Zericho's Windows Knowledge Center

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  Posted on January 13, 2010 03:05
Zericho
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#1
Welcome thread viewers.

The purpose of this thread is to assist users with computing errors(hardware/software/user-generated), distribute and review software(Pirated software I'll review, but if you want that, go here), and distribute various tricks, tweaks and DIY guides for Microsoft Windows from XP onward.

That being said, let's get this thread rolling, shall we?

Table of Contents

I. Tweaks
II. Tips
III. Software
III.1 Web Browsers
IV. Assistance

I. Tweaks

There's a variety of tweaks - or more referred to as "hacks" - for Windows out there, which range from Desktop Management to System Optimization. I'll list a few here that are quite popular to use. WARNING: Applying these tweaks to your computer without permission from the owner(Parents or Administrators) make be against the rules laid out for use! Additionally, if you apply these tweaks incorrectly, they may break your computer. Read carefully before applying these tweaks and make certain you understand them!

Stop Your Computer From Rebooting After Installing Updates - XP & Vista
If you're like me, you're almost always working on your computer in one area or another, and severely dislike having to halt all your work and reboot to install updates, then waiting for it to go through it's boot functions, such as booting your software you set to start at system start-up and starting several services. This tweak will make it so as long as a user is logged into the computer, it will not reboot until the user logs out or manually reboots the machine.

1) Open your start menu and click on 'Run'(Type 'run' in the searchbox if on Vista)
2) Type in 'regedit', without the singular quotation marks and hit Enter
3) Navigate along the treebar to the following directory:
Qoute:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SOFTWARE / Policies / Microsoft / Windows / WindowsUpdate / AU]
If the sub-key 'WindowsUpdate' and subsequently 'AU' aren't present, right-click on 'Windows' in the treebar and select 'New -> Key' and name it 'WindowsUpdate'. Do the same for 'AU', except right-click on the 'WindowsUpdate' key instead.
4) Create a new DWORD value in the space on the right with the 'AU' key highlighted by right-clicking in the space and selecting 'New -> DWORD Value' and name it 'NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers', again without the singular quotations.
5) Right-click on the DWORD Value you created in the previous step and select 'Modify', inputting '1' in the editbox(Note: Unless told to, leave the two radio buttons alone). Then click Ok.

After a reboot to process the new information within the registry, your computer will no longer automatically reboot after installing updates so long as someone is logged into the machine. Note: This *may* be subject to change after rebooting to install updates.

-

Force Unload .DLL Files From Memory - All Windows
By default, Windows caches DLL(Dynamic Link Library) files in memory for a time to speed up the application that was last using them if you needed to reboot it for any reason. For users with low memory available, this tweak will allow you to force Windows to unload these files after the application using them has closed, thus freeing up the memory that would otherwise be used by the DLL files.

1) Open your start menu and click on 'Run'(Type 'run' in the searchbar if on Vista)
2) Type in 'regedit' and hit Enter
3) Navigate through the treebar to the following location:
Qoute:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SOFTWARE / Microsoft / Windows / CurrentVersion / Explorer]
With 'Explorer' highlighted, right-click in the space to the right and create a new String Value, naming it 'AlwaysUnloadDLL', without the singular quotation marks.
4) Right-click on it and select 'Modify', inputting '1' into the editbox, without the singular quotes of course. Click Ok and close Regedit.

After a reboot, whenever you close a program that had to use .DLL files with it, instead of caching the files for a short time, Windows will automatically purge them from memory, allowing your applications more room to breathe within your available RAM.

-

Improve Core System Performance - XP
For systems with large amounts of RAM available, this tweak will force Windows to cache core system files in RAM instead of paging them to disk, thus resulting in a snappier OS(Programs will still be paged to disk and swapped with available RAM).

1) Open your start menu and click 'Run'
2) Type in 'Regedit' and hit Enter
3) Navigate through the treebar to the following location:
Qoute:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / Control / Session Manager / Memory Management]
With 'Memory Management' highlighted, go into the space on the right and find the value 'DisablePagingExecutive'. Right-click on it and select 'Modify', inputting '1' into the editbox. Then click Ok and close Regedit.

After a reboot, your Windows core files and services will be kept in RAM and not paged to disk, allowing you to have a 'faster' Operating System.

WARNING: For those with low available RAM who test this, expect severe lag when opening applications and files, as most of your RAM is being used to house your core Windows files.

-

Reduce Application "Tab" Size In The Taskbar - XP & Vista
Like the look of Windows 7's Taskbar with the square tabs and how little space it takes up? Want that same functionality in Windows XP? Well, with this tweak, it'll allow you to have that.

