System and Security is one of the key areas of the Windows 7 Control Panel – it houses tools such as the Security Centre (for controlling your antivirus and firewall programs) and Device Manager, which can be used to monitor the hardware set up on your PC and download any relevant driver updates.
Action Centre - from here you can manage the security software installed on your PC. This includes antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware applications. Alerts will be displayed if there are any obvious holes in your PC’s protection, and you can manage the Windows 7 backup utility as well. In addition, you can manage user accounts and launch troubleshooting wizards to help fix problems with the system.
Windows Firewall - the built-in Windows Firewall software might be basic compared to some of the commercial offerings, but it does a decent job of keeping your machine protected against online threats. Follow the link to configure the firewall – it’s possible to set up exceptions and rules for particular programs that need elevated access to your home network or the Web.
System - open up the system screen to see information about your PC’s performance and the hardware that’s installed. You can run the Windows Experience Index to get an idea of how powerful the system is, configure advanced performance settings, and launch Device Manager, which lists all of the detected and installed hardware. Device Manager can be used to reconfigure peripherals and download driver updates.
Windows Update - keeping Windows updated is an important part in protecting your system and preventing problems with the operating system. From here you can ensure that updates are correctly configured and decide when and how they are applied. It’s also possible to roll back an update if it’s causing a problem.
Power Options - of particular interest to laptop owners, the Power Options page covers hibernation and sleep settings. You can reconfigure your system to conserve more battery life, and even change how the power switch on your PC works.
Backup and Restore - Windows comes with its own backup utility, which you can make use of if you wish to. From this screen you can configure future routines as well as view and restore backups that have already been created. For a more complete backup, you can create a system image or repair disc as well.
BitLocker Drive Encryption - if you’re running the Ultimate or Enterprise editions of Windows 7, then you’ll be able to access BitLocker Drive Encryption. This feature encrypts all of the content stored on your hard drive, making it inaccessible to anyone without the necessary authorisation.
Administrative Tools - a suite of programs for advanced users, covering Windows 7 event logs, computer performance, system errors and disk usage. You can also manage background services from this screen, which appears as a series of shortcuts to the relevant tools.