More Research Sites for Your Administrative Tool Kit

I've written quite a few columns about where and how to find technical help on the Microsoft Web site, and readers have told me that the instructions were useful. Readers have also given me suggestions about additional help topics and information resources that I'd like to share.

Microsoft has included the most useful and popular help links on its Product Support Services Web site. The two sections of the site I've found most useful are the Windows XP Support Center and the Windows 2000 Support Center. These product support sites provide links to other locations within the Microsoft Web world. I often use the Windows 2000 Top Issues and FAQ site to keep an eye on problems that I need to report on. The Win2K product support team updates this site weekly, and I recommend that Win2K administrators check it on a regular basis.

These product support sites also include canned Knowledge Base searches that return all related Microsoft articles about the listed topic. I've been pointing friends and coworkers to the canned search for articles about installing XP to prepare them for the installation process. The search isn't perfect (it also returns information about installing other Windows versions), but it does return quite a few useful articles, including a personal favorite, "How to Multiple Boot Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 95, and MS-DOS," which recently helped me solve a multiboot configuration problem for a client.

A sharp reader sent me this little tip to help your Microsoft Web site search needs: If you know the Knowledge Base article number, simply enter it into the Internet Explorer (IE) address bar in the format "MSKB Q162928," where the Q number is any valid Knowledge Base article. The browser will search for the article and automatically open it.

Readers were pleased with the research tools I presented in my column about Internet FAQ sites, so here's a link to all of the Microsoft product FAQs in one place. Each of the 27 links on the page opens the Product Support Center site for that product.

In the Product Support Center or the Microsoft Developer Network home page, you can find links to 90 percent of the available information from Microsoft that can help you solve problems and troubleshoot your systems. I visit both sites almost daily to keep track of potential trouble spots that Microsoft has identified. Add the Microsoft Security Web site () to your list of regular links, and you have an arsenal of weapons that every administrator responsible for Microsoft applications needs.

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