Why private? The answer, apparently delivered, with a straight face is a remarkable tribute to many long years of practice in the art of bullshit artistry and spin doctoring ...
Apparently the government is concerned about protecting the poor lady's privacy! (I almost choked on my morning cup of tea when I heard it).
So terribly thoughtful of them really! Pity they weren't as diligent about protecting her civil rights ... oh yeah! I forgot we don't have any! (or not now it seems).
Anyway, must not go off on a political tangent. This blog was supposed to be about a small discovery I made, that is pretty well common knowledge. But being a Windows XP newbie, I only just discovered it ...
I have been engaged in a short-term contract for a corporate client for the last two months. During this time I have become acquainted with the Windows XP Operating System.
Overall, I cannot see much difference between the basic functionality of XP and 2000. The most annoying thing was the fact that all of the menu items had been changed around so that if you use the default configuration (I usually do), you have to re-learn everything. Well, that's why I still rely on the command line wherever possible.
However, one of the new things I noticed was that the file C:\WINDOWS\system32\wpa.dbl kept changing every time I rebooted the PC.
Searching for more information in Google, I discovered many references to http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1558,1151566,00.asp (An article called WPA.DBL--The Keeper of the Keys).
According to this article the wpa.dbl file holds the hardware configuration information and activation state of the current Windows XP installation. This encrypted file contains the expiration info of the installation, the confirmation of activation, the hardware configuration at activation time, and the current hardware configuration.
Apparently the wpa.dbl starts out about 2K in size and grows to be larger than 10K after activation. The boot process checks the hardware configuration and compares it with the key stored in the wpa.dbl file.
The following hardware is checked:
- Display Adapter
- SCSI Adapter
- IDE Adapter
- Network Adapter and its MAC Address
- RAM Amount Range
- Processor Type
- Processor Serial Number
- Hard Drive Device
- Hard Drive Volume Serial Number (VSN)
- CD-ROM / CD-RW / DVD-ROM
There are several annoying side effects to this process. The most obvious is that a change in the hardware might necessitate re-activation. This is true for formatting the hard disk and re-installing. And this is the course of action that Microsoft users often resort to, when their machine has become so clogged with malware that it is unusable.
So there are lots of articles describing how to backup the files wpa.dbl and wpa.bak.
That's one little task that I won't have to bother with ... back in my office, which is an XP free zone, and likely to remain so.