Category Archives: Win7View

Notes on Windows 7, Win7 compatible software and hardware, reviews, tips and more.

Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I just saw an interesting story over at Windows Latest. It’s entitled Microsoft; Industry considers Windows on ARM as the future of computing. We’ve seen Windows on ARM for 3-plus years now. But so far, the user experience has been more under- than over- whelming. Nevertheless,  I’m inclined to agree that ARM has revolutionary PC potential going forward.  Thus IMO it IS reasonable to ask: Is ARM in your PC’s future? Let me explain… as you look at the CPU package in the lead-in graphic (Image Credit:

Why say: Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I’ve been writing ongoing tech briefs for HPE, around the  ProLiant server family since last December. Much of my research, analysis and reporting has centered around ARM CPUs. Specifically, I’ve been exploring benefits they confer on cloud-based servers vis-a-vis top-of-the-line x86 Intel and AMD processors :

  • Energy efficiency: ARM CPUs routinely deliver the same or better performance as the other CPUs, but consume 50-70% less power.
  • Footprint: ARM CPU-based servers require only 1/3 the physical space (and volume) of their intel or AMD counterparts. That means either major savings on rack space, cooling, cabling and yada-yada, or 3 times as much capability in the same space.
  • Predictable and improved performance: ARM (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) CPUs use a single constant clock speed and lots of cores to keep things in synch and running smoothly. They can handle higher loads, faster and more predictably (with less jitter, too) than the competition.
  • High core-count ARM CPUs (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) can handle AI workloads without needing supplementary GPUs to offload or assist with such processing. Considering that the latest high-end Blackwell NVIDIA GPU is expected to cost US$30-40K, that’s HUGE (the current spot price for the top-of-the-line Ampere Altra Max M128-30 is US$2,305).

Pretty amazing, eh? It’s already shaking up the cloud and data center server market in a big, big way.

What Does This Have to Do with End-User PCs and Laptops?

Right now, not much. But in general, the ARM processors all share the smaller footprint and improved energy efficiency characteristics that help set the high-end ARM server CPUs apart from intel and AMD. They won’t offer anywhere near the same number of cores, and they’re also likely to use multiple core types (Ampere Altra uses only single-threaded cores, all identical, all in lock-step).

A March 13 MS announcement about worldwide availability of an “ARM advisory service for developers” had this to say about ARM silicon:

This is no surprise, as many across the industry consider Windows on Arm devices as the future of computing, with unparalleled speed, battery life, and connectivity.

Like me, MS apparently sees the uptake of the advantages that ARM architecture brings to computing having a significant impact at the end-user level. This is going to be interesting to watch unfold. It’s going to be even more fun to play with and test, to see if the running gear lives up to the breathless hype. If the benchmarks that Ampere and HPE are publishing are any indication, this could very well shake up desktops and laptops over the next year or two, as it’s already doing so for the rack-mounted server market right now.

Will the next PC/laptop I test have an ARM CPU? Gosh, I hope so. Will the next PC/laptop I BUY have an ARM CPU? Jury’s still out, but it’s looking at least possible, if not downright likely…


NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well

I admire the heck out of Israeli software developer Nir Sofer. He’s the person behind the powerhouse utility provider, where you’ll find nearly 200 (177 at last count) great Windows utilities ready for download and use. I just got reminded about his nifty BatteryViewInfo took in a recent AskWoody newsletter. Indeed the free NirSoft BatteryInfoView works well, and provides lots of useful battery status and health information. See a typical display from my 2018 vintage Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga in the lead-in graphic.

Why say: NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well?

As you can see from the screencap above, BatteryInfoView (BIV) tells you pretty much everything you need to know about any given PC (laptop, tablet, etc.) battery. The current capacity and battery health values tend to be of greatest interest.

