Archive for the ‘Windows Vista’ category

SysKey: Lock & Unlock Windows PC with USB Drive

December 6th, 2016 by Admin

Is it possible to set up a USB Drive to log into Windows without installing any software on the PC? SysKey is a built-in Windows utility that allows you to set up a Startup Key/Password to protect the SAM (Security Accounts Management) database. You can store the Startup Key to USB drive. Whenever the computer boots up, you will have to insert the USB drive to login.

In this tutorial we’ll walk you through how to enable SysKey in Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP, and use a USB drive as a key to lock & unlock your computer.

How to Lock & Unlock Windows PC Using SysKey?

Syskey (also known as SAM Lock Tool) was introduced since Windows NT. It’s so old that it only stores the Startup Key on the A: drive. So you need to assign the drive letter A: to your USB flash drive before following the steps below.

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run box. Type syskey and press Enter.

    syskey

  2. Click the Update button.

    secure-windows-account-database

  3. Choose the System Generated Password option, and then select Store Startup Key on Floppy Disk and click OK.

    startup-key

  4. You will be asked to insert a disk into drive A: to save the Startup Key. Make sure you change the drive letter of your USB drive to A: and click OK.

    save-startup-key-to-disk

  5. After Windows writes the Startup Key into your USB drive, you’ll receive the message that the disk is now required to start up the system. Open your USB drive and you can see a single file named StartKey.Key, which is 16 bytes big.

    syskey-file

  6. Every time you computer boots up, you’ll be presented with the Startup Key Disk dialog which requires you to insert your USB drive. Without the USB drive, you’re unable to get past to access Windows login screen.

    startup-key-disk

Fix: Right-Click Context Menu Not Showing / Responding in Windows

November 16th, 2016 by Admin

Mouse right-click not working on your desktop or Windows Explorer? Whenever you try to right-click anything on the desktop or in Windows Explorer / Start Menu, you might see no response at all and the context menu won’t open. In this tutorial we’ll show you several methods to fix the problem of right-click context menu not showing / responding in Windows 10, 8 and 7.

Method 1: Enable Windows Explorer’s Context Menu Using Group Policy

There is a chance that your Windows Explorer’s context menu is disabled by group policy setting. Here’s how to tweak it:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run box. Type gpedit.msc and press Enter.

    gpedit

  2. In the Local Group Policy Editor window, navigate to: User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components, and then click on File Explorer (or Windows Explorer).
  3. On the right side of the window, scroll down until you see the setting “Remove Windows Explorer’s Default Context Menu“. Double-click on it to modify.

    explorer-context-menu-policy

  4. Select either Not Configured or Disabled, and click OK. Reboot your computer and see if the right-click context menu now works.

    enable-explorer-context-menu

If you have no access to Local Group Policy Editor, please use this registry hack instead to enable Windows Explorer’s context menu:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run box. Type regedit and press Enter.

    regedit-via-run

  2. In the left pane of Registry Editor, browse down to the following key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  3. Double-click the 32-bit DWORD value NoViewContextMenu on the right hand side, and set it to 0. (it will disable Windows Explorer’s context menu if you set NoViewContextMenu to 1)

    remove-explorer-context-menu

Method 2: Remove Third-Party Shell Extensions from Context Menu

The right-click menu not showing issue might be caused by Shell Extensions. To fix it, try to disable all third-party shell extensions from the right-click context menu. This can be done using the software CCleaner.

ccleaner

Head over to the Piriform website and download the free version of CCleaner. After running CCleaner, click the Tools section in the left hand side. On the right hand side, click Startup and then click Context Menu. From there you can disable or delete any third-party shell extensions.

Method 3: System Restore

If you still couldn’t get the right-click context menu to work, restoring your system back to a previous working condition will be your good choice. To learn how to perform a system restore, please check out this article: Recover Unbootable Windows 10 or 8 with Restore Point.

How to Disable Any Shortcut Keys in Windows 10 / 8 /7

October 31st, 2016 by Admin

Is there a way to disable certain keyboard shortcuts in Windows? Sometimes or even frequently you might press a hotkey accidentally that can disrupt your productivity. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to use the freeware AutoHotkey to disable any certain global hotkeys (keyboard shortcuts) in Windows 10 / 8 / 7.

