Data compression is the process of replacing repetitive material in a file with shorthand symbols. For example, if a speech you've written contains the phrase going forward 21 times, a compression scheme like the one in NTFS may replace each occurrence with a single symbol, making the file that much smaller. When you reopen the file later, the operating system almost instantaneously restores the original expanded material.
The degree to which a file can be compressed depends on what kind of data the file contains and whether it's already been compressed by another program. For example, programs (executable files) often shrink by half when compressed. Bitmapped graphics like TIFF files squish down to as little as one-seventh their original size, saving a great deal more space.
The PNG and JPEG graphics files so popular on the Web, however, are already compressed (which is why they're so popular--they take relatively little time to download). As a result, they don't get much smaller if you try to compress them manually. That's one of the main rules of data compression: Data can be compressed only once.
In short, there's no way to predict just how much disk space you'll save by using NTFS compression on your drives. It all depends on what you have stored there.
# Page. 696
> System Restore vs. Your Hard Drive
Ever wonder where Windows stashes all these backup copies of your operating system? They're in a folder called System Volume Information, which is in your Local Disk (C:) window. Inside that are individual files for each restore point. (System Volume Information is generally an invisible folder. You won't be allowed to move, rename, or delete it, however--thank goodness. In fact, you won't even be able to look inside it.)
Now, in Windows XP, you could set a limit on how much disk space all these restore points consumed. But no longer. In Windows Vista, you could delete older restore points yourself. But no longer.
In Windows 7, you can turn off System Restore entirely, or you can limit it to eating up a certain percentage of your hard drive space.
Open the Start menu. Right-click Computer; from the shortcut menu, choose Properties.
In the resulting dialog box, click "System protection" in the left-side panel. Authenticate yourself if necessary. On the System Protection tab, click Configure. You get the dialog box shown here.
Use the Max Usage slider to put a cap on how much drive space all these restore points are allowed to eat up.
In times of strife, there's also a nuclear option here: the Delete button.
Note, however, that this button deletes not just all your restore points, but also the backups of all your documents (Shadow Copy). So be careful out there.
# Page. 700
> What Shadow Copies Aren't
The Shadow Copy feature isn't a substitute for backing up your computer. For example, this feature won't help if you deleted a document, because it's designed only to give you previous versions of existing documents. It's also no protection against hard drive death, since shadow copies are usually stored on the same hard drive as the originals.
Shadow copies also aren't the same as an infinite Undo command. Copies are made only once a day, so you can't, for example, rewind a document to the state it was in three hours ago.
# Page. 707
> Startup Repair (Windows Recovery Environment)
You might play by all the rules. You might make regular backups, keep your antivirus software up to date, and floss twice a day. And then one day, you get your reward: The PC won't even start up. You can't use any of Windows's software troubleshooting tools, because you can't even get to Windows.
In that most dire situation, Microsoft is pleased to introduce Startup Repair, known to techies as WiRE (Windows Recovery Environment). It's a special recovery mode, loaded with emergency tools. You can run it from the Windows DVD, so that it can fix whatever's damaged or missing on the hard drive's copy of Windows, or--new in Windows 7--it can run right from the hard drive.
To open Startup Repair, follow these steps:
From the hard drive. If the hard drive is operational, you might save some time and steps by running WinRE right from your existing copy of Windows. To do that, hold down the F8 key as your PC is booting up; let go when you see the Advanced Boot Options screen. Repair Your Computer should be highlighted already; press Enter.
After a moment of loading and waiting, you're asked to specify your keyboard input method (for example, U.S.). Click Next. Now log in with an administrator's name and password; click OK.
From the Windows DVD. Insert the DVD. Then restart the PC--but as it's coming to life, press the F8 key. Your PC says something like, "Press a key to boot from CD or DVD." So do it--press a key.
After a moment, the Windows installation screen appears. But you're not going to install Windows--not yet. Instead, click "Repair your computer." Now you're asked which copy of Windows you want to repair. Chances are you've got only one; click it.
In either case, the Recovery Environment appears.
At this point, you have some powerful tools available to help you out of your PC's mess. If you're running off the DVD, you can perform surgeries on the hard drive that you wouldn't be able to if the hard drive itself were in control. That'd be like trying to paint the floor under your own feet.