And indeed, Lenovo offers a battery settings control, for which it claims that setting maximum capacity to around 80% will result in longer battery life. I believe that translates into better battery health over time. Here’s what the X380 shows under battery charging threshold in the Battery section for Lenovo Vantage:

NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well.batset

Note: Charge threshold is turned on. Charging starts at 75% and stops at 80%. [Click image for full-size view]

Notice further that in the lead-in graphic, battery health is 92.8%. On my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which I obtained in 2021, I did not reset the battery threshold on that PC. Thus, even though it’s two years newer than the X380, its current battery health number is 89.3%. That’s about 4% less. To me, it shows that Lenovo’s recommendations to lower the stop and start values for charge levels really do have an impact on battery life. It’s not huge, but it’s not nothing, neither.

It also shows how a good tool can help admins and power users get the most from their technology investments.

Copilot Weighs in on Battery Health

Just for grins I asked Copilot “Working from NirSoft’s BatteryInfoView utility, at what level of “Battery Health” should one consider replacing the battery?” Copilot hemmed and hawed but ultimately said this:

In general, if the “Battery health” value is consistently below 80%, it may be a sign that the battery is deteriorating and may need to be replaced soon. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and other factors such as the age of the battery, the usage patterns, and the operating conditions can also affect the battery life and performance. If you notice that your laptop’s battery is not holding a charge as long as it used to, or if you are experiencing other issues such as overheating, slow performance, or unexpected shutdowns, it may be a good idea to have the battery checked by a professional or replaced if necessary.

My original impression comes from translating a story from German into English for Tom’s Hardware back in the early 2000s. Even then, their research showed that a regime of reducing charge level was the best way to keep a laptop battery healthy in the long run. I wish I could find a link to that story (but I can’t) but they recommended dropping battery charge levels to 40% for long term storage, and recommended not charging batteries to over 80% if a PC remains plugged into AC power. Regular deep discharge cycles were also recommended. A 2023 Tom’s Hardware forum thread still cites the 80/40 rule, in fact. Sounds like the old rule is still cool.


Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC

OK, then. I got a half-hour+ with a Panasonic team yesterday via Zoom. This group of folks included a couple of engineers, a couple of marketing folks (including the US product manager), and the PR person who put things together for me. The focus of our call:  the Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC shipped out for eval just before Christmas. It was a great call: I learned a lot.

Understanding the Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC

The best info nugget in the call: learning the FZ-55 Toughbook is a “semi-rugged” device. I also learned that the category of “ruggedized PCs” includes a “fully rugged” type as well. I snapped the default desktop background from the FZ-55 for the lead-in graphic: it’s pretty cool.

Semi-rugged PCs use cases invovle “somewhat harsh” conditions. But they’re not completely watertight or dust-proof. That’s what distinguishes them from fully ruggedized PCs (which indeed are water- and dust-proof). That said, as a  semi-rugged PC, the FZ-55 targets  use in field structures (including tents, vehicles, and so on). It’s also great for factory-floor conditions where there’s no airborne water (e.g. rain). Here’s a link to the US specsheet for the FZ-55.

Such PCs can handle wide temperature ranges (at least -25C/-13C to at least 50C/122F). They’re also built to withstand ambient dust and grit (with port doors closed), moderate vibration and shock, short-lived spills or moisture, and more. As one of the Panasonic techs explained “The FZ-55 is intended for use away from the weather, but works well in vehicles, tents, or other temporary strucures.” That’s because it’s semi-rugged: got it!

What About Fully Rugged (Toughbook 40)?

The Toughbook 40 is the FZ-55’s fully rugged counterpart. As you can see in the next image, it’s completely sealed up to make it water- and dust-proof.

Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC.tb40

The Toughbook 40 is fully ruggedized: that makes it bulkier but completely dust- and waterproof.

It’s got the same modular design, with user-removable expansion packs that include various port combinations, storage and memory add-ons, oodles of wireless options, and more. Surprisingly, it costs only around 25% more for similar equipment as compared to the semi-rugged FZ-55.  Peripherals and expansion modules are about 50-60% higher, on average. That said, the Toughbook 40 is an 11th-gen Intel platform not a 13th-gen platform. Thus, it lags somewhat behind the FZ-55 but with good reason, as I explain next.

