Windows How-Tos http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/16333/ en How to Install Windows 8 from a USB Key http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_install_windows_8_flash_drive_31384 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Forget the CD and install Windows 8 with your flash drive&nbsp;</span></h3> <p>A guide? To install Windows? Slapping a new operating system on your desktop or laptop PC should be old hat by now, right? This <em>is</em><a title="Windows 8 review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/windows_8_Review" target="_blank"> Windows 8</a>, after all: Odds are pretty good that you, an astute and well-travelled Maximum PC reader, have been around the ol’ Windows installation block a few times before.</p> <p>And unlike <a title="Windows 8 beta" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/install_windows_8_today" target="_blank">previous versions of the operating system</a>, Windows 8 doesn’t even need that much babysitting. Once you’ve set the installer application running, it’s off to the races: You can sit back, enjoy a nice beverage or a fun sitcom, and let Microsoft’s fantastically efficient OS installation routine do all the work. By the time your Windows 8 OS needs your input, you’re practically finished – but a few short steps, if not minutes, away from the tiled joy that is Windows 8 proper.</p> <p>So, er, what does that leave us to talk about?</p> <p>Plenty. Ditch your discs; we’re going to show you <strong>how to install Windows 8</strong> from a USB key.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Installing Windows 8 from a USB key</span></h3> <p>If you shun DVDs, love speedier installations, have a digital download of Windows 8, or just plain <a title="no optical drive" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/sony_ejects_optical_disc_drive_market" target="_blank">don’t have an optical drive</a> – or are too lazy to hook one up – then it’s going to be a USB-based installation for you. And that’s just fine; it’s a great, quick way to get an operating system onto your hard drive and extremely useful if you, say, keep your Windows installation disc tucked away as an .iso on your network drive instead of thrown in one of your desk drawers.</p> <p>The easiest way to accomplish this process is to already have your hands on a copy of Windows 8’s downloadable .iso file – acquirable by <a title="Windows 8 download" href="http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/html/pbpage.Windows_8_Pro" target="_blank">purchasing it from Microsoft itself</a>. If you have a flash drive of the appropriate size (at least four gigabytes or greater, depending on whatever file Microsoft lets you grab), you’re golden. Insert your flash drive into a USB slot on your system, and then go grab Microsoft’s <a href="http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/html/pbPage.Help_Win7_usbdvd_dwnTool">Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool</a> – don’t let the name dissuade you.</p> <p>Install the app and run it. It’ll ask you to select an .iso file to be “burnt” onto your USB key. Go ahead and select your Windows 8 .iso file – the fact that it’s not the right operating system as the tool’s name has absolutely no bearing on what you’re doing.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/w8install_howto_1.png" width="583" height="316" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Yes, we know, it says "Windows 7" download tool, but you can just ignore that part.</strong></p> <p>On the next screen, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to create a “Windows 7 backup” – again, ignore the name – on a USB device or DVD. Pick the obvious answer, select your USB key from the drop-down menu.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/w8install_howto_2.png" width="580" height="314" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Select your USB device</strong></p> <p>When you're ready to let 'er rip, click on "<strong>Begin copying</strong>!" &nbsp;If the tool needs to format your USB key first, it'll let you know.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/w8install_howto_3.png" width="580" height="314" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/w8install_howto_4.png" width="582" height="315" /></p> <p>Couldn’t be easier, right?</p> <hr /> <p>Sometimes, however, the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool mucks up – it might tell you that the .iso file you’re looking to “burn” isn’t actually a recognizable .iso file. You know it is; the Windows tool disagrees. Problem.</p> <p>While some have been able to get around this issue by changing the actual filesystem of the .iso file itself – to UDF, for example – you’re going to need a tool like PowerISO to do so. And that’s not freeware. The last thing you should have to do is pay for the right to get a working, bootable Windows 8 installation on your flash drive.</p> <p>Our solution? Do what the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool is doing… by yourself.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Manually Installing Windows 8 from a USB key</span></h3> <p>Start by using a freeware app like <a href="http://www.slysoft.com/en/virtual-clonedrive.html">Virtual CloneDrive</a> to mount your downloaded Windows 8 installation .iso to a virtual drive within your current Windows OS. You can also use the technique we’re about to describe to create a USB-based Windows 8 installation flash drive from a Windows 8 DVD – just pop it in your actual optical drive.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/w8install_howto_5.png" width="620" height="387" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>Insert your USB key. Fire up a <strong>Command Prompt</strong> as an Administrator. Within the <strong>Command Prompt</strong>, load Windows’ built-in Disk Partition utility by typing in “<strong>diskpart</strong>” and hitting <strong>Enter</strong>.</p> <p>Within the Disk Partition utility, you’ll want to start out by typing in “<strong>list disk</strong>” and hitting <strong>Enter</strong>. From there, note the drive number that corresponds to your flash drive – you’ll be able to tell, as the capacity of the listed drive should match the capacity of your USB key. It’s that easy.</p> <p>Next, type in “<strong>select disk #</strong>,” where the pound sign is the drive number of your USB key that you just took note of. Hit <strong>Enter</strong>; DiskPart will select the aforementioned drive. Now, type in “<strong>clean</strong>” and hit <strong>Enter</strong> to remove any existing partitions that might already be on your flash drive. Once the cleaning process is done, type in “<strong>create partition primary</strong>” and hit <strong>Enter</strong> to do just that. Type in “<strong>select partition 1</strong>” and hit <strong>Enter</strong> to select your new partition, type in “<strong>active</strong>” and hit <strong>Enter</strong>, and then then type in “<strong>format FS=NTFS quick</strong>” to quickly reformat your partition with the NTFS filesystem. Type “<strong>assign</strong>” and hit <strong>Enter</strong>, and you’ll have finished making your USB key bootable!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/w8install_howto_6.png" width="620" height="323" /></p> <p>Now, it’s time to copy your Windows 8 installation files from their drive – virtual or real – to your USB key. Close diskpart by typing in “<strong>exit</strong>” and hitting <strong>Enter</strong>. From the <strong>Command Prompt</strong>, type this in (minus the quotes and the final period): “<strong>xcopy x:\*.* y:\ /e /f /h</strong>.” In our example, however, the “x:\” designation should actually represent the drive letter of your mounted Windows 8 installation .iso file or physical DVD. The “y:\” should be the actual drive letter of your USB key. Once you’ve made those subtle alterations, hit <strong>Enter</strong> and let ‘er rip — all of the Windows 8 files will start transferring over to your USB key.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/w8install_howto_7.png" width="620" height="325" /></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Installing Windows 8 — Upgrade or Clean?</span></h3> <p>Once you’re ready to install Windows 8 from your USB key, you’ll want to restart your computer and either boot into your motherboard’s BIOS or hit the associated hotkey that allows you to access the “Boot Menu” during POST. Regardless of which way you go about it, you’ll want to make sure that your system is set to first boot off of your USB key instead of your existing hard drive. To note: If you’re ever thinking of installing Windows 8 from its DVD, you’ll also go about this process to select your optical drive as the primary boot device.</p> <p>Be on the lookout if your motherboard requires you to actually hit a key – any key on your keyboard – to confirm that you want to boot to your USB drive. From there, the actual Windows 8 installation process should look a lot like that which you’re already used to, if you’ve previously had to install Windows 7 or Windows Vista.</p> <p>And now’s as good a time as any to talk about upgrading versus starting from scratch, since you’re likely to be presented with both of these options at the very beginning of the Windows 8 installation process.</p> <p>Simply put, upgrading will allow you to keep a large chunk of your existing Windows 7 settings, files, and applications — or for Windows XP or Windows Vista users, just your files. If you’re coming from Windows 7, you can even select whether you want the entire process previously described, or if you’d rather Windows 8 just keep your personal files intact during the upgrade (essentially, anything in your Windows 7 user folder).</p> <p>The Windows 8 installation process will alert you to any compatibility issues between existing programs or drivers you might have installed within your current operating system and Windows 8 – like additional USB 3.0 drivers, for example, since Microsoft’s already baked these into Windows 8 proper. Once the Windows 8 installation finishes, you’ll be treated to a Start Screen that should be full of the programs you were used to seeing on (for example) good ol’ Windows 7. The drivers? Migrated. Most of your settings? Still set.</p> <p>Still, <em>resist the urge to do it</em>.</p> <p>By that, we mean – a clean install of an operating system is always the best way to go for a very specific reason. Right now, your computer is likely full of crap. Applications you once installed and left behind, an old driver version or two that you’ve forgotten about, and just general OS bloat that can hit a variety of points around your operating system (from your start menu to your registry). Consider the installation of a new operating system to be kind of like the equivalent of spring cleaning in the real world. It gives you, and your poor PC, a chance to start anew.</p> <p>Just think of the space you’ll have saved on your hard drive! The speeds you’ll achieve with a clutter-free operating system! You might lose a little sanity with your driver installations and application reinstallations — which, really, isn’t all that bad of a process if you make use of a little tool called <a href="http://ninite.com/">Ninite</a> — but you’ll be able to experience Microsoft’s brand-new OS completely unblemished. At least, unblemished until you start filling it up with all kinds of apps.</p> <p>Goodbye, pretty Start Screen. We hardly knew thee.</p> <p><a href="http://www.facebook.com/davidmurphy"><em>David Murphy</em></a><em> has played around with Windows 8 more than he’s played with his cat, Colbert, over the last month or so. Poor guy.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_install_windows_8_flash_drive_31384#comments download how-tos install operating system Software Software How-Tos usb key Windows Windows windows 8 Windows How-Tos Features How-Tos Mon, 29 Oct 2012 23:01:47 +0000 David Murphy 24409 at http://www.maximumpc.com A "Happy Birthday Windows" How-To: Install Windows 3.1 on a Virtual PC http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/happy_birthday_windows_how-_install_windows_31_virtual_pc <!--paging_filter--><p>Today is (believe it or not) the 25th birthday of the Windows operating system. To celebrate, we’re going to take a little trip back in time, and relive the glory(?) days of Windows 3.1. Windows 3.1 was a lot of people’s first exposure to Windows, but there are also a lot of younger computer fans who never got a chance to try it out. In this mini-how-to we’ll show you how to get a virtual Windows 3.1 sandbox up and running, using free, virtualization software VirtualBox.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u57670/win31_sm.png" alt="" width="400" height="342" /></p> <p>So whether you missed out on trying the earliest popular version of Windows, or you just want to take a little nostalgia trip, read on!</p> <h2>What you’ll need</h2> <p>It’s actually not incredibly hard to create a Windows 3.1 virtual PC, as long as you have everything you need ahead of time. Here are the things you’ll need to follow along with this how-to:</p> <h3>Installation disks for DOS and Windows 3.1</h3> <p>Windows 3.1 was the last version of Windows that was just a graphical frontend for the DOS operating system. That means that in order to install it, we’ll have to install DOS first and you’ll need the installation disks for both. If you’ve got your old installation disks still lying around, you can use those, but it’s even more convenient if you saved them to your hard disk as an .IMG file at some point in time. Both Windows 3.1 and DOS have been off the market for a very long time, and (you didn’t hear this from us) installation disks can be easily found for download at places around the internet.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/InstallDisks_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <h3>VirtualBox</h3> <p>There are several different options available for running a virtual PC, but our favorite recommendation is VirtualBox—a free virtualization software package owned by Oracle. To get it, just go to <a href="http://www.virtualbox.org/">VirtualBox.org</a>, click on the downloads link, and select the latest version of VirtualBox for Windows Hosts (assuming you’re running Windows, that is). The VirtualBox installer is straightforward, so get it installed on your system before we go any farther.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/Virtualbox_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <h2>Step 1. Create your virtual PC</h2> <p>To get started installing Windows 3.1, we’ll first need to “build” a virtual PC for it to run on. Fortunately, VirtualBox makes this process a lot easier than building a new PC in real life. To get started, just click the New button in the upper-left-hand corner of VirtualBox.</p> <p>The New Virtual Machine wizard will pop up. At the first options screen, you’ll be asked to give the PC a name and select its type. For a name, we suggest “Windows 3.1” and for it’s Operating System select “other,” and for Version select “DOS.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/SelectOS_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>The default memory size of 32 MB will be fine. When asked about which hard drive to use, select Create New Hard Disk and then choose Dynamically Expanding Storage. The default size of 512 MB will be plenty for your Windows 3.1 system (and don’t worry, the virtual hard drive will not actually take up a half-gig of your real hard drives space, unless you manage to use up that much in the virtual Win 3.1 PC.</p> <p>When you’re done with the New Virtual Machine wizard, the new machine will appear in the list at the left of the VirtualBox window. (Yours won’t have the Ubuntu machines in the screenshot—that’s just us. Virtual Box is an excellent way to try out Linux, by the way.)</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/Virtualbox2_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>There’s one final thing we have to do to our Virtual PC before we can begin installing DOS. By default, a virtual PC does not have a floppy drive, so let’s change that.</p> <p>Select your Windows 3.1 virtual PC, then click on Settings. In the settings, click on the Storage tab, and then click the small Add Controller button under the list of storage locations. Select Add Floppy Controller from the list.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/AddFloppy_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <h2>Step 2. Install DOS</h2> <p>While you’re still in the storage settings menu, click the button next to the floppy controller that looks like a small floppy disk with a plus sign on it. This will create a new floppy drive accessible to your virtual PC. Click on the new floppy (initially marked “Empty”) and on the right side of the window, click the small folder button next to the dropdown marked “Floppy Device.”</p> <p>This opens the Virtual Media Manager, which is a list of virtual media available to be inserted into your machine. By default, this list will be blank, so lets fill it out a little bit.</p> <p>Click on the Add button. This will open a browser which lets you find additional .IMG files to add to your virtual media collection. Navigate to wherever your DOS install disks are located, select all of them, then hit OK. Do the same for your Windows install disks.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/MediaManager_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>Now that you’ve got a list of all your disks, click the first DOS installation disk and click Select. You’ll see in the storage settings menu that that disk is now loaded into your virtual PC’s virtual floppy drive. Click OK to exit the setting menu.</p> <p>You’re finally ready to fire up your virtual PC. Select it, then click Start. If you’ve done everything right, the DOS installer will start with your new PC. Simply follow the instructions on screen.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/DOS622_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>When you’re installing DOS, the installation may hang at “Formatting Drive C:” If it does this, you’ll need to do the following:</p> <p>1)<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>Reset your virtual PC</p> <p>2)<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>Hit the F8 key as the box loads</p> <p>3)<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>You’ll be asked if you want to load individual files. Agree to the first file, then choose not to load AUTOEXEC.BAT</p> <p>4)<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>Type format to manually format your C Disk (of course, remember that this is just the virtual machines C disk, not your actual PC’s.</p> <p>5)<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>Type setup to resume the DOS setup.</p> <p>When DOS is installing, you’ll be asked to switch out CDs. To do that, first release your mouse by pressing the right control key, then click on the Devices menu at the top of the window, select Floppy Devices and pick the next install disk. You have to do it this way because while the machine is running you cannot access the settings menu.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/AddFloppyDOS_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>Finally, your DOS installation should be complete.</p> <h2>Step 3. Install Windows</h2> <p>The final step is to install Windows itself. This is actually pretty straightforward. Just switch the floppy disk the same way, selecting the first Windows install disk, then navigate to your floppy drive in DOS by typing<strong> A:</strong> and hitting enter. Finally, enter the command <strong>setup</strong> to run the Windows 3.1 installer.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/WinSetup_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>You can select the Express Setup option, and then the only other thing you’ll really need to do is switch out the floppy disks, like you did with the DOS installer. You’ll be asked for your username in the middle of the installation, and to verify a few other options, but that’s pretty much it.</p> <p>When Windows 3.1 starts up for the first time, you’ll be given the option to take a pretty hilarious tutorial about how to use a mouse. If you decline, you’ll be asked to restart your computer.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/Tutorial_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>After you restart, you’ll find yourself back in DOS. To get back into Windows, type win.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/TypeWin_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>And that’s it. You’re now getting the full Windows 3.1 experience. Check out the astounding visuals, marvel at the lack of a start bar and think deeply on the fact that just 18 years ago we thought this was pretty darn cool. If you want to complete the experience, find some old games on floppy images, and try running them through Windows.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0;" src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/VirtWin31/Minesweeper_sm.png" alt="" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/happy_birthday_windows_how-_install_windows_31_virtual_pc#comments how-tos virtualbox virtualization Windows windows 3.1 Windows How-Tos How-Tos Sun, 21 Nov 2010 00:05:54 +0000 Alex Castle 15742 at http://www.maximumpc.com 14 Windows Media Player Power Tips http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/14_windows_media_player_power_tips <!--paging_filter--><p>Windows Media Player: The end-all, be-all software for displaying most multimedia on your system. It’s an inescapable part of the Windows experience. While, sure, it seems as if there are as many alternative song library apps, video playing utilities, and music-blasting programs as there are pages on the Internet, it’s hard to resist the urge to turn to the simple, no-fuss attraction of good ol’ WMP. It works; it’s there; it’s quick to load and it plays your files without hassle.</p> <p>Sort-of.</p> <p>With any multimedia application, there are always going to be ways to tweak your experience. Some are inherent to the program itself, some require a modification or a tweak to unlock, and others can be seen as a kind-of total converstion: a third-party application that works in tandem with your multimedia app to bring forth some kind of awesome new functionality.</p> <p>We’re fans of all three scenarios at Maximum PC. And let’s face it: Windows Media Player might be entrenched inside of your operating system worse than a camper in Call of Duty: Black Ops, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t build it up into the Greatest Media Player Ever with a few (or more) helpful tips. We’ve split our list into sections based on the difficulty of the tweak—let’s get started!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>In celebration of Windows' 25th Anniversary, check out our other Windows articles: <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/future_windows_what_we_want_win_8" target="_blank">The Future of Windows </a>and<a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/11_oses_tried_and_failed_take_down_windows?page=0,1" target="_blank"> 11 OSes that Tried</a>!</em></strong></p> <h2>Install Zune</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips1.png" width="415" height="287" /></p> <p>No, we’re not trolling you. It’s important that we mention, right off the bat, that Microsoft’s other multimedia player is really a stronger selection when it comes to playing music. It’s prettier, the interface is light-years beyond Windows Media Player in terms of raw elegance, and it effortlessly connects up to the Zune Marketplace for your music-grabbing needs. Or video-grabbing needs. Or podcast-grabbing needs.</p> <p>Simply put, Zune is the closest Microsoft has to its own iTunes. You just aren’t going to find this kind of functionality within Windows Media Player, nor will you really find any kind of social or recommendation-based tips for music management (or acquisitions). Windows Media Player—as the name implies—plays media. That’s it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Enable Streaming</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips2.png" width="415" height="305" /></p> <p>Just because you’ve gone and made it through Windows Media Player’s default configuration screens (upon first launch of the app) doesn’t mean that you’ve scratched the surface of this app’s powerful capabilities. Case in point: Media Streaming.</p> <p>Not only is it in your best interests to make sure that your system is set up for Homegroup sharing (click “Stream” and the “Turn on media streaming…” option), but you’ll also want to enable the back-and-forth connections that allow WMP to automatically see other devices on your network (and vice versa). Hit up the Network and Sharing Center via your Control Panel and click on “Advanced Sharing Settings” on the left side of the window. Turn on Network Discovery and Media Streaming.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Play to… Who?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips3.png" width="357" height="216" /></p> <p>If you’ve successfully set up WMP to find and share its contents within your home network, it’s worth your while to go back and perform those same series of steps on all the other applicable devices attached to your home router. With one addition, of course: Click on the Stream button within WMP and select the “Allow remote access…” option. In the case of consoles like the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, be sure to enable whatever their versions of media streaming happen to be.</p> <p>Why’s that? Within WMP, you can right-click on a given file and select the “play to” option (provided the software can see other sharing-friendly products on your network). And when you do that, you’ll be blasting your song on over to whatever device you’ve selected—music to your ears, indeed!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Visualize Your Rock</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips4.png" width="415" height="341" /></p> <p>The default WMP screen doesn’t lend itself to much eye candy. When you start to jam a song, click on the tiny icon in the bottom-right of WMP’s library screen (hovering over it will cause “Switch to Now Playing” to appear. Do that, and you’ve just fired up WMP’s built-in visualizations engine. Right click on the miniature player window to select new effects via the “Visualizations” submenu.