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Friday, January 2, 2009

How to Prevent Users from Writing to USB Drives in Windows Vista

How to Prevent Users from Writing to USB Drives in Windows Vista

Whether you refer to them as flash drives, USB drives, or pen drives, these portable storage devices can be both a blessing and a curse. More and more administrators are being tasked with preventing users from being able to copy important documents onto these drives to prevent loss of important data. To prevent a user from writing to USB drives attached to a computer running Vista, follow these steps:


1. Open Notepad.

2. Copy and paste the following into Notepad:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
“EncryptionContextMenu”=dword:00000001
3. Save the text file as Vista_USBNoWrite.reg.

4. Double-click the newly created file.

5. When the UAC prompt appears, click Continue.

6. When the confirmation box appears, click Yes.

7. The file will be merged to the registry. A confirmation box will appear, click OK.

8. Restart the computer for the change to take affect.

Now when a user tries to send files to a USB drive, they will see something like this:

To Restore Write Capability, follow the above steps using:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
“EncryptionContextMenu”=dword:00000000

How to Expand a Partition in Parallels in Windows Vista / Windows XP

How to Expand a Partition in Parallels in Windows Vista / Windows XP

So you are running out of room in your vista installation under Parallels, huh? Here are the steps you need to expand the virtual hard drive that parallels assigns to vista.

Parallels allows the user to expand the virtual hard drives that contain the installations. However, reminding the installed OS to use that hard drive space is the step that most people forget.

I’ll walk though the steps for a vista installation; however, the steps for XP would be the same.

In Parallels:

1. Close your vista installation
2. Run the Image Tool found in your Parallels directory
3. Choose Hard Disk as your device type
4. Choose Increase the size…
5. Browse for your vista disk image (winvista.hdd) and increase the size

When the disk is expanded, close the image tool and boot vista through parallels.

In the Vista parallels installation:

1. Open a run box (in default parallels the shortcut will be CMD-R)
2. Type in diskmgmt.msc and click OK
3. Right-click (ctrl-shift-click) on the main vista partition
4. Select Expand Volume
5. The volume will default to the maximum size.

Your parallels installation of vista now has a bigger hard drive.

How to Lock Down the Windows Sidebar in Windows Vista

How to Lock Down the Windows Sidebar in Windows Vista

While the Windows Sidebar is a nice piece of functional eye candy for home users, it can be an administrator’s nightmare in a business environment. Having users installing an endless amount of gadgets off of the internet can at the very least waste work time and bandwidth and a worse case scenario would be a security breach. You can limit or eliminate the Windows Sidebar and keep control of what, if any, gadgets are able to run on the users’ machines.

1. Click the Start Button.

2. Click All Programs and select Accessories.

3. Click Run.

4. Input gpedit.msc and click OK.

5. When the UAC prompt appears, click Continue.

6. In the left pane, select Computer Configuration and double-click Administrative Templates.

7. Double-click Windows Components.

8. Select Windows Sidebar.

9. In the right pane, select one of the four settings to limit usage of the Windows Sidebar. To enable a setting, double-click the setting and select the Enabled radio button and click OK. The choices are:

Override the More Gadgets Link - The Windows Sidebar has a link to download additional gadgets from the Microsoft site. By enabling this setting, you can redirect your users to a different site. This means that if you create gadgets for your users to access various company data, you can redirect them to your intranet to download and install the gadgets. Input the address of the new location in the Override Gadget Location textbox after selecting the Enabled radio button.

Turn off Windows Sidebar - Enable this setting to turn off the Windows Sidebar.

Disable unpacking and installation of gadgets that are not digitally signed - Enabling this setting will prevent the installation of any gadgets that are unsigned.

Turn Off User Installed Windows Sidebar Gadgets - Enable this setting to prevent Windows Sidebar from running any user installed gadgets.

10. Close the Group Policy Object Editor.

How to Find drivers for unknown devices in Windows Vista

How to Find drivers for unknown devices in Windows Vista

Well, i’ve been playing w/vista now for about a few months and have found a very obvious but useful tip on installing non-vista / ‘unknown devices’ compatible hardware (ie no vista drivers or xp drivers do not work)


i know i have a ton of usb peripherials/accessories but Vista drivers for devices are still hard to find for those smaller company hardware. if you were an early xp adopter, you remember the woes of waiting for companies to release xp drivers for their devices. so you’ve looked everywhere and tried everything but still no luck? why not try the good ole vista system32 area.

just one word of caution; this may not work for all devices (but what the heck eh? if none exist, trying something never hurts. worst case scenerio, you may have to boot into safe mode and delete the device if you bsod).

