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Maintaining and Troubleshooting Windows. Chapter 17. Overview. In this chapter, you will learn how to Maintain Windows Optimize Windows Troubleshoot Windows. Essentials. CompTIA A+ Essentials. Maintaining Windows. Maintaining Windows.

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  • In this chapter, you will learn how to
    • Maintain Windows
    • Optimize Windows
    • Troubleshoot Windows


CompTIA A+Essentials

Maintaining Windows

maintaining windows
Maintaining Windows

Maintaining Windows means keeping Windows running well

Patching the OS

Clearing out old files

Pruning the Registry

Running hard drive utilities, such as Error-checking and Disk Defragmenter

Implementing security against malware

Scheduling maintenance so it happens regularly


Patches, Updates, and Service Packs

  • Windows updated regularly
    • Flaws, bugs, program errors found and corrected
    • People still didn’tupdate theircomputers!
  • Windows Update
    • Enables automatic updating of systemsover Internet
    • Express for high-priority updates
accessing windows update
Accessing Windows Update

Access Windows Update in two ways

Start | All Programs | Windows Update

Or in Internet Explorer, Tools | Windows Update


Automatic Updates

  • Automatic (recommended)
    • Updates downloaded and installed automatically
  • Download Updates for Me
    • Updates downloaded, but not installed automatically
  • Notify Me
    • User notified when updates are available
  • Turn Off Automatic Updates
    • No automatic updates
managing and uninstalling
Managing and Uninstalling

Highest of the high-priority updates: Service Packs

Collection of updates

Often add new features

Windows XP SP2 considered a different version of the OS

Security Center (in Control Panel)

Process of installing and updating Windows is called patch management

Uninstall service packs

Add/Remove Programs



Disk Maintenance

  • When troubleshooting OS, remember basic disk tools
    • Error-checking
    • Disk Defragmenter
  • Disk Cleanup
    • Helps clean out junk files

Registry Maintenance and Malicious Software

  • Registry maintenance
    • Registry can get bloated
    • Older tool from Microsoft named RegClean
    • Not updated for 2000/XP/Vista
    • Can use third-party tool such as CCleaner by Piriform
  • Security
    • Spyware/antivirus/firewall
    • Integral part of computing today
    • Covered in more depth in Chapter 26
scheduling maintenance
Scheduling Maintenance

Use the Task Scheduler/Scheduled Tasks

Windows 2000/XP have version 1.0

Windows Vista/7 have version 2.0

Find in the System Tools section of the Start menu

Key to making it work: know the name of the executable for the program you’re scheduling

scheduling maintenance continued
Scheduling Maintenance (continued)

Task Scheduler in Vista/7 more advanced

Triggers are actions that start a program

Actions define both the program and how the program runs

Conditions are extra criteria for running the program

Is the system idle?

Is the system connected to the Internet

scheduling maintenance continued1
Scheduling Maintenance (continued)

Typical tasks to schedule

Disk defragmentation (especially with Windows 2000/XP)




Use the /F and /R switches

scheduling maintenance continued2
Scheduling Maintenance (continued)

This screen shows a typical task scheduled in Windows XP

lab what s scheduled
Lab – What’s Scheduled?

Many tasks run automatically in Vista

Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Task Scheduler

Drill down on menu on left

Task Scheduler Library



Can make changes in scheduling here

Click Defrag to see the current settings

controlling start up programs
Controlling Start-up Programs

System Configuration Utility

Use to edit and troubleshoot

Programs that load at start-up

Automatic processes


Start | Run or Start Search | msconfig

lab msconfig

Start | Start Search

Type msconfig and press ENTER

Select the Startup tab

Deselect anythingunnecessary


Can always undoin Safe Mode if youdeselect somethingnecessary

optimizing windows
Optimizing Windows

Optimizing Windows means to make it better

Five general areas for improvement

Installing and removing software

Installing and removing devices

Adjusting Performance Options to fine-tune experience for specific computer

Resource tracking to discover and remove bottlenecks

Preparing for problems to minimize any downtime

what s installed
What’s Installed?

