FREE DISC! Learn Windows with our videos
Issue 199 June 2009
“Is there a free way to use Photoshop?”
Edit pics online p74
easy ways to boost your Windows
Connect your gear and get more from the net today!
Improve your PC p19
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“How do I make a file disappear for good?”
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✔ 20 pages of expert guides ✔ 7 money-saving ideas ✔ 20 web tools you must use ✔ 8 laptop stands tested
Helpdesk CAN’T LOG ON TO WINDOWS
How do I fix this logon error: “A problem is preventing Windows from accurately checking the license for this computer”? Claire Turner Scott says… Claire was using a PC that was running Windows XP and also received a 0x80070005 error code with the message. It’s been attributed to one of two specific events: the default security provider in Windows XP has changed (this has been linked to Dell PCs that are running the Dell Assistant), or the system drive letter has changed. Both events are linked to problems with the Registry and the good news is that you can boot into Safe mode to edit it and remove the error message.
Logon problems in Windows XP can sometimes be fixed with a Registry tweak
Restart your PC, tapping [F8] to bring up the boot menu. Choose Safe Mode and then press [Return] twice. Log on as the Administrator account when prompted. Now click Start > Run, type regedit and press [Return] to open the Registry Editor. Browse to the following Registry key: HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software\Microsoft\ Cryptography\. Expand it, right-click the Providers sub-key and choose Delete. Now browse to HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20\Software\ Microsoft\Cryptography and delete the Providers key that you find there, too. If the security provider was the item at fault then close Registry Editor and restart your PC, which should now log on as normal. If the problem persists or the Cryptography Registry key doesn’t exist then you’ll need to fi x the drive letter problem. Full details can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/ kb/223188, which you should access on a working PC and then print out. Alternatively, if your afflicted computer is connected to the internet or your router via an Ethernet cable then you may be able to access the page by choosing “Safe mode with networking” from the boot menu.
BYPASS THE XP BOOT MENU
After trying to install XP on a removable drive, I now get a boot menu with two entries! B Simpson Cliff says… Never install Windows on to a removable drive unless it’s got an eSATA connection, and don’t assume that you can use that to run Windows on other PCs. The fi x here works for systems where only XP is installed; if Vista is present you’ll need to run EasyBCD (http://neosmart. net/dl.php?id=1) in Vista instead.
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Click Start, right-click My Computer, select Properties > Advanced tab and click Settings under Startup and Recovery for. the boot menu’s options.
Bypass the boot menu
Ensure your Windows XP installation is selected and untick “Time to display list of operating systems”. Click OK.
Experienced users can click Edit to remove the unwanted entry from the boot.ini file. Select the entry, right-click and choose Delete > File > Save.
TROUBLESHOOTING CHECKLIST: Build a
Put together all the tools you need to troubleshoot PCs at home and on th e move
A family member needs some help with their PC. What tools do you think I’ll need to help fix their problem when I pop round their house? Saul Price Christian says... A portable toolkit enables you to troubleshoot any PC, any time and anywhere. Add the BartPE rescue disc and you can even attempt to fix problems or recover data from a PC that won’t boot into Windows.
Burn a rescue disc
Create a BartPE rescue disc so you can access your portable toolkit even on a PC that refuses to boot into Windows. Check out page 68 of issue 191 or visit www. support-pcs.co.uk/quicklinx/ bartpe.html.
Install one of the PortableApps.co m suites (go to http://portableapps . com and choose the Suite Light unless you require access to OpenOffice) to get a portable web browser, anti-virus scanner and PDF reader among other tools.
Portable back-up option
Allway Sync ‘n’ Go (http:// allwaysync.com/editions.html) is the best tool for copying entire folders to an external drive. Set up an FTP connection to any webspace you own in case there’s no back-up device to hand.
Burn to CD or DVD
We recommend that you add InfraRecorder (http:// infrarecorder.org) to your portable toolkit so you can save files and folders to CD or DVD if necessary.