1) Open your start menu and click 'Run'
2) Type in 'Regedit' and hit Enter
3) Navigate through the treebar to the following location:
Qoute:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Control Panel / Desktop / WindowMetrics]
With 'WindowMetrics' highlighted, go to the space on the right and create a new String Value with the name of 'MinWidth'.
4) Right-click on the value you just created and select 'Modify', inputting '-255' in the editbox. Now click Ok and close Regedit.

After a reboot, when you launch an application for as long as this tweak is applied, your application tabs in your taskbar will mimic Windows 7's default look and group together when you open a new window in the same program.

Note: It's hard-coded into Windows XP to show at least 1 letter of the application name with this tweak applied, and cannot be avoided as -255 is as small as you can make the tab be. If you want to get rid of this annoying problem, you could look into installing the Windows 7 RTM Theme For Windows XP theme pack, which allows you to get rid of the lone letter and make your Windows XP look as though it's Windows 7. Be warned however, as I've noticed a performance hit after installing this theme, though users with plenty of processing power and RAM probably won't notice this hit.

-

Faster Shutdown Speeds - XP
Ever need to go someplace quick and had to shut down your computer so nobody else but you can access your account(Hopefully) and Windows XP takes forever to shut down? Well, this tweak will help with that issue.

For A Single User
1) Open your start menu and click 'Run'
2) Type in 'Regedit' and hit Enter
3) Navigate through the treebar to the following location:
Qoute:
[HKEY CURRENT USER / Control Panel / Desktop]
With 'Desktop' highlighted, go to the space on the right and right-click on 'AutoEndTasks' and select 'Modify', inputting '1' in the editbox. Click Ok. Next, find the 'WaitToKillAppTimeout' and 'HungAppTimeout' entries. For these, right-click on each one and input '1000' into the editbox. Once you've done this to both and clicked Ok after changing the values, close Regedit.

For All Users
1) Open your start menu and click 'Run'
2) Type in 'Regedit' and hit Enter
3) Navigate through the treebar to the following location:
Qoute:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / Control]
With 'Control' highlighted, go to the space at the right and find the 'WaitToKillServiceTimeout' entry. Right-click on it and select 'Modify', inputting '1000' into the editbox. Once this is finished, click Ok and close Regedit.

After rebooting once for the changes to take effect, whenever you go to shut down or reboot while this tweak is applied, Windows will attempt to kill your open applications, services and unresponding applications as fast as it can - roughly 1 second, as Windows translates '1000' into '1' - , thus speeding up your shutdown/reboot times.


II. Tips

This section will be relatively short for the moment, since it's basic advice for any computer user.

Defragment Your Harddisks - As you install, uninstall and move files, your harddisk will inevitably become fragmented, which results in slower power-on/shutdown times, slower file and application accesses and an overall performance hit. The recommended interval to defragment your harddisk is roughly once, maybe twice a month to keep your computer running fairly quickly.

Uninstall Bloatware - This is a fairly big issue today, users installing software on the fly, then rarely using the installed software, which ends up being forgotten about and just takes up space on the disk. The more you have installed, the slower your machine will run. Common bloatware can be classified as toolbars, screensaver packs and unused software.

Have An Antivirus Installed - This is a MUST for ANY computer user. Viruses are always being created, updated and redistributed on the internet, and unless you don't own a computer, you will eventually get a virus. Virus distribution can hide within a website(Which it silently installs onto your machine whilst you view the site), a free download(Usually through false advertised and supported software), or one of the most common ways; through a torrent. It's not uncommon to torrent, say, a commercial program that's been cracked by a hacker, expecting to be able to install and use it without paying for the software, and the program contains a virus hard-coded into the installer files or executable(s), which installs itself onto your machine during the program installation and may wreck your computer enough to force you to reinstall your OS. Don't be caught in this trap, have an antivirus installed.


III. Software
I don't know about you guys, but I'm a supporter of free open-source software, slightly moreso than commercial software, depending on what I need from it. So, I'll share the love and list some free software to use, as well as links to information on commercial software.

CCleaner - This award-winning software functions similar to the default Windows Disc Cleaner utility, though it is much faster and more efficient, containing a Registry Cleaner - which scans the registry for dead keys, usually left behind by uninstalled software and removes them - , a Disc Cleaner - which scans and cleans away temporary internet files from most Internet browsers, ranging from Internet Explorer to Safari, log files, old prefetch data, etc. - , and a fast scanning engine, which can analyze multiple aspects within seconds. Highly recommended for any computer.

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware - Another award-winning software, Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware allows you to get rid of a wide range of viruses, spyware and other undesirable issues with Windows. It's free to use and update, however if you want to have the live-scan protection, you have to buy a license for it. Worth it if you decide to buy one however, as it's saved my ass loads of times regarding viruses and such.

