All posts by Ed Tittel

Full-time freelance writer, researcher and occasional expert witness, I specialize in Windows operating systems, information security, markup languages, and Web development tools and environments. I blog for numerous Websites, still write (or revise) the occasional book, and write lots of articles, white papers, tech briefs, and so forth.

Key Terms EKB 21h1 Reveal Next Win10 Release Coming Closer

I have to hand it to the team at Bleeping Computer, especially Lawrence Abrams. He’s done a neat and convincing bit of filesystem forensics. It shows that recent Beta Channel updates set the stage for the upcoming 21H1 Windows 10 release. In fact, he shows that key terms EKB 21h1 reveal next Win10 release coming closer to fruition. That inspired the File Explorer screencap for this story’s lead-in graphic.

Finding Key Terms EKB 21h1 Reveal Next Win10 Release Coming Closer

The string “21H1” (or “21h1” as it mostly appears in filenames) stands for the next upcoming Windows 10 release. EKB, as I learned, is the MS abbreviation for enablement package. This is a pre-staging technique for minor Windows 10 upgrades. It actually relies on updates installed prior to the official enablement of the “next upgrade” (21H1 in this case) that simply get turned on. And indeed, it’s the enablement package (EKB) that does the turning on bit.

The names of the files shown in the lead-in graphic reside in the
folder on Windows PCs running the Insider Preview Beta Channel release. To find these files, the Beta Channel image must be at Build 1904*.789 or higher. As it happens, I took the lead-in screencap on a PC running Build 19042.844

Terms of interest in the list involve:

  • Windows UpdateTargeting
  • Windows Product Data
  • EKB Package
  • EKB Wrapper Package

All of these terms identify current and upcoming versions of Windows 10, including the current version and build and its status, and the contents and handling of any current or upcoming enablement package (EKB). Most discussion I read about dates for 21H1 still suggest “May or June” as the GA date for this upcoming and minor Windows 10 feature upgrade. I see no reason to disagree with those assessments. And indeed Microsoft’s own 21H1 announcement post  doesn’t say much more than only minor changes to Windows 10 will show up when the release goes public.

We’ll just have to wait and see when 21H1 gets the nod from the Insider Team, and makes a public debut through Windows Update. Whenever that happens, though, it’s pretty clear that 21H2 is when the big changes for this year will hit Windows 10. Stay tuned!




Pondering Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

It’s not often I get to step back from day-to-day work items and pause to think about something. I’ve had a Lenovo X1 ThinkPad Nano since Tuesday, February 23 (I wrote a First Look piece the next day). Since then, I’ve worked with that machine daily. I’ve even used it in place of my iPad Air for evening reading in bed. All this has me pondering Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano further. I want to position and present it properly to readers so they can decide if what it offers is what they want.  .  . and if they want to pay for it, too.

When Pondering Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano, Use Cases Rule

To justify the cost, one really needs strong use cases for a thin-and-light laptop. It weighs 381g more than my iPad (906 vs 525g). But it’s still comfortable on my lap. As a pretty serious touch typist, I actually prefer constant access to a keyboard. I do now wish, though, that Lenovo offered a touchscreen option for the X1 Nano for simple tablet-friendly activities like web surfing and reading e-books.

Over time, I’ve grown even more impressed with the X1 Nano’s performance and capability. It really does run on par with my older (2016) desktop PC. That’s true despite 32GB RAM and an i7-6700 on that PC vs. 16GB RAM and an i5-1130G7 on the X1 Nano. To me, it’s a telling illustration of how fast technology marches ahead. I didn’t expect an i5 to be able to go head-to-head with an i7 (even a 5-year-old model).

Blast from the Past…

The lead-in graphic for this story comes from Sergey Tkachenko’s WEI clone. He calls it the Winaero WEI Tool. For those who don’t remember — or who never knew — WEI stands for Windows Experience Index. It’s been around Windows since Vista came out in 2007. You can still run the equivalent functionality in Windows 10, in fact, with this command winsat formal. I like the Winaero tool because it presents the same look’n’feel as in Vista and 7.

