Let's admit it, we have all at one time or another mistakenly deleted a directory or uninstalled a program incorrectly and are now left with entries in the Add/Remove Programs list for programs that no longer exist on our hard drives. When you click on these entries to remove them, Windows complains with an error or nothing happens. For some of the neat freaks out there, this can cause a problem as we now have useless entries cluttering up our Add/Remove Programs list and no way to remove them!
Before Windows was created, the most common operating system that ran on IBM PC compatibles was DOS. DOS stands for Disk Operating System and was what you would use if you had started your computer much like you do today with Windows. The difference was that DOS was not a graphical operating system but rather purely textual. That meant in order to run programs or manipulate the operating system you had to manually type in commands. When Windows was first created it was actually a graphical user interface that was created in order to make using the DOS operating system easier for a novice user. As time went on and newer versions of Windows were developed DOS was finally phased out with Windows ME. Though the newer operating systems do not run on DOS, they do have something called the command prompt, which has a similar appearance to DOS. In this tutorial we will cover the basic commands and usage of the command prompt so that you feel comfortable in using this resource.
Ever since Windows 95, the Windows operating system has been using a centralized hierarchical database to store system settings, hardware configurations, and user preferences. This database is called the Windows Registry or more commonly known as the Registry. When new hardware is installed in the computer, a user changes a settings such as their desktop background, or a new software is installed, this information is stored in the registry. The operating system then continually references this information during its operation. Though understanding the Registry will provide good knowledge into the inner workings of your computer, it is important to take extreme care when working with the Registry as modifying it incorrectly can cause problems with the use of your operating system.
By default Windows hides certain files from being seen with Windows Explorer or My Computer. This is done to protect these files, which are usually system files, from accidentally being modified or deleted by the user. Unfortunately viruses, spyware, and hijackers often hide there files in this way making it hard to find them and then delete them.
Windows Safe Mode is a way of booting up your Windows operating system in order to run administrative and diagnostic tasks on your installation. When you boot into Safe Mode the operating system only loads the bare minimum of software that is required for the operating system to work. This mode of operating is designed to let you troubleshoot and run diagnostics on your computer. Windows Safe Mode loads a basic video drivers so your programs may look different than normal.
Many programs that you install are automatically run when you start your computer and load Windows. For the majority of cases, this type of behavior is fine. Unfortunately, there are programs that are not legitimate, such as spyware, hijackers, Trojans, worms, viruses, that load in this manner as well. It is therefore important that you check regularly your startup registry keys regularly. Windows does offer a program that will list programs that are automatically started from SOME of these locations. This program, Msconfig.exe, unfortunately, though, only lists programs from a limited amount of startup keys.