How to Prevent Shutdown of a Windows Computer

If you’re looking for a way to prevent people from shutting down or logging off your Windows machine, you’ve come to the right place. Whatever your reason may be, there are several ways to remove all options for shutting down or logging off a Windows computer.

By default, there are several ways to shutdown a Window computer: click on Start and Turn Off Computer/Shut Down, press CTRL + ALT + DEL and choose Shut Down, open the command prompt and type in the shutdown command, or install a third party application that shuts down the computer for you.

In this article, I’ll cover each method and see how we can block the shutdown. Note that your mileage will vary depending on what version of Windows you have. If you are running a Home or lower edition version of Windows, all of the options below will not be available.

Remove Shutdown Options

First, you can remove the Turn Off Computer button from the Start Menu and from the CTRL + ALT + DEL screen by using the Group Policy Editor. Note that this is editor is not available in Windows Home or Starter editions.

Click on Start, type in gpedit.msc and press Enter. In the left pane, expand User Configuration and then expand Administrative Templates. Finally, click on Start Menu and Taskbar. Note that you can also go to same location under Computer Configuration if you want the setting to apply to all users on the computer.

Now on the right pane, double-click on Remove and prevent access to the Shut Down, Restart, Sleep and Hibernate commands and set it to Enabled. You’ll notice in the description that this will remove the shutdown option from the Start Menu and Task Manager.

However, a user could still simply log off of Windows and then click the Power button from there, which remains even after enabling the setting above.

To prevent this, you need to find the Remove Logoff on start menu setting in the same section and change it to Enabled also (only under User Configuration). Now the user won’t be able to log off and won’t be able to reach that screen. However, if the computer restarts for any particular reason, the login screen will appear and the computer can be shut down. To prevent this scenario, you can also configure Group Policy to only allow shutdown of the computer when someone is logged on.

Computer Configuration – Windows Settings – Security Settings – Local Policies – Security Options and scroll down to Shutdown: Allow the system to be shutdown without having to log on and set it to Disabled.

Finally, you need to prevent people from going to the command prompt and simply typing in shutdown! To do this, go to the following policy:

User Configuration – Administrative Templates – System and double-click on the Prevent access to the command prompt policy and set it to Enabled.

Note that everything in the User Configuration section will apply to all users, even the Administrator account, so be careful and make sure you leave an option for restoring access if needed. What I normally do is leave the option for the Run command in the Start Menu so that I can get access to Group Policy later on. If you remove that option also, then you’ve basically locked yourself out.

There is a way to apply local group policies to all users except the Administrator account, but it requires quite a few steps. Microsoft has written up a knowledgebase article on exactly how to do it.

Lastly, to prevent users from installing third-party programs to shutdown the computer, you can create a standard (non-administrative) user account in Windows. The standard account does not have permission to install software most of the time. If you really want to prevent any kind of software installation, go to the following policy:

Computer Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Installer and click on Disable Windows Installer or Turn off Windows Installer.

Set it to Enabled and choose Always from the drop down box. Note that standard user accounts also cannot access the Group Policy editor, so that’s another good reason to use a non-administrative account.

Having the user logged in as a standard user will also ensure that someone cannot use the remote shutdown command in Windows to shutdown the computer.

Finally, as a extra backup, you can also make sure that the shutdown privilege is taken away from normal user accounts. You can do this by going to the following policy:

Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment\ and clicking on Shut Down the System.

By default, you’ll see a couple of groups already listed here, depending on what version of Windows you are running. The easiest thing to do is to remove the Users group and leave the rest. That way, you’ll have the shutdown privilege, but normal users will not. Even if they manage to figure out some way to send the shutdown signal to Windows, it’ll be blocked by this policy.

That is about all the different ways a Windows computer can be shut down, so hopefully this covers everything. Again, this will only work on Pro or higher versions of Windows. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

The post How to Prevent Shutdown of a Windows Computer appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

How to Change Default Download Folder Location on Any Web Browser

By default, anything you download from a web browser will normally go to the Downloads folder on your computer. This is pretty much true regardless of the operating system you are running.

Most people will use the default location for downloads, but there are instances where it might be helpful to change this folder. For example, if you are downloading several large files and you don’t have enough storage space on the local disk, you can download the files to an external hard drive or to a network drive.