What you see in that graphic is a rough-and-ready assessment of hardware components on the PC it’s run on. Those numbers show values from 8.9 (CPU, RAM) to  9.2 for the SSD and 9.9 for 3D business and gaming graphics. The only outlier is the desktop graphics — Iris Xe in this case — which come in at a relatively low 8.0 value (the primary reported value as well, because WEI uses the lowest number to desigate overall capability).

FWIW, the only area in which my older desktop beats the X1 Nano is on the desktop graphics category (it’s got an NVIDIA GTX 1070 card). All the other metrics are within 0.1 of one another, so neither machine obviously beats the other by any kind of margin.

Desktop graphics performance notwithstanding, I’ve come to appreciate the X1 Nano quite a bit in the 10 days I’ve had it in hand. It runs acceptably when surfing the Web, using Outlook or Word (my two most frequently used and important desktop apps). To be honest, I am seriously considering buying one of these with my own money. I can’t give a laptop a better endorsement than that.

What’s the Ideal Package?

If you, like me, decide to buy the ThinkPad X1 Nano, I recommend buying the i7 model with the 16 GB RAM configuration. Because the SSD is the only user serviceable part (RAM is soldered), get the 256 GB SSD, which you’ll want to replace when something like the Sabrent 1TB Rocket 4 becomes available in a 2242 form factor.

If you absolutely have to buy something now, the Sabrent 1 TB Rocket is available in a 2242 package. While it’s a bit slower than the Rocket 4, it’s faster than the Samsung OEM parts Lenovo uses in the Nano. You’ll also want to buy a Thunderbolt/USB-C dock, because the Nano is pretty short on ports (2xThunderbolt + 1xheadphone is all you get). As a backup fiend, I’ve already got a 5TB 2.5″ drive enclosure hooked up for extra storage and Macrium Reflect’s use.


Hybrid Workplace According to Jared Spataro

MS Corporate VP Jared Spataro delivered one of the more entertaining sessions at Ignite 2021 I’ve seen. That 15-minute session is short, sweet and entertaining while conveying big and important messages. Indeed, I’m recommending everybody watch this. For labeling purposes, I call it the “hybrid workplace according to Jared Spataro.” But of course, it’s really “how Microsoft technologies enable hybrid work.”

Details from the Hybrid Workplace According to Jared Spataro

Over 80% of managers expect more flexible WFH policies post-pandemic. At the same time,  more than 70% of employees should benefit from such policies themselves. The traditional model for work and workplaces is changing significantly and permanently.

My favorite moment was when he switched from PC to phone call in a teams conference with no noticeable sign of switchover (1:16). In fact, I was stunned.

Spataro recited interesting factoids, too.  He said Teams grew to 115 M daily active users. He also observed Office 365 users generated “over 30 B collaboration minutes in a single day.” He demo’d Teams channel-sharing outside organization boundaries, which is also pretty cool.

Another nice quote: “Office buildings need to be digitially connected and built for ad-hoc natural collaboration with people in the office, working from home, or connecting even from the factory floor.” Indeed, that’s something I’d like to see happen sooner, not later.

Digital whiteboards appear as creativity enablers. They bring in-room meeting participants and remote workers together (through their PCs). Sometime soon, mobile devices will enter the mix, and let users on any device share their displays with others. Meetings will occur in the context of virtual, flexible meeting spaces. MS calls those spaces immersive, fluid, dynamic, content-forward and designed for sharing and brainstorming. Looks pretty cool, actually.

The Future’s So Bright…

A certain amount of breathless hype is always good for the compost heap. But the story that Mr. Spataro and MS are telling (and selling) is actually darned compelling. I, for one, hope to see it come to life in the near future. For once, I’m seeing a future that I could get into, and even enjoy. Check it out!



