Introducing Action Center

your screen in the default screen layout For example, if a backup fails because of lack of space on the target disk, you might see a balloon notification to that effect:

Clicking the balloon gives you a chance to take immediate action, typically by means of a troubleshooting dialog box like this:

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Balloon messages alerting you to important security and maintenance issues are generated by Action Center, a new feature in the Windows 7 landscape. If you overlook or ignore the balloon, you can deal with the problem later by means of the Action Center icon, which is also in the notification area. When it's happy, the Action Center icon looks like this:

When it's not, it changes to look like this:

Clicking the icon in its troubled state reveals the nature of the problem (or problems, if more than one has accumulated) and tells you what you can do:

You can take corrective action by clicking an imperative statement in the middle of this message (for example, Check Backup Disk Space), or you can learn more about the condition of your system by clicking Open Action Center. Figure 21-1 illustrates what you might see if you open Action Center.

Figure 21-1 Action Center identifies potential security and maintenance problems and suggests corrective steps

Figure 21-1 Action Center identifies potential security and maintenance problems and suggests corrective steps

If Action Center has an important message to deliver, that message is flagged with a prominent red bar, and a button or link provides you with the means to address the problem . In Figure 21-1, for example, a red bar alerts you to a backup problem . Less important messages, such as the one concerning Windows Update in Figure 21-1, are flagged with a yellow bar. Below the alert text in all cases, you'll also find a link that allows you to suppress subsequent messages on the same topic. So, for example, if you prefer not to see messages relating to the status of your virus protection, you can turn that form of monitoring off.

Action Center, which you can also reach via the System And Security section of Control Panel, is both a troubleshooting tool and a maintenance tool. It lets you review and address any current issues affecting the security or stability of your system . It also provides links to Backup And Restore, Windows Update, and various troubleshooters .

Messages served by Action Center fall under two broad headings: Security and Maintenance. You can expand and collapse each of these headings by means of controls at the right. Figure 21-2 shows the Maintenance section expanded. (For information about security issues, see Chapter 15, "Security Essentials")

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Figure 21-2 The Maintenance section of Action Center deals with problem reports, backup, Windows Update, and troubleshooting.

For information about the problem reports, system history, and configuring Action Center's troubleshooting behavior, see Chapter 23, "Troubleshooting Windows Errors and Crashes ." For information about Windows Backup, see Chapter 11, "Backup, Restore, and Recovery." In the following section, we discuss Windows Update

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