A Tale of Two Lifecycles

Simply put, the FZ-55 is on a faster lifecycle than the Toughbook 40. In part that’s because fully-ruggedized PCs have a longer design and test cycle. It’ also because fully-ruggedized PCs have to be bigger and bulkier, to seal everything up. They require more expensive and demanding parts, with various related supply chain complications. In large additional part, however, it’s also because fully rugged devices aim more squarely at defense and emergency use (think FEMA, after a hurricane or firestorm). These agencies have hairy, complicated acquisition and purchase models and mechanisms, and don’t like things to change more often than absolutely necessary.

The upshot of all this is that semi-rugged devices run on a 3-5 year lifecycle for enclosures and platforms, with an 18-24 month lifecycle for the innards involved. That explains the FZ-55-3 model number, which indicates this platform (FZ-55) is on its third set of innards (3). On the other hand, the rugged PCs run on a 5-8 year lifecycle for enclosures and platforms, with a 36-48 month lifecycle for those innards. That explains nicely why an 11th-gen intel CPU remains a “current model” (this CPU family made its debut in early 2021, and is still inside the current window for both enclosure and innards).

That’s how things go in Windows-World, where semi-rugged PCs chug along on a faster timetable than fully rugged ones. Cheers!


Incase Takes Over MS Branded Keyboards

Last year, MS announced it would stop making its company-branded mice and keyboards. As somebody’s who’s been using MS keyboards since Homer was a pup, I was naturally concerned. But those concerns were allayed last week. That’s when peripheral maker Incase announced it would sell those products as “Incase designed by Microsoft” items. Indeed, Incase takes over MS branded keyboards as part of that deal. As you can see in the lead-in screencap, that includes my beloved Natural Ergonomic 4000 (top center).

When Incase Takes Over MS Branded Keyboards, Then?

The announcement isn’t completely clear about exactly when this cutover will occur. When MS announced they’d  exit this segment of the hardware business (they’re sticking purely to Surface branded hardware going forward), they simply said they’d sell out of existing stock. Methinks Incase will need to ramp up and get going before the new incarnations of the old MS-branded items will reappear for sale.

Currently, my fave model under the old brand goes for about US$400 on Amazon. The last time I bought a pair was in 2020, and I paid US$108 for 2 of them from Newegg. I still have one unopened in the original box, but the one I’m typing on right now is about ready to be retired. It still works like a champ, but the keycaps for A, S, D, C, V and M are worn to invisibility, and many of the other right- and left-hand main keys are spotty at best. And I’ve spilled at least three coffees on this puppy over the past 3-4 years…

Hopefully, Incase Restores Rational Pricing

Most other vendors are selling ergonomic keyboards in the US$35 to $70 range (I just checked at Newegg). I’m hoping that means when Incase turns the tap back on they’ll fall somewhere in that range. If and when that happens, I’ll order another pair of keyboards. When I need a new one, I always order two, so I’ll have a spare in case something goes wrong with the one I put in service first. Fingers crossed.

At any rate, I’m grateful Incase took over these venerable mice and keyboards from MS. Hopefully, I’ll keep clacking away at the same layout until I decide to hang things up for my own retirement. Even then, I’m sure I’ll keep at least one around for old time’s sake.


Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path

Heh! I have to chuckle about this one… In learning the ins and outs of the new Panasonic Toughbook FZ-55 I have in hand right now. I’ve been following instructions from the manual and, via e-mail, from the PR team. It’s been interesting. All of these sources have asked or advised me to “run the PC Information Viewer.” Good enough, but more interesting than it needs to be from a find & launch perspective. Indeed, this Panasonic utility takes roundabout path to get to the desktop. Let me explain…

Why I Say: Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path

To begin, the tool is named PC Information Viewer. First, off I looked in the Start menu under “PC” and “Panasonic” (just in case, given its origins). Nada. Nothing under “All apps” matches this value.

Then the very nice and helpful PR person asked me to send output from aforementioned PC Information Viewer so the tech folks could look it over. Still couldn’t find it. But it did finally turn up. Inside the Panasonic PC Settings Utility, there’s a Support tab up top. When you click that tab, lo and behold! As you can see in the next screencap, a “Launch PC Information Viewer” button appears at bottom center. Notice also it’s deliberately low-res with big print and extremely easy to read (good design move, developers!)

Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path.panpcsettings

THERE’s the right launch button!

And sure enough, when you click the button the PC Information Viewer utility opens right up, to wit:

Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path.SetDiag.exe

And finally, here’s the PC Information Viewer application: SetDiag.exe.

By right-clicking its taskbar entry while running I was able to pop up the Properties window, where I learned the name of this program is SetDiag.exe. If only I’d been able to find that somewhere in the docs, I’d have been able to get there eventually using the run box. As it turned out I had to use the voidtools Everything search tool  to see its home folder:  C:\Program Files (x86)\Panasonic\pcinfo. That’s apparently not inserted into the PATH variable, either.

Sigh. Just sigh. But with a little perseverance I got it sorted… That’s the essence of thriving in Windows World: taking the directions as stated, and figuring out how to make them do something useful.


Speccy ToughBook BSOD Analysis

Here’s an interesting situation: after installing Piriform’s Speccy hardware inspection tool on the new loaner Panasonic Toughbook FZ55-3, it crashes every time I run the program. Indeed, you can see the corresponding BSOD screen in the lead-in graphic. The stop code is SECURE_PCI_CONFIG_SPACE_ACCESS_VIOLATION. The culprit: the cpuz149_x64.sys driver. After some online research, my Speccy ToughBook BSOD analysis tells me that this driver is attempting PCI data access that Windows 11 disallows.

To be more specific I found an Open Systems Resources (OSR) community discussion that lays out exactly what’s going on. The datails are nicely covered in an MS Learn item. It’s named Accessing PCI Device Configuration Space, dated 3/13/2023. Essentially it  constrains developers to use the BUS_INTERFACE_STANDARD bus interface, and specific read-config and write-config IO request packets to interact with said bus. Based on its BSOD error, the cpuz149_x64.sys driver apparently fails on one or more of those counts. That made me wonder: is there a workaround?

Speccy ToughBook BSOD Analysis Says: Don’t Use That Driver!

For grins, I found the offending item in my user account’s …\AppData\Local\Temp folder hierarchy. I renamed it with a sy1 extension. Then I tried Speccy again: it still crashed. Drat! The program is “smart” enough to see the file is missing and supplies a new one. Now that folder shows the old renamed .sy1 file and a .sys replacement (with today’s data and a recent timestamp).

Speccy ToughBook BSOD Analysis.file-returns

When I rename to deny access to the current instance, Speccy supplies a new one.

That can’t work. Inevitably, the program promptly throws another BSOD. According to the Speccy forum, this happens with Memory Integrity enabled (as it is on the TB, and I want to keep it that way). This is what causes the BSOD. What to do?

If You Can’t Fight, Switch!

Fortunately, there are plenty of other freeware hardware profile and monitoring tools available. I happen to like HWiNFO64 myself. So I’ve removed Speccy and am using it instead. It is well behaved in its PCI bus access behavior and causes no BSODs.

Frankly, I’m surprised Piriform knows about this issue and hasn’t switched to a different driver (apparently, it comes from Franck Delattre over at CPU-Z, judging from its name). But boy howdy, is that ever the way things go sometimes, here on the wild frontier in Windows-World. Yee-haw!


Unboxing Toughbook Then Updating Same

I just got the kind of Christmas present that delights me. Even though I won’t get to keep it, I’m having a total gas unboxing, updating and setting up the Toughbook 55 PC that Panasonic sent Friday week. It’s a “ruggedized PC” designed for field use in hazardous duty situations (military, first responders, hostile environments, and so forth). In some surprising ways, tho, unboxing Toughbook then updating same has posed some interesting challenges and roadblocks. But it’s been fun!

And I totally lucked into this situation. At the end of November, my TechTarget story “The 6 best rugged computers for business use cases” went live. Shortly after, Panasonic contacted me to share more information about their latest Toughbook model. My response: if you can, please send me one to review. It took a while, but now I’ve got one in my hot little hands. Read on for more info, in what I plan as a series of descriptions and discussions. This one covers unboxing and initial setup and impressions. Others will go into more detail.

