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Chapter III

Maintaining, Optimizing and Troubleshooting Windows NT, 2000 and XP

Earlier versions of Windows let users decide when, if ever, to update their computers, the
net result could be disastrous. Microsoft had already corrected the flaw with a security update
weeks earlier. If users had simply updated their computers, the virus-caused damage would not
have been so widespread.
To help avoid this problem in the future, Microsoft continues to improve their Windows
Update Web page, taking advantage of nearly universal Internet connectivity. They also have
provided a Windows 2000 / XP. If your computer is connected to the Internet, start the updater in
Windows 2000 selecting Start | Windows Update. In Windows XP, you will find it at Start | All
Programs | Windows, Update. This Program automatically connects to Microsofts Windows
Update Page as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1(Micrisoft Windows Update page)

3.1 Automatic Update


Updates are so important; Microsoft gives you the option to update Windows
automatically. A message balloon will pop up from the taskbar suggesting that you automatically
updates. If you click this taskbar, the Automatic Updates Setup Wizard will run, allowing you to
configure the update program. Then, whenever your computer connects to the Web, it checks the
Windows Update page. Then Windows update installs it for you.

3.2 Installing Software


Most application programs are distributed on CD-ROMs. Windows supports Auto run, a
feature that enables it to look for read a special file called Auto run immediately after a CD-ROM
is inserted and then run whatever program is listed in Autorun.inf. Most application programs
distributed on CD have an Autorun file that calls up the installation program.
However, it is simply necessary to institute the installation sequence yourself. Windows is
configured so that Autorun programs must be started manually. In some case, a CD may contain
more than one program, and you must choose which of them to install. Regardless of the reason,
beginning the installation manually is a simple and straightforward process using the Add/
Remove programs as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2 (Install program form floppy disk or CD-ROM)

3.3 Removing Software


Each installed application programs takes up space on your computers hard disk and
programs that you no longer need or use simply waste space that could be used for other
purposes, so removing them can be important piece of housekeeping.
You remove a program from a windows PC in much the same manner as you installed it.
That is, you use the applications own uninstall program, when possible. You will normally find the
uninstall program listed under the application icon off the start Menu.

Figure 3 (Confirm that you want to remove the program)

If an uninstall program is not available, then use Windows Add or Remove Programs
applet from control panel as shown in Figure 3. You select the program you want to remove and
click the Change or remove button.

3.4 Adding or Removing Windows Components


When you installed Windows, it tried to guess which optional Windows components you
would need. It installed Notepad, modem support, and games on your computer. These Windows
components can be added as well. If youve adding components, youll need a copy of your
Windows CD, or another location where the Windows source files are stored. This is a task that
really hasnt changed from previous versions of windows.
To add or remove a Windows component in Windows versions prior to XP, open the Add
or Remove Programs applet in Control Panel. From here, select an Add/Remove Windows
component, which opens the windows Components Wizard as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4 (Adding or Removing Windows Components)

3.5 Adding a Plug and Play Device


It is simply to install a new Plug and Play device to a Windows 2000/ XP computer. You
simply plug it in Windows will detect it and install driver. Of course, to be safe side, always read
the documentation for the new device, just in case there is a new twist, like having to install the
driver first.
If Windows does not detect the newly connected device, use the Add Hardware Wizard
to get the device recognized and drivers installed. Youll find it on the Hardware tab of the system
Properties box. This is what passes for a manual device installation today. See Figure 5.

Figure 5 (Add New Hardware Wizard)

3.6 Managing Users in Windows XP


Windows XP essentially the same type of accounts database as Windows 2000, the User
Accounts Control Panel applet replaces the former Users and Passwords applet and further
simplifies user management tasks.

User Account - A Simple Tool


In Windows XP, the user Accounts applet hides the complete list of users, using a
simplistic reference to account types that is actually a reference to its group membership. An
account that is a membership of the local Administrators group is said to be a Computer
administrator, while an account that only belongs to Local Users group is said to be a Limited
account. The users it shows depends on the currently logged-on user (see Figure 6). When an
Administrator is logged on, it will see both types of accounts and the guest account. A limited
account user sees only his or her own account in User Accounts.
Figure 6 (User Account showing a Computer Administrator, a Limited Account, and
the Guest Account)

Now create a new user in Windows. Open the user Accounts applet from Control Panel
and click Create A New Account. On the Pick an Account Type page, the option for Limited is
grayed out if the first account you have created since installation. This first new account can only
be a Computer Administrator. If you havent created this Account, create it now, following the
prompts on the screen.