New Windows Admin Center Makes Ignite Debut

The always-popular Windows Server management tool gets an update to version 2103 just in time for Ignite 2021. In fact, you can download yourself a new copy right away from Akamai: But why should you care that a new Windows Admin Center makes Ignite debut? Keep reading, and I’ll give some reasons…

Who Cares if New Windows Admin Center Makes Ignite Debut

If you work in or around Windows environments as an admin, you should! Happily, the list of updates and enhancements to WAC (Windows Admin Center) underscores this:

  • The tool now supports IoT Edge for Linux on Windows.
  • WAC is available in preview as an Azure-based portal application.
  • Indeed, the tool itself now handles in-app updates, so it can update itself automatically, and do likewise add-ins and third-party extensions
  • Gateway proxy support is now enabled in the tool’s Proxy tab
  • Privacy settings are now easily accessible in the Diagnostic & Feedback tab (users can limit what is sent to MS)
  • Different tools within WAC can appear in individual pop-out windows.
  • Events have been substantially reworked and shows that MS is spending some development cycles on the Event Viewer. (Currently, an incomplete, preview version is available: curious users must enable/disable this facility using a UI toggle in WAC).
  • The VM tool is expanded and enhanced to boost integration services, provide editable columns and groups, and gets a new ability to edit virtual switches when making VM moves.
  • The Azure Stack HCI gets some updates, too.  Most notably,  for cluster deployment and for OEM snap-ins to let IT pros deploy and use 3rd-party extensions more quickly and easily.
  • Partners are jumping on the WAC bandwagon. These include Dell EMC OpenManager (v2.0), Lenovo XClarity Integrator, and Data ON Must Pro, among others. Indeed, this promises to be an active aftermarket.

In other words, there’s a lot of new stuff showing up in WAC. Those who already use the tool will find a lot to like. Those just getting to know the tool will find a lot to learn and understand.

WAC Resources

Video: What’s New in WAC 2103 (from Ignite)
Announcement: WAC 2103 Now Generally Available (the announcement is laden with links to more video, documentation, and training materials).
MS Docs: Windows Admin Center Overview

Actually, there’s plenty of helpful stuff on WAC online for admins. To be sure, it’s an embarrassment of riches. Still need convincing? Run this Google Search: Windows Admin Center.


MS Ignite 2021 Sparks Changes Galore

There’s all kinds of incredible news and information flowing like a river from the ongoing Microsoft Ignite 2021 virtual conference. In fact, it’s underway right now. Even better,  online registration is free. Use the URL, where you can register or view a complete list of sessions. If you can’t attend real-time, many/most sessions will be recorded. Thus, you can  view them later on.  That said, registration is required to attend.

How Is It That MS Ignite 2021 Sparks Changes Galore?

A quick view of the Ignite Session catalog shows 384 sessions spread over its planned three-day schedule. To begin: today, March 2, is day 1. Next, tomorrow, March 3, and Thursday, March 4, are days 2 and 3.

As I write this, Satya Nadella and Alex Kipman are delivering the keynote. Also, today’s session topics include “the hybrid workplace,” in which WFH combines with access to cloud-based services and resources. Further on today’s docket: security, edge AI solutions, Azure-based enterprise solutions, and more.

For sure, those who who dig through the session catalog will find something for every interest. IMO, Ignite has spread its net widely this year. It should appeal to professionals of all kinds. Certainly, Ignite is well-known as a developer conference. But in 2021, Ignite appeals to IT across the board, including architects, operations types, and service and support pros. Shoot! Business stakeholders with interests in ROI technology boosts will also find plenty of interest here, too.

What’s at Ignite 2021 for YOU?

You can’t know until you take a look. That means opening up the session catalog, and browsing its contents. To spur your interest, here’s a peek at the top of page 2:

MS Ignite 2021 Sparks Changes Galore

A quick peek at Page 2 of the Session catalog shows sessions on Azure at work, developer innovation, speculations on mixed reality, and a wide-ranging Q&A with security experts.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

As the old saying about the lottery goes: “You can’t win if you don’t play.” For Ignite 2021, that means you can’t appreciate its wealth of offerings and learning opportunities unless you register, and dig in. Enjoy!



