Windows Vista Tips

Windows Vista Security

Microsoft's continuing focus on security will be evident in this new operating system. They are basing the foundation of Vista around security. Windows customers should be confident that this operating system will protect their computer and information against the latest worms, viruses and malware. However, in the unlikely event you should fall victim to a successful attack, Windows Vista will ensure the damage is minimal.

Below, I have outlined a few of Vista's security features:

User Account Protection:

Vista's user account gives added protection and allows for users to be allowed to run applications under a standard account. But, in the event the standard account user is unknowingly trying to run a malicious code, Vista will intervene and not allow the user to continue. Or, if a standard user account is trying to install a hotel printer driver, Vista will just simply ask you to confirm your intensions and provide credentials.

Protection from malware:

Malware can cause company IT departments and their users to waste significant amounts of times in dealing with the effects that it creates. Windows Vista includes powerful features that can stop malware before it can cause any problems. Not only will this be a huge time saver for any IT department, but it will also allow the operating system to run much smoother.

Multi-tiered data protection:

By using advanced data protection technologies, Windows Vista reduces the risk of your data on a stolen/missing laptop from being compromised. Windows Vista supports full-volume encryption to prevent other operating systems from accessing its data.

Another optional disk access prevention feature is the TPM v1.2 chip (Trusted Platform Model) that can be installed on your computer to store encryption keys. By using the TPM, the entire system partition is encrypted (both the hibernation file and the user data).

Custom authentication mechanisms:

The use of a user name and password for many companies is no longer a fail safe method of security. Windows Vista has improved upon Smart Card support making it easier for developers to add custom authentication methods such as biometrics and tokens.

Network access protection:

An internal network can be compromised by its mobile computers not having the necessary updates and security settings available due to the use of unsecured networks at hotels, cafes, airports...etc. Windows Vista will only allow a computer to connect to an internal network if certain security criteria are met. If the system has been compromised, it will not be allowed in.


System administrators have full control via Group Policy over what applications are allowed or blocked from communicating with the network. The control of network access is a key component of network security.

Windows Service Hardening:

If an unlikely virus attack were to exploit a vulnerable service, Windows Service Hardening would limit the damage by preventing file system or registry changes from occurring.

Internet Explorer 7 enhancements:

IE7 uses many new features to protect against malicious Web sites, malware, phishing and spoofing attacks. The new Protected Mode would also allow a user to define their own security settings.

Other new features of Internet Explorer 7 include:

- Highlights the address bar when users visit a Secure Sockets Layer-protected site and lets them check the sites security certificate validity.
- If visiting an unsafe site, a phishing filter would warn the user of this risk.
- Clear all cached data with a single mouse click.

Browse more securely and confidently with Internet Explorer 7!

Troubleshooting with Windows Vista

The new Windows Operating System formerly code named "Longhorn" is now named Vista. This new operating system is due out in the middle of 2006. I am going to be writing a great deal about it here at 5 Star Support so that you all can become familiar with it before it comes out. In this tip, I will discuss a little about what you can expect from Vista from a troubleshooting stand-point.

Vista promises to have great troubleshooting features built in to aid users in quickly diagnosing computer issues. For instance, Windows Vista diagnostics can automatically detect and diagnose failing hard disks, faulty memory, degraded performance, loss of a network connection, and problems shutting down. Having the ability to detect a failing Hard Disk before any loss of data occurs, makes this an extremely valuable feature! But, nothing takes the place of good backup practices.

The Windows XP Remote Assistance feature is a huge time saver for all support centers. Vista promises to enhance this feature and make it better by having the ability to remotely connect faster and use less bandwidth. It will even have the ability to function through Network Address Translation (NAT) firewalls. Remote assistance will incorporate its own built-in diagnostic tools available with a single click. You will also be able to reconnect to a Remote Assistance session automatically after restarting your computer. One last enhancement worth a mention is that two administrators will now be able to connect at one time. This will be valuable on those hard to troubleshoot problems that could use a second set of eyes.

Add the "Run" command back to the Start menu

1. Right click an open area of the Taskbar
2. Select Properties
3. Select the Start Menu tab
4. Tick the Start menu entry and click the "Customize" button to the right.
5. Scroll down the list until you find the "Run command" entry.
6. Place a checkmark in the "Run command" checkbox.
7. Click OK.

The Run command should now appear in the Start Menu.

Note: A simple way to access the Run Command is to press the Windows key + R on your keyboard. If you don't know what the windows key is, it is the key that is between CTRL and ALT on either side of the space bar.

