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Check the protected system files in Windows with System File Checker

There may come a time when your Windows based computer starts to run improperly. Installing and uninstalling software, viruses and malware are just a few things that can corrupt the integrity of system files. When it comes to computer repair on a system running Windows, I always like to check for corrupt system files. You can too with Windows built-in System File Checker (SFC).

System File Checker running in Command Prompt inside of Windows 8
System File Checker running in Command Prompt inside of Windows 8

SFC scans the integrity of all protected system files and replaces incorrect versions with correct Microsoft versions. Everything SFC does is documented in the CBS.log file. So, if SFC finds any files that it cannot repair, check the CBS.log for more information. See the bottom of command line syntax(s) and parameter(s) for details on how to view the CBS.log.

Running SFC in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8

To ensure that SFC runs with administrator privileges on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, you will need to run it at an administrative Command Prompt.

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges
    How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7
    How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8
  2. Use the following command line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run SFC:

sfc [/scannow] [/verifyonly] [/scanfile=<file>] [/verifyfile=<file>] [/offwinddir=<offline windows directory>/offbootdir=<offline boot directory>]

/scannow Scans integrity of all protected system files and repairs files with problems when possible.
/verifyonly Scans integrity of all protected system files. No repair operation is performed.
/scanfile Scans integrity of the referenced file, repairs file if problems are identified. Specify full path <file>.
/verifyfile Verifies the integrity of the file with full path <file>. No repair operation is performed.
/offbootdir For offline repair specify the location of the offline boot directory.
/offwinddir For offline repair specify the location of the offline windows directory.
/? Displays help at the command prompt.

You can view the CBS.log file in Notepad by using the following code at the same administrative Command Prompt used to start SFC.
notepad %systemroot%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log

Running SFC in Windows XP

To use SFC, you will need to open a Command Prompt.

  1. Click the Start button, then Programs, then Accessories, then click on Command Prompt
    or
    Press Windows logo key + R. This will bring up the Run dialog box. Type CMD and click OK
  2. Use the following command line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run SFC:

sfc [/scannow] [/scanonce] [/scanboot] [/revert] [/purgecache] [/cachesize=<x>]

/scannow Scans all protected system files once.
/scanonce Scans all protected system files once.
/scanboot Scans all protected system files every time the computer is restarted.
/revert Returns the scan to its default operation.
/purgecache Purges the Windows File Protection file cache and scans all protected system files immediately.
/cachesize=<x> Sets the size, in MB, of the Windows File Protection file cache.
/? Displays help at the command prompt.

When SFC is done, you can view the log file in Notepad by using the following code at the same Command Prompt used to start SFC.
notepad %systemroot%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7

At some point in time, you may need to run a program or command from a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges. Some of the best features inside of Windows Vista and Windows 7 are only accessible through an administrative Command Prompt. Here's how to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

A Command Prompt in Windows 7 with Administrator privileges
A Command Prompt in Windows 7 with Administrator privileges

  1. Left-click on the Start button.
  2. Left-click on All Programs.
  3. Left-click on Accessories.
  4. Right-click on Command Prompt.
  5. On the context menu that appears, left-click on Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    or
  1. Left-click on the Start button.
  2. In the search box above the Start button, type Command Prompt.
  3. In the list of results, right-click Command Prompt.
  4. On the context menu that appears, left-click Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Sync data between your PC and smartphone with CompanionLink

Like allot of people, I use Microsoft Outlook as a PIM (Personal Information Manager). And being in the computer repair industry, I need to keep all of my personal data (contacts, calendar, etc.) synchronized and up to date on both my PC and smartphone. I found I can do all of this quite easily with CompanionLink.

CompanionLink 5 for Outlook setup screen
CompanionLink 5 for Outlook setup screen

I wrote an article a while back about syncing Outlook with my Android phone using CompanionLink on my PC and DejaOffice on my Android. How it works is you install CompanionLink on your PC or Mac and install DejaOffice on your Android, iPhone / iPad, Blackberry, etc.. You then define what database (Outlook, ATC!, etc.) and what fields (contacts, calendar, etc.) you want to sync.

DejaOffice 2.2 main screen
DejaOffice 2.2 main screen

Recently they released a new version of both CompanionLink (V5) and DejaOffice (V2.2) with more capabilities and features. In fact, they have multiple versions for different applications (I use CompanionLink for Outlook). Here's a quote from their website on the products they offer:

Our products work with Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, HP webOS, Palm OS, and Windows devices. We also sync with Google, Gmail, Google Apps, and Windows Live (Hotmail) accounts

CompanionLink for Outlook
Sync Microsoft Outlook with Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink for Palm Desktop
Sync Palm Desktop or Pimlical with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and memos.

CompanionLink Express
Sync ACT!, Lotus Notes, HighRise, or GroupWise with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink Professional
Sync Salesforce CRM, Goldmine, or any other supported database with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Includes all the features of CompanionLink Express, plus the ability to sync to from multiple databases, sync with up to 5 devices, and advanced sync options.

CompanionLink for Google
Sync Microsoft Outlook contacts and calendar to Google Contacts,Google Calendar, and Google Tasks. Works with any Google, Gmail, or Google Apps account. Two-way sync is fully supported so you can make changes to data in Outlook or in Google.

CompanionLink for Outlook.com / Windows Live
Sync Outlook with your Windows Live Hotmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, and tasks.

CompanionLink for Time & Chaos
Sync Time & Chaos with smartphones, tablets, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink FA
Sync Wise Agent, Infusionsoft, SalesJunction, or Respond with smartphones, tablets, Outlook, or any Google/Gmail account. Supports two-way sync of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes.

CompanionLink for Mac
Sync Mac's Address Book and iCal with any Android device. You can also keep Outlook for Mac in sync with Android. Requires OS X Lion (10.7) or Mountain Lion (10.8).