Your options are:
Startup Repair. If there is indeed a missing or damaged file in your copy of Windows, click this link to trigger an automatic repair job. You're running off the original installation DVD, for heaven's sake, so it's extremely easy for Startup Repair to reach into its bag of spare parts if necessary.
System Restore. Remember System Restore? When better to rewind your Windows installation to a healthier, happier time than right now? Click this link to choose a restore point. With any luck the rewinding job will include restoring the undamaged startup files that your PC needs right about now.
System Image Recovery. If you're taken advantage of the system image option, then you're in luck. You have at your disposal a complete disk image of your hard drive, presumably made when the disk was working fine. This mirror includes everything on it: your copy of Windows, all your programs, all your documents and settings, the works. It's like super System Restore. Click this link to copy the whole schmear back onto your hard drive. (Of course, you'll lose any documents or settings you've changed since the backup was made.)
Windows Memory Diagnostic. Click this link if you suspect that it's your RAM (memory), not the hard drive, that's causing your problems. The software does a quick check to make sure your memory hardware is actually working right.
Command Prompt. If you're lucky enough to know what you're doing at the command prompt, you're in luck. You can use it to issue commands, move and rename files, and generally perform repair surgery.
# Page. 713
> Introducing User Accounts
Windows 7 was designed from the ground up to be a multiple-user operating system. Anyone who uses the computer must log on--click (or type) your name and type in a password--when the computer turns on. Upon doing so, you discover the Windows universe just as you left it, including these elements:
Desktop. Each person sees his own shortcut icons, folder icons, and other stuff left out on the desktop.
Start menu. If you reorganize the Start menu, you won't confuse anybody else who uses the machine. No one else can even see the changes you make.
Documents folder. Each person sees only her own stuff in the Documents folder.
Email. Windows maintains a separate stash of email messages for each account holder--along with separate Web bookmarks, a Windows Messenger contact list, and other online details.
Favorites folder. Any Web sites, folders, or other icons you've designated as Favorites appear in your Favorites menu, and nobody else's.
Internet cache. This folder stores a copy of the Web pages you've visited recently for faster retrieval the next time you visit them.
History and cookies. Windows maintains a list of recently visited Web sites independently for each person; likewise, it stores a personal collection of cookies (Web site preference files).
Control Panel settings. Windows memorizes the preferences each person established using the Control Panel, including keyboard, sound, screen saver, and mouse settings.
Note: Not all Control Panel settings are available to everyone. Really important ones that affect the entire PC, like the date and time and network settings, can be changed only by the Lord of the PC--the administrative account holder.
Privileges. Your user account also determines what you're allowed to do on the network and even on your own computer: which settings you can change in the Control Panel, and even which files and folders you can open.
Behind the scenes, Windows store all these files and settings in a single folder--your Personal folder, the one that bears your name. You can open it easily enough; it's at the top right of the Start menu. (Technically, your Personal folder is in the Computer->Local Disk (C:)->Users folder.)
This feature makes sharing the PC much more convenient, because you don't have to look at everybody else's files (and endure their desktop design schemes). It also adds a layer of security, making it less likely that a marauding 6-year-old will throw away your files.
# Page. 716
> Administrator vs. Standard Accounts
It's important to understand the phrase that appears just under your name in the Manage Accounts panel. On your own personal PC, the word "Administrator" probably appears here.
Because you're the person who installed Windows 7, the PC assumes that you're one of its administrators--the technical wizards who will be in charge of it. You're the teacher, the parent, the resident guru. You're the one who will maintain this PC and who will be permitted to make system-wide changes to it.
You'll find settings all over Windows (and all over this book) that only people with Administrator accounts can change. For example, only an administrator is allowed to:
Create or delete accounts and passwords on the PC.
Install new programs (and certain hardware components.)
Make changes to certain Control Panel programs that are off-limits to non-administrators.
See and manipulate any file on the machine.
There's another kind of account, too, for people who don't have to make those kinds of changes: the Standard account.
Now, for years, people doled out Administrator accounts pretty freely. You know: The parents got Administrator accounts, the kids got Standard ones.
The trouble is, an Administrator account itself is a kind of security hole. Any time you're logged in with this kind of account, any nasty software you may have caught from the Internet is also, in effect, logged in--and can make changes to important underlying settings on your PC, just the way a human administrator can.
Put another way: A virus you've downloaded will have a much harder time infecting the rest of the machine if you were running a Standard account than an Administrator account.
