Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Recover botched Vista after cloning or resizing the partition!

Upgraded your hard-disk to a larger size and cloned your Vista OS over from the older hdd?

Doing that may cause the Vista OS to give you a "Winload.exe not found" error and you will not boot into Vista.

Before cursing yourself for buying the new HDD, there is a way to solve this problem.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

WGA Black Screen of DOOM!

Windows had put a serious clamp of piracy of its Operating Systems product by introducing WGA aka Windows Genuine Advantage.

Although numerous ways have been cracked by hackers to remove the WGA check and allow continuous use of the pirated Windows OS, the latest WGA seems to put a stop to piracy on Windows Operating System.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Optimizing Windows Paging File aka Virtual Memory

Not too long ago, Microsoft's Bill Gates did make the statement that 640k memory should be enough for everyone.

However, this is not the case nowadays as newer and latest applications require more ram to load up all the features. 1 or 2 gigabytes [ 1000mb ] of ram is no longer considered exorbitant. In fact, in today's standard, 1 gigabyte is considered entry level.

However, even with the large extensive memory available to an operating system within a PC today, it may still be insufficient as today's operating system are multi-tasking more than 20-30 applications and services all at the same time. Dual core processors require even more ram as they process twice as fast and access more parts of the memory.

As applications and services use and fill out the available physical memory, the operating system cannot merely let it run out of memory. Thus one way to prevent out of memory errors is to use physical storage space such as the HDD as a form of virtual RAM or virtual memory.

In Windows, this is also known as the Page File.

The Windows Page File is usually created automatically by default and its size is usually 1.5 times the available physical memory. [ ie a PC with 1 gigabyte RAM will have a 1.5 gigabyte paging file ]
MICROSOFT Help & Support : How to clear Windows Paging File at Shutdown

Although it is possible to have a RAM capacity large enough to handle all the current processes [ assuming you installed 4 - 8 gigabytes of RAM ] to make paging redundant, this is not recommended in Windows as some applications still make reference to the paging file used.

In this case, it is best to make the paging file the minimum size so as to make use of the fast physical RAM speed and to reduce paging read/writes to the HDD.

In XP or Vista, this paging file is usually named as "pagefile.sys"

To set the size it uses, rather than letting the system setting the size automatically, right click on "My Computer", click "Properties", select the "Advanced" tab, then click "Settings" in the "Performance" section. After that, click the "Advanced" tab and click on "Change" under the "Virtual Memory" section.

Windows sets this to 1.5x of your physical RAM as Virtual Memory, but this only holds true if the physical RAM is less than 1 gigabyte. If you have 1 gigabyte of RAM or more, it is recommended to consider changing the size. A great guide can be found here by The Elder Geek.

It is also recommended for better HDD speeds to have the paging file to be located on a different physical HDD from where the operating system is currently installed. [ie if XP or Vista is installed on C:, place the paging file on D:] This applies if you have more than 1 physical HDD. A single HDD partitioned into 2 drives will not help much.

This is because by having the paging file on another physical HDD, the reading and writing of data/applications on the operating system and the reading and writing of page file exists on different HDD rather than doing both on the same HDD.

Another guide here on how to optimize your page file for performance
Optimizing Your Server's Pagefile Performance

Windows Task Manager gives a detailed view of how the memory is being handled and it can be used to find out if the staticly assigned page file is good enough for the system. Techrepublic has a easy to read guide on how to use the Windows Task Manager for this purpose.

As the pagefile is a file that is constantly being read and written to, there may be instances of corrupted sectors during a bad write to a sector. To reduce paging faults due to bad data, it is recommended to delete it and let Windows recreate it after some time. The pagefile.sys should not be deleted via Windows File Explorer but using this method instead.

MICROSOFT Help & Support : How to clear Windows Paging File at Shutdown

This will set the pagefile to always delete itself after every reboot. To revert, simply put a "0" value instead of a "1" value as described in the above link. Deleting the pagefile.sys at every reboot will introduce a small delay during the reboot/shutdown process. You might only want to do it for 2 reboots/shutdowns and revert to normal after that.

Today is 5th April 2009
Time now is 22:01 hrs
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Testing your PC's RAM for defects the better way!

Very often, the computer's memory aka RAM might be the cause of the PC not responding or the infamous Windows BSOD.

It's not something easy to troubleshoot as it is not possible to know which byte within the PC's RAM is having some problems. And the way most OS handles memory for application and cache storage is not something that is physically shown on a map.

One way is to create an application that will try to write all 0's(zeros) to each byte and verify that it is zero by reading the same byte again and repeat again writing and verifying all the 1's. But with the operating system taking up so much memory in the first place after bootup, it may not be possible to do this accurately.

A good way is to use a linux distribution CD.
Most distribution CDs come with a memory checker before it fully loads up the Linux OS.
This is so that very little memory is used to ensure most, if not, all the bytes of the memory is tested.
An Ubuntu distribution CD is recommended here.

Set the bios so that you boot from the CD/DVD drive first.
This is usually set by pressing the "DEL" or the "F2" key when the PC is booting up.
Choose the boot order such that the PC will boot from the CD/DVD drive.

Once the Ubuntu CD boots up, you should be able to see this screen.

Select "Test Memory"

This will allow the Linux CD to test for any defects on your PC RAM hardware.

This method will be better than booting from your own OS [Windows XP/Vista/etc] because the current Windows OS on your hard disk may already have some files which are corrupted due to bad RAM. Faulty RAM causes erronous writes to files and if these files are Windows drivers required to manage the memory, then it'd be inaccurate to do any testing using the same OS.

Below are some guides to set your bios to boot from CD

Today is 1st April 2009
Time now is 13:14hrs

It is recommended to have a Linux Live CD installed into a USB thumbdrive and use it for testing purposes. A Linux Live CD is able to boot up into a Graphical User Interface [GUI] without affecting the original Windows OS installed on the same PC. Having a bootable USB is also a great way to be able to use someone else's PC safely and doesn't leave any traces on that PC. Moreover, USB stick is easier to carry around that a CD/DVD.'s guide to creating a USB bootable Linux Live CD from Windows
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