The purpose of this guide is to train future internal computer support department staff of the DataMax, Inc. Corporation. From hence forward, the name for that internal computer support department shall be “DataMax® Internal Department for Computer Support (DIDCS). Here at DataMax®, we currently utilize the Windows operating systems of Windows 2000, Windows XP, ,Windows 7. However, we require DIDCS staff to have comprehensive knowledge of a great many operating systems.
Over the course of this training guide we will introduce important information regarding the various operating systems utilized by DataMax® Inc; specifically the various versions of Windows®, showing some of the methods for the setting up of these operating systems by upgrade and clean installation. We will discuss support for these systems, maintenance, and trouble-shooting issues. Further on, we will delve into networking and security of Windows Operating Systems, which will eventually lead us to the subject of personal computers and the Internet. Last, we will touch upon Windows Legacy Operating Systems and applications, their issues, and how they are supported in current Windows Operating Systems.
2. OVERVIEW OF OPERATING SYSTEMS
An operating system (OS) is software that drive and manages the computer resources. It manages hardware, runs applications, provides an interface for users, and stores, retrieves, and manipulates files. In general, you can think of an operating system as the middleman between applications and hardware, between the user and hardware, and between the user and applications. (Andrews, 2008, p. 36) i) COMPONENTS AND FUNCTIONS OF OPERATING SYSTEMS
Shell- The shell (Andrews, 2009, p. 45) is a component of an operating system (OS) that relates to the user and to applications. The shell provides ways for the user to perform tasks on the computer through user interface tools, such as Windows Explorer, Control Panel, or My Computer. The shell provides commands and procedures for applications to call on to perform operations. Kernel- The kernel (Andrews, 2009, p. 46) is the central component of an operating system (OS) responsible for interacting with the hardware. Applications running under the OS cannot get to the hardware devices without the shell passing those requests on to the kernel. The kernel’s responsibilities include managing the system’s resources and communications between hardware and software components. Device Manager- The Device Manager (Andrews, 2009, p. 73) “Your primary Windows tool when solving problems with hardware.”
It is a Control Panel applet in Windows operating systems that permits users “a central and organized view of all the Microsoft Windows recognized hardware installed on a computer. (It) can be used for changing hardware configuration options, managing drivers, disabling and enabling hardware, identifying conflicts between hardware devices, and much more” (Pcsupport.about.com). The Device Manager is a beneficial tool and resource that permits the user a method to troubleshoot problems with hardware. Registry- The registry (Andrews, 2009, p. 46) is a component of an operating system (OS) where hardware and software configuration information, user preferences, and application settings are kept in databases or text files. When the OS is first loaded, this information can be used as needed by hardware, applications, and users to launch proper and up-to-date settings.
ii) WINDOWS® OPERATING SYSTEMS VERSIONS
Windows 2000- A popular line of operating system for personal computers, laptops, corporate desktops, and servers. First released in December of 1999, it is now considered to be a “dying OS” (Andrews, 2009, p. 39). New licenses are no longer issued for Windows 2000 by Microsoft. Windows 2000’s predecessor, Windows NT, created some stability issues that were somewhat improved by Windows 2000.. These include improvements in “support for Plug and Play, Device Manager, Recovery Console, Active Directory, and better network support” (Andrews, 2009, p. 39). Windows 2000 only released four editions: Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server. Windows XP- A consumer-oriented operating system distributed by the Microsoft Corporation as a successor for Windows 2000 Professional and Windows Me. Released on October 25, 2001, “XP” stands for “experience.” Stability issues (see Windows 2000 above) created by the Windows NT operating system were eventually resolved in the Windows XP operating system.
Windows XP is still in wide use and hailed as one of the most popular operating systems of all time. Windows Vista- Released in January of 2007 some five years after Windows XP. It is available in five different editions: two for business users, two for consumer users, and one that incorporates elements of both consumer and business. Windows 7- Windows 7 was released to on October 22, 2009 for worldwide use and but it was earlier released for manufacturing on July 22, 2009. It was introduced less than three years after the release of Windows Vista. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) was announced on March 18, 2010. A beta was released on July 12, 2010.Unlike Windows Vista, which introduced a large number of new features, Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line, with the goal of being compatible with applications and hardware with which Windows Vista was already compatible.
3. INSTALLATION OF WINDOWS® OPERATING SYSTEMS
i) PROCEDURES TO INSTALL WINDOWS®
Before beginning any operating system installation procedure, it is important and necessary to make sure that the new operating system will supportable by the computer system. Microsoft provides upgrade advisor tools on their websites for their latest operating systems (Windows 7) to help users identify certain issues pertaining to compatibility and to rule out other possible problems that may occur during or after the installation process. Older Microsoft Windows operating systems that are still in wide use, such as Vista and XP have upgrade advisor tools available as well, but are no longer available for download on Microsoft websites. Alternative download sites, such as download.cnet.com and softpedia.com still carry these utility programs. These programs are very useful because they can help eliminate some possible complications that may arise beforehand.
During a Windows setup procedure, much important information and data is required to be entered by the user to complete the process and ensure that it is successful. As a rule of thumb, therefore, it is prudent to have this information available so that the installation goes as smoothly as possible. Preparation is a key component to success. A comprehensive knowledge of the exact configuration settings for the options when prompted will ensure that the user does not have to go back and make changes later on.
