rd December 2007 10:56pm
Recently I moved from one machine to another and I wanted to get my Firefox setup the way it was before including stored passwords and extensions and not just get the bookmarks.

To do that in Windows XP you go to Documents and Settings and select your username. There is a folder called Application Data and in that there is a folder called Mozilla.

Under the Mozilla folder there is a folder for Firefox and all you have to do is copy that whole folder and replace the one in the new setup. That way you will have all your Firefox settings including stored passwords, feeds, extensions and of course bookmarks.

To only get bookmarks, all you do is go to the Bookmarks menu and select Manage Bookmarks and from the resultant dialog export the bookmarks to a file.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Checking whats running

Monday, 19th November 2007 10:36pm
One of the tools that I have found very useful when it comes to troubleshooting my Windows XP systems is What's Running.

This tool has a familiar interface similar to Windows Explorer and you can check processes, services, modules, IP-connections and also drivers.

Its also possible to use the tool to control your system by starting and stopping services and processes and also easy to configure startup programs.

The feature I like most is taking a snapshot of the system and saving it for later comparison especially when something is not working properly. So you can compare a snapshot when everything is working fine to a snapshot when there is a problem and that comparison may shed some light on what the problem is.

The only other tool that I know of that comes close to this is Process Explorer which I wrote about sometime last year.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Vista and the hardware demands

Wednesday, 7th February 2007 5:02pm
Microsoft launched the Vista operating system last week with much fanfare and rightly so because this has been six years in the making. I don't see myself getting this operating system for sometime yet but in the end I will need to and I think by that time it most of the initial problems would have been resolved.

I am one of those who will need to either upgrade their PCs or buy/build another one because of the Vista hardware demands but I think I will opt for the latter - build up one myself.

I think its a good idea to have the PC Vista Premium Ready which calls for a minimum system memory of 1 GB and graphics memory at least 128 MB. The Vista Capable PC would on the other hand need a system memory of 512 MB but my experience tells me that working with minimum requirements for Microsoft operating systems is not necessarily a good idea.

I will need at least a minimum of 2 GB of system memory because I plan to run Vista in a virtual environment launched from Ubuntu using VMWare Server. I think at least 2 GB should be enough for both Ubuntu and Vista.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 2

Launching Applications on Windows startup

Tuesday, 31st October 2006 8:14pm
Last week a friend asked me how to make an application launch on booting Windows XP. Although I knew how to do that it took me a while just to remember how its done. Sometimes there is a need to launch applications like mail applications like Thunderbird and Outlook and browsers like Firefox and IE when you boot because you are more likely to do that anyway.
In that case the simple solution is to locate the Startup folder like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\userlogin\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

where userlogin is the user login and you can replace C with your particular drive.

In the Startup folder, you just paste the shortcut to the application you want launched and the easiest would be to get the shortcut from the desktop if you have the shortcut there.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 1

Needing more than task managing

Thursday, 28th September 2006 8:56pm
There is this tool that I have been using for quite some time now called Process Explorer. Basically it is an enhanced version of Task Manager and its open source.

It shows all the processes running on a machine just like you can also see in Task Manager but what I find very useful with this tool is that it shows the company name as well as the user name plus other options that you can add on depending on what you are trying to investigate. When I look in Task Manager I can see the process names but more often than not I cannot tell much from some of the names and this is where I like the Process Explorer. It shows the company name for example and if the name doesn't sound familiar then its probably a trojan and then you can then try to find out more info about that process.

You can also select between handle and DLL mode if you would like to see for example processes that certain handles or DLLs have opened or you can utilise the search facility.

Information about CPU usage and memory can be found through the System Information window and again you get more information than you would get through Task Manager's Performance tab.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Recovering from a Windows XP crash

Tuesday, 19th September 2006 9:18pm
Over the weekend my Windows XP install crashed and it wouldn't boot but just stopped with an error message and would not even boot to Safe mode. At first I thought it would be a case of just using the fixmbr and fixboot commands from the Windows Recovery Console through the XP install CD but this didn't work.

The error message went something like this:
We apologize for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this. If your computer stopped responding...

There had not been any hardware or software changes or power failure in the days prior. So I knew this was a totally new problem that I had never experienced before.

I managed to get XP working again by following the excellent instructions on the website Windows XP Crashed? Here's Help.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Sorting out Bookmarks

Friday, 11th August 2006 10:39pm
Over the last few months I have accumulated a number of bookmarks and although I always store them in folders they were just becoming a little bit unmanageable with duplicates here and there. So today I went about looking for a program to help me sort out the bookmarks and I came across AM-DeadLink.