Process Hacker - Window's default task manager is excellent at it's job, but it can't do it all. That's why Process Hacker is here to help pick up the slack. Process Hacker allows you to see ALL of your processes, including hidden and sub-processes, verify the developer(s) of the programs the processes are running for and allows you to kill the processes, regardless if the process is still being used or not. Useful for when viruses run background processes that steal your available memory and Window's task manager won't allow you to kill the process.

Memtest x86 - This isn't a program you can install through Windows, but rather one you burn to a disc and boot from. Memtest x86 is a memory diagnostic tool that allows you to check your RAM stick(s) for any errors, which is useful if your system has been unexpectedly crashing.

III.1 Web Browsers
Tired of Internet Explorer's epic amount of fail; both in speed and stability? Why not try one of these alternative(user-dubbed "Real") browsers?

Mozilla Firefox - Mozilla's award-winning web browser, Firefox has an extremely large fanbase and is quite customizable per user. Though the out-of-the-box configuration may be enough for normal users, others may want to venture over to the Customization section(Conveniently bookmarked by default upon install) and check out their ever-growing database of addons; which range from Themes to Ad Blocks and more. Several useful addons have been documented in Blake's Firefox Addon thread. I'm not saying that you have to install them all; but pick and choose which ones pique your interest.

Opera - Ah, Opera. I remember using this browser myself back when it was in version 8. I recently reinstalled this browser to see how much better it's gotten, and I'm glad I did. With the release of 10.10, Opera comes with several new options, such as Opera Turbo(Which allows users to speed up the rendering of a webpage at the sacrifice of viewing some content, which is useful for users with limited internet speeds), Opera Unite(Which allows you to stream content from your browser for you or your friends to enjoy from another computer, ranging from pictures to video), Opera Link(Which allows you to sync your bookmarks and such incase your computer shits a brick and you need to reinstall your OS, or install Opera on another computer and you want to have all of your bookmarks and such with you), and tons of under-the-hood features that I'll let you check out for yourselves.

Google Chrome - Speaking of "under-the-hood", let's review Google's very own browser; Google Chrome. Google has put a lot of work into this browser, which whupped Firefox in speed tests in FF v3.4, though it seems to have tapered off to about matching Firefox 3.6 in speed tests. The unique thing that Chrome has however, is it's ability to have each tab in a seperate process, which saves your browsing experience and allows you to continue if one of your tabs decides to die. Chrome has also recently acquired the ability to install extensions of it's own that allow users to use several ex-exclusive Firefox addons with Chrome. If you want to check out some of these extensions, head on over to My Chrome Addons and check out their selection. If your favorite Firefox addons aren't there yet, check back at weekly intervals; they're always adding more to the database.

Apple Safari - If you're a bit of a closet-macfag, or just like the look of Mac in general, why not check out Apple's Safari Web Browser? Designed from the start to avoid distractions while browsing(Browser-related distractions, mind you), Safari has over 150 features and a quite fast rendering engine powering your experience. Safari has already been ported from Mac-only to PC and the iPhone, allowing for browsing on-the-go or for those who regularly use a Mac and are stuck on a PC that can't live with using a different browser. Personally, I don't use Safari due to the lack of addon support(or compatibility for that matter), so I can't really elaborate on it's features. I'll just let you guys decide for yourselves on that matter. :)
  Posted on May 4, 2010 22:53
Zericho
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Posts: 101
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#2
As some of you may or may not know, you aren't limited to a single Operating System(OS) on your computer. You can install as many as you want, so long as it's valid and you have the space on your Hard Disk Drive(HDD) to support them. "How?" you may ask? Well, what you would typically do is partition your HDD and install the next OS onto the new, unused partition.

Partitioning, quoted from Wikipedia is:
Qoute:
Disk partitioning is the act or practice of dividing the storage space of a hard disk drive into separate data areas known as partitions.


I suppose you can think of it as this analogy. Imagine you have a 3-ring folder full of paper. For the sake of the analogy, we'll say that folder has 1024 pages of blank notebook paper in it, equal to 1 Gigabyte(GB)(1024 Megabytes(MB)) in computing terms. Now say you had 2 classes you used that folder for and wanted to organize it so you knew where one class ended for your notes and the other began. You could either ask the teacher or buy a divider with a tab at the top or the side to slip inbetween the pages at a set number. This is called a Partition, since you're dividing the total amount of pages into however many you want for each class. Now, say you put the divider in after page 512, which is equal to 512MB in computing terms. You just split the 1024 pages you had into two sections by installing that divider, and can now easily access class 1 notes and class 2 notes without flipping through all of the pages to find where one ended and the other began. This is essentially what you do for your HDD when you want to install another OS or just to organize your stuff better.