</p> <p>You can download new visualizations (and plugins—their more data- and effects-related counterparts) by using the CTRL+1 hotkey to jump back to your library, then mashing CTRL+T to access your Tools menu. From there, select the “Download” submenu to hunt down more cool things to mash into your player!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Friends Don’t Let Friends See Viewing Habits</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips5.png" /></p> <p>Nothing is more embarrassing than chugging on over to your friend’s house, hopping on his or her computer to jam the latest Maximum PC podcast, and finding that the “most frequently played” or “recent files” listing accidentally lists a ton of videos of an unsavory nature that, perhaps, your friend would not like you to know about.</p> <p>Don’t be that friend.</p> <p>To keep WMP from archiving a list of your most frequently played media—whatever that media happens to be—be sure to hit up its options window (under the Tools menu). When you’re in there, click to the privacy tab and uncheck all four options at the very bottom of the screen—music, video, pictures, and playlists!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>You Ripping Robot You</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips6.png" /></p> <p>Transferring media to and from a CD couldn’t be easier in Windows Media Player. Or could it? Instead of having to toss a disc in, click on over to the disc, and select the “rip music” option, you can easily transform WMP into an auto-ripping machine. Just click on the Options link under the “Tools” menu and navigate on over to the “Rip Music” tab. Make sure your settings are exactly how you want them to be, then check the “Rip CD automatically” box.</p> <p>Now, the second you slap a fresh piece of musical media into your optical drive, WMP will go about the enjoyable process of stealing its contents down to your hard drive. Rinse, wash, and repeat for as many discs as you want Windows to deal with. And if you want to get really speedy, check the “Eject CD After Ripping” option as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Sandal Says: Enchantments?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips7.png" width="415" height="346" /></p> <p>If your only experience with Windows Media Player is via its Library screen, you’re missing out. Jam CTRL+3 to jump into the “Now Playing” window and, from there, right-click anywhere within the screen and select the “Enchantments” submenu. Click on any of the listed tweaks to get started.</p> <p>In short, this series of screens (which you can navigate through using the right- and left-facing arrow buttons at the top) is where you enable and disable the various auditory effects built into WMP. Toggle auto-volume-leveling and cross-fading on and off, tweak equalizer bands, adjust playback speed, and set up the integrated SRS WOW effects for maximum, software-created bass and field-expansion effects… amongst other features, of course!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Giving Windows Media Player One Big Plus</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips8.png" width="415" height="306" /></p> <p>Sometimes, you need to turn to a third-party developer to really unlock the best combinations of productive hacks for a particular piece of software. That’s not quite the case with the add-on package Windows Media Player Plus—even though it sounds like its own piece of software, if not a downright unlock, it’s actually just a really helpful amalgam of add-ons designed to maximize your WMP experience.</p> <p>How? It builds a new tag editor, instant search capabilities, and automatic playlist-loading on startup right into WMP, amongst other useful features. Give it a shot!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>What the Heck is a Codec?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips9.png" width="415" height="329" /></p> <p>Good question. If you go to play a movie file on your hard drive, only to find that Windows Media Player is giving you the soundtrack instead of the visual picture to go with it, then odds are pretty good that you lack the appropriate digital resources to decode your file into an actual video. In short, you’re missing the right codec.</p> <p>Rather than get trapped in the big, “should you install them or not?” argument when it comes to codecs, we will leave you with this: the Combined Community Codec Pack is easy to install, simple to set up, and comes with no external trappings, obtrusive toolbars, or annoying clutter. If you want to watch every video under the sun, install it!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Streaming Across the Web</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips10.png" width="415" height="301" /></p> <p>And here you thought we were done with the file-sharing chit-chat. Nope! A lesser-known feature of Windows Media Player 12 is its ability to allow you to share your music library with approved systems across the Web. That’s right. You can jam to your personal collection at work all the way up until your boss signs the pink slip.</p> <p>Click on the Stream button within WMP’s Library view and select, “Allow Internet Access to Home Media.” You’ll have to sign up for (and download) a file from Microsoft in order to link your Windows Live ID to your actual desktop system. But once you’ve done so (on two different computers, that is), your personal radio station of-sorts will be good to do.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Lock Your PC, Lazy</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips11.png" width="415" height="234" /></p> <p>Let’s face it. Life is short. One doesn’t always have time to pause a sound file or otherwise stop one’s jam session when more important issues beckon for whatever reason. That’s where the third-party app MonitorES comes into the picture. If you have to jet away for a period of time, just lock your PC (with the handy Windows Key+L shortcut combination, to note). MonitorES will not only pause your music in Windows Media Player, but it’ll also flip your monitor off and set the status of your instant messaging clients to whatever you’d like. Easy as pie.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Hotkey it Up</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips12.png" /></p> <p>It’s not that difficult to use Windows Media Player’s built-in hotkeys to control elements like song playback, rewinding, looping, et cetera. So what’s the problem? You have to actually switch over to the application in order to use said shortcuts—you can’t just jam CTRL+P inside any window to pause or play a particular song in question.</p> <p>WMPKeys fixes that by giving you new, global hotkeys for a few of WMP’s more commonly used features. Mash the correct combination and you’ll be able to skip tracks, play music, and even rate songs no matter what window or application you’re staring at.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>I Want To Play More</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips13.png" width="415" height="314" /></p> <p>BM Productions is two-for-two in this little Windows Media Player tome of knowledge. The creators of the aforementioned Windows Media Player Plus! Application are at it again, armed this time with a plug-in that gives your common application access to even more file formats than it could previously support!</p> <p>Yes, that’s right. Their plug-in called WMP Tag Plus will unlock the ability to add MPEG-4, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, and WavPack files into your WMP library. You won’t be able to play them, however—check out some of the “additional packages” that BM Productions recommends if you really want WMP to be your default audio gateway for your massive FLAC collection. Shoot, we were happy enough to be able to edit FLAC metadata within WMP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Say What?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips14.png" /></p> <p>If you’re a fan of subtitles within movies, then you are likely not a fan of Windows Media Player 12’s less than stellar support for printed text you want to arranged overtop movies. That’s fine. Grab the add-on DirectVobSub to open up access to a bevy of popular subtitle formats. So long as the plug-in is working and enabled, all you have to do is make sure that the corresponding subtitle file follows two rules: It’s named exactly the same filename (minus the extension, obviously) as the file of the video you’re trying to watch, and it’s located in the same folder as said video. That’s it!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC's <a href="http://www.twitter.com/acererak">David Murphy</a> is a total multimedia junkie.&nbsp; He's probably watching a movie right now, in fact.</strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/14_windows_media_player_power_tips#comments how-tos Windows Windows How-Tos Windows Tips Features Web Exclusive Tue, 16 Nov 2010 23:16:15 +0000 David Murphy 15641 at http://www.maximumpc.com How To: Get Linux Power on Your Windows PC with Cygwin http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/how_get_linux_power_your_windows_pc_cygwin <!--paging_filter--><p>We believe that everyone who considers themselves a computer enthusiast should have at least some experience with a Linux environment, but it can be daunting to just jump into the deep end of a completely unfamiliar operating system. One way to get your feet wet is with Cygwin, a free program that provides you with a Unix-like command line, without having to leave Windows. Cygwin is not a Unix emulator (it cannot run native Unix programs, although it does contain the tools needed to compile and run a program from source code), but it does have a wide array of optional packages that let you use most of the tools and utilities that you would commonly use in Unix, in Windows. In this guide, we’ll show you how to get Cygwin set up, the basics of how to navigate a Unix file system, and how to find more information as you need it.</p> <h2>1. Install Cygwin</h2> <p>To get started with Cygwin, go to <a href="http://www.cygwin.com" target="_blank">www.cygwin.com</a> and click the link that says “Install or update now.” Run the setup.exe program that gets downloaded, and when asked, select the Install from Internet radial button. The location that you choose to install Cygwin to is important, because that same folder will (by default) act as the root of your simulated Unix file system. In other words, pick somewhere with a little extra disk space. You’ll be asked where to store the downloaded installation files (anywhere’s fine, as long as you have enough room to handle what can be a gig or two of optional packages) and what kind of connection type you use. For most people, the Direct Connection setting will be fine.</p> <p><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/cygwin_howto/a_405.jpg" alt="" width="405" height="296" /><br /><strong>(Image A)</strong></p> <p>You’ll also be asked to choose a mirror to download Cygwin from (image A). You can choose one at random if you want, but since the download might be pretty sizeable (depending on what components you choose to install) it could be worth your time to check out the official mirror list at <a href="http://www.cygwin.com/mirrors.html" target="_blank">www.cygwin.com/mirrors.html</a> and select one that’s located close to you. You can copy-paste mirror addresses to the User URL field at the bottom of the window.</p> <p>There will be a short download, then you’ll get to the meatiest part of the installation process—the package selector (image B). Here, you’ll select which packages you want to download with Cygwin. These packages define what functionality Cygwin will have once installed, and there are a <em>lot</em> of them. If your goal right now is to just get your toes wet and see what this whole thing’s about, you can leave only the defaults selected, which will provide basic command-line functionality. We’ll also show you how you can add any of these packages at any time, so don’t worry that you’re passing up something you’ll need later.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/cygwin_howto/b_full.jpg" alt="" width="622" height="537" /><br /><strong>(Image B)</strong></p> <p>Click through the rest of the installer, and wait for Cygwin to download and install the files it needs. Save the setup.exe file somewhere, because you’ll need it if you want to install more packages in the future.</p> <h2>2. Run Cygwin</h2> <p>Now that you’ve installed Cygwin, run it by clicking its entry in the Start menu. You’ll see a window with the <em>bash</em> shell running—the same shell used by GNU Linux (image C). You should see some configuration files, your Windows user name (which is also your Cygwin username, by default), and a dollar sign, which is the start of the command line. The ~ after your user name shows that your current directory is the home directory—think of it as C:\ in Windows.</p> <p><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/cygwin_howto/c_622.jpg" alt="" /><br /><strong>(Image C)</strong><br />&nbsp;<br />That said, the home directory that you’re looking at in Cygwin is not C:\, but a folder in your Cygwin directory. By default, your home directory is located in C:\Cygwin\home\[your user name] in the Windows directory tree, and all folders and files you create will be in there. To test this, type <strong><code>mkdir test</code></strong> into the command line, then hit Enter. This is the Linux equivalent of the Windows <strong><code>mk</code></strong> command, and creates a directory in the current active folder, using the argument as a name.</p> <p>To see the directory you just created, type <strong><code>ls</code></strong>. This displays the contents of the current folder—the equivalent of the Windows <strong><code>dir</code></strong> command. You should see your test directory. To switch to that directory, type <strong><code>cd test</code></strong> just like you would in Windows. To return to your home directory, type <strong><code>cd ~</code></strong> at any time.</p> <p>Here are some other basic commands you’ll need to navigate Cygwin (and Linux):</p> <p><strong><code>del [file]</code></strong> – Delete [file]<br /><strong><code>cp [file] [directory]</code></strong> – Make a copy of [file] and put it in [directory]<br /><strong><code>mv [file] [directory]</code></strong> – Move [file] to [directory].</p> <h2>3. Learn Your Way Around New Programs</h2> <p><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/cygwin_howto/d_622.jpg" alt="" width="622" height="551" /><br /><strong>(Image D)</strong></p> <p>So, that’s the basics of navigating around the Cygwin file structure. Of course, if you want to do anything more than shuffle file structures around, you’ll need to install more packages. For instance, if you want a more powerful text/code editor, you might do a search and find out there’s a very well-regarded program called Emacs available. To download the package, just run the setup.exe program that you used to install Cygwin, and click through to the package selection screen. Packages you downloaded the first time around will be marked Keep (image D) and everything else will say Skip. Find the Emacs package, and click Skip, so that it changes to a version number to download. Finish the setup.exe program, and you’ll now have a new text editor for Cygwin. To test it out, type <strong><code>emacs test.txt</code></strong>—the Emacs editor will open (image E). But getting around Emacs is pretty tough at first—there are tons of hotkeys to memorize. So how do you use it? For that matter, how do you use any of these programs?</p> <p><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/cygwin_howto/e_622.jpg" alt="" width="622" height="314" /><br /><strong>(Image E)</strong></p> <p>Obviously, we can’t tell you how to use every command—even a thorough walkthrough of a single complicated command wouldn’t fit into this article. Instead, we’ll give you a quick primer on how to educate yourself. If you’ve got a command that you think you’d like to use, but you aren’t sure how, entering the command <strong><code>man</code></strong> followed by that command (for instance: <strong><code>man emacs</code></strong>) will show you the manual page for the command (image F), including a description of what it does, what sort of syntax it takes, and which flags it can accept. In the manual display, scroll down through the document with the space or E key, and scroll up with W or Y. If you want information about a certain topic, but don’t know the name of the specific command, use <strong><code>man -K [search term]</code></strong> to search through all manual pages.</p> <p><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/cygwin_howto/f_622.jpg" alt="" width="622" height="413" /><br /><strong>(Image F)</strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/how_get_linux_power_your_windows_pc_cygwin#comments Cygwin how-tos install linux pc Windows Windows How-Tos 2010 October 2010 From the Magazine How-Tos Thu, 02 Sep 2010 23:43:13 +0000 Alex Castle 14234 at http://www.maximumpc.com Leave No Trace: How to Completely Erase Your Hard Drives, SSDs and Thumb Drives http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_complete_destroy_your_data <!--paging_filter--><h2>Why Wipe Data Securely?</h2> <p>Whether you are preparing to reuse a hard disk for another operating system, clear off your junk shelves by passing along outdated drives to a friend or relative, donate an old PC to a charity or school, discard a too-small USB drive or flash memory card, or repurpose an SSD, you don’t want to leave any information on the storage device. With <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=hard+disk+identity+theft+news&amp;hl=en">stories abounding</a> of identity theft aided by information lifted from discarded storage devices, you want devices you no longer plan to use to have no usable information when they head out the door. </p> <h2>Why Erasing Files Is Not Enough</h2> <p>Sure, you could erase the contents of the drive, but keep this in mind: the act of erasing a file does not remove it from a storage device.</p> <p>When you erase/delete a file from your computer, it’s not really gone until the areas of the disk it used are overwritten by new information. If you use the normal Windows delete function, the “deleted” file is sent to the Recycle Bin until the space it uses is required by other files. If you use Shift-Delete to bypass the Recycle Bin, the space occupied by the file is marked as available for other files. However, the file could be recovered days or even weeks later with third-party data recovery software. As long as the operating system does not reuse the space occupied by a file with another file, the “deleted” file can be recovered.</p> <p>With SSDs, the erased file situation is even more complex. SSDs store data in blocks rather than in sectors as with magnetic storage. Overwriting a block was previously used involves copying the contents of the block to cache, wiping the block’s contents, delete the block to be overwritten from cache, writing the new data to cache, and rewriting the block with the new data. As an SSD is used with files that are deleted or changed frequently, the performance can drop unless the drive (and operating system) support a technology called TRIM that wipes out deleted data blocks as soon as the file using the blocks is deleted. TRIM is supported by Windows 7 and by some late model SSDs, but not by older Windows versions. So, disk wiping can be both a security feature and a performance improvement strategy. </p> <h2>Data Wiping Versus File Erasure</h2> <p>While erasing files simply marks file space as available for reuse, data wiping overwrites all data space on a storage device, replacing useful data with garbage data. Depending upon the method used, the overwrite data could be zeros (also known as “zero-fill”) or could be various random patterns.</p> <p> Products that can be used for wiping hard disks might not be suitable for wiping other types of drives. In this article, we will look at methods for securely wiping hard disks, USB flash memory devices, flash memory cards, and SSDs.</p> <h1>Zero-Fill a Hard Disk</h1> <p>Time Needed: several hours (varies with size and speed of drive)<br />Software: Hard disk utility software from your drive vendor<br />Media: blank CD or floppy disk</p> <p>Although writing zeroes across the entire hard disk surface (aka “zero-filling”) is not sufficient to meet government data sanitation (disk wiping) standards such as DoD 5220.22-M or the more comprehensive Standards and Technologies (NIST) <a href="http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-88/NISTSP800-88_rev1.pdf">Special Publication 800-88</a>, overwriting the entire hard disk prevents most types of data recovery from being successful. </p> <p>Here’s where to get zero-fill software from hard disk vendors:</p> <p><strong>Hitachi </strong><br />Drive Fitness Test (see website for specific models supported)<br /><a href="http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT">http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT </a><br />Select the Erase Drive feature to zero-fill your hard disk</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/DriveFitnessTest_med.jpg" width="405" height="225" /></div> <p><strong>Samsung</strong><br />HUtil (see website for specific models supported) <br /><a href="http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/support/utilities/Support_HUTIL.html">http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/support/utilities/Support_HUTIL.html </a><br />Use Tool, Erase HDD to zero-fill your hard disk</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/SamsungHutil_med.gif" width="405" height="253" /></div> <p><strong>Seagate (including Maxtor)</strong><br />SeaTools for DOS (see website for specific models supported)<br /><a href="http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/seatools">http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/seatools</a><br />Use Full Erase to zero-fill your hard disk</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/SeaTools_med.png" width="405" height="316" /></div> <p><strong>Western Digital</strong><br />Data Lifeguard Diagnostics (select drive model for specific version recommended)<br /><a href="http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?lang=en">http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?lang=en</a><br />Use Write Zeros to drive to zero-fill your hard disk</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/DataLifeguard_med.gif" width="405" height="304" /></div> <p>1.    Determine the brand and model of hard disk you want to overwrite.<br />2.    Download a CD ISO image or a floppy disk image (depending upon your equipment) and use the image to create bootable media. The floppy disk image is self-contained: run it, insert a blank floppy disk when prompted, and the image is created on the disk. You will need to use a <a href="/article/features/ultimate_cddvd_burning_guide">CD burning program that works with ISO images</a> to convert the ISO image into a bootable CD. <br />3.    Restart your computer with the bootable media you created in Step 2.<br />4.    Select the hard disk to zero-fill when prompted.<br />5.    Choose the option to zero-fill the hard disk.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/WD_WriteZeros_med.png" width="400" height="340" /></div> <p>6.    When the program is finished, follow the on-screen instructions to shut down or restart your computer.<br />7.    Remove the wiped hard disk; you can now reuse or recycle the hard disk.<br /> <hr /> <h1>Secure Wiping a Hard Disk</h1> </p><p>Secure wiping goes beyond zero-fill operations, and provides an extra level of security. Most secure wiping programs are designed to meet DoD 5220 standards, which require three passes of overwriting with a special numeric pattern and verification. More information about this and other secure standards are available from the <a href="http://www.dataerasure.com/recognized_overwriting_standards.htm">DataErasure website</a>. </p> <p>(Note that the 2007 revision of the <a href="https://www.dss.mil/portal/ShowBinary/BEA%20Repository/new_dss_internet/isp/odaa/documents/clear_n_san_matrix_06282007_rev_11122007.pdf">Defense Security Service, Updated DSS Clearing and Sanitization Matrix (June 28, 2007)</a>  now recommends degaussing or drive destruction for maximum protection. </p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/degaussing_med.jpg" width="405" height="389" /></div> <p>Stanford University's Disk and Data Sanitization Policy and Guidelines, a must-read for understanding data wiping issues, recommends Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) for secure hard disk wiping.</p> <h2>Secure Wiping a Hard Disk with DBAN</h2> <p>Time Needed: several hours (varies with size and speed of drive)<br />Software: Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN); available from <a href="http://www.dban.org/">http://www.dban.org/</a><br />Media: blank CD (all versions) or floppy disk (version 1.0.7 and older versions)</p> <p>1. Download the DBAN boot image ZIP file (we used version 1.0.7 and beta version 2.0 for this article); we downloaded the ISO image for CD burning, but a floppy disk builder is also available<br />2. Extract the contents of the compressed file.<br />3. Burn the ISO image file extracted in Step 2 to CD; see <a href="/article/features/ultimate_cddvd_burning_guide%20for%20freeware%20programs">our article on how to do this</a>, or use the built-in ISO CD image burning support in Windows 7. If you downloaded the floppy image builder, run the program to create a bootable floppy disk.<br />4. Restart the computer using the CD or floppy disk created in Step 3.<br />5. Press Enter to run DBAN in interactive mode.<br />6. Use up and down arrow keys to highlight the drive to wipe.<br />7. Press the space bar to select the drive.<br />8. Press M to select the wiping method.<br />9. Press F10 to begin the wipe process.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/DBAN_med.png" width="400" height="254" /></div> <p>10. At the end of the process, shut down the system. You can reuse or recycle the wiped hard disk.</p> <p>Note: if DBAN is unable to recognize your SATA hard disks, configure your system BIOS to use IDE mode rather than AHCI mode.</p> <h1>Wiping Flash Memory Cards and USB Drives</h1> <p>Programs such as DBAN or vendor-supplied hard disk utilities are limited in the devices they support: they are designed to work with internal ATA/IDE or SATA hard disks only. Programs that work with flash memory cards and USB flash drives often support hard disks as well, enabling you to use a single program for all disk wiping processes. Roadkil's DataWipe can be used with any hard disk, floppy disk, or flash drive that has a drive letter.