Reader Question: Dial-up VPN and Active Directory

Hey Tony!

I am having some quirks with XP Pro, particularly using Active Directory across a “dial up” VPN. We don’t have VPN boxes here, just desktop clients.


Learning Batch Files

Via Lifehacker, here’s a useful Web page providing an introduction to batch files. I’m posting it because I’m constantly amazed at how many very competent Windows users and even administrators don’t know how to use batch files–even though they’re one of the best ways to automate repetitive tasks. For example, I use batch files to update my iPod, process my Web server logs, perform specialized backups, and synchronize files between computers on my network.

Windows XP and Windows Vista Performance Compared


Microsoft funded a study by Principled Technologies to compare the performance of the Windows XP user interface to the Windows Vista Aero interface. Here’s my summary:

  • Comparisons were done with a variety of different computers, some more powerful than others. Naturally, the Aero tests required computers capable of running Aero. So, these results don’t necessarily apply to your old XP computer.
  • With or without Aero, Vista performs about the same on business tasks (like opening Office documents). Some things are faster, some are slower, but it’s a wash overall.
  • Vista with Aero performs about the same as Vista without Aero. So, don’t feel like you need to disable Aero for performance.
  • Though all my computers are capable, I can’t run Aero because screenshots look awful. I’m fine with either interface. I’m just saying, even if Aero did cause a performance impact and you wanted to turn it off, the other Vista improvements more than make up for it.

Lining up Dual Monitors


Hi Tony, merry Christmas!I read your article about dual monitors on Microsoft’s site, and was wondering if you could answer a question for me. I understand if you can’t reply, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

I recently set up dual monitors on my system, and have noticed that when I drag a window, or even move my mouse across from monitor one to monitor two, everything on monitor two is about two inches below monitor one.

To clarify, moving the mouse straight across from monitor 1 to monitor 2, the cursor drops about two inches. The desktop wallpapers appear properly though.

Any ideas how to correct this? I’ll be glad to give you any system info you require. Thanks!


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Restore Files from a Windows XP .BKF file in Vista or Windows 7

Update: A real tool is available to do this, and it works in 64-bit Vista, so use that instead.

Microsoft is working on a tool to simplify restoring files from backups you made with Windows XP, but it’s not ready yet. In the meantime, plan on scrapping your old backups–as soon as you get Vista running, do a Complete PC backup, and then schedule nightly backups.

If you really need to restore files from a .BKF file, this thread provides guidance. I’ll copy the steps here for reference: Continue reading

How to Enable Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is a very cool tool that enables you to connect to your computer’s desktop from another computer across the network or even the Internet. The most common use for this is when people work from home and they want to run applications on their office computer–it’s typically much easier to use Remote Desktop to connect to your office computer than it is to try to connect to install every application, shared folder, and printer on your home computer. If you want to connect to a computer at your office, contact your IT department. IT will need to configure your computer and make changes to the firewall.

If you want to connect to another computer in your home across your network, follow these steps (you’ll need access to an administrator account):

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