You aren't limited to two partitions either. You can have as many as you want so long as your HDD is large enough to support all of the partitions. Anyway, on with the guide.

Partitioning Software
Since you're reading this guide, I suppose you're either...

A) Curious about this thread or
B) Actually need to partition your HDD or
C) Just want a more organized HDD.

So, let's get rollin'. For partitioning software, I usually use EASEUS Partition Manager Home Edition to manage, create and delete partitions. It's free and it gets the job done. You're free to use whichever partitioning software you feel comfortable with using, but I recommend EASEUS since it's easy enough to use. After downloading and installing, let's move on.

Alright, next, boot the program. At the next screen, you should see something similar to this screen. For the sake of this guide, we'll divide your drive into two partitions. You can make more if you wish, but for now we'll make just 2.

Now then, at that screen, left-click once on the "C: (NTFS)" area to highlight it. This obviously tells the program which drive we want to partition so you don't accidentally partition the wrong drive. Next, click on the "Resize/Move" button on the toolbar. This will allow you to either enter in a numerical range to resize the drive to, or drag and drop for approximation. You should get a popup similar to this one. Now you can either drag and drop the right end of the bar to suit your needs or enter in a number to cut it down to. I just dragged the bar to where it cuts my drivespace essentially in half, as seen here. After you set however much space you want the new partition to be(the program refers to it as "Unallocated Space" until you create a new partition on it), click Ok.

You should get a quick popup saying "Locking Drive C!", which will disappear in a matter of seconds, if it even makes it to one, followed by a screen that bares resemblance to this. On the left, you have your current partition which has your Operating System and files currently on it, and on the right is the Unallocated Space to create a new partition on. Left-click on the Unallocated Space bar to highlight it, then click on the "Create" button on the toolbar.

You should now get another popup similar to this one. Here you can specify a variety of aspects of the new partition, such as the Partition Label(How it looks in the My Computer browser), Drive Letter(By default, the program takes the A, B, C and D drive letter options away from you, since they belong to other hardware. A and B belong to Floppy Disk Drives, C is the default letter for your main Hard Disk and D is your CD/DVD Drive), File System(NTFS is selected as default, as it's the most secure and allows for far more actions than FAT(File Allocation Table) and FAT32(File Allocation Table 32-bit)), Cluster Size(More info on this here, but it's recommended to leave it at Default), and Allocation Space in case you want to make more than one partition.

You'll see in that last pic that my first available letter is H instead of E. This is because I have 4 other drives using a letter(1 U3 drive, 2 flash drives and 1 external HDD). This will vary to everyone depending on how many devices recognized as a storage device you've plugged into the computer.

Anyway, for the sake of the guide, I'll just click Ok since I can always rename the drive after we're done. After you've set your options for the new partition and clicked Ok, you should now see a screen resembling this one. So far, we've split the drive in two, created a new partition and gave it a drive letter(as well as some other aspects) so Windows will recognize it in the My Computer browser and allow you to freely access it. We're almost done! All that's left now is to hit the "Apply" button on the toolbar, which will give you a popup like this one. If you're not ready for it to start working yet, or want to change something about your C drive or your new partition, click Cancel and go change whatever it is you want to change. If you're ready for it to start working, click Ok.

This will prompt you to reboot your computer, which will automatically load the processes that will split your drive, assign it a new letter for the new partition and make it accessable. Let it do it's work when you reboot it, and soon enough you'll have a new partition waiting for you in your My Computer browser, like so.

Note: I didn't click Ok at the last prompt, since I have no need to partition my drive at the moment, but you get the idea from the last mock-up screenshot.


Hope this helps those who need it.
  Posted on May 4, 2010 22:54
Zericho
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Forum Rank:
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Posts: 101
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#3
Ever since Windows 3.1(When developers first began creating applications for Windows), there has always been a dark side to the developers; those who write viruses to wreck your system and render it inoperable. These evil developers write malicious code into an application - most of the time, as there's other ways of dispensing a virus - and upload it to the Internet for some poor unsuspecting person to download it, being misled into thinking it's something else entirely, then installing it, thus allowing the virus to run rampant and destroy your system. Of course, this is just one way your system can fail. Another way is by errors in Window's code, which allow malicious computer users(most commonly known as "Hackers") to gain access to your system and wreck it. And of course, one of the most common ways a system can fail is by pure User Error, such as accidentally deleting a file needed to boot correctly or changing a setting an incorrect way(such as a Registry tweak that modifies one or several boot keys and ultimately corrupts them or deletes them entirely). What this guide is intended for is to help you recover from an Operating System failure via an Operating System Re-Installation. So without further ado, let's get this thread rolling.