</p> <hr /> <h2>Wiping Flash Memory Cards with Roadkil's DiskWipe</h2> <p>Time Needed: Varies; from a few minutes to several hours, depending upon size and speed of drive and computer<br />Software: Roadkil's DiskWipe, available from <a href="http://www.roadkil.net/">http://www.roadkil.net/</a><br />Media: Can be run from Windows desktop</p> <p>1. Download Roadkil's DiskWipe.<br />2. Extract the contents of the compressed file.<br />3. Open DiskWipe. If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, right-click the program icon and select Run as Administrator.<br />4. Select the drive to wipe.<br />5. Select the type of wipe to perform; DiskWipe can zero-fill the disk or write random data.<br />6. Enter the number of passes.<br />7. Click Erase to start the process.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/RK_DiskWipe_med.png" width="347" height="133" /></div> <p>8. At the end of the process, close the program. You can reuse the wiped disk.</p> <h1>Wiping SSDs</h1> <p>To solve write performance problems on drives that don't support TRIM (check with your drive vendor for firmware upgrades) is to use wiper.exe (included with some SSDs) or to run the Secure Erase feature supported in most recent ATA/IDE and SATA drives. The Secure Erase feature can be activated on many systems by running Secure Erase 4.0 (HDDerase.exe), available from <a href="http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtml">http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtml</a>. Version 4.0 works with most recent ATA/IDE and SATA hard disks and SSDs, but if you use an Intel X-25M, X-25E, or X-18M SSD, follow this link to download Secure Erase 3.3 http://www.iishacks.com/index.php/2009/06/30/how-to-secure-erase-reset-an-intel-solid-state-drive-ssd/.  Note that it is no longer being developed, and we were unable to use it on a system running an AMD 690 chipset.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/hdderase_med.jpg" width="405" height="210" /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Wiping Drives and Free Space with SDelete</h2> <p>SDelete is a free program from Microsoft’s TechNet Sysinternals collection. It runs from the command line, and can be used to wipe drives, wipe files, or wipe free space.</p> <p>Time Needed: Varies; from a few minutes to several hours, depending upon size and speed of drive and computer<br />Software: TechNet Sysinternal's SDelete, available from <a href="http://technet.microsoft.com">http://technet.microsoft.com</a></p> <p>Media: Can be run from Windows desktop</p> <p>1. Download SDelete.<br />2. Extract the contents of the compressed file.<br />3. Copy sdelete.exe to c:\windows\system32\ (this will enable you to run it from any location)<br />4. Open a command prompt session with Administrator rights.<br />5. To wipe all files on drive X: and its subdirectories and to wipe free space, enter Sdelete  -p 2 –s  -z X:\*.*  (to see all command-line switches, enter Sdelete with no options)<br />6. Wait; the program displays status messages as it runs. When the program is finished, you can reuse or dispose of the drive.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/Sdelete_med.png" width="405" height="200" /></div> <h1>Evaluating the Effectiveness of Disk Wiping Programs</h1> <p>We used demo versions of two popular data recovery programs to evaluate some of the disk wiping programs discussed in this article. To determine whether a typical data recovery program could recover files on a SD card wipe with Roadkil’s DiskWipe, we first of all formatted the card using a card reader. Ontrack's EasyRecovery Data Recovery (available from <a href="http://www.ontrack.com">http://www.ontrack.com</a>) had no difficulty finding folders and files to retrieve.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/Ontrack_Overwrite_med.png" width="405" height="297" /></div> <p>However, when we used DiskWipe to wipe the drive using a one-pass blank disk (zero fill) operation, EasyRecovery DataRecovery was unable to find the file system, let alone any files or folders.</p> <p>After reformatting the card, taking a few photos, and deleting the photos, EasyRecovery Data Recovery was able to find the new photos, but the contents of the card before running WipeDisk were unrecoverable.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/Ontrack_Reuse_med.png" width="405" height="300" /></div> <p>To evaluate SDelete, we used SDelete to wipe all of the files on a hard disk, but omitted the –z switch; when –z is not used, SDelete deletes files and renames them, but does not clear free space. To determine what might be visible, we used a demo version of Disk Doctors NTFS Data Recovery software, available from http://www.diskdoctors.net.</p> <p>Disk Doctors were able to locate the deleted folder and Outlook Express message folders, but SDelete had renamed them from their original names and DBX extensions (Outlook Express message folders). If you use SDelete, it’s very important that you take time to use the –z switch to clear free space on the disk (once a file is deleted, the space it occupies is free space).</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/DD_SDelete_med.png" width="400" height="275" /></div> <p>We also used Disk Doctors to evaluate the effectiveness of a freeware program called <a href="http://eraser.heidi.ie/">Eraser</a>, which can delete and overwrite files and folders from the right-click menu.  We created a documents folder with a subfolder called Figures and used Eraser to overwrite the folder and subfolder using its default settings.</p> <p>Disk Doctors was able to locate the folders, but the contents are files with garbage names and are zero bytes in size – except for leftover word processing temporary files (files that begin with $). These filenames were not changed, which could enable a snooper to figure out the names of the files in the folder – although the files themselves were destroyed. By using more overwrites or different methods available with Eraser, a more thorough wiping may be possible</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/datadelete/DD_Eraser_med.png" width="405" height="277" /></div> <h1>Conclusion</h1> <p>We’ve highlighted a variety of free ways to protect data on castoff drives from being retrieved. As you can see, your best bet is to overwrite data directly, but you also might want to consider using a program such as SDelete to scramble filenames first and then use a disk wiper such as Eraser or WipeDisk to finish the job.</p> <p>Use demo versions of data recovery programs such as <a href="http://www.ontrack.com">Ontrack Easy Recovery Data Recovery</a>, <a href="http://diskdoctors.net">Disk Doctors Data Recovery</a> (various editions for NTFS, FAT, and flash media), and others to evaluate the effectiveness of your data wiping procedures. Remember, the full versions of these and other data recovery programs can save your data if you accidentally format or partition a disk because, until the data is overwritten, it’s still there.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_complete_destroy_your_data#comments flash memory format hard disk Hardware how-tos linux Security ssd storage Windows Windows How-Tos How-Tos Wed, 10 Mar 2010 14:09:50 +0000 Mark Soper 11226 at http://www.maximumpc.com How-To: Deck Out Your Desktop with the 12 Best Rainmeter Skins http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_deck_out_your_desktop_rainmeter <!--paging_filter--><table border="0" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <script type="text/javascript"> digg_url = 'http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_deck_out_your_desktop_rainmeter'; </script><script src="http://digg.com/tools/diggthis.js" type="text/javascript"></script></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <script type="text/javascript"> tweetmeme_url = 'http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_deck_out_your_desktop_rainmeter'; </script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://tweetmeme.com/i/scripts/button.js"></script></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>From Google Desktop to the Windows Sidebar introduced in Vista, there have been several attempts to integrate our online life onto our desktop. But none of them come close to Rainmeter, a totally customizable platform for decking out your desktop with a variety of useful applets that can stand prominently in the foreground or blend into the background.</p> <p>There's a lot you can do with Rainmeter thanks to a diverse collection of available 'skins' (think of them as widgets), all of which can be individually tailored in look and function. There are skins for keeping tabs on system resources, displaying RSS feeds, sending and receiving Twitter messages, and even recording notes.</p> <p>Rainmeter isn't at all difficult to use, but there is an initial learning curve as you come to understand just how powerful this unassuming app really is. On the following pages, we'll guide you through the setup process and show you the ins and outs of using Rainmeter. We'll also highlight the 12 best skins out of the hundreds that are available to give you a head start on decking out your desktop like never before.</p> <p>Hit the jump and let the fun begin! </p> <h2>Rainmeter vs HTMLifying Your Desktop </h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/HTML_Rainmeter.jpg" width="405" height="276" /></p> <p>Long time readers of Maximum PC magazine may recall that several years back we printed a tutorial showing you how to HTMLify your desktop (courtesy of Google Books, you can still read the guide in the <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=4wEAAAAAMBAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_v2_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q=&amp;f=false">July 2003 issue</a> starting on page 56). In it, recently resigned Editor-in-Chief Will Smith showed you how to add HTML elements to your desktop background and even embed a large webpage right smack dab in the center of your display. It was a pretty awesome trick with several upshots, all of which are improved upon with Rainmeter.</p> <p>Rainmeter essentially streamlines the process of HTMLifying your desktop by allowing you to easily add all kinds of online elements to your display, be they RSS readers, a Twitter feed, Facebook updates, and really just about anything you want. It's a highly flexible platform, too. Code junkies may want to write their own applets, while those who are intimidated by a Command Prompt can still jump in and easily customize any skin without ever feeling lost or overwhelmed. </p> <h2>Sounds Like Samurize</h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Rainmeter_Infinitus.jpg" width="405" height="253" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: xx-small">Image Credit: customize.org</span></p> <p>Rainmeter isn't the only app of its kind, and the biggest alternative is probably Samurize. The two are similar in what they can do, but Rainmeter's generally easier to use, especially with the latest update. Rainmeter also boasts better OS compatibility and fully embraces both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors of Windows, including Redmond's latest, Windows 7.</p> <p>Comparisons aside, here's a brief rundown of what Rainmeter offers:</p> <ul> <li><strong>System Monitor</strong> - keep a constant watch on how much heavy lifting your CPU is doing, your network activity, how much drive space is remaining, and more, and all without firing up the obtrusive Task Manager.</li> <li><strong>Stay Connected</strong> - view RSS feeds, social networking updates, incoming email, the weather, and other Web-based content without loading up another browser window or tab.</li> <li><strong>App Management</strong> - Rainmeter's app management is limitless, bound only by what you want to do. Arrange commonly used apps in a custom dock, or create your own launchers.</li> <li><strong>Fully Customizable</strong> - you have full control over every aspect of Rainmeter, including the look, function, and placement. And all of these can be changed on a whim, whether it's adjusting the transparency of a skin, or changing the source of an RSS feed. </li> </ul> <h2>Using Rainmeter<br /></h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Enigma.jpg" width="405" height="253" /></p> <p>Sounds pretty great, right? It is, and you can get started by downloading a copy of Rainmeter from <a href="http://rainmeter.net/RainCMS/">here</a>. Rainmeter installs just like any other app, and with the latest release (version 1.1), it also comes bundled with the popular Enigma suite of skins, as well as a couple of handy tools (RainBrowser and RainThemes) for managing everything.</p> <p>You'll notice several different elements when you load Rainmeter for the first time, all of which are part of the Enigma suite, and all of which can be customized. There's a taskbar at the bottom with several launchers (iTunes, Picasa, Firefox, Notepad, and Trillian), plus a system monitor pushed over to the right side. All of these can be changed or substituted, which we'll get to in a little bit.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Enigma_CP.jpg" width="405" height="241" /></p> <p>On the right you'll notice a transparent sidebar containing a news feed, the date/time, a notes section, and other odds and ends. And in the middle of the screen is a control panel, which we'll focus on first.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/EnigmaConfig.jpg" width="405" height="339" /></p> <p>One way to customize the default Enigma skin is by pressing the Configuration button on the control panel (you can also access this by clicking the middle mouse button on the Sidebar). Enigma comes preconfigured with a ton of applets, most of which are self explanatory. Streaming information to your desktop begins by filling out the appropriate fields. To view Twitter feeds, for example, you would click on and fill out the TwitterUsername and TwitterPassword fields. Be warned, however, that Enigma doesn't hide your password, so not only will anyone standing behind you be able to see what you're typing in, but so too can anyone who has access to your PC. </p> <p>Other settings you'll encounter include Google Calendar, RSS feeds, hard drive information, and other odds and ends. Once you've filled out the appropriate fields, your next step is to make them show up. For this, you'll use the familiar right-click context menu specially designed for Rainmeter. On the sidebar or custom taskbar, right-click and take a peek at the menus. It's a little confusing at first, but once you poke around and get acclimated to the terms, you'll be whizzing through the menus in no time. For now, the one you're looking for is the Configs menu, as this holds all the skins that are installed. Not all skins share the same layout, so be sure to poke around to see what all is offered.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Twitter.jpg" width="405" height="413" /></p> <p>Let's say we want to enable our Twitter feed in the Sidebar. To do so, we would right-click and navigate to Configs&gt;Enigma&gt;Sidebar&gt;&gt;Reader&gt;Twitter-Reader. In there you'll see an entry for TwitterReader.ini. Rainmeter's magic works by reading .ini files (short for initialization), which are text files containing configuration information for Windows. We'll dive into this in a minute, but for now, click/check the box to the left of TwitterReader.ini. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Twitter2.jpg" width="405" height="267" /></p> <p>Don't see the applet you just enabled? That's because it doesn't show up on the Sidebar by default, and instead is sitting in the upper left corner of your desktop. Applets float freely on your desktop, so relocating them is as easy and clicking in dragging, but usually not right in the center. In this case, you'll notice two faint lines bordering the Twitter applet, one on the top and one on the bottom. Click on either of these and drag it anywhere on your desktop, including the Sidebar. You can also click on your Twitter feed to load up your Twitter account in your default browser. </p> <hr /> <h2>RainBrowser</h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/RainBrowser.jpg" width="405" height="304" /></p> <p>There's so much you can do with Rainmeter, it's easy to get overwhelmed, and that's where the RainBrowser helps out immensely. If you open up the Start menu and expand the Rainmeter folder, you'll find a shortcut to the RainBrowser. Or you can right-click the Sidebar or any of Rainmeter's applets and navigate to Configs&gt;Manage Skins. </p> <p>RainBrowser packs a bunch of useful information into an easy-to-navigate window, and if you're ever in doubt an applet's function, this is the place to look. Listed in the Active tab are all the active applets currently running. When you highlight an entry, the associated .ini file will be listed in the bottom box under Skins and Variants. If you click on this, RainBrowser's main box window will list out the configuration file's vitals, such as a description, instructions on how to use it, who designed it, the version number, and more. </p> <p>Underneath this section you'll find two different sets of actions you can perform, one for just that applet (called a 'skin'), or global actions for all loaded applets. If you've made changes to an applet's configuration file, you'll need to Refresh Skin before the changes take effect, and you can do that here, among other self-explanatory actions (Unload Skin, for example).</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/RainBrowser2.jpg" width="405" height="304" /></p> <p>You can also make visual changes to the applet by clicking on Edit Skin. Doing so updates the main window with different settings, allowing you do things like adjust the transparency, configure an applet to fade in, out, or hide when mousing over it, whether or not to make it draggable, and a few other options.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/INI.jpg" width="405" height="271" /></p> <p>RainBrowser isn't required to manipulate a skin; you can make the same changes by editing the associated .ini file. To edit Enigma's Notes applet, for example, you would locate the .ini file on your hard, which is located at:</p> <p><strong>C:\[USERNAME\Documents\Skins\Enigma\Sidebar\Notes</strong></p> <p>Alternately, you can right-click the Sidebar and click Config&gt;Edit Skins' Folder and navigate from there. Once there, double-click the Notes.ini file (or any other configuration file you want to alter) to open it up and edit as desired. </p> <p>It's important to remember that everything that appears on screen is a skin/applet. This includes the Sidebar itself, which is nothing more than a vertical bar. Other applets that appear on the Sidebar aren't actually attached to it, they just sit on top of it. If you wanted to, you could move the Sidebar around your desktop and leave it unoccupied, or cover your regular desktop icons with. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Desktop.jpg" width="405" height="253" /></p> <p>By playing around with the Transparency and Fade In/Out settings, you can piece together a really slick looking desktop that will be the envy of any who see it. </p> <h2>RSS Feeds</h2> <p>One of the best ways to utilize Rainmeter is by setting up RSS feeds so you're constantly updated on whatever interests you -- be it world events or tech news -- no matter what you're doing. Setting them up, however, can be a little trickly, at least at first.</p> <p>If you're running the stock Enigma skin-set, click the middle mouse button on the Sidebar to bring up the EnigmaConfigure window. You'll see three entries for RSS feeds, each of which can be customized. Highlight one of them and enter in the RSS URL you're interested in following. For Maximum PC, the URL is <strong>http://www.maximumpc.com/articles/all/feed</strong>. Press Set to save the change.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/RSS.jpg" width="405" height="339" /></p> <p>Next you need to enable the RSS feed to show up in the Sidebar. Simply right-click and navigate to Configs&gt;Enigma&gt;Sidebar&gt;Reader&gt;RSSReader and check ReaderRSS.ini.</p> <p>There are two things to note here. First, any changes you make to each RSS's URL field won't be reflected until you refresh Enigma. Right-click and select Refresh All, and all of your applets will be updated with any new info. Secondly, if you want to give your RSS feeds a more descriptive title than 'News,' you'll need to poke around the actual .ini file. In this case, you can find them at:</p> <p><strong>C:\[USERNAME\Documents\Skins\Enigma\Sidebar\Reader</strong></p> <p>You'll see three folders here, RSS-Reader, RSS-Reader2, and RSS-Reader3. Each one contains an individual .ini file, so to change the title of the first RSS reader, open up the folder and double-click/edit ReaderRSS.ini. It may look a little confusing at first glance, but scroll down about halfway until you see:</p> <p>[Title]<br />Meter=STRING<br />MeasureName=Feed<br />Text=&quot;News&quot;</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/RSS2.jpg" width="405" height="274" /></p> <p>The Text entry is the one we're after, as we want a more descriptive title than just 'News.' Change this to something like Maximum PC News, and be sure to enclose the title in quotes. Save your changes, and then refresh Enigma as shown above. </p> <hr /> <h2>Dissecting a Rainmeter INI File</h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/INI2.jpg" width="405" height="228" /></p> <p>Okay, so editing an RSS feed's title is pretty easy, but what's all that other junk contained in the .ini files? If you plan on doing a lot of editing, or even making your own skins, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the different terms and file structure. Here's how it breaks down:</p> <p><strong>Metadata:</strong> This section is where a skin's author can include important information about his applet, including the name and version number, but also specific instructions on how to use it.</p> <p><strong>Measures:</strong> Aptly named measures are used to measure system stats such as the time and date, or to pluck information from a website, such as the local weather, among many other tasks. In short, measures tell Rainmeter what it needs to do.</p> <p><strong>Meters: </strong>These describe how Rainmeter outputs a measure, be it with a histogram, an image, a button, and a bunch of other options. </p> <p><strong>Variables: </strong>Variables are keywords that will be repeatedly used in a skin and are sort of like a master list. To use Rainmeter's example (which we'll link below), if you set a variable for the size of a font to use on all meters as FontSize=11, you would then use FontSize=#FontSize# in each meter. This way, you can change the font size in all your meters later on by just changing the master variable (from 11 to 13, for example), rather than editing each meter. </p> <p>For a more in depth break down of skins and Rainmeter's nomenclature, see both <a href="http://rainmeter.net/RainCMS/?q=Skins">here </a>and <a href="http://www.rainmeter.net/RainCMS/?q=Rainmeter101_AnatomyOfASkin">here</a>. </p> <h2>Installing Skins</h2> <p>Now that you have a pretty good idea how Rainmeter works, it's time to start experimenting with skins, which is where the real fun begins. You'll find user-created skins all over the Web, but we suggest poking around these sites:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/">Customize.org</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.skinbase.org/Application/Rainmeter/412">SkinBase.org</a></li> <li><a href="http://browse.deviantart.com/customization/skins/?qh=&amp;section=&amp;q=rainmeter">DeviantArt.com</a></li> </ul> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Skins.jpg" width="405" height="268" /></p> <p>When you find a skin you want to try out, download and unzip the archive. You should find a folder with the name of the skin you just downloaded, and you'll need to place this in:</p> <p><strong>C:\Users\[Username]\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins</strong></p> <p>You'll also find a Skins folder under the Rainmeter directory in your Program Files, but putting them there won't do you any good. After you've transferred your skin to the correct location (and, if applicable, installed any included fonts by copying them over to C:\Windows\Fonts), right-click the Sidebar and click Refresh All. To load applets from your new skin, right-click again and navigate to Configs. You should see the skin(s) you just installed, and you would use them just like you did with Enigma.</p> <h2>Quick Tips<br /></h2> <p>Don't be afraid to play around with different skins by mixing and matching them. There's no need to restrict yourself to a single skin, and in many cases, downloaded skins only offer a handful of applets to play around with, such as a customized clock or system monitor. Skins like Enigma, which contain a whole host of applets, are fairly rare compared to all the skins that are available.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Skins2.jpg" width="405" height="369" /></p> <p>Your choice of wallpaper will also play a big role in how your skin(s) look on your desktop. Combining a skin that makes use of a futuristic sci-fi font or Star Trek them will look pretty silly on a Spongebob background, but will be right at home with a wallpaper depicting space scenes. And if your skin doesn't blend in quite like you hoped, either try a different wallpaper, edit your wallpaper, or play with the transparency settings. </p> <p>After spending a ton of time mixing, matching, and customizing your desktop with Rainmeter, the last thing you want to do is start the process all over again following a system reboot, which, at minimum, you should be performing once a month (Patch Tuesday). And nor do you have to. When you have your desktop just the way you like it, save it as a theme. Right-click and select Themes&gt;Manage Themes. Enter a name in the blank field and click Save. As you play with other themes and skins, you can always return to your custom setup by selecting the saved theme from Themes&gt;Manage Themes. </p> <hr /> <h2>12 Kick Ass Skins</h2> <p>There are a lot of awesome third-party skins to play with, just as there are a lot of duds. To get you started, we're going to show you a handful of our favorites and where you can get them. Have a favorite of your own? Be sure to post it in the comments section below!