In this article, I’ll show you how to change the default download folder location for all the major browsers. It’s different for each browser and each browser has different options.

Google Chrome

In Chrome, click on the settings icon (three vertical dots) at the top right of the window.

Then click on Settings from the menu list.

Scroll all the way to the bottom and then click on the Advanced link.

Again, scroll down until you see the Downloads heading. Go ahead and click on the Change button and pick a new location. If you need different downloads saved into different locations, then make sure to toggle the Ask where to save each file before downloading option.

Microsoft Edge

For Microsoft Edge, you click on the button that has three horizontal dots and then click on Settings.

A sliding menu will appear on the right-hand side. Scroll down until you see the View advanced settings button and click on that.

Scroll down to the Downloads section. Click the Change button and choose a new location for the downloads. You can also toggle whether or not you want Edge to ask you where to save each download.

Internet Explorer

If you’re still using IE, you need to click on the gear icon and then click on View Downloads.

A popup window will appear that lists any current or previous downloads using IE. Click on the Options link at the bottom left.

Click on the Browse button to change the location of the downloads folder.

Safari

Changing this setting in Safari is pretty straight-forward. Click on Safari in the menu bar at the top and then click on Preferences.

On the Preferences dialog, make sure you are on the General tab. Towards the bottom, you’ll see File download location.

If you click on that drop-down, you can choose Other to select another folder. You can also select Ask for each download if you want the option for every download.

Also, by default, Safari keeps a list of all the items you have downloaded for one day. You can change this setting to When Safari quits, Upon successful download or Manually.

Another interesting option in Safari is the Open “safe” files after downloading option, which is normally checked by default. Safari assumes safe items are pictures, movies, PDF files, etc, but I find this pretty risky. I recommend disabling this option as it really doesn’t serve any useful purpose other than making your computer more prone to malware or virus installations.

Firefox

Lastly, we have Firefox, which is probably the easiest in terms of making the change. Just click on the three horizontal bars button at the top right and then click on Preferences.

Next, on the General tab, click on the Choose button next to Save files to and select a different folder.

As with all the other browsers, you can have Firefox as you where to save each download individually. That’s about it for this tutorial. Enjoy!

The post How to Change Default Download Folder Location on Any Web Browser appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

Should You Ever Disable a Windows Service?

If you have ever searched for ways to make your Windows computer faster, you’ve probably run across several websites that suggest turning off or disabling certain Windows services. Other websites say it’s dangerous and you should never mess with Windows services. So, who is correct?

Well, the argument can basically be broken down into whether or not you know what you are doing. In my opinion, if you don’t know what a Windows service even is, then you really should not disable any service. If you have some basic understanding of services and programs, then it’s OK to disable only non-Microsoft services.

As a general rule, I never disable any service that comes installed with Windows by default or that is from Microsoft. If you think a service is unnecessary and might be slowing down your computer, you should Google it and then try to uninstall the program or Windows feature that is creating the service in the first place.

However, when you disable non-Microsoft services, your chances of messing something up on your computer are greatly reduced. Most of these third-party services don’t necessarily need to be enabled. They are usually there to check for updates in the background or something similar.

Windows Services Location

First off, there are two ways to view all the services on your Windows PC. You can go to Start and type in services to open the desktop app or you can type in MSCONFIG to open the system configuration utility.

Go ahead and click on the Services tab and you’ll see a list of all services with checkmarks next to each one. If you uncheck the service, it will be disabled the next time you restart the computer.

The other method is to click on Start and type in services, which also will list out all of the services, but each service has to be disabled manually and you can’t hide all of the Microsoft services quickly like you can in MSCONFIG. The one benefit, though, is that it gives you a detailed description for each service.

Examine Non-Microsoft Services

In MSCONFIG, go ahead and check Hide all Microsoft services. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t even mess with disabling any Microsoft service because it’s not worth the problems you’ll end up with later. Many sites will tell you that it’s OK to disable service X or service Y because it’s only used when your computer is part of a domain or it’s only needed when a certain feature is enabled in Windows, etc., but you can never really be certain when a service will suddenly need to be started and used.

Once you hide the Microsoft services, you really should only be left with about 10 to 20 services at max. If you have more than that, you probably have way too many programs installed on your computer. If you do have a lot and you need all those programs, then disabling a few of the services will probably make your computer run faster.

