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Vista: Only the Shadow Folder Knows
One of the most potentially useful new features in (some editions of) Vista is the concept of “shadow folders,” which uses the shadow copy technology to allow you to revert back to previous versions of your files. The shadow copies are created automatically each day, and whenever you install an application or driver. To find a previous version of a file, you just open its Properties and click the Previous Versions tab — but note that this feature only comes with the Business, Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Vista. See how it works here.  

How to Reinstall System Restore
The System Restore feature in Windows XP is a great one – but sometimes it quits working properly (or at all). In this case, you may need to reinstall it. Here’s how:

  1. Click Start | Run.
  2. In the Run box, type %Windir%INF. This should open your WINDOWS directory to the INF folder.
  3. Find a file named SR.INF (if you have Explorer configured to hide common file extensions, it may display as SR).
  4. Right click the SR.INF file and select Install. Windows may prompt you for your Windows installation source path. If you have service packs installed, point it to the %Windir%ServicePackFiles folder.

After the System Restore files are reinstalled, restart Windows.

Important note: this process will remove any existing system restore points.

How to Find Out if your Processor is Overheating
Here’s a handy little free utility that will read the sensors built into your motherboard and warn you if your processor is overheating. It works on all Windows operating systems from 9.x to XP (we haven’t tried it on Vista yet). Link here.

Download: Outlook Junk E-Mail Reporting Tool
Unlike anti-virus programs, multiple spam filters can play nicely together and provide you with better protection against unwanted email. If you use Microsoft Office, you can add another layer of spam catching with the built-in junk mail filters. And now you can make those filters more efficient by reporting any spam that still gets through to Microsoft. Doing so is a one-click operation when you download and install the Junk E-mail Reporting Tool here.  (If you’re not happy with the Junk Mail filters in Outlook, you might consider doing a free trial run of our antispam tool, iHateSpam.)

Can’t configure automatic updates?
If you are having trouble configuring automatic updates (going into the Automatic Updates dialog box in Control Panel and all the options are grayed out), there are a couple of solutions.

The simplest and most common solution is that you aren’t logged on as an administrator. So first try logging on with an admin account.

If that doesn’t work, it may be that a policy has been enabled in the registry. To fix this, in your registry editor go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Policies Microsoft Windows WindowsUpdate AU. In the right pane, delete two values: AUOptions and NoAutoUpdate.

Now go to this location: HKEY_CURRENT_USER SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies WindowsUpdate. In the right pane, delete this value: DisableWindowsUpdateAccess.

The above assumes you’re using a standalone (non-domain) Windows XP computer. If your computer is a member of a Windows domain, a Group Policy applied by your domain administrator may be preventing you from changing the auto update settings.

Error 1068 when you try to turn on ICS
If you attempt to enable Internet Connection Sharing in XP by running the ICS wizard, you might get an error message that says the dependency service or group failed to start. This means there is some service that’s needed by ICS, which is not turned on. To address the problem, you need to check out the status of the relevant services and turn on any that are disabled. For a list of the dependency services and instructions on how to turn them on, see KB article 827328 here.

Can’t log onto XP after removing spyware
If you use Ad-Aware by Lavasoft and it removes the spyware program wsaupdate.exe, you may not be able to log onto your XP computer because the spyware also makes a change to the registry that is not fixed by removing it. You can use the Recovery Console to fix the problem. For complete instructions, see KB article 892893 here.

Deb Shinder, MVP