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The Windows 10 feature you hope you never have to use

Nobody likes to have to reinstall Windows. Nobody. It has been a significant headache with finding or creating the recovery/installation media and finding or reading the product key from the Certificate of Authenticity (COA). But with the Windows 10 online upgrade, things just got a whole lot easier.

 Windows 10 feature you hope you never have to use

There may come a day when you may need to repair or reinstall Windows 10. In previous versions of Windows, you had to create the manufacturer's branded recovery disks or use the hidden recovery partition to reinstall Windows. Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones that got an OEM disk. Either way, you had to have the original operating system installation media from the manufacturer to perform a reinstallation.

The huge problem was a lot of people didn't know they needed to make the recovery disks. They only found out after their hard drives crashed. At that point, they have only two choices; contact the manufacturer to find out if they sell the recovery disks. Some do, some don't. But the cost for replacement recovery disks will be less than the second option, which is to purchase a new installation disk.

If you're one of the millions that have upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 online, you now have a digital license. You can use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft to create either a bootable USB drive or an ISO file. You can then use the ISO file to create an installation DVD. And the cool thing is that you can make the installation media on another Windows 10 computer, just in case your computer will not boot.

All you need for hardware is a USB drive (8GB or larger) or DVD burner and a blank single-side or double-side DVD. What you need to know about your version of Windows 10 is what language, what edition (Home, Pro, etc.), and what architecture (32-bit or 64-bit). Most consumers use the Home edition as the Pro edition does cost more. Unless you specifically order your computer with the Pro edition or your computer is part of a domain, it's probably the Home edition. And most computers nowadays run 64-bit versions of Windows.

The next thing is the product key. In previous Windows versions, when you installed the operating system, the product key was stored on the hard drive. With Windows 10, when installing the operating system, the product key is stored on the cloud. So, if you are doing a clean/repair installation and Windows 10 has already been activated on that specific computer, you will not need to enter a product key when prompted. You can click on the I don't have a product key link, and Windows 10 will automatically activate when it gets online. It's one of the coolest features of Windows 10 you hope you never have to use.

For more information on the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft, follow the link below.

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

How to manage Windows 10 Virtual Memory

Optimizing Virtual Memory in Windows has always been an easy way to fine-tune the performance of a computer. When I started working with Windows computers in the 90s, the measurement of memory was Megabytes (MB), now it's Gigabytes (GB). The calculation contained in this article is for Windows computers that have 8 GB or less of memory. If your system has 16 GB or more of memory, you can give this Virtual Memory calculation a try, but you might find that letting Windows automatically manage the paging file will work just as well. Give it a try and let us know how you make out in the comments below.

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 application you're trying to run, Windows temporarily moves information that would usually be stored in RAM to a file on your hard disk called a Paging File. The data temporarily stored in the 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 running programs 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 program 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.

If you have more than one drive in your computer, you can have more than one pagefile. If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), I recommend placing the paging file on the HDD, as Windows is continuously reading and writing to the virtual memory. This wear and tear can shorten the life span of an SSD.

How to calculate Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

There is a formula for calculating the correct pagefile size. The Initial size is one and a half (1.5) x the amount of total system memory. The Maximum size is three (3) x the initial size. So let's say you have 4 GB (1 GB = 1,024 MB x 4 = 4,096 MB) of memory. The initial size would be 1.5 x 4,096 = 6,144 MB and the maximum size would be 3 x 6,144 = 18,432 MB.

How to change Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

All the information and links you will need are going to be on the System page.

