Windows Utilities Facts

Control Panel
Use the Control Panel to customize features of devices and to configure how a computer looks and behaves. Use the various applets within the Control Panel to perform configuration tasks for specific features or devices.

Ease of Access: modify the behavior of input and display devices to accommodate users with special needs

Fonts: View, remove, or add to all fonts that are currently installed on the computer.

Devices and Printers: View, configure, add, or remove devices such as printers, scanners, and cameras

Region and Language: to configure various settings such as language preference, default currency symbols, and date and time notation.

Hardware and Sound: To view and configure the current system sound settings, installed audio devices, sound cards, printer settings, and other hardware settings

Windows Firewall: Manage network traffic that is allowed or denied through the Windows host-based firewall

Action Center: Review recent error messages and options for resolving issues

System and Security: Configure Windows Update, manage Power Options, configure Backup and Restore, and use Admin tools

Task Manager
Use Task Manger to view the current state of the system and running applications. Task Manager is made up of the following tabs:

Applications tab: View the status of all current applications running on the computer. Use this tab to terminate unresponsive applications.

Processes tab: View the status of all current processes running on the computer and the PCU and memory resources they use. Use this tab to modify the priority of a process or terminate unwanted processes

Services tab: View a list of services running on the computer. You can use this tab to start and stop a particular service.

Performance tab: View system-wide processor and memory statistics

Networking tab: View and monitor the status of the current network connections

Microsoft Management Console (MMC)
The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a framework that provides a common user interface for performing system admin tasks. Management of a set of related features is done by adding snap-ins to performing specific management tasks. Microsoft provides snap-ins for managing:
-Local Users and Groups
-Device Manager
-Disk Management
-Print Management
-Component Services
– Windows Firewall with Advanced Security

To open a blank console, type “mmc” in the Run box. You can then add snap-ins to work with the configuration of your system. The console consists of two or three panes:
-The tree pane (on the left) organizes in a hierarchy
-The results pane (in the middle) shows objects and configuration options
-The actions pane (on the right) lists the actions you can take on objects. (The actions pane is new with Windows Vista)

You can save a console that includes the snap-ins you use most (saved consoles have the “.msc” extension). Microsoft provides a number of preconfigured consoles that include snap-ins for common tasks.

Computer Management
A saved MMC console that includes common snap-ins used to manage you computer. Some common ways to start Computer Management include:
-On the start menu, right-click Computer and select Manage
-Double click Computer Management in Administrative Tools in Control Panel
Event Viewer
Use Event Viewer to view logs about programs, system events, and security. Each entry is listed as a warning, error, or info event. Events are added to the following logs:

-The Application log contains a list of all application-related events such as application installations, un-installations, and application errors.
-The System log contains a list of all system-related events such as system modifications, malfunctions, and errors.
-The Security log contains a list of all security-related events such as security modifications and user login events

Additions logs might be added by applications or services

Service
A service is a program that processes requests from other applications or users. Services can start automatically and stay constantly running in the background, waiting for service requests. Use the Services snap-in to view and manage running services. The service startup behavior determines how the service is started.

-When set to Automatic, the service is started automatically by Windows when the system boots
-When set to Manual, the service must be manually started
-When disabled, the service will not run

Performance Monitor
Performance Monitor displays statistics that tell you about the operation of your computer.

-A counter identifies a specific statistic, such as % Processor Time or % Disk Free Space
-You can add or remove counters to customize the statistics you can see.
-Real time data are displayed in a graph
-Performance Monitor by itself does not save any data. To save statistics over time, use a data collector set.

Reliability Monitor
Reliability Monitor maintains historical data that describe the OS’s stability.
-Overall system stability is given a stability index that ranges from 1 to 10 (10 being the most stable). The stability rating is affected by application, hardware, Windows, and other failures.
-Reliability Monitor shows an historical chart that identifies when software installs/uninstalls and failures have occurred. By clicking on a day, you can view the changes to the system that have affected it stability.
System Information (Msinfo32)
Use Msinfo32 to view hardware and configuration information for your computer. While much of this information is available through other tools, Msinfo32 provides a single location for viewing information such as:
-OS system version
-Computer manufacturer, processor type, available memory
-Installed devices and drivers used
-Running tasks
-Applications that run at system startup

You can only view, not modify, configuration setting in Msinfo32.

System Configuration Utility (Msconfig)
Use the System Configuration Utility to configure your system to enable optimal troubleshooting and diagnosis of technical issues. Use the System Configuration Utility to:
-Configure startup preferences
-Configure system components
-View and customize Windows setup components
-Customize bootup configuration
-Turn services on or off
-Enable and disable startup utilities and programs
DirectX Diagnostic Tool
Dxdiag is a tool that shows info related to DirectX operation. DirectX is a set of programming interfaces for multimedia (video and audio). Dxdiag displays info such as:
-OS system version
-Processor and memory info
-DirectX version
-Settings and drivers used by display devices
-Audio drivers
-Input devices (mouse, keyboard, USB)
Command Prompt
Use the Command Prompt to execute command-line commands. To open a command prompt,

-On XP, click Start, then Run…. Type cmd in the Run box and press Enter
-On 7/Vista, click Start and type cmd in the Search box

Regedit
Regedit.exe is a tool for modifying entries in the Windows registry. the registry is a database that holds hardware, software, and user configuration settings.

-Whenever a change is made to preferences, software, hardware, and user-settings, those changes are stored and reflected in the registry.
-The preferred method of modifying the registry is to use the applications or managements tools that write to the registry. For example, many Control Panel applets make changes to registry settings.
-There will be some advanced settings that can only be made by directly editing the registry

Data
You use ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and mange ODBC data sources. To open the ODBC Data Source Administrator in Windows 7, do the following:

1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel
2. In Control Panel, click Administrative Tools
3. In Administrative Tools, click Data Sources (ODBC)

Windows Memory Diagnostics
The Windows Memory Diagnostic tests the RAM on your computer for errors. This utility is not included with Windows and must be downloaded form Microsoft’s Online Crash Analysis web site.
Advanced Security
Everyday configuration tasks for the Windows Firewall are completed using the Windows Firewall applet in Control Panel. However, in Windows 7, advanced firewall configuration tasks can be performed using an MMC snap-in called Windows Firewall with Advanced Security.

Windows Firewall with Advanced Security supports a more granular firewall configuration than can be created using the Windows Firewall applet in Control Panel. For example, it can filter traffic based on parameters such as:
-Source IP address
-Destination IP address
-Port number
-ICMP protocol