Contents
I. Choosing Your Operating System
II. How To Burn A .ISO File
III. Notes Before Formatting
IV. Formatting Your Hard Disk & Installing Your Operating System
V. Post-Install Catalyst



I. Choosing Your Operating System

Since different people prefer different Operating Systems, I'll list 3 Windows-based ones to check out.

Windows XP Professional - Windows XP is quite the piece of work alright. Released back in 2001 and still selling strong today, it's one of Microsoft's most stable OSs on the market. It allows the user to do a multitude of actions, such as streaming media(TV Shows, Music, Pictures), Programming work(Microsoft has released several versions of their Visual Studio software, currently in it's 2010 Beta release. It comes in several flavours, such as Visual Basic, C#, C++ and more), Business work(Most store-bought computers that have Windows XP installed come with Microsoft Office installed by default, letting the user create and edit files with ease), and of course, Gaming. Windows XP's minimal RAM use(Prior to installing additional software, mind you) lets your games flourish while in use. For more information, you can visit the Wikipedia page, located here.

Downloads*
Qoute:
Downloads removed due to Mediafire "pirated material" detection

*: These downloads are to .ISO files off of MSDNAA(MicroSoft Developer Network Academic Alliance) servers, which host only legit software. These downloads - once installed - will expire within 30 days unless you enter a valid serial key in that timeframe.

Windows Vista - Released to RTM in 2006 and Retail in 2007, Windows Vista was quickly adopted by Windows fanboys(and girls) who were eager to check out the newest release in the Windows timeline. However, until Service Pack 1 was released in 2008, Windows Vista had many problems including excessive memory use(outside of what it normally uses) and incompatibilities. Some problems even exist under rare circumstances, such as Vista deleting registry values(which render it unable to properly boot) and bluescreening when launching some applications. Though many of these problems have been and are still being addressed by Microsoft, Windows Vista's core is a solid OS. Expanding from Windows XP by adding new security features such as a two-way firewall and User Account Control, as well as a brand new interface design, dubbed "Aero" by Microsoft, which makes window borders transparent(and blurry, if the user wants to have it as such). Overall, despite some still-present issues with it, Vista is a decent Operating System, just not recommended for users with a low amount of available RAM or else you'll experience massive system lag. For more information, you can check the Wikipedia page, located here.

Downloads*
Qoute:
Downloads removed due to Mediafire "pirated material" detection

*: These downloads are to .ISO files off of MSDNAA(MicroSoft Developer Network Academic Alliance) servers, which host only legit software. These downloads - once installed - will expire within 30 days unless you enter a valid serial key in that timeframe.

Windows 7 - Microsoft's newest Operating System, Windows 7 boasts improved performance and memory management over Windows Vista and improvement in core areas that Windows XP used to dominate. Dubbed by some users as "The Complete Vista", Windows 7 has a few new features that Windows Vista didn't. Most notably of these features is it's new taskbar. Instead of having the rectangular tabs, Windows 7 by default has square-shaped tabs with an enlarged icon of the program(s) you're using. Many have compared the new taskbar with the Mac OS X dock, saying that Microsoft "borrowed" that feature for Windows 7(Which isn't far from the truth, as Microsoft and Apple have been borrowing each other's features for years now). Another notable feature in Windows 7 is it's ability to keep going should one application hang during operation and become unresponsive(Firefox with a 1080p Youtube video, anyone?), allowing the user to continue onwards almost without noticing the hung application. Users are then able to either kill the application through Task Manager, or allow it to continue running in hopes of it fixing itself. One final notable feature is Windows 7's new Aero design. When compared to Windows Vista, Windows 7's Aero theme is much more encompassing for window borders and the taskbar. A few new features to Windows 7's Aero are Aero Shake(Which lets the user clear the screen of windows by "shaking" a window around the screen, minimizing all but the current window), Aero Peek(Which lets a user make all their windows transparent in order to see their desktop), and Aero Snap(Which lets a user drag and drop windows to either the left, top, or right of their screen and have the window maximize to fit the dimensions. For instance, if you dragged a window to the left of the screen, it'd enlarge to fit the entire left half of your screen.). There are tons of other features contained within Windows 7, but I'll let you find that out for yourselves. For more information, you can visit the Wikipedia page, located here.

Downloads*
Qoute:
Downloads removed due to Mediafire "pirated material" detection

*: These downloads are to .ISO files off of MSDNAA(MicroSoft Developer Network Academic Alliance) servers, which host only legit software. These downloads - once installed - will expire within 30 days unless you enter a valid serial key in that timeframe.

