About 29% of the questions on the CompTIA A+ 902 certification test concern Windows Operating Systems. Of these Windows questions, about 70% ask you to make a decision based on a given situation or scenario.
While we cannot be your only source for test preparation, this study guide will give you an idea of what you have to know if you want to do well on this portion of the test. You should also consult other sources to round out your study program. Be aware that test producers continually revise and totally revamp the test content about every 3 years. This study guide contains the latest information that is available.
Be sure you can describe any new features that have been introduced with each new operating system since Vista. Pay close attention to security features; for example, Windows Defender on Vista and the anti-malware protection provided on Windows 7. Windows Defender on Windows 8 and 8.1 provides not only anti-malware, but anti-virus as well. If users want anti-virus and anti-malware for Vista or Windows 7, they would use Windows Security Defender, which when installed disables Windows Defender. Be sure you understand why it is important to maintain current updates and patches on Windows systems. Knowledge on Windows 10 features is not included on the 902 certification exam.
All versions of Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 and 8.1 support a maximum of 4GB of RAM on a 32-bit platform, excluding Windows 7 Starter edition, which supports a maximum of 2GB of RAM. All versions of Vista support a maximum of 128GB of RAM on a 64-bit platform, except Home Premium, which only supports 16GB of RAM on a 64-bit platform. All versions of Windows 7 support a maximum of 192GB of RAM on a 64-bit platform, except Basic and Home Premium, which only support 8GB and 16GB of RAM, respectively, on a 64-bit platform. All versions of Windows 8 and 8.1 support a maximum of 512GB of RAM on a 64-bit platform, except the Basic Core version that only supports 128GB on a 64-bit platform.
This list enumerates newer features added with Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 and 8.1. You must be familiar with these terms and how they apply to the various Windows systems:
Windows 8 and 8.1 added new unique features and functionality. It will be necessary for you to understand the role of all of these in the various Windows operating systems:
Be certain you know the upgrade paths between the various operating systems, as well as the difference between a clean install and an upgrade. When moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, you would need to migrate which requires a backup of data from XP followed by a clean install and migrating the data to the new platform since Microsoft does not support upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7. Also, XP and Vista cannot be upgraded to Windows 8. No 32-bit operating system can be upgraded to a 64-bit operating system and vice versa.
Be certain to know the system requirements for loading software on the various systems. Given a system running the Vista releases, know the upgrade paths to comparable Windows 7 releases. For example, Windows Vista Home Basic allows upgrades to Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 7 Home Ultimate. Remember there is no path to upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 8. Know the functionality of Windows Upgrade Advisor when attempting to upgrade a system. Given a real-world scenario, you should be able to explain the proper procedure for installing an operating system.
Know the correct method to boot a system using either CD-ROM, DVD, USB, PXE, Solid state flash drives, as well as netboot. Understand how system BIOS needs to be set to allow for any of the said methods. Many of the newer smaller tablets do not include CD/DVD drives and can only be loaded using a USB thumb drive. Understand Windows To Go for Windows 8 as well as the difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, and their corresponding benefits, when incorporating this feature. Know the various options available when partitioning a hard drive when preparing to load a new operating system. Understand external/hot swappable drive configurations as well as hard drive partitioning schemes.
Understand the reason for various types of installations; for example, when to utilize an unattended installation versus a clean installation. Understand the difference between an upgrade and a clean installation and when to use each one. An upgrade maintains consistency and is considerably faster than a clean install. Applications and data remain when you upgrade. Microsoft does not support upgrading a 32-bit operating system to a 64-bit operating system, or vice versa. If you have a 32-bit operating system, you would have to migrate it to a 64-bit operating system. Before attempting an upgrade, be sure the existing system has all the necessary updates and security patches necessary. Know the function of a recovery partition, how to utilize it in the event the system needs to be restored, and how to hide partitions. You need to know when a repair installation is an appropriate method to recover a corrupted system. Understand how to implement a multiboot system, how to perform remote network installations, when to perform refresh/restore.
Hard drives can contain up to four partitions; each can be formatted to create a volume. If you require more than four partitions, you can create numerous extended partitions. Extended partitions allow you to create more than four partitions; however, you cannot boot from an extended partition. A new partitioning scheme, GPT (GUID Partition Table) is a special type of partition that allows up to 128 additional partitions. GPT will eventually replace the MBR partitioning scheme. Know the difference between dynamic disks and basic disks and the role dynamic disks play in setting up RAID. Be familiar with the various partitioning schemes: dynamic, basic, primary, extended, logical, and GPT.
Understand the various file systems used on PCs and how they have progressed. A file system is the method used by the operating system to store and retrieve data. It also specifies the naming convention of files and determines the overall size of any volume. The latest of the progression of FAT file systems was FAT32, which has a size limitation of 32 GB. The NTFS file system, which has a maximum limitation of 2 TB, has been around since the early 90s. The newest version has a theoretical limit of 16 EiB (Exbibyte). Linux file system uses ext3, ext4, and can also utilize many of the Microsoft file systems. You will be expected to know the benefits and features of exFAT, CDFS, and NFS.
Drivers used in Windows installations that have been tested and approved by Microsoft are referred to as “Signed Drivers”. When installing device drivers, signed drivers should always be used; however, you may find situations where the driver is an unsigned driver (Third-Party Driver). Before installing an unsigned driver, verify the source to ensure that it is valid.
You will need to know how to set up a workgroup and set up a system as part of a domain. A workgroup could be a small department in a larger organization, or more likely a home user. Setting up a home workgroup is an easy way to allow printer sharing and file sharing with family. Businesses would more than likely use a Domain Controller that would provide secure, centralized logins to a very large group. This centralized facility simplifies managing a large network.
Settings that are normally established when the system is first installed would include date, time, location, user name, etc. Know the proper procedure for adding, deleting, and managing users.
Understand the importance of keeping your system up to date specifically relating to security. Know the procedures for installing drivers, using 32-bit drivers on x86 system and 64-bit drivers on x64 systems. Be familiar with the function of the Device Manager and how it relates to drivers.
For systems that come with a recovery partition you are expected to know how to use this to implement a system recovery. Also understand how partitions can be hidden.
For each operating system, understand the procedure for partitioning and formatting drives. Know how to determine which partition is the active partition.