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Microsoft operating operating systems have undergone many changes since MS-DOS was released way back in August 1981. Few will remember those early pioneering days before GUI systems changed computing forever.  It was perhaps the launch of  Windows 3.0 in May 1990 that had the biggest impact on most people. Here we had an operating system that you didn’t require a computer science diploma to use!  However these early platforms were of course far from perfect and many will remember the dreaded ‘blue screen’ with the now infamous phrase “Windows has encountered a problem and has to close”.

Since then Microsoft operating systems have evolved into far more stable and user-friendly platforms. There have been ups and downs over the years with arguably Windows XP being better in many ways than it’s successor in the form of Vista. Some believe we are seeing a similar scenario with Windows 7 & 8. And now Windows 10 represents the most sophisticated OS we have yet had  from Microosft. In any case, it is hoped that this  blog  will provide practical help and advice on how to install and obtain the best from Microsoft operating systems from Windows 7 onwards.

The simple step-by-step tutorials in this blog are intended to provide some guidance in setting up and working with Windows operating systems. However, they cannot be a substitute for proper professional instruction and should be used as a general guide only. There are many training organisations such as Paul Brown Training Ltd which can provide accredited Microsoft Windows tuition. It is recommended that such professional advice is taken before embarking on any substantial IT projects.

How to Backup and restore Windows 7

Backup and Restore console

This helps us to copy and preserve the files to cope with failures. There are several destinations where you can save the files. Two supports for taking backup are ‘System image backup’ and ‘Files and folders’ backup.

  1. System image backup: It backs up the entire volume to a .VHD disk image. This backup helps you to restore your computer settings and all the running applications quickly. Windows image backup folder is created in the root of the backup media. System image backup creates the following files:
    1. A media ID file in the folder to identify the disk image.
    2. Global catalog and Backup global catalog files in the catalog folder to track the backup image versions.
    3. Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) files in the backup folder that has configuration settings for the backup file.
    4. Files and folders: In this type you can store files and documents to compressed (.zip) files. They do not provide back up to system files, program files, encrypting file system or user profile settings. Files and folder backup can be backed up to either local media or shared folder on the network.

System recovery options

The system recovery options contain several tools that can help you recover your operating system from a serious error. This set of tools is present on the computer’s hard disk and on the windows installation disc. There are following options in system recovery:

  1. Start up repair. This automatically fixes the problem that prevents the windows from starting.
  2. System Restore. System restore provides another method of starting system restore to a previous system restore point.
  3. System image recovery. IT allows you to implement a System Image restore. You can use this tool if system changes are causing problems.
  4. Windows Memory Diagnostic. This analyses memory of the computer for hardware problems.
  5. Command Prompt. It gives access to the file system, volumes, and files through a command line interface.

Configuring Files and folders backup

  1. Click ‘Start’ – ‘Control panel’ – ‘System and security’.
  2. In the ‘Backup and Restore’ windows, click ‘Change settings’.
  3. Select a destination where you would like to take backup. Click ‘Next’. On the ‘Setup backup’ page, select ‘Let me choose’. Click ‘Next’.
  4. Select he files which you want to backup, Click ‘Next’.
  5. On the ‘Review your backup settings’ page, Click ‘Change Schedule.
  6. The ‘How often do you want to backup’ wizard appears. Select ‘How often’ you want the backup to be taken, ‘What day’ you have to take backup, and ‘What time’ you want to take backup.
  7. Click ‘Ok’. Review your backup settings. If everything is alright, click ‘Save the settings and exit’.

Create a System Repair Disc

  1. Click ‘Start’ –‘Control panel’ – ‘System and security’ – ‘Backup and restore’.
  2. From the left pane, click ‘Create a system repair disc’.
  3. Insert a blank DVD ROM inside the computer. Click ‘Create disc’.
  4. ‘Creating a system repair disc’ dialogue box appears. Click ‘Close’.

Creating a system restore point

  1. Right click on ‘Computer’; select ‘Properties’.
  2. In the left pane select ‘System protection’ – click on ‘Create’ button.
  3. Give a specific name to the restore point, click ‘Create’. A system restore point is created.

Performing system restore

  1. Click ‘Start’ – ‘Control panel’ – ‘System and security’ – ‘Action centre’.
  2. Click ‘Recover’.  Click ‘open system restore’. Click ‘Next’.
  3. Select the restore point and click ‘Next’. Click ‘Finish’.
  4. It will display a message ‘Once started the system restore cannot be interrupted. Do you want to continue?’
  5. Click ‘Yes’. Click ‘Close’ after the system is restored.

How to Setup Bitlocker Drive Encryption

Bitlocker is a feature used to protect your computer running on windows 7 from offline attacks by encrypting the system volumes. ‘Bit locker To Go’ is a new feature for encrypting removable drives. If you lose your laptop computer, bit locker helps you to protect your data on stolen or lost computer from unauthorized data access. ‘Bit locker To Go’ can be used to protect data on external storage devices such as flash drives. Offline attacks include booting an alternate operating system to recover data from the hard disk of one computer and remove and place the hard disk of one computer to another to recover data stored on that hard disk.

Start-up key: A start up key is a special cryptographically generated file stored on a USB device.

