Articles in Category: Windows

What is Windows Live?

Windows Live is the umbrella brand for several online services and desktop applications from Microsoft. I’ll examine the confusion surrounding the name.

Why Does Nothing Happen When I Insert a Disc?

Nothing happens when you insert a disc if autoplay is turned off. That’s good for security but bad for convenience. I’ll look at alternatives.

What Is Pagefile.sys and Can I Move It?

If you’ve added a hard drive to your system you can move pagefile.sys to free up space on your original drive and speed up your system.

How do I know what programs are safe to uninstall?

A look at the add/remove list in Windows Control Panel presents a long list of sometimes confusing entries. I’ll look at how to evaluate what’s there.

A conceptual image on a light background, in a wide 16:9 format, depicting the process of transferring data during a clean Windows installation. The left side shows a computer with a new, glowing Windows installation. On the right, various data transfer methods are displayed: an external hard drive, cloud service icons (OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive), and an image of a backup disk. These elements are linked with stylized arrows or lines, indicating the transfer of data and applications to the new Windows system. The style is modern and digital with a focus on clarity, simplicity, and the seamless transition of data, all set against a light, clean background.

How Do I Transfer Data After a Clean Install of Windows?

A clean install of a operating system assumes the hard disk is empty. Some preparation is required to preserve and transfer data.

How Do I Reformat and Reinstall Windows? (XP & Vista)

Sometimes the best approach to resolving an issue, be it a virus or simply software rot, is reformat and reinstall. We’ll review the steps.

Why should I Turn Windows AutoPlay Off?

Autorun is an increasingly used attack vector for malware. Common techniques to turn it off are incomplete. I’ll show you how to turn it off, and recommend you do so.

Process Explorer – A Powerful Free Replacement for Task Manager

Process Explorer is Task Manager on steroids. A free utility that completely replaces Task Manager, there’s no reason not to have and use procexp.

Why Can’t I Rely on System Restore for Backups?

There’s much confusion about what System Restore actually is and is not. In a nutshell, it’s safest not to rely on it to restore your system.

SnagIt – Quick and Easy Screen Capture and Annotation

Windows includes screen capture by default, but if you use it often and rely on it alone, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Why Can’t I Activate Windows XP?

I tried to activate Windows XP Home and it didn’t work. Thus began a phone saga with Microsoft support, ending in failure. Until I fixed it myself.

Why Does the Space Used by Files on My Hard Drive Show Different Numbers Depending on How I Look?

Depending on how you look at your disk, the amount of space used can appear quite different. We’ll look at some of the possible reasons.

Why Is My Task Manager Disabled, and How Do I Fix It?

Task manager can be disabled manually, but more commonly it’s disabled by a virus. It’s easy to re-enable once you’re virus-free.

How Do I Fix this High CPU Usage Svchost Virus or Whatever It Is?

Many people are experiencing high CPU usage, often 100%, in svchost. Svchost is not a virus, but many people think it acts like one.

How Do I Reformat My Machine If I Don’t Have a Windows CD?

Reformatting a machine is a major step that erases everything. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you’re going to want that Windows Setup CD.

How Do I Keep CHKDSK from Running on every Start Up?

There are times when the disk checking utility needs to run before you boot into Windows. Sometimes it seems to get stuck and does so every time.

How Do I Find Out Who’s Using All My Memory?

When your system starts to slow down, programs using excessive memory are frequent culprits. It’s fairly easy to find out which programs they are.

Can I Copy and Rename a File in a Single Step?

Windows Explorer is a fine tool, but there are still a few things you can’t easily do with it. This calls for the Windows Command Prompt.

Can I delete these randomly named folders?

Folders with random and unreadable names will occasionally appear on your machine. They’re typically the side effect of an update that didn’t clean up.

How Do I Get a Windows Program to Always Open Maximized?

Some folks like to run programs maximized; taking up the entire screen. If a program doesn’t do that automatically, here are some steps that may help.

Safely Remove Hardware: Where Did the Icon Go? How Do I Safely Remove Hardware Without It?

The “Safely Remove Hardware” icon can occasionally disappear. It turns out there’s a simple workaround to safely remove hardware anyway.

Where is Windows Explorer?

Windows Explorer is everywhere – yet finding Windows Explorer on the Start Menu is actually fairly difficult. We look at where Windows Explorer is, and some of the many other ways you can get to it.

How Do I Copy Preinstalled Software To Another Machine?

Yet another reason I so strongly recommend making sure that you get installation CDs for all the software that comes pre-installed on any new machine. There are just so many scenarios where no having that can be a really big pain. Like this one.

How Can I Control The Size Of My Start Menu?

The Start Menu can grow over time to be exceptionally large. Armed with a little knowledge there are easy steps to control or organize its contents.

Why Can’t I Find Or Delete “bridge.inf”?

Apparently ‘bridge.inf’ is related to adware of some sort. Most of the anti-spyware programs should be able to handle it, but apparently not always. We can try to find it manually, which is a good example of searching for hidden files in general.

