CompTIA A+ Exam 220-902 sub-objective 1.7: Perform common preventive maintenance procedures using the appropriate Windows OS tools

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Detailed (and official) description of CompTIA A+ sub-objective 1.7

1.7 Perform common preventive maintenance procedures using the appropriate Windows OS tools.

> Best practices

– Scheduled backups
– Scheduled disk maintenance
– Windows updates
– Patch management
– Driver/firmware updates
– Antivirus/ Antimalware updates

> Tools

– Backup
– System restore
– Recovery image
– Disk maintenance utilities

Welcome to ExamNotes by CertBlaster! In this session we will examine recommended preventive maintenance using Windows system tools and utilities. Observing these practices will not only help you at the test, they may help you out of potential jams by being prepared with up to date repair tools.

Best practices

Scheduled backups

Scheduled backups are the best way to make sure you have recoverable data in the event of a system crash. Keep in mind that when doing backups it’s recommended to back up data to a different drive than your main OS. If the hard drive crashes and your backups are on it all is lost. External drives are good for this as well as any available Cloud storage. Your company network will also provide space for user backups. The important thing is that you do them regularly and even daily for the files that you add or change daily. A three day old backup may be able to recover your system but the work you did yesterday afternoon will not be there. Schedule your system to do a backup after hours and put your computer to sleep as opposed to shutting it down when you leave for the day.

Scheduled disk maintenance

Scheduled disk maintenance allows the system to diagnose and repair disk errors. The utilities like the Defragmentation and Error checking tools available from Tools in the properties menu of each drive. These processes will also run after hours from a PC in Sleep mode. While backups should be done as often as you are comfortable (don’t get burned), a good disk checking and Defragmentation schedule can be a weekly process. Here is the Defragmenter and the schedule. Note that scheduling is recommended.

screenshot of Disk Defragment Schedule
Disk Defrag Schedule

Windows Updates

Windows Updates should also be allowed to run automatically. Very often a critical security update will be issued and you want anything security related to be applies as soon as possible.You can have them downloaded and choose when to install them or use the recommended method of automatic download and install. The process of download and install and download and choose will also work from sleep mode. Here is the Windows 8 Update settings window with the Important updates choices displayed.

Screenshot of Windows Update Settings
Windows Update Settings

Patch management

Patch management is the process of identifying and applying any software patches to repair or protect your system, programs and devices. Generally you will be trying to resolve an operational issue and will be searching the manufacturer’s or Microsoft website for a newer version of software or device patches. In the majority of the cases if there is a problem, let’s say, with a graphics adapter. Search for the model name/number and you will see any applicable updates.  Act carefully when downloading and applying patches. Examine the documentation and instructions, anything that’s available to make sure your actions here do no harm. It could be as simple as looking at the file name of the patch. The files are often tagged with the operating system they apply to. You may see Windows patches in 32-bit and 64-bit versions as x32 or x64, Linux gz or tar files or Itanium IA64. For example If you are running a 64-bit Windows operating system The Itanium driver while being a 64-bit driver will not work. There is only one HAL.dll (Hardware Abstraction Layer) supported for each processor architecture (for starters). You will find backwards compatibility in Microsoft’s 64-bit systems. 32-bit programs and their associated system support files will be labeled as x32while the 64-bit content will be tagged as x64.

Driver/firmware updates

Driver and firmware updates follow the same basic process as described above but is hardware specific. While searching for a driver or firmware update you want to be sure you have the correct files for your operating system, version, and bit depth again if you are running Windows 8 64-bit and only 32-bit Windows drivers are available, try them. When updating drivers, test the device after the update if the device is not operating properly you can roll back the driver to the previous version as shown below.

screenshot of Rolling Back a Driver
Rolling Back a Driver

 

Antivirus/Antimalware updates

Antivirus and antimalware updates should be checked daily if possible. It’s too late when it’s too late. Set your antivirus and antimalware to automatically update the definition files as frequently as possible. Many freeware protection programs only update manually unless you buy the full version. The definition files contain the details associated with malware and virus “signatures”, essentially their footprint. Optimally you will set these programs scan content in real-time on access. This will provide instant blocking of infected content immediately, before it can get onto your system and do damage. Seemingly innocent processes like sharing data on a USB drive can expose you to the device may have picked up while being moved from machine to machine. Owners of portable media players, think about how many different systems you have pugged it into. Then imagine that device as a carrier for malware.

Tools

As we have touched on earlier, Microsoft includes some useful and powerful maintenance and recovery tools as operating system components. We’ll look at ways to safeguard your data against loss and how to get it back in the event of a loss.

Backup

This is your first line of defense against data loss. The frequency of your backups increases their value. Let’s say you didn’t run a backup last night. If you come to work in the morning and find your hard disk crashed, whatever you did yesterday is gone. That is of course if you did a backup the night before. It comes down to how much time you can afford to lose. In a business this would be called the RPO (Recovery Point Objective) or simply put how much data can you afford to lose? The Backup and Restore program can be accessed from Control Panel or the drives Properties > Tools and from there you can schedule or make a backup, create a system image or system repair disk.

screenshot of system repair disk
System repair disk

Backups can be saved to other hard disks besides the main system drive, DVDs or other high capacity media or a network share. You can also implement fundamental disaster recovery in a business by backing up to another physical location like a server in another office.

System restore

A system restore is used to create snapshot images of critical system files called Restore Points. These Restore Points can be applied to repair corrupted systems and fix things like boot errors provided they were no happening when the image was created.

screenshot of the windows system image pop-up
System image

Recovery image

Recovery images or restore points can be used to recover your system provided System Protection is turned on. Restore Points or images can created on a set schedule and/or created manually. If present a Restore Point can be accessed from the System Recovery Options menu and choosing System Image Recovery. It is important to note that If you have a virus or create a Restore Point on a system that has a virus, the virus will persist regardless of its location. If your system has a virus and you restore a clean restore point, your system will still have a virus. If you have a restore point that contains a virus, restoring it to a clean system will result in an infected system.

Disk maintenance utilities

Most disk maintenance utilities can be accessed by right clicking on the drive and opening the Tools Tab. You can perform error checking (chkdsk.exe). This requires a reboot so the program can have unrestricted access to the drive. You can perform disk defragmentation (defrag.exe). It’s a good idea to have this program run at least weekly. Or perform a backup by clicking Back up now to launch the Backup and Restore applet where you can either perform an immediate backup or schedule one, as well as the Image and repair disk options listed above.

Screenshot of pop-up for Accessing Disk Maintenance Utilities
Accessing Disk Maintenance Utilities

That’s all for Objective 1.7. Short and sweet, be ready to exhibit complete knowledge of this crucial information.

Good Luck on the test!

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