Error message: "UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP" on SP1 system

If your computer is running Windows 7 (or Windows Server 2008 R2) with Service Pack 1 installed and the computer configured to automatically connect to a wireless network, and you are trying to transfer data over a wired or wireless connection after restarting or resuming from sleep or hibernation, you might get a STOP error message 0x0000007F that says UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP. It happens because too little stack space is being allocated by the OS, and you can get a hotfix to address the problem. See KB article 2519736 at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2519736.

Problems when connecting mobile PC to wireless access point

When you connect a Windows 7 or Vista mobile computer (laptop, netbook, tablet) to a wireless access point, you might find that with some (but not all) wi-fi networks you have connectivity problems such as poor performance or dropping of the connection. You might notice this only happens when the computer is running on battery power. The problem is that the WAP or router doesn't support the 802.11 power save protocol. An obvious solution is to plug the computer into A/C power, but if you can't do that, another option is to change the default power saving power plan. Find out how in KB article 928152 at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/928152

Windows 7 deletes System Restore points when you reboot

Here's a problem that you might have run into: Every time you reboot the computer, Windows 7 deletes all of your system restore points. Ouch! This happens sometimes because your paging file has gotten too fragmented. Who knew? The solution is to disable, delete and then recreate the paging file. You can find the step-by-step instructions for doing that in KB article 2533911 at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2533911/en-US


How to speed up the taskbar previews in Windows 7

I love the little previews that you get when you hover over the icon for an open item in the Windows 7 taskbar, but if you're the impatient type, you might want to adjust the standard delay time so they will open more quickly. You can do that by editing the registry. As always, be sure to back it up first, and then follow these steps:

  1. Open your registry editor and navigate to
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced
  2. Right click an empty space in the right pane, and select New and then DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  3. Name the new value ExtendedUIHoverTime
  4. Double click the new value to open its properties.
  5. Under "Base," select "Decimal."
  6. In the "Value Data" field, enter a new delay time. The default is 400 milliseconds so to speed it up, enter a smaller number, such as 200..
  7. Log off and log back on to make the change effective.

Use Driver Verifier to identify issues with Windows drivers

Driver Verifier is a tool thatís included with Windows 7 (and other Windows operating systems) for troubleshooting issues with drivers, which can cause system corruption or failure if improperly written. To find out how to use this tool to identify the driver thatís causing the problem and resolve it, see KB article 244317: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/244617

Use System Restore to log on to Windows 7/Vista

You can accidentally lose access to a Windows system for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you forget the recently changed password on an administrator account. Maybe you accidentally delete an administrator account or change it to a standard user account. KB article 940765 shows you how to use System Restore to regain access: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/940765

Internet Explorer 8 and 9 beat Chrome, Firefox and Safari in malware URL blocking test

Here's some good news for those of you who use Internet Explorer as your web browser of choice. An independent test finds that the combination of Smartscreen URL Filter and Smartscreen Application Reputation technologies easily beat out Google's Safe Browser Feed used by Chrome, Firefox and Safari, at blocking a sample set of European URLs with socially engineered malware. http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/internet-explorer-9-hammers-rivals-in-download-blocking-test-240


How to create a Windows 7 Backup Image

Sure, you back up all your important data files, but a nice feature of Windows 7's built-in backup program is that it can create a complete system backup image, which will restore all your programs and settings too. Here's how to do it:

  1. Click Start and in the Search box, type Backup
  2. Click Backup and Restore in the list of programs shown
  3. In the left pane, click Create A System Image
  4. Select a location where you want to save the system image. It should not be on the same partition where Windows is installed
  5. Click Next
  6. Choose which drive to back up. To back up your operating system and program files, select the drive where Windows is installed, usually C:
  7. Click Start Backup
  8. After the backup finishes (which could take a while if you have lots of programs and/or data), click Create a System Repair Disk in the left pane
  9. Insert a blank DVD or CD and click Create Disk Now you can use the System Repair Disk and your system image to restore your computer.