How to Disable Any Shortcut Keys in Windows 10 / 8 /7?

In this example, we’ll demonstrate how to disable the [Windows] + [+] hotkey in Windows 10. Just make a few changes with the AutoHotkey script and you can disable other keyboard shortcuts as well.

  1. AutoHotkey is a free, open-source automation and scripting tool for Windows platform. Go to AutoHotkey’s website and download the installer.
  2. After the download is complete, double-click the installer. When you’re asked to choose the installation type, select Express Installation.

    autohotkey-install-type

  3. When the installation is complete, click Exit. Now it’s time to create your first script.

    complete-install-autohotkey

  4. Right-click any empty space on your desktop (or any directory), and then select New -> AutoHotkey Script from the context menu.

    new-autohotkey-script

  5. Name the script file whatever you like, then open it up with your favorite text editor or NotePad.

    edit-autohotkey-script

  6. Place your cursor at the end of the last sentence and press Enter. Copy and paste the following line which tells AutoHotkey to disable the [Windows] + [=] / [+] shortcut key.
    #=::Return

    disable-windows-plus-hotkey

    In this case, the # symbol represents the Windows key. Here’s an example script to disable Alt + Tab, Windows + Tab, Left/Right Windows key:

    ; Disable Alt+Tab
    !Tab::Return

    ; Disable Windows Key + Tab
    #Tab::Return

    ; Disable Left Windows Key
    LWin::Return

    ; Disable Right Windows Key
    RWin::Return

  7. Save the script file. Right-click on it and select Run Script. Now press the [Windows] + [+] keyboard shortcut and you’ll find nothing happen. This way allows you to temporarily disable your desire shortcut keys by running the script manually.

    run-autohotkey-script

If you want to permanently disable the shortcut key, you can create a scheduled task to run your AutoHotkey script when your PC starts up.

How to Export and Copy Local Group Policy Settings to Another PC

October 14th, 2016 by Admin

“I am editing local group policies here and would prefer not to edit each machine manually. How do I export the policy, and then import it to other machines? Please help!”

LGPO.exe (Local Group Policy Object Utility) is a small command-line utility released by Microsoft, which allows you to export and import local group policy easily. It’s really convenient if you want to make a backup of local group policy, or import it later on another computer.

This tutorial shows you how to use Microsoft’s command line tool LGPO to export / backup local group policy settings, and import them into another computer.

Download LGPO from Microsoft

Download the LGPO zip archive from Microsoft’s website. Unpack it locally and copy the resulting LGPO.exe file to C:\Windows\System32. Afterwards you can open an elevated Command Prompt for running the LGPO command to automate the management of local group policy.

LGPO

Export Local Group Policy Settings

To create a backup for local policy policy settings on your local PC, run this command at Command Prompt:
LGPO.exe /b backup_path

backup-local-group-policy-via-cmd

A new folder with GPO GUID appears in the target directory. It will contain all local policy settings for this computer. You can restore this backup to your local machine at any time you need it, or import it later into another computer.

group-policy-backup

Import GPO into Another PC

To restore Local Group Policy settings from the backup, import them by running the following command:
LGPO.exe /g backup_path

import-group-policy-via-cmd

Once imported, restart your computer for the local group policy settings to take effect.

Conclusion

This method can help you easily deploy local group policy settings to other computers. As we all know, the Local Group Policy Editor is not present in Windows Home edition so you’re unable to edit the group policy locally. The LGPO utility makes it possible to copy the group policy settings from Windows Pro/Enterprise to Windows Home.

How to Stop Check Disk (Chkdsk) From Running at Startup

September 18th, 2016 by Admin

There are some situations where your PC needs to run a check disk at startup or reboot. For instance, if you run the chkdsk command on a system drive that is being used to run the Windows OS, it will schedule a disk check to run at the next reboot. Windows might also force an automatic disk check when your computer shuts down unexpectedly.

disk-checking-at-boot

Checking disk could be a really time-consuming task. If you don’t want Windows to take its time during the next reboot, here is how you can cancel or stop check disk (chkdsk) from running at Startup in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP.

