OTT Guide to Backups, System Images and Recovery in Windows 10

Just about all new versions of Windows have many components that are taken from previous versions of the OS. Most of the time, it’s a better version of the old software. Sometimes, like in Windows 8, multiple versions of the same feature are included and it can make things worse.

Lastly, some features from older versions of Windows are good enough to keep as-is in newer version. One example of this is the backup options. In this article, I’m going to talk about the built-in backup features in Windows 10 and how it’s a blend of new Windows 10 features and old Windows 7 backup options.

In a way, it’s a good thing that you still have all the options you had before, but it’s also more confusing, just like having IE 11 and Edge installed at the same time.

Windows 7 Backup Options in Windows 10

In Windows 10, you can still do everything you were able to do in Windows 7 in terms of backups and recovery. If you go to the Control Panel, you’ll see an option called Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

The dialog that pops up is pretty much the same one you see in Windows 7. You can Create a system image, Create a system repair disc, Set up backup or restore a backup if there is one available.

If you click on Create a system image, you’ll have a  choice of where you want to save the image. Only on Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise can you save the system image to a network location.

Note that you cannot save the system image to any drive that is included in the system image. Creating a system image this way is a manual process. If you want to have it done automatically, you need to choose the Set up backup option.

This is the same as Backup and Restore in Windows 7. Basically, you choose where you want to save the backup to and then pick a schedule. The only thing you have to note is that you cannot create a system image if you backup to DVD. You have to backup to a hard disk or network location in order to have that option otherwise it’s greyed out.

By default, the system images are saved in the following format, where X is the drive you choose.

X:\WindowsImageBackup\PC_Name\Backup YYYY-MM-DD HHMMSS

For example, if I chose to save the system image to an external hard drive (E:), then I the location of the backup would be:

E:\WindowsImageBackup\AseemPC\Backup 2018-10-04 083421

Backup Restore Options in Windows 10

There are two ways to recover data from your backups in Windows 10. If you created a system image, then you have to boot to System Recovery Options in Windows 10 to restore the image. If you backed up using the schedule feature and picked files and folders, you can restore the files/folders from within the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) dialog.

Click on the Restore my files button and then you can go ahead and selectively choose which files you want to restore from the backup.

For restoring the system image, it’s a different procedure. Note that restoring a system image is a full restore, meaning that you can’t pick and choose what you want to restore; everything will be wiped out and replaced with the image. Restoring from a normal Windows backup allows you to restore individual files and folders.

To restore a system image, you need to boot to System Recovery Options in Windows 10. Once there, you need to click on Troubleshoot.

troubleshoot

Then click on Advanced Options.

advanced options

Then go ahead and click on System Image Recovery.

system image recovery

Next, you’ll have to choose an account and type in the password for that user account. You’ll then have the option to restore from the latest system image or choose a specific image, which you would do if you had the system image saved to an external USB hard drive, a network location or a DVD, for example.

system iamge backup

Once you have selected the image, you’ll have several options on how to restore the image to your computer. Note that you can only restore to a disk that is the same size or larger than the disks included in the backup image.

Reset this PC in Windows 10

In addition to the options above, you can also use a new feature in Windows 10 called Reset this PC. This is basically like performing a repair install in Windows XP or Windows 7. All system files are replaced and you essentially lose all your programs and settings, but you data stays intact.

This is exactly what Reset this PC does, but it’s a lot easier and really just takes a couple of clicks. It also gives you the option to completely erase everything and start from scratch. This is click performing a full clean install of Windows 10.

File History

In addition to all the Windows 7 backup and restore options, the Reset this PC option, you also have another new feature in Windows 10 called File History.