Today, therefore, Microsoft recommends that everyone use Standard accounts--even you, the wise master and owner of the computer!
So how are you supposed to make important Control Panel changes, install new programs, and so on?
That's gotten a lot easier in Windows 7. Using a Standard account no longer means that you can't make important changes. In fact, you can do just about everything on the PC that an Administrator account can--if you know the password of a true Administrator account.
Note: Every Windows 7 PC can (and must) keep at least one Administrator account on hand, even if you rarely log in with that account.
Whenever you try to make a big change, you're asked to authenticate yourself. That means supplying an Administrator account's password, even though you, the currently logged-in person, are a lowly Standard account holder.
If you have a Standard account because you're a student, a child, or an employee, you're suppose to call an administrator over to your PC to approve the change you're making. (If you're the PC's owner, but you're using a Standard account for security purposes, you know an administrator password, so it's no big deal.)
Now, making broad changes to a PC when you're an administrator still presents you with those "prove yourself worthy" authentication dialog boxes. The only difference is that you, the administrator, can click Continue to bypass them, rather than having to type in a password.
You'll have to weigh this security/convenience tradeoff. But you've been warned: The least vulnerable PC is one where everyone uses Standard accounts.
All of this is a long-winded way of explaining why, when you open User Accounts, you may see one of two different things.
# Page. 725
> The Other Administrator Account
This will sound confusing. But there's another kind of Administrator account--the Administrator account.
This is an emergency backup account with full administrator powers and no password. Even if you delete all your other accounts, this one still remains, if only to give you some way to get into your machine. It's called Administrator, and it's ordinarily hidden.
Most people see it only in times of troubleshooting, when they start up their PCs in Safe Mode. It's the ideal account to use in those situations. Not only does it come with no password assigned, but it's also not limited in any way. It gives you free powers over every file, which is just what you may need to troubleshoot your computer.
In Windows XP, the problem was, of course, that anyone who knew about it could get into Windows with full Administrator privileges--and no need to know a password. Your kid, for example, could blow right past your carefully established Parental Controls--and let's net even consider what a virus could do.
So in the more security-minded Windows 7, the secret Administrator account is still there. But it's ordinarily disabled. It comes to life only if (a) you're starting your PC in Safe Mode, and (b) there are no other, real Administrator accounts on the machine.
(That's on a standard home or small-office PC. On a corporate domain network, only a networking geek who's got a Domain Admins account can start up in Safe Mode. You know who you are.)
# Page. 726
> The Secret, Fully Automatic Logon Trick
You're supposed to do most of your account-editing work in User Accounts program of the Control Panel, which is basically a wizard that offers one option per screen. That requirement may not thrill veteran Windows 2000 fans, however, who are used to the much more direct--and more powerful--User Accounts screen.
Actually, it's still in Windows 7. To make it appear, press WIN+R to open the Run dialog box, type out control userpasswords2 (or netplwiz), authenticate yourself if necessary, and then press Enter. You see the program shown here.
Most of the functions are the same as what you'd find in the User Accounts program--it's just that you don't have to slog through several wizard screens to get things done. Here you can add, remove, or edit accounts, all in a single screen.
This older Control Panel program also offers a few features that you don't get at all in the new one. For example, you can turn off the checkbox called, "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer." When you do so, you get, when you click OK, a dialog box called Automatically Log On, where you can specify a user name and password of one special person. This lucky individual won't have to specify any name and password at logon time, and can instead turn on the PC and cruise directly to the desktop. (This feature works only at startup time. If you choose Start->Log Off, the standard Logon dialog box appears so that other people have the opportunity to sign in.)
This automatic-logon business is ordinarily a luxury enjoyed by solo operators whose PCs have only one account and no password. By using the secret User Accounts method, however, you can set up automatic logon even on a PC with several accounts, provided you recognize the security hole that it leaves open.
# Page. 726
> Authenticate Yourself: User Account Control
You can't work in Windows 7 very long before encountering the User Account Control dialog box. It appears any time you install a new program or try to change an important setting on you PC. (Throughout Windows, a colorful SHIELD icon next to a button or link indicates a change that will produce this message box.)
Clearly, Microsoft chose the name User Account Control (UAC) to put a positive spin on a fairly intrusive security feature; calling it the IYW (Interrupt Your Work) box probably wouldn't have sounded like so much fun.