Make users to login with a user name and password

If you would like to remove the list of user accounts and have users login using a password and user name, change the following settings:

1. Go to Start
2. In the Search box, type: local security policy
3. Double click the local security policy entry
4. Open "Local Policies"
5. Select "Security Options"
6. Double click the entry titled: "Interactive Login: Do not display last user name"
7. Place a checkmark in the "Enabled" checkbox
8. Click OK

Change Your Folder Options

If you are not comfortable with the default settings that Vista uses, you can easily change these settings, here's how:

1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> Folder Options icon.
2. Select the View tab.
3. Check or uncheck the options under "Advanced settings:" as you see fit.
4. Click OK when finished.

Change your Product Key

When you purchase a Windows Vista product, all of the different Vista Operating System products are on the same disc. The actual product key that is inserted will determine which Vista product will be activated. If you would like to upgrade to a more feature packed version at some point, all you would need to do is change the product key to activate your newly purchased version. Here's how to change the product key:

1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> System.
2. At the bottom of the System applet, you'll see a link titled: "Change product key". Click this link.
3. Click Next, then in the resulting window, enter your new product key ID information.
4. Click OK.

Using Sleep and Hibernate Modes

Many people reboot their system after each use. While there really isn't anything wrong with this practice, it may be unnecessary. Especially if you are having to reload several applications after each reboot. A big time saver may be to use Hibernate and/or Sleep modes. Once the system is placed in hibernate or sleep mode, you will not lose any of the applications that are currently open and the system will not need to go through the boot process.

Change Vista Security Center Alerts

When you have an outdated firewall or anti-virus software installed on your system, Windows Vista will pop up with these notifications. If you become annoyed with these constant notifications, you can change the way Vista notifies you. Here's how:

1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> Windows Security Center.
2. Once in the Windows Security center, click the link on the left pane titled: "Change the way Security Center alerts me".
3. Modify your preferences as you see fit.
4. Click OK when finished.

Remove Favorites Pane in Windows Explorer

1. Open Windows Explorer
2. Select Tools>> Folder Options
3. Select Organize
4. Select Layout from the drop down menu
5. Deselect Navigation Pane.
6. Click OK.

TweakVI for Windows Vista

This free utility is designed to help you customize the Vista user interface. TweakVI supports both 32bit and 64bit versions of Vista and works for any Vista edition. Unlike many other free utilities on the Internet, TweakVI does not load any advertising spyware nor does it have the ability to damage any of your hardware. Below is a list of some of the many things you can do with TweakVI:

* Activate hundreds of Windows Vista settings
* Manage TrueType fonts
* Clean your hard drive
* Improve your Internet connection
* Optimize your CPU cache
* Optimize your RAM
* Manage system updates
* Helps to protect your privacy
* Tweak Internet Explorers Toolbar
* Tweak the Start Menu
* Change the animation on windows
* Increase system speed
* Clean your registry
* Create a 256 MB RAM drive
...and much more!

Restoring personal files using the Windows.old file


The information contained in this article is useful to those that have installed the Windows Vista operating system using the "custom" installation.

When you perform a Custom Installation of Windows Vista, replacing a Windows XP installation. The old operating systems files will be created automatically in a Windows.old folder. This article will instruct users how they can retrieve thier personal files from the Windows.old file once their Windows Vista installation has been successfully installed.

The Windows.old folder contains the following from your replaced Windows XP installation:

* Windows XP files
* Documents and Settings
* Program Files

How To Locate The Windows.old Folder:

When the Windows.old folder is created in Windows Vista, here is where it can be found:

1. Go to Start
2. Type: drive:\windows.old in the Instant Search text box.
3. Click to open the Windows.old file from the Programs list.

Note: You may be required to supply an Administrators password to access this folder.

Restore XPs My Documents Folder to Vista:

This is the most commonly restored folder from the old installation due to it typically having most of the personal files stored. It is advisable when restoring this folder to place it in Windows Vista's "Documents" folder. However, you can relocate this folder where-ever you would like. Here's how to restore the old My Documents folder:

1. Locate your Windows.old folder.
2. Open Windows.old and locate:

Documents and Settings\UserName

3. Right click the My Documents folder and select "Cut".
4. Go to Start>> Documents.
5. Right click the Documents folderand select "Paste".

Your XP My Documents folder will now reside in the Documents folder of Windows Vista.

