Making a USB flash drive for Window setup

This article demonstrates how to copy a Windows installation source to a USB flash drive (UFD), and make that UFD bootable, without using any third-party app. Every now and then, such an article must be re-written to update the sum of knowledge. Only the tools included with the operating system are used. This article assumes you have at least Windows 7. Also, it assumes that the OS you’d like to copy to a UFD is Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 and is already available to you on DVD or in folder somewhere.

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Where can I find BootSect.exe and BootRec.exe?

BootSect.exe and BootRec.exe are both components of Windows Vista and later. They help make disks bootable.

Both are included with a Windows DVD or ISO but are not installed.

BootSect.exe features /nt60, /nt52 and /mbr switches. It can be found in the “boot” folder, at the root of the Windows DVD.

BootRec.exe features /FixMbr, /FixBoot and /RebuildBCD switches. However, it is harder to find. It is only exposed if a computer is booted into Windows Setup or Windows Recovery Environment. Otherwise, one has to extract it from the “boot.wim” file in the “sources” folder of Windows setup disc, or  the “winre.wim” file in a subfolder of “C:\Recovery” folder (although you might not find such a file), via DISM or 7-Zip. Once either of the two images of “boot.wim” are mounted or opened, BootRec.exe can be located under “Windows\System32” subfolder.

The definitive guide to stopping forced Windows 10 upgrades (GWX) permanently

Screenshot: Forced upgrade to Windows 10 in progress

Screenshot of the Get Windows 10 (GWX) app, which forces users to upgrade to Windows 10

So… are you annoyed by the Get Windows 10 (GWX) app which hogs your bandwidth and tries to persuade you to upgrade to Windows 10? And you want to put a stop to it? You are in the right place.

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I received a cryptic message!

An incoming text, in a Nokia N79. Part of the message is corrupted.

An incoming text, in a Nokia N79. Part of the message is corrupted.

I have already wrote about the evils of plain text and how it is one of the worst inventions of the computing field. But as if I needed a tangible example for my readership, yesterday, I received a cryptic text (I mean SMS) on my mobile phone, which run as follows:

Tried my best; knew your life depends on it:
http://arstechnica.com/te捨⵰潬楣礯㈰ㄴ⼰㘯慰灥慬猭捯畲琭瑨牯睳ⵯ畴ⴳ㐰〰〭潮汩湥⵬楢敬⵲畬楮术⍰㌍ਊ慲獴散桮楣愮捯洯獥捵物瑹⼲〱㐯〶⽵湤敲ⵤ摯猭晥敤汹ⵢ畣歬敳ⵢ畴ⵤ敦楥猭慴瑡捫敲猭數瑯牴楯渭摥浡湤猯

It was a very tough situation: My life depended on a corrupt text. But fortunately, I had a Windows computer at hand and I could fix it. Read the rest of this entry

TrueCrypt: Its last bow

June 2016 update: Link repairs.

TrueCrypt is a discontinued free disk encryption utility for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is a free and shared-source alternative to BitLocker, but is not restricted to the high-end editions of Windows and does not need Trusted Platform Module (TPM).

TrueCrypt v7.1a running on Windows 8.1

TrueCrypt v7.1a running on Windows 8.1

TrueCrypt’s sudden end of life on 28 May 2014 become controversial, since unlike most computer programs, TrueCrypt’s authors beheaded it with the release of version 7.2. Read the rest of this entry

Unregistering and deleting an event log

Today, I’ve decided to write about unregistering and deleting Windows event logs, because searching the web about this subject brings up some very dangerous results with dangerous consequences.

Event Viewer in Windows Vista: In comparison to its predecessor in Windows Server 2003, it has become several times more elaborate to accommodate the vast logging infrastructure introduced in this version of Windows.

Event Viewer in Windows Vista: In comparison to its predecessor in Windows Server 2003, it has become several times more elaborate to accommodate the vast logging infrastructure introduced in this version of Windows.

Problem: A user notices redundant event logs in Event Viewer or PowerShell, i.e. the program with which they were associated are now gone and their contents is irrelevant. These event logs might be occupying valuable disk space, e.g. 128 MB. Deleting them is tempting.

This article requires Windows PowerShell 2.0 or later, which comes with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Cautious approach

If reclaiming disk space is the goal, then empty the log and forget about it. An empty log that occupies a just few bytes is not a problem on a computer that has 165,606 files.

