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Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP

Windows XP currently the most popular operating system with Windows 7 quickly catching up. As more and more people are moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, I thought I would spotlight a series of articles that I wrote a little while back. My move from Windows XP to Windows 7 was a 'side-by-side' migration, with two separate systems.

I, be leave it or not, never used Windows Vista on any of my production systems. I ran Windows XP up until Windows 7 was released. I did run Windows 7 Release Candidates on a test system for several months prior to it's release and was very happy with it. I even wrote a series of articles about it too. Here they all are.

Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP

Beta testing Windows 7

Resetting your network adapter in Windows 7

Network shell (Netsh) is a tool an administrator can use to configure and monitor network devices on Windows based computers at a command prompt. A common use of Netsh, is to reset the TCP/IP stack back to default settings.

But not only will Netsh reset the TCP/IP stack, but it can also completely reset your network adapter(s). It will also reset the Windows Firewall in Windows 7 too.

Using Netsh in Windows 7

To use Netsh, you will need to open a Command Prompt as an administrator. There are two ways to do this:

  • Click the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • or

  • Click the Start button. In the search box, type Command Prompt, and then, in the list of results, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Netsh commands in Windows 7

The following is a list of the Netsh commands you can use to reset your Windows 7 network adapter:

Restores the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security policy to the default policy. The current active policy can be optionally exported to a specified file. In a Group Policy object, this command returns all settings to notconfigured and deletes all connection security and firewall rules.netsh advfirewall reset

Resets the BranchCache service. Flushes the local cache. Every configuration parameter of BranchCache will be reset to its default value.netsh branchcache reset

Resets TCP/IP and related components to a clean state.netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt

Resets IPv6 configuration state.netsh int ipv6 reset

Resets Winsock Catalog to a clean state. All Winsock Layered Service Providers which were previously installed must be reinstalled. This command does not affect Winsock Name Space Provider entries.netsh winsock reset

Managing Virtual Memory / Pagefile in Windows 7

Your computer has two types of memory, Random Access Memory (RAM) and Virtual Memory. All programs use RAM, but when there isn't enough RAM for the program you're trying to run, Windows temporarily moves information that would normally be stored in RAM to a file on your hard disk called a Paging File. The amount of information temporarily stored in a paging file is also referred to as virtual memory. Using virtual memory, in other words, moving information to and from the paging file, frees up enough RAM for programs to run correctly.

The more RAM your computer has, the faster your programs will generally run. If a lack of RAM is slowing your computer, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory to compensate. However, your computer can read data from RAM much more quickly than from a hard disk, so adding RAM is a better solution.

If you receive error messages that warn of low virtual memory, you need to either add more RAM or increase the size of your paging file so that you can run the programs on your computer. Windows usually manages this automatically, but you can manually change the size of virtual memory if the default size isn't large enough for your needs.

Change the size of virtual memory

If you receive warnings that your virtual memory is low, you'll need to increase the minimum size of your paging file. Windows sets the initial minimum size of the paging file equal to the amount of random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer, and the maximum size equal to three times the amount of RAM installed on your computer. If you see warnings at these recommended levels, then increase the minimum and maximum sizes.

To open the System Properties, press Windows logo key + Pause

Windows 7 Pagefile Settings 1

In the left pane, click Advanced system settings. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Windows 7 Pagefile Settings 2

On the Advanced tab, under Performance, click Settings.

Windows 7 Pagefile Settings 3

Click the Advanced tab, and then, under Virtual memory, click Change.

Windows 7 Pagefile Settings 4

Clear the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives check box.

Under Drive [Volume Label], click the drive that contains the paging file you want to change.

Click Custom size, type a new size in megabytes in the Initial size (MB) or Maximum size (MB) box, click Set, and then click OK. There is a formula for calculating the correct pagefile size. Minimum pagefile size is one and a half (1.5) x amount of memory. Maximum pagefile size is three (3) x minimum pagefile size. Say you have 4 Gb (4,096 Mb) of memory. 1.5 x 4,096 = 6,144 Mb would be the min. pagefile size and 3 x 6,144 = 18,432 Mb would be the max. pagefile size.

