Archive for August, 2010

Reliability Monitor

Use Reliability Monitor to determine if a software installation has negatively affected your system’s stability. Systems that do not experience failures are considered stable by the Reliable Monitor and hence, it rates them with a score of 10. On the other hand, a low score or zero indicates that your system is undergoing a period of instability due to failures or forced reboots. The Reliability Monitor does not differentiate between valid reboots such as, installing a service pack or reboots caused by faults, however, the monitor chart will help you understand both situations.

The Stability chart displays a graph of the stability score (index) on a daily basis. Days are divided into columns which may include warning, info and/or error icons to indicate events. Such events are further detailed in the lower part of the Reliability Monitor window.

The Stability measurement (stability index) is based on data collected over the lifetime of a system. However, the utility maintains a history of 1 year.  The index is calculated from the number of failures that occurred over the preceding 28 days. Hence, it needs 28 days of data before establishing a valid baseline, otherwise the index line on the graph is dotted. Recent failures have more weight on the index value than past ones. You can see that the stability index ascends to a max value over time when no system failures are encountered and drops heavily when a failure occurs.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by George - August 30, 2010 at 5:45 am

Categories: Performance, Troubleshooting, Utilities   Tags: , , , , , ,

Troubleshooting device drivers

Most Windows 7 users troubleshoot device drivers’ problems by performing an update of a suspected faulty driver, if one is available! Although, driver updates are released to fix bugs and support new environments, sometimes it wise to verify the driver’s behavior before performing an update. Windows 7 provides a Driver Verifier Monitor tool which lets you monitor device drivers for problematic behavior.

The Driver Verifier Monitor is a tool that can put drivers under stress as to find incorrect behavior such as, illegal function calls or actions that might corrupt the system.

To use the Driver Verifier at the command-line, in a Command Prompt window, type verifier followed by at least one command-line parameter.

An important feature in the command-line version is the /volatile option which is a no reboot feature that helps you eliminate repetitive reboots. Additionally, you can monitor your driver while you attach and remove devices.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by George - August 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Categories: Devices, Troubleshooting, Utilities   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Finding resource conflicts

Although, there are various ways how to check for device drivers conflicts, the most convenient tool is the msinfo32. The System Information (msinfo32.exe) tool shows details about your computer’s hardware configuration, computer components, and software, including drivers. It has three categories and a summary item:

  1. System Summary: Displays general information about your computer and the operating system
  2. Hardware Resources: Displays details about your computer’s hardware
  3. Components: Displays information about disk drives, sound devices, modems, and other components installed on your computer
  4. Software Environment: Displays information about drivers, network connections, and other program-related details

In addition, it has an inbuilt search tool that helps you narrow your search!

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by George - August 23, 2010 at 4:03 am

Categories: Devices, Troubleshooting   Tags: , , , , , ,

Installing non-pnp devices

To be able to install older devices that are not auto-detected by the system (non-plug and play devices), you need administrator credentials. It is recommended to start with the manufacturer’s updated installation software and follow the instructions provided. Many times this is not possible, either you have lost the original media or the manufacturer does not support the device anymore and hence, does not provide any software packages. However, you can install non-pnp devices from the device manager .  An Add Hardware Wizard helps you installing these devices.

From the device manager, right click the computer name at the root of the tree in the details pane and click Add Legacy Hardware

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by George - August 19, 2010 at 4:37 am

Categories: Devices   Tags: , , , ,

Internet Explorer 9

First impressions of IE9 are very promising considering that we are at the final release of the IE 9 Platform Preview! It load pages extremely fast and renders graphics quite fast and clean. That’s quite obvious as the test drive is a stripped down version and hence, one would expect it to run fast. Performance degradation starts with add-ons and third-party toolbars that literally hook your web browser. From personal experience, rule number 1 is – Keep IE clean (if you can) and it will perform well. One has to wait till September when the first beta is to be released as to test its functionality from an end-user perspective.

The most noticeable feature in IE9 is definitely the hardware acceleration capabilities. The new JavaScript engine takes advantage of the multi-core computing environments which should provide better web experience with better use of computing resources – we shall see! IE9 will support the latest developments in HTML, Graphics and others. Briefly, it will support HTML5 and CSS3 latest specifications, XHTML parsing, SVG and the latest video and audio codecs. The new features will make way for developers to produce richer web graphics.

Microsoft has shared the release of new software development kits (SDKs) for the Open Data Protocol (OData) that makes it easier for developers to access data from the cloud and enhanced the JavaScript Library (jQuery). This will help web developers to build cross-platform Web and mobile applications that use data delivered from the cloud.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by George - August 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Categories: Utilities   Tags: , ,

Troubleshooting Windows Services auto-start

Quite often, Windows services fail to start automatically due to Registry incorrect modifications or even worse, registry corruption. Every service when installed creates a key in the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\<Service Name> while a subkey with the name of Start (for Auto-start) is created under the service name.  I have encountered many incidents that these subkeys were modified either by a valid third-party application or some malware. Critical system services such as, the Task Scheduler can only have their auto-start state changed from the registry as this is disabled (grayed-out) from the services console. To learn more about Windows services tools visit Managing Services in Windows 7

It is very difficult to find how and why these subkeys are being modified, hence I decided to code an executable that monitors Services Start registry subkeys and alerts you if one of the keys you have specified has been modified :)

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by George - August 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Categories: Troubleshooting, Utilities   Tags: , , , , , , ,

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