Start with the System Information tool

Referred to on exams as MSINFO32

Shows installed software and resources


Installing or Removing Software

  • Installing software
    • Most programs are distributed on optical discs that make use of the Autorun feature
    • Or you could use the Add or Remove Programs applet in Control Panel (2000/XP)
    • Use Run as Administrator . . . in Windows Vista when UAC balks at an installation
  • Removing software
    • Use the uninstall option that is part of the program
    • Add or Remove Programs (2000/XP)
    • Programs and Features (Vista)

Add or Remove Programs

Uninstall option

Control Panel


Windows Components/Features

  • Miscellaneous Windows components can be installed or uninstalled
  • Access from Add or Remove Programs in Windows 2000/XP

Windows Components/Features (continued)

  • Miscellaneous Windows components can be installed or uninstalled
  • Access from Programs and Features in Windows Vista/7

Installing/Optimizing a Device

  • Pretty much the same in all versions of Windows
  • Driver Updates
    • Can use Windows Update
    • In Windows 2000/XP, must use Custom option in Windows Update to see updates
    • Or check manufacturer’s Web site

Installing/Optimizing a Device (continued)

  • Driver Updates in Vista
    • Can use Windows Update

Driver Signing

  • Process of testing and verifying drivers
  • Windows Hardware Quality Lab
    • Tests drivers
    • Issues digital signatures
  • Signed drivers
    • “Designed for Windows 2000”
    • “Designed for Windows XP”
    • “Designed for Windows Vista”

Unsigned Drivers

  • Many manufacturers issue drivers that have not been tested and signed by Microsoft
    • When detected during a hardware install, you’ll get the message shown

Device Manager

  • Can roll back faulty driver
    • If you accidentally install a faulty driver, you can roll back to the driver that was installed originally

Adding a New Device

  • Windows usually automatically detects new devices
  • If not, use the Add Hardware Wizard
    • From Control Panel
    • From Hardware tab of System Properties
lab install a modem 1
Lab – Install a Modem (1)

About 99 percent of the time, Windows will detect new hardware installed within the system unit

There are times when the user will want to install legacy devices (really old devices)

In cases like this, Windows trusts that it is there and you installed it correctly

For this lab, we will install a Phantom Modem

lab install a modem 2
Lab – Install a Modem (2)

Start | Control Panel | Add Hardware | Add Hardware Wizard, next

Windows will scan your computer for new hardware

In XP, select Yes, I have connected | Next | Scroll to Add a new hardware device | Next

Install hardware manually | Modem | Next | Don’t detect | Next | Standard 56000bps | Next | COM 2 | Next | Finish

Find it in Device Manager

lab install a modem 3
Lab – Install a Modem (3)

While in the Device Manager, right-click the newly installed Modem, then select Disable

What symbol is displayed when a device has been disabled?

There is no modem attached to the computer, so we need to delete the device

Right-click the device, then click Uninstall

performance options
Performance Options

Visual effects in Windows affect performance

You can enhance the performance of a minimum-spec. computer by disabling some or all of the fancier effects

System applet | Advanced tab or Advanced System Settings | Advanced tab

Right-click My Computer/Computer and select Properties | Advanced tab or Advanced System Settings

Click the Options (Windows 2000) or Settings (Windows XP/Vista) button in the Performance section

Opens the Performance Options dialog box

Select Adjust for best performance to remove some features and improve performance

Select Custom to suit specific needs

Performance Options (continued)

Rarely adjust Advanced features

Processor scheduling


Background services

Memory usage


System cache

Virtual memory

Change location of paging file

Change size of paging file

Performance Options, Other Tabs

performance options other tabs continued
Performance Options, Other Tabs (continued)

Data Execution Prevention (DEP)

Monitors memory

Stops hostile takeovers by viruses and other malware

Does not stop viruses, just makes them less effective

Can monitor all running programs, but resource intensive

Only XP SP2 and later


Resource Tracking

  • Track resources to find and relieve bottlenecks
  • Core Resources
    • CPU
    • Memory
    • Disk
    • NIC
  • Resource tracking tools
    • Task Manager (all)
    • Performance Console (2000/XP)
    • Sidebar Gadgets (Vista)
    • Performance and Reliability Monitor (Vista)

Task Manager

  • Task Manager enables real-time tracking
    • Applications
    • Processes
    • Performance
  • Can force programs and processes to stop
  • To start
    • Press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC
    • or CTRL-ALT-DEL
performance console 2000 xp
Performance Console (2000/XP)

One of the Administrative Tools

Double-click the Performance shortcut to run


Performance Console (2000/XP) (continued)

  • Performance console contains two utilities
    • System Monitor snap-in
      • Track resource use and network throughput
      • Collect and view real-time data about memory, disk, processor, network, and other activity in graph, histogram, or report form
    • Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in
      • Collect performance data from local or remote computers
      • Configure logs to record performance data and set system alerts to notify you when a value is above or below a defined threshold