File History is turned off by default. Also note that if you are using a Windows 7 file backup with a schedule, File History cannot be enabled! You’ll see this message:

You have to turn off the schedule in order to use File History. This is kind of annoying since that means you’ll have to manually create system images if you like to have system images for your backups. Once you disable scheduled Windows 7 backups, you’ll see you now can turn File History on.

enable file history

It’s suggested that you use an external drive or secondary hard drive for saving the file history instead of a local hard drive or partition. You can also use a network location if you like. Actually, you can’t even choose a location on the same physical disk for File History. This is one advantage File History has over Shadow Copies, which was a similar technology in older version of Windows. If the drive dies, you can reinstall Windows 10, give it the same name as the dead system and then choose the same location for File History as the dead machine.

Once you have chosen a location, the Turn on button will be enabled so you can click on it. That’s about it, FIle History is now on! So what does that mean and what does it do?

Well, it basically saves versions of the files stored in your libraries, favorites, contacts, and a few other locations like Music, Videos, Pictures and Desktop. If you go back to File History after it’s made some copies, you can click on the Restore personal files option.

restore personal files

You can now browse through to a specific file or folder and navigate back and forth in time using the green blue keys at the bottom of the screen. Here’s an example of a text document I created and edited with some text.

windows 8 file history.png

If I click the left arrow key, I’ll see version 2 of 3, which has a little bit less text than version 3 of 3.

recover files windows 8

Pressing the green circular arrow button will allow you to restore that version of the file:

restore file

You can replace the file, skip it or see some comparison info on the files. Unfortunately, it won’t actually compare the content of the files, just the date and other info like the size, etc. File History sounds pretty good, but it has some serious issues in my opinion and with a lot of other people too, apparently.

1. If you rename a file, the history for that file is lost. It basically starts from scratch again. So renaming a file is pretty much the same thing as deleting a file and starting over. The old history still exists, just with the old name.

2. Following from point one, if you create another file with the name of the original file, the histories will be joined! So if you delete a file that had a history and then you create a new file with that same name, you’ll get the history of the previously deleted file too.

3. Copies are made of the entire file each time a backup is done. So if you have a 500 MB file that gets changed three times in a minor way, you’ll have three 500MB copies of that file.

4. You can’t backup anything other than files and folders. You’ll still have to rely on Backup and Restore (Windows 7) for actually backing up your Windows 10 system.

5. You can’t include additional folders other than the ones pre-defined by Microsoft. This means if you want to use File History, you’ll have to move the data to one of the designated folders.

Overall, it’s all complicated system of backup options in Windows 10 that will most likely confuse new users. Hopefully, this article sheds some light on the different options, their advantages and disadvantages and how you can use them in combination to create a robust backup plan for your Windows 10 PC.

Lastly, you can skip out on all the built-in options if they aren’t good enough and simply use a third-party tool for cloning and imaging your system. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

The post OTT Guide to Backups, System Images and Recovery in Windows 10 appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

10 Awesome Windows 10 Registry Hacks You Might Not Know

As Windows 10 gains a bigger market share over the next few years, you can be sure there are going to be a lot of ways to customize or tweak the registry! A lot of visual and under-the-hood changes can only be done via the registry.

In this article, I’ll show you 10 cool registry hacks you can use to customize your Windows 10 install. I’m sure there will be a lot more customizations in the future, so feel free to post a comment and let us know any good ones that you find.

Obviously, before you start, make sure you perform a backup of Windows and your registry.

Customize Desktop Context Menu

One nice registry hack is adding your own shortcuts to the desktop right-click context menu. By default, it doesn’t have much there, but if you happen to be on the desktop a lot, you can add some links to your favorite programs.

First, go to the following registry key:

Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell\

Now you have to add two keys under the shell key. The first one should be the name that you want to use for the shortcut and the second will be called command. Above, I created one called Notepad and then created command underneath Notepad. Finally, double-click on the Default key in the right-hand pane and change the value to notepad.exe, for example.

Now when you right-click on the desktop, you’ll see Notepad and clicking on that will open Notepad! Nice!