  1. Bring up the System page by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Pause
    • or
    • Open File Explorer by left-clicking the manilla folder icon on the Taskbar or pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E at the same time. When File Explorer is open, right-click on This PC and select Properties on the context menu that appears.
  2. Make a note of the installed memory (RAM)
    System page inside of Windows 10
  3. Click on the Advanced system settings link
  4. Click on the Advanced tab of the System Properties dialog box
    System Properties dialog box inside of Windows 10
  5. Click on the Settings ... button in the Performance section
  6. Click on the Advanced tab of the Performance Options dialog box
    Performance Options dialog box inside of Windows 10
  7. Click on the Change ... button inside of the Virtual memory section
  8. Deselect the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives checkbox
    Virtual Memory dialog box inside of Windows 10
  9. Select Custom size and enter the initial size and maximum size using the calculation shown above
  10. Click on the Set button

Manage your Windows computer with the Microsoft Management Console

Have you ever had a problem finding some of Windows built-in administrative tools? Don't you wish you could have them in one, easy to find location? You can do just that and more with the Microsoft Management Console.

Manage your Windows computer with the Microsoft Management Console

The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a program that you can use to create and save collections of administrative tools, called Consoles. Consoles contain items such as snap-ins, extension snap-ins, monitor controls, tasks, wizards, and documentation required to manage many of the hardware, software, and networking components of your Windows system.

The Microsoft Management Console inside of Windows 10
The Microsoft Management Console inside of Windows 10

Here is a list of some of the more useful MMC Snapins:

  • Computer Management
  • Device Manager
  • Disk Management
  • Event Viewer
  • Link to Web Address
  • Performance Diagnostics
  • Print Management
  • Services
  • Shared Folders
  • Task Scheduler
  • Windows Firewall

Using the Run dialog box to start the Microsoft Management Console

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

In the Run dialog box that appears, type mmc and select OK. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. When the Microsoft Management Console appears, it is time to add some content.

How to add/remove Microsoft Management Console snap-ins

  1. Left-click on the File pull-down menu and select Add/Remove Snap-in
  2. In the list of snap-ins that appear, left-click the snap-in you want to add to your console and then left-click on the Add button
  3. If prompted, select either Local computer or Another computer. If you choose Another computer, you will have to browse your network for that computer. Be sure to select the checkbox for Allow the select computer to be changed when launching from the command line.
  4. Then left-click on Finish. This will bring you back to the Add/Remove Snapin screen. When you finish adding snap-ins, left-click on the OK button in the lower right-hand corner of that screen.

How to add / edit / remove a Microsoft Management Console Taskpad View

  1. Right-click on the name of the console and left-click either New Taskpad View, Edit Taskpad View or Delete Taskpad View from the dialog menu that appears. If you do not have any Taskpad Views already inside the console, the only option that will appear is New Taskpad View.
  2. If you are creating a new Taskpad View, the New Taskpad View Wizard will appear. Just follow the prompts and choose the Taskpad default settings. If you don't like how it looks, you can always go back and edit the layout later. If you are selecting a Taskpad View, the general settings and tasks associated with it will appear.
  3. When you finish creating a new Taskpad View, you can create a new task to go inside of it. If you edit an existing Taskpad View, you can go the Tasks tab and select the current Tasks.
  4. When adding new tasks, the New Task Wizard will appear. Just follow the prompts and select the command type you want to use. You can run a command from a menu, run a script or program, open a web page, or open a tree item from your MMC favorite list.

When you are finished setting up your console, don't forget to save it in a place where you can quickly access it, like your Desktop.

Using special font characters in Windows with Character Map

Have you ever wanted to insert a letter or symbol into a Windows document that you could not find on your keyboard? Maybe a copyright, trademark, or tolerance symbol? You can do just that and more with Windows built-in Character Map.

Believe it or not, but Windows fonts can have more characters than your keyboard has keys. Most Windows fonts do have more characters than your keyboard can create. And that doesn't even include the unique fonts characters you can create with Private Character Editor. So how do you access and insert these characters? By using Character Map.

Character Map inside of Windows 10
Character Map inside of Windows 10

Character Map is one of those hidden gems inside of Windows that once you find it, you wonder how you lived without it. I remember first using Character Map inside of Windows 3.1 and was amazed at what font characters I could insert into a Microsoft Word document. And the cool thing is you can add them to almost any Windows program (HTML editors excluded).