FZ55-3 Toughbook Specs

Here’s what came with the particular model FZ55-3 I received:

  • i7-1370P (14 Cores, 20 logical processors)
  • 32 GB DDR4-3200 Samsung M471A2G43CB2-CWE
  • Integrated Iris Xe Graphics Raptor Lake-P/U  GT2
  • 512 GB NVMe SSD Kioxia KBGBAZNV512G
    (PCIe 4.0, 1.4x OPAL)
  • 14″ InfoVision Display 1920×1080 (Full HD)
  • 1 or 2 GbE Ethernet adapters (I219-LM)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ax (Intel AX211)
  • USB 3.2 (USB-C) & 3.1 (USB Type A) ports
  • Multiple Serial ports (Com 1, 3, 4 & 6)
  • LG-BU40N Blu ray player/burner
  • Plug-ins for (1) fingerprint reader, (2) smart card reader, (3) 2 serial ports (D-9 & D-15) + PS/2 Keyboard port

As you’d expect from a MIL-STD-810H compliant device, it’s tough, all buttoned up and ready for some harsh, demanding action.

Gotchas While Unboxing Toughbook, Then Updating Same

I did run into a series of little gotchas while bringing up the Toughbook (TB), then applying WU updates, and adding some some software to put it through its paces. Here’s the current list:

1. The TB wouldn’t connect to my Asus WAP right next store to my desk on a butcher’s rack. It would, however, happily connect to the Spectrum Arris box in the master closet (25′ away).

2. As an experiment, I elected to synch my local apps, settings and so forth with those on another PC (P16 Mobile workstation) during OOBE. This quit at some point with a generic and unhelpful “Something went wrong” error message. That said, this functionality returned on a later reboot and completed successfully. Go figure!

3. Updating and downloading took longer than I’m used to (possibly because of the more distant Arris Wi-Fi connection). I eventually switched over to wired Ethernet (GbE). It still took longer to download and update stuff than I expected it to: stiffer security built-in perhaps? That would make sense for certain kinds of “digital hostility” that this unit is built to withstand. A subsequent check (LAN file transfer for an iso Win11 image) showed it could well be the NVMe SSD that’s the bottleneck. More testing will resolve this.

4. Among my various usual post-install/acquisition software items, I installed Piriform Speccy. It immediately crashed the TB as soon as it ran. Sigh. BSOD with an out-of-bounds memory error. I’ve seen this on other PCs before, it’s from unauthorized access to the PCI bus. I’m using HWinfo instead (it works fine).

Seems pretty normal for bringing up a new PC in general, especially one that’s been deliberately hardened.

First Impressions

NVMe access speeds aside, this is a fast, capable laptop. I like the display (it’s bright and easy to read). The keyboard is immediately usable with tangible key travel and good key placement. It switches between Wi-Fi and GbE with ease and aplomb. Switching from a 14″ built-in display to a remote 27″ monitor means I have to pay attention to where I leave apps I close (or leave open) — otherwise, they show up off-screen on the smaller built-in display.

A unit configured like mine costs somewhere between US$3,600 and $4,000, as far as I can tell (from online shopping comparisons). This is the kind of system that costs more, but is designed to withstand grueling and rigorous situations and uses well outside the range of usual home or office environments. So far, color me impressed…

Stay tuned! I’ll be writing more about this unit over the next month. I’m especially impressed with the TB’s swappable modules and keen attention to protecting itself from schmutz and dust. I’ll explain more later — I promise!



P1 Mobile Workstation Uptake & Intake

OK then: the day before we left on vacation, the Boss looked out the door and asked me: “Are you expecting something?” I hadn’t been exactly, but Jeff Witt from Lenovo had indeed promised to ship me another business laptop. So here ’tis: a ThinkPad P1 Gen 6. Its Lenovo Commercial Vantage info serves as the lead-in graphic. I’ll now share some details from the P1 Mobile Workstation uptake & intake here at Chez Tittel.