Restore other personal files located in your Windows.old folder in the same mannor as outlined above. Once you are finished restoring all of the files that you need, you can safely delete the Windows.old folder.

Customize Windows Explorer

For those of you that enjoy customizing your Windows Vista experience. You'll be glad to know that there are other alternatives beyond what Vista shows you in Windows Explorer. You can search for many free alternatives using your favorite search engine, but to get you started, here are a couple of my favorites:

Features in Total Commander 6.56 now include:

* Two file windows side by side
* Multiple language support
* Enhanced search function
* Compare files / synchronize directories
* Quick View panel with bitmap display
* ZIP, ARJ, LZH, RAR, UC2, TAR, GZ, CAB, ACE archive handling + plugins
* Built-in FTP client with FXP (server to server) and HTTP proxy support
* Parallel port link, multi-rename tool
* Tabbed interface, regular expressions, history+favorites buttons
* New: Thumbnails view, custom columns, enhanced search
* And many more!

XYplorer is a multi-tabbed file manager featuring a powerful file search, versatile preview facilities, a highly customizable interface, and an array of unique ways to efficiently automate frequently recurring tasks.

Manage your Startup Items

One way to manage your Startup items in recent Windows versions is to use MSCONFIG. However, there is a free third party utility that goes way beyond what MSCONFIG was designed to do. So if you're a power user and would like to give it a try, here's my recommendation:

<>AutoRuns for Windows

"This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them. These programs include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. You can configure Autoruns to show other locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more."

Adjust Your Desktop Icon Size Quickly

If you would like to either increase or decrease the size of your desktop icons quickly, here's how:

1. Click an open area of your desktop.
2. While holding down the CTRL button on your keyboard, roll the scroll wheel on your mouse forward to "increase" the icon size and backwards to "decrease" its size.

View Available Restore Points

If you would like to view the available restore points on your computer without making any changes, here how:

1. Go to Start>> Programs>> Accessories>> System Tools>> System Restore.
2. Click the entry titled: Restore my computer to an earlier time.
3. Click Next.
4. Here you will see the available restore points.

View what Services are running in Windows Vista

1. Go to Start
2. Right click "My Computer"
3. Select "Manage" from the resulting menu.
4. Double click "Services and Applications".
5. Click "Services"

Any thing that is marked "Started" is actually running on your computer.
To configure any Service, right click it and select Properties.

Find your programs quickly

Windows Vista has greatly reduced the amount of time it takes to find a certain program loaded on your system. If you click the Start button, you will notice a Search field directly above the Start button. To use this feature, simply type in the program name that you would like to locate. As you type, Instant Search will begin finding the most relevant material pertaining to the letters you've typed. Once you've located the program within the Search list, simply click to open it.

Use Multiple Clocks For Different Time Zones

If you find it difficult to keep track of associates time zones around the globe. Vista has a feature that can help you with this. Here's how to create another clock on your desktop:

1. Right click your clock.
2. Select Adjust Date/Time.
3. Select the Additional Clocks tab.
4. Configure your new clocks time setting.

Note: You can create two additional clocks.

Quickly Access Your Quick Launch Applications

If you have multiple applications in your Quick Launch Toolbar, you can easily access them by using a keyboard command. Here's how:

If you would like to open the application in the first position (from left to right), simply press the Windows key + the number 1 on your keyboard. To access the second, press the Windows key + 2. Increase the numbers that correspond to the applications position in the Quick Launch toolbar.

If you don't know what the Windows key is, it is the key that is situated between the ALT and CTRL keys to the left or right of the Space bar. It has a little "flying Windows" symbol on it.

Let your Gadgets feed you information

Vista has a many gadgets that can be used to feed you information on a wide variety of subjects such as; Traffic reports, Stock reports, Weather Information, Gaming Information, Music, TV, Movies, CPU Utilization and much much more. These mini-applications can deliver this information right to your desktop. The Gadgets can be loaded to your Vista Sidebar and can also be detached from the Sidebar so that it can reside on you Desktop. For more information and to download these Gadgets, click the link below:

Personalize Windows Vista Sidebar

Rollback a driver to the previous version

If installing an updated driver creates system problems, you can rollback the driver to its pervious version. Here's how:

Note: You must be logged in as the Administrator.

1. Go to Start
2. Select Control Panel
3. Select System and Maintenance
4. Select Device Manager (you may receive a UAC prompt for password information at this point)
5. Expand the category containing the device in question by double clicking the category.
6. Double click the device that contains the driver that you would like to rollback.
7. Select the Driver tab
8. Select Roll Back Driver

Note: If the Roll Back Driver button is not available, this means that there is no previous version for this device.

