Diskpart is a very useful tool, not only for diagnosing problems, but also fixing them. Diskpart is an application that can be started via command prompt or by starting the app separately. If starting diskpart via Command Prompt, open a command prompt window and type “diskpart” and then hit enter. Diskpart grants access to a different set of commands which can be used to manipulate the hard disks in a windows-based computer. The capabilities of diskpart are very extensive and will require not a small amount of personal investigation in order to fully understand and utilize the program.
There are some really helpful shortcuts you can use in terminal that can make your day a lot easier. And of course, there are some fun commands you can use as well. Here’s a taste of some of the conveniences and entertainment terminal can provide.
Is your computer running slow? Well, at least that makes it easier to catch. Often a computer can be overloaded with unnecessary system files that can make your computer run slowly. This can cause hours of unnecessary frustration. Users can benefit from running various programs and applications that are designed to get your computer back running like new.
When the Fall 2013 semester begins, students will be surprised to find the new gem that is located on the third floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. The newly constructed Digital Media Lab has landed a home in the library in hopes of being a destination where students can spend countless hours working on and obtaining knowledge pertaining to 21st century technology.As a way to keep UMass students up to speed with the ever changing technological world, the Digital Media Lab will be offering workshops, training, and opportunities for students to use top of the line equipment and software. From cameras to video cameras, MacBooks, GarageBand and more, the Digital Media Lab will provide the resources that students need.
Having trouble activating your new copy of Windows 8? Ensure the following:
- You have received and entered the correct Microsoft Activation Key for your copy of Windows (Professional, Enterprise, etc.)
- You have not already used this MAK on another computer
- Are connected to the Internet
Screen shots, software updates and more:
As a general rule of thumb, there are some things that are good to do to keep your computer running its best.
- Keep everything up to date!
- Don’t click links you’re unsure about.
- Don’t visit questionable websites.
- Run an anti-virus program.
- Scan with an anti-virus program and an anti-spyware program at least once a month.
Keeping programs up to date is one of the easiest ways to prevent a Virus or Spyware infection. Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X will all prompt you to install updates if you have it configured to do so. It is configured as such by default.
As for updating all the other programs installed, we use a program called Secunia PSI. It scans your computer for all the programs installed that it has in its database. It then checks it against the current versions of those programs and provides you with links to where to download updates. You can download it here. It’s an amazing tool to know what to update.
As a general rule, you should keep your Operating System (XP, Vista, OSX) as well as Java and Adobe Flash Player up to date. Those are the most common ways viruses and spyware can gain access to your computer.
As a rule of thumb, don’t click on links to suspicious websites. In many programs, you can mouse over the link to see the HTTP address. Just remember to air on the side of caution.
Don’t go to suspicious sites. If you’re not sure about the site, try searching Google for it. If a lot of hits come up like “Spyware, removal of spyware, virus related” etc, don’t go to that site. Also, if you had gotten a virus in the past from a questionable website, don’t go to that website again.
Run an anti-virus program. This should be really easy for people affiliated with UMass. UMass has a site license for McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan. You can get it on the OIT website here. If you have an older version of McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan installed, uninstall it first. It might cause weird errors to occur if installing just over the older version. Also, if you have any other anti-virus programs installed, you should only have one installed. You shouldn’t have more that one anti-virus program installed, as they tend to fight each other and slow everything down. Uninstall all but one anti-virus program.
The last way to protect yourself is to run full scans with your anti-virus and anti-spyware software once per month, whether you think you need it or not. Think of it like an oil change for your car. It cleans out all the sludge that may build up, whether you see it or not. If you have the version of McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan distributed from the OIT site mentioned above, McAfee will update itself every day, and run a full scan in the background once a week. You should also run a full scan once a month with your anti-spyware software of your choice. We use Spybot Search and Destroy, which can be found here.
Change can be difficult. When you’ve invested time and energy in learning something new, especially something as complicated as an operating system (e.g. Windows 98, Windows XP, Mac OS 9), it can be quite frustrating to be told that you should upgrade to something new. Waiting a little while to perform upgrades is actually a good idea. As any early adopter of Windows Vista can tell you, making the switch from Windows XP was extremely painful because there were many kinks to work out of Vista. However, with a few years under its belt, Vista is, arguably, a more secure operating system.