Figure (Account Type)

More about Windows XP Accounts


You need to provide a user name and an initial password. The user can change the
password later. You also need to type of account to create: Computer Administration or Limited.
Creating local user accounts is mostly done on a stand-alone computer or a networked
computer that is a member of a workgroup. Then you should create one limited account per user
of the computer and an account that is a member of the local Administrators group.
The reason for having two administrator or accounts is so that if one administrator is not
available or is not able to log on to the computer, another one can-simple redundancy. The first
time you try to create a local account after installing Windows XP, it will only allow you to create a
Computer Administrator account. After that, it will allow you to create limited accounts.

3.7 Optimizing Windows 2000 / XP (Performance Options)

One of the unique optimization features of Windows 2000 and Windows XP is setting
Performance Options, although this has a rather utility. To access these options, go to My
Computer and select Properties, click the advanced tab, and select Performance Options
(Windows 2000) or Performance Settings (Windows XP).
3.8 Visual Effects
The Windows XP Performance Options dialog box has two tab sheets: Visual Effects and
Advanced (Figure7). The Visual Effects tab lets you adjust visual effects that impact performance.
Try clicking on the top three buttons in turn, and watch the list of settings. Notice the tiny
difference between the first two choices. The third choice, Adjust for Best Performance, turns off
all visual effects, and the fourth option is an invitation to make your own adjustments.

Figure 7(Performance Options Visual Effects)

3.9 Performance Logs and Alerts


The Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in enables Windows 2000/ XP to create a written
record of just about anything that happens on your system. Do you want to know if someone is
trying to log on to your system when you're not around? The following procedure is written for
Windows XP, but the steps are nearly identical in Windows 2000.

3.10 Temporary File Management with Disk Cleanup


Don't forget the occasional disk cleanup. Even though you can reach this tool the
Windows 98/ Me way through the menus, you can also select properties for a drive and click the
Disk Cleanup button from the General tab. Disk Cleanup calculates the space you will be able to
free up, and then displays the Disk Cleanup dialog box (Figure 8)

Figure 8( Disk Cleanup)


3.11 Properties for Problems
Just as with Windows 98/ Me, the secret to troubleshooting Windows NT, 2000, and XP is
preparation. You need to have critical system files and data backed up on PCs you work with, and
tools in place for the inevitable glitches. The various versions of Windows based on the NT core
offer five different tools for the job, although none offer them all: System Restore, the Backup and
Restore Wizard (called Backup in Windows NT and 2000), Automated System Recovery (ASR),
the Emergency Repair Disk (ERD), and the Recovery Console. The following table shows which
OS gets which tool:

3.12 Windows XP Automated System Recovery (ASR)


The Automated System Recovery (ASR) Wizard lets you create a backup of your system.
This backup includes a floppy disk and backup media (can you say "tape") containing the system
partition and disks containing operating system components.
This is not a trivial, easy solution to a system failure, but something you do after first tying
safe Mode Boot and Last known Good Configuration options.
The restore side of ASR involves a complete reinstall of the operating system, preferably
on a new partition. You see, this is something you do when all is lost. You run setup and press F2
when prompted during the text- mode portion of Setup. Follow the prompts on the screen, which
will first ask for the floppy disk, then for the backup media.

3.13 Backup Wizard


Data files are not backed up by the ERD nor by the ASR. Therefore, you have to backup
data files. Go back to the Welcome screen and select Backup Wizard. When the wizard starts,
click Next to see Figure 9.
You have three options here. The first two are fairly self-explanatory. You can back up
everything or just system-critical files. The third option needs some explanation. The Only Back
up the System State Data radio button enables you save "other" system critical files, but Windows
2000 / XP, it's not much more than making an ERD with the registry backup. This option really
makes sense for Windows 2000 servers systems because it saves Active Directory information,
as well as other critical functions.

Figure 9(Backup Wizard)

3.14 Last Known Good Configuration


When Windows fails immediately after installing a new driver, but before you have logged
on again, you may to try the Last Known Good option available from the Advanced Options
menu. However, we have found this to be a rather fickle and limited tool. Also, it is not available
on a computer with more then one hardware profile. Therefore, you will more often find yourself
using a familiar, but improved Windows 98 type Safe Mode option.

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