Monthly Archives: January 2014

Use System Restore To Repair Your PC In Windows 8.1

SystemRestore

Ever since Windows Millenium Edition was released in 2000, Microsoft has included a feature called “System Restore” in every subsequent version of Windows. System Restore creates periodic “Restore Points”, which are essentially snapshots of your PC’s system files, settings, and application files. If you accidentally uninstall a program, you can often get it back by using System Restore to restore to a Restore Point created prior to the uninstallation. You can also use System Restore to recover from a bad Windows Update installation, or if your computer’s settings become damaged or corrupted in an odd way.

One big advantage of System Restore is that it only affects applications, Windows Updates, and system settings – it does not touch your personal files. So you need not worry about losing any documents or pictures or other personal data files while using System Restore.

System Restore is pretty well hidden, but to launch it, go to the Start Screen, type “rstrui”, and click or tap on the tile that appears.

When System Restore launches, it will offer a short message explaining the program’s capabilities. Click the Next button to continue. System Restore will then list the available Restore Points. Select the Restore Point to use (usually one created before you started experiencing problems with your PC), and then click Next.

System Restore display a confirmation message, along with a warning that it will have to restart your PC. Once you are ready, click Finish, and your computer will reboot. The reboot will take longer than usual, and you will see a message that System Restore is working.

Once System Restore is finished, you will see the usual logon screen, and your computer will have been restored to the settings and programs indicated in the chosen Restore Point.

-JM

Chrome OS: Beware Infected Add-Ons

Chrome OS has now reached a critical stage in its development – it is now popular enough to be targeted by malware writers.  Generally, Chrome OS is pretty secure, but attackers can circumvent this by purchasing (or hacking) a popular extension, and then pushing through updates to the extension that serve up a large quantity of ads or engage in other malicious activities.

Eventually, Google will employ stricter policing of the Chrome App Store, as now happens with Google Play apps. Until then (and even after), it is a good idea to exercise caution when installing any add-ons.

-JM

Windows 8.1: Change The Display Resolution

Resolution

When using Windows 8.1, from time to time you may need to change the screen resolution. For instance, you might have connected a new monitor to your desktop computer, and need to change the resolution to match it. Or you might have plugged a projector into your laptop computer, and need to adjust the resolution to better display your screen on the projector. Windows 8.1 offers two ways to change the resolution, one through the PC Settings app, and one through the Desktop Control Panel.

To change your resolution through the PC Settings app, launch PC Settings by pressing WINDOWS+C to summon the Charms Bar, clicking on the Settings charm, and then clicking on the PC Settings link. Alternately you can click on the PC Settings tile on your Start Screen.

Once PC Settings launches, click or tap on the PC & Devices category in the left-hand pane. When the PC & Settings category expands, click or tap on the Display category. A slider in the right-hand pane will display your screen resolution, and you can drag it left or right to move to a lower resolution or a higher resolution. Note that all displays may not be physically capable of displaying all available resolutions.

To change your resolution from the Desktop, go to the Desktop by hitting the WINDOWS+D keys simultaneously or clicking/tapping on the Start Screen’s Desktop tile. Once the Desktop appears, right-click on a blank spot on the Desktop and select Screen Resolution from the menu. This will bring up the Screen Resolution control panel. You can change the resolution through the Resolution dropdown menu. Note that all displays may not be physically capable of displaying all available resolutions. Once you have selected a resolution, click the OK button, and Windows 8.1 will shift to the new resolution.

-JM

Set OneDrive Files As Online-Only In Windows 8.1

80CloudDriveOneOnly

Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage service (formerly known as SkyDrive) by default downloads data to your computer only when you explicitly access it. OneDrive maintains a list of your cloud files and folders, and when you open a file in an application, OneDrive downloads the file to your computer for the application to open it. This is useful if you want to save space on a limited hard drive (for instance, a tablet device running Windows 8.1 like the Microsoft Surface), and don’t want to use up your drive space.

However, as you access files through OneDrive, you can quickly accumulate data on your local drive. If you want to keep a file, but no longer want it stored on your local drive, you can configure OneDrive to move it entirely back to the cloud.

To do so, go to the Start Screen and click on the OneDrive tile. (If it is not pinned there, type “OneDrive” to search for it.) Once the OneDrive app opens, navigate to the file you want to switch to online-only. Select it by right-clicking or swiping with your finger (on a touchscreen device), and the App Bar will appear at the bottom of the screen. Click or tap the button for “Make Online-Only”, and OneDrive will remove the local copy of the file while retaining the cloud copy.

Of course, if you open the file again, OneDrive will download a fresh copy.

-JM

Change OneDrive Sync Settings In Windows 8.1

78OneDriveSync

Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service (formerly known as SkyDrive), by default, does not download all your files to your computer’s OneDrive folder. Instead, it merely lists all your available content, and then downloads the individual file when you happen to open it or view it. This is different from other cloud services like DropBox, which by default download all available files into the designated folder. This does save on local disk storage space and bandwidth usage, which is useful if you are on a poor-quality or metered Internet connection. However, if you wish to change this behavior, it is quite easy to alter.

To set OneDrive to download all your files automatically, go to the Start Screen and click on the OneDrive tile. (If it is not pinned there, type “OneDrive” to search for it.) Once OneDrive launches, hit the WINDOWS+C keys or swipe down from the upper right-hand corner to summon the Charms Bar. When the Charms Bar appears, click or tap on the Settings Charm, and then click or tap on the Options item.

This will display a simple slider switch determining whether or not OneDrive will make all your content available offline. Move the slider to On, and OneDrive will start downloading all your content and making it available offline. Note that depending upon the amount of data you have, this may take some time.