More About P1 Mobile Workstation Uptake & Intake

When you fire a review unit up from Lenovo, it goes automatically into a predefined account. So usually, the first thing I do is to check for OS and Vantage updates. Next, I add my MSA as a second, password-protected admin account. Then, I set up Remote Access. That lets me use my dual-monitor production desktop PC for some serious rooting around.

I find myself occasionally re-learning how to set up Remote Access on the LAN. To begin, enable Remote Desktop. I also have to make sure the LAN is designated a private network. Next — at least temporarily — Discovery for Public Networks and All Networks gets turned on. Otherwise, the first remote desktop connection attempt just doesn’t work. Go figure!

Other Set-up and Configuration Tasks

It always comes as a shock to me on a new install that I have to download and install the latest PowerShell version (7.3.6 as I write this). Then I have to change the default profile to that version in PowerShell Settings/Startup. Finally, leading-edge PS comes up instead of the built-in version (5.1.22621.1778). No thanks!

Next, I install Winfetch, OhMyPosh, import nerd fonts, edit my OMP profile and get PowerShell where I want it to be. The new approach to ZIP files in Windows 11 hides their true nature, so I also had to remember to unblock the ZIP file, extract its contents, and then copy the nerd font files into C:\Windows\Fonts. Sigh: it’s always the little things… That will get corrected in the next phase (see below) when I actually install 7Zip and let its default behaviors take over…

After that, I download PatchMyPC Home Updater to grab all the apps and tools I like to have installed on my PCs. That list of 12 items appears in this next screencap, following installation (takes about 3 minutes altogether, much faster than I could do on a one-off basis). Notice it comes from SUMo (Software Update Monitor) and shows 18 items (OneDrive, Edge, GeForce, and X-Rite came pre-installed; CrystalDiskInfo and CrystalDiskMark get counted for 32- and 64-bit versions separately: go figure!)

P1 Mobile Workstation Uptake & Intake.sumo

4 items pre-installed, and CrystalDisk stuff counts double, for 12 actual items added.

Initial Observations

This is my first exposure to Gen13 (Alder Lake) Intel CPUs. This CPU is a smoker with 14 physical cores, of which 10 run dual threads (i7-13800H). The 2800MHz DDR5 RAM (32 GB, single module) ain’t bad, either. I’m not familiar with Raptor Lake-P/PX Integrated graphics (Raptor Lake-P GT2) but it seems pretty snappy as well. This laptop even comes equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce RTC 4060 GPU which is likewise robust when run locally. The KXG8AZNV1T02 LA KIOXIA 1TB PCIe x4 NVMe SSD speeds along quite handily, too. All in all, it specs out — and acts — like a pretty formidable laptop.

I’m going to have to spend more time with this system but I’ve liked everything it’s shown me about itself so far. As equipped, this unit lists for around US$2,750 on the Lenovo website. All I can say for now is: So far, so good — I like it! Stay tuned, I’ll report back with more info later this week.


Failing Backup Signals Regime Change

OK, I think that’ll do it for my current production PC. I noticed this morning what when my scheduled backup started,  it failed almost immediately thereafter. Further investigation into the Macrium Reflect logs shows me it has failed since last Friday. That’s because on the weekends I’m not usually at my desk at 9AM when the scheduled job runs. Upon further investigation, the N: drive where I target my backups had gone missing (it came back after a  restart, though). Nevertheless, this tells me it’s time to start acquiring parts to build a replacement PC. That’s why I aver that a failing backup signals regime change. My 2016 vintage i7 Skylake needs to go.

Why Failing Backup Signals Regime Change

It’s just not right that a drive attached to one of the SATA ports on my Asrock Z170 motherboard should drop off the map over the weekend. And now, dear readers, you know why I schedule my backups to occur while I’m working at the PC: it’s the best way to get timely notification that “something aint’ right.” That’s what happened this morning, and that’s what tells me:

  • I’ll need to keep a close eye on this daily until I transition to a new PC, to make sure scheduled backups run to completion
  • It really, really is time for me to transition over to a new primary production PC

For sure, 7 years isn’t a bad lifetime for a heavily used, major storage PC. Indeed, I’ve got a nominal 17.1 GiB, or approximately 15GB of storage on this beast. Of that total, about 40% (6GB) is occupied, so I’ll throw a couple of new 8 GB SATA drives into my new BOM for the build, along with 2 2TB NVMe PCI-e x4 or x5 SSDs.