Why do these boxes pop up? In the olden days, nasties like spyware and viruses could install themselves invisibly, behind your back. That's because Windows ran in Administrative mode all the time, meaning it left the door open for anyone and anything to make important changes to your PC. Unfortunately, that included viruses.
Windows 7, on the other hand, runs in Standard mode all the time. Whenever somebody or some program wants to make a big change to your system--something that ought to have the permission of an administrator--the UAC box alerts you. If you click Continue, Windows elevates (opens) the program's permissions settings just long enough to make the change.
Most of the time, you are the one making the changes, which can make the UAC box a bit annoying. But if that UAC dialog box ever appears by itself, you'll know something evil is afoot on your PC, and you'll have the chance to shut it down.
How you get past the UAC box--how you authenticate yourself--depends on the kind of account you have:
If you're an administrator, the UAC box generally doesn't appear at all. Even when you click a link marked with a SHIELD icon, you generally blow right past it. (That's a welcome change from Vista, when you'd see the UAC box for no good reason--you'd hit Enter to blow past it.)
If you're a Standard account holder, the UAC dialog box requires the password of an administrator. You're supposed to call an administrator over to your desk to indicate his permission to proceed by entering his own name and password.
Questions? Yes, you in the back?
Why does the screen go dark around the dialog box?
That's another security step. It's designed to prevent evil software from tricking you by displaying a fake Windows dialog box. Windows darkens and freezes everything on the screen except the one, true Windows dialog box: the UAC box.
Can I turn off the UAC interruptions?
Well, yes. But listen: You should be grateful that they don't appear nearly as often as they did in Vista, where they became a profound nuisance.
All right then. If even the few remaining interruptions are too much for you, you can turn them off altogether. Open the Start menu. Type uac; click "Change User Account Control settings."
You get the User Account Control dialog box. If you drag the slider all the way to the bottom, you won't be interrupted by UAC boxes at all.
This truly isn't a good idea, though. You're sending your PC right back to the days of Windows XP, when any sneaky old malware could install itself or change your system settings without your knowledge. Do this only on a PC that's not connected to a network or the Internet, for example, or maybe when you, the all-knowing system administrator, are trying to troubleshoot and the UAC interruptions are slowing you down.
# Page. 734
> Built-in groups
You may have noticed that even the first time you opened the Users and Groups window, a few group names appeared there already. That's because Windows comes with a canned list of ready-made groups that Microsoft hopes will save you some time.
For example, when you use the User Accounts control panel program to set up a new account, Windows automatically places that person into the Standard or Administrators group, depending on whether or not you made him an administrator. In fact, that's how Windows knows what powers and freedom this person is supposed to have.
Here are some of the built-in groups on a Windows 7 computer:
Administrators. Members of the Administrators group have complete control over every aspect of the computer. They can modify any settings, create or delete accounts and groups, install or remove any software, and modify or delete any file.
But as Spider-Man's uncle might say, with great power comes great responsibility. Administrator powers make it possible to screw up your operating system in thousands of major and minor ways, either on purpose or by accident. That's why it's a good idea to keep the number of Administrator accounts to a minimum--and even to avoid using one for everyday purposes yourself.
Note: The Power Users group was a big deal in Windows XP. Power Users had fewer powers than Administrators, but still more than mere mortals in the Users group. But Microsoft felt that they added complexity and represented yet another potential security hole. In Win7, this group is essentially abandoned.
Users. Standard account holders are members of this group. They can access their own Start menu and desktop settings, their own Documents folder, the Shared Documents folder, and whatever folders they create themselves--but they can't change any computer-wide settings, Windows system files, or program files.
If you're a member of this group, you can install new programs--but you'll be the only one who can use them. That's by design; any problems introduced by that program (viruses, for example) are limited to your files and not spread to the whole system.
If you're the administrator, it's a good idea to put most new account holders into this group.
Guests. If you're in this group, you have pretty much the same privileges as members of the Users group. You lose only a few non-essential perks, like the ability to read the computer's system event log (a record of behind-the-scenes technical happenings.)
In addition to these basic groups, there are some special-purpose groups like Backup Operators, Replicator, Cryptographic Operators, Event Log Readers, and so on. These are all groups with specialized privileges, designed for high-end network administration. You can double-click one (or widen its Description column) to read all about it.