Add data recovery tools
It’s always a good idea to have a data recovery tool or two in case the data isn’t easily accessible. You can download and run Undelete Plus (http://undelete-plus.com) directly from your flash drive; download the portable version of Recuva (www.recuva.com) too.
Notepad++ (http://notepadplus.sourceforge.net/uk/site. htm) enables you to open text files or record notes to help you if you need to come back to the problem later.
This useful collection of tools
(http://technet.microsoft.com/ en-gb/sysinternals) includes a more detailed process explorer compared to Windows’ Task Manager, plus a rootkit revealer and a program to control start-up programs (AutoRuns).
Take an audit
Obtain detailed system information about the troublesome PC using WinAudit (http:// majorgeeks.com/WinAudit_ d4967.html), including hardware, installed programs, Windows settings and much, much more.
Carry out a security check
Run the portable version of HijackThis! (www.trendsecure. com/portal/en-US/tools/ security_tools/hijackthis) to check for evidence of malware infection. Note that this needs to be running in Windows for an accurate diagnosis.
Find more tools
A whole host of portable tools – including more security programs – can be found at http:// thegreatgeekmanual.com/blog/ portable-utilities-for-usb-drives , but beware as some of the links are outdated. Try searching for the program name separately if the link fails.
Connect your gear and share files
It's time to grasp the networking basics
Before you can extend your network you need a simple setup
network involves two or more computers linked together so that they can exchange Do you want your printer data. All recently sold PCs available to all PCs on the are network capable and network without needing to include a wired network keep its host PC on? Buy a network printer with wireless adaptor that you can use to or wired connection plug an Ethernet lead into. direct to your router. While it’s possible to hook
computers together without one, the most essential piece of networking hardware you should invest in is a router. The term router is applied to a number of devices, so it’s important to check their capabilities before buying. Most internet service providers (ISPs) supply a router when you sign up. A good router should
be able to connect to the internet, usually via your phone line, and act as your network’s gateway to the internet. It should feature a NAT (Network Address Translation) firewall, which protects your network from simple outside attack. It should include one or more Ethernet sockets for directly connecting your PCs to it and
NETWORK AND SHARING CENTER In Windows Vista this is the starting point for any network modification 1
Simplified network map
This simple map shows your computer and its relationship with the current network. You can see whether you’ve got internet access or not, but it doesn’t highlight other networked devices.
Common network tasks
The networks that your PC is connected to are listed here. This tells you whether each network is private or public, and whether it provides local or internet access, or both.
The task pane part of the Network and Sharing Center includes the most common network tasks, including setting up a new network, connecting to an existing network and diagnosing network problems.
Sharing and Discovery settings
This provides a simple summary of what items are shared with the network and what the sharing settings are. You can click each one to turn the option on or off, and expand to set more complex settings.
Select one of these options for easy access to network-related features like the Windows Firewall. You can also tweak your internet options here and deal with mobile devices such as smart phones.
42 June 2009
Click one of these options to see the files and folders that are being shared with the network in a Windows Explorer window.
Connect your gear and share files it should also act as a wireless access point so that you can use wireless networking. Some routers won’t cover all these bases, which is why it’s crucial to check the specification.
The role of a router The beauty of getting a decent router is that it handles all of the most basic network tasks, providing you with a hub or switch, an internet gateway and wireless access. It also functions as a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server that automatically assigns IP addresses to connected devices. The practical upshot of this is that once you’ve plugged in your router and connected it to the internet, any PC connected to it should be able to go online without a lot of fiddly configuration. To fully benefit from Windows networking, you may
need to set up sharing and network discovery, which is easily done in the Network and Sharing Center in Windows Vista. You can now share individual folders on your computers and share printers. To share a folder in Vista, right-click it and choose Share. Select the people you want to share it with. Choose Everyone if you’re not sure who to include and the contents aren’t sensitive, then click Share. You can share printers from Control Panel. Choose Classic View > Printers. Right-click the one you want to share and choose Sharing. Tick the box next to “Share this printer” and provide a share name. Select “Render print jobs on client computers”. Complete the wizard and install the shared printer as a network printer on your other PCs. Your PC needs to be turned on for the shared printer to work.
