20 Hidden Windows Vista Tools

[...most of you will probably be aware of these. But for those that

The default installation of Windows Vista weighs in at approximately 8
GB. In fact, Microsoft's latest operating system won't even install
with less than 15 GB of space available on the hard drive.

This is valid for both the low-end and the high-end editions of the
platform. A full Vista installation will take up no less than 40 times
more hard disk space compared to Windows 95's 200 MB and five times
more than Windows XP's 1.5 GB. Part of the reason why Vista hugs so
much hard disk real estate space is the fact that the operating system
brings to the table a plethora of built-in administrative tools that
ship by default with the platform.

In this context, the term hidden, is not entirely accurate. Advanced
users and system administrators have no problems tracking down and
using the administrative tools in Vista. But at the same time, an
average user could pass right by them, just because of their low
footprint in the operating system's fabric, as they simply have a way
to go by virtually undocumented and unnoticed. But this does not mean
that the tools are not there, it just requires a bit of digging under
the surface. And you will be surprised of how many long-time Windows
users have failed to take a deeper look under the hood of the
operating system, even if it would make their life so much easier.

You'll be surprised of what is lying beneath. But at the same time you
have to understand that a large part of these utilities are not new to
Vista, although they all suffered enhancements. Some of them are
obviously survivors from older editions of Windows. But this is
besides the point. You should at least be aware of the luxuriant
resources within your grasp, provided of course that you are running
Windows Vista. Also, while the tools exemplified in this article are
to a certain degree common to all SKUs of Vista, you would do better
to focus on the high-end editions of the operating system, such as
Business, Enterprise and Ultimate, and less on Home Basic and Home
Premium, as some items might be missing or limited in functionality on
the latter two examples of the platform.

1. Task Manager
Right, I thought I would debut with something as common as the Start
Menu. The Windows Task Manager can be launched via Ctrl + Shift + Esc,
or by Alt + Ctrl + Delete, as well as by right clicking the Taskbar
and choosing Task Manager from the options in the contextual menu that
pops up. The Windows Task Manager in Vista is designed to run with
standard user privileges, and as such, will not deliver a User Account
Prompt. The tool will permit you to manage Applications, Processes,
Services, and to monitor Performance, Networking and the active Users
through the corresponding tabs. If you are looking to kill a program
that is not responding, identify the process associated with a certain
program or simply check the CPU cycles or the amount of system memory
cached, then Task Manager is the simplest and most accessible tool.

2. Network and Sharing Center
"The Network and Sharing Center puts you in control of your network
connectivity. It's a place where you can check your connection status,
view your network visually, and troubleshoot connection problems. The
Network and Sharing Center informs you about your network and verifies
whether your PC can successfully access the Internet?then summarizes
this info in the form of a Network Map," reads a fragment of
Microsoft's description of the resource.

3. Backup, Shadow Copies, System Restore
There is an intimate connection between backup, shadow copies, system
restore and restore points in Windows Vista. And there are two
locations that will permit you to both have a general perspective of
the status of the capabilities mentioned and to configure them, the
Backup Status and Configuration and the Backup and Restore Center.
Both can be launched by entering "Backup" in the search box under the
Start Menu.

4. Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption
Available exclusively in Windows Vista Enterprise and Ultimate,
Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption is designed to help ensure the
privacy of sensitive data by encryption. Although the default
configuration of BitLocker requires a Trust Platform Module, the fact
of the matter is that TPMs are rare in use outside of corporate
environments, but users will be able to use the tool nonetheless,
although without some functionality. With Windows Vista SP1, the
Redmond company will also allow users to encrypt additional volumes on
top of the operating system drive, protected by default.

5. Program Compatibility Wizard
The Program Compatibility Wizard under Control Panel and Programs will
permit you to use an older program with Windows Vista. The tool is
designed to help users that are experiencing functionality issues with
an application in Vista, although the problems were not there with a
prior version of Windows. The wizard will detect all the programs
installed, and also permit the selection and testing of compatibility
settings. Everything from display settings, to desktop composition and
to administrative privileges can be set through the wizard.

6. Microsoft Management Console 3.0
"Microsoft Management Console (MMC) hosts administrative tools that
you can use to administer networks, computers, services, and other
system components," reads an excerpt of the Redmond company's
description of the resource. The Microsoft Management Console 3.0,
also known as Console Root or Console 1, has been around since Windows
2000. You can open it by typing "mmc" in the Search box under the
Start menu, in a Run dialog box or in a command prompt window. MMC is
essentially not an administrative tool, as it does not perform any
such tasks, but it does provide hosting for various components
including: Local security Policy, Computer Management, Event Viewer,
and the Reliability and Performance Monitor as snap-ins which can be
added for local or remote computers on the network.

7. Computer Management
Computer Management is a collection of administrative components.
Accessible by entering "Computer Management" in the Search box under
Start Menu, you can find items placed in three categories: System
Tools, Storage and Services and Applications. Computer Management
comes with the Task Scheduler, Event Viewer, Shared Folders, Local
Users and Groups, the Reliability and Performance Monitor, Device
Manager, Disk Management, as well as Services and WMI Control.