# Page. 736
> Fast User Switching
Suppose you're signed in and you've got things just the way you like them. You have 11 programs open in carefully arranged windows, your Web browser is downloading some gigantic file, and you're composing an important speech in Microsoft Word. Now Robin, a co-worker/family member/fellow student, wants to duck in to do a quick email check.
In the old days, you might have rewarded Robin with eye-rolling and heavy sighs, or worse. If you chose to accommodate the request, you would have had to shut down your whole ecosystem--interrupting the download, closing your windows, saving your work, and exiting your programs. You would have had to log off completely.
Thanks to Fast User Switching, however, none of that is necessary. All you have to do is press the magic keystroke, WIN+L (which locks the screen), and then click Switch User. (Maybe it's more direct to just choose Start->"Shut down"->"Switch user.")
Now the list of accounts appears, ready for the next person to sign in.
The words "Logged on" beneath your name indicate that you haven't actually logged off. Instead, Windows has memorized the state of affairs in your account--complete with all open windows, documents, and programs--and shoved it into the background.
Robin can now click the Robin button to sign in normally, do a little work, or look something up. When Robin logs out, the accounts screen comes back once again, at which point you can log on again. Without having to wait more than a couple of seconds, you find yourself exactly where you began, with all your programs and documents still open and running--an enormous timesaver.
# Page. 738
As you've read earlier in this chapter, every document, icon, and preference settings related to your account resides in a single folder: By default, it's the one bearing your name in the Local Disk (C:)->Users folder. This folder's friendly name is your Personal folder, but to network geeks, it's known as your user profile.
> The Public Profile
Each account holder has a user profile. But your PC also has a couple of profiles that aren't linked to human beings' accounts.
Have you ever noticed, for example, that not everything you actually see in your Start menu and on your desktop is, in fact, in your user profile folder?
Part of the solution to this mystery is the Public profile, which also lurks in the Users folder. As you can probably tell by its name, this folder stores many of the same kinds of settings your profile folder does--except that anything in (C:)->Users->Public->Desktop appears on everybody's desktop.
All of this is a long-winded way of suggesting another way to make some icon available to everybody with an account on your machine. Drag it into Desktop folder in the Public profile folder.
But if you're wondering where the common Start menu items are, you'll have to look somewhere else. If you're prowling around your hard drive, you'll find them in (C:)->ProgramData->Microsoft->Windows->Start Menu. But the ProgramData folder is ordinarily hidden, so here's a faster way: Open the Start menu, right-click All Programs, and then choose Open All Users.
> Whose software is it, anyway?
Those locations also offer a handy solution to the "Whose software is it, anyway?" conundrum, the burning question of whose Start menu and desktop reflect new software that you've installed using your own account.
Some software installers ask if you'd like the new program to show up only in your Start menu, or in everybody's Start menu. But not every installer is this thoughtful. Some installers automatically deposit their new software into the ProgramData and Public folders, thereby making its Start menu and desktop icons available to everybody when they log on.
On the other hand, some installers may deposit a new software program only into your account (or that of whoever is logged in at the moment). In that case, other account holders won't be able to use the program at all, even if they know it's been installed, because their own Start Menu and Desktop folders won't reflect the installation. Worse, some people, not seeing the program's name on their Start menus, might not realize that you've already installed it--and may well install it again.
One possible solution is to open the Start Menu->Programs folder in your user profile folder (open the Start menu, right-click All Programs, and choose Open). Copy the newly installed icon, and then paste it into the "everybody" profile folder (open the Start menu, right-click All Programs, and then Open All Users.)
Repeat with the Desktop folder, if you'd like everyone to see a desktop icon for the new program. To open the shared desktop folder, open (C:)->Users->Public->Desktop. (You'll have to make the Desktop folder visible first, and then make it invisible again afterward.) You've just made that software available and visible to everybody who logs onto the computer.
> The Default User Profile
When you create a new account, who decides what the desktop picture will be--and the Start menu configuration, the assortment of desktop icons, and so on?
Well, Microsoft does, of course--but you can change all that. What a newly created account holders sees is only a reflection of the Default user profile. It's yet another folder--this one usually hidden--in your (C:)->Users folder, and it's the common starting point for all profiles.
If you'd like to make some changes to that starting point, turn on "Show hidden files, folders, and drives". Then open the (C:)->Users->Default folder, and make whatever changes you like.