</p> <h3><strong>Simplicity Black</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Simplicity_Black.jpg" width="405" height="206" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: xx-small">Image Credit: AKH-Arazand</span></p> <p>Just as the name implies, this is a basic theme decked out in black. Looks great on a light backgrounds, especially Vista's stock green wallpaper, and will save you a ton of time if you're jonesing for all black text but aren't in the mood to go on an editing-frenzy on another theme. It's not nearly as robust as Enigma or some of the other fully fleshed themes, but does include just about everything you need if you're primarily looking for a system monitor, and it includes applets designed for both the Sidebar and Taskbar. And don't forget you can mix and match skins.</p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/46829">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/46829 </a></p> <h3><strong>Black Glass</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Black_Glass.jpg" width="405" height="334" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: xx-small">Image Credit: LAvalon</span></p> <p>Another fairly simple skin, Black Glass includes all the components to assemble a high-tech looking sidebar, which it owes to its digital-inspired font. Among the included modules you'll find a calendar, clock, HDD monitor, system monitor, and WinAMP applet. There's also a blank box, which you could edit the size and create a blank slate for a custom sidebar or taskbar.</p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/48761">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/48761</a></p> <h3><strong>Taranbeer </strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Taranbeer.jpg" width="405" height="253" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: xx-small">Image Credit: mani0008</span></p> <p>Taranbeer provides a variety of system monitors to get you started, but the gem here is the clock, which looks decidedly futuristic. Because of the bright while text, this one looks best on a dark background, and is a great choice to combine with other skins. For an example of how well it meshes with others, check out the Starview theme <a href="http://www.customise.org/rainmeter/skins/66352">here</a>. </p> <p><a href="http://mani0008.deviantart.com/art/Taranbeer-Rainmeter-126619432">http://mani008.diaviantart.com/art/Taranbeer-Rainmeter-126619432 </a></p> <h3><strong>BlueFeed</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/BlueFeed.jpg" width="405" height="357" /></p> <p>A must-have for any serious RSS nut, BlueFeed does one thinng and one thing only, and that's serve up RSS feeds in a big way. The blue text on black background is very easy to read, and it comes ready to serve up to anywhere from 10-40 RSS items. Never miss a news story again! </p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/59532">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/59532 </a></p> <h3><strong>StickeCalendar </strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/StickerCalendar.jpg" width="380" height="254" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: xx-small"><span style="font-size: xx-small">Image Credit: gbernal</span></span></p> <p>A no-frills skin best suited for the office environment, and much friendlier on the forest than those dead-tree tear-away calendars! Comes ready to be configured with an assortment of colors. </p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/63487">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/63487 </a></p> <h3><strong>Xpert 2</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Xpert2.jpg" width="405" height="258" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size: xx-small">Image Credit: Gabro</span></p> <p>One of the relatively few skins to include a ton of applets, you'll find just about everything you're looking for in Xpert 2, even applets for the word of the day and quote of the day. But far from a hokey skin, you'll also find a news reader with 63 RSS feeds, some of the best looking system monitoring applets available, clocks, calendars, and plenty more.</p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/40973">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/40973 </a></p> <hr /> <h3><strong>Carbon Fiber Meter</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/CF_Meter.jpg" width="405" height="295" /></p> <p>Carbon Fiber Meter only does two things: Display CPU and Memory usuage. We only wish it threw GPU vitals into the mix, because it's ideally suited for car tweakers and overclockers alike, two hobbies which often run parallel. </p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/34232">http://customize.org/rainmeter/34232</a></p> <h3><strong>Terminator</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Terminator.jpg" width="405" height="366" /></p> <p>Can't bring yourself to toss out those Terminator VHS tapes? Then this is the skin for you, but you better hurry, because we don't know how long it will be hosted. The main page for the popular Terminator skin no longer shows up on Customize.org, but the original download link still works (see below), so grab it while you can. Then plaster your desktop with a handful of applets, including the obligatory system monitor and calendar, but also a pretty extensive control panel. In the screenshot above, we plucked a Terminator wallpaper off of Google images and combined the skin with Rainmeter's bundled Wing Firefox theme, which essentially adds the funky looking clock you see in the middle. </p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/download/files/62811/Terminator_theme.zip">http://customize.org/download/files/62811/Terminator_theme.zip </a></p> <h3><strong>Fade to Black</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/FTB.jpg" width="405" height="313" /></p> <p>A great looking skin on white backgrounds, Fade to Black offers a respectable number of applets. Not as varied as Enigma or Xpert 2, but in addition to system monitors, email, RSS feeds, and various other odds and ends, Fade to Black throws a curveball by including a tastefully framed image scroller. Configure it to scroll through vacation pictures to help make it through the work day. </p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/62461">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/62461 </a></p> <h3><strong>Facebook Notifcations</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Facebook.jpg" width="355" height="352" /></p> <p>At this stage in the social networking game, it's a safe bet you're using Facebook, and this skin will allow you to keep tabs on what's going on without checking your account every 15 minutes. Nothing more, nothing less. To configure it, sign into your Facebook account and go to your Notifications page. Under Subscribe to Notifications, click the RSS URL and copy it to your clipboard. Next, open up Facebook.ini from the skin you just downloaded. Under variables, you'll see an entry that reads:</p> <p>URL=CHAANNGEE MEEEE</p> <p>Can you guess what to do? Replace the entry with your notifications RSS feed and don't forget to refresh Rainmeter. </p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/63206">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/63206 </a></p> <h3><strong>Tic-Tactual Encapsulated</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/Tic_Tac.jpg" width="405" height="247" /></p> <p>We can't quite put our finger on it, but there's just something about spheres that screams 'high-tech.' That's exactly what Tic-Tactual Encapsulated offers, and while it's a shame there aren't a bunch of applets to play with, you can put the month, date, time, and day of week in separate bubbles. This one works well with just about any sci-fi theme.</p> <p><a href="http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/49256">http://customize.org/rainmeter/skins/49256</a></p> <h3><strong>Seven Dock</strong></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/rainmeter/SevenDock.jpg" width="405" height="267" /></p> <p>Hands down one of our favorite skins, Seven Dock is not only highly useful, it's also great for squashing those OCD tendencies. How so? Well, if you were so inclined, you could wipe out all the icons on your desktop, hide the taskbar, and simply make do with a cleanly organized dock. It's fully customizable, from the icons to the shortcuts, though getting it to open directly to My Computer is a little tricky. You'll first navigate to the skin's folder, which is called Mega, not Seven Dock. Open up Mega.ini and scroll down to the FreeCommander entry. It should look like this:</p> <p><strong>Soft13.txt='Disque C' <br />Soft13=!execute [%ProgramFiles%\Custom\FreeCommander\Freecommander.exe</strong></p> <p>This is the entry we want to change, both because we like the icon it's already associated with, and because we're not running FreeCommander. To get it to jump into My Computer rather than your C: drive, here's what you'd change it to:</p> <p><strong>Soft13.txt='My Computer' <br /> Soft13=!execute [%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}]</strong></p> <p>From now own, clicking on the disk icon will open up My Computer. Change the other entries as you see fit, including both the name and location, and replace any of the icons using PNG images sized 265x265 pixels.</p> <p><a href="http://ghenarys.deviantart.com/art/Seven-Dock-for-Rainmeter-80408651">http://ghenarys.deviantart.com/art/Seven-Dock-for-Rainmeter-80408651 </a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_deck_out_your_desktop_rainmeter#comments customization Desktops features how-tos rainmeter Software Software How-Tos Windows Windows How-Tos How-Tos Tue, 26 Jan 2010 06:00:00 +0000 Paul Lilly 10489 at http://www.maximumpc.com How-To: Create Custom Windows Shortcuts with AutoHotkey http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_create_custom_windows_shortcuts_autohotkey <!--paging_filter--><p>Think about all the time you spend in front on your PC. Are you being efficient? Here’s a better question: Are you being as efficient as you can be? The simple answer is ‘No.’ Every time you lift your fingers off your keyboard to navigate Windows, you’re wasting time. Sure, it only takes a few seconds to drag your mouse cursor over to the Firefox icon or to navigate the Start menu to open up the Control Panel, and while none of that sounds like a big deal, it all adds up over time, be it a week, a month, or a year. The reason Microsoft includes so many shortcuts in Windows is so you can streamline these little time wasters, but these preset hotkeys will only take you so far. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/autohotkey/keyboard_405.jpg" width="405" height="250" /> </p> <p>That’s where AutoHotkey comes in, a lightweight but powerful app that allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for any Windows program. Here are a few tricks to get you started.</p> <h2>What You’ll Need</h2> <p>•    A PC running Windows 95 or later<br />•    Any keyboard (USB or PS/2)<br />•    USB Flash drive (optional, for portability)<br />•    About 15 minutes</p> <h2>Installation and Setup</h2> <p>You can grab AutoHotkey from <a href="http://www.autohotkey.com">www.autohotkey.com</a>. There’s not much to the initial installation, so go ahead and leave the default options alone. When you fire it up for the first time, you’re given the option of creating a sample script in the My Documents folder. This isn’t necessary, but it is a good way to familiarize yourself with the basic instructions. In short, the way this works is by creating scripts, which consists of a plain text file containing commands that AutoHotkey.exe will execute.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/autohotkey/AutoHotkey1.jpg" width="405" height="189" /> </p> <p>Once installed, create a folder called <strong>AutoHotkey Scripts</strong> on your Desktop or any other place where you want to store your scripts. If you don’t want to clutter your desktop, creating the folder on the root of your C:\ drive will keep the folder out of sight, but still easy to find.</p> <h2>Example: Auto-Launch Firefox</h2> <p>We’re going to create a script that allows us to call up Mozilla’s Firefox browser without ever taking our hands off the keyboard. Keep in mind that while we’re focusing on Firefox in this example, you can adjust the code for any program you want.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/autohotkey/AutoHotkey2.jpg" width="405" height="355" /> </p> <p>Open up the scripts folder you just created, right-click anywhere in the empty space, and select New. One of the options in the context menu should now read AutoHotkey Script, and as you’ve probably guessed by now, this is what you’ll select. Name the script Firefox, and then right-click it and select Edit Script.</p> <p>We could dedicate an entire issue to scripting languages, however you don’t need to be a programming guru to follow along. For this one, all you have to do is type<strong> ^#f::Run C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe</strong>. Confused? Let’s break this down. The first part of the code tells AutoHotkey which key combination to use, followed by the Run command, and finally the location of the program we want to run. In this case, we just coded a script to open up Firefox when pressing Control (^), Windows Key (#), and the f key.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/autohotkey/AutoHotkey3.jpg" width="405" height="218" /> </p> <p>You can change the key combination to whatever you want. When you’re finished, save your work, close the Window, and then double-click the .ahk file you just edited (Firefox.ahk, in our example). Now the script is loaded and ready to use!</p> <h2>Transform Shorthand into Longhand with Hotstring</h2> <p>In addition to hotkeys, AutoHotkey also makes use of hotstrings, which allows you to bind keystrokes to words or phrases. This comes in especially handy when composing emails, whether it’s typing out an email address or converting your text-speak shortcuts into legible English.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/autohotkey/AutoHotkey5.jpg" width="405" height="247" /> </p> <p>Create and edit a new script as previously outlined. We’re going to enclose our shorthand text between pairs of colons followed by the unabbreviated text we want to replace it with. For example, to create a two-letter abbreviation for To Whom It May Concern using the letters ‘tw,’ we would type <strong>::tw::To Whom It May Concern</strong>. This trick also comes in handy for email addresses. Create as many abbreviations as you see fit (use a new line for each), save and exit, and then double-click the .ahk file as before. Your abbreviations will be automatically replaced by the designated text whenever you hit the key combinations (in this case, tw) followed by a space, period, or enter. </p> <hr /> <h2>Example: Create Your Own Media Controls</h2> <p>Don’t fret if your keyboard doesn’t include multimedia controls, because with AutoHotkey, it’s simple enough to create your own. Here’s an example of a script for controlling all facets of multimedia playback using the CTRL+Shift combination:</p> <p><strong>^+m::Send {Volume_Mute}<br />^+.::Send {Volume_Up}<br />^+,::Send {Volume_Down}<br />^+n::Send {Media_Next}<br />^+b::Send {Media_Prev}<br />^+o::Send {Media_Stop}<br />^+p::Send {Media__Play_Pause}</strong></p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/autohotkey/AutoHotkey6.jpg" width="405" height="372" /> </p> <p>The coolest part about this is the above controls work with any media player, be it Windows Media Player, WinAmp, or even Napster.</p> <h2>Take Your Scripts with You</h2> <p>It isn’t necessary to install AutoHotkey on every PC you come in contact with. Instead, right-click on any scripts you want to make portable and select Compile Script. AutoHotkey will spit out a related executable that can be run on any Windows-based PC!</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/autohotkey/AutoHotkey7.jpg" width="405" height="257" /> </p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_create_custom_windows_shortcuts_autohotkey#comments automation how-tos Software Software How-Tos Windows Windows How-Tos How-Tos Fri, 22 Jan 2010 16:00:00 +0000 Paul Lilly 10430 at http://www.maximumpc.com How-To: Add Mouse Gestures to Any Windows Program http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_add_mouse_gestures_any_windows_program <!--paging_filter--><p>Remember browsing the Web before mouse gestures? Neither do we. It’s not because we can’t recall that far back, we’ve just chosen to block out any recollection of wading through cyberspace using only the navigation toolbar. How primitive!</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/msftmice/bluetrack_03_sm.jpg" width="400" height="267" /> </p> <p>Mouse gestures have become such a popular part of day-to-day Web surfing that it was only a matter of time before someone ported the functionality over to the Windows OS. Enter SrokeIt, a free, open-source utility that brings the magic of mouse gestures to any system running Windows 95 or later.</p> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/mousegestures/StrokeIt.jpg" width="499" height="424" /></p> <h2>Step 1: Perform Pre-set Gestures</h2> <p>StrokeIt comes with over 80 mouse gestures out of the box, most of which you’re probably already familiar with from having used Firefox with FireGestures or any other similar add-on. StrokeIt’s gestures are activated in the same manner – just hold down the right-mouse button and perform an action. To navigate left, for example, you would hold down the right-mouse button and drag your mouse to the left. See a <a href="http://www.tcbmi.com/strokeit/actions.shtml?app=files/All%20Symbols.cfg">full list of gesture actions here</a>, and to see a full list of gestures, left-click the StrokeIt icon in the taskbar.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/mousegestures/StrokeIt2.jpg" width="499" height="424" /> </p> <h2>Step 2: Teach StrokeIt New Actions</h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/mousegestures/StrokeIt3.jpg" width="499" height="424" /> </p> <p>In addition to the wealth of actions  StrokeIt already comes configured with, you can also create your own. In this example, we want to create an action for the Step Backward command in Photoshop. Left-click the StrokeIt icon and expand the Photoshop tree in the left-hand pane. Click on File&gt;New Action and name it Step Backward. With the action highlighted, select a gesture from the pull-down menu (we chose Left) and click on the Add Gesture button. Now right-click the action and select New Command. Select Keys – Hotkey from the Configure a Command pull-down menu. Finally, click on the Hotkey field and press CTRL+ALT+Z. You’ve just configured a Step Backward gesture for use in Photoshop!</p> <h2>Step 3: Create Gestures for Complex Passwords</h2> <p>The best passwords consist of a random assortment of alphanumeric characters with both uppercase and lowercase letters. The only problem is the stronger the password, the harder it is to remember. That’s where StrokeIt comes in.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/mousegestures/StrokeIt4.jpg" width="499" height="424" /> </p> <p>Open up StrokeIt and expand the Global Actions tree. Create a new action and name it Password. In the right-hand pane, select Reverse P or any other gesture from the Gestures pull-down menu and click on Add Gesture. Now right-click the new action and click New Command, or press CTRL+N. If you want, give the command a descriptive name, like Banking Password. Highlight the command and select Keys – Password from the Configuration pull-down menu in the right-hand pane, and then enter a strong password. From now on you can use your new gesture rather than manually typing in your super secure password. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/mousegestures/StrokeIt5.jpg" width="405" height="325" /> </p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_add_mouse_gestures_any_windows_program#comments how-tos Software Software How-Tos strokeit Windows Windows How-Tos How-Tos Thu, 21 Jan 2010 23:30:00 +0000 Paul Lilly 10426 at http://www.maximumpc.com Windows 7 Upgrade Guide for RC (Release Candidate) Users http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_upgrade_windows_7_final_rc <!--paging_filter--><p>For a lot of MaximumPC readers, the fuss over <a href="/tags/windows+7+week">Windows 7 launch week</a> might seem a little unwarranted—after all, many of you have been happily running Windows 7 for months now, so what’s so exciting about a retail launch? In fact, if you’re in that boat, the launch poses more of a hassle than anything else, since your free RC version of Windows 7 is closer than ever to shutting down. And when it does, you can't even do an upgrade install of Windows 7, you have to either re-install Windows Vista first, or buy a standalone version of Windows 7.</p> <p><span class="thickbox"><br /> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u46173/htwin7intro.jpg" width="415" height="224" /></div> <p></p></span></p> <p>Or do you? Even though Microsoft’s official stance is that you can’t upgrade from the Release Candidate to the RTM/Retail version of Windows 7, it’s actually possible to do so using a quick, easy hack. This means that you can use the cheaper upgrade version of Windows 7, and do a &quot;Custom Upgrade&quot; to get a clean install. Or, if you don't mind the risk of additional headaches down the line, you can do an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 RC to RTM. Here’s how to do it, in 7 simple steps</p> <h2>Step 1</h2> <p>Insert your Windows 7 retail disc into your DVD drive. Make sure to put the 32-bit installer disc in if you’ll be installing 32-bit Windows and the 64-bit installer disc in if you’re installing 64-bit Windows. If you downloaded an ISO from TechNet, simply proceed to step two. </p> <h2>Step 2 </h2> <p>Extract all the files from the DVD (or ISO) into a folder on your desktop.</p> <p><a href="/files/u57670/Win7Upgrade1.png" class="thickbox"><br /> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u57670/Win7Upgrade1_sm.png" width="405" height="286" /></div> <p></p></a></p> <h2><span style="white-space: pre" class="Apple-tab-span">Step 3 <br /></span></h2> <p>Open the folder you moved the files to, then open the “sources” directory.</p> <h2>Step 4  <br /></h2> <p>Using Notepad, open the “cversion.ini” file.</p> <h2>Step 5</h2> <p>This file specifies which versions of Windows are eligible to upgrade. Right now it says the minimum client version able to upgrade is <strong>7233</strong>—change this to read <strong>7000 </strong>and you’ll be able to upgrade the beta or RC to RTM. </p> <p><a href="/files/u57670/Win7Upgrade2.png" class="thickbox"><br /> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u57670/Win7Upgrade2_sm.png" width="405" height="291" /></div> <p></p></a></p> <h2>Step 6</h2> <p>Save cversion.ini, overwriting the old file.</p> <h2>Step 7</h2> <p>Install Windows 7 using these modified installation files. The easiest way to do this is by following our <a href="/article/howtos/how_to_install_windows_7_beta_a_usb_key">boot from USB guide</a>. If you want, it’s also possible to create a new installation disc from these files using the free burner <a href="http://www.imgburn.com/">ImgBurn</a>. You can find a guide on how to do this <a href="http://forum.imgburn.com/index.php?showtopic=11194">here</a>.</p> <div> <div>Now, even though Microsoft has intentionally made this possible (and spilled the beans about how to do it in a blog post), they don’t officially support this kind of upgrade, and they warn that it may result in “some oddities,” so proceed at your own risk. Still, we’ve had good results upgrading this way, and it’s a heck of a lot more appealing than paying full-price for a standalone copy of Windows 7. </div> <div></div> </div> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_upgrade_windows_7_final_rc#comments microsoft Windows windows 7 Windows 7 RC windows 7 rtm windows 7 week Windows How-Tos How-Tos Mon, 26 Oct 2009 15:30:00 +0000 Alex Castle 8533 at http://www.maximumpc.com How To: Install Windows 7 from a USB Key! http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_to_install_windows_7_beta_a_usb_key <!--paging_filter--><h3 align="center"> <a href="/tags/windows+7+week"><img src="/files/u17625/win7week_header.jpg" width="405" height="130" /></a></h3> <p>So after reading our <a href="/article/reviews/windows_7_review">review of Windows 7</a>, you’re ready to take the plunge and upgrade to Microsoft's new OS. You’ve <a href="/article/features/windows_7_upgrade_guide_all_your_questions_answered">read our upgrade guide</a>, decided whether you want <a href="/article/features/should_you_upgrade_64bit_windows_7">32- or 64-bit Windows 7</a>, and bought your retail box. But what if you want to install Windows 7 on a netbook or other computer without an optical drive? Fortunately, you’re not out of luck, because Windows 7 (and Vista, for that matter) can be installed from a USB storage key. Not only does installing from a USB key remove the need for a DVD drive, the install time is also greatly reduced – we shaved off minutes from the total install time. Our step-by-step guide will have you rocking the new version of Windows in no time!</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u17625/usbkey_415.jpg" width="415" height="272" /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table border="0" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <h3>Time = 1 hour</h3> <p>What you need: </p> <ul> <li>4GB USB key<br /> $10, <a href="http://www.newegg.com">www.newegg.com</a></li> <li>WinRAR<br /> Free Evaluation Copy, www.rarlab.com</li> <li>Windows 7<br />$99 (OEM) </li> </ul> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p> <strong>Note</strong>: This guide will only work within Windows Vista or 7. </p> <h2>1.    Format Your USB Key <br /></h2> <p>Plug in your USB key and back up any existing data stored on it. You’ll need to format the key before you can make it a bootable device. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/usbwin7/snap002.jpg" width="377" height="485" /></div> <p>Open up a Command Prompt as an Administrator. You can do this by finding the <strong>cmd.exe </strong>in yoru Windows/System32 folder, right-clicking the executable, and selecting “Run as Administrator”. Alternatively, type CMD in the Start Menu search field and activate the Command Prompt using <strong>Ctrl + Shift + Enter</strong>. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/usbwin7/snap016.jpg" width="405" height="539" /></p> <p>You should be under c:\Windows\system32 (assuming your Windows partition is the C drive). Type “diskpart” in the command line to enter the Disk Partition command line tool, which lets you format and create partitions on active disks. </p> <p>Type “list disk” to reveal a list of all your active disks, each of which is associated with a number. Make a note of which one is your USB key, based on the capacity. In our screenshot below, our USB drive is Disk 6 (8GB). </p> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/usbwin7/snap010.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/usbwin7/snap010_sm.jpg" width="400" height="201" /></a></p> <p> Next, type the following commands, one at a time: </p> <p><strong>Select Disk # </strong>(Where # is the number of your USB disk. We typed “Select Disk 6”)</p> <p><strong>Clean </strong>(removes any existing partitions from the USB disk, including any hidden sectors)</p> <p><strong>Create Partition Primary</strong> (Creates a new primary partition with default parameters) </p> <p><strong>Select Partition 1</strong> (Focus on the newly created partition)</p> <p><strong>Active </strong>(Sets the in-focus partition to active, informing the disk firmware that this is a valid system partition) </p> <p><strong>Format FS=NTFS</strong> (Formats the partition with the NTFS file system. This may take several minutes to complete, depending on the size of your USB key.)</p> <p><strong>Assign </strong>(Gives the USB drive a Windows volume and next available drive letter, which you should write down. In our case, drive “L” was assigned.) </p> <p><strong>Exit</strong> (Quits the DiskPart tool)</p> <p align="center"><a href="/files/u17625/snap012.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="/files/u17625/snap012_sm.jpg" width="415" height="311" /></a> </p> <hr /> <h2>2.    Turn the USB Key into a Bootable Device</h2> <p>Insert the Windows 7 install DVD into your drive, and view the files that it contains. Copy all of the files here to a folder on your Desktop. We put the disc contents in a folder named “Windows 7” </p> <p align="center"><a href="/files/u57670/USB_Install1.png" class="thickbox"><img src="/files/u57670/USB_Install1_sm.png" width="405" height="287" /></a></p> <p>Go back to your command prompt, running it as an Administrator. Using the “CD” command, find your way to the folder where you extracted the ISO files. Your command line path should look something like “C:\Users\USERNAMEHERE\Desktop\Windows 7\”.</p> <p>Type the following commands: </p> <p><strong>CD Boot</strong> (This gets you into the “boot” directory)</p> <p><strong>Bootsect.exe /nt60 L:</strong> (where ‘L’ is the drive letter assigned to your USB key from the previous step)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="/files/u57670/USB_Install2_1.png" class="thickbox"><img src="/files/u57670/USB_Install2_sm.png" width="405" height="264" /></a></div> <p>Bootsect infuses boot manager compatible code into your USB key to make it a bootable device. </p> <p><strong>IMPORTANT</strong>: If you’re currently running 32-bit Windows Vista or 7, Bootsect will only work if you use the files from the 32-bit Windows 7 install disc. The Bootsect executable from the 64-bit version will not run in 32-bit Vista. </p> <h2>3.    Load the USB Key Up with the Install Files</h2> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/usbwin7/snap008.jpg" width="416" height="199" /></p> <p>Copy all of the extracted ISO files into the USB drive. You don’t need to do this from the command prompt. Just drag and drop the files from the “Windows 7” folder into the drive using Windows Explorer. </p> <p>Your USB key is now all ready to go! Plug it into your target system and make sure you enter the BIOS (typically with F2 or F12) to temporarily change the boot order to allow booting from the USB key before your primary hard drive or optical drive. On the next restart, your system should automatically begin speedily loading setup files off of the USB key and entering Windows 7 installation. </p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u17625/bios_usb.jpg" width="415" height="311" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><span style="font-size: x-small">[Editor's Note: This article was originally posted as &quot;How To: Install Windows 7 <strong>Beta</strong> from a USB Key!&quot; </span> It has been updated and reposted for the official launch of Windows 7 on Thursday.]</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_to_install_windows_7_beta_a_usb_key#comments how-tos operating system Software Software How-Tos usb key Windows windows 7 windows 7 week Windows How-Tos How-Tos Thu, 22 Oct 2009 13:00:00 +0000 Norman Chan 4902 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Build a Kick-Ass Windows Home Server http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_build_kickass_windows_home_server <!--paging_filter--><h3>How to build a Windows Home Server to back up your PCs and stream all your movies, music and photos <br /></h3> <table border="0" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <script type="text/javascript"> digg_url = 'http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/master_your_digital_domain'; </script><script src="http://digg.com/tools/diggthis.js" type="text/javascript"></script></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <script type="text/javascript"> tweetmeme_url = 'http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/master_your_digital_domain'; </script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://tweetmeme.com/i/scripts/button.js"></script></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Your PC’s hard drive is probably packed to the platter’s edge with hundreds of ripped DVD videos, gigabytes of digital photos from your camera, and tens of thousands of songs. And that’s not even counting the high-definition digital video from your last family vacation that you’re still planning to unload. But with terabytes of media just gathering dust on your desktop PC, you risk losing years of aggregated files when your hard drive inevitably gives out (don’t even think about backing it all up to the cloud). Our solution: Keep all your data backed up on a Windows Home Sever. More than just a generic NAS box, Windows Home Server maintains backups, streams media files, and works as a file share across your home network. And the best part is that you can build one yourself—we’ll show you how!</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/1_opener_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/1_opener_405.jpg" width="405" height="286" /></a></div> <h2>Windows Home Server: An Overview<br /></h2> <p>More than just a stripped-down version of Windows Server 2003, WHS has numerous features that make it ideal for small home networks</p> <h3>No-Hassle Backups</h3> <p>WHS’s primary function is providing automatic backups for computers on your home network. You can schedule daily backups for up to 10 Windows machines, and you have the option of picking specific local drives or excluding individual folders from backup. The backups aren’t image-based, either: WHS looks at the file system and stores only one copy of every file on its data partition, regardless of how many PCs that file appears on. WHS also monitors the antivirus and firewall status of all client PCs, a useful tool for home admins.</p> <h3>Intuitive File Sharing</h3> <p>The WHS administrator can create user accounts that give friends and family members access to shared files on the server, as well as a password-protected account folder to store personal files. Users’ PCs access the server like they would any other network-attached storage device, and they have the option of enabling data redundancy to duplicate selected folders across multiple physical drives on the home server. </p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/2_filesys_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/2_filesys_405.jpg" width="405" height="283" /></a></div> <p><strong>You can add up to 10 Windows machines to back up with WHS, as long as their drives are formatted using the NTFS file system.</strong> <br /> <h3>Robust Remote Access</h3> </p><p>Getting access to your files and managing backups on WHS remotely is easy as well. Users can use the provided Console Connector client software to change their own backup settings, navigate the file system in Windows Explorer with a network address, or even remote desktop into the server. Read more about remote access later in this article.</p> <h3>Versatile Media Streaming</h3> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u7/leadart_1.jpg" width="415" height="193" /> </p> <p>Built into the latest version of WHS is the Windows Media Connect UPnP server software, which lets any compatible digital media receiver (like the Xbox 360, PS3, or Windows Media Player 11) stream movies and music off the home network. WHS’s Power Pack 2 update added support for MP4 video files and metadata, and third-party add-ins and server software enable advanced features like real-time video transcoding, so you can stream almost any file type.</p> <h3>Easy Expandability</h3> <p align="center"> <img src="/files/u21826/header-WDGreen2TB.png" width="410" height="250" /></p> <p>One of the coolest things about WHS is its ability to seamlessly integrate any new hard drives into its data partition. Whether you’re adding new internal SATA drives or plugging in additional USB hard drives, WHS will automatically format new storage devices so all drives are treated as a single unified storage space. Replacing older hard drives is also relatively easy, though the removal process may take several hours as WHS relocates backup files to the remaining physical drives.</p> <hr /> <h2>Build Your Own Windows Home Server</h2> <p>Why settle for the limitations of a store-bought server when you can build one that's even better?</p> <p>Even though several PC manufacturers offer complete Windows Home Server solutions (like the ones reviewed later in this article), there are many advantages to building one yourself. Most WHS packages are limited to a maximum of four storage drives, and generally include a 1TB drive to get you started. Our build allows for up to six internal SATA drives, with a starting capacity of 4TB (two 2TB drives). Additionally, we included a dual-core Athlon processor, which is far better suited for video transcoding tasks than the typical Atom or Celeron that’s included in current WHS builds. Finally, even though our build is a little more expensive than pre-assembled offerings, WHS software runs perfectly on normal PC hardware, so we recommend that you scavenge parts from old PCs to save on costs.</p> <h3>The Parts List</h3> <p><strong>Case:</strong> Antec 200<br />$59, <a href="http://www.antec.com" target="_blank">www.antec.com</a></p> <p><strong>Motherboard:</strong> Asus M4A78 Pro<br />$110, <a href="http://www.asus.com" target="_blank">www.asus.com</a></p> <p><strong>Processor:</strong> AMD Athlon X2 240<br />$61, <a href="http://www.amd.com" target="_blank">www.amd.com</a></p> <p><strong>RAM:</strong> 2GB Corsair DDR2<br />$40, <a href="http://www.corsair.com" target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></p> <p><strong>Storage:</strong> (2) 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green<br />$440, <a href="http://www.wdc.com" target="_blank">www.wdc.com</a></p> <p><strong>Power Supply:</strong> Rosewill RP550-2<br />$55, <a href="http://www.rosewill.com" target="_blank">www.rosewill.com</a></p> <p><strong>OS:</strong> Windows Home Server OEM<br />$95, <a href="http://www.microsoft.com" target="_blank">www.microsoft.com</a></p> <h3><strong>TOTAL: </strong>$860</h3> <h3><em>Optical Optional</em></h3> <p>We omitted a DVD drive ($20) from our parts list because, aside from installing the OS, you're never going to need an optical drive for your server. WHS can be installed from an external  USB DVD drive, but we also recommend installing from a 2GB USB key ($10).</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/3_optical_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/3_optical_405.jpg" width="405" height="302" /></a></div> <h3>1. Prep the Case</h3> <p>We picked the Antec 200 because it’s an inexpensive chassis with six 3.5-inch drive bays. It also one-ups other budget cases by including an external easy-swap SATA bay, which is convenient if you plan on frequently replacing your WHS’s drives. The included 14cm fans also have adjustable rpm switches, so you can turn them down to keep the system whisper-quiet. To start, you’ll have to snap in the motherboard’s included I/O shield in the back of the case (image A), and then screw nine motherboard stands into the belly of the chassis (image B). We also took this opportunity to install the power supply (image C). </p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/1_a_prep_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/1_a_prep_305.jpg" width="305" height="458" /></a><br /><strong>(image A)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/1_b_prep_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/1_b_prep_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image B)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/1_c_prep_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/1_c_prep_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image C)</strong></div> <hr /> <h3>2. Insert the CPU</h3> <p>Next, place the motherboard on a static-free surface and install the CPU. Make sure to align the CPU properly (matching the triangle on one of its corners to the mark on the motherboard) before locking it into the socket (image A). Once the CPU is in place, plant the stock cooler on top of the proc and clamp it into the plastic bracket (image B). Then plug the cooler’s three-pin fan connector into the motherboard.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/2_a_cpu_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/2_a_cpu_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image A)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div align="center" style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/2_b_cpu_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/2_b_cpu_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image B) <p></p></strong></div> <h3>3. Drop in the Motherboard and RAM</h3> <p>With the case flat on its side, carefully place the mother-board inside, aligning its screw holes on top of the standoffs (image A). The Asus M4A78 is a full ATX-size motherboard with six SATA ports. It also has onboard video output, which we’ll use to access the BIOS and also install the WHS software. With the motherboard screwed into place, insert your two 1GB RAM modules into slots 1 and 3, which allows the DIMMs to run in dual-channel mode (image B).</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/3_a_fan_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/3_a_fan_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image A)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/3_b_ram_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/3_b_ram_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image B)</strong>  </div> <h3>4. Mount the Drives</h3> <p>Now it’s time to install your WHS’s hard drives. With the case side panels removed, slide each drive into an open bay until its screw holes are visible from the side. Affix each drive using four screws. We went with two large-capacity drives to give our server ample storage space without having to worry about replacing drives anytime soon. WHS partitions 20GB for the operating system, and then corrals the rest of the disk capacity into one extended storage space using symbolic links to trick the file system into thinking you have only one really big hard drive.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/4_mount_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/4_mount_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a></div> <hr /> <h3>5. Attach SATA Cables</h3> <p>Use the included SATA data cables to connect both of the drives to the motherboard (image A). We also connected a third SATA cable to the case’s easy-swap drive slot, which rests right above the internal drive bays. After the data cables are attached, connect the SATA power cables from the power supply to the drives as well (image B).</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/5_a_sata_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/5_a_sata_405.jpg" width="305" height="458" /></a><br /><strong>(image A) <p></p></strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/5_b_sata_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/5_b_sata_305.jpg" width="305" height="458" /></a><br /><strong>(image B)</strong> </div> <h3>6. Wire It Up!</h3> <p>With all of the physical hardware in place, it’s time to wire up the loose ends. We want to be able to plug USB keys and portable hard drives into the front of our WHS, so we plugged the case’s two front-panel USB cables into the motherboard (image A). The other front-panel connectors, including the power switches and LEDs, are easily attached to the motherboard using Asus’s motherboard adapter (image B). You’ll also want to direct power to the case fans using four-pin Molex connectors from the power supply (image C). Finally, give your motherboard some juice by attaching both the main 24-pin ATX connection and four-pin CPU power connector to the motherboard (image D).</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_a_wire_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_a_wire_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image A)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_b_wire_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_b_wire_405.jpg" width="405" height="269" /></a><br /><strong>(image B)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_c_wire_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_c_wire_305.jpg" width="305" height="458" /></a><br /><strong>(image C)</strong> </div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_d_wire_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/6_d_wire_305.jpg" width="305" height="458" /></a><br /><strong>(image D)</strong></div> <hr /> <h3>7. Install Windows Home Server</h3> <p>On to the software! If you opted for an optical drive (either internal or external), you can just pop in the Windows Home Sever installation disc and run the traditional install. Alternatively, you can create a bootable USB key (<a href="/article/howtos/howto_make_bootable_usb_key">instructions here</a>), copy the contents of the WHS disc (about 800MB) to the key, and install from there. You’ll need to enter the BIOS (by hitting the Del key at startup) to configure the appropriate boot order—make the first boot option DVD for an optical install and USB for the key. The installation process is very straightforward (even simpler than a normal Windows install)—you’ll only be prompted to give the server a name and input an administrator password. Once the installation is complete, attach the server to your home network. </p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/7_a_whs_only.jpg" width="405" height="284" /> </div> <p> <h3>8. Add Clients to Your Server</h3> </p><p>To configure your server and administer backups, you’ll need to install the WHS Connector password on client PCs. The software is included on a disc with your copy of WHS, but we found it easier to install it straight off of the network. Open a web browser on your personal PC and enter <strong>http://<em>servername</em>:55000</strong> into the address bar, with “servername” being the network name of the server you assigned earlier (image A). You should be taken to a page called Windows Home Sever Connector Setup, which has a link to download the Connector software. Download and run the install program, which will automatically detect your server on the network and prompt you for the server’s administrator password (image B).</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/8_a_add_only.jpg" width="405" height="191" /><br /><strong>(image A)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/8_b_add_only.jpg" width="405" height="224" /><br /><strong>(image B)</strong></div> <p>Once the Connector software is installed, launch it to enter the WHS Console. The first thing you should do is click the Settings button on the upper right and click the Update Now button under the General tab. This will run Windows Update to download and install the latest patches and security fixes for WHS, as well as any WHS Power Packs that might be available (image C). In the next section, we’ll go over the features and functions of the Console.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/8_c_add_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/buildsteps/8_c_add_405.jpg" width="405" height="328" /></a><br /><strong>(image C)</strong></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"> <hr /></div> <h2>The Windows Home Server Console</h2> <p><em>The Console puts all common server chores into one convenient location</em> </p> <h3>Computers and Backup</h3> <p>Every computer that you install the Windows Home Connector software on will appear here. Up to 10 PCs can be queued for backup, and you can initiate instant backups or view backup files from this tab. To utilize backups, WHS creates a read-only virtual volume on your client PC, mounting the backup files so you can retrieve individual files. One caveat to backups is that you can configure only one backup time window for all your PCs. WHS runs through all the PCs sequentially, so if you don’t allot enough time, not every client may be backed up in one session. We recommend that you create a wide enough backup window (during the day or at night) so that every computer can be backed up daily.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/1_sharedfolders_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/1_sharedfolders_405.jpg" width="405" height="287" /></a><br /> <div align="left"><strong>Backed-up volumes don't automatically get sorted into the Shared Folder categories unless you're running HP's proprietary Media Collector software.</strong></div> </div> <h3>User Accounts</h3> <p>You can use this tab to add user accounts, which are separate from the list of machines marked for backups. Users have individual logon names (ideally the same logon name they use for their Windows desktop), and as the administrator, you can toggle remote access permissions for each user. WHS also lets you enable a Guest account, but this can end up being a security hole. We recommend that you create a generic user account that you can share with friends whom you want to have access to public folders on the server.</p> <h3>Shared Folders</h3> <p>By default, WHS creates five category-specific shared folders that you can use for file sharing and media streaming. Media files found in backups won’t be shown here, but some Add-ins will automatically find and sort files found in attached portable storage devices to these shared folders. Adding a shared folder is easy, and you can toggle on file duplication for individual folders if you want to store redundant copies on multiple hard drives in case one disk fails. We enabled duplication for our build, since the 2TB drives can easily handle both system backup and folder duplication duties.</p> <h3>Server Storage</h3> <p>This tab shows the status of all the physical hard drives connected to the server. A pie chart provides a visual representation of how different types of files (shared folders, backups, and duplication files) are distributed on the server, and you can also use this tab to manually add or remove connected drives from the hive. While this tab is useful, we recommend installing the Disk Management Add-in for a more informative view of how data is being stored on individual drives.</p> <h3>Settings</h3> <p>The Settings window, which we accessed earlier to apply updates, is the most powerful component of the Console. Here, you configure the backup session time period, passwords, and remote access settings. It’s also the place where you install and manage third-party Add-ins.</p> <h2>Getting There: Four Ways to Access Your WHS </h2> <h3>Console Software</h3> <p>This is the only way to get your PC set up for backups and to configure user accounts (as explained above). </p> <h3>Network Folder</h3> <p>Users can browse Shared Folders or their own user folder by typing <em>\\servername</em> into Windows Explorer, with your server’s network name in place of “servername.” </p> <h3>Remote Access Website</h3> <p>Enabling website connectivity in Settings lets you set up your router to accept connections from users off of your home network. Your WHS license entitles you to a personalized website under the homeserver.com domain, so you and your users don’t have to remember your IP address. </p> <h3>Remote Desktop</h3> <p>If your PC is using Windows XP SP2 or newer, you can use Remote Desktop to access your WHS’s desktop. This is useful for installing non-Add-in software like TVersity. Older PCs can download the Remote Desktop connection software manually at <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=80111f21-d48d-426e-96c2-08aa2bd23a49&amp;displaylang=en" target="_blank">microsoft.com/downloads</a>. </p> <h2>Alternative Home Server Options </h2> <h3><a href="/article/reviews/hp_mediasmart_lx195" target="_blank">HP MediaSmart LX195</a></h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="/article/reviews/hp_mediasmart_lx195" target="_blank"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/2_hpserver_305.jpg" width="233" height="333" /></a></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><a href="/article/reviews/acer_easystore_h340" target="_blank">Acer easyStore H340 </a><br /></h3> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="/article/reviews/acer_easystore_h340" target="_blank"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/3_acerserver_305.jpg" width="305" height="333" /></a></div> <div style="text-align: center"> </div> <div style="text-align: center"> <hr /></div> <h2>5 Essential Windows Home Server Add-Ins</h2> <p><em>Third-party apps can extend the functionality of your home server</em></p> <p>In addition to its native features, Windows Home Server allows you to install community-developed Add-ins that introduce new features and security to your server. To run an Add-in, download its .msi install file and place it in the server’s<strong> \Server\Software\Add-ins</strong> folder using an administrator user account. The Add-in will show up within the Settings window, under the Available Add-ins tab. Just click the install button and you’re set. Some of these Add-ins are still in beta stages, so you might encounter bugs.