STEP-BY-STEP Exploring your network
In Vista click Start > Network to view active PCs connected to this network. In XP click Start > My Computer > My Network Places > View Workgroup Computers.
Protecting your PCs Run software to keep your system safe Your router should provide basic protection against internet attack, but it’s not enough to keep your PCs safe. Run a software firewall, anti-virus Keep malware at bay with the and anti-spyware on world-class – and free – SpyBot S&D each networked PC. Spybot S&D for Spyware Some ISPs provide even (www.safer-networking. subscriptions to security org/en/index.html) and suites as part of the deal. Comodo free firewall If you have more PCs (http://personalfirewall. than licences for the comodo.com). The software or your ISP Windows Firewall is doesn’t supply security adequate, but it doesn’t apps, there are free inform you of all outgoing options available. data activity, which Consider Avast Free Comodo does. It generates antivirus (www.avast. more alerts but keeps your com/eng/downloadsystem a little safer. avast-home.html),
You’ll see all the shared folders and printers available on the selected computer. Double-click a shared folder to see its contents.
Click Network and Sharing Center button > Manage network connections. In XP click View network connections. This displays available network adaptors.
Better searches STEP-BY-STEP
See animated directions
There’s much more to Google Maps than meets the eye. Take a closer look...
USE EXACT LOCATIONS
If you want to see how your route is going to look in practice then animate it. We’re going to use www. kmcgraphics.com/google. Try it with a short journey first.
WATCH YOUR JOURNEY
Supply the full address of your start and finish points. Before you begin, choose whether or not you want the street map view or the satellite view. When you’re ready click Start.
The animation of your journey begins immediately. Each aspect of the journey will be displayed on screen. It’s a good idea to have a list of directions to hand while you are watching.
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ne aspect of Google Maps that’s often overlooked is its journey planner. Click Get Directions and then enter your start point in A and the journey’s end in B. Click the drop-down box and choose your method of travel.
need to click and drag it so that it lies between your start and finish point. Each of the numbered items in the directions list indicates a point on your journey where you need to change roads or take a turning. You can also use Google Maps to create an animated journey. This Make changes means that instead of The directions that you’ve been given aren’t set in Plan a route using the AA (www. just reading your directions or giving stone. For example, when theaa.com/route-planner/ you see the route marked index.jsp). It uses Google for its them to someone, map but gives more detail on you can see your out on the map you may your route. The RAC route animated from decide you want to go a (http://route.rac.co.uk) uses Microsoft Virtual start to finish. There are different way. Go to the map Earth. a number of sites on the and click the route, then drag Internet that provide this it to exactly where you want to go. facility, combining their own Zoom in to ensure that the correct technology with Google Maps: www. roads are selected. You can also add kmcgraphics.com/google and www. stop-off points for your journey. Click findbiblioteket.dk/cartrip are just Add Destination and enter the details. two examples. This will be added as point C so you’ll
HOT TIP! AA vs RAC
Click and drag the route to alter it and the directions will change automatically
Free with issue 199 of
Explore more maps Google Earth isn’t the only mapping tool out there. Here are four superb free alternatives Flash Earth
Windows Live Maps
This is a collection of online map from a range of sources. The fact that the maps are coming from different places means they’ll display varying levels of detail. You’ll find that Microsoft Virtual Earth is as good as, if not better in some respects than Google Earth imagery. If you need street level detail then switch to Microsoft VE (labels). See it for yourself at www.flashearth.com.