With the AM-DeadLink I managed to root out all the duplicate bookmarks and also removed some bookmarks that referred to sites that no longer existed for one reason or another.

One little feature that I just like is the one that downloads and updates the favicon. For those sites with favicons, when the favicons appear on the bookmark it makes it easier to identify the site especially in a folder where there are a number of bookmarks.

I quickly managed to sort out the bookmarks on Firefox, Mozilla and Opera and if I used IE the program would have sorted out the favourites for me as well.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Giving up on USB Broadband connection

Friday, 21st July 2006 1:45pm
Since I had broadband installed I have been using a USB port to connect to the Internet. Knowing that USB is more suited for lower speed devices like the mouse and keyboard I wasn't keen on using USB for my cable modem but I had to because my on-board Ethernet connection doesn't seem to work at all and although it connects to the Internet it's really slow, actually slower than my old dial-up connection.

However, over the last fortnight it has become increasingly difficult to connect to the Internet using USB and I have been getting "Page Not Found" errors and then ipconfig would return null value for Connection-specific DNS Suffix and Default Gateway and after several ipconfig /renew and rebooting I would then get the connection. At one time I thought it was a problem with accurately resolving web sites and so I installed the Treewalk DNS utility but this didn't solve the problem.

So last night I gave up on USB broadband connection and installed an Ethernet PCI Adapter card instead and its now better than ever. I no longer have any connection problems at all. Its quite fast even without increasing the TCP receive window and just using the default setting.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Solving Personal Firewall dilemma

Friday, 14th July 2006 1:38pm
Now I think I have finally solved the personal firewall dilemma that I have been faced with for a few weeks because I have found a firewall that I am quite confident and comfortable with. Since the days of Sygate I have struggled to find an equally good firewall in terms of configuration and logging, well, until now. I have just installed the Comodo Personal Firewall and so far so good.

Previously I have tried ZoneAlarm but somehow it didn't quite work with my PHP sessions on the localhost and that's when I decided to go for Kerio. Kerio has been quite good I should say but the "kpf4gui.exe DLL Initialization Failed" dialog on shutdown is a bit annoying to say the least and also the 30 days evaluation period has expired anyway and so I was left with the basic version.

Unlike other free personal firewalls, With Comodo you don't get a watered down version of the full version because what you get is the full version. After downloading the firewall Comodo send me an activation code to give a free lifetime licence. The review on PC Mag was also helpful in helping me make a decision to go with Comodo. I will see how the comodo firewall goes over the next few weeks before going for the other products on the Comodo stable like anti virus software.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 2

Burning ISO Images

Saturday, 8th July 2006 7:55am
With so many applications now coming as ISO Images, I have been looking an application that can easily and successfully burn ISO images. I have found that ISO Recorder is one of the easiest applications to use.

After installing ISO recorder, all you have to do is right-click on the downloaded ISO image file and then select "Copy Image to CD". After that its a two stage process and its all done.

I normally check if the burn was successful by exploring the CD and I shouldn't see the ISO file but the files that constitute it. If I do then it means it wasn't a successful burn.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

File comparison made easy

Monday, 5th June 2006 8:54pm
In the last week whilst trying to resolve problems with sessions I found myself in need of a good file comparison tool. I had to compare files like the old php ini and httpd.conf files for example and also source code files just to try to see if there were any differences.

After trying out a few tools (that became an exercise in itself) I found that WinMerge from SourceForge did a very good job. With WinMerge you get a visual map outline of the files being compared with the differences clearly marked out. As you edit the files the map outline also changes to reflect the new status.

To move text from one file to the other all you need to do is right click at the border of the files then select the direction of text movement. You can also easily merge entire files if thats what your situation requires.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0

Registry Clean Up time

Wednesday, 17th May 2006 12:54pm
Once in a while I try to clean up my Windows system and optimise it a little bit. This time I was surprised that I had more than 100 registry errors or issues as they are called and most of these were caused by the applications failing to uninstall properly. There seems to be a problem nowadays that when you uninstall a program, shortcuts, icons, accompanying folder etc get deleted but if you then check the registry you still find traces of the program. This is where CCleaner becomes handy to clean up all the registry crap.

Although CCleaner can do a lot more cleaning than just resolve registry issues like delete cookies and empty recycle bin for now I will perform all those other functions manually.

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Category: Windows | Comments : 0