Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Windows Vista - How to Show Hidden Files in Explorer

Problem: You cannot view any sytem or hidden files in Vista's C:\drive. Moreover, when you launch Vista's Explorer you cannot find the Tools menu to change these file settings.

Solution A: Vista's new way is to begin by navigating to the Control Panel. Select the Appearance and Personalization section, from there, Folder Options --> Show hidden files and folders.

What you should now see is the familiar Windows menu called Folder Options. Click on the View tab and then scroll down to Hidden files and folders. Select the radio button next to Show hidden files and folders. While I am at these advanced settings, my preference is to remove the tick next to 'Hide protected operating system files'.

Windows Vista display hidden files in explorer

Above is a screen shot of the Vista Control Panel featuring the Hidden files and folders settings.

Solution B: Launch the Vista Explorer (Windows Explorer and not IE7). What I do is press the Windows key + e. Now press just the Alt key. Magically, the Alt key causes the old File Edit View Tools menu to appear, under the Tools menu you will find the Files and Folder settings with the View tab.

Windows Vista Alt Key for Tools menu

Above is a screen shot after pressing the Alt key in Vista's explorer.

Sign of Greater Security

While finding the Files and folder settings is a relatively trivial task, it gives a glimpse that increased security impacts every aspect of Vista. Another point that I would like to make is that the Control Panel has grown in importance and consequently has a modified layout compared with XP.

Where is Boot.ini

No matter what settings you try in Vista's folder options you won't find a boot.ini file with Windows Explorer. The reason is simple, boot.ini has been replaced by BCD Boot Configuration Data. You find the BCD file in the Boot folder, however, if you need to make any changes in the boot behaviour use the command line program bcdedit.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Comple to Login through Username and Password

In some situations we need to impose a login schema using user name and password. This short of user management can be carried out through the steps depicts :- Follow the steps to carry on the schema

  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

Friday, April 11, 2008

Accessing Windows Vista backups with Virtual PC or Virtual Server

Unlike a lot of the other industry analysts, I personally like Windows Vista. One area of the OS where I think Microsoft really dropped the ball, however, is the Backup and Restore Center.

For those unfamiliar with this feature, Microsoft did away with the NTBACKUP program that it has included with every version of Windows for more than a decade and replaced it with this new backup program.

The reason why I'm not a fan of Vista's Backup and Restore Center is because I feel it's been dumbed down to fit the needs of the computer illiterate. Unfortunately, the interface does not offer any advanced options for computer support, meaning you don't even have the luxury of choosing which files you want to back up. Your only options are to either perform a full system backup or back up various types of files (documents, pictures, music, etc.).

The reason why I'm not a fan of Vista's Backup and Restore Center is because I feel it's been dumbed down to fit the needs of the computer illiterate.

With Vista, Microsoft has also changed the file format used to store data that has been backed up. NTBACKUP has traditionally saved backed up data in a .BKF file. The Backup and Restore Center stores data in a .VHD file instead.

At first, this changed file format seems inconsequential given the other more dramatic changes to the backup application. However, the new file format is really something of a double-edged sword. The downside is that it prevents you from restoring data that was backed up using a previous version of Windows. Fortunately, the folks in Redmond haven't left us without options. Microsoft has a free utility that allows you to restore NTBACKUP data files to Vista, called the Windows NT Backup-Restore Utility.

Mounting a backup file as a virtual hard drive

The upside of the changed file format is that .VHD is the same file format used by Virtual PC 2005. In Virtual PC 2005, a VHD file is a virtual hard drive. That means if you perform a full system backup, you can mount the backup file as a virtual hard drive within Virtual PC. And it's simple to do. When you open the Virtual PC console, click the New button. That will cause Virtual PC to launch the New Virtual Machine Wizard. Click Next to bypass the wizard's Welcome screen, and you will see a screen with several options for creating a virtual machine. Choose the Create A Virtual Machine option, and click Next.

At this point, you must assign a name to the virtual machine you are creating. You can call it anything you want, but I recommend naming it something descriptive. After entering a name, click Next and you will be prompted to select the operating system used by the virtual machine. Choose Windows Vista from the list, and click Next.

You'll now see a screen asking you if you want to use the recommended amount of RAM or if you would like to adjust it. By default, Virtual PC allocates 512 MB to the operating system. This is barely enough to run Vista, so I would recommend increasing the memory allocation if you have the memory to spare.

After you finish adjusting the memory allocation, a screen appears asking if you want to use an existing virtual hard drive or create a new one. Choose the existing virtual hard drive option, and click Next. You will now be prompted to specify the virtual hard drive file that you want to use. Just pick your backup file, click Next, and you're good to go.

One caveat I should mention is that you can only mount a backup file as a virtual hard drive if the backup file contains a full system backup.

Why is this the way to go?

So the real question now is why you would want to do this. There are really two primary reasons. The first reason is that treating your backup file as a virtual hard drive is a great way of testing your backup. Server backups are tested all the time, but it's rare to test a workstation backup. This is partly because users often lack a spare machine to restore the backup to. You can't very well restore the backup to the machine that it was made on either because doing so would overwrite the system's current configuration. If something were to go wrong in the restore process, you would lose everything. Treating your backup file as a virtual hard drive gives you a risk-free way of testing your backup.

The other reason why it's nice to be able to treat your backup file as a virtual hard drive is that it gives you much more flexibility to restore data. As I mentioned earlier, Vista's Backup and Restore Center interface is extremely limited. If you have something specific that you want to restore, it is a lot easier to just mount the backup as a virtual hard drive and then copy the files you need to a network location or a removable disk then it is to fumble with the Backup and Restore Center interface.