Unexpectedly slow startup

If you have a Windows 7 (or Server 2008 R2) computer that is experiencing an abnormally slow startup time, and it's connected to a high resolution monitor, it might be because the default DPI display setting is set to some value other than 96 DPI. No, you don't have to change the DPI setting; there is a hotfix available. Find out more about the problem and how to download the hotfix in KB article 977419 at: http://support.microsoft.com/?id=977419

How to repartition your disk

If you've been working with Windows for a long time, you probably remember using disk partitioning tools such as Partition Magic when you needed to create new partitions (drives) on your hard disk without formatting the disk and starting over. In Windows 7, you can do it without a third party program. Here's how:

  1. Click Start and in the search box, type diskmgmt.msc to open the Disk Management console.
  2. Right click the volume you want to shrink in order to make free space out of which you can create a new partition.
  3. Select Shrink Volume.
  4. Enter the amount of space that you want to take away from the current disk. This is limited by the amount of free space on the disk. The dialog box tells you how much shrink space is available.
  5. Click Shrink.
  6. Now you can create a new partition in the newly unallocated space. To do, right click in the unallocated space and click New Simple Volume. This invokes the New Volume wizard, where you specify the size for the new volume, assign a drive letter, and format the partition.

Stop Error after you change the SATA mode of the boot drive

If you go into the BIOS of your Vista or Windows 7 system and change the SATA mode of your boot drive to use AHCI or RAID features, you may get a STOP error (blue screen of death) when you restart the computer. That's not good. It happens when the disk driver is disabled; you have to enable it before you can change the SATA/RAID mode on the boot drive. Find out more in KB article 922976.

You probably know that you can pin applications, web sites and files/folders to the task bar, but did you know that you can pin a drive there, too? Here's how:

  1. Right click an empty space on the desktop.
  2. Select New and then Text File.
  3. Rename the file to drive.exe
  4. Drag this to the taskbar and delete the original file.
  5. Right click the new taskbar button.
  6. Right click the file name and select Properties.
  7. In the Target and Start in fields, change the path to point to the drive.
  8. Click Change Icon to pick an appropriate icon.


Now you can access the drive easily with a single click instead of opening Windows Explorer or Computer.

Why do I have these little boxes on my desktop icons?

QUESTION:
I just got a Windows 7 computer.  The icons on the desktop have these little boxes that show up when you hover on them. If you click them, a checkmark goes in the boxes. I have another Windows 7 computer (a laptop) that doesn't do this. I don't know what it's for and I don't like it. How can I get rid of the boxes?

ANSWER:
Windows 7 allows you to use checkboxes to select multiple items; the advantage is that you don't have to hold down the CTRL key while selecting them. This could be important to someone who has the use of only one hand, for example. But it's an option and it's easy to turn off. Open Windows Explorer (the File folder icon on the taskbar by default, or right click the Start orb and select Open Windows Explorer). If the menu bar (File, Edit, View, Tools, Help) isn't displayed, click Organize, then Layout, then check Menu Bar. Now click Tools, then Folder options. Click the View tab. In the Advanced Settings section, scroll down to the item Use check boxes to select items near the bottom. Uncheck that box, and the checkboxes on your desktop icons should disappear.

You can then uncheck the Menu Bar option if you want, but I always keep it displayed.

Windows 7 Tip of the Week: Make a shortcut to network adapter properties

If you frequently check or change the properties of your network adapters (for example, if you have multiple adapters and you disable and enable different ones regularly, or if you need to change your DNS servers or other TCP/IP settings for your NIC), you probably get a bit weary of all the clicks required to get to the adapter's Properties sheet: Start | Control Panel | Network and Sharing Center | Change Adapter Settings. You can save a few clicks by creating a shortcut.

