Archive for the ‘Windows 7’ Category
The absence of a hard drive on your system can have multiple reasons of which I want to discuss the most common here:
If it’s a new hard drive or one that you have just plugged into that specific machine, you might want to check if the cabling is correct and, in case it’s an external one, if it has a power switch hidden somewhere on the back.
One other thing with new hard drives is that they are not formatted but have only “unallocated space” on them. This is most likely the case if your new drive is recognized by the BIOS and your device manager but doesn’t show up anyway. To check this, have a look at the device manager – you can find it by going to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Device Manager:
In the screenshot above you see my Seagate disk drive displayed. If you’re not sure whether what is shown there really is the drive you’ve plugged in just search the internet for the cryptic name you have in there. If the new missing drive can be found here you most likely only need to format it (do that only to new drives that have no data on them – formatting will cause a complete loss of data on a populated drive). To do that Windows has a tool called Disk Management which you can find in Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > Create and format hard disk partitions:
A new disk has none of those fancy partition blocks with colored stripes yet but plenty of unallocated space, like the one circled in red. This space needs to be formatted into an NTFS partition. Basically you can just right-click it, choose to create a new simple volume and click your way through the setup, you’ll create one big partition by doing that. Afterwards the new drive should show up on Computer.
Nearly the same goes for drives or partitions with Linux operating systems or similar which Windows cannot read. These will be displayed in the device and disk management but not on Computer, so if you don’t need the old operating system any longer and want to use the drive on Windows, you’ll need to format it to NTFS first.
Missing drive letter
Another common source of confusion is a missing drive letter or path on a drive. The drive letter is the letter in front of your drive or partition, for example C:\ on your main drive. Every drive needs one so you can access it and if it’s missing for some reason, the drive will not be shown.
The solution to that problem is in Disk Management again, so head there as described above and right-click the drive that’s not displayed (you’ll most likely notice it by the size). If the drive is already formatted, right-click it and select Change Drive Letter and Paths…. Add a drive letter of your choice that’s not already taken and the drive should show up again.
Disabled or offline drives
It can happen that a drive of yours is disabled or offline. You can check in the Device Manager if that is the case. Go there as described above and right-click the drive you want to check. If you have the option to enable it or put it online then try that. If these options fail it might be that the drive is corrupt.
Show empty drives
Windows hides empty drives by default. This usually should not be an issue if your drive is formatted but you can change the setting anyway if you want to. Go to Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options. In the View tab, uncheck the Hide empty drives in the Computer folder box.
The screen-keyboard is a useful Windows feature on some occasions, e.g if you want to find out if it’s the new keyboard’s drivers that suddenly make your machine crash, or when you just need to unplug your keyboard for other reasons.
However it can happen that, if you turn on the screen-keyboard a few times on the login screen, it will stick to the desktop and open up every time you log in (be it a bug or adapted behavior). This is annoying if you just unplugged your keyboard to test stuff.
But fortunately we can turn that behavior off easily in the Control Panel:
Open it up and go to the Ease of Access section. Under Explore all settings, click on Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard:
Now uncheck the Use On-Screen Keyboard check-box under Type using a pointing device:
Click OK to save the settings and you’re done!
Taking ownership of files in Windows is necessary to edit or delete system or program files that you have no access to by default. There are multiple ways to achieve that goal, like doing everything manually through the Properties menu, applying a registry tweak or, as described here, executing a command in the Command Prompt. Note that taking ownership will not let you edit every system file. Windows has set precautions so that you don’t edit any of the most important files which may be helpful in some cases but can be really, really annoying in other.
To start off, you need an elevated command prompt which is simply a command prompt opened as administrator. In Windows 8 you can open that by right-clicking the bottom left corner of the screen and selecting Command Prompt (Admin). In Windows 7 and previous, search the main menu for cmd, right-click it and select Open as administrator.
You need two commands now: one to actually take ownership of the file or folder and one to grant yourself access rights. These are the two commands you will want to use:
For folders, use:
takeown /f folder_name /r /d y
icacls folder_name /grant username_or_usergroup:F /t /q
For files, use:
takeown /f file_name /d y
icacls file_name /grant username_or_usergroup:F /q
The commands basically only differ in a few switches that make the folder procession run recursively. If you want to edit only one folder instead of the whole recursive lot, remove the /r and /t switches from the commands. For more info on the commands, simply enter takeown /? or icacls /? into the command prompt.
If I wanted to take control of my Program Files folder, I’d need to enter the following:
takeown /f “C:\Program Files” /r /d y
icacls “C:\Program Files” /grant christian:F /t /q
Windows takes a nice precaution for us when it comes to installing a clean Windows system on a hard drive or partition that already has a version of Windows installed: If you forgot to backup files from your old installation but already have the fresh one installed you still have a way of getting what you want:
When installing Windows onto an already existing Windows, most of the old files are stuffed into a folder called windows.old which is placed on your newly formated C:\ drive. That folder contains the most important data from your previous installation, which is the Users folder as well as the Windows and Program Files folders. This way, you have an automatic backup of your files that you can get back to if you forget to backup yourself.
Now there is one downside to this procedure: the folders that are backed up tend to get very large. They can take up several gigabyte of data, depending on how large your folders were. So if you don’t actually need that backup, why keep it?
