Troubleshooting Hero’s in Windows 7

Windows 7 includes a wealth of features that improve your productivity at work in addition to providing fun activities for you and your family to enjoy using your PC even more. But there might be a time when a problem might occur that you need to solve on your PC, whether its hardware or software related. Windows runs on over 1.2 billion configurations world-wide. That’s a lot of PC’s and its a testament to how well designed and sophisticated the Windows platform is, to make it work on the variety of setups that exist around the world. The Windows Team does its extreme best to make the Windows experience trouble free, but there is always a chance that something will go wrong from time to time. Not to worry though, because Windows 7 in particular introduces a set of easy to use solutions that can help you get out of a mix or suggest a quick fix. Today, I want to take a look at some of these tools in addition to the improvements that this major release of Windows introduces.

Resident Clubhouse grandma, Technogran did a wonderful post introducing new users to one of Windows 7’s new features, Action Center. I am not going to explore that since Technogran did such a great job that you should definitely read here and here

Windows Troubleshooter

Windows 7 includes a new trouble shooting utility called Windows Troubleshooting, which diagnoses and resolves common operating system, application and hardware issues by providing built-in troubleshooters for several different types of problems. Whether its power management, performance, programs, networking or printers just to name a few. Some troubleshooters that come with Windows 7 automatically run in the background on a scheduled basis. If they discover a problem they will let you know in the Action Center. Examples of such scheduled maintenance tasks include cleaning up temporary files, detecting hard disk errors, removing broken shortcuts, and ensuring the system time is correct. Lets take a look at utilizing Windows Troubleshooter. In this scenario, I am having some problems accessing a shared folder on another PC. To start the the Troubleshooter, click Start, type: Troubleshooter

 

Hit ‘Enter’

As you can see the Troubleshooting Control Panel list a collection of available Task that Windows users can use to diagnose common problems that you might be experiencing. Windows 7 includes a collection of 20 common Troubleshooting Task. The Action Center will notify you of new and updated troubleshooters when they’re made available online, as provided by Microsoft or your computer vendor.

My specific problem as indicated by the error in the Network explorer I am having a problem ‘accessing shared files and folders on other computers. Its exactly what I am looking for! Lets click it and see what its all about. As you can see below, a wizard is started, specifically designed to resolve problems related to Shared folders.

 

The wizard runs a quick diagnostics test then ask for some form of input if necessary, this will vary by Troubleshooter. In this case I am being asked for the Network path (location) that I need access to. Going back to Network Explorer, clicking in the Address Bar, the name reveals it is located within \\HOME-DELLX86 while the name of the folder I need access to is ‘SharedDocs’ so, the path I should type in the Troubleshooter wizard is ‘\\HOME-DELLX86\SharedDocs’, lets go ahead and do that.

 

Troubleshooting success!

After entering the necessary information, the wizard will run a series of test, attempting to correct the problem. The wizard will then ask you to close the Troubleshooter and check if the problem is corrected. If you are interested, you can monitor a history of all your troubleshooting activities. Users must note that, Windows Troubleshooting is not or never will be a complete answer, but it compliments the array of options available to Windows users when trying to solve a problem.

Compatibility

Compatibility is always a sensitive issue when it comes to a new version of Windows. Microsoft takes it very seriously and considers it a hallmark of the Windows platform, making it easy for users to transition to a new release with little or no hiccups. With the release of Windows XP, Microsoft introduced Compatibility Mode, which let older applications run on the OS emulating supported versions of Windows with the ability to save settings so that your applications will start in the correct mode every time. Compatibility Mode worked in some cases and others it did not.

Windows Vista’s compatibility story was a tough one, simply because of the fundamental changes that were made to enhance the system’s security foundations. In Windows 7, the Compatibility process is handled through a number of avenues, which include the Windows Upgrade Advisor and Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) to help customers assess application compatibility. Microsoft is tackling compatibility through shims, which avoids some of the problems that programs encounter when trying to function on a new version of Windows. Windows Vista affected compatibility through new improvements to its account privileges called Standard User Mode.

Because of the limitations of Standard User, applications that were designed to run with only Administrative privileges could not function properly under Vista, there is both a good and bad here, the good being malware could not easily infiltrate a system, but at the same time, the user would not be able to use a desired application effectively. With Shims, an application is prepared to run with Administrative privileges by making the application believe it has full rights while still in Standard Mode. The Windows 7 Release Candidate provides a total of 6,999 shims for applications with more expected every patch Tuesday. Companies can create their own shims using the Windows Application Compatibility Toolkit recently updated to version 5.5, this helps with diagnosis of compatibility problems and the ability to apply the proper shims for troublesome programs. ACT also offers a shim that helps a custom application locate system files written in an unexpected directory as a result of different versions of the operating system.

One of the common ways to work around application compatibility problems in Windows 7, is to use the interactive right-click method and click the Run as administrator contextual menu option. To occasionally run an application with a full administrator access token, use the following procedure.

To perform this procedure, you must be logged on as a local administrator or provide the credentials of a member of the local Administrators group.