Desktop Icon Spacing

icon spacing

Thanks Microsoft for getting rid of the options to customize our desktop! What used to be so easy is now a registry hack! In order to change the desktop icon spacing (horizontal and vertical), you have to edit two values in the registry. Check out our previous post below.

Change Desktop Icon Spacing in Windows 10

Click to Last Active Window

This is probably one of my favorite little hacks for Windows 10. Have you ever had several windows of the same application open, like Word or Excel, and then had to click over to a different application like Chrome?

However, when you click on the icon in the taskbar to get back to Word or Excel, instead of taking you straight to the window you were on previously, it just shows you a small thumbnail image of all the windows. With this hack, when you click on the icon for a program with multiple instances open, it will take you straight to the last active window.

Of course, you could just press the ALT + TAB key combo, but this is useful if you always end up using the mouse rather than the keyboard. Navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

Go ahead and create a new 32-bit Dword called LastActiveClick and give it a value of 1.

Disable User Account Control

uac

User Account Control is a different beast in Windows 10 and you can’t even fully disable it via the traditional GUI interface you see above. To actually turn it off, you have to go to the registry or edit the local security policy. However, there are a few unexpected consequences to disabling UAC in Windows 10, which you can read in full below.

OTT Explains – UAC (User Account Control) in Windows 10

Confirm File Delete Dialog

Another missing feature in Windows 10 is the confirm file delete dialog we were all so familiar with. I never noticed it too much, but when I first deleted a file in Windows 10, I was shocked to see that the file just went straight to the recycle bin. I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, but if you really want it back, here’s how to get it back. Navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\

Go ahead and create a new key under Policies called Explorer. Then create a new DWORD value and give it a name of ConfirmFileDelete. Change the value to 1 if you want the delete file dialog and 0 if you don’t want it. Sweet!

Registered Owner

Even though it’s so old and useless, I still like having the ability to change the registered owner in Windows to whatever I like. Don’t ask me why, it’s just some weird geek thing from the early days of Windows. Luckily, Microsoft still has the value stored in a registry key which you can change to whatever you like.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

Under CurrentVersion, just find RegisteredOwner and change it. Also, note there is a RegisteredOrganization, you could could actually put two custom lines in the about Windows dialog. How do you even get to that dialog in Windows 10? Click on Start and type winver.

Paint Desktop Version

If you’re running several copies of Windows 10 on multiple computers and in virtual machines like I am, it’s nice to have the Windows version painted onto the desktop automatically. Windows 10 has a registry key that enables you to add this to your desktop automatically. Navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop

Find PaintDesktopVersion under the Desktop key and change the value from 0 to 1. Next time you login, you’ll see the Windows 10 version number and build number as shown above.

Border Width

border width

If you don’t like the border size around all your windows while on the desktop, then you can change it by going to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics

Find the key called BorderWidth and change it to any value between 0 and 50. It’s defaulted to -15, which is some odd numbering scheme employed by Microsoft which I don’t really get. Luckily, you can just use 0 to 50 for this registry setting instead of the crazy negative numbers.

Get Windows 7 Volume Control

If you’re not a big fan of the new horizontal volume control in Windows 10, then you’ll be happy to know that you can get the vertical one again, just like in Windows 7. Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

Create a new key under current version called MTCUVC and then create a new DWORD value inside of MTCUVC called EnableMtcUvc. Leave it with a value of 0.

Remove OneDrive from Explorer

Lastly, if you don’t use OneDrive for your cloud storage, then what’s the point of having it show up in Explorer all the time? Luckily, there’s a simple registry hack that will remove it from Explorer easily.

Navigate to the following key:

Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6}

Change the value of System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree to 0 and restart your computer. That’s it!

If you’re using Windows 10 and feel comfortable modifying the registry, feel free to play around with the options above and customize Windows 10 to your delight. Enjoy!