II. How To Burn A .ISO File
Now that you've acquired your .ISO file of choice, I bet you're ready to throw a disc in your drive and burn it, right? Well stop right there. .ISO files are unique in the aspect that they can be used to create bootable discs instead of just taking up space on a disc. However, they require a program that can correctly read and write these files to disc and create a boot sector to boot from. I recommend Active@ ISO Burner for the job. I personally use this one and have had good luck with it in it's success rate(Remember, not all discs are made the same, so there may be impurities which will cause the burn to fail), but if you have another program you feel comfortable using that can burn .ISO files, then more power to you. If not, then download and install Active@. Now, the next step in this process is choosing the right disc for the job. If you chose Windows XP, then a CD-R/RW will be more than enough to fit the .ISO. However if you chose Windows Vista or Windows 7, you'll need a DVD-R/RW to fit them. Assuming you have a few spare blank CD-R/RW or DVD-R/RW discs lying around, pop one into your disc drive and launch Active@ ISO Burner. Once it's launched, navigate to wherever you saved the .ISO of your Operating System of choice to(By default, the downloaders will save them to C:/Temp) through the program and Open it. Now, all you need to do is hit "Burn" and go do something else for 5-10 minutes. Simple, right? However if you get back and notice an error, it was probably either the burn speed was too high or an impurity in the disc. If you receive this error on multiple discs with the default burn speed, try turning the speed up or down a bit until it works. If you get back and it says "Burn completed successfully" or something close, then congratulations, you successfully burned your Operating System of choice to disc!

III. Notes Before Formatting
After you get your Operating System of choice burned to disc, don't jump the gun and reboot into the setup just yet. We've still a bit to talk about before we format your hard disk and get your Operating System installing.

Back-Up Important(/Personal) Files
I can't tell you how many times I've helped someone with questions about re-installing their OS; telling them what to do beforehand, during the install and post-install, only to have them come up to me afterwards and say "What happened to all of my files? I thought they'd still be there!". What a reformat does to your hard disk is simply writing a layer of zeros over the space your OS and all your applications and documents take up, essentially telling the computer "Hey, this is blank space and it's OK to write over it.". These files aren't actually deleted, as they're still technically on the disk(Which is why it's possible to recover files even after deleting them through the Recycle Bin), but the system believes it's a completely blank disk, therefore allowing you to write over it. What you should do before you begin the formatting process is back-up all of the files you want to keep to(for a few examples) a USB drive, another Hard Disk, an Online File Depository or to a CD/DVD, so they can be accessed after you've finished installing your OS and still be intact.

Back-Up Your Drivers
With the release of Windows Vista, a driver repository was included on the disc with tons of generic drivers for most hardware, allowing your computer to function at a handicapped level until you installed the correct drivers for your hardware. This is also present in Windows 7, however Windows XP lacks this repository, meaning if you don't have your drivers saved to reinstall, you're screwed. For most people, visiting their hardware manufacturer's website(s) should point you towards the correct drivers, or even a newer version of your current drivers, but if you don't feel like looking all over for your latest drivers, you can use DriverMax to export your installed drivers to a compressed folder, allowing you to reinstall them after your new OS is installed via Device Manager.

Be Patient
Rushing a reformat or an installation will always lead to disaster, even for the most technical of people. Be patient, thoroughly read everything the prompts show you and make sure you understand what the prompts are asking before you continue.

IV. Formatting Your Hard Disk & Installing Your Operating System

Hopefully you took the time to read the Notes section before continuing to here. If not, this section will be here when you get finished reading it. So if you skipped it, take this opportunity to go read those notes before continuing. If you read it all the first time, or just finished reading it, let me congratulate you before we continue. You're almost done with this guide, you have a disc with a bootable OS Installation on it, your drivers are backed up and you have all of your important data saved someplace else, as well as the knowledge of how to do such! Go on, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it for reading this far in.

...Finished? Alright, then let's get on with this section.

What "Formatting" actually means, in technological terminology referring to a Hard Disk, is writing in zeros over all the space on the drive except for the Master Boot Record, or "clearing the drive of anything and everything" in Lamen Terms. What it essentially does is tell the computer "Hey, it's OK to delete all this and write over it.", making the computer think the drive is blank, thus allowing you to install a new Operating System over the "blank" drive. How do you go about this, you ask? I was just about to tell you. Grab your OS disc you made earlier and pop it into your disc drive(If you chose Windows Vista or Windows 7, make sure your disc drive can read DVDs) and reboot. If your computer doesn't show a screen that has a "Press Any Key To Boot From Disc..." message in the upper left corner, then your BIOS is most likely set to boot from the Hard Disk first. If you didn't receive this message, reboot once again, and at the screen that typically displays your motherboard manufacturer, get into your BIOS Configuration(The button to do so varies on all models of motherboards, but it is usually one of the Function keys, most commonly F2, F10, F11 or F12. On occasion, it's sometimes the Escape key. If you aren't sure, google your motherboard's manufacturer and see if you can find the key to access your BIOS configuration.), and change the boot order so your disc drive is first on the list, then save and exit from your BIOS Configuration and reboot once more. You should then receive the "Press Any Key To Boot From Disc..." message. Press a key and let Windows load all of it's files from the disc. Be patient, as this sometimes takes a little bit. Once Windows has loaded from the disc, your next screen may vary depending on what you chose earlier on. If you chose Windows XP, you'll be greeted by a GUI-less screen, complete with one-key commands. If you chose Windows Vista or Windows 7, you'll be greeted with a GUI screen with 1 window in the center, assisting you on your installation.

