Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Windows 8 Helpful Hints

Windows 8 has been here for over eight months and whether you love it of hate it, if you buy a new computer you are stuck, therefore try to make the best of the situation.

I have received many comments and complaints concerning Windows 8, from people I help with computer problems. Most of these  point out that it is difficult to all of a sudden, navigate from years of XP, Vista and the much loved Windows 7 to an almost unrecognizable and frustrating computing experience.

This is not exactly fair, because Windows 8, (once you get into it), is in my opinion, quite an exciting transition.

Sure enough, Microsoft may have gone a little too far and may have miscalculated how frustrating some of the changes may have been. "Where is the start button ?", "I have quite a problem navigating around this crazy system", "How do I turn off the computer ?" "How do I create a repair disk and a mirror image of my system ?" These are all serious problems for those who all of a sudden get introduced to Windows 8 in their new computer.

 Microsoft has also listened and fortunately has released a much improved Windows 8.1 preview pack, (just a beta format), that anybody can download and play with. The formal release of Windows 8.1 will be officially available later this Fall.

Many  improvements that make using Windows 8 more palatable have been created, including a start button, not quite as useful and adaptable as our old friend we all were used to... But more about Windows 8.1 in a later post, maybe after I come back from Florida where I am going for a few days visiting one of my daughters who lives in the Orlando area.

For now I just want to touch on a very important subject:

"How to create a Repair Disk and a mirror image of your hard drive"

In Windows 8 a repair disk is now called a "Recovery Drive".

A "Recovery Drive" will allow you to boot your system and easily access a number of recovery and troubleshooting tools that you can use to repair your  Windows 8 system in case of need.

Windows 8 allows you to create a Recovery Drive using a USB flash memory stick, (this feature was not available in Windows 7). A Recovery Drive has more capabilities than the "old" Repair Disk, among them being able to backup an OEM recovery partition. However you can also create a Recovery Drive on a DVD-R disk using the old System Repair Disk user interface. (More about this later).

The contents of the Recovery Drive will require about 256MB of space. For that you can use a 1 GB USB flash memory stick. If your hard drive includes the OEM recovery partition and most likely it does, you will need a larger capacity flash memory stick of least a 16GB. (In my case, because I already had installed quite a few applications, I had to use a 32 GB USB flash memory stick.

Before we go into details, check some of the useful Windows 8 short cuts, which I referred to in a post dated 11/24/2012 "Windows 8 Hot Keys"

Here is what you have to do to create a Recovery Drive in a USB flash memory stick:

- Use the Hot Key function [Windows] + W keystroke; this will take you to the  "access the Search Settings page".

-Type "Recovery Drive" in the text box, and click "Create a recovery drive" in the box under SETTINGS.

- If a "User Account Control" box appears, click "yes". This will take you to the first screen in the Recovery Drive wizard dialog box. (If your computer came with an OEM recovery partition, the Copy the recovery partition check box will be enabled). Click "Next".

-Another dialog box opens. It shows the selection of USB drives, (which should include the one you have plugged in. Example: "H:\ (USB Flash Drive)". Click "Next".

-Another dialog box opens showing:

 "Create the Recovery Drive"

"Everything on the drive will be deleted. If you have any personal files on this drive, make sure you have backed up the files."

-Click "Create"

-Windows 8 will format the drive and will start copying files to the drive. A new box will open showing the the process running. If you are creating a basic Recovery Disk, the process will be done in no time flat, however if  a recovery partition is included it will take an hour or two...

-Upon completion of the process, Windows 8  opens to show its contents.

-Close the Recovery Drive wizard by clicking the Finish button, unplug your Flash Drive and keep it safe !!!

Have fun.

George Freire


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