Performance Console

Add counter

Value bar


  • Press CTRL-H to highlight one set of data

Objects and Counters

  • An object is a system resource
  • A counter tracks specific information about the object
  • Performance consoleincludes System Monitor
    • Shows real-time data onobjects
    • Click the + to addcounters for new objects

Performance Logs and Alerts

  • Performance Logs and Alerts enables you to create a baseline or log
    • Record of anything that happens on your computer
    • Right-click Counter Logs and select New Log Settings
    • Give it a name and then make your choices
windows vista sidebar
Windows Vista Sidebar

Sidebar enables you to load various gadgets

Some provide nice diagnostic tools

CPU utilization meter

RAM usage

Network speed and connectivity

Start | All Programs | Accessories | Windows Sidebar to add them

Or click the + button on the sidebar

reliability and performance monitor windows vista 7
Reliability and Performance Monitor (Windows Vista/7)

Contains complete Performance Monitor

Adds more tools

Resource Overview

Reliability Monitor

Data Collector Sets


Start PerformanceInformation andTools in Administrative Tools

Opens with Resource Overview

reliability and performance monitor continued
Reliability and Performance Monitor (continued)

Resource Overview

Advanced Task Manager for quick glance at what’s in use

Performance Monitor

Works the same as the Performance Monitor in XP

Reliability Monitor

Describes stability and reports crash dates

Data Collector Sets

Tracks all sorts of things

Both user defined and presets

Use Reports to view the results

windows broken
Windows Broken?

It is only a matter of time before something goes wrong with Windows

There are things the client and the technician can do to head off problems or minimize potential damage and downtime


Preparing for Problems

  • Tools to prepare for problems in Windows 2000 and Windows XP
    • Backup Utility (Both)
    • Emergency Repair Disk (Windows 2000)
    • Automated System Recovery (Windows XP)
    • Backup Wizard (Both)
  • Tools to prepare for problems in Windows Vista
    • Backup and Restore Center
  • Other tools
    • System Restore (XP/Vista)
    • Recovery Console (2000/XP)
    • System Recovery Options (Vista)


  • Backup program enables you to back up and restore data and system files
    • Backup or Restore Wizard offers a nice set of features
    • Deselect the Always start in wizard mode check box for more options
  • Always verify your backup
    • Would be bad to count on a bad or incomplete backup!

Backup: Advanced Options

  • Different options according to OS
    • Windows 2000:Emergency Repair Disk (ERD)
      • Stores a copy of the Registry in \WINNT\REPAIR
    • Windows XP:Automated System Recovery (ASR)
      • Creates a backup of your system containing the system partition and disks containing the operating system

Backup Wizard

  • Backup program enables you to back up and restore data and system files
    • Backup System State Data backs up the Registry and other key system data
backup options
Backup Options

Goal of a good backup is to have the data ready for you quickly in case of a crash

Do you need to do a full backup every night?

Most files won’t change

Too time consuming

Archive bit indicates that a file has been backed up

Off = backed up and not changed

On = new or changed since last backup

backup options1
Backup Options

Normal backup

Full backup; archive bit is turned off

Incremental backup

Backs up all files with archive bit on

Turns archive bit off

Differential backup

Backs up all files with archive bit on

Leaves archive bits on

incremental vs differential
Incremental vs. Differential

Both start with full backup

Incremental backups stay small, quick

Differential get progressively bigger, but require only two restores to restore

backup and restore center
Backup and Restore Center

Back up files or back up the whole computer

Simplified options

Tape not supported

No longer can choose to run incremental or differential


System Restore

  • System Restore enables you to create a restore point
    • A copy of your computer’s configuration at a specific point in time
    • Does not include data, only system configuration
    • To create a restore point
      • Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore
    • A new restore point is automatically created whenever you install new software
lab create a snapshot 1
Lab – Create a Snapshot (1)

Your company is about to install a new software package

You want to make sure you have a backup copy of the system configuration before this new package is installed

Start | All Programs |Accessories | System Tools | System Restore

lab create a snapshot 2
Lab – Create a Snapshot (2)

“Welcome to System Restore” | Create a Restore Point | Before_the_big_install | Create

The computer will create a snapshot of the system settings

lab software bad idea
Lab – Software, BAD IDEA!