Unregistering and deleting the log file only makes sense when the sheer number of these logs is causing a slowdown (e.g. when there are 100 redundant logs) or when eliminating all traces of an app from a computer is important (e.g. mandated by a corporate policy).

A word of warning

The following event logs are part of Windows; if you unregister them by accident, the ensuing dire consequences may force you to reinstall Windows. You can empty them if you wish, but never unregister them:

  • Application
  • HardwareEvents
  • Internet Explorer
  • Key Management Service
  • Security
  • System
  • Windows PowerShell

Unregistering and deleting via PowerShell

To see a list of registered event logs in PowerShell, issue a Get-EventLog -List order. Here is an example of the result:

PS C:\Windows\system32> Get-EventLog -list

Max(K) Retain OverflowAction        Entries Log
  ------ ------ --------------        ------- ---
  20,480      0 OverwriteAsNeeded      32,288 Application
     512      1 OverwriteOlder              0 Autodesk REX
     512      7 OverwriteOlder              1 COMODO Internet Security
     512      7 OverwriteOlder            142 GhostBuster
  20,480      0 OverwriteAsNeeded           0 HardwareEvents
     512      7 OverwriteOlder              0 Internet Explorer
  20,480      0 OverwriteAsNeeded           0 Key Management Service
     128      0 OverwriteAsNeeded         671 OAlerts
  20,480      0 OverwriteAsNeeded       6,362 Security
  20,480      0 OverwriteAsNeeded      55,179 System
     512      7 OverwriteOlder          1,211 TuneUp
  15,360      0 OverwriteAsNeeded         387 Windows PowerShell

To delete an event log from the list, use Remove-EventLog -LogName command, as follows:

PS C:\Windows\system32> Remove-EventLog -LogName "Autodesk REX"
PS C:\Windows\system32> Remove-EventLog -LogName GhostBuster

There won’t be any message indicating success, but failure would be reported. Below is an example of what happens if you try to delete a non-existing log or try deleting an existing log without administrative privileges.

PS C:\Windows\system32> Remove-EventLog -LogName System2
Remove-EventLog : The Log name "System2" does not exist in the computer "localhost".
At line:1 char:1
+ Remove-EventLog -LogName System2
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : InvalidOperation: (:) [Remove-EventLog], InvalidOperationException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.RemoveEventLogCommand
 
PS C:\Windows\system32> Remove-EventLog -LogName System
Remove-EventLog : Requested registry access is not allowed.
At line:1 char:1
+ Remove-EventLog Security
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : SecurityError: (:) [Remove-EventLog], SecurityException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : NewEventlogException,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.RemoveEventLogCommand
 

Folder name with a trailing space character

I download a computer program that had a bug: Its installer created a folder named “Bin “; i.e. “B”, “i”, “n”, plus a space character at the end. Its uninstaller cannot delete it. Read the rest of this entry

Windows 8.1: A service pack or a new OS?

Is Windows 8.1 an update for Windows 8 or an upgrade? In other words, is it a service pack or is it a new version of Windows?

Windows 8.0 in comparison to Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.0 in comparison to Windows 8.1.

Let’s find out.

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Wiping out remnants of deleted files… with Windows itself

Update: Bad link fixed

In computers, deleting a file is analogous to tossing a piece of paper into a trash can. Anyone could simply retrieve that piece of paper from the trash can; so could anyone undelete the file.

Cipher.exe, having performed data erasure on volume E (a USB flash drive)

Cipher.exe, having performed data erasure on volume E (a USB flash drive)

Proper data erasure, however, is possible; it is analogous to tossing a piece of paper into a shredder or burning it. Read the rest of this entry

Detached lines in Notepad++

The default text style in Notepad++ v6.6 and its past versions (as far as I remember) adds an inconspicuous amount of white space between each line, preventing the block characters in each line to connect to the ones on the top or bottom. This problem also appears with two of the other themes, namely “Hello Kitty” and “Viberant Ink” but not in any other theme.

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I normally wouldn’t care for a slight amount of space as I am not a consumer of ASCII art and don’t use table characters in my source codes either. But as with any other curious human, I wanted to know why, just out of curiousity and not because of practical need. So, I set out to investigate. Read the rest of this entry

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