The post 10 Awesome Windows 10 Registry Hacks You Might Not Know appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

10 New Features In Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

The Windows 10 Spring Creators Update will be available on the Release channel within the next few days. The rumored date is April 10, 2018 but as with all major feature updates, it won’t roll out to users all at once. If you’re on the Fall Creators Update, you can defer the update for a while. If you’re looking forward to the new update, make sure you’ve prepped your system for it. That said, here are ten awesome new features coming in Windows 10 Spring Creators Update that you will want to try out.

1. Timeline

Timeline is a feature Microsoft announced for Windows 10 long before it was anywhere near completion. The feature presents a timeline of tasks that you were working on, on a given day. It makes it easier to recall documents you had open, links you were browsing, and emails you answered.

The timeline feature will be accessible via the multi-tasking button next to Cortana, and the button itself has a new look. This feature has a lot of promise and users who have tested it on the Insider Builds are impressed with it.

2. Near Share

Near Share is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s AirDrop. It is a service that allows you to share files with nearby computers running the same Windows 10 build. A reasonable number of security and verification tools are built in to make sure people around you can’t spam you. We expect it’s going to be amazing especially given how great the Photo Sharing over WiFi in the Photos app is working.

3. Windows Diagnostic Data View

One of the labels Windows 10 is still trying to shake is that it ‘steals your private data’. This is ridiculous hyperbole that stemmed from Microsoft not disclosing what kind of diagnostic data it collects and enabling it by default instead of lettings users opt-in to sharing the information. Microsoft has fault to bear here and it’s trying to mitigate it with the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer. The data viewer basically lets you see what information is being collected. Nothing is hidden anymore.

4. Bandwidth Limit For Updates

Windows 10, like its predecessors, downloads updates in the background. Unfortunately, the updates often hog your bandwidth so that browsing or streaming are interrupted. In the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update, you have the option to allocate a specific amount of bandwidth for updates so that the rest is available to you.

5. Font Settings Panel

Fonts have a new home; the Settings app. You can preview fonts from the Settings app and download more from the Microsoft Store. The Fonts folder in your Windows drive still works the way it does and it’s probably not going anywhere for a long time but the new Font settings are definitely better in terms of UI.

6. Focus Assist

Quite Hours has been rebranded as Focus Assist and you can finally schedule and set Focus Assist hours. Quite hours aka Focus Assist is basically Windows’ version of Do Not Disturb. When Focus Assist is active, your notifications are paused. You can activate it on the fly and off schedule from a toggle in the Action Center. It’s great for when you’re in a Skype call, playing a game, or just trying to answer an important email.

7. Edge – Mute Tabs

You can mute tabs in Edge now, much like you can in Chrome and Firefox. Edge is also turning into a reasonably good PDF viewer but you’ll have to wait until October this year to see the PDF features in action.

8. Multi-GPU Settings

We’ve written quite a bit about GPU settings and how you can force an app to use the dedicated GPU instead of the integrated graphics card. This option has, to date, been available only in the control panel of your GPU. With the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update, there is now going to be a setting for this within the OS. This means that if your dedicated GPU doesn’t support this feature, you might be able to force it through Windows 10. There are exceptions and limitations here of course but this feature in itself is great.

9. Settings Migration

More settings are migrating from the Control Panel to the Settings app. Noteworthy ones are; audio and sound settings, and where you can set Startup apps.

10. Password Recovery For Local Accounts

Microsoft has pushed users to connect their Microsoft account to their Windows 0 desktop. Users have adamantly refused and insist on using a local account but it has had its advantages e.g., no password recovery options. The Windows 10 Spring Creators Update lets you set security questions that you can use to reset your local account password if you’ve forgotten it.

Read 10 New Features In Windows 10 Spring Creators Update by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

What Is A Windows 10 Redstone Build

You might have read the word ‘Redstone’ next to a Windows 10 build’s name. The build number may change but it’s always called Redstone for some reason. Redstone is a code word that Microsoft uses for Windows 10 builds that have not yet been released. A Windows 10 Redstone build is just that; an insider build that hasn’t been pushed to the release channel.

