Security & Safety

Windows Vista features: Security and Safety

Protect your PC and the people who use it

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Windows Vista can help protect your PC and the people who use it by providing improved safety and security features so you can use your computer with confidence.

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BitLocker Drive Encryption is a security feature that provides better data protection for your computer by encrypting all data stored on the Windows operating system volume. BitLocker Drive Encryption is available in Windows Vista Enterprise and Ultimate for client computers and in Windows Server 2008. Both business and personal users can turn on BitLocker Drive Encryption to help protect sensitive data on their PCs.

Encrypting File System, available in Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista, is useful for user-level file and folder encryption. For example, if two users are sharing a computer, an administrator can use Encrypting File System to encrypt each user's data to make it unavailable to the other user. For network file and folder encryption, Windows Vista enables administrators to store Encrypting File System keys on smart cards.

The parental controls built into Windows Vista help parents determine which games their children can play, which programs they can use, and which websites they can visit—and when. Parents can restrict computer use to specific times and trust that Windows Vista will enforce those restrictions, even when they're away from home.

Available in the Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise editions of Windows Vista, this feature creates point-in-time copies of files as you work, so you can retrieve versions of a document you may have accidentally deleted. Shadow copy is automatically turned on in Windows Vista and creates copies, on a scheduled basis, of files that have changed. Since only incremental changes are saved, minimal disk space is used for shadow copies.

User Account Control in Windows Vista helps prevent potentially harmful software from making changes to your computer without your explicit consent. This feature works with Windows Defender, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 8 to help reduce the impact of viruses, spyware, and other threats. With User Account Control and the Parental Controls in Windows Vista, you can create a separate account for each member of the family and control which websites, programs, and games each person can use and install.

The file backup and restore features in Windows Vista help you keep your data safe from user error, hardware failure, and other problems. Windows Backup and Restore Center gives you one place to manage all backup and restore features. Depending on the version of Windows Vista you have, there are two approaches you can take to backing up files: Automatic Backup, which backs up just your files and data; or Complete PC Backup, which backs up everything on your PC, including the operating system and applications.

Windows Defender is antispyware software that can help protect your computer against spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Windows Defender works with Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8 and comes with preconfigured settings and guidance to help you get and stay secure.

Windows Firewall helps you protect your computer against many types of malicious software by restricting other operating system resources if they behave in unexpected ways—a common indicator of the presence of malware. Properly configured, it can stop many kinds of malware before they can infect your computer or other computers on your network. Windows Firewall, which comes with Windows Vista, is turned on by default and begins protecting your computer as soon as Windows starts. The Windows Firewall Control Panel is designed to be easy to use, with several configuration options and a simple interface.

Windows Security Center helps make your PC secure by alerting you when your security software is out of date or when your security settings should be strengthened. The Security Center displays your firewall settings and tells you whether your PC is set up to receive automatic software updates from Microsoft. Windows Security Center also shows the status of software designed to protect against spyware, your Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 8 security settings, and User Account Control. In addition, Windows Security Center can monitor security products from multiple companies and show you which are enabled and up to date.

Windows Update helps keep your computer current and secure by automatically downloading and installing the latest security and feature updates from Microsoft. Windows Update determines which updates are applicable to your computer and can download and install them automatically to keep your computer up to date and more secure. To make sure your computer stays up to date, you should set up your system to install updates automatically. This helps ensure that both Important and Recommended updates are downloaded and installed in Windows Vista.