Fixing Non-responsive Taskbar Icons

Last December, I wrote an article here that described an easy fix for an unresponsive Start Menu. The trick on my affected PCs was to go into Task Manager, right-click Windows Explorer, and select “Restart.” Over the past week the same thing is affecting Task Bar icons for open and pinned applications. It came in the wake of the occasionally wonky preview version of the upcoming March CU. That is, I’m inclined to name KB4601382 as an “update of interest” in this case. Fortunately, the same fix works.

Fixing Non-responsive Taskbar Icons

How can you tell when this problem manifests? Easy! You click on an icon in the taskbar and nothing happens. I show a portion of my taskbar icons in the lead-in graphic, by way of illustration.

I actually show the taskbar at the foot of both of my monitors. Sometimes, when one quits working, the other keeps going. Then I click that one instead. If neither works, the fix goes in. I’ve never had it fail.

As with my earlier report of Start Menu issues, I’m inclined to see some interaction between Stardock Software’s Start10 and the Explorer-based start menu and associated UI elements. Those include the taskbar icons and the notification area as well. Something wonky is happening, but is also easily fixed. I’ve reported this to Stardock and MS and am hopeful that, as before, a fix trickles into one or the other of those environments.

Seems Like a Limited Issue

I don’t see other reports of this phenomenon in the Start10 forums at Stardock. There’s plenty of discussion on the general phenomenon (Google search: “taskbar icons nonresponsive”). But all are unanimous in what to do: Restart Windows Explorer. Not much other cussin’ and discussin’ involved. Nice to know I’ve got the right fix, even if I don’t know the cause unequivocally and unambiguously. Sigh.


KB4577586 Flash Killer Download Available

For those Windows 10 users with Adobe Flash still installed, the Microsoft Update Catalog has the KB457786 Flash Killer download available. If this means you, click the preceding link. Next, pick the version that matches your current Windows install. Then, click its Download button for the corresponding Microsoft Standalone Updater (MSU) file. The individual download window for the x64 version appears in this story’s lead graphic.

Note: For whatever odd reason, I had to right-click the download link in the window shown above. Upon selecting the file link near the bottom of that window, I had to right-click and select “Open link in new window” to actually get the file to download. YMMV.

If KB4577586 Flash Killer Download Available, Then What?

Once downloaded to your PC, run the MSU file that you just grabbed. The Windows Update Standalone Installer will ask you if you want to install the KB4577586 update. Click the “Yes” button to proceed.

Next you’ll see an “… updates are being installed” window appear, with progress bar. It took about 15 seconds to install on my i7 Skylake (i7-6700, 32GB RAM, 512 GB Samsung 950 SSD) PC.

If Install Fails, No Worries

I already knew that the Flash Player was gone, gone, gone from this PC. And sure enough, a peek into Update History under the Other Updates heading shows the following info:

A quick search on the 0x8024001e error string shows the most likely cause — in this case, for sure — is a missing DLL file associated with the Adobe Flash Player. Why is it missing? Because it’s already been uninstalled on this PC. Thus, there’s no cause for concern about this error. In fact, even if you don’t need this update it’s safe to run it anyway.

Those who already know Adobe Flash Player is absent on their PCs need not download or run this update. But if you’re not sure, it’s OK to do so just to make sure it’s gone. Your call!

Le roi est mort, vive le roi!

The foregoing phrase translates as “The king is dead, long live the king!” Seems like an appropriate epithet for Adobe Flash Player which has been around since FutureWave SmartSketch made its debut in 1993. Acquired by Macromedia in 1996, in turn by Adobe in 2005, Flash has been around since the earliest days of the WWW.

Now, of course, more modern technologies built into HTML 5 have made Flash obsolete. It’s now passed its End-of-Life date as of 12/31/2020. As of February 2021, all major browsers now block Flash and have no player capability. It really is over. Amazing! Many thought it would never die, and few are sorry to see it go…




Mild Microsoft Update Health Tools Mystery

An interesting item is bubbling up in user forums  lately. Lots of Windows 10 PCs — including some of mine — have seen a new-ish, intriguingly named application show up. This story’s lead-in graphic shows it in second place. In fact, I’d say we’re facing a mild Microsoft Update Health Tools mystery. Typical questions include “What is it for?” and “When is it used?”

