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You should be familiar with the following Windows tools and utilities.

Tool Description
Control Panel Use the Control Panel to customize features of devices and to configure how a computer looks and behaves. Use the various applets within the Control Panel to perform configuration tasks for specific features or devices.
  • Use Accessibility to modify the behavior of input and display devices to accommodate users with special needs.
  • Use Fonts to view, remove, or add to all fonts that are currently installed on the computer.
  • Use Printers and Faxes to view, configure, add, or remove printers and fax machines.
  • Use Regional and Language settings to configure various settings such as language preference, default currency symbols, and date and time notation.
  • Use Scanners and Cameras to view, configure, add, or remove scanners and cameras.
  • Use Sounds and Audio Devices to view and configure the current system sound settings, installed audio devices, and sound cards.
Task Manager Use Task Manager to view the current state of the system and running applications. Task Manager is made up of the following tabs:
  • Use the Applications tab to view the status of all current applications running on the computer. Use this tab to terminate unresponsive applications.
  • Use the Processes tab to view the status of all current processes running on the computer and the CPU and memory resources they use. Use this tab to modify the priority of a process or terminate unwanted processes.
  • Use the Performance tab to view system-wide processor and memory statistics.
  • Use the Networking tab to view and monitor the status of the current network connections.
Microsoft Management Console (MMC) The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a framework that provides a common user interface for performing system administration tasks. Management of a set of related features is done by adding snap-ins to the console. The MMC provides the shell for running these snap-ins, while the snap-ins provide the details for performing specific management tasks. Microsoft provides snap-ins for managing:
  • Local Users and Groups
  • Device Manager
  • Disk Management
  • Print Management
To open a blank console, type mmc in the Run box. You can then add snap-ins to work with the configuration of your system. The console consists of two or three panes:
  • The tree pane (on the left) organizes objects in a hierarchy.
  • The results pane (in the middle) shows objects and configuration options.
  • The actions pane (on the right) lists the actions you can take on objects. (The actions pane is new with Windows Vista.)
You can save a console that includes the snap-ins you use most (saved consoles have the .msc extension). Microsoft provides a number of preconfigured consoles that include snap-ins for common tasks.
Computer Management Computer Management is a saved MMC console that includes common snap-ins used to manage your computer. Some common ways to start Computer Management include:
  • On the Start menu, right-click My Computer and select Manage.
  • Double-click the Computer Management icon in Administrative Tools in the Control Panel.
Event Viewer Use Event Viewer to view logs about programs, system events, and security. Each entry is listed as a warning, error, or information event. Events are added to the following logs:
  • The Application log contains a list of all application-related events such as application installations, un-installations, and application errors.
  • The System log contains a list of all system-related events such as system modifications, malfunctions, and errors.
  • The Security log contains a list of all security-related events such as security modifications and user login events.
Additional logs might be added by applications or services.
Services A service is a program that processes requests from other applications or users. Services can start automatically or they might be constantly running in the background, waiting for service requests. Use the Services snap-in to view and manage running services. The service startup behavior determines how the service is started.
  • When set to Automatic, the service is started automatically by Windows when the system boots.
  • When set to Manual, the service must be manually started.
  • When Disabled, the service will not run.
Performance Monitor Performance Monitor displays statistics that tell you about the operation of your computer.
  • A counter identifies a specific statistic, such as % Processor Time or % Disk Free Space.
  • You can add or remove counters to customize the statistics you can see.
  • Real-time data are displayed in a graph.
  • Performance Monitor by itself does not save any data. To save statistics over time, use a data collector set.
Reliability Monitor Reliability Monitor maintains historical data that describe the operating system's stability.
  • Overall system stability is given a stability index that ranges from 1 to 10 (10 being the most stable). The stability rating is affected by application, hardware, Windows, and other failures.
  • Reliability Monitor shows an historical chart that identifies when software installs/uninstalls and failures have occurred. By clicking on a day, you can view the changes to the system that have affected its stability.
System Information (Msinfo32) Use Msinfo32 to view hardware and configuration information for your computer. While much of this information is available through other tools, Msinfo32 provides a single location for viewing information such as:
  • Operating system version
  • Computer manufacturer, processor type, available memory
  • Installed devices and drivers used
  • Running tasks
  • Applications that run at system startup
You can only view, not modify, configuration settings in Msinfo32.
System Configuration Utility (Msconfig) Use the System Configuration Utility to configure your system to enable optimal troubleshooting and diagnosis of technical issues. Use the System Configuration Utility to:
  • Configure startup preferences
  • Configure system components
  • View and customize Windows setup components
  • Customize Bootup configuration
  • Turn services on or off
  • Enable and disable startup utilities and programs
DirectX Diagnostic Tool (Dxdiag) Dxdiag is a tool that shows information related to DirectX operation. DirectX is a set of programming interfaces for multimedia (video and audio). Dxdiag displays information such as:
  • Operating system version
  • Processor and memory information
  • DirectX version
  • Settings and drivers used by display devices
  • Audio drivers
  • Input devices (mouse, keyboard, USB)
Command Prompt Use the Command Prompt to execute command-line commands. To open a command prompt,
  • On Windows 2000/XP, click Start, then Run.... Type cmd in the Run box and press Enter.
  • On Windows Vista/7, click Start and type cmd in the search box.
Regedit Regedit.exe and Regedt32.exe are tools for modifying entries in the Windows registry. The registry is a database that holds hardware, software, and user configuration settings.
  • Whenever a change is made to preferences, software, hardware, and user-settings, those changes are stored and reflected in the registry.
  • The preferred method of modifying the registry is to use the applications or management tools that write to the registry. For example, many Control Panel applets make changes to registry settings.
  • There will be some advanced settings that can only be made by directly editing the registry.
  • For Windows 2000, use Regedt32.exe for full functionality. For Windows XP/Vista/7, Regedt32.exe simply launches Regedit.exe.