# Page. 774
> Three Ways to Share Files
It's not easy to write one operating system that's supposed to please everyone, from a husband and wife at home, to a small business owner, to a network administrator for the federal government. Clearly, these people might have slightly different attitudes on the tradeoff between convenience and security.
That's why Windows 7 offers three ways to share files. Each is light-years more convenient, secure, and comprehensible than file sharing in the Windows XP days. And each falls at a different spot on the security/convenience spectrum:
Homegroups. This is the big networking news in Windows 7. The HomeGroup feature was invented for families or small-business owners--places where people don't have a lot to hide from one another. This kind of network is really easy to set up and use; nobody has to enter names and passwords to use files on other PCs in the house.
Setup is one-time deal: You type the same code into each computer, and presto: Everyone can see everyone else's Music, Photos, Videos, and Documents folders. Everyone can send printouts to everyone else's printers. Everyone can listen to everyone else's Windows Media Player music collections, too. (You can turn these shared items off individually, if you like.)
Downsides: A PC can join a homegroup only if it's running Windows 7. And homegroups don't offer the level of security, passwords, and networky red tape that bigger companies require. The idea is to give everyone in the house free access to everyone else's stuff with one click.
The Public folder. There's a Public folder on every PC. It's free for everyone on the network to access, like a grocery store bulletin board. Super-convenient, super-easy.
Downsides: First, you have to move or copy files into the Public folder before anyone else can see them. Depending on how many files you wish to share, this can get tedious.
Second, this method isn't especially secure. If you worry about people rummaging through the files and deleting or vandalizing them, or if bad things could happen if the wrong person in your building gets a look at them, well, then, don't use this method (although you can still give the Public folder a password).
Any folder. At the far end of the security/convenience spectrum, you have the "any folder" method. In the scheme, you can make any ordinary folder available for inspection by other people on the network.
This method means you don't have to move files into the Public folder. It also gives you elaborate control over who's allowed to do what to your files. You might want to permit your company's executives to see and edit your documents but allow the peons in accounting only to see them. And Andy, that unreliable goofball in sales? You don't want him even seeing what's in your shared folder.
Downsides: More complex and inconvenient than the other methods.
# Page. 788
> Notes on File Sharing
Sharing a folder also shares all the folders inside it, including new onces you create later.
On the other hand, it's OK to change the sharing settings of a subfolder. For example, if you've shared a folder called America, you can make the Minnesota folder inside it off-limits by making it private.
To do this, right-click the inner folder, choose Properties->Sharing, click Advanced Sharing, and use the dialog box.
Be careful with nested folders. Suppose, for example, that you share your Documents folder, and you permit other people to change the files inside it. Now suppose that you share a folder that's inside Documents--called Spreadsheets, for example--but you turn off the ability for other people to change its files.
You wind up with a strange situation. Both folders--Documents and Spreadsheets--show up in other people's Network windows, as described below. If they double-click the Spreadsheets folder directly, they won't be able to change anything inside it. But if they double-click the Documents folder and then open the Spreadsheets folder inside it, they can modify the files.
# Page. 789
> Hiding Folders
If a certain folder on your hard drive is really private, you can hide the folder so that other people on the network can't even see it. The secret is to type $ symbol at the end of the share name.
For example, if you name a certain folder My Novel, anyone else on the network can see it (even if they can't read the contents). But if you name the folder My Novel$, it won't show up in anybody's Network window. They won't even know it exists.
# Page. 788
> Unhiding Hidden Folders
As sneaky and delightful as the hidden-folder trick is, it has a distinct drawback--you can't see your hidden folder from across the network, either. Suppose you want to use another computer on the network--the one in the upstairs office, for example--to open something in your hidden My Novel folder (which is downstairs in the kitchen). Fortunately, you can do so--if you know the secret.
On the office computer, choose Start->Run. In the Run dialog box, type the path of the hidden folder, using the format \\Computer Name\Folder Name.
For example, enter \\Kitchen\my novel$ to get to the hidden folder called "My Novel$" on the PC called "Kitchen." (Capitalization doesn't matter, but don't forget the $ sign.) Then click OK to open a window showing the contents of your hidden folder.
# Page. 792
> Extra Credit: Universal Naming Convention (UNC)
For hard-core nerds, that business of double-clicking icons in the Network folder is for sissies. When they want to call up a shared folder from the network, or even a particular document in a shared folder, they just type a special address into the address bar of any folder window, or even Internet Explorer--and then press the Enter key. You can also type such addresses into the Start->Run dialog box.