The software package has caused strange problems throughout the company

You need to bring the computers back to a simpler, happier time

Start | All Programs |Accessories | System Tools | System Restore | Restore my computer to an earlier time

Select the snapshot you made in theprevious lab


Recovery Console (2000/XP)

  • Recovery Console offers a command-line interface to help resolve issues such as faulty drivers
  • Access Recovery Console
    • Run Setup, select Repair and then Recovery Console (lets you run it from the CD)
    • Or install to your hard drive from XP disc Start | Run | d:\i386\winnt32 /cmdcons (assuming d: is the optical drive letter)
system recovery options vista
System Recovery Options (Vista)

Graphical Tool

Boot to the Vista (or 7) DVD

Select Repair your computer

troubleshooting windows
Troubleshooting Windows

Failure to boot

Failure to load the GUI

Troubleshooting tools in the GUI

Troubleshooting application problems


Failure to Boot

  • Common errors
    • No Boot device present
    • NTLDR bad or missing
    • Invalid Boot.ini
  • Three-step response process
    • Attempt to repair
    • Attempt to restore
    • Rebuild

Attempt to Repair (2000/XP)

  • The Recovery Console is a text-mode command interpreter
    • Separate from the Windows command prompt
    • Enables you to access the hard drive
    • Limited access to NTFS and FAT volumes
    • Requires an Administrator password
    • Start and stop services, repair the master boot record and boot sector, format volumes
    • Boot to Windows CD and select Repair
    • Access preinstalled Recovery Console at startup
recovery console commands continued
Recovery Console Commands (continued)


Runs CheckDisk


Clear screen

Disable and Enable

Disables and enables services or drivers


Create or deletes a partition


Brings files in from CAB files


Writes a new boot sector partition

If you receive “NTLDR is compressed”

Run Recovery Consol | FIXBOOT


Fixes the Master Boot Record


Attempt to Restore (2000/XP)

  • For Windows 2000
    • Use ERD
    • ERD is available only if ERD disk was created
  • For Windows XP, use ASR
    • ASR Recovery is available only if ASR backup was created
    • Consider ASR a last resort
    • Restores to ASR backup point


  • Try to back up or recover data first
  • Recover CDs or recovery partitions, restore system to factory state
    • All data is lost

Failure to Load GUI

  • Device driver problems
    • Windows Stop Error
    • Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)
    • Remove the device and reboot
  • Registry
    • BSoD with “Registry File Failure”
    • “Windows could not start”
    • Restore the Registry w/ Advanced Startup Options (Last Known Good Configuration) and reboot

Advanced Startup Options

  • Press F8 after POST to launch Advanced Startup Options
    • Safe Mode
    • Safe Mode with Networking
    • Safe Mode with Command Prompt
    • Enable Boot Logging (creates NTBTLOG.TXT)
    • Enable VGA Mode/Enable Low-Resolution Mode
    • Last Known Good Configuration
    • Directory Services Restore Mode (Server only)
    • Debugging Mode
    • Disable Driver Signature Enforcement (Vista)
    • Start Windows Normally (to abort advanced boot options)

Advanced Startup Options (continued)

  • Safe Mode
    • Basic files and drivers are loaded with no network
    • Can access Device Manager and restore points in Safe Mode
    • Often works in response to BSoD
  • Safe Mode with Networking
    • Networking capabilities added
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt
    • Command prompt only

Advanced Startup Options (continued)

  • Enable Boot Logging
    • ntbtlog.txt is located in the %systemroot% folder (commonly C:\Winnt or C:\Windows)
  • Enable VGA Mode
    • Load driver in standard VGA mode
    • Allows correction of settings (refresh/resolution)
  • Directory Services Restore Mode
    • Domain controllers only
  • Debugging Mode
    • Rarely used

Troubleshooting Tools in the GUI

  • Once in the GUI, can use any tools we’ve discussed or will discuss
  • Event Viewer
  • Device Manager
  • More

Autoloading Programs

  • System Configuration Utility (msconfig)
    • Can set which programs and services automatically start; can turn services off
    • Very effective when combating Spyware

Services and System Files

  • Services
    • If critical services does notstart, Windows will give error
    • Common error: Service set to manual instead of automatic
  • System Files
    • Corrupted DLL files
    • Corrected with System File Checker (SFC)
    • SFC /SCANNOW will verify they are healthy and replace if necessary
system restore
System Restore

When you can get into the GUI, use System Restore to load a restore point

Return to working copy of Windows

Will not delete or replace data files

Great “oops” tool

application problems
Application Problems

Installation problems

Often lacking supporting program, such as .Net Framework

Download the proper version from Microsoft

Compatibility issues

Can try running older applications in compatibility mode

Can also Run as administrator in Vista

Problems with uninstalling

Usually a lack of privilege

Right-click and Run as administrator