All of you who have ever tried to delete Windows system files will already see where this is going: part of the windows.old folders are old system files and Windows still recognizes them as those. But Windows actually has a neat little trick to delete them anyway!
Open up the Control Panel and head to the System and Security section. Now click on Free up disk space under Administrative Tools:
A window comes up that is usually used to cleanup temporary files and stuff. But we need to clean up system files, so click on the appropriate button in the Description panel:
A similar window will upon but this time we’ll have different cleanup options. Previous Windows installation(s) is the one that we want to remove:
As you see it is 25 GB large on my machine which is a lot of space for files i don’t need anymore. That’s why, after we have double-checked if we really, really don’t need them, we check the box next to it and click on the OK button. Confirm by clicking Delete Files on the next window and you are good to go with a whole lot of free space.
The library folders where your documents, music, videos, contacts, etc are stored in are located in the users’ folders by default. This is fine as long as you have everything on your computer on just one partition, but it may be helpful to relocate those libraries if you want to split your operating system from your data files on a separate partition because these folders tend to become the largest on the average home computer.
Before you start moving, you need to create new folders that will be used as libraries later on. Go to the location where you want to move your libraries to and create folders to replace the old ones (Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, Links, My Music etc.).
Now to get going, open your user folder, in my case that’s C:\Users\christian. This is where the library targets are that you want to move. Start with any of them and right-click it, then click on Properties. On the Location tab, you’ll see the path to the folder that the library is using right now, which points to our Users folder:
Click on Move… and a folder browser appears. Browse the corresponding folder that you have just created and click Select Folder. Now click Apply – if you had files in your old library target, it is recommended to move them to the new folder; Windows will do this automatically upon clicking Yes on the appearing prompt:
Surely you have witnessed this feature on a Linux system before: with a simple key combination the user is able to switch between multiple instances of the same desktop to reduce the clutter that you get when you open everything on just one desktop. That way, you can have your mail client open on one desktop, switch to another to surf the web and to another one to chat with your pals.
This feature is also accessible on any version of Windows and the only thing we need for that is a little tool that comes with Microsoft’s SysInternals Suite which is a package downloadable directly from their website filled with handy executables, most of them used to troubleshoot problems on your computer.
You can download the SysInternals Suite here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/sysinternals/bb842062.aspx
After you have acquired it, start the program called Desktops that came with it. There, you can define the key combination that switches between the different desktops – of course you can also do that manually with the help of the tray icon. You can also set it to launch on system start-up which you should do if you are planning on using it regularly.
Desktop is also compatible with the new Windows 8 user interface. One desktop is unaffected by another one with the Windows 8 UI open.
This error usually comes up when you try to start a new service that would get the same service ID as another service in the process:
System error 1290 has occurred.
The service start failed since one or more services in the same process have an incompatible service SID type setting. A service with restricted service SID type can only coexist in the same process with other services with a restricted SID type. If the service SID type for this service was just configured, the hosting process must be restarted in order to start this service.
It can be circumvented by giving the new service its own process. To do that, open a new command prompt as administrator and enter the following (replace [command] with the command’s identifier):
sc config [command] type= own
For example, if you want to start the w32time command, enter:
sc config w32time type= own
SkyDrive is a cloud service native to Windows 8 and can be accessed right on if you are logged in with your Windows live account. Since you don’t do that naturally on Windows 7, accessing your SkyDrive from the Windows explorer is a little harder than in Windows 8. However you can still map it as a network drive if you know how (this is also possible in Windows 8 if you prefer using it as network drive instead of going in with the Windows 8 interface).
To link your Windows 7 account to your Windows Live account, you need to download and install an “Online ID Provider” which in our case comes with Windows Live essentials. You can download it easily in the Control Panel’s submenu User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Link online IDs. Click on the Add an online ID provider panel:
You will be directed to following website where you can download Windows Live Essentials:
After installation,WindowsLiveID should be listed as online ID provider:
After you have arranged that, head to the SkyDrive homepage where you log in with your Windows Live credentials. When you get to see the contents of your SkyDrive, take a look at your browser’s URL bar. It should have a cid in it (I will examplarily use 5555555555 as my CID from now on):
Note that CID, because you will need it in a second. Head back to My Computer where all your drives are listed and click on Map network drive:
A window will open where you need to specify a drive letter and the folder which the drive shall be mapped to. Select an unused drive letter, enter the following into the folders path and click the Finish button (replace my examplary CID with yours):
You will be asked for your Windows Live credentials once more. Once you entered them, the drive will be available among the listed drives and can be accessed the same way as one of your hard drives:
If you want to do the same for Windows 8, you basically only need to map the drive, since you are connected with your Windows Live account all the time.
DirectX Diagnostic tool dxdiag is a useful tool on Windows that gives you loads of information about your system, such as GPU, CPU and BIOS info. It is common that tech support asks you to attach your dxdiag report to support requests since it helps to narrow down the problem.
Before Windows 8, dxdiag was installed whenever you installed any version of DirectX – in Windows 8, it is installed right on with the operating system.
To open the Diagnostic tool, press the Windows button to open the main menu and type run. In the Run prompt, enter dxdiag, hit Enter and the tool will open. You can now browse through the tabs as well as save a report on your system as text file by clicking on the Save All Information… button. This report is what is requested by tech support when you are asked to ‘attach the dxdiag output’.