Note:
Increases in size usually don't require a restart for the changes to take effect, but if you decrease the size, you'll need to restart your computer. It is recommend that you don't disable or delete the paging file.

My five favorite Windows tips for maintaining your computer

In this article, I am going to share my five favorite tips for maintaining Microsoft Windows.

  1. Checkdisk. This is the first thing I do when I get a system here in the shop. Errors do occur and files do get damaged. Best to take care of this first thing. And yes, this can take a while, so I always recommend leaving your system on and let Checkdisk run over night. That way your computer is ready to go first thing in the morning.

    For more information on how to perform a Checkdisk, just select your operating system below:
    Windows 7 Checkdisk
    Windows Vista Checkdisk
    Windows XP Checkdisk

  2. Delete Temporary files. This is the first place to look when you need to free up some hard disk space. These files served their propose at one time, but for some unknown reason, the program that used them did not delete them. When deleting temporary files, some may be still in use. I recommend deleting all files / folders that are over a week old. See below for the location of temporary files folder on your version of Windows:

    Windows 7 / Vista - C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Temp
    Windows XP - C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Temp

  3. Delete the Internet Explorer cache. This is the second place to look when you need to free up some hard disk space. I have seen systems with over 9 Gb of temporary files. Open Internet Explorer and go to Tools > Internet Options and change the following settings:

    Internet Explorer Temporary Files
    Internet Explorer Temporary Files

  4. Pagefile optimization. This one often gets over looked. There is a formula for calculating the correct pagefile size. Minimum pagefile size is one and a half (1.5) x amount of memory. Maximum pagefile size is three (3) x minimum pagefile size. Say you have 4 Gb (4,096 Mb) of memory. 1.5 x 4,096 = 6,144 Mb would be the min. pagefile size and 3 x 6,144 = 18,432 Mb would be the max. pagefile size.

    Windows Pagefile Settings

    To change the pagefile size, you need to access the System Properties dialog box. Press Windows logo key + Pause (Windows 7 / Vista users select 'Advanced' system settings). Then select the 'Advanced' tab and under 'Performance' click on Settings. Then select the 'Advanced' tab and under 'Virtual memory' click on Change.

    For more information on how to change the pagefile size, just select your operating system below:
    Windows 7 Pagefile Settings
    Windows Vista Pagefile Settings
    Windows XP Pagefile Settings

  5. Disk Defragmenter. Probably the best single thing you can do to speed up your computer. Imagine a filing cabinet where all of the folders were out of order and files were misplaced through out the cabinet. How could you find anything? Same thing with your hard drive. Disk Defragmenter takes care of that for you. And you can run it as a scheduled task too.

    For more information on how to use Disk Defragmenter, just select your operating system below:
    Windows 7 Disk Defragmenter
    Windows Vista Disk Defragmenter
    Windows XP Disk Defragmenter

Give these five tips a try and see how much more performance you can get from your computer,
Scott

Simple security with Microsoft Security Essentials

In this article, I am going to spotlight Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). This is not Microsoft's first venture into the ant-virus market, but it is probably the best. Having used the some of the more well know anti-virus software (Norton / Symantec, McAfee, etc.) for over a decade, I decided to give MSE a try.

Microsoft Security Essentials

All of articles I had read on Microsoft Security Essentials were quite positive, so I installed its on my netbook running Windows 7 in June. Since then, I have taken the netbook on several on-site service calls and on vacation. I am happy to report that the netbook remains virus free. What I really like is the small footprint the software has. It does not take five minutes to start up Windows, as can happen on systems with limited resources (such as a netbooks).

MSE works quite well with Windows 7 built-in firewall. The interface is clean and easy to use, unlike some of the anti-virus software out there. It's easy enough for a novice user to navigate. It also integrates into Windows Update as well. Here's a quote from Microsoft's website:

Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.

I encourage you to take a look at Microsoft Security Essentials. It's simple and free.
Scott

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