News from DownHome
by Andy Goodman
Well the long awaited IE 4.0 is out. Am I the only one really upset with Microsoft* for not using the contacts file from the old (9 month old) outdated OutLook and once again making us use a new format? Did you notice the lack of a calendar in OutLook Express? I finally thought I found a PIM I could live with (OutLook) and now it looks like they are abandoning it already, it hasnt even had a birthday yet. Why not just add a couple of fields to the existing OutLook database for the certificates? I think they really missed the target with this one.
As you know I run a computer shop and therefore do not usually recommend my competitors. However, I have recently had an experience that I must relate to you. About 4 weeks ago I was working for a brand new customer who was referred to me by our own Dick Holliday. Anyway she had just purchased an accounting practice in Palo Alto. Along with the other equipment in the deal she got a 4-month-old U.S.M computer. While I was working in another room there, it died. I tried to revive it but the hard drive was beyond formatting or repartitioning. The EIDE controller on the motherboard went out and took track zero with it. She asked me to contact the guy who sold it to the people who she just bought the practice from. Does this sound like a can of worms to you? But of course wanting to help out, I called the previous owners and they told me whom they purchased the computer from. I called him and he said he only covers equipment he sells for 10 days. I tracked down the original invoice that the guy included with his billing and found that he purchased the Pentium 90 computer from U.S.M in So. San Francisco. I contacted them and told them the story. Also that I had replaced the motherboard and hard drive before I knew the system was only 4 months old. They said that they would make no promises as there were to many people involved and I could not return the system for repair as I had already fixed it. But they did say to send in the motherboard and hard drive and a letter explaining the circumstances. Then they would see what they could do. Well I was amazed yesterday when the box came from U.S.M with the new motherboard and new hard drive. No Bill not even shipping charges. I was more than impressed. I would recommend doing business with U.S.M in a heartbeat. These are the kind of great companies we never hear about. Everyone is to busy bitching about the bad ones. You can reach U.S.M. at 415-957-5885. And by the way this is a totally unsolicited recommendation.
Have you recently moved from Win95* to NT*? Do you miss all the great information you had at your right mouse click of the "My Computer" icon? Do not despair. It is available in NT you just have to know were to click. Click on the Start button, Programs, Administrative Tools (Common) and finally Windows NT Diagnostics. Here you will find a window with 9 tabs of information. Some of the tabbed windows have option buttons with either more information or another way to sort the information, depending on the category. And you can print the info out with the print button. There is more information then you could possibly digest in one sitting. You can also get to the main diagnostics window by running C:\WINNT\system32\winmsd.exe, happy hunting.
There is another tool that is very helpful, its called the Event Viewer. You can find it by Clicking on the Start button, Programs, Administrative Tools (Common), Event Viewer. Once it opens there are actually 3 viewers, which you can change between by clicking on "Log" on the menu bar. There you will find choices for System, Security and Application. The system log shows events related to running services and hardware. The security log keeps track of attempts to gain access to your computer. The application log keeps track of messages sent by running programs. Of course you can set the amount of space reserved for these logs as well as the amount of detail recorded.
Speaking of Windows NT* I have found a great free resource for information. It is called The Diskeeper for Windows NT eLetter is electronically published bi-weekly by Executive Software. I spoke to the editor Bruce Boyers and he said if we use their copyright line we can include one of their articles here for you. If you want to subscribe after reading this you can send e-mail to email@example.com and tell him you saw this in the SVCS Journal. I hope this article answers the questions I have been getting from some of you, and I hope the rest of you find it interesting. I have been receiving the eLetter for about 4 months and so far I have found it a great resource. BTW Executive Software is the home of DiskKeeper software for De-fragmenting NT drives I wrote about a couple of months ago.
The article is printed on page XX.
Well Im off to Comdex now, see you in December.
About the Author
Andy Goodman is a past Officer and Director of the SVCS, Inc. as well as a Licensed Microsoft OEM and Intel Registered IPD. He also owns and operates DownHome Computers a System Integration house in Santa Clara, CA. Andy has been involved with the electronics industry since 1975.
*All trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners.
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WINDOWS NT TIPS AND TRICKS: MULTIPLE BOOT SYSTEMS
by Lance Jensen, Executive Software Technical Support Representative
Most computer users do all of their computing from within a single operating system, and thus only need a single Windows NT system, but there are other aspects of a multiple boot system that may be useful to you. A multiple boot system (meaning you have more than one operating system you can boot into) can allow you to run a wider range of programs, and can give you the means for faster and easier disaster recovery, and greater security.