Cracking a Mild Microsoft Update Health Tools Mystery

A Microsoft Docs “Questions” item links the utility with update KB4023057 .  A corresponding support page mentions all Windows 10 versions, including 20H2. (It’s dated October 2020.) I’ve seen posts at as far back as August 2020. It, too, references that same KB article.

That article says the update delivers “reliability improvements to Windows Update Service components.” It also says it:

includes files and resources that address issues that affect update processes in Windows 10 that may prevent important Windows updates from being installed. These improvements help make sure that updates are installed seamlessly on your device, and they help improve the reliability and security of devices that are running Windows 10.

Some Interesting Notes about KB4023057

There are 5 bulleted items (and a sub-note) the Support Note. All make fascinating reading. I reproduce them verbatim. (For brevity, I prune “This update may” or “This update will” ):

  • …  request your device to stay awake longer to enable installation of updates.

    Note The installation will respect any user-configured sleep configurations and also your “active hours” when you use your device the most.

  • … try to reset network settings if problems are detected, and it will clean up registry keys that may be preventing updates from being installed successfully.
  • … repair disabled or corrupted Windows operating system components that determine the applicability of updates to your version of Windows 10.
  • … compress files in your user profile directory to help free up enough disk space to install important updates.
  • … reset the Windows Update database to repair the problems that could prevent updates from installing successfully. Therefore, you may see that your Windows Update history was cleared.

Invitation to Conspiracy Thinking?

Go back, and read the forum traffic. Or, search Google for “Microsoft Update Health Utility.” Sadly, it reveals suspicion among community members. Indeed, some fear it helps MS forcibly update older Windows installs. In fact, MS does this already. Others don’t trust MS update orchestration. They’d rather control updates themselves. Still others worry about unwanted side effects or unusable PCs after forced updates.

Gosh! While these things are possible, I see nothing untoward at work here . Instead, I see MS staging repair tools in advance for update issues on Windows 10 PCs should they manifest. Aside from lacking user controls, I see them no differently than built-in update troubleshooters. In fact, I’m a devoted user of Shawn Brink’s Reset Windows Update tutorial and its accompanying batch file. It’s gotten me past 95% of all WU problems I’ve seen. That’s why I’ll gladly keep using it.

No Cause for Alarm

As far as I can tell, there’s not much to see here. Admittedly, Update Health Tools is a small surprise. But its Support Note offers good explanations. Thus, I’m OK with this tool. Nor should you worry, either. Rather, it looks like good software engineering.

Better yet, the Update Health Tools can handle update issues on their own, sans user input or guidance. That sounds like a blessing, even if in disguise. And FWIW, it’s missing  from Insider Preview releases. That tells me it aims squarely at production PCs outside IT umbrellas. That means mostly home and small business users. Thus, it should benefit those who need it most.

I’m coming out in favor of the Update Health Tools. I hope we’ll learn more about them from Microsoft soon. In the meantime, if you don’t like the tool, you can choose to uninstall it. I’m leaving it alone myself. If I’m right about it, it may come in handy someday.


X1 Nano First Look

Sometimes, you just get lucky. This Monday, I saw Rich Woods’ review of the Lenovo X1 Nano laptop at Immediately thereafter, I emailed my contact at Lenovo to ask for a review unit. Yesterday (one day later) I had that unit in my hands. That’s lucky! This mini-review is my X1 Nano first look report. Also, I’ll be writing about this light, compact, and powerful unit one or two more times in the next couple of weeks. Then, alas, I must return it.

Impressions from X1 Nano First Look

I’m a fan of the more compact X series ThinkPad laptops. I currently own an X220 Tablet (2012 vintage), 2 X380 Yogas (2018) and an X390 Yoga (2019). I like the portability of the 13″ form factor. I like the ease with which I can throw a unit (or two) into a carrying sleeve, a briefcase, or a backpack. On family trips especially, I’m used to taking two small laptops along. Thus, I can still keep up with email and post blogs while on the road. And my wife and son can use the other laptop when their smartphones aren’t enough.