Bitlocker Modes:

Bitlocker can operate in different authentication modes depending on computer hardware capabilities (Trusted platform module, TPM is required) and desired level of security. We have following bit locker modes:

  1. TPM only: In this mode user does not provide a password. PIN or start-up keys to boot the computer. User is unaware of the bit locker functioning.  It is the least secure authentication mode for bit locker functioning. User becomes aware of this mode when bit locker detects modification in boot environment or if the user tries to remove the hard disk and use it on another computer.
  2. TPM with Start-up Key: User must provide a USB device containing the start-up key to boot the computer. If you do not provide a device which have start-up key at boot time, the bit locker leads your computer into a bit locker recovery mode. The bit locker in this mode also provides boot environment protection through TPM.
  3. TPM with PIN: User must enter a ‘Personal Identification Number’ before your computer boot into windows operating system. IF users do not enter the correct PIN at a boot time, then bit locker forces your computer in recovery mode.
  4. TPM with PIN and start-up key: When users turn on ‘Bit locker in TPM with PIN and start-up key, then user must provide PIN number and a device which host start-up key at the boot time. This is most secure mode for Bit locker.
  5. Bit locker without TPM: If your computer does not have TPM chips, then the bit locker can be operating in Bit locker without TPM mode. This mode does not provide boot environment protection. This mode provides only hard disk encryption.

Steps to Configure bitlocker:

  1. Click ‘Start’- ‘Control panel’- ‘System and security’. Choose ‘Bit locker drive encryption’ from ‘System and security’ console. The Bit locker drive encryption console appears.
  2. Click ‘Turn On bit locker’ to encrypt the corresponding drive on the computer.
  3. Manage Bit locker allows you to change or print the recovery key of the encrypted drive.
  4. You can ‘Turn off the bit locker’ if you have the encryption key or PIN. It then decrypts the drive and it is no longer protected.

 

Encrypt a system drive using bitlocker:

  1. Click ‘Start’ – ‘Computer’. Select the drive which you want to encrypt and right click to select ‘Turn on Bit locker’. It opens ‘Bit locker Drive encryption’ wizard.
  2. After Bit locker initialization, the ‘Bit locker drive encryption’ wizard opens a new screen to choose a way to unlock your drive. You can enter either a password or can use a smart card. Choose the required option and click ‘Next’.
  3. It opens a wizard to choose way to store your recovery key. You can ‘Save the Recovery Key’ into a file on your computer or you can ‘Print the recovery key’. Select the required option, Click ‘Next’.
  4. The wizard appears to store the recovery key. Then it displays a message ‘Are you ready to encrypt your drive’. Click ‘Next’. This will start the encryption. After the encryption is complete you will receive a message as ‘Encryption for selected drive is complete’.

How to Configure Windows Firewall Advanced Settings

Firewall is software used to check the information coming from the internet or the network. Firewall prevents hackers or malicious programs, worms from gaining access to your computer through internet or network. Firewall restricts these hackers and malicious programs based on the predefined rules or firewall settings. IT also stops your computer from sending malicious programs to another computer. Windows firewall with advanced security protects your computer from network attackers and malicious software.

Windows Firewall with advanced security:

Windows firewall with advanced security consists of complicated rules based on port protocol, port address and authentication. Windows 7 firewall can protect your computer from hackers. Some of its features are:

  1. Configure inbound and outbound traffic rules.
  2. Configure and apply Firewall rules based on network protocol type and port address.
  3. Configure and apply firewall rules based on network address of a specific service.
  4. Configure rules to allow only authenticated network traffic and block the others.
  5. Configure the security rules.

Inbound traffic: Inbound traffic is the network data that is sent to client computer running on windows 7 from external host over a network.

Outbound traffic: Outbound traffic is the network data that is sent by the client computers running on windows 7 to an external host over the network.

 Steps to configure Windows Firewall:

  1. Click ‘Start’ – ‘Control panel—‘system security’ – ‘Windows Firewall’. From the left pane, click ‘Allow a program or feature through windows Firewall’.
  2. Click on ‘Change settings’ button, check and select the programs or applications from the list.
  3. IF you want to open application in ‘Home/work (private) or Public, or both the networks then select accordingly.
  4. Click ‘Allow another program’ button, if you want to add more programs or applications.
  5. Select program from the ‘Add a program List’ or click on ‘Browse’ to browse the program from the respective location. Write down the name of the program which is allowed to interact with the network.
  6. You can specify the network location on which you want to allow the program by clicking on ‘Network location types’. Click ‘Add’ button to add the selected application or program. Click ‘Ok’ to save the settings.

Steps to configure Windows Firewall with advanced security rules:

  1. Click ‘Start’ – ‘Control panel’ – ‘System Security’. Open ‘Windows firewall’ console and choose ‘Advanced settings’.’ Windows firewall with advanced security settings’ page will be displayed.
  2. Select ‘Inbound rules’ node to create inbound rule. Click ‘New rule’ in action pane to create new rules. The ‘New inbound rule’ wizard appears.
  3. Select the type of the rule that you want to create from the rule type page and click ‘Next’. Select ‘Port’ option and click ‘Next’. The ‘Port and the protocol page’ of the ‘New inbound rule ‘wizard appears.
  4. Select the appropriate protocol and specify the ports on which you want to apply rule conditions and click ‘Next’. The action page of the ‘New inbound rule’ wizard appears.
  5. Select the type of the rule you want to create. For e.g. Select ‘Allow the connection if it is secure’ and click ‘Customize’ button to apply the security methods. Select the required option on ‘Customize allow if secure settings’ page and click ‘Ok’.
  6. On ‘Action page’ of the ‘New inbound rule’ wizard, click ‘Next. The user’s page of the new inbound rule wizard appears.
  7. On the ‘Users page’ specify the type of users and add the users of specified category that are allowed to make the connection specified by the rule. Click ‘Next’. The ‘Name page’ of the ‘New inbound rule’ wizard appears.
  8. On the ‘Name page’ of the ‘New inbound rule’ wizard, enter a name for the ‘New rule’ and specify a description for the same. Click ‘finish’ when you are done.