It’s Now Official: I’m Transitioning

I’ll wait until August 1 or thereabouts to start pulling parts together for the new build. I’ve already got an Nvidia 3070 Ti GPU and a Seasonic Focus PX-750 PSU I can use. I’ll need a new case, a CPU, 64 GB RAM, the aforementioned SSDs and HDDs, and a motherboard. That will give me something to think about — and report on here in my blog — as the month winds down.

I think I’ll call my old buddy Tom Soderstrom, who still reviews motherboards and CPUs for Tom’s Hardware, to ask for his recommendation on a new build. I need to decide on AMD vs. Intel, after which the rest will follow pretty naturally. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.


Cloud File Service Update Secrets

If you read my Windows musings with any frequency, you know that I’m constantly patrolling my PCs to check for updates, patches and fixes. One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that updates for cloud based file services can be tricky. In response, I’ve been cataloging cloud file service update secrets. Let me explain…

What Makes Cloud File Service Update Secrets Useful?

In working with numerous law firms, publishers, and software companies, I find myself using various file services to exchange large chunks of digital stuff. These are usually ZIP files bigger than 25MB (the top end on email attachment size in many SMTP servers). Simply put, they provide a way to move lots of project files around. Most also offer enhanced authentication and security capabilities.

The following table addresses the various cloud file services I use, with some additional information. I’ll walk through things below.

Provider Name Trick
Google Google Drive No
Box Box Drive Yes
Dropbox Dropbox Yes
Microsoft  OneDrive Yes

Column 1 identifies the maker, 2 names the cloud file service, and 3 indicates if an update trick is required (Yes) or not (No). Notice that 3 of my 4 all require “tricks” for update. That mostly has to do with how often they update their software, and how often they push those updates to users.

Updating Box

Box itself describes the whole drill in detail at its support article entitled “Installing and Updating Box Drive.” The Windows TLDR version is: Right-click the Box icon in the TaskBar notification area; if an Update entry appears in that menu, click same. The following notification appears:

Click Update Box Drive and you’re done. If this doesn’t work, you must uninstall Box, visit the Box Download page, click the download button, then reinstall. Then you’ll be caught up. Easey-peasey, pretty much. But I’ve had to intervene with remove-replace manuevers several times over the past couple of years.

Updating Dropbox

The support article here is entitled “Update to the latest version…” As with Box, right-click the Dropbox icon in the Taskbar notification area. Check notifications. If an update is pending that hasn’t yet been applied, you’ll find an update button there. If you don’t see such a button, this is where things get interesting. You may not find the latest version at the download page. Here’s the trick: you need to visit the Dropbox Client Releases page instead, where you’ll want to grab the one near the top labeled “Stable Build” with the highest release number. You can simply install this without having to uninstall beforehand (this installer is smart enough to update an existing install if it recognizes one).

Updating OneDrive

Most of the time, OneDrive updates itself automatically as part of a Windows OS install and/or Office install/365 subscription. Some-times, you may have to intervene to get it working. This Business Insider article takes you through those steps in detail. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the Taskbar notification area, click Settings, then About. The OneDrive version entry comes up as a link. Click that link and you’ll open the MS OneDrive release notes page. Download and install the link at the intersection of Latest release build (left) and Production ring (above) and you’ll be good to go. As with Dropbox, the OneDrive installer is smart enough to update an existing installation if it finds one.

No More Secrets?

I have no more update secrets to share for cloud file services. That’s because these are the only ones I’m using. I’m sure, were I using more, I would have more secrets to share. But looking for the maker’s “how to update” support page is a good place to start, after which third party sources may shed additional light. Good luck with your own update secrets in that regard. Cheers!