I came into this review thinking the Nano would be a great candidate for family laptop on the road. I came out of it thinking that it would make an excellent (if lighter duty) candidate for work laptop on the road. I’ll need more time with the unit to suss this out further.

X1 Nano First Look.speccy

PiriForm’s free Speccy tool shows the basic components in this review unit.

X1 Nano Review Unit Speeds & Feeds

OK then, it’s got a Tiger Lake (11th generation) i5-1130G7 CPU, which runs at 1.10GHz on four cores and eight threads. Burst mode goes to 1.80 GHz for single-threaded tasks. It also comes with 16 GB of surprisingly fast LPDDR4-4266 RAM. It’s the first laptop I’ve used with Intel Iris Xe graphics. (Once again: these are surprisingly fast and also capable.)

There’s a Samsung OEM 512 GB SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4) that’s reasonably fast (NotebookCheck calls it “entry-level to mid-tier by H1 2020;” one year on, it’s pretty much straight-out entry level). It’s got a non-touch, 2560×1440 (2K), 450 nits, 16:10, sRGB display that’s crisp and readable at default resolution. The only ports on the device are two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connections: one labeled for power-only, the other labeled for power and data.

It also sports a speedy Intel AX201 Wi-Fi chipset that meshed quite nicely with my Asus 802.11AX router. (Access speeds of 400 Mbps and better, in a busy, signal-rich office environment.) Oh, and it has a fingerprint reader and a 720p Windows Hello capable integrated Webcam, too.

What’s missing on this unit for those who don’t have a Thunderbolt dock handy? (I have several.) At least one USB 3.0 Type A port, and  a micro SD port for added, onboard flash storage. With even high-capacity uSDXC cards now pretty affordable, I do indeed wish Lenovo had found a way to squeeze one in somewhere.

What Makes the X1 Nano a Standout?

It weighs only 906 grams (1.99 lbs). It’s got a carbon fiber top deck and a  (nicely coated) magnesium bottom deck.  The keyboard is about 10% smaller than the one on my other X model ThinkPads. Even so, it feels (and works) so much like those others that I can’t tell any difference. And for somebody like me who makes his living by typing on a keyboard, that’s a big thing.

The display is also pleasingly bright and clear, and the Iris Xe graphics are fast, crisp and powerful. I’m no gamer, but I couldn’t make the display choke up even by throwing graphics pop-ups at it. Working with my usual mix of multiple Chrome, Firefox and Edge windows, plus MS Word for writing, I was impressed. It works and feels just like my now-aging but still capable i7-6700 Z170 desktop (32 GB RAM, Samsung 950 Pro SSD, GTX 1070) on my typical in-office workloads. Even comparing CrystalDiskMark 8.0.1 results for the two primary drives, they’re almost identical.

More to Come in Days Ahead

Right now, my response to this PC is an enthusiastic “So far, so good.” As equipped, this unit’s MSRP on its Lenovo product page is US$1727.40. That makes it about $100 less than a 10th generation,   i7-equipped, non Iris XE (Intel 620 UHD) touchscreen ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5.

Were I myself to buy one of these, I would spring the extra $120 for an i7 CPU. It uses an M.2 2242 NVMe drive, of which 1 TB units are not yet readily available on the aftermarket. Thus, I would probably buy the 256 or 512 GB SSD and then do a swap myself, when higher-capacity, higher-performance options go up for sale.

Other than that, it’s a delightful little laptop. I recommend it highly, subject only to my reservations. Those are: few ports, no SDXC slot, and a mildly painful ouch factor on price. But that’s how it is for “thin-and-light” laptops, isn’t it?



Post Dev Channel Upgrade Drill

As somebody who’s been in the Insider Program for Windows 10 since October, 2014, I’ve been through hundreds of Insider Preview installations and upgrades. That means I have a pretty well-defined drill through which I take my test PCs once an upgrade is in place. In today’s item, I’ll take you through my Post Dev Channel Upgrade drill as an illustration. That’s because I just finished upgrading to Build 21318.1000, released Friday February 19.

