Tag Archives: windows 7

Reliability Monitor and Windows 7 (How it saved my life!)

Ok, so maybe it didn't save my life, but it sure does help me discover what's really happening on my users' computers. No longer do I have to rely on answers from the users. I can simply look at the history of their computer and see new installs, crashes and other valuable information in the Reliability Monitor.

To access the Windows 7 Reliability Monitor the fast way:

  1. Simply click Start, type Reliability and click the View reliability history link that is displayed with the blue flag.
  2. Once in the interface, you can scroll through the history viewing errors, warnings and information entries by clicking on them.

 

The information displayed in the Reliability Monitor will include device driver installations, software installations, system crashes, application crashes, failed installations and more. You can export the data to an XML file, which could then be analyzed by other reporting applications, for example, Crystal Reports supports XML data sources.

Interestingly, Microsoft removed the feature to view remote computers' reliability data through the GUI interface of the Windows 7 Reliability Monitor. With the new tools, to view the reliability data on remote computers, you must use PowerShell , which, quite frankly, sucks in comparison to the graphical view in my opinion. However, there is a nice article at the TechNet Magazine website that gives you the basics of PowerShell and reliability data here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dd535685.aspx.

Disabling System Restore in Windows 7

At times and for many reasons, you may want to disable system restore in Windows 7 systems. Windows 7 creates restore points or recovery points on a scheduled basis and when you install software or upgrades by default. You can change when and how it does this and even completely disable system restore, if you desire. I'll explain more about system restore in this post.

Just to make us as confused as possible, Microsoft refers to two different things in windows 7 systems. First, we have the System Restore and second we have System Recovery. System Recovery is best thought of as the umbrella that covers System Restore and the process used to schedule and create restore points. Technically, you use System Restore when you want to recover a restore point created by System Recovery.

When you perform a system restore, by default, several items are restored including the following:

  • Windows system files
  • The registry
  • Applications

 

Always use caution when performing a restore. It is possible that the end state will be worse than the existing problem.

So, why would disabling System Restore in Windows 7 be a good thing. Well. the simple answer is that it consumes space. If it is set to use up to 10% of your drive space, on a 100 GB drive, it could be consuming 10 GB of your  space. If you system is currently stable and you simply need to get some free space, disabling System Restore will delete all restore points immediately. You can then enable it again and Windows 7 will begin creating new restore points in the regular manner.

If you are an advanced user and are willing to take the risk, you can simply turn System Restore off permanently. In either case, disabling System Restore in Windows 7 is a very easy process. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click on Computer and select Properties.
  3. In the left pane, select System Protection.
  4. Click the Configure button.
  5. Select Turn off system protection.
  6. click OK.

ICACLS Syntax for ACL Management


One of the great new tools in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is the ICACLS command line command. While I’m very annoyed with Microsoft for not supporting the old CACLS syntax and adding the features of ICACLS (all our old CACLS-based batch files break), I have to admit that a few capabilities are very welcome. One such capability is the function used to export and import ACLs from and into objects.

For example, imagine you are about to make several permission changes to a directory structure. You want to ensure you can revert to the current permission structure if you make mistakes. ICACLS allows you to quickly export the permissions for an entire directory structure with the /save switch.

The ICACLS syntax for ACL (or permission) export is as follows:

ICACLS folder_name* /save filename.acl /T

The /T switch is used to indicate that directory recursion should be used. The /save switch is used to export the results. For example, to save the permissions in a directory named HORSES on the C: drive and all subdirectories and folders, execute the following command:

ICACLS C:HORSES* /save horses.acl /T

The file, horses.acl, will contain the permissions in text format. Later, you can import the permissions with the /restore switch if required. To restore the permissions, execute the following ICACLS syntax:

ICACLS C:HORSES /restore horses.acl

Of course, the ICACLS command provides syntax for permission management as well as backing up and restoring the permissions; however, this new feature is one of the most important to know about. Hopefully, you find this information useful.

IPv6 Network Utilization on Windows 7

OK. For about a year now I've been telling you all that Windows 7's implementation of IPv6 by default will cause quite a bit of unnecessary activity on your network if you're not actually using it yet in the infrastructure. The numbers will be in soon.