Second Windows NT System
A second Windows NT system is useful for swift recovery of a corrupted system. Normally you would have to recover through use of an Emergency Repair Disk or, in extreme cases, through a full reinstallation of Windows NT. Both of these methods take longer than recovery through a secondary system, and the full reinstallation will likely lose your registry data and require reinstallation of your applications. But if you have a secondary system partition, restoring from backups can be all that you need to do, especially if your backup package can make a full image backup.
A second Windows NT system is simply a minimal Windows NT installation with no optional features, just what you need to boot up Windows NT and access files. This would include your backup package so you can run it to restore the primary system if necessary. When you cannot boot into your primary system, you boot into this one and use it to repair the primary. The repair can be done by copying a replacement for a known bad file, or by restoring from a backup, or (if your backup package allows it) by reformatting the primary system partition and restoring an image backup. The third option, reformatting and restoring an image backup, requires that the secondary Windows NT system be installed into a separate partition. Ideally it would be on a separate physical disk, as this would allow you to recover should the hard disk containing the primary system partition fail. This is probably the best method for most sites.
The primary system partition should be on a separate hard disk from the boot partition. The boot partition can also be the secondary system partition. Then, if the boot partition (or disk) fails, you can reformat and reinstall your secondary system, and the primary will be untouched, with no recovery required. If the primary system partition fails, you can boot to the secondary system and restore the primary from backup.
Installing DOS gives you the ability to use tools that may not be Windows NT compatible. Please be warned that some DOS applications do not work well with Windows NT; you can corrupt data or crash your system by running them when you have Windows NT booted. This is because DOS applications generally are designed under the assumption that they can use all of the resources of the system; this conflicts with Windows NT. Many DOS applications do run well under Windows NT, but before trying one, be sure you have a full backup. A very common problem is corrupting the data in memory, which is why Windows NT usually gives you the option of running a DOS application in its own memory space. Always use this option.
The most common hazard in running DOS applications on a system that also has Windows NT lies in the long Windows NT filenames. DOS cannot recognize them, and will truncate them, which may result in the applications that access those files being unable to find them. You could get around this under Windows NT 3.51 by simply not using long filenames, but Windows NT 4.0 uses some long names in the operating system. If any system files get their names truncated, you may not be able to bring up Windows NT.
When you are booted to DOS you will not be able to access any NTFS partitions unless you have a special program to allow NTFS access. I have heard of such programs, but have never used one. I have not heard if any are out of beta test, nor do I know how to locate them, or how safe they are. We do not recommend their use.
If you have installed DOS, you can also install Windows. Some Windows applications are not NT compatible, so again, you should have a full backup before first trying to run one from Windows NT. However, running Windows application from Windows will not damage your Windows NT files, except as noted above for DOS.
When defragmenting with Diskeeper for Windows NT, there is a special hazard to watch for if you run Windows for Workgroups: You must add the Windows for Workgroups pagefile to the Diskeeper Exclusion List. If the Windows for Workgroups pagefile is defragmented, it may become unusable.
Windows 95 can use the FAT-32 format, which Windows NT does not yet do, and cannot access NTFS partitions. Many applications that will run under Windows 95 will not run under Windows NT, and vice-versa. Aside from these points, I dont know of any incompatibilities between the two systems.
Now, putting this all together, we can decide what will usually be the best configuration. Most systems have a built-in boot sequence of A:, then C: (or C:, then A:). For these, you should have the Primary Windows NT System on D:, using the NTFS format, and the Secondary Windows NT System on C:. C: should be NTFS-formatted (for security) unless you are using another operating system (DOS, Windows, or Windows 95). Then C: must use the FAT format because DOS and the DOS-based systems do not support the NTFS format and require that C:
be available. Windows NT does not require that the boot and system partitions be the same, so it will boot perfectly well from D:.
Putting the Primary Windows NT system on an NTFS-formatted device means you will be able to take advantage of all of the Windows NT security, which is not available on a FAT-formatted partition; it will be that much harder for a criminal to get past your security setup. Having the Windows NT system partition not the same as the boot partition gives you an easier recovery path in the event of a boot partition failure, as described under the Second Windows NT System earlier.
If your system allows a boot from a device other than A: or C:, you can make that other device a secondary boot partition. If your BIOS setup allows you to specify the bootable hard device (say, C: or D:), you can use C: for your primary bootable NTFS format system partition, then, for a recovery system, change the boot device to D: and make that a bootable partition.
Lance Jensen is one of our ace Tech Support reps, and has great experience with both Windows NT and Digitals OpenVMS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Please feel free to write to him with questions or comments about this article.
The user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document.
Copyright © 1997 Executive Software. All Rights Reserved. Diskeeper and "Set It and Forget It" are registered trademarks owned by Executive Software. Windows NT and Windows 95 are registered trademarks or trademarks owned by Microsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
*All trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners.