Posts Tagged Windows

Disable Thumbs.db creation on network drives in Windows

Windows Thumbs.db files can cause a great deal of annoyance when they’re placed on network locations. Not only can it cause extra resource consumption, but can inadvertently lock files and folders that otherwise need to be manipulated.

However, it’s easy to turn off the generation of these files. To do so, just follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, type ‘gpedit.msc’ and hit enter.
  2. Go to User Config > Admin Templates > Windows Components > Windows Explorer
  3. Locate ‘Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files’ and double click on it to edit the policy
  4. Set the Policy to ‘Enabled’ and click Apply, then ok.

That’s it. I don’t remember if it requires a reboot to fully take effect, but Thumbs.db files will not be created or used.

Questions, comments, or suggestions on the above? Please leave them in the comments section below. Thank you!

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Fixing “Failed to open Group Policy Object” on Windows 7

When trying to run gpedit.msc, the following message may appear:

gpedit_failed

Failed to open the Group Policy Object on this computer. You may not have appropriate rights.

Details: Unspecified error

Fix this by deleting the contents of the c:WindowsSystem32GroupPolicy folder.

This will reset your group policy, but it’s already corrupt.

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Automatically disable wireless (Wifi) when Ethernet is available

Having Windows prefer a wired connection is preferable in a number of situations: When your wired connection is faster, or your wired connection needs to be preferred because it’s a private LAN, etc.

As far as I am aware, there is not a way to completely disable the wireless adapter when an Ethernet connection is available, but you can have Windows prefer the Ethernet connection over the wireless, effectively doing the same thing.

To do this in Windows 7, do the following;

Open Control Panel, then Network and Sharing Center, click Change Adapter Settings, then tap the Alt key to show the menu. Click Advanced, then click Advanced Settings.

On the Adapters and Bindings tab, in the Connections pane, reorder the connections using the arrow keys, putting the most preferred (wired) connections on top. This will have Windows automatically prefer the wired connection over the wireless.

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Disable USB Storage by editing the Windows registry

In certain environments, it can be useful to disable the Windows USB storage driver to prevent end-users from using USB devices to copy data from the system.

You can do this easily by modifying the Windows registry.

Click Start, and run regedit

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetServicesUSBStor

and set the Start value to 4.

The default of 3 is shown in the screenshot below.

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Determine if you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows

Due to many limitations in the 32-bit version of Windows, and driver signing requirements on 64-bit versions of Windows, it can be helpful to determine which version you’re running. To do this easily, follow these instructions in Windows 7:

Click the Start menu and right-click Computer, then click Properties:

start_rc_computer

Then, look under System for System Type.

sys_props_64bit

If the line is not present, you are running a 32-bit version of Windows.

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Working shortcuts being treated as broken and deleted in Windows 7

If you have a link to a network drive, folder, or other network resource on your Windows 7 machine, and don’t connect to that network resource often enough, Windows 7 will periodically treat the link as ‘broken’ and delete it automatically.

Windows 7 has an automated maintenance task that runs from Task Scheduler that performs system maintenance and, among other things, automatically deletes those broken links. There are a few different ways to fix or work around this.

This can be extremely frustrating and annoying.

This issue has been discussed in great length on Microsoft TechNet here. A workaround has been discussed by Microsoft here, which is largely to disable the maintenance task (described below). Microsoft has also released a registry fix, available here. However, for users which aren’t comfortable or do have have permission to modify the registry (non-Administrative end-users, for example), the registry fix is not a solution.

The below detail several possible workarounds, but the one that will likely work the best is the following first method:

Method 1: Create links that don’t break

This is the most preferred method, as the scheduled task continues to run, but your links never break.

To do this, start by creating a link to a network resource. For my example, I’m using diskstationhome.

First, create your link in the typical fashion, by right-dragging a network location and selecting Create shortcuts here.

Next, right-click your newly-created shortcut and click Properties

For the target, insert explorer.exe in the beginning, and surround your network path with quotes, like so:

This changes the target of the shortcut to be explorer.exe, and therefore the link will never “break.”

Method 2: Copy your network shortcuts elsewhere

You can copy those shortcuts onto a USB flash drive, external hard drive, or other removable media, so that Windows can’t reach them to automatically remove them.

Method 3: Disable the maintenance task

You can disable the maintenance task that runs. While this isn’t the best workaround, as it disables the other productive features of the maintenance task, it’s not hard to do.

To disable the maintenance task, click Start, right-click Computer, and click Manage.

Next, expand Task Scheduler, and go to Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > Diagnosis.

You will see a task in the right pane labelled Diagnosis. Right-click the task and click Disable.

Method 4: Apply the registry fix

This is just a reiteration of the registry fix linked to above, from Microsoft KB 2642357.

Click Start, and run regedit

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsScheduledDiagnostics

Create a New DWORD Value called IsBrokenShortcutsTSEnabled with a value of 0 (zero).

Create a New DWORD Value called IsUnusedDesktopIconsTSEnabled with a value of 0 (zero).

Questions, comments, feedback, or other thoughts to share? Please feel free to add them in the comments below. Thank you!

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Determine if your CPU supports 64-bit in Windows

Windows will not be able to report if you are running a 32-bit version of Windows on a 64-bit machine. It will only report that you are running a 32-bit version of Windows.

You can determine if you are running on 64-bit capable CPU by using CPU-Z, using the instructions below:

Download and run CPU-Z, and look at the CPU tab.

Look for the line labeled Instructions.

If EM64T is displayed, your processor is 64-bit capable.

cpu-z

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Throttling Skype bandwidth using NetLimiter

In order to throttle Skype’s bandwidth, you can use a freeware program called NetLimiter. This demonstrates how to set up bandwidth limiting for Skype using NetLimiter 3. You can get NetLimiter from here, but you will need at least the Lite version (not the free version) in order to enable the limiter.

Install NetLimiter, rebooting when prompted. Then locate the NetLimiter icon in your task tray and double click it. It looks like this:

Next, start Skype if you haven’t already. Then, locate the line in NetLimiter that shows Skype. It looks like this:

Skype’s bandwidth requirements states it requires a minimum of 128kbps for video, but recommends 300kbps. Follow the instructions below to limit Skype to the 128kbps limit. You can adjust the limit upwards after setting the initial limit if the quality of your video calls suffers too greatly.

Clicking on the numbers (the 5120 under DL Limit or UL Limit) will open the limiter settings.

Set it to 128kbps (which is 16000 Bytes/sec) as follows:

Set this for both the UL and DL limit. Adjust the settings higher or lower based on your own needs. Changes take effect immediately and do not disrupt the call or require a reboot. This means you can adjust settings during the call if you need to.

Questions, comments, or feedback, please post in the comments below. Thank you!

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PPTP VPN Connection to Synology NAS on Windows 7

I previously wrote a post about connection to a Synology NAS VPN server using OpenVPN. Although OpenVPN is more secure, it does involve installing software and can be a bit tricky to set up.

The Synology NAS VPN server also has support for PPTP VPN connections, which Windows 7 (as well as other operating systems) have built-in support for, without the need to install software. It’s much easier to set up and get going.

Here’s how to do it:

Assuming that you already have the VPN Server package installed and running, go to VPN Server and make sure your PPTP VPN is enabled.

Also go to Privilege and make sure your user has permission to connect.

Lastly, make sure TCP port 1723 is forwarded to your NAS.

Setting up Windows 7

Click Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center (view by large or small icons) and click Set up a new connection or network.

net_setup_new

Click Connect to a workplace.

net_connect_workplace

If you are prompted, click “No, create a new connection”

net_new_connection

Select “Use My Internet Connection (VPN)

net_use_vpn

In the next screen, enter the IP address or hostname of your Synology NAS.

net_enter_address

In the next screen, you can enter your username and password and click Connect.

Your PPTP connection is now set up. You can access it from your network connections menu.

Deciding whether to route all traffic through the VPN connection

By default, the PPTP link will route all traffic. This is good if you’re using your VPN session as a routing point to encrypt all your traffic. However, if you decide you do not want all traffic routed through the VPN, but only non-public Internet traffic, change your settings as follows (Windows 7):

Click Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change Adapter Settings

Right-Click on your PPTP configuration and click Properties.

Click the Networking tab.

pptp_properties

For both IPv6 and IPv4, do the following:

Click Properties.

Under the General tab, click Advanced.

adv_tcp_ip_settings

To route all traffic through the VPN link, check the Use default gateway on remote network.

To route only non-public Internet traffic, uncheck the box.

Questions or comments, please leave a comment below. Thank you!

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Convert an MP4 video file to an MP3 audio file using Audacity

You can easily convert videos to audio tracks by using Audacity. First, make sure you’ve downloaded Audacity and followed the instructions to download the LAME and FFmpeg libraries.

Now, select the video you want to open and open it in Audacity. Click File > Open and select the video file.

Once you’ve opened the video, you should see the audio waveform as shown below.

Next, click File > Export:

aud_file_export

… and give the file a name.

aud_file_export_as_sample_mp3

You should see the export progress as shown below.

aud_exporting

Enjoy your mp3 file!

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