For Windows XP
This guide will help you through installing Windows XP through it's setup, however if your system is a modern one(it should be, if it's running XP), it won't be running FAT32. It'll be running NTFS instead. Regardless, follow the prompts through the setup and allow Windows to copy the files over. Once it reaches the GUI screen however, you'll need to babysit it for the rest of the installation. At the Product Key screen, it should allow you to just bypass the screen(Unless you have a legit key of your own, in which case you can put that in the box and continue).

For Windows Vista
This Youtube video will show you the install sequence for Windows Vista. Correlate the screens shown here with those in your installation(and remember, you're reformatting the disc, not doing an upgrade, so select 'Custom' and format the disk)

For Windows 7
This Youtube video will show you the install screens of Windows 7. It's the RC install sequence, but I haven't noticed any changes between this and the Retail release. Just remember, you're formatting the disk before you install, so select 'Custom' at the Install Options screen.

V. Post-Install Catalyst
Once you're done installing your Operating System of choice, reinstall all of your drivers you backed up from your previous install(I certainly hope you backed them up anyway) through Device Manager(If you need a guide for this, there's this guide for Windows XP, this guide for Windows Vista and this guide for Windows 7.) and the latest updates from Windows Update. If you chose Windows XP as your OS of choice, you should grab Service Pack 3 as soon as you can, as it contains tons of fixes from the initial release, and will reduce your download time for all of your updates. Likewise, if you chose Windows Vista, you ought to snag Service Pack 1 to fix quite a few problems Windows Vista has. Windows 7 has a lot less updates to install, however you ought to get them anyway, just because they're important fixes for potential and already existent problems. Also note, until you get all of these updates, some of your games and applications may not work, as they may require .Net Framework 2.0 or later(which is included in Windows XP's updates, though I'm not certain of Windows Vista or Windows 7, so you may need to download and install them yourselves.) and a few other requirements.

If you've successfully done all of this and made it to the end of this guide, I must offer you congratulations. You've just learned what all the Information Technology(I.T.) Professionals learn throughout their courses at no cost, as well as some basic know-how concerning .ISO files. So once again, congratulations and I hope you enjoy your new 30-Day Trial(unless you have a product key) Operating System!

PS: I'll also offer assistance to those who require it regarding this guide, so post if you need help!

Edit: It seems the OS Downloaders are no longer working for some reason. I'll download and upload legit .iso files to Megaupload as soon as I can to rectify this issue, until then, sit tight.
  Posted on August 8, 2010 04:52
Zericho
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Forum Rank:
Sub. Shinigami

Posts: 101
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June 19, 2009
#4
Alrighty, been awhile since I've posted anything, so I thought I'd dedicate this post to configuring Mozilla Firefox.

Mozilla's famous browser, Firefox, has become a staple in most people's hard drives since v2.0, and has been growing ever since. Once Firefox hit 3.0, it brought with it not only a truckload of extensions and bug fixes, but also it's Achilles' Heel made itself more prominent; it became a hardcore RAM hog, and discouraged many people from using it, especially those with 512MB up to 1GB of RAM and those who were early adopters to Windows Vista on said hardware. Around this time, a competitor for the spotlight Firefox was basking in was released; Google Chrome. This sparked a passive-aggressive browser war between Mozilla and Google, where each hasn't outright slandered the other, but both are constantly making changes to their own browsers and releasing them(Google Chrome "Dev Channel" and Mozilla Firefox "Nightly Trunk Build", respectively). Many months passed, and now Firefox is on the verge of version 4.0, one that promises many bug fixes and an overall new layout. The beta for 4.0 is available now off Mozilla's site as well, for those who didn't know. But anyway, enough of the history lesson. Let's get on with the configuration.

We'll start out with a basic install of Firefox; 3.6.8 to be exact:


Now, there's nothing done to this install just yet, but at the end of this tutorial it will be looking much better.

Next:


Now, step 3:


Step 4:

Setting this line up will make it all clustered on the menubar, getting rid of a lot of wasted space.