-JM

WebWindows81

Check OneDrive Storage Usage In Windows 8.1

79OneDriveStorageCheck

When using Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) cloud storage service, you might need to check how much space you are using from time to time. Unfortunately, there’s not really a great way to do this from within the Modern UI app. However, it is quite easy to do so from File Explorer on the Desktop.

To do so, hit the WINDOWS+E keys to summon the File Explorer. The OneDrive folder will appear in the Favorites list in the left-hand pane of the File Explorer window. Right-click on it and select Properties, and your OneDrive space usage will appear.

Specifically, you will see two numbers – Size, and Size On Disk. Size displays the total size of the contents of your OneDrive folder in Microsoft’s cloud. Size On Disk lists how much of that you have actually downloaded to your computer. By default, OneDrive does not download any data until you actually open it in a program.

-JM

Access A BitLocker-Encrypted USB Flash Drive In Windows 8.1

BitLockerUnLock

Once you have used BitLocker to encrypt a flash drive, you will need to access it. When using the flash drive to move files between computers, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

-To access the flash drive, you will need the password you set when encrypting it (or the smart card, if you configured it to use a smart card).

-You can access the encrypted flash drive on a computer running Windows Vista or higher – that means Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 can all read the flash drive.

-Mac OS X and Linux computers cannot read the flash drive.

To access the drive on a compatible Windows 8.1 computer, plug it into a USB drive. You will receive a notification that the drive is available. Tap or click on the notification, and you will see a prompt for entering the drive’s BitLocker password. Enter the password, and the drive will be unlocked and you can access its files normally.

If you miss the notification, you can get it back again by going to File Explorer, This PC, and then by double-clicking on the encrypted drive’s icon.

-JM

Set A Static DNS Server Address From The Terminal In Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

Gateway

It is not immediately obvious how to set a static DNS server address from the command line in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander. In the Desktop version of Ubuntu, you can of course use the graphical Network Manager to assign a static DNS server. In the Server version, things are a little more complicated. This post will explain how to use the resolvconf utility to set a static address for the DNS server. (In this example, we will assume your DNS server has an address of 192.168.1.100.)

First, log into Ubuntu, and then navigate to this directory:

 /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d

Once you are in the appropriate directory, use this command to launch the vi text editor:

 sudo vi /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/head

This will open up resolvconf’s head text file in vi. Once vi has launched, press the INSERT key to switch vi to edit mode, and then enter the following line:

 nameserver 192.168.1.100

Then hit the ESC key to switch vi back to command mode, and type this command to save the edited text file and then quit vi:

 :wq

Once vi exits, type this command:

 sudo resolvconf -u

The resolvconf utility will then read the head file and set the static DNS server address you entered.

-JM

Encrypt A USB Flash Drive With BitLocker In Windows 8.1

BitLocker

If you are using Windows 8.1 Professional or Enterprise, you can access a powerful encryption technology called BitLocker. “Encryption” means that the data on a drive is encoded so that it can only be read with a proper key, and “BitLocker” is a specific kind of encryption technology included with Windows. Using BitLocker, you can encrypt a USB flash drive so that it can only be accessed after entering the proper password. The security benefits of this are obvious – if you lose an encrypted flash drive, you do not need to worry about the data on the drive falling into the wrong hands.

To encrypt a USB flash drive with BitLocker, first connect the drive to your computer. (Note that the drive must be formatted with the NTFS file system to use BitLocker). After Windows 8.1 had recognized the drive, go to the Start Screen, type “bitlocker”, and click or tap on the tile for “Manage BitLocker” when it appears.

This will launch the BitLocker control panel. The control panel will list all the drives on your system eligible for BitLocker encryption. Locate the flash drive you wish to encrypt, and then click on the “Turn on BitLocker” link.

BitLocker will then initialize your flash drive. Do not remove the flash drive during this phase, as it may cause damage to the drive.

After the flash drive has been initialized, BitLocker will ask what kind of security you want to use with your drive. You can use a smart card, but it is easier to set up a password. Enter a password (making sure to select a strong password with uppercase, lowercase, numerals, and punctuation), and then hit the Next button.

BitLocker will also produce a recovery key for the drive, which you can use to recover data in the event that you forget your password. Save the recovery key to a secure location (NOT on the drive itself) and then click the Next button.

Finally, you will need to specify whether you wish BitLocker to encrypt the entire drive at once, or used space only. Encrypting the entire drive is generally more secure, so select that option, and then click the Next button. Finally, hit the Start Encrypting button, and BitLocker will begin to encrypt your drive.

BitLocker will then encrypt the drive. Note that depending upon the size of the drive and the number of files upon it, this can take some time. Do NOT remove the drive while it is still encrypting, as that may result in data loss. Once encryption is finished, you will need to enter the password you set in order to access the drive.

Note that the encrypted drive will NOT work on Mac OS X or Linux computers, only PCs with Windows Vista or higher.

-JM

Windows 8.1: Set A Home Page In Internet Explorer

HomePage

When using Internet Explorer in Windows 8.1, you might find yourself visiting a single web page more often than any other. If so, you can set this website as a “home page”. By default, when you launch Internet Explorer or click on the Home button, it will go to the home page.

To set the home page in Internet Explorer, click on the gear in the upper right-hand corner of the window. This will summon Internet Explorer’s settings menu. When the menu appears, click on the Internet Options item. The Internet Options dialog box will then launch.

The settings for the Home Page are on the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box, and the Home Page section is towards the top of the tab. Here you can enter a new home page. You can enter multiple home pages as well, each one on its own line, and then Internet Explorer will open each home page when it launches, each one in its own tab. (Note that the more home page tabs you have, the longer it may take for Internet Explorer to launch).

Once you have finished, click on the OK button at the bottom of the Internet Options dialog box. The next time you launch Internet Explorer or click on the home page button, Internet Explorer will go to your new home page.

-JM