Up to this point, I've only been telling you that a packet capture clearly shows the traffic generated by the IPv6 stack is significant when you consider dozens or hundreds of machines that may exist on a subnet. That's all about to change. I'm in the process of writing an article for Windows IT Pro magazine on the impact of IPv6 on a non-IPv6 network. In the process, I've built a lab of 24 virtual machines running Windows 7 with IPv6 out-of-the-box setup on an IPv4-only network infrastructure. I will be measuring the traffic generated by these machines.

Next, I will be enabling IPv6 on the infrastructure by doing the following:

-Enabling DHCPv6

-Enabling DNSv6

-Enable IPv6 on the Cisco routers(two will exist in the network)

Now, I will measure the network consumption when IPv4 is disabled on the network.

Finally, I'll measure the network consumption when IPv6 is enabled alongside IPv4 in both the Windows 7 clients and the infrastructure. When I'm done, I'll post the fast facts here and, of course, you'll be able to read all the details in Windows IT Pro magazine. I'll let you know the issue that will contain the article as soon as I find out.

Can you tell I'm excited about this lab fun I'm about to have?

Adjusting Hidden Display Features – Windows 7 Tip Series

This is the first post in a new series I'm starting called the Windows 7 Tips Series. This first tip will help you improve your display for laptop computers (and possibly some desktops). The first part of the tip is related to the Microsoft ClearType text feature and the second is about color calibration.

ClearType Text Tuning

You can adjust the ClearType text feature so that the text looks good to you. After all, isn't that the whole point. I don't know about you, but I love books – and I mean printed books. However, I don't like the fonts used in some books and find them harder to read. At the same time, the boldness and size of the font can have a big impact. Of course, what I like, someone else may dislike.

To tune the ClearType text to your liking, follow these instructions:

1) Click Start

2) Type cttune and press Enter

3) Step through the wizard to adjust the ClearType engine to your liking

Color and Brightness Calibration

You can also adjust the gamma and brightness/contrast for your needs using a wizard. To launch the Display Color Calibration wizard:

1) Click Start

2) Type dccw and press Enter

3) Step through the wizard to adjust your display colors and settings

Hopefully these little tips will help you configure your display for a more pleasant experience. These two steps are now the first steps I take when setting up a new laptop computer and I've even used them a few times on my desktops.

Microsoft Windows 7 AppLocker – Automated Rules

AppLocker is one of the great new features in Windows 7, well, that is, if you have Enterprise Edition or Ultimate Edition. It's really sad that Microsoft didn't just allow any Windows 7 client to support this feature (and quite a statement to their true lack of concern for customer service these days).

My rant aside, did you know that you can automatically generate rules for the allowed applications instead of manually creating rules for each app? You sure can.

The best way to do it is to build a reference computer that has all of the applications installed that you want AppLocker to allow. Then, on this reference computer, open the local Group Policy editor (remember, the faithful GPEDIT.MSC?). Now, navigate to Computer ConfigurationPoliciesWindows SettingsSecurity SettingsApplication Control Policies. Right-click on the Executable Rules node and select to Automatically Generate Rules.

After you've gone through the wizard selecting the rule types you want to generate, right-click on the Application Control Policies node and select to Export the Policy. You'll save the policy as an XML file. Now go to your Server 2008 R2 server and import the policy into the desired GPO. It really is that easy.

This method makes creating Windows 7 AppLocker rules a breeze.

Windows XP Mode and Hardware-Assisted Virtualization

Well, it looks like Microsoft finally gets it. They removed the requirement for hardware-assisted virtualization (HAV) from Windows Virtual PC, which means that XP Mode can be used on more computers. Many computers do not support HAV at all and others simply do not provide a method to enable it in the BIOS. The fact that you can use XP Mode now without HAV, will enable the use of these older (and sometimes newer) machines with XP-compatible applications that do not work on Windows 7.

In order to get the support for non-HAV Windows Virtual PC, you will need to download and install Windows Virtual PC itself and then download and install the update that removes the requirement for HAV. Both can be found here at Microsoft's website.