Step 5:

After Step 5, it should look like:


Step 6:

At this point, we have 4 addons installed(One I forgot to mark):

A: Tiny Menu
B: App Tab
C: BetterSearch
D(Bottom right corner): ScreenGrab

Step 7:

This is an optional step for Windows Vista/7 users, which fully integrates the Aero theme. The addon for this can be downloaded here. Note: If you install any other themes, this will be overridden.

Step 8:


Step 9:

This step essentially forces pipelining and more connections to a webserver, ultimately speeding up your Firefox.

There's many more addons you can use, but I'll let you find your own mix.

Enjoy!
  Posted on February 4, 2012 23:55
Zericho
Rank: member

Forum Rank:
Sub. Shinigami

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#5
Hey guys, sorry I haven't posted anything recently. My mom passed away a few months ago, and its been hell getting the house cleaned up, death certificates mailed and bills paid on time, as well as my dad helping me out with driver's education(Yes... I don't have my license, shocking).

When I get the chance, I'll be making a website, hosted out of my dropbox, and transferring these tutorials and hopefully posting more in the future when the site is complete. I'll still make posts here with the urls to the new posts so I can answer questions since I'm not certain if I can host a forums out of my dropbox or not without a sql database.

I'll post back once the site is ready, so stay tuned for awhile!
  Posted on June 30, 2012 08:17
Zericho
Rank: member

Forum Rank:
Sub. Shinigami

Posts: 101
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June 19, 2009
#6
Sup SB denizens.

Im kinda bored, so I figured I'd give you a new tutorial that I just recently confirmed all the steps for, and the existing tutorial for it kinda sucks. So, lets get this train goin'.


How To: Windows 7 All In One Edition


Curious? You should be. This tutorial will detail how to create your very own Windows 7 AIO disc. What's on the AIO you ask? Starter through Ultimate x32 editions, and Home Basic through Ultimate x64 editions, excluding Enterprise edition, which is exclusive for corporations through contracts. I just recently made one myself, and confirmed it works with the DVD to USB tool Microsoft has out with no problems.


What You Need
-> This Program *
-> A Windows 7 Ultimate x32 Disc/Image
-> A Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Disc/Image
-> WinRAR/7-Zip or equivalent compression program that can extract .iso images

*: This program allows you to create the AIO image during the tutorial


Alright, once you have everything you need on the above list, the next steps are as follows:

1) Make 3 folders(on the desktop if you wish, for convenience); AIO, x32, and x64

2) Extract the Win7 Ultimate x32 image to x32
2a) Navigate into the folder Sources and find the file called ei.cfg. This file controls which edition of Windows 7 is available on the disc, however if it's missing, it allows you to select any edition on the disc. This does not circumvent the need for an activation key later on.
2b) Delete the ei.cfg file, and navigate back to the Desktop

3) Extract the Win7 Ultimate x64 image to x64
3a) Navigate into the folder Sources and find the file called ei.cfg. This file controls which edition of Windows 7 is available on the disc, however if it's missing, it allows you to select any edition on the disc. This does not circumvent the need for an activation key later on.
3b) Delete the ei.cfg file, and navigate back to the Desktop

4) Start WinAIO Maker - This program may look intimidating, but for what we're using it for, it's extremely straightforward.
4a) Click Folder2ISO and configure the popup for x32. The Source field is the extracted iso for x32 earlier on, then in the second field you pick a place to save the new iso. For the sake of the tutorial, save it to the Desktop as 7-32.iso. In the ISO Label field, you can put whatever you feel like. When you're ready, click Build to make the new iso.
4b) After the new x32 iso finishes building, repeat Step 4a, substituting the Source for x64 this time, and saving the new iso as 7-64.iso.

5) Once 7-32 and 7-64 are saved, go back to WinAIO Maker and click AutoAIO. The fields this time are as follows:
Select folder to work with ISOs - The AIO folder we made on the Desktop in Step 1. Select that.
Select exact x86 ISO - This is the 7-32.iso we made in Step 4. Select that.
Select exact x64 ISO - This is the 7-64.iso we made in Step 4. Select that.

Once you've filled in the forms, check the box next to Enable x64 recovery mode, then click Start Compilation. Once the program finishes making the iso, it will be in the AIO folder created in Step 1, and should be approximately 3.90GB in size, which allows it to fit on a single-layer DVD.


In personal experience with this, I think it's a great time saver when using it on multiple computers running different levels of hardware(that can still handle 7), and even more now that I've confirmed Microsoft's USB to DVD tool works with it(I had doubts, but used it tonight to reinstall and it worked flawlessly).

Have fun guys, short read for a change.
Donovan-X.
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