Security of information on hard disks

At a recent Banbury Tweetup (usually first Thursday of the month at the Inn at Farnborough, next one on the 9th June 2011) we discussed the security issues of broken computers and hard disks. You should always remove the hard disk or use a secure wipe tool to erase all the data otherwise it might turn up in some sort of identity theft scam later in your life.barracuda_xt_320x340

Just because a drive cannot be read by your computer (USB drives dropped on floor or USB stick/camera SD drive broken in half ) or your mobile phone sims appears duff does not mean someone could not spend time and read your life story or business secrets from it.

Did you know that an awful lot of laser printers also have hard drives/writable flash media in them, saving your documents for possible reprinting later or just caching them.

So no matter what hardware you recycle remember that you need to be careful about any personal/business information still on the hard disk or flash memory installed in them.

Remember this BBC news item, it could still happen today.bbcharddisk

There are services that can wipe and dispose of your drives safely.

What happens when you haven’t got a DVD drive

I fell foul of HP’s part ordering and managed to buy a small server without a DVD drive, lovely box though, an HP Proliant Microserver.


It came with hard disk and various cd’s including Windows Server 2008R2 Foundation edition.

Not wanting to slow things down I tried numerous ways to boot the Windows Install from a USB pen, finally finding the web site below where the simple commands were posted.

Looks like this will work for Windows Vista, Windows 7 as well as Windows Server 2008.

I found that it was relatively easy to create such a tool!

  1. Either mount the ISO or insert the DVD for Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 into your computer. Let’s say it’s at D:\
  2. Format your USB stick to FAT32 (I used default settings for everything via the Windows format tool). Let’s say it’s at H:\
  3. Run the following commands at a command prompt:

d:\boot\bootsect.exe /NT60 h:

xcopy d:\*.* /s /e /f h:\

At this point, you should be able to boot off of your USB stick (pending proper BIOS settings on the machine you’re booting up from) and it will install Windows off of the flash memory! Easy as that!

Thank you to Shane Milton’s Technology Update – Jaxidian Update

Broken Search in Windows 7

I keep running into this issue and found this on this forum

1. End Task on EXPLORER.EXE from Task Manager.

2. Start the Registry Editor

3. Look for the following key:


4. Rename the key so it looks like the following:


5. From Task Manager click on File | New Task (Run) and type EXPLORER.EXE and hit return.

6. Now try your search from the Start Menu again.

If the above process doesn’t work for you, you can always put it back the way it was by reversing the process above.

I don’t understand exactly what this key is controlling, but hopefully someone else can shed some light on why this works.

I have run into this at least 4 times so far and have no idea why it keeps happening.

I also have no idea why the word wrap on the above works on Firefox but not on IE8.

Create a Remote Desktop Icon on your Desktop

This should work on Windows 7 and Vista

Right Click the desktop and select New Create Shortcut


Enter the following in the location of the item

mstsc /v:remote

Where “remote” is the computer you want to connect to

Click Next

Name the shortcut something memorable


Click Finish

You should now have an icon on the desktop.


Other parameters:
for experienced users only]

mstsc.exe {ConnectionFile|/v:server} [/console] [/f] [/w:width /h:height]
mstsc.exe /edit”ConnectionFile”
mstsc.exe /migrate


ConnectionFile : Specifies the name of an .rdp file for the connection.
/v:server : Specifies the remote computer to which you want to connect.
/console : Connects to the console session of the specified Windows 2000 Server.
/admin : Connects to the console session of Windows 2003/2008 servers –
note admin replaced console
/f : Starts Remote Desktop connection in full-screen mode.
/w:width /h:height : Specifies the dimensions of the Remote Desktop screen.
/edit : Opens the specified .rdp file for editing.
/migrate : Migrates legacy connection files that were created with Client Connection Manager to new .rdp connection files.

The above information came from the Microsoft TechNet site

Restore Vista compressed file association

Recently I lost the ability to expand zip files as compressed folders in Vista. a quick search of the web and I found this:

  1. At the start prompt enter “cmd /c assoc .zip=CompressedFolder
  2. If necessary, Open regedit, navigate to the above path and delete the UserChoice node
  3. Restart Windows

remember editing the registry can be dangerous, so always backup first or create a restore point.