1. Insert/Plugin the hardware
2. You will get the ‘new hardware found’ wizard, go through it, choose to automatically install.
3. once it searches for a driver and fails, go to the Browse for driver on your computer screen.
4. put this path in or browse to this location: C:\Windows\System32 and check the search subfolders checkbox and click Next.
5. Vista will search the location and may find your hardware or may not.

Not sure why Vista doesn’t use this driver location by default at times baffles me. Perhaps its the subfolder option that lets it find more non active drivers??

hopefully your hardware is found and works! If not, you only wasted a few clicks of your time. :)

How to Extract Content from MSI Files in Windows Vista

How to Extract Content from MSI Files in Windows Vista

While there are plenty of utilities available to extract the contents of an MSI file, you can do it straight from the command line without using some third party application. Here’s how:


First, access an elevated command prompt, to do this:

1. Click the Start button.

2. Click All Programs.

3. Go into Accessories.

4. Right-click on Command Prompt.

5. Select Run as administrator.

6. When the UAC Prompt appears, click Continue.

Once you have your elevated command prompt, input the following:

msiexec /a filepath to MSI file /qb TARGETDIR=filepath to target folder

using the desired locations to fill the above mentioned filepaths.
(Example: msiexec /a c:\testfile.msi /qb TARGETDIR=c:\temp\test)

Press the Enter button on your keyboard.

If you have entered the command correctly, the MSI file’s contents will be extracted.

How to How to Reset the Recycle Bin in Windows Vista

How to How to Reset the Recycle Bin in Windows Vista

Sometimes the Recycle can become corrupted and prevent you from deleting files from it (or emptying it). By following a few simple steps, you can give full functionality to your Recycle Bin.


First, you need to be able to view hidden files and folders as well as protected operating system files. To do this:

1. Click the Start button.

2. Select Computer.

3. Press the Alt button on your keyboard to get the Menu to appear.

4. Click Tools and select Folder Options.

5. Select the View tab.

6. Under Hidden files and folders, make sure the Show hidden files and folders radio button is selected. Make sure the Hide protected operating system files checkbox is unchecked.

8. Click OK.

Now you’re ready to work on the Recycle Bin.

1. Select your C:\ drive (if your PC is running more than one OS, select the drive That Vista was installed on).

2. Find $Recycle.Bin.

3. Delete $Recycle.Bin by right-clicking the file and selecting Delete.

4. When asked if you want to permanently delete this folder, click Yes.

5. When asked to confirm the action, click the Continue button.

6. When the UAC prompt appears, click the Continue button.

7. When asked if you want to permanently delete this folder, click Yes.

8. The Delete File dialog will appear, check the Do this for all current items checkbox and click the Yes button. By clicking the checkbox, you will avoid having to confirm the deletion of each file.

After the deletion process has completed, restart your computer. When the system has restarted, the Recycle Bin will be fully functional once again. You can now go back to Folder Options and return the viewing of hidden files to their default settings.

How to Enable or Disable Firewall from the Command Line in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista

How to Enable or Disable Firewall from the Command Line in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista

Instead of using the GUI, you can enable and disable the Windows Firewall from the command line. A must for any command line junkie.

You will need to use an elevated command prompt to do this.

1. Click the Start button.

2. Click All Programs and select Accessories.

3. Right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.

To Enable the Windows Firewall, use the following:
netsh advfirewall set currentprofile state on

To Disable the Windows Firewall, use the following:
netsh advfirewall set currentprofile state off

After the command has been executed, the prompt will return an Ok when the Firewall has been enabled/disabled.

How to Prevent Windows Live Messenger from Starting When Windows Starts

How to Prevent Windows Live Messenger from Starting When Windows Starts

By default, Windows Live Messenger starts when Windows does. If you don’t use it on a frequent basis, you are wasting resources by having it run when you don’t need it.

1. Open Windows Live Messenger and login.

2. Next to your name, at the top, click the downward pointing arrow.

3. Select Options.

4. Select General from the left pane of the Options window.

5. Under Sign In, uncheck the Automatically run Windows Live Messenger when I log on to Windows checkbox.

6. Click OK.

How to Add Google Calendar to the Vista Windows Calendar

How to Add Google Calendar to the Vista Windows Calendar

This is a quick recipe on how to get your Google Calendar to show up in Windows Calendar in Vista. You won’t be able to make changes to the calender however you can set update interval to automatically update it via the Google Calendar webpage. Nice for when you need your Google Calendar offline on a laptop/tablet pc.