At first glance you’d think that this was just another mapping tool. Windows Live Maps (http://maps. live.com) has all the features of Google Maps plus something a bit special. It’s called Bird’s eye (view). Instead of a flat satellite image certain areas will have a bird’s eye view. What’s great about this feature is that it can give you a 360 degree view. Use the arrows to rotate the camera angle clockwise or anticlockwise.
Only at www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk will you find the most up-to-date geographic data for Great Britain, such as contour information, river names and historical data. Enter a postcode or place name to view a map. The emphasis is on getting you to buy a map because the map preview window isn’t very big – we found that although you can zoom into the image it’s still difficult to read in places.
If the bird’s eye feature in Multimap (www.multimap. com) looks familiar that’s because it’s being used by Live Maps. What sets these two sites apart is the information that can be added to a map. The more detail that can be viewed, the more useful a map is going to be. For example, if you’re planning to visit a new area check the parking option to see where you’ll be able to park your car.
Learn how to…
Track down system bottlenecks
Make your PC more reliable with Vista’s built-in tools
Ensure that your computer is quick and error free with Vista’s Reliability and Performance Monitor
How long will it take? Seven minutes What do I need? PC with Vista Admin permissions What will I learn? ✔ Check PC performance ✔ Monitor system activity ✔ Track PC reliability
If you think there might be something up with your PC but you can’t quite put your finger on it, or you want to find out if it’s Your guide performing as well as it Tanya could be, then consider Combrinck calling on Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor. This is a tool in Vista that enables you to collect information about your computer’s activity so you can identify niggling problems. It’s an evolution of the Performance Monitor in earlier versions of Windows, but it provides a little more information and, for simple tasks, it’s a little easier to use too.
Your PC’s overall performance is a measure of how quickly and efficiently
it carries out specific tasks. These can be broken down into processing tasks, which are performed by the CPU, memory functions, which are dealt with by the RAM, disk reading or writing activities and network communications. You can get a quick overview of how these areas are performing by taking a look at the Resource Overview as shown in the walkthrough. If you can identify an area that seems to be underperforming, you can set up more specialised counters to monitor it closely. This can help diagnose problems for you to fi x, or simply make you better informed about the strengths and weaknesses of your machine. Reliability monitoring enables you to examine past issues and their frequency to find out how stable your system is and identify any recurring problems. ■
STEP-BY-STEP Monitoring your system performance
Launch Performance Monitor
As an Admin, click Start, right-click Computer > Manage > Reliability and Performance. Otherwise choose Start > All programs > Accessories and right-click Command Prompt then Run as Administrator. Enter “perfmon” and press [Return].
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The Resource Overview screen shows four graphs indicating processor, hard drive, network and memory performance. Click the CPU tab to see more information. This shows the processes running and their processing resources.
Learn how to…
Track down system bottlenecks
EXPERT ADVICE Run the Reliability Monitor Your PC may be fast, but is it reliable?
The Reliability Monitor enables you to see how your computer has performed over a longer period of time. It gives you an overview of any hardware or software failures and indicates the dates that they occurred on. This can give you a good idea of how reliable your system is, because you don’t have to rely on memory to work out how frequently problems occurred. In Reliability and Performance Monitor, expand Monitoring Tools and select Reliability Monitor. This displays a system stability chart and provides you with an overall stability index out of ten. Below the graph are failure events and software uninstallations. Monitor your system’s stability over a period of time
Add a counter
Select the Disk tab or click the Disk graph to see what’s using disk resources. This shows process identifiers and current read/write speeds. Click the other tabs to see similar information for network and memory.
To monitor specific activity, you can add counters that report on individual resources. In the left pane, expand reliability and performance and monitoring tools and select Performance Monitor. Click the green Plus button at the top.
Select your counter
You’ll see a list of available counters on the local computer. Choose one to expand it and select a counter from the selection below, click Add. If you add a general counter like Memory, all memory counters will be shown.
Add the ones you want and click OK. Each counter will be graphed in real time. Hover the mouse over a line to see which counter it represents. Change the graph to a histogram or test report using the Graph Type button.
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