Sunday, August 20, 2017
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Being the most popular OS in the world, there are many advantages and disadvantages to using Windows. Lets start with the pros and finish up with the cons.

Advantages:

Windows is easy to use

Being the most popular operating system in the world, most users are familiar with how to use this operating system.  Remember, this OS is used everywhere around the world.  Commonly found in schools, colleges, businesses and homes.  With the exception of windows 8, the UX (user experience) associated with this OS has been fairly consistent since its early origins. With a little practice, most users who are familiar with earlier versions of Windows will find that this OS’s modern counterparts are easy to work with as well.

Loads of Available Applications

There is no shortage of available software for Windows users.  Being the largest software company in the world, Microsoft itself has developed a boat load of must have applications that run in Windows.  The Microsoft Office suite is the standard for businesses world wide.  Softpedia reported in 2012 that Microsoft’s Office had over a Billion users!

“Microsoft’s Office Has over One Billion Users”

Softpedia. SoftNews. 10 July 2012.

You will generally find that any software you want or need has a version specially crafted for this OS. Actually, some software manufacturers only make their products available for Windows.  This enormous availability of applications is once again because Windows is the most widely used operating system in the world.

Compatibility – Backwards & Forwards

Maybe.  This is still widely true for many applications but there are definitely some exceptions to this benefit. For instance, if you have been running a x32 bit version of Windows XP since its release in 2001 and are now upgrading to Windows 8.1, you may find that not all (if any) of your current software is going to work in a modern day operating system. After all, this is a big leap.  On the other hand, if you are moving from windows 7 to 8.1 or to version 10 later this year, you may find that your current software will continue to work just fine.

Hardware Compatibility

No matter what piece of hardware you have, you can rest assured that it will probably work with Windows. Microsoft has done its best to make sure of this by putting together a vast list of default drivers that will work inside of the Windows OS.  These drivers are designed to work with all types of hardware from all of the leading hardware manufacturers. That is not to say that these drivers are always available or are the best drivers to run your hardware. This is just to say that there is usually a driver available that will perform the basic and necessary tasks that your hardware is intended for. These built in drivers are often times automatically loaded in newer versions of Windows.  Because of this, you will want to make sure to install the driver from the hardware manufacturer. Generally, drivers that come from the hardware manufacturer are better and have the features needed to get the most out of your hardware.

Plug & Play Support

Windows is great when it comes to plugging in a peripheral device such as a mouse, keyboard, or webcam and having it work right out of the box.  As stated in the previous paragraph, Microsoft has done its best to make sure that most hardware we plug into a windows machine works right out of the box without having to install extra drivers.  Once again, depending on the hardware you plug in, you may want to install the manufacturers driver anyway.  For instance, if you get a new printer that has a built in scanner, the default driver from Microsoft may allow you to print but the scanning function may not work.  The hardware manufacturers driver usually has better and more complete support for your hardware.

Games, Gaming, & More Games

All of the hard core gamers out there know what I am talking about here.  Sure, you can get major game titles for Linux and Mac but not even close to the number you can get for Windows.  Other than title availability, price is also a big factor.  You can bet that you will pay less for a lot more when it comes to hardware.  For the $2000 + youll spend on an iMac you can build your self a hefty gaming PC.

Disadvantages:

Spyware, Malware, & Viruses

Windows is not the only OS vulnerable to attack but it is the one thats most attacked.  Because of this, more Windows computers get viruses than any other.  With most of the world using PC’s, why would the bad guys focus their efforts anywhere else?  Luckily for us Windows users, as of windows 8, virus protection is built in.  If your still using Windows 7 or lower, make sure you have active protection installed and turned on!

OS Instability

Ok, I think all Windows users have been through something like this. Windows freezes up or blue screens because of some unspoken rule that we unknowingly break while performing some seemingly unexceptional task.  This unintentional misdeed ends up causing some sort of internal disagreement that can only be settled by full blown melt down, AKA rebooting the PC.  On top of that, this all happens during a critical update, causing a crisis situation to occur. The only way out, back up all data and nuke and pave (reload the OS). This type of inadvertent OS corruption is disastrously common with Windows.  You generally don’t see this type of instability with a Mac or Linux computer.

Internet Explorer

This isn’t really a disadvantage to using windows since you can always upgrade to Chrome, but as a web developer, it is my least favorite part of Windows.  The problem is,  most users don’t.  While this browser has made leaps and bounds with its most recent releases, the rendering engine used for this browser has a history of ignoring commonplace web standards.  This means that websites do not always look as they were intended when viewed in Internet Explorer. This type of blatant disregard to what we the people have declared as best practice is preposterous! On top of that, the web is slower when viewed through the eyes of IE.  In my opinion, for the best web experience, use Google Chrome.

More?

The list If there’s something more that you would like added to this list, please let me know.