Of course, many users still prefer Windows XP, which is okay, but users need to stay extra vigilant. Hanging on to an older application or operating is fine until the developer stops supporting it and providing updates. This is the case with operating systems such as Windows 98 and Mac OS 9. When, this happens it is important to upgrade! This means switching to any new version of an application or operating system. For example, an upgrade from Windows 2000 could be any version of Windows XP or any version of Windows Vista. An upgrade for Adobe Acrobat Reader would be from Version 8 to Version 9. Upgrades often add new features to software
Updates are different from upgrades in that they work to fix existing problems in software. They are important because they help keep your application or operating system secure. When you apply updates to Windows or Mac OS X, you are improving the security and stability of your computer. Here are some advantages of performing updates:
- Bug Fixes: No one is perfect. When a programmer develops an application and distributes it to users, there are often “bugs” waiting to be found. Bugs are simply unexpected situations that cause programs to crash or malfunction. Programs are not smart. They do what they are programmed to do and handle situations that they are programmed to handle. Programmers try to think about all the sorts of things that could go wrong when an application is running in the real world by giving users error messages or warnings. (e.g. If a program asks a user for a date in the format MM/DD/YYYY and the user types in YYYY/MM/DD, the program will ask the user to type the information in correctly.) However, sometimes there are problems which programmers don’t consider. When an application runs into these situations, it could crash, malfunction (i.e. appear to be working correctly, but really processing information incorrectly. This is especially dangerous because users don’t know that something has gone wrong!) Updates often fix these “bugs.”
- Security: Bugs can leave your operating system or application open to attack. A bug can be exploited by a virus or an attacker to do bad things to your files or even turn your computer into a zombie computer! Zombie computers can be used to attack other computers, send out spam messages, and even delete or ransom your files.
- Improvements: Many developers like getting user input. When they come out with a new version or update for a program, they often add new features which will make the program more useful or usable.
The main reasons to perform upgrades are:
- To take advantage of new features. Upgrades often change how existing features work or offer new features altogether.
- Your current application / operating system is no longer supported. When your program or operating system is no longer supported by the developer, they will no longer patch the program to ensure that it remains secure. When this happens, it’s important to take the step to upgrade to a supported version of the application or operating system.
The moral of the story is: keep yourself up-to-date to keep yourself sane and your computer secure. OIT Software Support suggests that you use a program called Secunia PSI if you run Windows. Secunia PSI will scan all the programs on your computer and will tell you which ones are out-of-date. It will then show you what to do to update them.
As always, if you have any questions, please call OIT Help Services at 413.545.9400.
I saw this article on Slashdot today and wanted to warn everyone out there. Nine million infected computers running Microsoft systems is an incredible amount of machines compromised.
As the article states, the worm propagates through un-patched Windows systems and through USB thumb-drives. This means that having a secure system or up-to-date virus protection is NOT ENOUGH! You need a combination of both. This is good computer usage in practice anyway, but we see an incredible amount of un-patched XP and Vista systems come in with virus infections.
The above image shows what happens when you plug-in an infected USB-stick into a machine. Notice the “Publisher not Specified,” text in gray under the open option? That should be your first clue right there. Do NOT click on this, as this will launch the virus and infect your computer.
It’s just that little yellow icon in your system tray, that little place with icons by the time in the bottom left. Click – Express Install – Done. It’s really that simple.
For those that are interested, the Microsoft Security Bulletin can be read here.
You will see a distinct look of fear in the eyes of anyone who has used Microsoft Windows when you mention a ‘BSOD’ or ‘Blue Screen of Death’. Sometimes they occur a single time and then go away, but other times they will recur every time that you restart the computer.
When this happens to you, there are a few things to try:
- If your computer restarts in an endless loop and you can’t tell why, hit the F8 key repeatedly, about once a second, just as the computer starts to reboot.
- You will get a menu that looks something like this:
- Select the option entitled, “Disable automatic restart on system failure.”
- Next time that you get the BSOD, it won’t restart automatically and you can then acquire useful information for troubleshooting the problem.
- When you get the BSOD, copy down the complete STOP CODE which is formatted like so:
- STOP: 0x00000000 (0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)
- The first set of numbers (in blue) can be entered into Google or the Microsoft Knowledge Base.
You can then sometimes get useful information for fixing the problem. If nothing else, copy down the error numbers to bring to OIT Software Support. Other useful information includes the hardware (e.g. mouse, monitor, printers, scanners, USB devices) attached to the computer and the programs you remember running. The more contextual information we have, the easier it will be to solve a problem!
If you have seen this screen then you know what virus I am referring to.
Here in Software Support, we use a program called ComboFix that you can download yourself by clicking here. This software will clean up most instances of this known type of virus called “Smitfraud,” and will generally leave your system much more operable than before. Recently, the number of outbreaks of this virus and ones like it have become staggering.
This software changes daily and must be downloaded every time it is run! The best way to do this is to download it on a computer that is clean and copy it over onto a USB pen drive.
Usually at Software Support there is a lull in the middle of the semester, but last fall the amount of traffic into SWS was something that I have never seen in my four years of working here.
If you feel that your computer is not running correctly, or if you think that the error messages that are popping up are not from your normally installed anti-virus or anti-spyware software, this should be your first step in alleviating the problem.
Of course, if you are having issues running the software or are not comfortable doing this, you can bring the computer in and we will run it for you.