Windows 7 Batch Files – More of the Same

With every new release of Windows, the rumors start. "Windows 7 will destroy the command prompt," or "the command prompt will die in the next version of Windows." Of course, these rumors have never been true in the past and they are not true now. Windows 7 batch files work in the same basic way as batch files worked in Windows Vista, Windows XP and every NT-based system all the way back to Windows NT 3.1. Windows 7 batch files provide more of the same, but this is a good thing. You can use batch files for many tasks, including:

  • Information gathering
  • System configuration
  • Automation of administration
  • Simplification of redundant and mundane tasks
  • Just about anything else you can think of

 

Unlike the rumors, the truth is that Windows 7 batch files are more powerful than ever thanks to the introduction of new command line tools or commands in Windows 7. Here's just a sampling of the new tools that are included in Windows 7's command prompt:

  • PowerCfg - for power management configuration from the command prompt.
  • BCDEdit - OK, not new for 7, but who used Vista? This command is used to edit the boot configuration database.
  • TZUtil - for setting the timezone from the Windows 7 command prompt.
  • Defrag - a command line utility for full volume defragmentation (I still prefer CONTIG and Defraggler, but that's just me).

 

Additional tools were added or enhanced in the Windows 7 command prompt and are useful from within batch files. Traditional tools prove useful as well. For example, consider the following potential Windows 7 batch file:

@echo off
tasklist /FI "MEMUSAGE gt %1"

If you save the preceding text in a file named tbmem.bat, you can then run it as:

tbmem 10240

This command will then list any running processes using more than 10 MB (10240 KB) of memory. Instead of typing the full tasklist command, you can simply type the shortened batch file command. Windows 7 batch files can further shorten even more complex processes. I'm continually creating batch files that contain more than 20 lines. Now, if the exact same work were done outside of the batch file, I may be able to do it in less than 10 commands, but the batch files sure save me time over time.

This little post may get the gears turning again for some old timers (like myself) who used batch files in the good old DOS days and it may give some ideas to some GUI masters of the modern era. Either way, you should definitely take a fresh look at Windows 7 batch files to see where you can automate or improve your day-to-day work with the operating system.

Great Overview of Windows 7 Deployment Tools

A great new technet blog post was added yesterday that provides an overview of the deployment tools for Windows 7. You can see how to deploy from media, a network share or from a WDS (Windows Deployment Services) implementation. You'll find the blog post here: http://edge.technet.com/Media/Deploying-Windows-7/

I am in the process of shooting some videos on the Windows 7 deployment process, so watch out for my post about the video availability. I'm still toying around with the idea of a dedicated website for Windows 7-related videos, but for now I'll probably just HD YouTube the videos and link to them here.

 

Enjoy the new TechNet post.

Windows 7 – Boot ini is Dead!

Starting with Windows Vista, thought it was missed by many IT professionals since Vista was largely ignored, the boot ini file is no longer used to store boot configuration information. Instead the boot configuration database (BCD) is used. Windows Server 2008 and now Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 also use the new BCD. Instead of editing the boot ini file, you will use the command line command BCDEDIT to work with the BCD. To learn more about BCDEDIT, just launch a command prompt in administrative mode (right-click it on the Start menu and select Run as administrator) and type bcdedit /?. You'll see all the built-in help in its full glory.

You'll also see that you have to work with nasty long BCD entry identifiers. Thank God we have Quick Edit mode. If you haven't enabled Quick Edit mode (or you've disabled it since it's on by default in Windows 7), just right-click on the Command Prompt shortcut and select Properties. On the Options tab, check Quick Edit mode. Now you can highlight text, press Enter and then right-click anywhere to paste it into your command line. This will remove those nasty typos we make when entering long numbers like the BCD entry identifiers.

Here are a few BCDEDIT commands you should know about:

Viewing the BCD data set:

  bcdedit

Backup the BCD data set:

  bcdedit /export filename

Restore the BCD data set:

  bcdedit /import filename

Set the default OS:

  bcdedit /default {identifier}

Note that you can use the keyword current when setting the default if you're currently booted into the system you wish to be the default. For example:

  bcdedit /default {current}

Remember, in Windows 7 boot ini is dead, long live the BCD!