Character Map inside of Windows 3.11
Character Map inside of Windows 3.11

How to start up Character Map

You can start Character Map two different ways: Windows built-in shortcut or from the Run dialog box.

Character Map in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start menu
  2. Left-click on All Apps
  3. Scroll down and left-click on Windows Accessories to expand it
  4. Left-click on Character Map

Character map in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar
  2. Left-click on Search button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Apps in Search.
  4. Type Character Map in the Search field on the Search pane
  5. In the results on the left-hand side, left-click on Character Map.

Character Map in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

  1. Left-click on the Start menu
  2. Left-click on All Programs
  3. Scroll down and left-click on Accessories to expand it
  4. Left-click on System Tools to expand it
  5. Left-click on Character Map

Using the Run dialog box to start Character Map

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

In the Run dialog box that appears, type charmap and select OK.

How to insert a special character into a document

  1. Left-click the Font pull-down menu and left-click the name of the font you want to use
  2. Left-click on the special character you want to insert into the document
  3. Left-click Select and then left-click Copy
  4. Open/switch to your document and left-click the location in the document where you want the special character to appear
  5. Left-click the program's Edit menu or right-click the location where you want the character to appear and select Paste
  • Many programs allow you to drag and drop special characters into documents. To do this, click the character you want to copy. When the character appears enlarged, drag and drop it into the open document.
  • If you do not delete previously copied characters in the Characters to copy box, they are copied along with any new characters you select.
  • If a private character does not appear correctly in a document, select the character in the document, and change its font to match the font you chose in Character Map.

Create your own Windows font character with Private Character Editor

Do you have a company logo or a simple graphic that you would like to use often in a Windows program, like Microsoft Word or Excel? Maybe your line of work has special characters you would like to use but cannot find inside any of the installed Windows fonts? If so, you may want to create your own with Private Character Editor.

Using Private Character Editor (PCE), you can create up to 6,400 unique characters (such as special letters and logos) for use in your font library. PCE contains essential tools (pencil, brush, line, rectangle, and circle) for creating and editing characters and more advanced options.

The Private Character Editor inside of Window 10
The Private Character Editor inside of Window 10

There are some pros and cons to creating your characters. Pro: you can insert your unique character into any text line and change its size and color. Con: your unique character can only be one color (font color) and is low-resolution. If you're looking for multiple colors and high resolution, you need to use a graphic instead. But if you are looking for a way to insert a single-color logo or unique character into a text line, this might be the answer.

My custom Windows logo character inserted into a WordPad document
My custom Windows logo character inserted into a WordPad document

Now starting PCE can be kind of hard the first time since there is no shortcut to the program. But once you know where it is and how to start it, you're ready to rock and roll. The program name for PCE is eudcedit.exe, and its located in the Windows\system32 directory. The easiest way to start it up is by using the Run dialog box.

How to open the Run dialog box

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

In the Run dialog box that appears, type eudcedit and select OK.

Once you have created your unique character, you will need to use the Character Map application to copy it to the clipboard, so you can paste it into your Windows program (see video below).
Use the Character Map program to insert your special character
Once you have your unique character inserted, you can change its format (color, size, bold, italic, etc.) any way you like.

Note:

  • You can choose to link your private characters to all the fonts in your font library (so that any font you've selected can display your private characters). Or you can choose to link your private characters only to specific fonts (so that only the specified font can show your private characters).
  • Using the Select Code dialog box, you can view your entire set of private characters. The Select Code dialog box displays miniature views of all your private characters with their corresponding hexadecimal values.
  • If you want to create a new private character using an existing character as your model, you can copy the current character to the Edit grid and then modify it to suit your needs. Or you can display the existing character in a Reference window alongside your Edit grid for use as a visual reference. You can use any character from any font that is installed on your computer.
  • By default, PCE creates characters using the Unicode character set. If you have installed one of the Asian input languages (such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean), you can also use PCE with the Windows character set.

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company that specializes in servicing all brands of desktop and laptop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

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