High-level View: Post Dev Channel Upgrade Drill

Viewed at a high level, those post Dev Channel upgrade steps might be described as follows:

    1. Check the environment, restore tweaks, make repairs
    2. Clean up post-upgrade leftovers, esp. Windows.old
    3. Perform other routine cleanups
    4. Check for and install software updates (non-Windows)
    5. Use Macrium Reflect to make a pristine image backup

In general, the idea is to make sure things are working, clean up anything left behind, catch apps and applications up with Windows, and make a snapshot to restore as this release baseline, if needed.

Step 1: Check & Restore or Repair Anything Out of Whack

YMMV tremendously during this activity. After many upgrades, I’ve jumped into File Explorer Options (Control Panel) to make file extensions visible again, show hidden files, and so forth. MS is doing a better job with this lately, and I don’t usually have to do this with Insider Preview upgrades (though it does still happen for standard feature upgrades).

For a long, long time I had to go into Advanced File Sharing to loosen “Guest or Public” and “All Network” network profiles on the Lenovo X220 Tablet to get RDP to work. Because I use RDP from my production desktop to access and work on my arsenal of test PCs, this is pretty important — to me, anyway. The last few Dev Channel releases have NOT had this problem, I’m happy to say.

I run Helmut Buhler’s excellent 8 Gadget Pack on my Windows 10 PCs. That’s because its CPU Usage and Network Meter gadgets provide helpful dashboards. The former is good for CPU and memory usage and system temps; the latter is great at showing network activity and base addressing info. Very handy. But each time an upgrade is installed, Windows 10 boots it off the desktop. Buhler has written a handy “Repair” utility that I run after each upgrade to put everything back the way it was.

Step 2: Clean up post-upgrade leftovers

You can use the built-in Disk Cleanup utility, run as admin, to take care of most of this. I personally prefer Albacore/TheBookIsClosed’s Managed Disk Cleanup (available free from GitHub). Why? Because he tweaked the UI so you can see all active controls in a single display window, and select all the stuff you want gone in a single pass. Here’s what that looks like to make it visually obvious why I prefer this tool:

Post Dev Channel Upgrade Drill.mdiskclean.exe

Notice you can see ALL options eligible for selective clean-up in a single display area in Managed Disk Cleanup. I like it!

Step 3: Perform other routine cleanups

I still use Josh Cell’s Uncleaner utility to clean up temp files and other leftovers after an upgrade. If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll run the DriverStore Explorer (RAPR.exe) to identify and remove duplicate device drivers, too. Once upon a time I would run Piriform’s CCleaner as well, but I’m less than happy with that software now that the maker has started including bundleware in the installer. I haven’t found another tool I like as much as the old version.

Step 4: Update Third-Party Software

You can use a tool like KC Softwares SuMO or Patch My PC Updater to suss out most of the items in need of update on Windows PCs. SuMO is a little better at its job but costs about US$35 for the PRO version (does automatic updates for most programs, but sometimes vexing to use). PMP Updater is free, fast, and entirely automatic but doesn’t update everything. Sigh. I use PMP Update on my test machines, and SuMO PRO on my production PC myself. I’m doing this on the theory that it’s best to have everything updated before making a pristine image backup, as I do in the next step.

Step 5: Make a Pristine Backup

With everything upgraded and updated, and all the dross cleaned up, it’s the perfect time to make a fresh image backup. I like Macrium Reflect, mostly because it’s faster and more reliable than the built-in Windows 7 Backup and Restore utility (which MS itself has recommended against since 2016). And indeed, it’s faster at backing up and restoring than most other utilities I’ve used, and also includes a bootable rescue flash drive utility you can use for bare metal and “dead boot/system” drive repair/restore scenarios.

Please note: Macrium Reflect is MUCH faster than using the rollback utility to return to a lower-level OS image from a higher-level one. That’s why I feel safe getting rid of the Windows.old folder as part of my cleanup efforts. I know I’m not going to use those files anyway…

OK then, that’s my drill. I’m sticking to it. Hopefully, you’ll find something in there to like for yourself. Cheers!