  1. Locate the program icon or a shortcut in Windows Explorer
  2. Right-click the program icon or shortcut, and then click Run as administrator.
  3. When the UAC message is displayed, do one of the follow:
  • If you are logged on as a standard user, or if UAC is configured to always require credentials, enter the appropriate administrative credentials, and then click OK.
  • If you are logged on as an administrator and UAC is not configured to always require credentials, click Yes to start the application.

If the above does not provide a solution, you can utilize the Program Compatibility troubleshooter. If an older program does not run correctly, you can use it to simulate the behavior of earlier versions of Windows. Program Compatibility troubleshooter runs a quick diagnostic check which searches for a list of programs that you might be experiencing problems with. If you don’t see the program, you can click ‘Not Listed’, click next and browse your hard disk for the program. If your program is listed, select it and click Next. Program Compatibility will then suggest recommended options. Personally, I prefer choosing ‘compatibility settings based on problems you notice’. As I noted earlier, most application issues are often related to compatibility with the OS.

Windows will then ask you to check off any of the behaviors you are noticing when attempting to use the program. All may not apply and most often, choosing an earlier version of Windows that the program worked in can resolve the problem. For my scenario, I will select ‘The program worked in earlier versions of Windows but won’t install or run now’. Program Compatibility will then list versions of Windows that the program worked in. Select one and the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter will reconfigure the application to run the appropriate settings.

Preparing an incompatible application to work in Windows 7

Problem Steps Recorder

Problem Steps Recorder is used to capture application compatibility issues for evaluation by technical experts. It does this by automatically capturing the steps you take on a computer, including a text description of where you clicked and picture of the screen during each click. Once you capture these steps, you can save them to a file that can used by a support technician or an expert to resolve the problem you might be experiencing.

System Restore

Last year I did a CISCO IT Essentials course which prepared me for the CompTIA A+ exam. One of the things I discovered during my learning was how important System Restore is in the troubleshooting process for Technical Support staff. Microsoft first introduced System Restore with the release of Windows Millennium Edition in 2000. Since then the Windows Team has included it with new versions of Windows while improving the reliability of this amazing utility. With Windows 7, there are some welcome improvements I want to take a quick look at.

System Restore provides an opportunity for users to restore their PC to an earlier time in case of a problem. Windows saves snapshots of the system in its current condition. By taking a snapshot before installing a program, you can correct the problem by rolling back your computer to a point in time when it was working well. The great thing about System Restore has always been the ability restore with confidence knowing that your personal files will not be altered or destroyed during the process. System Restore affects Windows system files, programs, and registry settings. It can also make changes to scripts, batch files, and other types of executables created under any user account on your PC.

In Windows 7, System Restore is more reliable, predictable, and effective. You’ll see a list of programs that will be removed or added, providing you with more information on which restore point to choose. System restore points are also available in your backups, giving you a larger list of restore points to choose from—and likely over a longer period of time. When combined with other features such as Previous Versions which are copies of files and folders that Windows automatically saves as part of a restore point Windows users can feel secure knowing their information is always protected by the OS.

Recently I took a look at the two other important troubleshooting features in Windows 7, Recovery Options, Backup and Remote Assistance.

Windows 7 includes advanced recovery options that can guide you through the ‘reinstallation of Windows’ and restoration of personal files and settings. This will require that you have an available Windows 7 installation disc or Recovery Image, which will assist with the reinstallation. You will have to restore your files from a backup, programs must also be reinstalled. Most OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) such as HP, Lenovo and Dell install a hard drive partition customized with additional tools such as a separate system recovery tool for restoring the computer back to its original state. Advanced Recovery also includes the option to backup files before starting this procedure. You can find the Advanced Recovery option in Control Panel > Action Center > Recovery > Advanced recovery methods. Read the entire article here

Windows 7 backup and restore features are designed to make protecting your data and system easier. The combined file and system backup wizard delivers a simplified configuration experience, and the folder selectivity functionality for file backup provides users greater control over their backup content. Managing backup is easier with the new space management user interface and integration with Action Center. Recovering your system is made easier with simplified interface and better guidance for choosing a recovery method. Read the entire article here

Remote Assistance in Windows 7 introduces a new feature called ‘Easy Connect’ which simplifies the process of connecting to another PC remotely with only a password, no file needed. When a connection is established between both computers, contact files are exchanged which creates a trust relationship. This further simplifies future connections that are made without the need for a password. Read the entire article here

Conclusion

Windows 7 makes troubleshooting a worry free process that emphasizes strong confidence when using your PC, protecting your precious memories and critical data. For beginner’s and experts, the operating system covers a wide range of problem solving capabilities that can assist you in the event of a problem. If you ever encounter an issue, just know that Windows 7 has got your back! 🙂

Resources

Creating a Backup of your Windows 7 Install
Improved Recovery Options in Windows 7
Remote Assistance in Windows 7: Lending a helping Hand is even easier

 

6 Comments

Filed under 7 Journal

6 responses to “Troubleshooting Hero’s in Windows 7

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