So how do you know which service to disable and which to leave alone? The only third-party services I have come across that you shouldn’t touch are any that have the words wireless, intel or display in them. The wireless ones control your Wi-Fi card and if you disable that service, your wireless connection will disappear.

Intel has quite a few services and I usually just leave those alone because they never use a lot of memory or eat up the CPU. Lastly, any graphics card services should remain enabled. This includes anything with NVIDIA or AMD or the word graphics in the service name. Outside of that, everything else is fair game.

Let’s take a look at some services on my computer. As you can see, I basically disabled all of the services that are related to updates. So does this mean Adobe and Google programs will never update? No, it just means I have to do it manually, which I find myself doing all the time anyway, so it’s not a big deal for me. I also disabled Steam and TechSmith because I don’t use those programs very often and the services turn on automatically once I start the programs.

It’s worth mentioning once that unchecking a service here doesn’t mean it will never run again on the computer. It just means it won’t automatically start when the computer first boots up. When you manually run the program, the services associated with that program will automatically start also.

I kept the Intel Rapid Storage, Malwarebytes, NVIDIA and Realtek audio services enabled for obvious reasons. I want my anti-malware program to be running and I want my graphics and audio to be functioning properly. If you’re not sure by the service name what it does or which program it is associated with, go to the other services app I mentioned and try to read the description. Anything that you’re not sure about, you should leave enabled.

Also, if you do disable something that you find is needed, simply go back into MSCONFIG and check the box to re-enable it. If you’re just messing around with non-Microsoft services, there isn’t a whole lot you can mess up. I also recommend disabling one service at a time, restarting, working on your computer for a while, and then trying another service.

Finally, you may find certain programs starting up that won’t show up in the list of services. In those cases, you have to disable the startup programs, which is in another section. If your computer is slow, check out my previous post on how to speed up Windows. Enjoy!

The post Should You Ever Disable a Windows Service? appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

Online Tech Tips 2016-11-01 10:50:33

As you go about your day logging into various websites in your browser or accessing protected file shares on the network, Windows stealthy works in the background and may or may not store your credentials in various locations within the operating system.

These usernames and passwords may end up in the registry, within credential files, or within the Windows Vault. The credentials are stored in encrypted format, but can easily be decrypted using your Windows password. In this article, I’m going to show several tools you can use to view these hidden passwords on your system.

Windows Credential Manager

To get started, let’s talk about the built-in tool called Credential Manager that is in Windows. Click on Start and type in credential manager to open the program.

credential-manager

You’ll notice there are two categories: Web Credentials and Windows Credentials. The web credentials will have any passwords from sites that you saved while browsing in Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. Click on the down arrow and then click on the Show link.

show-password

You’ll have to type in your Windows password in order to decrypt the password. I was surprised to see quite a few passwords from various accounts even though I use a password manager and turn off saving passwords in the browser! Also, I had several passwords from other people who I had allowed to use my computer to check their email, etc., and their passwords got saved.

So that’s something you should know when you login to an account while using another person’s computer, even if they are someone you trust. You may not want them to know your login credentials.

If you click on Windows Credentials, you’ll probably see fewer credentials stored here unless you work in a corporate environment. These are credentials when connecting to network shares, different computers on the network, or network devices such as a NAS.

windows-credentials

In the same vein, I’ll also mention how you can view Google Chrome saved passwords. Basically, each browser has the same feature, so you can do the same thing for Firefox, Safari, etc. In Chrome, click on the three dots at the top right and then click on Settings. Scroll down and then click on Show advanced settings.

Under Passwords and forms, click on the Manage saved passwords link next to Offer to save your web passwords.

manage-saved-passwords

Here you’ll see a list of all the passwords that you have stored in Chrome. The list may be quite long if you have the save password feature enabled.

show-passwords

Third-Party Utilities

Even though you can find quite a few passwords using the methods above, there are still more saved in other locations on your system. To get to these, you have to use some third party tools. My favorite site for free and clean tools is Nirsoft. There are basically three tools you can use: EncryptedRegView, CredentialsFileView, and VaultPasswordView.

All of these tools can be downloaded, extracted and run without needing to install them. This is great because it doesn’t mess with your system at all and once you are done, you can just delete the files.