Windows 10 Redstone

Since all Windows 10 insider builds are called Redstone, you might wonder what the point of it all is. It’s clear that Microsoft is no longer working on Windows 7 or 8 so any builds, regardless of their name, will be for Windows 10.

Microsoft gives its builds a name; it did the same for Windows 7 and it does so for Windows 10 but the name ‘Redstone’ also denotes something else; feature roll out. A Redstone build is also accompanied by a number, a much smaller one that those given to builds. For example, builds belong to Redstone 3, or Redstone 4, or Redstone 5.

Lots of different builds will be grouped under Redstone 3. Redstone 3 represents the final build that was made available as the Fall Creators Update. Redstone 4 encompasses the builds, and features, that will roll out in the Spring Creators Update. And Redstone 5 will roll out in October 2018.

Why This Matters

If you don’t care much for the new features that are being added to Windows 10, this information is of no use to you.

If you keep up with the new features that are going to be added to Windows 10, regardless if you’re part of the Insider Program or not, you will want to know when a particular feature will be available on the release channel. We should mention that the features are likely to ship with a certain build however, if Microsoft doesn’t iron the kinks out it in time, they can be pushed to the next major release. The Redstone build number gives us a mostly accurate estimate but nothing is set in stone.

Each new insider build that Microsoft announces on its blog is accompanied by which Redstone build it will be a part of. This tells you how long you have to wait for the feature but also when it’s likely that the next major feature update will drop. If Microsoft ships a build that is slated for the next Redstone build, it’s reasonable to assume that a major feature update is coming.

The Spring Creators Update aka Redstone 4 is just days from being released to the stable channel. Microsoft is already releasing Redstone 5 i.e., RS5 builds to users on Skip Ahead and the Fast ring.

Read What Is A Windows 10 Redstone Build by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Get Skip Ahead Windows 10 Insider Builds

The Skip Ahead ring that gets newer builds compared to the Fast Ring isn’t easy to join. Slots open up without any warning and are quick to close. It isn’t easy getting a Skip Ahead build even if you don’t download it directly via Windows Update. There is no way to shoe yourself into the Skip Ahead ring however, if you’re willing to tweak the Windows registry a bit, you get Skip Ahead Windows 10 insider builds via Windows updates.

You need a PC that is already running an insider build. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the fast ring or the slow ring but you must not be on the release channel. You must also be signed into your Microsoft account and this account must be registered with the Insider Program. Last, since you’re going to edit the registry, make sure you have administrative rights on the system.

Skip Ahead Windows 10

Open the Windows Registry by typing regedit in the run dialog box. Confirm that you want to allow the program to make changes to the system when the prompt appears on your screen.

There are about four values in the registry you need to change. For the first two changes, navigate to the following location in the Windows Registry.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsSelfHost\UI\Selection

Here, look for a String called “UIContentType”. Double click it, and set its value to “Skip”. Next, look for a String called “UIRing” and set its value to “WIF”.

Now, move to the following location in the Windows Registry;

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsSelfHost\Applicability

Here, look for a String named “ContentType” and set its value to “Skip”. Next, look for a string called “Ring” and set its value to Skip. That’s about it. For good measure, restart your system.

Download Build

After you restart your system, open the Settings app and go to the Update and Security group of settings. Here, check for a Windows update. If there is a new build available for users on Skip Ahead, it will begin to download.

We should mention that some major features in Skip Ahead builds are subject to A/B testing so simply getting the ISO won’t be enough to gain access to them. You may, or may not see them. It’s possible that after you install a Skip Ahead build, your registry settings revert back to those for the Slow or Fast ring in which case you will need to make the changes again.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean you’re in the Skip Ahead ring. This only gives you access to Skip Ahead Windows 10 Insider Builds.

Read How To Get Skip Ahead Windows 10 Insider Builds by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter