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Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE--December 13, 2004

Windows Tips &amp Tricks UPDATE, December 13, 2004, —brought to you by the Windows IT Pro Network and the Windows 2000 FAQ site

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  • Q. How can I install Microsoft Fingerprint Reader?
  • Q. How can I use my fingerprint instead of a username and password to log on to a Web site?
  • Q. Where in the registry are my passwords for Microsoft Fingerprint Reader stored?
  • Q. How many nodes can I have in a Windows cluster?
  • Q. How can I control how to stop or start certain services?

by John Savill, FAQ Editor, [email protected]

This week, I tell you how to install Microsoft Fingerprint Reader, how you can use a fingerprint instead of a username and password to log on to a Web site, and where in the registry passwords for Microsoft Fingerprint Reader are stored. I also explain how many nodes you can have in a Windows cluster and how you can control how to stop or start certain services.

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Q. How can I install Microsoft Fingerprint Reader?

A. Microsoft recently began offering Fingerprint Reader, a hardware device that you can use to replace the use of usernames and passwords for nearly all aspects of Windows, including logon and Web access. To install Fingerprint Reader, you must install the software that comes with the Fingerprint Reader hardware before you plug in the device. Follow these steps to install the software:

  1. Insert the driver CD-ROM that comes with the Fingerprint Reader hardware and run the setup.exe program that's in the CD-ROM root directory.
  2. The DigitalPersona Password Manager setup program will start. Click Next.
  3. Select "I accept the license agreement" and click Next.
  4. A warning is displayed about the use of the Fingerprint Reader device, which the figure at shows. Select the "I have read the statement above" check box and click Next.
  5. Confirm the installation location and click Next.
  6. Setup will begin, and various setup file and system parameters and services will be activated. At this point, a new Biometric Authentication Service has been installed and started. (Type
    net start
    at the command prompt to see the service listed.)
  7. Plug in the USB Fingerprint Reader device.
  8. After the Fingerprint Reader software has detected the device, setup is done. Click Finish.
  9. You're prompted to restart the computer. Click Yes.
  10. When the machine restarts, if you use the Windows Welcome screen, you'll notice a Fingerprint Reader icon in the top left corner. Ignore the icon for now and log on as you usually do.
  11. After you're logged on, the Fingerprint Registration Wizard will begin automatically (dpconsol.exe). Click Next.
  12. You're prompted for your Windows password. Enter your Windows password and click OK.
  13. A graphic showing two hands is displayed, which the figure at shows. You're asked to select which fingers you want to register. Click a finger, then click Next.
  14. You must then scan the finger four times through the Fingerprint Reader hardware device. After you've finished scanning, a message will be displayed stating that the registration is successful.
  15. You can now optionally register additional fingers. After you've finished registering fingerprints, click Next.
  16. Click Finish.

If you use the Welcome screen to log on to Windows, you must enable fast user switching to use the fingerprint logon capability. (To enable fast user switching, click Start, select Settings, then click Control Panel, double-click User Accounts, and click "Change the way users log on or off".) If you don't use the Welcome screen, the option to switch to using the Welcome screen is disabled. Instead, a new screen--the Persona logon screen--is displayed when the computer starts, prompting you to use your fingerprint or press Ctrl+Alt+Del to log on as usual. If you want to reenable the Welcome screen, you must first uninstall the DigitalPersona Password Management software, then reinstall it after you've enabled the Welcome screen. Be aware that you can't use Fingerprint Reader if you log on to a domain, although you can use Fingerprint Reader to log on to a Web site.

Q. How can I use my fingerprint instead of a username and password to log on to a Web site?

A. To use Microsoft Fingerprint Reader instead of a username and password to log on to a Web site, perform these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Web site page that requests the username and password.
  2. Before entering the username or password, press your finger on the fingerprint sensor on the Fingerprint Reader device.
  3. The Create Fingerprint Logon process will start. The Create Fingerprint Logon dialog box--which contains the Web-page logon fields (e.g., email address, password)--is displayed. You can change the Logon Title, if you want. When you're done reviewing and entering the necessary information, click OK.
  4. Now just press your finger on the fingerprint scanner at the Web logon page, and it will fill in the fields automatically and log you on to the Web site.

Q. Where in the registry are my passwords for Microsoft Fingerprint Reader stored?

A. When you register you fingerprints via Microsoft Fingerprint Reader, the software updates your SAM account under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SAM\SAM\Domains\Account\Users registry subkey. (This subkey is hidden; if you try to access it, you'll see only an empty SAM key.) The actual passwords are stored in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DigitalPersona\DB\Data\Users subkey. In this subkey, each user whose fingerprints are registered has an entry. The main logon password is a binary value in the format S.MainSystemLogon.\{3AC492E9-E0B8-497A-B4DF-2C360C7842EB\}; the data for this value is the password. Web site passwords are in the format U.9C3CD43FDEE43E47.\{3AC492E9-E0B8-497A-B4DF-2C360C7842EB\}. The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DigitalPersona\DB\Data\IdList subkey maps the value in brackets to the user ID.

The password data is encrypted and unreadable. However, unlike regular password storage, which is a hashed base process and not reversible, passwords that are used with Fingerprint Reader can be converted back to their regular format. Thus, you shouldn't use Fingerprint Reader to allow access to highly secure material, because passwords can be unencrypted.

Q. How many nodes can I have in a Windows cluster?

A. A node is simply a server that participates in a cluster. Different Windows versions support different numbers of nodes. The storage connection method (i.e., SCSI or Fibre Channel) that servers in the cluster use also affects the number of possible nodes. The table at shows the number of nodes that are supported by the various versions of Windows and connection type.

Be aware that although you can mix OSs in a cluster, they can differ by only one OS version--that is, you could have a cluster with Windows 2000 Server and Windows NT 4.0 nodes, or Win2K Server and Windows Server 2003 nodes, but you couldn't have NT 4.0 and Windows 2003 nodes in the same cluster. Also, if you're running a mixed cluster, the maximum number of nodes supported is that of the most restrictive OS in the cluster. Therefore, if you had Win2K Advanced Server and Windows 2003, Enterprise Edition, you'd be limited to two nodes because that's the Win2K AS maximum.

Q. How can I control how to stop or start certain services?

A. If you want to allow particular groups to stop or start certain services on a server without making them administrators, you can define a Group Policy Object (GPO) that applies to the server(s) in question by performing these steps:

  1. Open the GPO in Group Policy Editor (GPE) or create a new GPO (gpedit.msc).
  2. In the treeview pane, expand Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, Security Settings, System Services.
  3. Right-click the service you want to change--for example the DHCP Server service--and click Properties. A dialog box that's similar to the one at is displayed.
  4. Select "Define this policy setting" and set the startup mode. For example, set the mode to Automatic if you want the service to start when the computer starts.
  5. Click Edit Security.
  6. You can now control which users and groups can access the service and stop or start it. Click OK after you've made your selections. It's important that you don't change the Administrators group and SYSTEM permissions; their permissions should always be Full Control.
  7. Click OK to all dialog boxes to apply the change. You'll need to refresh the GPO for the change to take effect.

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