1. Login to your Google Calendar in your web browser. Then click on the Settings link in the upper right.

Then click on the Calendars tab and then the calendar you want to have show in Windows Calendar. (ie Testing for TechRX)

2. Now, go to the bottom of the Calendar Details tab and under the “Private Address” area, click on the ICAL button.

Once you do, you will get a pop-up w/a URL to a .ics file. Right-click on the link and choose Copy. You can click OK to the popup.

3. Open up Windows Calendar in the Vista Start Menu.

4. Go to Tools > Subscribe.

You will then get a dialog box asking for the url of the web calendar to subscribe to. Right-click in the box and paste the url (or hit CTRL+V) and hit Next.

After it connects and subscribes, you will see a dialog box that you can enter in the name of the calendar, the update interval and whether to also receive reminders and tasks and then hit Finish.

You should now see your google calendar in Vista’s Windows Calendar.

It should automatically update at the interval set when we subscribed.

You can change this by: going to View > Details Pane (will give you interval options in the details pane when you click on the calendar).

NOTE: you CANNOT add calendar items to your Google Calendar with Windows Calendar since we are only subscribed to the web calendar, you will need to add appointments/meetings/tasks via the Google Calendar webpage.

How to Set Disk Space Quota in Windows Vista

How to Set Disk Space Quota in Windows Vista

If you have many users that use one computer, it is quite likely that one of those people will be a disk space hog. The administrator can limit maximum disk space usage by setting a quota.

**Must be have administrator privileges!**

1. Go to Computer

2. Right Click a drive (Usually C:\) and click Properties

3. Go to the Quota tab

4. Click the button that says Show Quota Settings

5. Check the box that says Enable Quota Management

6. Also check the box that says Deny disk space to users exceeding limit

7. Click the radio button saying Disk Space to and set the maximum disk space for users.

8. You can edit some of the other settings if you want to fine tune your choices. Just click Apply when you are done.

How to Restore the Default Sidebar Gadgets in Windows Vista

How to Restore the Default Sidebar Gadgets in Windows Vista

Vista comes with some default gadgets for the Windows Sidebar, including clock, calendar, contacts, currency, feed headlines, cpu meter, weather, stocks, notes, slide show and picture puzzle. If you accidentally delete one of the default gadgets and you’re wishing you had it back, follow this Tech-Recipe.

1. Right-click the sidebar, and select Properties.

2. When the Windows Sidebar Properties window appears, go to the Maintenance section and click the Restore gadgets installed with Windows button.

3. Click the OK button.

How to Prevent Users from Changing the Display Settings in Windows Vista

How to Prevent Users from Changing the Display Settings in Windows Vista

If you have multiple users on one computer, you might want to prevent them from changing the display settings. By following these steps, you can prevent all users on the computer from changing the screen resolution, refresh rate and color depth as well as the DPI size. This is also great for network admins who want to prevent users from changing these settings on their workstation.

1. Open Notepad.

2. Copy and paste the following into the new text document:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies
\System]
"NoDispSettingsPage"=dword:00000001
3. Save the document as display_settings_nochange.reg.

4. Merge the new file into the registry by right-clicking it, selecting Open With, and finally clicking Registry Editor.

5. Continue through the UAC prompt and confirm that you wish to perform the action.

If you need to restore this functionality, follow these steps:

1. Open Notepad.

2. Copy and paste the following into the new text document:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies
\System]
"NoDispSettingsPage"=dword:00000000
3. Save the document as display_settings_change.reg.

4. Merge the new file into the registry by right-clicking it, selecting Open With, and finally clicking Registry Editor.

5. Continue through the UAC prompt and confirm that you wish to perform the action.

How to Use the Task Manager as a Desktop Gadget in Windows Vista

How to Use the Task Manager as a Desktop Gadget in Windows Vista

By now, I’m sure that you’ve become familiar with the Task Manager, using it to end processes and check cpu usage and network activity. Did you know with the double-click of your mouse, you could make the Task Manager look like a nice desktop gadget for monitoring your cpu usage and cpu usage history or your network activity.

1. Open the Task Manager by right-clicking the Taskbar and selecting Task Manager.

2. Select either the Performance tab or the Networking tab (depending on what you wish to monitor).

3. Now double-click anywhere inside the window (not the menu bar).

4. You will now only see the graphical representation for either the CPU Usage or the Networking info. Resize the window to the desired size and reposition it to the desired location on your desktop.

To return the Task Manager to its original look, simply double-click inside the window.