</p> <h3>Advanced Admin Console</h3> <p>This Add-in creates a new tab in your WHS Console window. From here, you can access your server’s Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Start Menu, and even Recycle Bin, just as if you were using Windows XP. It’s particularly useful when you want to tweak registry settings or remove programs installed on the server using remote desktop. The newest version incorporates support for Internet Explorer 8 and limited Windows Search integration (which works well because files stored on WHS are automatically indexed). </p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/4_adminconsole_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/4_adminconsole_405.jpg" width="405" height="286" /></a></div> <p>Download at: <a href="http://www.home-server-addins.com/archives/235" target="_blank">http://www.home-server-addins.com/archives/235</a></p> <h3>Disk Management</h3> <p>The more hard drives you add to your home server build, the more you’ll want to know how WHS is managing disk space across your storage pool. Disk Management provides detailed data about each drive, including real-time network activity, temperature, capacity, and file type usage. With this information, you’ll know which drives to replace first when upgrading, and which drives are acting up before an impending crash. The coolest feature: a fully customizable 3D wireframe of your entire storage array. </p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/5_diskmanage_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/5_diskmanage_405.jpg" width="405" height="284" /></a></div> <p>Download at: <a href="http://www.tentaclesoftware.com/WHSDiskManagement/" target="_blank">http://www.tentaclesoftware.com/WHSDiskManagement/</a></p> <h3>Web Folders 4 WHS</h3> <p>The website interface for remotely connected users is functional, but simply not powerful enough for extensive data transfers (especially since you must use Internet Explorer). With Web Folder 4 WHS, online users can access your WHS with mapped network drives created under My Computer or My Network Places (in XP). Shared WHS folders then appear as network folders, and you can drag and drop files like you would any local directory. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/webfolders_sm.png" width="405" height="173" /> </p> <p>Download at: <a href="http://www.brendangrant.com/WHS/WebFolders4WHS/default.htm" target="_blank">http://www.brendangrant.com/WHS/WebFolders4WHS/default.htm</a></p> <h3>PhotoSync</h3> <p>This Add-in monitors your server’s shared Photos folder and automatically uploads found photos to a linked Flickr account. You can customize subfolders so the Add-in won’t upload all of your photos, and also adjust the frequency with which the software will check for new photos. This tool is especially cool when combined with the Web Folders Add-in, so multiple users can contribute and add photos to one community Flickr album. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/photosync_sm.png" width="405" height="287" /> </p> <p>Download at: <a href="http://edholloway.com/Blog/archive/2007/06/21/PhotoSync-Beta2-for-Windows-Home-Server-is-Available_2100_.aspx" target="_blank">edholloway.com</a></p> <h3>My Movies</h3> <p>If you plan on storing a lot of movies and music on your WHS, you’ll want to download the My Movies Add-in, which runs through your media library and adds community-generated meta-data to all recognized files. This makes browsing through movies in Windows Media Center much easier, since it facilitates browsing movies by their DVD covers. Additional conveniences such as automatic CD and DVD ripping are also available, but have to be unlocked with a $50 donation to the creators. </p> <p>Download at: <a href="http://www.mymovies.dk/products/my-movies-for-windows-home-server.aspx" target="_blank">http://www.mymovies.dk/products/my-movies-for-windows-home-server.aspx</a></p> <hr /> <h2>WHS Power User Tweaks and Tips</h2> <p><em>To truly master your digital domain, you'll want to optimize your home server's performance</em> </p> <h3>Beef up the Swap File</h3> <p>Enlarging and optimizing WHS’s swap file can help when you’re running multiple Add-ins and streaming lots of media. It’s especially useful if you purchased a Home Server with just 512MB of RAM. To change the size of the swap file, install the Advanced Admin Console Add-in and access WHS’s Control Panel. Double-click the System icon in the list to bring up the System Properties window. Under the Advanced tab, click the Settings button to bring up the Performance Options window.</p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/swapfile.PNG" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/swapfile_sm.png" width="405" height="285" /></a></p> <p>Under this new window’s Advanced tab, click the “Change” button under the Virtual Memory section. Now select the <strong>C:[SYS]</strong> drive and change the page file’s custom size to <strong>Range</strong>. The Initial Size should be set to 1.5 times the capacity of the RAM installed on the system, while the <strong>Maximum Size</strong> should be set to three times the amount of RAM. For example, in a system with 1GB of memory installed, the initial size of the page file should be 1,500MB and the Maximum Size should be 3,000MB.<strong><br /></strong></p> <h3>Don’t Just Back up, Sync!</h3> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/synctoy1.PNG" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/synctoy1_sm.png" width="405" height="334" /></a> </p> <p>If you download a lot of media files or use BitTorrent to schedule downloads to your local drive, you can set up Windows Home Sever to automatically perform a one-way sync of files from your desktop to WHS using Microsoft’s SyncToy software (<a href="http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=c26efa36-98e0-4ee9-a7c5-98d0592d8c52&amp;displaylang=en" target="_blank">microsoft.com/downloads</a>). SyncToy pairs two folders from anywhere on your network and ensures that all the files in one folder are duplicated in the other. For example, you can set up SyncToy to watch a video downloads folder on your desktop and automatically copy any new files that show up to the Videos Share on your WHS, which then makes the file available for media streaming. SyncToy is ideal because you can configure the pairing to be in “Contribute” mode only, meaning it won’t remove files from your WHS if you delete the original version.<strong><br /></strong></p> <h3>Transcode High Definition Video</h3> <p>Windows Home Server includes media server software that is recognizable by other computers and game consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, these receiving devices don’t have a wide selection of video codecs to process all video file types, including the popular Xvid codec and the Matroska multimedia container (.mkv). To play these files, you’ll have to install a media server that can transcode your videos into supported formats. The trick is that these programs aren’t WHS Add-ins—you’ll have to download and install them on your server’s desktop just as you would any normal program in Windows. </p> <p><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/6_transcode_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><br /> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/page42/6_transcode_405.jpg" width="405" height="273" /></div> <p></p></a></p> <p>We’ve had success with TVersity (follow the instructions from <a href="/article/streaming?page=0%2C1" target="_blank">our Streaming Guide</a>), but another program we recommend is the <a href="http://ps3mediaserver.blogspot.com" target="_blank">PS3 Media Server</a>, which also works on the Xbox 360. Just download the latest Windows build, copy the file to a folder on your server, and run the install wizard using remote desktop. The PS3 Media Server will automatically run on startup, and you can configure its transcoding settings to downsample audio or lower video bitrate to accommodate your network’s bandwidth limitations (i.e., streaming video over Wi-Fi versus wired).</p> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/ps3media.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/ps3media_sm.png" width="405" height="304" /></a> </p> <h2><strong>Quick Tips</strong> </h2> <p>Set your WHS's automatic update time to be different and far removed from the scheduled backup time.  </p> <p>Split up your files into many Shared Folders (i.e., TV and Movie folders instead of just one Video folder) to facilitate more efficient file duplication. </p> <p>Disable WHS active notifications on client machines by right-clicking the Console icon in the taskbar (for the more computer-illiterate users on your home network). </p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: center"> <div align="left"> </div> </div> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_build_kickass_windows_home_server#comments Acer Build console easystore features file sharing home server how-tos hp mediasmart Windows Windows How-Tos 2009 November 2009 From the Magazine Features How-Tos Thu, 08 Oct 2009 16:00:00 +0000 Norman Chan 8185 at http://www.maximumpc.com How-To: Make a Bootable USB Key http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_make_bootable_usb_key <!--paging_filter--><p>A bootable USB key is a convenient way to install operating systems on netbooks without optical drives, or carrying around a Live OS with you at all times. It especially makes sense if you're installing software on a machine that otherwise has no need for an optical drive, such as a <a href="/article/features/master_your_digital_domain">Windows Home Server</a>. Here’s a definitive guide to making a bootable USB key with either Vista or Windows 7 in just 9 steps. </p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u17625/usbkey_415.jpg" width="415" height="272" /></p> <p>1.    Find and right-click the Windows Command Prompt in your Start Menu and choose to run it as an Administrator.</p> <p>2.    At the prompt, enter <strong>diskpart </strong>to launch Microsoft’s disk management utility. The command line should now read “DISKPART&gt;”.</p> <p>3.    Type <strong>list disk</strong> to show a list of all disk drives. If your USB key is plugged into your PC, it should be listed here, along with other physical drives. Note the USB key’s disk number – you can pick it out by looking at the disk capacity.</p> <p>4.    Type <strong>select disk </strong>#, with the USB key’s disk number in place of #.</p> <p>5.    Type <strong>clean </strong>for the utility to clean the disk, which DiskPart will confirm.</p> <p>6.    Create a new bootable partition by entering <strong>create partition primary</strong>. </p> <p>7.    Choose this partition with <strong>select partition 1</strong>, and then mark it as active by typing <strong>active</strong>.  </p> <p>8.    Format the key by inputting <strong>format fs=fat32</strong>. This should take a few minutes, and DiskPart will display a progress percentage. </p> <p>9.    Lastly, type <strong>assign </strong>to give this USB key a drive letter. Close the DiskPart program using <strong>exit</strong>. </p> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/diskpart1.PNG" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/windowshomeserver/diskpart1_sm.png" width="405" height="415" /></a> </p> <p>You can now copy your OS’s installation files from the original DVD onto the key. We also recommend copying your hardware drivers onto the same key so the OS installation wizard can find them. </p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_make_bootable_usb_key#comments boot how-tos Software Software How-Tos usb usb key Windows Windows How-Tos How-Tos Thu, 08 Oct 2009 14:00:00 +0000 Norman Chan 8276 at http://www.maximumpc.com How-To: Use the Local Group Policy Editor to Tweak Windows http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_use_local_group_policy_editor_tweak_your_pc <!--paging_filter--><p>Microsoft has a penchant for hiding some of the strongest, most versatile tools for managing their operating system in places you’d never find by yourself. 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<w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:1; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:0 0 0 0 0 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:RU; mso-fareast-language:RU;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; 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mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} </style> <![endif]--><p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman','serif'">—s</span>ome of the tools can easily screw up your computer pretty badly. But you, Maximum PC reader, are not one of the clueless masses, so we’re going to trust you with this: The Local Group Policy Editor. </p> <p>In this article, we’ll show you how to use the Local Group Policy Editor to tweak every aspect of your PC. We’ll also show you how to use Multiple Local Group Policy Objects on a Windows Vista or 7 computer to create different policies for different user accounts, allowing you to create an account just for guests, or for the kids. </p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe1.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe1_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" width="405" height="248" /></a></div> <p> <h3>Making a system restore point<br /></h3> </p><p>The Local Group Policy Editor is a powerful tool, capable of putting a lock on nearly any of your computer’s capabilities. Now, as long as you’re careful and don’t go flipping virtual switches all willy-nilly, you should be able to prevent doing catastrophic damage to your operating system. But just in case, now would be a great time to create a system restore point.</p> <h3>Launching the Local Group Policy Editor<br /></h3> <p>As a high-expertise tool, you won’t find the Local Group Policy Editor anywhere in your system’s control panel. Instead, open the Run dialogue box from the start menu, type gpedit.msc and hit enter. The Local Group Policy Editor will open.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe2.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe2_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>At first glance, the Group Policy Window looks like a standard file explorer, with a tree view on the left side and folder view on the right. At the bottom of the right-hand section of the window, there are two tabs. If this is the first time you’ve opened the Group Policy Editor, the Standard tab should be selected. Click on the Extended tab. </p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe3.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe3_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>Now, you should see a third element in the middle of the window. This will give you (semi) detailed information about any policy or folder that you click on. Since there’s thousands of policy options in the editor, these explanations are a must. Also, the information panel tells you for which versions of Windows that policy has an effect.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe4.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe4_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <h3>Where to look<br /></h3> <p>With thousands upon thousands of settings in the group policy editor, it can be a little intimidating to try and look around. Some sections of the editor have more meat to them than others, though. For instance, for most of the Windows tweaks you might want to perform, <strong>User Configuration </strong>has more useful setting than <strong>Computer Configuration</strong>. Also, In either section, the <strong>Administrative Templates</strong> subsection is the most useful. This section contains all the registry-based settings, which will allow you to tweak aspects of how Windows looks and operates.</p> <hr /> <h3>How to Change a Setting<br /></h3> <p>To enable a policy setting, just double-click on it, and then select the radial button labeled “Enabled” and click Ok. With some settings, before you actually see any change, you’ll need to close the group policy editor, then log out and log back in to Windows.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe5.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe5_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p> <h3>Here are a few ideas for how to use Group Policy to tweak your rig:</h3> <h2><strong>Customize Your Start Menu</strong><br /></h2> </p><p>In any version of Windows, one of the most frequently used parts of the GUI is the start menu, where you can launch programs and access all the vital locations in your PC’s file structure. You can customize the start menu, to an extent, by editing the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties in the control panel, but if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty you’ll need to use the Group Policy Editor.</p> <p>You can find all of the policies associated with the start Menu in User Configuration &gt; Administration Templates &gt; Start Menu and Taskbar. There are tons of options to look at here, and the info panel will help you figure out what they all do, but here’s a few interesting ones, to get started:</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe6.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe6_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p><strong>Add Search Internet link to Start Menu</strong></p> <p>Enabling this setting will add a link to the start menu search bar which opens your default browser and performs a search for your term. Requires Windows 7 or Server 2008.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe7.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe7_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p><strong>Turn off user tracking</strong></p> <p>Don’t like that your PC keeps track of which programs you run and which documents you open? Enable this policy setting to tell Windows not to keep track of this information. Turning off tracking will disable features that use the information, like the frequently used program lists.<br /><strong><br />Turn off automatic promotion of notification icons to the taskbar</strong></p> <p>Are  you the type that likes to keep your taskbar host to only the icons that you specify? If so, turn this setting on to keep Windows from letting any icons into the taskbar without your permission. This is only available in Windows 7.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe8.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe8_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <h2>Change Your Login Screen Background</h2> <p>Using the Group Policy Editor, you can change the image used as the background of the login screen.To do so, simply go the <strong>Computer Configuration &gt; Administrative Templates &gt; System &gt; Logon</strong> folder, and enable the <strong>Always use custom logon background </strong>setting.</p> <p>Now, if you place and image called <strong>backgroundDefault.jpg </strong>in <strong>C:\Windows\System32\oobe\info\backgrounds </strong>Windows will use that image as the background of the logon screen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="/files/u57670/greenshot_2009-10-06_17-31-52.png"><img src="/files/u57670/greenshot_2009-10-06_17-31-52_sm.png" width="405" height="246" /></a></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h1>Using Multiple Local Group Policy Objects</h1> <p>The group policy editor, as you’ve used it so far, is excellent for making changes to an entire system. But what should you do if you want to have several accounts on a single machine with different policies for each? For instance, what if you want to have an account for your friends to use, but you don’t want them installing stuff on your computer, or you’d like an account for your kids, which can’t change settings or delete files? Windows has made this possible in Windows Vista and later, with Multiple Local Group Policy Objects.</p> <p>You are able to manage multiple policy objects by creating a custom control console, using the Microsoft Management Console. This console will contain 4 group policy editor &quot;snap-ins,&quot; each with a different domain. One will effect the entire system, one will effect all administrator accounts, one will effect all non-administrator accounts, and one will effect a specific user account that you have created. When there are contradictions in group policy, the most narrowly-defined group takes precedence. That is to say, if you define one policy for the entire computer, and a conflicting policy for a single account,the policy specified for the single account will be the one applied.</p> <p>Here’s how to set up a custom control panel with the ability to assign group policy to individual accounts:</p> <p>1. If you don’t already have a secondary account on your computer, create a new one. This can be done by right clicking on <strong>My Computer</strong> and selecting <strong>Manage</strong>, then navigating to the <strong>Local Users and Groups &gt; Users</strong> tab, and right-clicking. Make sure that the new account you create is not an administrator.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe9.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe9_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>2. From your computer’s administrator account, open the Run dialogue, and type <strong>mmc.exe</strong>.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe10.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe10_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>3. In the window labeled <strong>Console1</strong>, click on <strong>File &gt; Add/Remove Snap-in</strong>.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe11.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe11_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>4. From the Available Snap-ins list in the dialogue box that opens up, select <strong>Group Policy Object Editor</strong>, then click <strong>Add</strong>.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe12.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe12_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>5. Another dialogue box, labeled <strong>Select Group Policy Object </strong>will open up. Under “Group Policy Object,” the <strong>Local Computer</strong> option should be selected. Click <strong>Finish</strong>.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe13.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe13_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>6. Repeat steps 4-5, but when you get to the <strong>Select Group Policy Object</strong> dialogue box, click <strong>Browse</strong> and select the group called <strong>Administrators</strong>. Repeat this process two more times, once selecting the group called<strong> Non-Administrators</strong> and once selecting the individual account you want to be able to create policies for.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe14.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe14_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>7. Finally, in the <strong>Console1</strong> window, click <strong>File &gt; Save</strong>, and choose a name and a location to save your custom console to. You’ll run this console whenever you want to edit group policy settings.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe15.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/grouppolicy/gpe15_sm.png" alt="Group Policy Image" title="Group Policy Image" /></a></div> <p>Now, you've got a single control console with policy editors that will allow you to specify exactly which policies apply to which users. Stricly speaking, you don't need the consoles for Administrator and non-Administrator Users if you just want to make one account with different policies, but it doesn't hurt to include them in the console, and including them illustrates how you can apply group policy to user groups, as well as individual users.  </p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/howto_use_local_group_policy_editor_tweak_your_pc#comments administration how-tos Software Software How-Tos Windows Windows How-Tos How-Tos Wed, 07 Oct 2009 16:00:00 +0000 Alex Castle 8245 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Run Windows Software (and Games) on Linux with Wine http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_run_windows_software_and_games_linux_wine <!--paging_filter--><p>Although the various Linux distributions have a wide variety of software available, you may have a few Windows programs that you may not be willing or able to part with. Although many people dual-boot or use virtual machines to get around this problem, there is yet another potential option that many people new to Linux may not have considered--- Wine. Wine stands out from the other options because it does not require a separate Windows license. </p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u45848/winehq_logo_350.jpg" width="350" height="166" /> </p> <h2>Wine Overview</h2> <p>Wine is a program that allows you to run Microsoft Windows programs on Linux. Although it is emulator-like in appearance and by observation, Wine is not an emulator; in fact, the very name of Wine is an acronym for Wine is not an Emulator. A true emulator can emulate CPU architecture in addition to the actual software it is running. For instance, a program that could execute Intel x86-based Windows software on SPARC-based systems running the Solaris operating system would be a true emulator. However, Wine is actually a compatibility layer since both Windows and Wine run natively on x86 and no hardware emulation is required. </p> <p>Wine works by recreating a miniature Windows installation in your home folder, (the .wine directory) complete with a virtual C:\ (drive_c) and registry. Contained within drive_c is a Program Files folder and a Windows folder complete with a system32 folder that has the most important Windows system files in it. Please note that these files are recreations of the Windows files of the same name rather than being the actual files that are included in a real Windows installation. In other words, the user32.dll file that comes with Wine is not the same file as the user32.dll that can be found in a real 32-bit Windows installation. Instead, each of the dll files in a Wine environment has been painstakingly reverse-engineered to match the functionality of the original as much as possible. Wine can also use actual Windows drivers if need be, but you must supply these yourself. Furthermore, Wine has its own implementation of the Windows registry with a knock-off of Regedit to configure it. </p> <p>A compatibility layer like Wine is capable of translating Windows system calls to Linux system calls. Although it works as a translation layer, Wine runs in userland like any other program on Linux and has nothing to do with the Linux kernel. Everything a Windows binary does when you run it is funneled through Wine before being passed through to the rest of the Linux system. If the libraries needed by a Windows program are installed, this functionality allows the Windows software to run on Linux to some extent. This ultimately allows Wine to re-create the Windows API in a state that is somewhat similar to Windows XP. Some programs work better than others, but Wine is constantly improving and the list of fully compatible programs is always getting bigger. While Wine may run some programs adequately enough for production use, this will not be the case for every program you may need to use. </p> <p>Although Wine strives to work as well as possible, it is not always a perfect solution for every problem.  