220-1102 Operating Systems Study Guide for the CompTIA A+ Core Series Exam

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General Information

If every business used a Mac or all businesses used Windows, your job in IT support would be a lot less complicated. But they don’t, so it’s not. To support all clients, you need to be conversant in all types of systems, including system configuration and troubleshooting for Mac, Chrome, Android, and Linux operating systems (OS). You’ll also need to be able to install and support Windows systems. This all-encompassing content is why 31% of the CompTIA A+ 1102 questions are devoted to operating systems. Over half (64%) of the questions about operating systems will begin with a scenario.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows is the most widely used workstation operating system. It can be installed on a wide variety of compatible hardware from many manufacturers, and it is commonly used in homes, schools, and offices. For the CompTIA A+ 1102 exam, you must be able to identify basic features of common editions.

Windows 10 Editions

Windows 10 has had 15 total editions released with 10 editions still in use today. Windows 10 was offered as a free upgrade from Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. For the purposes of the exam, only the Windows Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Enterprise editions will be focused on.


Windows 10 comes preinstalled on vendor hardware and is referred to as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) OS. Windows 10 is also available as a retail product but lacks the ability to join a domain, which other Windows editions offer.


Windows Pro allows the user to join corporate domains, which makes it the most common OEM OS and the premier Windows retail edition offering.

Pro for Workstations

Windows Pro for Workstations supports up to four CPUs and 6 TB of memory as well as remote directory memory access (RDMA) and non-volatile dual inline memory modules (NVDIMM), which makes it ideal for high-end workstations that require more than two CPUs and over 2 TB of memory.


Windows 10 Enterprise offers all the same functionality as Windows Pro for workstations and can be volume licensed for larger enterprises.

Feature Differences

The features that are offered by the Windows OS depend on the edition of Windows purchased or preinstalled.

Domain Access vs. Workgroup

Domain access is the ability of the OS to connect to a domain-joined network of computers that provide centralized authentication, administration, and auditing. It is often found in large corporate networks. Domain access is supported in the Windows Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Enterprise editions. A workgroup is the default mode for the Windows OS and is a decentralized collection of computers or workstations. Windows Home only has the workgroup capability and not domain access.

Desktop Styles/User Interface

The Windows desktop and user interface are very similar to previous editions of Windows going back to Windows 95. Users are, however, able to easily customize and personalize the desktop and user interface through the Settings menu. Standard items found on the Windows desktop include the Start menu, the taskbar, and various icons or shortcuts.

Availability of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is not supported on Windows Home, but it is supported on Windows Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Enterprise.

Random-Access Memory (RAM) Support Limitations

Windows Home supports 128 GB of RAM and two CPUs. Windows Pro supports 2 TB of RAM and two CPUs. Windows Pro for Workstations supports 6 TB of RAM and four CPUs. Windows Enterprise supports 6 TB of RAM and two CPUs.


BitLocker is an encryption program that allows for drive encryption to protect files. BitLocker is not available with Windows Home edition but is available with Windows Pro, Windows Pro for Workstations, and Windows Enterprise.


The group policy feature is available on all of the covered editions except for Windows Home. Group policy allows for all domain-connected computers to have group policies and permissions applied through the domain. Group policies may also be applied locally by using the gpedit.msc command.

Upgrade Paths

Upgrade paths vary depending on the edition of Windows installed. It is recommended that the OS is upgraded with like-to-like editions. Upgrading to an elevated edition requires the use of an activation key. Also, be aware of the recommendations to upgrade to newer versions of the current version before upgrading to Windows 10. For example, before upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 8, it is recommended that the OS is first upgraded to Windows 8.1.

In-Place Upgrade

An in-place upgrade is a straight upgrade from the current edition to the latest edition as long as system requirements are met.

Microsoft Command-Line Tools

Microsoft command-line tools are command lines specific to Microsoft operating systems. You will need to know the appropriate command-line tool when given a scenario.

Navigation using the command line allows the user to navigate the file system using predetermined commands.

cd—The cd command allows the user to change directories and is shorthand for the chdir command.

dir— The dir command allows the user to view a listing of files and folders/subdirectories in a directory.

md—The md command allows the user to make a directory and is shorthand for the mkdir command.

rmdir— The rmdir command allows the user to delete directories. The rd command is shorthand for this.

Drive Navigation Inputs

The cd command allows for navigation within the current drive. To navigate to another drive, you may use the drive letter followed by a semicolon command.

  • C— Changes to C drive
  • D— Changes to D drive
  • x— Changes to X drive

Command-Line Tools

Command-line tools can also be used for numerous other functions, such as testing or tracing network connectivity or paths. You should be familiar with common command-line tools.

ipconfig— The ipconfig command is used to display basic connectivity information, such as the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway. This command is highly useful in diagnosing network issues.

ping—The ping command is used to verify network connectivity by sending an Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packet to a specified address, such as the default gateway.

hostname—The hostname command is used to pull up the identity of the computer the Command Prompt is open on.

netstat— The netstat command is used to display all the listening and established connections on the host network.

nslookup—The nslookup command is used to verify DNS addresses. This command can be used for inline query or interactively.

chkdsk—The chkdsk command is used to view information about the hard disk, including the creation and viewing of reports, as well as to correct file system problems and disk errors.

net user—The net user command is a subcommand used to list all local accounts on the host system.

net use—The net use command is used to map drive letters to network shares.

tracert—The tracert command is used to show the path a packet takes on a network to arrive at a specified destination.

format— The format command is used to remove data from disks and prepare disks for new use.

xcopy—The xcopy command is used to copy folders and files.

copy—The copy command is used to copy specified files.

robocopy—The robocopy command is used to copy files while keeping permissions intact.

gpupdate—The gpupdate command is used to update group policies.

gpresult—The gpresult command is used to view the report/values of the Resultant Set of Policy (RSoP) for a remote user and the users’ computer.

shutdown—The shutdown command can be used for scheduling a complete shutdown or a restart remotely or locally.

sfc—System File Checker, or the sfc command, is a utility command that verifies and checks the version of the file system on the computer.

[command name]/?—The /? command is used to provide help for a specified command.

diskpart—The diskpart command is a tool for managing disks, partitions, and volumes.

pathping—The pathping command is a mixture of the tracert and ping commands.

winver—The winver command is used to Windows version information in a GUI dialog box. Version information provided includes the current version, the build number, and licensing information.


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