What Windows Services Can I Turn Off?

People are concerned about how much software is running on their machines, and when they look at the list of services, there’s a long list of things they don’t understand.

What does “This file does not have a program associated with it” mean?

File associations tell Windows what program should operate on what file based on it’s filename extension. Sometimes these get lost or confused.

What's this "Validation Scan" all about?

The whole validation and activation thing (WPA, or Windows Product Activation) is pretty confusing. Most folks were very concerned with it when QPA was first introduced, but we rarely hear much about it these days. In general it kinda, sorta works. We’re just not always sure why or how. The original question was actually several, … Read more

How do I get the entire Programs menu to always display?

Well, I think I get what you’re asking about. But even if I’m a little off, what I’m about to explain actually covers several things. In fact, most people don’t realize that there’s a plethora of customization options related to the Start menu.

How Do I Get At System Restore In Windows XP?

System Restore settings are in the properties of My Computer, but actually running the System Restore application is a little less obvious.

Can I Have Too Many Drivers?

This is a classic case of “Theory” versus “Practice”. In theory everything should just work. In practice? Not so much. In fact, it’s one of the causes of something called “software rot”.

How do I remove boot choices that I no longer want?

In Windows XP removing boot choices is as simple as editing a hidden configuration file. Fortunately finding that file is relatively easy.

How do I find the Windows CD Key from the CD?

We’ll look at where to find your Windows CD Key.

Where is it alright for svchost.exe to be?

Svchost.exe is frequently spoofed by viruses attempting to hide. The official copy should be in your Windows\system32 folder, but there may be others.

So just what is the I386 directory anyway?

Whoa … seems my answers around the I386 direectory have been generating lots of additional questions as well. Let’s see if we can clarify they “I386 mystery”. Let me start by answering a question you didn’t ask, because it’s related, incredibly important, and the reason that I386 appears in so many of my answers: In my … Read more

Why is there a blank entry in my msconfig startup entries?

There are several places that items can get added to the startup list. This particular situation is most likely a malformed registry entry. MSConfig is a nice enough tool for simple situations, but to diagnose this one, I’d break out a bigger gun. I had to, in fact. I looked, and sure enough … I … Read more

Can I move or delete my I386 directory to free up some space?

The question others are asking is probably “OK, so what’s a C:\I386 directory?” In a nutshell, it’s a copy of Windows, and yes, you can move it, but I don’t recommend deleting it completely. It’s just too darned useful.

Does Windows XP Home Support Booting From CD-ROM?

The answer is “yes”, but that may not help you, depending on what you’re attempting to do, and what computer you have. It’s not Windows you should be concerned about. It’s your PC.

I Have No C: Drive, But Some Programs Insist On It. What Can I Do?

Most people don’t realize that using “C:” as the primary drive on your computer is fairly arbitrary. It’s a good practice, if only to avoid the problems you’re running into, but as you’ve seen you don’t need to have it that way. You can build a system that boots from a drive of a different … Read more

What is the UserData directory in my Documents and Settings?

To begin with, be careful. There may be other directories called “UserData” on your machine. It’s a common name for any number of different purposes, and used by several different applications. But these, at that specific location in your Documents and Settings, are fairly clear.

What’s the difference between COMMAND.COM and CMD.EXE?

COMMAND.COM and CMD.EXE are versions of the command interpreter for MS-DOS and Windows. They’re both available, but you only really need one.

Why is my USB device asking for a CD when I attach it?

We’ll look at some ideas to try to stop a USB device from asking for a CD.

How do I check the version of XP Service Pack 2 installed on my PC?

Well, first, let’s be clear: there is no version of SP2. It’s either there, or it’s not. There are several ways to find out, and find out what other patches post SP2 have been installed as well.

How Do I Get Administrative Privileges on Windows XP?

If you have the password for the administrator account, you can easily elevate any other login account to have administrator privileges.

How do I schedule a program to run on my machine periodically?

The Linux readers are all shouting “cron!” at their computers. Windows has something similar, of course. And it’s very, very flexible. Just fairly well hidden.

How do I resolve my problem with appcompat.txt?

Here’s what to do when you see appcompat.txt.

Can I make a desktop icon for a web page shortcut?

Adding shortcuts to your desktop for programs, documents or even specific web pages is very easy.

Why does my computer go nuts sometimes?

If you have speech recognition always enabled it can cause your computer to “go nuts” because of the different sounds it interprets as actual words.

Can I delete lsass.exe? svchost.exe?

Lsass.exe and svchost.exe are required system files for Windows. If you delete them without care, your system may become unbootable.

What are "LSASS", "LSASS.EXE" and "Sasser" and how do I know if I'm infected? What do I do if I am?

LSASS is a Windows component shown in error messages, often due to a virus infection such as Sasser. Learn about LSASS, LSASS.EXE and how to stay safe.