Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Disable Vista's Media Center(Ultimate or Home Premium only)

Open a command prompt with admin rights(if you UAC turned on, just type cmd into the search bar of the start menu and hit Ctrl-Shift-Enter)

reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsMediaCenter /v MediaCenter /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

To re-enable it(not likely to happen ;-))
reg delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsMediaCenter /v MediaCenter /f

Too good not to post

Wow...what an article:

Monday, October 6, 2008

VHDMount Fun

I had the lovely privilege of re-formatting my home PC the other day. I regularly use Vista(so sue me) on my home PC and I used its built-in backup tools to backup all my files to my second harddrive, including a CompletePC backup.

What I found was that for the normal file backup and restore feature, when you go to restore, it will restore ALL FILES FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BACKUP SET. Take this scenario

  • Backup Set Created(first backup made)

  • Backup

  • Backup

  • Files Deleted

  • Backup

If I restore from the last backup, the deleted files will be found in the backups. Thats fine, pretty useful if i wanna undelete a file from awhile ago...but I did not anticipate this behavior....especially since I cleaned/reorganized my music collection recently.

So, I decided to open the CompletePC backup, basically a snapshot of the entire OS drive(which i made right before my format). It saves itself as a VHD file, which I need a microsoft program called VHDMount to open/use.

To get this tool, I had to download Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 from here. Start the install, and you will probably want to do a custom install and only select the VHDMount tool.

Then, I tried to use the tool via the CLI...but with my fresh Vista SP1 install, UAC was turned on, so I had to open my command prompt in admin mode....easiest way is to Click the Start globe, type cmd in the search, and hit Ctrl-Shift-Enter(C-S-E is a shortcut to run anything as admin in Vista). After opening an admin prompt, I ran the tool with the /p switch(run vhdmount /? if you want to learn all the switches). But, it kept giving me a failed message.

Hunting around the internets, I found a solution, it seems it couldn't "plug in" the vhd file because of a driver issue...and this solves it(at least for me!):

  1. Control Panel->Hardware->Install drivers for older devices with Add Hardware wizard(its hiding on the left panel)

  2. Hit next and do the Advanced option, Show all Devices, Have Disk. Point it to the VHDMount install directory(C:\Program Files\Microsoft Virtual Server\Vhdmount\ by default) and have it install the vhdbus.inf.

  3. It will install "Microsoft Virtual Server Storage Bus" device.

  4. Then I had to run vhdmount with the /p switch again...this time it will fail again, BUT windows will fuss about it finding a device it can't find the driver for.

  5. Go to device manager(its in control panel) and right click the unhappy device and install this same inf file from above for this device and voila! it works.

  6. The virtual drive should now automount to the first available driver letter.

I am happy. It works a treat after a bit of finesse.

As a bonus, here is a reg script that will allow you to mount VHD files using the context menu(put this into a file with a .reg extension, save it and double click to merge):
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
@="Virtual Hard Disk"
@="Plug in"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Virtual.Machine.HD\shell\Plug in]
@="&Plug in"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Virtual.Machine.HD\shell\Plug in\command]
@="\"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Virtual Server\\Vhdmount\\vhdmount.exe\" /p \"%1\""
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Virtual.Machine.HD\shell\Unplug (discard changes)]
@="Unplug (&discard changes)"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Virtual.Machine.HD\shell\Unplug (discard changes)\command]
@="\"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Virtual Server\\Vhdmount\\vhdmount.exe\" /u /d \"%1\""
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Virtual.Machine.HD\shell\Unplug (commit changes)]
@="Unplug (&commit changes)"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Virtual.Machine.HD\shell\Unplug (commit changes)\command]
@="\"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Virtual Server\\Vhdmount\\vhdmount.exe\" /u /c \"%1\""