The obvious way to do that would be to drag the icon of your network adapter(s) to your desktop ? but that shortcut won't have the Properties sheet for the adapter when you right-click it (you'll get the Properties of the shortcut link instead). Here's a better way:

  1. Right-click on empty space on the desktop.
  2. Click New | Shortcut.
  3. In the location field, type explorer.exe ::{7007ACC7-3202-11D1-AAD2-00805FC1270E} and be sure to put a space after "explorer.exe."
  4. Name it "Network Connection" or whatever else you want to identity it.
  5. Click Finish.

Now when you double-click the shortcut, you'll go directly to the Network Connections window.

System restore points deleted when you restart Windows

If you find that your system restore points have been deleted when you restarted Windows 7, this can be caused by the maximum storage size limit being set too low for your shadow storage. To fix the problem, you'll need to change the setting for the maximum shadow storage allocation. You'll find a step by step guide to doing this in KB article 2506576 click here.

How to create a Windows 7 Backup Image

Sure, you back up all your important data files, but a nice feature of Windows 7's built-in backup program is that it can create a complete system backup image, which will restore all your programs and settings too. Here's how to do it:

  1. Click Start and in the Search box, type Backup
  2. Click Backup and Restore in the list of programs shown
  3. In the left pane, click Create A System Image
  4. Select a location where you want to save the system image. It should not be on the same partition where Windows is installed
  5. Click Next
  6. Choose which drive to back up. To back up your operating system and program files, select the drive where Windows is installed, usually C:
  7. Click Start Backup
  8. After the backup finishes (which could take a while if you have lots of programs and/or data), click Create a System Repair Disk in the left pane
  9. Insert a blank DVD or CD and click Create Disk Now you can use the System Repair Disk and your system image to restore your computer

7 steps to make Windows 7 more secure

Part of Microsoft's trustworthy computing initiative includes making software that's "secure by design" and "secure by default." They've done a pretty good job of that with Windows 7, but there are ways you can make it more secure than what you get out of the box. In this article, Roger Grimes provides seven tips for bumping up the security on your Windows 7 computer. Some of them require that you have Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate edition, but others will work on Home editions. Check them out here.

Make Windows Disk Cleanup work better

The Windows Disk Cleanup tool is handy for getting rid of all the clutter that accumulates in your file system over months or years of using the operating system, but its default settings might not be the best for you. For example, you may want to change the default amount of time temporary files are kept, by editing the registry. Find out how to do it here.

Speed up Windows 7 with a few good tweaks

Windows 7 is a fairly speedy OS; performance was one of the things that Microsoft paid special attention to in designing it, in response to complaints about slowness in Vista. But just as you can never have too much storage space, your computer can never be too fast. So if you're feeling a need for more speed, and especially if you want to get better performance without getting rid of all the nice visuals that make the Windows 7 user experience what it is, check out this article that offers 12 tips to speed up Windows 7.

Fix slow data transfer speed in Windows 7

When you're working in a high-bandwidth network environment where the latency is low, you might find that the data transfer speeds for Windows 7 computers are slow. This is due to the fact that TCP window scaling doesn't work with network latency between 1 and 8 milliseconds. Microsoft has acknowledged that this is a problem for many Windows 7 users, so this month they released a hotfix to address it. However, you have to request it and they recommend you apply it only if you are being "severely affected" by the problem. You can find out more in KB article 2675785.

Windows 7 Tip of the Week: What to do if Windows fails to activate

When you install Windows 7 on a computer, normally you'll be able to type in your product key and activate it over the Internet, but sometimes you get an error message, such as 0x8004FE33. You can still activate it by phone. Here's how:

  1. In the Search box, type SLUI.exe 4.
  2. This brings up a dialog box to find available phone numbers for activation. Click the location nearest you in the drop-down box.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Call one of the toll-free numbers displayed. Don't close the dialog box.
  5. When a representative answers, you'll be asked for the numbers that are displayed in the dialog box under "Step 2".
  6. The representative will give you a confirmation number; enter it in the dialog box under "Step 3".
  7. Click the Activate button.