For more information on CompanionLink and DejaOffice, just follow the links below:

CompanionLink
CompanionLink FAQ's

Mix static and dynamic video elements with Microsoft Research Cliplets

As many of you know, when I'm not working on computers, I like to work with photos and videos. And some of the coolest software I've found for doing panoramic photos has come from Microsoft Research. I have written about Microsoft Research before, Microsoft Image Composite Editor / Photosynth and HD View, and they have recently released a new project for video called Cliplets.

View of main screen inside of Microsoft Research Cliplets
View of main screen inside of Microsoft Research Cliplets.

With Cliplets, you can combine static and dynamic elements from a single video together to create some pretty cool effects. It works by isolating different elements on individual layers. Each layer has it's own action (still, loop, mirror or play) and timeline. Just open a compatible video and Cliplets will ask what segment you would like to use. The maximum amount of time that Cliplets can work with is only ten (10) seconds.

This video is a sample of what Microsoft Research Cliplets can do. The palm tree on the left has been frozen, while the palm tree on the right sways is the wind. Also, look for the bird is flying through.

When you are all done editing, you can export your final Cliplet in three different formats, animated GIF (*.GIF) , MPEG-4 video (*.MP4) or Windows Media Video (*.WMA). Cliplets works with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7. Here's a quote from their site:

Cliplets: Juxtaposing Still and Dynamic Imagery

What Are Cliplets?

Microsoft Research Cliplets is an interactive app that gives users the power to create "Cliplets" -- a type of imagery that sits between stills and video, including imagery such as video textures and "cinemagraphs". The app provides a simple, yet expressive way to mix static and dynamic elements from a video clip.

About Cliplets

Cliplets is a research project from Microsoft Research. This project explores a form of visual media that juxtaposes still image and video segments, both spatially and temporally, to expressively abstract a moment. The tension between static and dynamic elements in a cliplet reinforces both aspects, strongly focusing the viewer's attention or conveying a narrative. We develop a set of idioms, essentially spatiotemporal mappings, that characterize these cliplet elements, and use these idioms in an interactive system to quickly compose a cliplet from ordinary handheld video. A key challenge is to avoid seam artifacts by maintaining spatiotemporal continuity in the cliplet composition. We address this using several algorithms from computer graphics and vision.

For more information on Microsoft Research Cliplets, just follow the links below:

Microsoft Research Cliplets
Microsoft Research Cliplets Gallery

How to dual-boot with Windows 7 and Windows 8

I really wanted to install Windows 8 on one of my production systems, but didn't want to perform an upgrade to my existing version of Windows 7. I have had dual-boot systems in the past, so why not try it with Windows 7 and Windows 8. And to have some fun with it, I decided to use my Netbook.

Windows 7 / Windows 8 boot manager screen
Windows 7 / Windows 8 boot manager screen

I was surprise as to how easy it was. All that is required is an existing Windows 7 installation, Windows 8 installation media and enough free space on your hard drive. I didn't even have to edit the boot loader, Windows 8 did it automatically. Here's how I did it.

Rename the existing Windows 7 partition / volume

Once your system is dual-booting, you will need to be able to identify which partition has what operating system. Renaming the existing partition now will make things easier later (see image below).

  • Open My Computer and right-click on the C: drive and select Rename. Give it a name that indicates which operating system is installed on it, something like Win7 or Windows 7.

Create a system image of your existing hard drive

Next thing to do is to create a system image, just in case you need to recover your system back to it's original state.

  1. Click the Start button, then click on Control Panel. Inside the Control Panel click on System and Security, then click on Backup and Restore
  2. or
  3. Click the Start button. In the search box, type Backup, and then, in the list of results, click on Backup and Restore

In the left pane, click Create a system image, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Shrink the existing Windows 7 volume

You will need some free space on your hard drive to install Windows 8. Windows 7 makes shrinking the existing partition really easy. If you are logged in as an administrator, you can repartition your hard disk by using the Shrink feature in Disk Management. You shrink the existing partition to create unallocated disk space, from which you create a new partition during the installation of Windows 8.

  • Click the Start button, then click on Computer, which will bring up Windows Explorer. Inside of Windows Explorer, right-click on Computer, then click on Manage
  • or
  • Click the Start button. In the search box, type Management, and then, in the list of results, click on Computer Management.
  • If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • In the left pane, under Storage, click Disk Management.
  • Right-click the volume you want to shrink, and then click Shrink Volume. Follow the instructions.

install windows 8 on the free space

Insert the Windows 8 installation media (DVD or USB drive) and reboot your system. If your system does not automatically boot up on the Windows 8 media, you may have to modify the boot options in the system's BIOS.

Once the installation starts, you will be prompted to do an Upgrade or Custom installation. Select Custom and then you will be asked which partition you would like to install Windows 8 on. Select the unnamed, unallocated disk space you just created and let the installation complete.

I have built quite few dual-boot systems in the past and had to use a third party boot editor to finish the setup. Not this time. Windows 8 modified the existing boot loader.

The reversed drive letters on a Windows 7 / Windows 8 dual-boot system
The reversed drive letters on a Windows 7 / Windows 8 dual-boot system

Once the installation is complete, open up Windows Explorer using the instructions above. You will notice that that drive letters associated with the partitions have changed. The partition you renamed earlier is not the C: drive anymore under Windows 8. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8, when in operation, will make their active partition the C: drive. Rename the unnamed Windows 8 partition Win8 or Windows 8 and you're set.

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in all aspects of Computer Repair / PC Repair / Laptop Repair. Since 2008, our expert computer repair technicians have been providing outstanding Computer Repair, Virus Removal, Data Recovery, Photo Manipulation and Website Support.

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