8. WMI - Windows Management Instrumentation
"Effective management of PC and server systems in an enterprise
network benefits from well-instrumented computer software and
hardware, which allow system components to be monitored and
controlled, both locally and remotely. Microsoft is committed to
simplifying instrumentation of hardware and software under Microsoft
Windows operating systems. Microsoft is also committed to providing
consistent access to this instrumentation for both Windows-based
management systems and legacy management systems that are hosted in
other environments. The foundations for manageability in Windows
operating systems are Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI;
formerly known as WBEM) and WMI extensions for Windows Driver Model,"
reveals the company's introduction on WMI.

9. Services
Typing "Services" in the Search box under the Start Menu will open the
tool with exactly this name. Essentially, the utility will provide an
exhaustive list of all the processes in Windows Vista complete with
name, description, status and startup type. The console will allow you
to stop, restart or start various services across the operating
system, as well as getting an insight into all the properties of the
services enumerated by the tool.

10. Disk Management
Disk Management in Windows Vista is under Control Panel, System and
Maintenance, Administrative Tools, Computer Management, Storage. A
breeze to navigate if you were to ask me. The system utility will help
you manage partitions and hard disks. Disk initialization, creating
volumes, and formatting with the FAT, FAT32, or NTFS file systems are
all tasks offered by Disk Management.

11. Device Manager
"Device Manager provides you with a graphical view of the hardware
that is installed on your computer. All devices communicate with
Windows through a piece of software called a device driver. You can
use Device Manager to install and update the drivers for your hardware
devices, modify hardware settings for those devices, and troubleshoot
problems", is the overview Microsoft provides of the tool. Device
Manager permits users to modify hardware configuration settings, get a
complete overview of all devices, perform device drivers installation
and uninstallation actions, as well as enable and disable certain

12. Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor
Under Control Panel, System and Maintenance, Administrative Tools, the
Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor is the big brother of the
monitoring features provided by the Task Manager. The tool will offer
a closer view at the CPU, the hard disk, Network activity and System
Memory. Users can both monitor the system's performance in real time
or choose to create logs of data collected and stored for further

13. Local Users and Groups
This is the perfect location to manage accounts in Windows Vista. You
will be able to create and handle user accounts and the details
related to them such as Groups and privileges. The Local Users and
Groups console offers a location to activate the two built-in accounts
that ship with Vista: Guest and Administrator. While Guest can be all
but ignored, I am sure that the account for the Absolute Administrator
of Vista is the kind of freedom some users will want.

14. Event Viewer
"The Event Viewer is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that
enables you to browse and manage event logs. It is an indispensable
tool for monitoring the health of systems and troubleshooting issues
when they arise. Event Viewer enables you to perform the following
tasks: view events from multiple event logs; save useful event filters
as custom views that can be reused; schedule a task to run in response
to an event and create and manage event subscriptions", reads the
tool's overview.

15. Task Scheduler
The Task Scheduler is also hosted under Control Panel, System and
Maintenance, Administrative Tools and the name is pretty much
explanatory. You can use the tool to schedule automated tasks in
concordance with a specific time or a certain event. The utility will
also offer a complete library of scheduled tasks allowing you to
delete unnecessary items, in addition to options such as run, disable
and modify.

16. Memory Diagnostics Tool
Normally, you will access the Memory Diagnostics Tool via the Windows
Vista installation disk. But there is also another way. The utility
can be found under Control Panel, System and Maintenance,
Administrative Tools and, when launched, it will offer to restart
immediately and check for RAM problems, or analyze the system memory
the next time the computer is started. This is a very useful tool that
will identify and diagnose memory problems.

17. System Configuration
System Configuration can be launched by entering "msconfig" in the
Search box under the Start menu. It will offer users five tabs and
with them the possibility to manage the startup process, boot options,
the services across Vista, a reduced list of start-up items as well as
providing shortcuts to a range of tools in the operating system. Under
the Tools tab, you will be able to find some more hidden Vista goodies
such as Internet Protocol Configuration, UAC and easy access to the

18. System Information
"System Information (also known as msinfo32.exe) shows details about
your computer's hardware configuration, computer components, and
software, including drivers," reads the general description of the
tool. System Information offers users a view over System Summary, the
Hardware Resources and the Software Environment. The tool will display
information about the operating system and its general settings,
hardware and programs. Just type "msinfo32.exe" in the Search box
under the Start Menu in order to launch it.

19. Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
Windows Firewall with Advanced Security is a bit of a hidden gem in
Windows Vista. Located under Control Panel, Administrative Tools the
tool is a bundle between a host firewall and Ipsec. If you want
control over packets for IPv4 and IPv6 traffic, then this utility is
the right answer for you, no doubt about it. You will be able to
configure rules that will then apply to all incoming and outgoing

20. Local Security Policy
Also placed under Control Panel, Administrative Tools, the Local
Security Policy will allow you to configure policies for the Vista
Accounts, Local Policies, Public Key Policies, Software Restrictions
Policies, IP Security Policies on Local Computer and the Windows
Firewall with Advanced Security.

source: news.softpedia.com