It might look like this: \\laptop\shared documents\salaries 2012.doc.
This path format (including the double-backslash before the PC name and a single backslash before a folder name) is called the Universal Naming Convention (UNC). It was devised to create a method of denoting the exact location of a particular file or folder on a network. It also lets network geeks open various folders and files on networked machines without having to use the Network window.
You can use this system in all kinds of interesting ways:
Open a particular folder like this: \\computer name\folder name.
You can also substitute the IP address for the computer instead of using its name, like this: \\192.168.1.44\my documents.
You can even substitute the name of a shared printer for the folder name.
Windows can even access shared folders that sit elsewhere on the Internet (offline backup services, for example). You can call these items onto your screen (once you're online) just by adding http: before the UNC code and using regular forward slashes instead of backward slashes, like this: http://Computer Name/Folder Name.
# Page. 793
> Mapping Shares to Drive Letters
If you access network shares on a regular basis, you may want to consider another access technique, called mapping shares. Using this trick, you can assign a letter to a particular shared disk or folder on the network. Just as your hard drive is called C: and your floppy drive is A:, you can give your Family Stuff folder the letter F: and the backup drive in the kitchen the letter J:.
Doing so confers several benefits. First, these disks and folders now appear directly in the Computer window. Getting to them this way can be faster than navigating to the Network window.
Second, when you choose File->Open from within one of your applications, you'll be able to jump directly to a particular shared folder instead of having to double-click, ever deeper, through the icons in the Open File dialog box. You can also use the mapped drive letter in pathnames anywhere you would use a path on a local drive, such as the Run dialog box, a File->Save As dialog box, or the Command Line.
To map a drive letter to a disk or folder, open any folder or disk window. Then:
1. In any Explorer window, press Alt (or F10) to make the old menu bar appear. Choose Tools->"Map network drive." The Map Network Drive dialog box appears.
2. Using the drop-down list, choose a drive letter. You can select any unused letter you like (except B, which is still reserved for the second floppy disk drive that PCs don't have anymore).
3. Indicate which folder or disk you want this letter to represent. You can type its UNC code into the Folder box, choose from the drop-down list of recently accessed folders, or click Browse.
Tip: Most people use the mapping function for disks and drives elsewhere on the network, but there's nothing to stop you from mapping a folder that's sitting right there on your own PC.
4. To make this letter assignment stick, turn on "Reconnect at logon." If you don't use this option, Windows forgets this assignment the next time you turn on the computer. (Use the "Connect using different credentials" option if your account name on the shared folder's machine isn't the same as it is on this one.)
5. Click Finish. A window opens to display the contents of the folder or disk. If you don't want to work with any files at the moment, just close the window.
From now on (depending on your settings in step 4), that shared disk or folder shows up in your Navigation pane along with the disks that are actually in your PC.
Tip: If you see a red X on one of these mapped icons, it means that the PC on which one of the shared folders or disks resides is either off the network or is turned off completely.
# Page. 793
> Automatic Reconnections Can Be Tricky
If you select "Reconnect at logon" when mapping a shared disk or folder to a letter, the order in which you start your computer becomes important. The PC containing the shared disk or folder should start up before the computer that refers to it as, say, drive K:. That way, when the second computer searches for "drive K:" on the network, its quest will be successful.
On the other hand, this guideline presents a seemingly insurmountable problem if you have two computers on the network and each of them maps drive letters to folders or disks on the other.
In that situation, you get an error message to the effect that the permanent connection is not available. It asks if you want to reconnect the next time you start the computer. Click Yes.
Then, after all the computers have started up, open your Computer window or an Explorer window. You can see the mapped drive, but there's a red X under the icon. Ignore the X. Just double-click the icon. The shared folder or disk opens normally (because the other machine is now available), and the red X goes away.
# Page. 794
> FTP Sites and Other Online Disks
How do I bring an FTP server, or one of those Web-based backup drives, onto my PC?
The trick to bringing these servers online is the "Add a network place" link--but you won't find it in the task pane of the Network window, as it was in Windows XP.
The trick is to right-click a blank spot in the Computer window. From the shortcut menu, choose "Add a network location."
When the wizard appears, click Next. Then, on the second screen, click "Choose a custom network location." Click Next.