EncryptedRegView

When you run the program, you’ll see a dialog box where the Run as administrator box is checked. You don’t have to do anything, just click on OK. The program will then scan the registry and decrypt any passwords it finds in the registry.

encryptedregview

Just arrow through the list and you’ll probably find a handful of gems. In my case, I found two passwords that were useful. Everything else was encrypted text that wasn’t a password.

CredentialsFileView

Instead of double-clicking on this program, you should right-click and choose Run as Administrator.

run-as-admin

On the main dialog that pops up, you’ll need to type in your Windows password at the bottom before clicking OK.

type-login-password

Now you should see a list of various credentials stored on your system. If you’re on a domain, you’ll see a lot more entries.

credentialsfileview

VaultPasswordView

This one works the same way as CredentialsFileView, but instead looks inside the Windows Vault. This tool is especially useful for Windows 8 and Windows 10 users because these two operating systems store the passwords for Windows Mail, Edge, and IE in the Windows Vault.

vaultpasswordview

If you thought those were the only useful password recovery tools from Nirsoft, you’d be wrong. Make sure to check out their entire page on password recovery tools. If you have ever forgotten a password that you have used before, these tools will help you recover them. Enjoy!

The post How to Find Hidden & Saved Passwords in Windows appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

How to Move and Extract PDF Pages

At some point or another, you probably have had to edit a PDF file by either moving the pages around, deleting a page or extracting a page or set of pages into a separate PDF file. Recently, I had to change the order of a few PDF pages and extract a different set of pages out into a separate PDF file.

In this article, I’m going to talk about how you can do this using Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro DC. I’ll also mention some free tools you can use to reorganize and extract PDF pages in case you don’t have Adobe Acrobat.

Also, be sure to check out my other articles that talk about extracting images from PDF files, search for text across multiple PDF files, extracting text from PDFs and how to shrink the size of a PDF file.

Move PDF Pages Around

The newest version of Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro makes it really easy to rearrange the order of pages in a PDF file. First, open your PDF file and then click on Tools.

organize-pages

Under Create & Edit, you’ll see the Organize Pages button. You’ll then see a small thumbnail image of all the pages in the PDF file.

rotate-pdf-page

To rotate a page, you simply click on the left or right rotate button. Deleting a page is as easy as clicking on the trash icon for that page. Now, to move a page around or to reorder the PDF pages, simply click and drag a page to the new location. You’ll see a vertical blue bar appear where the page will be dropped.

reorder-pdf-pages

That’s all there is to moving pages around in the PDF. On this screen, you can also replace PDF pages with another page from a different PDF file, split the PDF file or insert a PDF file anywhere into the current document.

If you don’t have a subscription to Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro, you can use an online tool from a company called Sejda. Just click on Upload PDF files and you’re good to go. The interface is very similar to the one in Adobe Acrobat. The only limitation is that the file cannot be more than 50 pages or 50 MB in size, but it’s a very generous limit.

sejda-pdf-reorder-pages

Extract Pages from PDF File

On the same screen as above, we can also extract pages from the PDF file. If you click on the Extract button in the menu bar, you’ll see another sub-menu appear with a couple of options.

extract-pdf-pages

First, you’re going to want to select the pages in the PDF that you want to extract. To select more than one page, hold down the SHIFT or CTRL keys. SHIFT will select multiple pages in consecutive order whereas CTRL will allow you to pick and choose pages from anywhere in the document.

Once you have selected the files, you can check Delete Pages after extracting or Extract pages as separate files. If you don’t check either option, the selected pages will be extracted into a single PDF file and the pages will remain in the original file.

If you check both, the pages will be removed from the original file and each page will be saved out as a separate PDF file.

Again, if you need to do this for free, you can again use the Sejda website, but this time use their extract PDF tool. Select the pages by just clicking on them or using SHIFT and then click on the Extract Pages button.

sejda-extract-pdf-pages

The limit on this tool is up to 200 pages per PDF file or 50 MB in size. It’s pretty much the same as Adobe Acrobat, but it doesn’t give you the option to save each page as a separate PDF file. You can also choose to select all odd or all even pages.

Extracting pages and reordering pages in a PDF are two common tasks that hopefully you will now be able to do quickly using the tools mentioned above. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!

The post How to Move and Extract PDF Pages appeared first on Online Tech Tips.