Wine's functionality is still determined on a per-program basis, and this may fluctuate drastically when you factor in certain variables that are determined based on your system configuration. <a href="http://www.winehq.org/">WineHQ </a>(the Wine developers' website) has a database of programs, with each entry assigned a rating based on how well it works on Wine. The ratings run from Platinum (works perfectly with no configuration required) on the high end to “Garbage” (does not work at all) on the low end. This rating may change from distro to distro, and may even fluctuate between distro versions; for instance, a hypothetical program may have a “Platinum” rating on Ubuntu 9.04, a “Gold” rating on Ubuntu 8.10, “Silver” on Gentoo, and a “Garbage” rating on any version of Mandriva.  If the program you want to run has a “Garbage” rating, your only real choice is to dual-boot or use a virtual machine to run it. The good news is that once a program is in a usable state, it will probably stay that way in future versions of Wine unless you do something to break it. </p> <h2>Acquiring Wine</h2> <p>There are several ways to acquire Wine for any Linux distro. While most distros include a Wine binary somewhere in the main software repositories, the binary in question may be quite old and will not offer the best possible performance. With Wine, you should always use the latest version. Therefore, the best option is to acquire a Wine binary directly from WineHQ. For instance, Ubuntu users are able to add the WineHQ repository to their sources.list file. Binaries from WineHQ are updated regularly and are usually the latest stable version. However, not all distros have a separate WineHQ build.  If your distro has a separate WineHQ repository, you should definitely use it, since this method allows you to keep your Wine installation up-to-date with the latest stable version without having to download and install packages manually every time there is an update. </p> <p>For Ubuntu, add “deb http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt $version main”. ($version should be the nickname of your Ubuntu version, like hardy, intrepid, jaunty, karmic, etc) to your /etc/apt/sources.list file. (you need to use sudo or root for this) Next, add the GPG key for the repository: “wget -q http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt/387EE263.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add -” Finally, run “sudo apt-get update” and then “sudo apt-get install wine”.</p> <p align="center"><a href="/files/u17625/opensuse-install.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/wine/wine_03_sm.jpg" width="405" height="338" /></a> </p> <p>For OpenSUSE, (We assume you are using 11.1) add the following repository through YaST's Repository Management tool: “http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Emulators:/Wine/openSUSE_11.1/” YaST will verify the repository and then install the key. Open the software installation tool in YaST and search for Wine. Choose the wine-snapshot package (make sure it comes from the WineHQ repository) and then install it. </p> <p>Fedora users should just run “yum install wine” as root since that distro has no special repository for cutting-edge releases. <br />Likewise, Mandriva users should install the most recent version of Wine from the Mandriva software management tool. <br />Alternatively, you can always download the source from WineHQ and compile your own Wine binary-- you have to do it that way if you need to hack in extra functionality that does not come in the stock binaries. However, this is generally a last-resort option and is not beginner-friendly.   If you customize Wine too much just to get one program running, it will probably break support for other programs. Furthermore, this method will not auto-update, so you will need to repeat the process every time a new version you want to update to comes out. Fortunately, the Wine build process follows the standard “./configure &amp;&amp; make &amp;&amp; make install” recipe, although it takes forever to compile. </p> <h2>Configuring Wine</h2> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u17625/wineconfig.jpg" width="405" height="553" /> </p> <p>Wine includes a powerful tool called winecfg that allows you to control how the system behaves. Winecfg appears as a Windows-style tabbed configuration window with  options that allow you to to tweak the behaviors for Wine, including:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Drives </strong>-- this allows the drive system that Windows uses (e.g. C:\) to be bound to the appropriate directories in your Linux filesystem. (the drive_c directory) Windows software is then able to access the fake Windows installation in drive_c, which is often required for proper function. </li> <li><strong>Audio </strong>– This allows you to set and configure the audio driver that Wine should use. </li> <li><strong>Applications </strong>– Wine is able to mimic specific versions of Windows on a per-application basis. (useful for legacy software that does not work well under NT) </li> <li><strong>Libraries </strong>– This allows you to provide overrides for specific DLLs. You can choose to use to use the real Windows DLL (you must provide it yourself) or use the built-in Wine counterpart. </li> <li><strong>Graphics </strong>– This allows you to turn on Wine desktop, prevent mouse escaping in DirectX applications, and define hardware-provided shader support. </li> <li><strong>Desktop Integration</strong> – This allows you to install themes and control how specific user interface elements look. </li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Using Wine</h2> <p>Traditionally, Wine is invoked through a command-line interface. This is done by opening a terminal, navigating to the directory the executable file you wish to run is in, and then by invoking the executable by running “wine program.exe” (where program.exe is the name of the program you wish to run) As with everything else on Linux, Wine is case-sensitive, so Program.exe is not the same thing as “program.exe”. The terminal will then produce output that shows what Wine is doing while the program is running. This output is often critical for working around problems.</p> <p>Furthermore, Wine has extensions that allow Windows binaries to be launched by double-clicking on them in Nautilus, just like in Windows. Although this is more convenient, it does not produce any helpful output like the more conventional method does.</p> <p>Although Wine can mimic native Linux window decorations on Windows applications to make them look like the rest of your native Linux programs, some applications tend to work improperly when you run them in this way. (for instance, they can take over your display, change the screen resolution, and then fail to change it back when you exit) To limit how much a Windows program can affect the rest of the system, you can bind it to a floating virtual desktop in winecfg. When the Wine Desktop setting is enabled, all Wine programs you launch are confined to a Wine desktop window and cannot escape. They are then forced to run at a resolution you define (1024x768 is good, since the default 800x600 is a little too small) and have a plain Windows 9x-style window decoration. Wine is very good at keeping the Wine Desktop separate from everything else and even has countermeasures to keep the pointer from escaping when the desktop window has focus. Although the Wine desktop can be cumbersome for regular applications, it is often essential for games. </p> <h2>Gaming With Wine</h2> <p>Although recent versions of Wine work reasonably well with most general-purpose software, Wine is still very experimental when it comes to gaming. We cannot stress that enough. During our tests, we noticed that there is quite a bit of lag time between when a game first comes out and the time when Wine supports it well. (Wine is usually several years behind the curve) Therefore, Wine is great for occasional gamers who don't mind playing older titles, but those who want to play the newest and most demanding games when they first come out are much better off dual-booting if they want to play them on the PC instead of a console. Does this mean that Wine is bad or useless? Not at all. We're amazed that it works as well as it does, considering that everything that Wine can do has been painstakingly reverse-engineered by volunteers. In Wine's defense, support for DirectX and gaming in general is much better than it used to be. However, this is often not enough to play the latest titles. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/wine/wine_05_sm.jpg" width="405" height="310" /> </p> <p>We should also mention that there is an alternative to Wine called Cedega that is also designed to play Linux games. Wine and Cedega were originally the same project, but Cedega (then called WineX) split from Wine before Wine adopted the LGPL. This allowed Cedega to remain proprietary, and for a long time it offered better game support than Wine did. (Today, they are roughly equal in terms of DirectX support) However, Cedega still has better support for game copy protection mechanisms than Wine does. Cedega is technically open source in that a rather crippled version of the source code is available through CVS, but it is not free in the same sense that Wine is. In the same vein, another proprietary derivative of Wine called Crossover was specifically designed to run software like Microsoft Office, even though regular Wine can do this too. </p> <p>Old games that use variants of the Quake 3 engine run flawlessly on Wine with no tweaking or configuration needed, games that came out a few years ago (like Half Life 2/other source engine games and Painkiller) work with some minor tweaking, but new releases (Like Fallout 3 or Crysis) may have significant problems or not work at all. </p> <p>One of the largest problems that relate to gaming on Wine is that practically all games today enforce a CD-check mechanism that may not work properly. Wine supports SecuROM, but Safedisc and other measures have not been fully implemented. Once the CD-check problem has been dealt with, Wine is capable of running many (but not all) modern games that use DirectX 9. </p> <p>Fortunately, there is a legitimate workaround to this problem. Valve's Steam distribution system works flawlessly with Wine. (a Gecko-based rendering engine replaces the Steam components that require Internet Explorer on Windows) Since the games on Steam do not come on physical discs and therefore lack CD-check mechanisms, quite a few of them will work to some extent if launched through the Steam interface. (however, this is not universally true, since the standalone version of a game may work whereas the steam version will not) Most video cards will work on Linux, (either through the NIVDIA or the ATI Catalyst drivers) and Wine is able to use them. Keep in mind that an inadequate video card can keep programs that would otherwise work from running properly. Onboard video is not a substitute for a decent graphics card in either Wine or Windows. </p> <p>To test Steam's capabilities on Wine, we acquired and tested Half Life 2 (and other Source-engine Games) and Fallout 3 from Steam in addition to a standalone boxed version of Painkiller that we had available for testing. Here are the specs for the test machine we used:</p> <ul> <li>64-bit AMD Phenom Triple-Core CPU running at 2.3 GHZ</li> <li>4 GB system RAM</li> <li>NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS with 512 MB of RAM (Driver Version 180) </li> <li>Dual-boot Ubuntu 8.10 and Windows Vista </li> <li>Wine 1.1.26</li> </ul> <p>To minimize problems, we downloaded all Steam games and components (including the Steam client itself) to the Ubuntu partition so everything would be running on a native ext3 filesystem. We did this because FUSE utilities like ntfs-3g caused problems with Wine-related gaming in our early tests when we tried using the Wine installation that was already on the Vista partition. We later concluded that these problems were caused by issues in the games (Half-Life 2, specifically) rather than due to a deficiency in Wine, since many other applications from the Vista partition usually work well in Wine. We also disabled PulseAudio (for the entire system, not just for Wine) since many games do not work well with it; we had the sound drop off suddenly in many Source-engine based games when PulseAudio was in use. Instead, we recommend using ALSA (best choice) or even the legacy OSS driver. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/wine/wine_04_sm.jpg" width="405" height="311" /> </p> <p>Painkiller functioned beautifully, and we were able to crank the settings up as high as they would go. Everything worked, including the Bloom and HDR lighting effects. Game performance was very fluid and we did not experience any frame rate lag whatsoever. The only problem we encountered was that the boss maps took much longer to load than the others, but they worked just as well when they did. </p> <p>Half Life 2 worked very well once we tweaked the game settings to optimize it for Wine. We chose to confine it to a Wine desktop (many games misbehave somewhat if you run them full screen) and we also disabled intro videos and allocated 512MB of extra swap space. Once we fixed the Pulseaudio bug, game performance was silky smooth, even with the settings maxed and 6x anti-aliasing enabled. The only bug we could find is that the flashlight caused flat white areas to appear on NPCs (non-player characters like zombies, combine soldiers, etc.) and various objects (crates, barrels, saw blades, etc.) when it shone on them, but this did not pose any real problem as far as gameplay was concerned. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/wine/wine_01_sm.jpg" width="405" height="311" /> </p> <p>We tested other source engine games (the various HL2 episodes and Portal) and they all worked. Half Life 2: Episode 1 ran as smooth as glass with Full HDR, even though there was no anti-aliasing support. The only glitch we could find was some strange static effects on the citadel core. (see screenshot) Episode 2 (the most demanding of the series in terms of system requirements) ran with minor frame rate issues and the cursor tended to wander off the screen a little bit. Although HL2:E2's bloom and HDR functions worked, we could not get any anti-aliasing here either. Lastly, we had to launch the game from a desktop shortcut to make it work properly. Portal had jerky gameplay, but the bloom and HDR functionality worked well and the game was playable. (no anti-aliasing) </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/wine/wine_06_sm.jpg" width="405" height="314" /> </p> <p>Our experience with Fallout 3 was the complete opposite and was really frustrating. While it is possible to get Fallout 3 running on Linux at this time, (several people have done it, based on the screenshots at WineHQ and several Youtube videos) the methods to do so are not completely reliable. Furthermore, we can attest that these methods do not work with the Steam version, but might work on the standalone boxed version. At the moment, the most successful way to get Fallout 3 working is to download the Wine source code, patch better DirectX 9c support into it, and then recompile it. (Beware... replacing the standard Wine binary with this patched version can temporarily break other games that do work until the standard version is replaced) Unfortunately, our first attempt based on this method was unsuccessful. </p> <p>Next, we tried PlayOnWine, which is an add-on for Wine that installs games and other applications via automated scripts, thereby eliminating much of the guesswork. Although this method allowed us to adapt the Steam version of Fallout 3 that we had, went on to patch Wine for us, installed DirectX 9c, and resolved many other dependencies, (like Microsoft's Windows Live Gaming system) Fallout 3 still wouldn't work. We spent two full days tinkering with Wine and Fallout 3, and we were not able to get past the main launcher interface to play the actual game. (Wine would crash every time we tried) Because of this experience, we must re-emphasize that gaming on Wine is still highly experimental and that games will only work if all of the multiple variables related to system configuration are set properly. In short, Wine has come a long way yet should still be regarded as being an alternative (not necessarily a replacement) for dual-booting or virtualization. </p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_run_windows_software_and_games_linux_wine#comments features Gaming Gaming Software how-tos linux Software Software How-Tos ubuntu Windows Windows How-Tos wine Features Thu, 06 Aug 2009 15:00:00 +0000 Will Kraft 7309 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Stay in Sync Across Multiple Gadgets and Desktops http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_stay_sync_across_multiple_gadgets_and_desktops <!--paging_filter--><p>The life of a technology and gadget aficionado is filled with challenges. With so many amazing computing options available to us these days, we tend to go a bit overboard with the number of devices we own. In addition to the desktop, we live digital lives on our laptops, netbooks, smartphones, and even the work PC at the office. While each machine has specific functions and advantages, problems arise when we sit down in front of just one device and wonder if it has the latest version of our documents, contacts, and bookmarks. </p> <p>Keeping your mobile life in sync is becoming an increasingly difficult task these days, and with each device you add to your lineup, the challenge multiplies exponentially. It becomes even more complicated when you start mixing and matching platforms that have conflicting file systems and format support. On the bright side, there has never been a better time to automate the process, allowing you to keep every aspect of your digital life in sync. This guide will educate you on the best ways to sync files, bookmarks, passwords, emails, and even your contacts / calendars, to any platform or device you may have. We deep dive into the major sync technologies being offered today; showing you step by step how they work, so you can decide for yourself what solution will work best for you. </p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync.png" width="415" height="188" /></div> <h2><a href="http://www.mesh.com/">Live Mesh </a></h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-2.png" width="415" height="261" /> </p> <p><strong>Price</strong>: Free</p> <p><strong>Syncs</strong>: Files (Online &amp; Offline)</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong>: Excellent solution for Documents, or other small files you update often. Mesh works great if you want to sync information with computers that are constantly going offline and even allows for internet based remote desktop. </p> <p><strong>Cons</strong>: Its usefulness is somewhat limited compared to Live Sync if you’re working with more than 5GB of data. </p> <h3>Compatibility</h3> <p><strong>PC: Yes    Mac: Yes    Linux: Read Only    Mobile: Windows Mobile</strong></p> <p>Most of you have probably heard about <a href="/article/can_someone_please_explain_why_i_should_be_interested_in_microsofts_mesh">Live Mesh</a> before, but how many of you truly understand what it does? Live Mesh, to be honest, still represents a lot of unused potential. But even in its present form, it is easily one of the most innovative and ambitious sync concepts on the market.  Mesh enables users on Windows, Macs, and even Windows Mobile phones to keep updated versions of folders both online, and locally across as many devices as they choose. Microsoft’s servers take care of distributing updated copies of your files to all machines as they come online, or if you’re using a device with limited storage such as a netbook or a phone, you can choose to access it solely from the cloud. Using Live Mesh with your documents folder for example, ensures that you always have updated copies of your work, which can then be automatically distributed to all your devices the next time they connect. </p> <p>The primary innovation behind Mesh is the “Virtual Desktop”. This allows you to access a copy of any file contained within your synced folders without any extra software. This is useful if you’re constantly moving around to different machines and need to access the content from anywhere. </p> <p>Now that we’ve got you all excited, here’s the downside. Live Mesh only works as designed with less than 5GB of total data, and dragging and dropping files into the online storage only works in Internet Explorer using ActiveX. As a result, Linux users will be able to view and download files on the virtual desktop, but cannot upload changes. Macs are able to participate fully with the assistance of the desktop client software. </p> <p>The 5GB limit doesn’t give you much room to play, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are ways to get around this. The only problem with doing so, however, is that Mesh loses its advantage over another competing sync technology that we look at later on, Live Sync. If the 5GB limit isn’t a problem, and you’re working with devices that are constantly going offline, read on to learn how to create your own Mesh. Otherwise skip ahead to Live Sync to see if it’s better suited to your needs.</p> <h3>How-To: Create a Mesh (Mac &amp; PC)</h3> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-full-3.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-3.png" width="415" height="258" /></a> </p> <p><strong>1. Add Your Devices &amp; Install the Client Software</strong></p> <p>To get started, head on over to <a href="http://www.mesh.com/">Mesh HQ</a>, and click the big orange <strong>Sign In</strong> button on the greeting page. Once you have done this, you will need to login using your <a href="https://signup.live.com/signup.aspx?rollrs=12&amp;lic=1">Windows Live I.D. </a>(an Xbox LIVE or Hotmail account will also work). Once you’re past the login screen you will be greeted with a diagram of your mesh. You will need to add devices to the list to make it look like the one pictured above. </p> <p>Click on the large orange + button, select your operating system, then download and install the client on each machine you wish to include. Once the installer is finished, it will automatically launch and prompt you to enter your <a href="https://signup.live.com/signup.aspx?rollrs=12&amp;lic=1">Windows Live I.D </a>again. After clicking next you will need to pick the name you will use to identify your computer within the Mesh. Be specific so that you don’t confuse your devices later on, but if you make a mistake, you can change it later. Here you can also decide if you will allow remote desktop connections to this machine.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-4.png" width="415" height="305" /> </p> <p><strong>2. Add Folders to Sync with your Virtual Desktop, or Just Other Machines</strong></p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-5.png" width="415" height="296" /> </p> <p>Adding a directory to live Mesh is as simple as right clicking the folder, and selecting <strong>Add Folder to Live Mesh</strong>. After doing so, you will see the configuration screen shown below which will allow you to decide if these files should be stored within your 5GB online storage queue, or only shared between certain devices.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-6.png" width="415" height="383" /> </p> <p>If this was a massive folder full of photos and video for example, you might want to select <strong>Never with This Device</strong> as your Live Desktop option. For other computers you may wish to select <strong>When files are added or modified</strong> if you want each device to keep a local copy. Use your Live Desktop space wisely, 5GB goes by pretty fast, and unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t yet offer the ability to purchase additional space. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-7.png" width="415" height="199" /> </p> <p>Files and folders will automatically begin to sync on the devices you specified, and using the tray icon or the live desktop browser interface, you can get an overview of the changes being made by reviewing the news section shown in the above screenshot. You can now interact with the files on any device within your Mesh, and any modification you make will sync instantly across your devices. Machines that are offline will pickup updated versions from the Live Desktop as they come online.</p> <hr /> <h2><a href="http://sync.live.com/">Microsoft Live Sync </a><br /></h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-8.png" width="128" height="124" /> </p> <p><strong>Price</strong>: Free</p> <p><strong>Syncs</strong>: Files</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong>: Excellent solution for always on machines, and for those who don’t want to store their information in the cloud, but still want to access it anywhere. Live Sync works perfectly with both small and large folders, allows you to download any file remotely from your browser with zero router configuration, and is perfect for sharing files with family or friends.</p> <p><strong>Cons</strong>: 20,000 file per library limit can make syncing some Music and Picture folders will high file counts awkward to configure. As opposed to Live Mesh, all devices must be online to receive updated files.