Windows Vista, And Administrative Shares

Under Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows, any administrator of a server could gain access to any portion of any drive on the server, through the network. Even if no share was defined, any drive was always available, in its entirety, to anybody with administrative access.

This ability was known as an administrative share. Besides any explicitly defined shares, every server would have a "C$" share (and a "D$", etc, for additional drives). The shares weren't browsable - they wouldn't show up in Network Neighbourhood, and a server with no explicitly defined shares would even show up, at all, under Windows XP. But anybody with administrative access could map a share to "C$" and have access to the entire C drive, instantly.

Windows Vista has removed the administrative share from the default server configuration. Fortunately for many, this ability can be restored, with a simple registry entry.

For registry key [HKLM\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Policies\ system], add a DWord value LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy of "1". Then restart the computer.

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The Command Window, In Windows Vista

Many problems in Windows can best (or sometimes only) be resolved by commands entered in a command window. This is still true, on computers running Windows Vista. Under Vista, you will use the command window slightly differently from earlier versions of Windows.

A Command Window (the title may vary, widely)

  • Click the Start button.
  • Click All Programs.
  • Click Accessories.
  • Right Click on "Command Prompt".
  • Left click on "Run as Administrator".
  • Click the Allow button if it asks you for permission.
  • A new window, with varying title, will open.
  • Now type whatever you need, into the Command Prompt window, with the cursor positioned for you after the ">", and hit the Enter key after each command.
  • Remember to allow for the Path, and the location of the program that you're running, if necessary.
  • Close the window when convenient.

If you run ipconfig, for instance, as

C:\Users\YourAccount>ipconfig /all

you will get the ipconfig output there in the command window. This is good to look at briefly, but isn't very good to copy. Copying from the command window can be done, but will be hard to read.

Redirected Output
By redirecting the output, you can view it and / or copy it in a more convenient way, so it's suitable for posting online. Instead of typing

C:\Users\YourAccount>ipconfig /all


C:\Users\YourAccount>ipconfig /all >ipconfig.txt

With the latter command, instead of getting the ipconfig output there in the command window, all you'll see in the command window is another "C:\Users\YourAccount>". Then, type

C:\Users\YourAccount>notepad ipconfig.txt

and Notepad will open with the ipconfig output in a more viewable, and copyable, format.

(Note): If you get an error "Access denied" when you run a command and redirect the output, you may be attempting to redirect output into a file in a folder that you aren't permitted to write into.

Try redirecting into a folder that you are permitted to write into. If the command window opens in "C:\Users\YourAccount", just redirect there.

C:\Users\YourAccount>ipconfig /all >ipconfig.txt

C:\Users\YourAccount>notepad ipconfig.txt

Concatenated, Redirected Output
Do you need the output from two commands, run one after the other, presented in a text file? Be sure to concatenate the output from the second onto the first, don't overlay the first.

C:\Users\YourAccount>browstat status >browstat.txt
C:\Users\YourAccount>browstat listwfw pchucklan >>browstat.txt

Note the ">>" in the second command; that concatenates the output from the second command, after the output from the first command.

Finally, type

C:\Users\YourAccount>notepad browstat.txt

and Notepad will open with both browstat outputs, one following the other, in browstat.txt.

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AutoTuning In Vista Maybe Not Ready For Prime Time

As you surf the web, you will be in conversation with dozens of web servers, and each conversation might have different latency and stability issues. On a less stable (or low bandwidth) connection, a small Receive Window would be a good idea; on a more stable (or high bandwidth) connection, a larger window gives much better performance. With Windows XP and previous, you were limited to a single Receive Window setting, which would apply to all Internet connections, all of the time.

One of the long awaited features in Windows Vista was the ability for it to dynamically determine the Receive Window size, by individual connection. Receive Window Auto-Tuning is one of the many significant improvements in Windows Vista, in my opinion.

For a few owners of computers running Windows Vista, connectivity to the local network, or the Internet, may be problematic. Symptoms are very like the well known MTU Setting problem - some servers, some of the time, can't be contacted, or give poor performance. Copying files locally, from one computer to another, may be fast in one direction, and agonizingly slow in another.

But we know that your local network isn't running through a router, so how would an MTU setting affect your local connection?

The MTU isn't always the culprit in this case. If you have an older firewall or router, that doesn't support Windows Scaling (an essential component in Receive Window Auto-Tuning), you may have this problem. Apparently the lack of Windows Scaling can affect local performance too.

If you are faced by symptoms like an MTU setting problem, that involve a computer running Windows Vista, first try disabling Auto-Tuning. In a Vista command window (Run as Admin), enter

netsh interface tcp set global autotuning=disabled
netsh interface tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled

Then shutdown and restart.

Try Internet access with Auto-Tuning shut off, and see if things stabilise. If they do, see if you can upgrade or replace your router. Check with the vendor, and see if a firmware update is available; if not, consider replacing the router. If your router is incapable of supporting Windows Scaling, it may lack other features that you will also enjoy.

Besides RWin AutoTuning, look at other possible problems with Windows Scaling, in Windows Vista and Scalable Networking.

If you see no improvement in your symptoms, turn Auto-Tuning back on before making other changes. Layered Troubleshooting principles suggest one change at a time.
netsh interface tcp set global autotuning=normal
netsh interface tcp set global autotuninglevel=normal

Note the lexicographical variations expressed, above. Some experts state that the relevant keyword is "autotuning", others state "autotuninglevel". There is also a confusion about the value for "autotuning" / "autotuninglevel", which may be either "enabled" or "normal". I suspect that there are two possibilities, "autotuning=enabled" and "autotuninglevel=normal", but I haven't found an authoritative reference, discussing the possibilities.