Part 1: Check if a Manual/Automatic Disk Check is Scheduled

Open a Command Prompt as an administrator in Windows. Type in the following command and press Enter.
chkntfs C:

If there is a chkdsk task scheduled you will receive a response that is similar to “chkdsk has been scheduled manually to run on next reboot.

disk-check-schedule

If a dirty flag is set on your drive, the system will force an automatic disk check at the next reboot.

disk-dirty

Part 2: Stop Check Disk from Running at Startup

The methods of stopping check disk varies depend on how it is scheduled.

Option 1: Cancel the Automatic Disk Check

When the computer boots up with the dirty bit enabled on a drive, you will be asked to check the disk for consistency before Windows is loaded. But sometimes Windows might keep running check disk automatically on every reboot and this could be quite annoying. To stop the automatic disk check, you have to clear the dirty bit by following this tutorial: How to Manually Clear or Set Dirty Bit on Windows Volume

Option 2: Cancel the Scheduled Disk Check

It’s much easier to stop the scheduled disk check. You can cancel the scheduled disk check using either Command Prompt or Registry Editor.

Method 1: Using Command Prompt

Open a Command Prompt as an administrator. If you want to disable a scheduled disk check on C: drive, type the following command and press Enter.
chkntfs /x C:

cancel-scheduled-diskcheck

Method 2: Using Registry Editor

Open the Registry Editor. Navigate to the following keys:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager

Double-click on the Multi-String value “BootExecute” in the right pane.

boot-execute

This will open the “Edit Multi-String” window. Click in the Value data box, and then delete all of the lines, except the last one.

cancel-disk-checking

When it’s done, click OK and close Registry Editor.

How to Manually Clear or Set Dirty Bit on Windows Volume

September 17th, 2016 by Admin

When a dirty bit is set on a volume, Windows automatically performs a disk checking the next time the computer is restarted. You can run the chkntfs command at the Command Prompt to check if a volume is dirty, but there is no way to clear the dirty bit unless you let Windows go through disk scanning at boot.

disk-dirty

In this tutorial we’ll show you how to manually clear or set the dirty bit for a NTFS & FAT32 volume in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP. The procedure requires you to use a disk editor software such as WinHex. If you want to edit the dirty bit for a system volume currently in use, you need to use a WinPE bootable CD to boot off your PC.

How to Manually Clear or Set Dirty Bit on Windows Volume?

To get started, open WinHex as administrator rights. Click the Tools menu and select Open Disk.

open-disk-with-winhex

When prompted to select a drive for editing, choose the logical volume you want to edit the dirty bit on, and then click OK.

edit-logical-volume

For FAT32 Volume:

Click on “Boot sector” at the directory browser. The dirty bit for FAT32 volume is located at offset 0x41. If this volume is dirty, the bit should be 01. Just change 01 to 00 and then save your changes back to disk, now you’ve successfully cleared the dirty bit.

fat32-dirty-bit

For NTFS Volume:

Click on $Volume at the directory browser. The offset location of the dirty bit is slightly different on every NTFS volume. To locate the dirty bit, look for a hex string of 13 bytes, beginning with 03 01, ending with 80 00 00 00 18. You should be able to find a match within the first or second sector.

ntfs-dirty-bit

The dirty bit is the 3th byte of the hex string that I’ve circled with red line. To set a dirty flag on the drive, just change it to 01. Or change it to 00 if you want to clear the dirty flag.

When it’s done, commit the change to the disk.

3 Ways to Run Disk Error Check in Windows 10, 8 and 7

September 17th, 2016 by Admin

All versions of Windows come with a useful disk checking feature which can check the integrity of your hard disk, fix file system errors and scan for bad sectors. In this tutorial we’ll show you 3 ways to run disk error check in Windows 10, 8 and 7.

Method 1: Run Disk Check from Windows Explorer

  1. Open Windows Explorer. Right-click on the drive you want to run the disk check on, and choose Properties.

    disk-properties

  2. Select the Tools tab. Under the “Error checking” section, click on the Check button.

    disk-error-checking

  3. Click on Scan drive button to run the disk check.

    scanning-disk

    If your selected drive is a system partition that is being used, Windows will let you schedule a disk check on the next restart.