</p> <h3>Compatibility </h3> <p><strong>PC: Yes    Mac: Yes    Linux: Read Only    Mobile: Read Only</strong></p> <p>Microsoft Live Sync is a less complex solution to implement than Mesh, and what it does, it does silently and efficiently. Live Sync is a better solution for larger folders where changes are less urgent, and can wait for both machines to be online. This generally means it isn’t as good for documents that change unless your devices are always online, but other than that, the two platforms are very similar. In fact, with the exception of live desktop, Sync and Mesh are practically twins. With this in mind you might wonder, why would Microsoft offer two similar, but competing solutions?</p> <p>The answer to this lies in the uncertain future of both technologies. Given the obvious overlap, it’s very unlikely that both services will survive, and according to inside information gathered by Windows blogger Paul Thurrott, <a href="http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/wl_wave3_preview2.asp">Live Sync is the future</a>. This makes sense when you consider that Microsoft views Live Mesh as an experimental platform for people to build applications on. Live Sync on the other hand, is a fully supported Service. Mesh will probably never disappear, but its functions and features might end up changing rapidly over time. </p> <p>So long story short, if you’re working with large folders, or if you want to be able to access your hard drive from any browser worldwide, read on to learn how Live Sync works. </p> <h3>How-To: Setup Live Sync Libraries (Mac &amp; PC)</h3> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-full-9.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-9.png" width="415" height="287" /></a> </p> <p>The first step will be to download the desktop client for <a href="https://sync.live.com/download/en/WindowsLiveSync.msi">Windows </a>or <a href="https://sync.live.com/download/files/WindowsLiveSyncSetup.mpkg.zip">Mac</a>, and once you have it installed, simply use your <a href="https://signup.live.com/signup.aspx?rollrs=12&amp;lic=1">Windows Live I.D.</a> to login. The Sync desktop client is pretty minimalistic, and for the most part, the entire service is designed to be managed through the <a href="http://sync.live.com/">website</a>. Clicking on the tray icon for example will show you a list of any folders you are sharing, and also a link to the sync homepage. Using the web interface you are able to configure what folders you would like to sync / share, or even browse through your entire hard drive. This is a fantastic way to download any file off your machine remotely, even when you don’t have access to your own machines. Simply login to the sync homepage, point your browser to where you left the file and the download begins immediately.</p> <p><strong>1. Create a Personal Folder</strong></p> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-full-10.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-10.png" width="415" height="363" /></a> </p> <p><strong>Personal Folders</strong> allow you to select a directory on one machine, that you would like sync with any other authorized computer on your account. An authorized computer is any Mac or PC that has the Live Sync client installed, and is registered to your Live I.D. account. The diagram shown above will walk you through the steps we took to share the <strong>My Documents</strong> folder on our Macbook, with the <strong>My Documents </strong>folder on our desktop Windows 7 machine. These images were cut from the browser window to show you the flow of options from start to finish. In the final step, after identifying all of the machines participating in the folder sync, you will then be asked if you like <strong>Automatic Synchronization</strong> or <strong>On-Demand Synchronization</strong>. Automatic, as the name would suggest, tries to keep each location in sync whenever possible. On-Demand requires you to manually initiate the sync.</p> <p><strong>2. Create a Shared Folder</strong></p> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-full-11.png" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-11.png" width="415" height="247" /></a> </p> <p><strong>Shared Folders</strong> is a fantastic tool for sending and sharing large files with family and friends, but unfortunately, it has an artificial limitation that seriously limits the usefulness of the feature. Creating a shared folder is a simple matter on your end, but the email invite that gets sent out forces others to install the sync client before their Live I.D. is given access to the website. We suppose Microsoft is hoping this will help hook them into the service, and in reality, if you are collaborating on a project, this is a great way to keep versions consistent. If on the other hand, all you wanted was to let a family member download a zip file full photos, they will still be forced to download and install software they will never use, and simply don’t need. </p> <p><strong>3. Set up Your Machine to Securely Offer up your Files through Any Browser</strong></p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-12.png" width="415" height="353" /> </p> <p>The only thing better than turning any old PC or Mac into a file server, is doing it with next to no hassle, and with decent security to boot. There have been so many times we’ve rushed out the door only to leave a presentation or vital document sitting on the desktop of our home machine. These painful lessons have lead many to plunk down hundreds on expensive NAS file servers, or perhaps even experimenting with a home FTP. But everyone who has tried this has a common problem, the router. Every router, regardless of what you paid for it is primarily designed to do one thing, drop incoming packets. This helps to shield your machine from all nasty viruses and malware floating freely around the internet, but it also makes it really difficult to connect to your PC remotely. Live Sync takes the guess work out of the configuration, and amazingly, just works. As for the security, have no fear. All connections both through the website and through the sync service operate over a secure SSL connection. </p> <p>To enable this feature, simply right click on the <strong>Live Sync</strong> tray icon, select <strong>More</strong>, and then click one last time on <strong>Settings</strong>. This will bring you to the screen shown above, which looks the same both on a Mac or Windows PC. Simply check off the box next to <strong>Allow Remote Access to This Computer </strong>to turn on the remote access feature. Once done, login to the Sync Website, Click on the machine you just enabled access to, then look for the link that says <strong>Browse</strong>. A sample of what the file tree looks like is below, and as you can see, it’s very easy to navigate.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-13.png" width="415" height="198" /> </p> <hr /> <h2><a href="http://www.me.com">Mobile Me </a><br /></h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-14.png" width="415" height="333" /> </p> <p><strong>Price</strong>: $99 Annual Fee</p> <p><strong>Syncs</strong>: Contacts-Calendar-Email (Web &amp; Outlook), File Support Up to 20 GB Included (Upgradable), Passwords</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong>: Works very well with Apple hardware, this includes Mac and iEverything. Mobile Me also does a really good job of keeping contacts, calendar, and emails in sync. </p> <p><strong>Cons</strong>: Very expensive. File sync options are very limited and aren’t any better than Dropbox. Mobile Me is difficult to recommend if you don’t have a Mac or an iPhone.</p> <h3>Compatibility </h3> <p><strong>PC: Yes (Limited)    Mac: Yes    Linux: Read Only    Mobile: iPhone</strong></p> <p>Okay this is Maximum PC right? Why on earth would we look at an Apple centric solution? Well, we looked at the Microsoft’s offerings, so aren’t you even a little bit curious what the competition has? To be fair, Mobile Me is also more than just an Apple exclusive offering, and they actually went to a great deal of trouble to make it work on PC’s. So the bigger question is, why would you want this, and what is it? </p> <p>Mobile Me at its core, is a personal information management tool, and allows you to sync your contacts, calendar, and email both online, and through Outlook. This alone isn’t anything amazing, and it also isn’t anything Gmail doesn’t do for free. But where Mobile Me really breaks away is in its iPhone integration. Over the air sync of all Mobile Me services (except iDisk), gives Exchange like functionality to the average consumer. </p> <p>So now that you know what it is, would PC users without an iPhone get any value out of Mobile Me? Probably not. A free Gmail account gives you the ability to sync Email and Calendar entries in Outlook as well, and iDisk is no better than DropBox. Mobile Me for the PC is also riddled with inconsistencies. For example, the two bookmark sync options available to PC users are Internet Explorer, or Safari. This is great if one of these is your primary browser, but if you try to visit <a href="http://www.me.com">www.me.com</a> in Internet Explorer you’re greeted with the following.  </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-15.png" width="415" height="187" /> </p> <p>The excuse that IE 7 and 8 have issues with web standards is cute, but everyone else seems to have figured it out, why not Apple? It’s clear they want us using their browser, and that makes sense but why not just say so? On the flip side, it’s great to see Apple taking the PC seriously as a platform by offering up more services for Windows. But when they don’t even support its native web browser, you have to wonder just how deep this commitment goes.</p> <p>See the chart below for a quick comparison of the automatic sync features of Mobile Me, and what is offered on the Mac vs. PC. Things get even worse on the Windows side when you look at UI differences. Mobile Me for example integrates very elegantly with the iLife suite of applications such as iPhoto. Now I’m not saying all of this information doesn’t make sense, or that it’s even unfair, but you should clearly understand that Apple wants $99 even if you only have a Windows PC, and nothing else. The value proposition is even worse if you don’t have Outlook. In this scenario, you’re clearly better off with Google for your syncing your personal info and Live Mesh / Sync for files.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table border="0" align="center"> <tbody> <tr> <td><strong>Sync Options </strong></td> <td><strong> Mac          <br /></strong></td> <td><strong>PC</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td> Bookmarks (Safari)</td> <td> YES</td> <td> YES + IE</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Bookmakrs (Firefox)</td> <td> NO</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Calendar</td> <td> YES</td> <td> YES (Outlook)</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Contacts</td> <td> YES</td> <td> YES (Outlook)</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Dashboard Widgets</td> <td> YES</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Dock Configuration</td> <td> YES</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Passwords</td> <td> YES</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Mail Accounts</td> <td> YES</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Mail Configuration</td> <td> YES</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Notes</td> <td> YES</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Preferences (Control Panel)       </td> <td> YES</td> <td> NO</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h3> </h3> <h3>Mobile Me on the Mac</h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-16.png" width="415" height="342" /> </p> <p>The Mobile Me interface on the Mac is very clean, and everything just works. Compatible sync items show up on the configuration screen (which is built into OSX automatically). You can choose all the options, or just the ones that suit your needs. Certain sync items such as the dock, dashboard widgets, etc, get backed up transparently, but your contacts, calendar, email, and iDisk are accessible from the web interface. On the Mac iDisk is automatically configured for you allowing drag and drop functionality from within the finder, and the built in sync menu allows you to quickly enable everything else. Mobile Me is a great companion for your Mac or <a href="/article/features/build_your_own_hackintosh">Hakintosh</a>, and if you have an iPhone, this is pretty much a one stop shop.</p> <h3>Mobile Me on Windows  </h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-17.png" width="415" height="297" /> </p> <p>If you’ve read this far, you should now be fully aware of the limitations Mobile Me has on the Windows side. Above is a sample screenshot of the sync control panel for Windows. As you can see, the only option available to us is contacts, calendar, and bookmark syncing. Unfortunately in our scenario, Mobile Me bumped into another limitation as well. Apparently Outlook Sync is not supported when you are configured for Exchange. Our hopes were starting to raise a bit when we learned that the Windows version supports Contact syncing with Google Contacts, but that little morsel of joy was quickly dashed away when we noticed that Calendar sync was not. </p> <hr /> <h2><a href="http://www.dropbox.com">Dropbox</a><br /></h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-18.jpg" width="400" height="400" /> </p> <p><strong>Price</strong>: Free (2GB)</p> <p><strong>Syncs</strong>: Files , Passwords</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong>: Works on all Platforms. Dropbox also offers very reasonable <a href="http://www.getdropbox.com/pricing">upgrade pricing</a> if you need more than 2GB of storage. </p> <p><strong>Cons</strong>: The free version only offers 2 GB of storage, no automated sync tool.</p> <h3>Compatibility </h3> <p><strong>PC: Yes    Mac: Yes    Linux: Yes    Mobile: Yes</strong></p> <h3>How-To: Sync Files and Passwords with Dropbox </h3> <p>Dropbox maps to the My Computer menu on your PC, or the finder if you’re on a Mac. And because your drop box works just like any other local drive, syncing files is a simple matter of cutting and pasting. A shared dropbox will appear across all your devices, giving ever device access to your data. You can copy favorites, documents, or in the example we show below, partnered up with KeePass to offer a mobile password locker.  </p> <p>Everyone knows that good password security requires that you use passwords that are A) long, B) complicated, and C) different for every website and service you use. Of course, these three requirements also make it a total pain to memorize all the passwords you need, meaning that most people don’t follow the rules, either using one password across many services (a security risk) or writing their passwords down near the computer (also a security risk). </p> <p>That’s where <a href="http://keepass.info/">KeePass </a>comes in. KeePass is a free, open source password safe. It allows you to generate a unique, totally random password for every site or service you use, while only requiring you to remember a single master passphrase. Whenever you attempt to log into a service, KeePass asks for your master passphrase, then automatically enters the appropriate password from your safe.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-19.png" width="415" height="326" /> </p> <p>That’s all well and good, but what do you do if you frequently use two different computers (say, a desktop and a laptop)? You could use a USB drive to keep your KeePass password archive with you at all times, but that’s one more little bit of hardware you have to keep track of. Instead, use DropBox to keep an up-to-date copy of your password file on both computers, at all times. Just tell KeePass to save your password archive somewhere in your DropBox synced folder.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-20.png" width="415" height="309" /> </p> <p>Worried about security? No need! KeePass saves your password in an archive encrypted with nigh-unbreakable AES 256-hit encryption. That means that as long as you pick a strong, long password, getting a hold of your KeePass file won’t do a hacker a bit of good. </p> <h2><a href="http://www.xmarks.com/">Xmarks</a></h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-21.png" width="415" height="254" /> </p> <p><strong>Price</strong>: Free </p> <p><strong>Syncs</strong>: Bookmarks , Passwords</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong>: Works on all Platforms and most major browsers.</p> <p><strong>Cons</strong>: No Chrome, or Safari for Windows support.</p> <h3>Compatibility </h3> <p><strong>PC: Yes    Mac: Yes    Linux: Yes    Mobile: Read Only</strong></p> <p>Your first step will be to download the Xmarks plug-in for your browser of choice. Currently only <a href="http://download.xmarks.com/download/firefox">Firefox</a>, <a href="http://download.xmarks.com/download/ie">Internet Explorer</a>, and <a href="http://download.xmarks.com/download/safari">Safari for the Mac</a> are supported. If you're torn on which version to grab, it’s worth noting that only the Firefox version supports encrypted password sync. iPhone users should also keep in mind that only the Safari for Mac plug-in will allow for two way syncing.</p> <h3>Syncing Passwords with Xmarks </h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-22.PNG" width="415" height="262" /> </p> <p>Once you have installed the <a href="https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2410">Firefox Plug-in</a>, and restarted your browser, the Xmarks setup wizard will automatically launch allowing you to make an account, or login. If you’re creating a new account, or if you haven’t enabled password sync in the past, Xmarks will supply a dialogue box like the one shown above allowing you to opt in, or out of the service. For those of you who are worried about security, let me put your mind at ease. Like KeePass, the passwords are stored on the Xmarks servers using very strong AES encryption. All of your passwords will be encrypted before transmission to the Xmark server, and can only be decrypted using the pin number you selected as a master password. You can rest easy knowing that not even Xmarks will be able to decrypt your passwords (assuming you picked a strong pin code).</p> <h3>Sync Bookmarks with Xmarks<br /></h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-23.png" width="415" height="265" /> </p> <p>Configuring Xmarks to sync your bookmarks is pretty easy, mainly because that’s exactly what it was designed to do. After installing the plug-in for your <a href="http://download.xmarks.com/download/all">browser of your choice</a>, the setup wizard will ask you to pick a user account and password, and that’s pretty much it. If you’re installing Xmarks on a second machine you’ll be presented with the dialogue box (shown above) asking how you would like to deal with the bookmarks already stored on your machine vs. what is on the server. You can merge the two databases, or throw away either.  </p> <p>Once you’ve synchronized, you can also access your list of bookmarks from any browser, no plug-in required. Simply navigate over to the <a href="https://login.xmarks.com/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.xmarks.com%2F">website </a>and login. You can also access a stripped down interface intended for mobile phones at <a href="http://mobile.xmarks.com/">http://mobile.xmarks.com</a>.</p> <hr /> <h2>Google</h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-24.gif" width="306" height="134" /> </p> <p><strong>Price</strong>: Free (Isn’t it always?)</p> <p><strong>Syncs</strong>: Email, Contacts, Calendar, Documents </p> <p><strong>Pros</strong>: Works on all Platforms and browsers, as well as mobile phones.</p> <p><strong>Cons</strong>: Living in the cloud is a lifestyle choice, and not one you should enter into lightly.</p> <h3>Compatibility </h3> <p><strong>PC: Yes    Mac: Yes    Linux: Yes    Mobile: Windows Moble, Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia</strong></p> <h3>Gmail – Sync All Your Desktop / Webmail Transactions &amp; Merge Your Inboxes </h3> <p>Email is all the same, isn’t it? You probably hear us talk about Gmail here at Max PC a bit more often than competition for one simple reason, it really is better than the rest. Gmail has a lot going for it these days. The web interface is lightening fast, Google Labs allows you to enable tons of great plug-ins, and one feature in particular makes it stand out from the crowd, IMAP. (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a vastly superior solution to the traditional POP based email supplied to you by your ISP. It will allow you to access your mail from any email client, the web, or both at the same time, all while keeping your sessions in sync. You can read, delete, edit, save drafts, all while knowing that changes will ripple across your desktop clients. It’s so good in fact, many, including myself, have abandoned dedicated email clients almost entirely. </p> <p>Gmail is one of the few free IMAP options available right now, but it’s important to know, IMAP is not enabled by default. To get started, simply surf over to the Gmail Homepage, signup for a Google account, and head into your new (or existing) mailbox. One in, scan along the top right for a link called <strong>Settings</strong>, followed by <strong>Forwarding and POP/IMAP</strong>. Once here, you can enable the IMAP service (shown below), and access the <a href="http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&amp;ctx=mail&amp;answer=75726">Configuration Instructions</a> if you’re planning on still using a desktop mail client. Once you’re up and running with your mail client, you might even feel like dragging and dropping messages stored on your machine, over to Gmail. This will allow you to search, view, or access any message across all of your machines. You can also use a mail client to drag mail from Hotmail or other services over to your new email account.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-25.png" width="415" height="332" /> </p> <p>In addition to keeping your email sessions in sync, Gmail offers an innovative service called <a href="http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&amp;ctx=mail&amp;answer=21288">Mail Fetcher. </a>If you head back over to the <strong>Settings </strong>link along the top right, you can then click <strong>Accounts </strong>followed by <strong>Add a Mail Account You Own</strong>. Simply enter your email address, and setup the rules regarding incoming messages. You can tell Google to leave a copy on the pop server for safe keeping, or to automatically redirect incoming messages to a dedicated folder, making your email easy to sort.  </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-26.png" width="415" height="405" /> </p> <h3>Sync Your Gmail Calendar with Outlook  </h3> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/syncguide/howtosync-thumb-27.PNG" width="415" height="443" /> </p> <p>Using any webmail based service is the ultimate way to keep all your email, contacts, and calendars in sync. However, for a certain percentage of the population Outlook is a safety blanket they simply refuse to live without. If you fall into this category, it’s okay, you still have options. Google Calendar Sync allows you to manage your calendar both through <a href="http://mail.google.com/">Gmail</a>’s web interface and using Outlook. Calendar Sync is currently compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7, and is designed for use with Outlook 2003 or 2007. We also recommend that you don’t try to install this if your outlook is configured for exchange. Trying to do so will be far more hassle than it’s worth. </p> <p>Your First step will be to <a href="http://dl.google.com/googlecalendarsync/GoogleCalendarSync_Installer.exe">download Google Calendar Sync Client</a>, and run the installer. Once this complete, you will see the above configuration screen which will allow you to input your Gmail Account details, and if you want 1-way or 2-way sync. When making your decision, we would recommend that you pick the option that most realistically matches your usage scenario. Calendar sync works well, but you can further remove the odds of conflicts or corruptions if you select 1 way sync. You can also configure the time between sync sessions, and the minimum selectable is 10 minutes.  </p> <h3>Sync Your Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, or Nokia Handset with Google Calendar, and Contacts and More</h3> <p>Google offers a dizzying array of <a href="http://www.google.com/mobile/#p=default">mobile optimized services </a>for pretty much every popular smartphone on the market. The even better part about Google’s mobile service, is that all of the information is tied back to your primary Google account. This means that Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Docs, Reader, pretty much everything you love about Google is available in a portable format. To get started all you need to do is point your phone’s internet browser to <a href="http://m.google.com/">http://m.google.com</a> .Through this interface you can access your Calendar &amp; Contacts, but what if want them to sync with your phone’s build in applications instead? Meet <a href="http://www.google.com/mobile/products/sync.html#p=default">Google Mobile Sync</a>:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: center"> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="415" height="252"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Kt_-qHczCMg&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Kt_-qHczCMg&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="415" height="252"></embed></object></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Setting up Google Sync isn’t difficult, but it is important to keep in mind that your existing contacts and calendar on your phone will probably be overwritten, so make sure you are up to date, or backed up before proceeding. All Smartphone’s, with the exception of the iPhone, can install the sync application within the mobile browser and have you up and running in no time flat. However, if you’re on the iPhone you’ll need to dive into iTunes a bit to make this work. Click the following links for step by step instructions on the <a href="http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=138744&amp;topic=14252">PC </a>or <a href="http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=138759&amp;topic=14252">Mac</a>.   </p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/how_stay_sync_across_multiple_gadgets_and_desktops#comments features Gmail Google how-tos live mesh mobile mobile me Sync Windows Windows How-Tos Features Tue, 14 Jul 2009 15:00:00 +0000 Justin Kerr 6992 at http://www.maximumpc.com