 

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Exam Objectives: CompTIA A+ 220-802

These are the exam objectives as stated (and copyrighted) by CompTIA, Inc.:

Operating Systems 33%

1.1 Compare and contrast the features and requirements of various Microsoft Operating Systems.

  • Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center, Windows XP 64-bit Professional
  • Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Features:
    • 32-bit vs. 64-bit
    • Aero, gadgets, user account control, bit-locker, shadow copy, system restore, ready boost, sidebar, compatibility mode, XP mode, easy transfer, administrative tools, defender, Windows firewall, security center, event viewer, file structure and paths, category view vs. classic view
  • Upgrade paths—differences between in place upgrades, compatibility tools, Windows upgrade OS advisor

1.2 Given a scenario, install, and configure the operating system using the most appropriate method.

  • Boot methods
    • USB
    • CD-ROM
    • DVD
    • PXE
  • Type of installations
    • Creating image
    • Unattended installation
    • Upgrade
    • Clean install
    • Repair installation
    • Multiboot
    • Remote network installation
    • Image deployment
  • Partitioning
    • Dynamic
    • Basic
    • Primary
    • Extended
    • Logical
  • File system types/formatting
    • FAT
    • FAT32
    • NTFS
    • CDFS
    • Quick format vs. full format
  • Load alternate third party drivers when necessary
  • Workgroup vs. Domain setup
  • Time/date/region/language settings
  • Driver installation, software and windows updates
  • Factory recovery partition

1.3 Given a scenario, use appropriate command line tools.

  • Networking
    • PING
    • TRACERT
    • NETSTAT
    • IPCONFIG
    • NET
    • NSLOOKUP
    • NBTSTAT
  • OS
    • Taskkill
    • BOOTREC
    • SHUTDOWN
    • Tasklist
    • MD
    • RD
    • CD
    • DEL
    • FDISK
    • FORMAT
    • COPY
    • XCOPY
    • ROBOCOPY
    • DISKPART
    • SFC
    • CHKDSK
    • [command name] /?
  • Recovery console
    • Fixboot
    • Fixmbr

1.4 Given a scenario, use appropriate operating system features and tools.

  • Administrative
    • Computer management
    • Device manager
    • Users and groups
    • Local security policy
    • Performance monitor
    • Services
    • System configuration
    • Task scheduler
    • Component services
    • Data sources
    • Print management
    • Windows memory diagnostics
    • Windows firewall
    • Advanced security
  • MSCONFIG
    • General
    • Boot
    • Services
    • Startup
    • Tools
  • Task Manager
    • Applications
    • Processes
    • Performance
    • Networking
    • Users
  • Disk management
    • Drive status
    • Mounting
    • Extending partitions
    • Splitting partitions
    • Assigning drive letters
    • Adding drives
    • Adding arrays
  • Other
    • User State Migration tool (USMT), File and Settings Transfer Wizard, Windows Easy Transfer
  • Run line utilities
    • MSCONFIG
    • REGEDIT
    • CMD
    • SERVICES.MSC
    • MMC
    • MSTSC
    • NOTEPAD
    • EXPLORER
    • MSINFO32
    • DXDIAG

1.5 Given a scenario, use Control Panel utilities (the items are organized by “classic view/large icons” in Windows).

  • Common to all Microsoft Operating Systems
    • Internet options
      • Connections
      • Security
      • General
      • Privacy
      • Programs
      • Advanced
    • Display
      • Resolution
    • User accounts
    • Folder options
      • Sharing
      • View hidden files
      • Hide extensions
      • Layout
    • System
      • Performance (virtual memory)
      • Hardware profiles
      • Remote settings
      • System protection
    • Security center
    • Windows firewall
    • Power options
      • Hibernate
      • Power plans
      • Sleep/suspend
      • Standby
  • Unique to Windows XP
    • Add/remove programs
    • Network connections
    • Printers and faxes
    • Automatic updates
    • Network setup wizard
  • Unique to Vista
    • Tablet PC settings
    • Pen and input devices
    • Offline files
    • Problem reports and solutions
    • Printers
  • Unique to Windows 7
    • HomeGroup
    • Action center
    • Remote applications and desktop applications
    • Troubleshooting

1.6 Setup and configure Windows networking on a client/desktop.

  • HomeGroup, file/print sharing
  • WorkGroup vs. domain setup
  • Network shares/mapping drives
  • Establish networking connections
    • VPN
    • Dialups
    • Wireless
    • Wired
    • WWAN (Cellular)
  • Proxy settings
  • Remote desktop
  • Home vs. Work vs. Public network settings
  • Firewall settings
    • Exceptions
    • Configuration
    • Enabling/disabling Windows firewall
  • Configuring an alternative IP address in Windows
    • IP addressing
    • Subnet mask
    • DNS
    • Gateway
  • Network card properties
    • Half duplex/full duplex/auto
    • Speed
    • Wake-on-LAN
    • PoE
    • QoS