Pin System Restore to your Start Menu for Quick Access

The System Restore feature is a very popular feature for those that experience problems in their Vista installation. If you would like to "pin" system restore in your start menu where you can always easily find it, here's how:

1. Go to Start
2. Select All Programs
3. Select Accessories
4. Select System Tools
5. Right click the System Restore entry in System Tools and select "Pin to Start Menu" from the resulting options.

To learn more about System Restore, visit our Vista System Restore Frequently Asked Questions page.

Install and Uninstall Additional Fonts in Vista

Note: Be sure that when you download fonts from the Internet that you are doing this from a trusted source.

Install a Font:

1. Go to Start
2. Select Control Panel
3. Select Appearance and Personalization
4. Select Fonts
5. Select File (if the File option is not visible, press the ALT key on your keyboard)
6. Select Install New Font
7. Select the drive where the fonts you are trying to add are located
8. Select eh folder where your downloaded fonts are located
9. Select the font that you would like to install
10. Select Install

Uninstall a Font:

1. Follow steps 1 - 4 above
2. Select eh font that you would like to uninstall (to select multiple fonts, hold down the CTRL key then click each individual font)
3. Select File
4. Select Delete

Enable the Hidden Aurora Boot Screen

If you get a little tired of the default Vista boot screen, you can enable a hidden boot screen that many feel is a more appealing boot screen. Here's how:

1. Go to Start
2. In the Search field, type in: msconfig
3. Press Enter on your keyboard
4. Select the Boot tab
5. Place a checkmark in the checkbox titled: "No GUI boot"
6. Click OK and reboot your system

Turn Off The Welcome Center

1. Go to Start
2. Select Control Panel
3. Select the Welcome Center icon
4. Uncheck the checkbox titled: "Welcome Center"
5. Click OK

Install Vista's Games

Some of the Vista versions do not come with the games pre-installed. If you would like to install them, here's how:

1. Go to Start
2. Select Control Panel
3. Select Programs and Features
4. Select "Turn Windows features on or off"
5. Place a checkmark in the checkbox titled: "Games"
6. Click OK

Resize Icons with a scroll mouse

If you're not happy with the icon sizes on your desktop, you can simply resize them by using your scroll mouse. Here's how:

Hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and then move your scroll wheel on your mouse either upwards or downward to create the desired size.

Enable Secure Logon

A good method of making your system more secure is to make it require a user to press CTRL + ALT + DELETE in order to logon to the system. Once this is enabled, you will invoke a secured Windows logon screen where you can safely enter your user name and password without risk of either being stolen by possible viruses or malware. Here's how to set this up:

1. Go to Start
2. In the Search field, type in: netplwiz
3. Press Enter on your keyboard
4. Select the Advanced tab
5. Place a checkmark in the checkbox titled: "Require users to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete"
6. Select OK

Enable Speech Recognition

If you want to speak to your computer and make it obey your every command, you can do this in Vista. Among the many things that you can make your computer do are:

* Write and send e-mails
* Click buttons and other objects
* Start programs
* Dictate text into documents
* Open menus

Here's how to set it up:

1. Go to Start
2. Select Control Panel
3. Select Speech Recognition
4. Select Start Speech Recognition

Once you've enabled this feature, be sure that you check out the tutorials (in Speech Recognition Options) that will help you understand how to setup your microphone and make your computer recognize your voice commands. Please keep in mind, the better you understand the controls of this feature, the better your computer will perform. So, take the time to read and understand how to use the speech recognition feature.

Anytime Upgrade

If you are thinking of upgrading to a different Vista application, you can use "Anytime Upgrade whenever you're ready. Here's how:

1. Go to Start
2. Select Control Panel
3. Select "Anytime Upgrade"
4. Simply follow the on-screen prompts at this pint to complete the upgrade

Change the glass effects colors

If you would like to change the colors of Aero's glass effects, here's how:

1. Right click an empty area of your desktop
2. Select Personalize
3. Select Windows Color and Appearance
4. From here, choose any color you like

Restore Files From Vista's Restore Center

1. Go to Start
2. Select Control Panel
3. Select System and Maintenance
4. Select Back Up and Restore Center
5. From here, you can select from the latest backup or an earlier backup. Select the backup you would like to restore files from
6. Click Next
7. Select the files or folders you would like to restore
8. Click Next
9. Select the location you are restoring to
10. Select "Start restore"