Installing Windows operating systems to your machine can be done by various methods and techniques; there is no right or wrong way of doing it. However, the method or technique used most often depends upon the particular circumstances or criteria involved. For example, it is important to understand when it is best to perform a “clean install” as opposed to an “in-place-upgrade.” The section entitled Upgrading an operating system compared with a clean installation will provide further information on this topic.
ii) METHODS OF SUPPORTING OPERATING SYSTEMS
Operating systems may vary, but they all need to be supported to be kept functional and up-to-date. Generally, an operating system is supported in-house by IT professional staff and through the operating system manufacturer website:
Manufacturer website support: By going to the manufacturer website of the operating system a user can obtain detailed information for supporting the operating system. At Microsoft, they offer a wide range of support for their product lines: A user can browse or use search terms in forums and discussion boards to find related issues pertaining to their operating system. A user can download supported operating system drivers for their operating system. A user can download programs to fix certain issues, service packs, updates, and more. A user can contact professional help from certified technicians available either through e-mail, message, or live chat.
iii) POSSIBLE CONCERNS WHEN INSTALLING AND MAINTAINING OPERATING SYSTEMS
If there is one thing that Microsoft does well, it is offering support to their customers on their software. When there is a problem or issue with the operating system, a user can usually obtain a solution from Microsoft support. Microsoft maintains their operating system software by providing regularly scheduled updates, patches, and overall improvements that a user just needs to be willing to go find. Not all operating system software manufacturers are this supportive. Regardless of the operating system manufacturer, Microsoft or otherwise, there are some useful actions to be taken to always maintain operating systems and keep them running at optimum efficiency.
These include: Installing a trusted antivirus software program and keeping it current with latest virus definitions. Check routinely for updates and fixes; if updates can be configured to download and install automatically, do so. Perform regularly scheduled maintenance tasks, such as defragmenting the hard drive, and using tools such as the System Restore utility (Windows XP onward) to create system restore points and ScanDisk/Chkdsk to scan the hard drive for errors. Routinely schedule system-wide and document backups. Keep copies available.
4. TROUBLESHOOTING AND MAINTENANCE ISSUES
i) Troubleshooting techniques for operating system-related problems When a user purchases a new computer, it usually comes with an operating system “freshly” installed. The system will run free from most error in a state of “newness” for some time. Likewise, the same with a system having a hard drive that has been “wiped-clean” (reformatted) and a clean install. Problems occur and issues arise as the operating system is used and the user fails to provide or maintain support. Operating systems like any software need to be updated on a regular basis. The manufacturer’s website will often provide patches, updates, service packages, and fixes to most current issues as well as system drivers. Over time, user-error, lack of upkeep, and continuous subjection to open network connections (even with proper antivirus security protection), errors and corruption begin to seep in to file systems and cause operating systems to malfunction. A slow-starting (sluggish) operating system is normally a sign of such problems. If Windows is sluggish in starting:
The Start-Up may contain too many applications. Some applications are necessary for Windows Startup, but others may be causing the operating system to launch very slowly. Shortcuts to applications inside the Start-Up may be edited, eliminating these programs at system start-up. Corrupted or Unneeded Services.
Use the Services Console (Run dialog box, type Services.msc and press Enter) to view and edit (enable or disable) system-level programs that typically start when Windows boots up (“Using the Microsoft Windows Services Console”, N.D.). Disable unneeded services. Group Policy folders may contain unwanted startup events.
Most users are unaware of these files and are they are noteworthy targets of malicious software writers because of their obscurity. The group policies can be edited through the ‘Edit group policy’ in Windows 7. Unwanted or Malicious tasks.
Background tasks scheduled to run without a user’s knowledge. These are found using the Scheduled Tasks applet in the Control Panel. Remove these if necessary. Make sure Antivirus protection is on and updated.
Make sure Windows is configured for Windows Automatic Updates for system and security updates.
ii) MAINTENTANCE ISSUES FOR OPERATING SYSTEMS
Virus, Worms, Trojan Horse and other malwares:
Viruses are constant threats for operating systems. Make sure to always use Antivirus Protection Software with the latest virus definitions. Spyware can infect operating systems and attach to start-up as a service. This malware must be removed from the system either through Add/Remove Programs, Anti-Spyware program, or MS Config utility. DLL Errors:
Updated DLL files may become incompatible with other programs that need to use them and produce errors. Resolution can usually be found by entering the produced error code into an online search engine.
Try rebooting; the machine may be running in a bad state (“Common Operating System Problems”, 2011). Try reinstalling the program.
Check the software website to see if there is an updated version.
iii) UPGRADING AN OPERATING SYSTEM COMPARED WITH A CLEAN INSTALLATION
Users should know when it is better to perform an upgrade or a clean installation of an operating system. Some situations may merit a clean install while in others an upgrade may be more appropriate given the circumstances and criteria. Following the proper steps to performing either as well as utilizing upgrade advisor tools to eliminate potential conflicts and problems will determine the success of such procedures.
Perform Clean Installation when:
There is much corruption or error causing irremediable system start failure (system fails to start; fails to enter safe mode; irrecoverable). Personal files and settings are backed up. Applications can be reinstalled or not many applications on existing operating system. System meets minimum and recommended requirements as provided by operating system specifications.
Perform In-Place-Upgrade when:
The system and registry has been proven free from error, corruption, and viruses. There are many applications on the existing operating system that will be compatible with the new operating system (These will be carried forward). Upgrade Advisor tools indicate there are no complications, such as driver conflicts. System meets minimum and recommended requirements as provided by operating system specifications.