For more information, see

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Network Printing From A Windows Vista Computer

Long ago, a printer would be a device, attached directly to your computer. The earliest computers called a printer a "Line Printer", and let you connect your printer to a physical post on your computer. Some computers might have up to 3 physical ports - labeled "Line Printer 1", "Line Printer 2", or "Line Printer 3", abbreviated as "LPT1", "LPT2", or "LPT3".

Then network printing was made possible. You could setup a printer, locally attached to your computer on LPT1, and share it with your neighbours. You had YourComputer, and you could designate your printer to be shared as YourPrinter1. Similarly, your neighbour might have TheirComputer, and a printer shared as TheirPrinter1. If you wanted a second printer to use occasionally, you could setup your programs to print to LPT2 on your computer. You could redirect your LPT2 to print to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1".

Then somebody else started writing programs to print directly to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1", without involving "LPTn".

Now, accessing either a directly attached printer ("LPT1"), a network attached printer redirected (LPT2 redirected to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1"), or a directly networked printer ("\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1") involves specific code in the printer drivers, both in your computer (the client), and in the other computer (the server).

None of these options are magical, and not all printers will have drivers that will support all 3 ways of using the printer. Some drivers will claim to support all 3, but depending upon how your computer, and your neighbours computer is setup, one may work better than another. That's reality.

It appears that not all printer drivers, written for Windows Vista, support the old LPTn standard. If you can't get your network printer to work as "LPTn" redirected to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1", try bypassing the LPTn redirection.

  1. Install the Vista printer driver on your Windows Vista computer.
  2. During installation, you'll be prompted to connect the printer to your computer. Choose the option to proceed with installation without connecting the printer.
  3. After installation completes, open the Printers wizard from the Windows Vista Control Panel.
  4. Right click on the entry for the new printer, and choose Properties.
  5. Go to the Ports tab.
  6. Click Add Port, select Local Port, then click New Port.
  7. For the port name, enter the network path and share name of your printer (ie "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1").
  8. Click OK, and verify that the new port is selected.
  9. Click OK to close the printer properties.

(Update 10/30): If you're experiencing these, and similar problems with printing, try the Vista Compatibility, Performance, and Reliability Comprehensive Update.

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The Weak Point In Your Internet Service - The Power

If you have a typical Internet service, you likely (hopefully) have 2 mysterious network devices, connected between your computer and your ISP's service.

  • The modem (dialup, cable, or DSL) connects directly to the wire coming out of the wall.
  • The router connects between the modem, and your computer.
Both the modem and router have power supplies - also known as "wall warts", because they have big plugs - 3 - 4" cube shaped, that make it hard to find a power outlet with room to plug it in. If you have these, you should know what I mean.

Recently, I thought that my router was slightly faulty. Several times / week, I was losing Internet service, even though the diagnostic lights on my DSL modem, and the router, were normal. Restarting both the modem and router would restore my service, but only until the next time.

I bought a universal power supply at Radio Shack for $15 or so, and swapped it for the power supply for the router for a while, but saw no improvement in the symptom. Service was going out too frequently - first a couple times / week, then daily, and finally multiple times daily. I put the vendor power supply for the router back in service, took the replacement universal power supply, and tried it on the modem, and the problem was solved.

It's summer time here in North America, and I'll bet heat sensitivities are part of the problem. If your Internet service has been acting up on you for a few weeks, and you've been pestering your ISP with no results, check your equipment, and start with the power supplies.

In this situation, the "universal power supply" is a key item. Each different electronic device - modem, router, or what have you, will have differently designed power requirements. Plug size, polarity, and voltage will differ from device to device. In my case, my modem uses 6V DC +, and my router uses 12V DC +. Being able to try the same power supply on both units, by simply changing the switch on the wall wart, made it possible for me to solve my problem.

When you setup the power supply for your modem or router, read the instructions carefully. Plug size (6 choices) is obvious. Polarity and voltage are not obvious, but getting them right is essential. In most cases, the wall warts from the vendor will have clearly labeled requirements, with both polarity and voltage obviously described. Carefully following the instructions with the replacement power supply, you can swap units in a couple minutes.

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Driver Problems Causing Intermittent Network Problems

Recently, on computers running Windows Vista, and occasionally on computers running Windows XP, you might start the process of copying a relatively large file from one computer to the other. The copy process starts out smoothly (ruling out complex issues like name resolution, or permissions, or even visibility).

Well into the copy process, with several Megs of file content copied, the process abruptly terminates with a monolithic message

The network location is no longer available

Well, what now? Did the other computer go off the network?

So, you start layered diagnostics.
And, you find no problem, with either the copy source, or target. Maybe you try copying in the other direction, or start the copy from the other computer, and sometimes this will make a difference.

Frequently, the cause of this problem will be simple. With Windows Vista having been on the market for a rather brief amount of time, the vendors of the various networking adapters are still developing drivers for their products. Either the vendor of the network adapter in your Vista computer has not produced a driver specifically written for Vista, or the driver produced has not been sufficiently tested.

So now, you contact the vendor, and ask about a newer driver. But go to the vendor, not to Microsoft.

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