Finally you arrive at the critical screen, where you can type in the address of the Web site, FTP site, or other network location that you want your new shortcut to open.
Into the first text box, you can type any of these network addresses:
The UNC code. As described earlier in this chapter, a UNC code pinpoints a particular shared folder on the network. For example, if you want to open the shared folder named FamilyBiz on the computer named Dad, enter \\dad\familybiz. Capitalization doesn't matter. Or, to open a specific file, you could enter something like \\dad\finances\budget.xls.
http://website/folder. To see what's in a folder called Customers on a computer Web site called BigBiz.com, enter http://bigbiz.com/customers. (You can't just type in any old Web address. It has to be a Web site that's been specifically designed to serve as a "folder" containing files.)
ftp://ftp.website/folder. This is the address format for FTP sites. For example, if you want to use a file in a folder named Bids on a company site named WeBuyStuff.com, enter ftp://ftp.webuystuff.com/bids.
What happens when you click Next depends on the kind of address you specified. If it was an FTP site, you're offered the chance to specify your user name. (Access to every FTP site requires a user name and password. You won't be asked for the password until you actually try to open the newly created folder shortcut.)
Click Finish to complete the creation of your network shortcut, which now appears in the Network Location area in the Computer window. To save you a step, the wizard also offers to connect to and open the corresponding folder.
You can work with these remote folders exactly as though they were sitting on your own hard drive. The only difference is that because you're actually communicating with a hard drive via the Internet, the slower speed may make it feel as if your PC has been drugged.
# Page. 813
> Remote Networking vs. Remote Control
When you connect to a PC using direct dial or virtual private networking (VPN), you're simply joining the host's network from far away. When you try to open a Word document that's actually sitting on the distant PC, your laptop's copy of Word opens and loads the file. Your laptop is doing the actual word processing; the host just sends and receives files as needed.
Windows's Remote Desktop feature is a different animal. In this case, you're using your laptop to control the host computer. If you double-click that Word file on the host computer, you open the copy of Word on the host computer. All the word processing takes place on the distant machine; all that passes over the connection between the two computers is a series of keystrokes, mouse movements, and screen displays. The host is doing all the work. Your laptop is just peeking at the results.
Once you understand the differences between these technologies, you can make a more informed decision about which to use when. For example, suppose your PC at the office has a folder containing 100 megabytes of images you need to incorporate into a PowerPoint document. Using a remote networking connection means you'll have to wait for the files to be transmitted to your laptop before you can begin working--and if you're connected to the office machine using a dial-up modem, you'll be waiting, literally, for several days.
If you use a Remote Desktop connection, on the other hand, the files remain right where they are: on the host computer, which does all the processing. You see on your screen exactly what you would see if you were sitting at the office. When you drag and drop one of these images into your PowerPoint document, all the action is taking place on the PC at the other end.
Of course, if the computer doing the dialing is a brand-new Pentium 7 zillion-megahertz screamer, and the host system is a 5-year-old rustbucket on its last legs, you might actually prefer a remote network connection, so the faster machine can do most of the heavy work.
# Page. 837
> The Big Five Categories
It turns out that Microsoft has arranged all those software settings into five broad categories. Microsoft calls them root keys, but they look and act like folders in a Windows Explorer window. You expand one of these folders (root keys) just as you would in Explorer, too, by clicking the little flippy triangle button beside its name.
The names of these five categories are not especially user-friendly:
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. This root key stores all kinds of information about files: filename extensions, file types, shortcut menus, and so on.
Note: A number of Registry entries appear in more than one place, as live mirrors of each other, for convenience and clarity. Edit one, and you make a change in both places.
This root key, for example, is a pointer to the key at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTARE\Classes.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER. As you'd guess, here's where you'll find the settings pertaining to your account: your desktop arrangement, your wallpaper setting, and so on, plus information about connections to printers, cameras, and so on. (This key, too, is a live mirror--of the identical one in HKEY_USERS.)
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. All about your PC and its copy of Windows. Drivers, security settings, hardware info, the works.
HKEY_USERS. Here's where Windows stores the information about all the account holders (user profiles) on your PC, including the "Current_User's." You'll rarely be asked to edit this root key, since the good stuff--what applies to your own account--is in the CURRENT_USER key.
HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG. Most of this root key is made up of pointers to other places in the Registry. You'll rarely be asked to edit this one.