1.7 Perform preventive maintenance procedures using appropriate tools.

  • Best practices
    • Schedules backups
    • Scheduled check disks
    • Scheduled defragmentation
    • Windows updates
    • Patch management
    • Driver/firmware updates
    • Antivirus updates
  • Tools
    • Backup
    • System restore
    • Check disk
    • Recovery image
    • Defrag

1.8 Explain the differences among basic OS security settings.

  • User and groups
    • Administrator
    • Power user
    • Guest
    • Standard user
  • NTFS vs. Share permissions
    • Allow vs. deny
    • Moving vs. copying folders and files
    • File attributes
  • Shared files and folders
    • Administrative shares vs. local shares
    • Permission propagation
    • Inheritance
  • System files and folders
  • User authentication
    • Single sign-on

1.9 Explain the basics of client-side virtualization.

  • Purpose of virtual machines
  • Resource requirements
  • Emulator requirements
  • Security requirements
  • Network requirements
  • Hypervisor

2.0 Security 22%

2.1 Apply and use common prevention methods.

  • Physical security
    • Lock doors
    • Tailgating
    • Securing physical documents/passwords/shredding
    • Biometrics
    • Badges
    • Key fobs
    • RFID badge
    • RSA token
    • Privacy filters
    • Retinal
  • Digital security
    • Antivirus
    • Firewalls
    • Antispyware
    • User authentication/strong passwords
    • Directory permissions
  • User education
  • Principle of least privilege

2.2 Compare and contrast common security threats.

  • Social engineering
  • Malware
  • Rootkits
  • Phishing
  • Shoulder surfing
  • Spyware
  • Viruses
    • Worms
    • Trojans

2.3 Implement security best practices to secure a workstation.

  • Setting strong passwords
  • Requiring passwords
  • Restricting user permissions
  • Changing default user names
  • Disabling guest account
  • Screensaver required password
  • Disable autorun

2.4 Given a scenario, use the appropriate data destruction/disposal method.

  • Low level format vs. standard format
  • Hard drive sanitation and sanitation methods
    • Overwrite
    • Drive wipe
  • Physical destruction
    • Shredder
    • Drill
    • Electromagnetic
    • Degaussing tool

2.5 Given a scenario, secure a SOHO wireless network.

  • Change default user-names and passwords
  • Changing SSID
  • Setting encryption
  • Disabling SSID broadcast
  • Enable MAC filtering
  • Antenna and access point placement
  • Radio power levels
  • Assign static IP addresses

2.6 Given a scenario, secure a SOHO wired network.

  • Change default usernames and passwords
  • Enable MAC filtering
  • Assign static IP addresses
  • Disabling ports
  • Physical security

3.0 Mobile Devices 9%

3.1 Explain the basic features of mobile operating systems.

  • Android vs. iOS
    • Open source vs. closed source/vendor specific
    • App source (app store and market)
    • Screen orientation (accelerometer/gyroscope)
    • Screen calibration
    • GPS and geotracking

3.2 Establish basic network connectivity and configure email.

  • Wireless / cellular data network (enable/disable)
  • Bluetooth
    • Enable Bluetooth
    • Enable pairing
    • Find device for pairing
    • Enter appropriate pin code
    • Test connectivity
  • Email configuration
    • Server address
      • POP3
      • IMAP
      • Port and SSL settings
    • Exchange
    • Gmail

3.3 Compare and contrast methods for securing mobile devices.

  • Passcode locks
  • Remote wipes
  • Locator applications
  • Remote backup applications
  • Failed login attempts restrictions
  • Antivirus
  • Patching/OS updates

3.4 Compare and contrast hardware differences in regards to tablets and laptops.

  • No field serviceable parts
  • Typically not upgradeable
  • Touch interface
    • Touch flow
    • Multitouch
  • Solid state drives

3.5 Execute and configure mobile device synchronization.

  • Types of data to synchronize
    • Contacts
    • Programs
    • Email
    • Pictures
    • Music
    • Videos
  • Software requirements to install the application on the PC
  • Connection types to enable synchronization

4.0 Troubleshooting 36%

4.1 Given a scenario, explain the troubleshooting theory.

  • Identify the problem
    • Question the user and identify user changes to computer and perform backups before making changes
  • Establish a theory of probable cause (question the obvious)
  • Test the theory to determine cause
    • Once theory is confirmed determine next steps to resolve problem
    • If theory is not confirmed re-establish new theory or escalate
  • Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution
  • Verify full system functionality and if applicable implement preventive measures
  • Document findings, actions and outcomes