Method 2: Run Disk Check Using the Chkdsk Command Line

  1. Open an elevated Command Prompt.

    • In Windows 10/8, simply press the Windows key + X and select “Command Prompt (Admin)“.
    • In Windows 7, click on Start, navigate to Accessories, right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
  2. You can run the chkdsk command to run the disk check. Replace C: with the letter of the drive you’d like to run a disk check.

    chkdsk /f /r C:

    chkdsk-cmd

    The /f flag tells windows to fix any issues and the /r flag tells it to do a deep scan. It locates bad sectors and recovers whatever information is readable.

Method 3: Run Disk Check By Setting The Dirty Bit

Sometimes if your PC is not properly shut down or crashed, a dirty flag is set on the disk to force disk check to be run at the next reboot. Here is a simple way to set a dirty bit for your drive manually:

  1. Open an elevated Command Prompt.
  2. Type the following command and press Enter. Replace C: with the letter of the drive you want to set as dirty.
    fsutil.exe dirty set C:

    mark-disk-dirty

  3. Reboot your computer and Windows will force a disk check on your specified drive.

How to Turn Off Safe Mode without Logging into Windows

September 5th, 2016 by Admin

“I tried to restart my computer into Safe Mode using msconfig without thinking. Now I can’t log in because I couldn’t remember the Administrator password. How can I disable Safe Mode and start my PC normally?”

Stuck at Windows login screen but your computer keeps booting into Safe Mode? Is there a way to turn off Safe Mode without logging into Windows? If you could log into Windows, you can easily disable Safe Mode using Msconfig or Command Prompt. What to do if you forgot the Safe Mode administrator password? In this tutorial we’ll show you how to turn off Safe Mode by booting your PC with Windows installation disc.

How to Turn Off Safe Mode without Logging into Windows?

  1. Boot your computer from Windows installation disc and press any key when prompted. If your computer still boots into Safe Mode, you need to enter into BIOS and change the boot sequence to CD/DVD first.
  2. When you see Windows Setup, press the Shift + F10 keys to open a Command Prompt.

    windows-setup

  3. Type the following command and press Enter to turn off Safe Mode:

    bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot

    turn-off-secure-boot

  4. When it’s done, close the Command Prompt and stop Windows Setup.

    cancel-windows-setup

    Reboot without installation disc, and your computer should boot in normal mode by default. This method works with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 and Vista.

How to Edit Offline Windows Registry from WinPE

August 7th, 2016 by Admin

When your computer no longer boots up or you’re unable to login to Windows, a registry hack might fix your problem. To access the registry for an unbootable Windows installation, you should use a WinPE bootdisk. In this tutorial we’ll walk you through the steps to load / edit offline registry hive from WinPE.

Before get started, we need to know the locations of Windows registry hives:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM: %windir%\system32\config\SYSTEM
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SAM: %windir%\system32\config\SAM
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY: %windir%\system32\config\SECURITY
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE: %windir%\system32\config\SOFTWARE
HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT: %windir%\system32\config\DEFAULT

How to Edit Offline Windows Registry from WinPE?

  1. Boot your computer into WinPE. Open a Command Prompt and run regedit.exe to open the Registry Editor.

    command-prompt-from-winpe

  2. In the left pane of Registry Editor, highlight the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive (or HKEY_USERS).

    highlight-registry-key

  3. Click the File menu and select Load Hive.

    load-hive

  4. Browse to your Windows partition and select the registry hive which you wish to load. In my example, the registry hives are located in the directory D:\Windows\System32\Config.

    select-registry-hive

  5. Type a key name whatever you like (e.g. “OfflineReg“) and click OK. The name will be used to create a new node in the tree so one can browser the offline registry.

    enter-key-name-for-loading

  6. Now under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key, you should see a new key named after the name you typed previously.

    offline-registry

  7. Expand the new key, browse to the desired key or value for editing. In my example, I browse to OfflineReg\Software\Microsoft\IdentityCRL\StoredIdentities and delete its subkey.

    modify-offline-registry

  8. When you finish with the modifications, highlight the key you created previously (e.g. “OfflineReg“). Click the File menu and select Unload Hive.

    unload-hive

  9. This will unload the hive and all changes made will be saved to the offline registry.