Showing posts from March, 2012

A+: Advanced Boot Options

Windows Vista/XP/2000 offers the following startup options as part of the Advanced Boot Options menu:

    • Safe Mode— Starts system with a minimal set of drivers; can be used to start System Restore or to load Windows GUI for diagnostics.

    • Safe Mode with Networking— Starts system with a minimal set of drivers and enables network support.

    • Safe Mode with Command Prompt— Starts system with a minimal set of drivers but loads command prompt instead of the Windows GUI.

    • Enable Boot Logging— Creates a ntbtlog.txt file.

    • Enable low-resolution video (640 × 480)— Uses a standard VGA driver in place of a GPU-specific display driver, but uses all other drivers as normal. (This is called Enable VGA Mode in Windows XP/2000.)

    • Last Known Good Configuration—Starts the system with the last configuration known to work; useful for solving problems caused by newly installed hardware or software.

    • Directory Services Restore Mode— This is used to restore a domain controller’…

A+: Troubleshooting and Maintaining Windows

Everyone has seen or heard of a Windows error. And it’s not just Windows; every operating system will fail at some point—it’s just a matter of time. Windows has lots of different kinds of errors, from boot errors, to non-critical application errors, to complete failures of Windows known as stop errors. A good troubleshooter will be able to discern whether the problem is software or hardware related and will analyze and repair all of these problems. In an effort to aid the PC technician, Windows offers tools such as the Windows Repair Environment, Recovery Console, Advanced Boot Options menu, and the Microsoft Help and Support, formerly known as the Knowledge Base (MKSB), which we will refer to often in this chapter. The Help and Support website is chock full of articles about all kinds of problems you’ll see in the field; it can be accessed at We’ll cover all these tools and much more throughout this chapter in an attempt to make you a well-rounded troubl…

A+: Troubleshooting the Windows Vista or Windows XPUpgrade

If a Windows XP upgrade from Windows 2000 goes badly, you can uninstall Windows XP and revert back to Windows 2000 by using the Uninstall Windows XP option in the Add or Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel (Classic mode). However, if after upgrading to Windows Vista you find that you want to go back to Windows XP, you will need to back up your data and re-install XP as a clean installation. There is currently no uninstall option in the Control Panel for Windows Vista.

In general, try the following tips to make the upgrade go smoothly.

If you are unable to start the upgrade, check the ffree disk space— You need 15 GB free for Windows Vista, and 1.5GB free for Windows XP at the minimum; more is better. Also check the requirements posted previously.

    If you receive other types of errors during the upgrade, such as blue screen “STOP” errors, see and search for the specific error code.

    For a list of specific errors concerning a Windows Vista upgra…

A+: Upgrading to Windows XP from 2000

To start the Window XP upgrade process if you want to replace your old version of Windows, do the following:

    Step 1. Insert your Windows XP CD into the CD-ROM drive while your old version is running.

    Step 2. Unless you’ve disabled Autorun, the Windows XP splash screen is displayed. Choose Install Windows XP, Perform Additional Tasks, or Check System Compatibility.

    Step 3. If you haven’t used the Windows Upgrade Advisor on this system, click Check System Compatibility as discussed earlier in this chapter.

    Step 4. After completing the Upgrade Advisor check (if necessary), click Install Windows XP.

    Step 5. Select Upgrade (the default setting) to change your installed version of Windows to Windows XP, which enables you to use your existing software and settings without reinstallation.

    During the upgrade process, you can convert the file system to NTFS. Do this to save space on your hard disk (NTFS is more efficient than FAT32) and if you want features such…

A+: Upgrading to Windows Vista from XP or 2000

There are two installation options when attempting to upgrade to Windows Vista. The first is an “upgrade in-place” which means that you can install Windows Vista and retain your applications, files, and settings. This is usually how an upgrade is accomplished from Windows XP. The second is a clean install. This means that you should use Windows Easy Transfer to copy files and settings to an external source before starting the “upgrade.” This second option is necessary if you wish to upgrade from Windows 2000 Professional to Vista. Keep in mind that once a computer has been upgraded to Windows Vista, it cannot be “downgraded” back to XP or 2000, the way that older Microsoft operating systems could be; the only way to revert back to the older OS would be to reformat the hard drive and reinstall the older OS. For more information about the upgrade options, mapped to the various operating system editions, see the following link:…

A+: Requirements for upgrades

Note: These official requirements are _wildly_ optimistic. Faster and bigger is _much_ better.