4.2 Given a scenario, troubleshoot common problems related to motherboards, RAM, CPU and power with appropriate tools.

  • Common symptoms
    • Unexpected shutdowns
    • System lockups
    • POST code beeps
    • Blank screen on bootup
    • BIOS time and settings resets
    • Attempts to boot to incorrect device
    • Continuous reboots
    • No power
    • Overheating
    • Loud noise
    • Intermittent device failure
    • Fans spin—no power to other devices
    • Indicator lights
    • Smoke
    • Burning smell
    • BSOD
  • Tools
    • Multimeter
    • Power supply tester
    • Loopback plugs
    • POST card

4.3 Given a scenario, troubleshoot hard drives and RAID arrays with appropriate tools.

  • Common symptoms
    • Read/write failure
    • Slow performance
    • Loud clicking noise
    • Failure to boot
    • Drive not recognized
    • OS not found
    • RAID not found
    • RAID stops working
    • BSOD
  • Tools
    • Screwdriver
    • External enclosures
    • CHKDSK
    • FORMAT
    • FDISK
    • File recovery software

4.4 Given a scenario, troubleshoot common video and display issues.

  • Common symptoms
    • VGA mode
    • No image on screen
    • Overheat shutdown
    • Dead pixels
    • Artifacts
    • Color patterns incorrect
    • Dim image
    • Flickering image
    • Distorted image
    • Discoloration (degaussing)
    • BSOD

4.5 Given a scenario, troubleshoot wired and wireless networks with appropriate tools.

  • Common symptoms
    • No connectivity
    • APIPA address
    • Limited connectivity
    • Local connectivity
    • Intermittent connectivity
    • IP conflict
    • Slow transfer speeds
    • Low RF signal
  • Tools
    • Cable tester
    • Loopback plug
    • Punch down tools
    • Toner probes
    • Wire strippers
    • Crimper
    • PING
    • IPCONFIG
    • TRACERT
    • NETSTAT
    • NBTSTAT
    • NET
    • Wireless locator

4.6 Given a scenario, troubleshoot operating system problems with appropriate tools.

  • Common symptoms
    • BSOD
    • Failure to boot
    • Improper shutdown
    • Spontaneous shutdown/restart
    • RAID not detected during installation
    • Device fails to start
    • Missing dll message
    • Services fails to start
    • Compatibility error
    • Slow system performance
    • Boots to safe mode
    • File fails to open
    • Missing NTLDR
    • Missing Boot.ini
    • Missing operating system
    • Missing Graphical Interface
    • Graphical Interface fails to load
    • Invalid boot disk
  • Tools
    • Fixboot
    • Recovery console
    • Fixmbr
    • Sfc
    • Repair disks
    • Pre-installation environments
    • MSCONFIG
    • DEFRAG
    • REGSVR32
    • REGEDIT
    • Event viewer
    • Safe mode
    • Command prompt
    • Emergency repair disk
    • Automated system recovery

4.7 Given a scenario, troubleshoot common security issues with appropriate tools and best practices.

  • Common symptoms
    • Pop-ups
    • Browser redirection
    • Security alerts
    • Slow performance
    • Internet connectivity issues
    • PC locks up
    • Windows updates failures
    • Rogue antivirus
    • Spam
    • Renamed system files
    • Files disappearing
    • File permission changes
    • Hijacked email
    • Access denied
  • Tools
    • Anti-virus software
    • Anti-malware software
    • Anti-spyware software
    • Recovery console
    • System restore
    • Pre-installation environments
    • Event viewer
  • Best practices for malware removal
    • Identify malware symptoms
    • Quarantine infected system
    • Disable system restore
    • Remediate infected systems
      • Update anti-virus software
      • Scan and removal techniques (safe mode, pre-installation environment)
    • Schedule scans and updates
    • Enable system restore and create restore point
    • Educate end user

4.8 Given a scenario, troubleshoot, and repair common laptop issues while adhering to the appropriate procedures.

  • Common symptoms
    • No display
    • Dim display
    • Flickering display
    • Sticking keys
    • Intermittent wireless
    • Battery not charging
    • Ghost cursor
    • No power
    • Num lock indicator lights
    • No wireless connectivity
    • No Bluetooth connectivity
    • Cannot display to external monitor
  • Disassembling processes for proper re-assembly
    • Document and label cable and screw locations
    • Organize parts
    • Refer to manufacturer documentation
    • Use appropriate hand tools

4.9 Given a scenario, troubleshoot printers with appropriate tools

  • Common symptoms
    • Streaks
    • Faded prints
    • Ghost images
    • Toner not fused to the paper
    • Creased paper
    • Paper not feeding
    • Paper jam
    • No connectivity
    • Garbled characters on paper
    • Vertical lines on page
    • Backed up print queue
    • Low memory errors
    • Access denied
    • Printer will not print
    • Color prints in wrong print color
    • Unable to install printer
    • Error codes
  • Tools
    • Maintenance kit
    • Toner vacuum
    • Compressed air
    • Printer spooler

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