Official Hardware Requirements for Vista/XP

CPU: 800MHz/233MHz
RAM: 512MB/64MB
HD space: 15GB in 20GB partition/1.5GB in a 2GB partition

Some older systems might require processor, memory, or hard disk upgrades to be qualified to run Windows Vista or XP. You should make sure your computer meets or exceeds these standards before you start the upgrade process.

Because upgrading to a newer version of Windows retains your existing application software and settings, you should also make sure that both your hardware and software are compatible with Windows Vista or XP.

    • For Windows Vista:

    • Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor— This is accessed by clicking the Check Compatibility Online button when you first insert the Windows Vista DVD. Of course, the computer that you want to upgrade will need to have Internet access. The direct link for this site is…

A+: Upgrading Operating Systems

During the operational life of a computer, it might be necessary to upgrade the installed operating system to a newer version. The 2009 A+ Certification exam objectives include three such scenarios, known as upgrade paths:

    • Upgrading Windows XP to Windows Vista
    • Upgrading Windows 2000 to Windows Vista
    • Upgrading Windows 2000 to Windows XP

If you’ve installed Windows XP on a system that is marginal (slow processor, small hard disk, and so forth), you can remove it if you find it’s not performing satisfactorily. Try it and see how you like it. If it’s not working for you, open Add/Remove Programs within the Control Panel to locate the uninstall program. If you want to install Windows XP on a system without hassles, don’t activate it until you’re sure you’re happy. Windows XP doesn’t need to be activated until 30 days have passed from the install date, so take your time and think it over.

A+: Vista's Install Log Files

For Windows Vista matters become more complicated when it comes to log files. The Vista installation is broken down into four phases: • Downlevel phase— This is the phase that is run from within the previous operating system, meaning when you start the installation from the DVD, in Windows XP for example. • Windows Preinstallation Environment phase— Also known as Windows PE, this phase occurs after the restart at the end of the downlevel phase. If installing to a new hard drive, this phase occurs when you first boot the computer to the Windows Vista DVD. • Online configuration phase— The online configuration phase starts when a user receives the following message: “Please wait a moment while Windows prepares to start for the first time.” Hardware support is installed during this phase. • Windows Welcome phase— During this phase, a computer name is selected for the computer, and the Windows System Assessment Tool (Winsat.exe) checks the performance of the computer. This is …

A+: Verifying Installation

At the end of the installation process, you should test the system by running Windows Explorer, running built-in programs such as Paint and WordPad, and connecting to the Internet. Make sure you don’t see popup error messages or errors within the Event Viewer. If the installation process doesn’t complete properly, you should check the log files to determine the problem.

Let’s talk about Windows XP log files first. In Windows XP, most of these files are plain text, and are stored in the %systemroot% folder of the operating system. The %systemroot% folder is a variable that indicates the folder where the operating system was installed. In most cases this will be C:\Windows unless otherwise specified below.

Setuperr.log records errors (if any) in installation; check first if installs fail. A zero-byte file shows no install errors.

Setuplog.txt stores text-mode install errirs.

Setupact.log stores errors during GUI-mode. Copy it as soon as Windows is installed, as subsequent hotfixes and up…

A+: Providing Device Drivers During Installation

In Windows Vista, device drivers are added within the same screen where partitioning was done by clicking Load Driver. These could be drivers for SATA or SCSI controllers, or other special hard disk controllers. These drivers can come from floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive. Microsoft recommends that before you install, you check if the devices you wish to use are listed at the Windows Vista Compatibility Center ( or at the Windows Logo’d Products List ( If you click Load Driver and cannot supply a proper driver for Windows Vista, or if the computer cannot read the media where the driver is stored, you will have to exit the installation program.

In Windows XP/2000, very early in the installation process, the status line at the bottom of the screen displays a prompt to press F6 if you need to provide drivers for the drive that will be used for the installation, such as an SATA or SCS…