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.

20H2 RDP Mystery Remains Unsolved Until …

I’ve been raving about the SFF Dell Optiplex 7080 Micro a fair amount lately. I remain convinced it’s a good purchase and will be a great machine for long-term use. That said, there is the proverbial “one thing” that lets me know for all its glories, it’s still a Windows PC. I’ve been dealing with an RDP mystery — as shown in the lead-in graphic for this story — that actually affects RDP traffic in both directions. Its 20H2 RDP mystery remains unsolved, as all my troubleshooting efforts so far have failed.

Read on, though: I did eventually figure this out, and get RDP working. It turned out to be a basic and obvious oversight on my part. Sigh.

What Do You Mean: 20H2 RDP Mystery Remains Unsolved?

Despite chasing down a large laundry list of things to check and set, I get password related errors when trying to RDP into or out of the 7080 micro. The lead-in graphic shows what happens when I try to RDP into the box. When I try to RDP out of the box, I get an out-and-out invalid password (“may be expired” error) instead.

Obviously, something funky is up with authentication on this Win10 install, because when I try to access the device through the File Explorer network connection, I get a request for network credentials, too. Again, presenting valid credentials doesn’t work. I see a “not accessible” error message instead:

Here’s the list of what I’ve tried so far:

  1. Double-checked Remote Access is enabled.
  2. Relaxed all relevant settings in Advanced Network Sharing for Private, Guest/Public, and All Networks categories.
  3. Enabled all Remote Access checkboxes in Defender Firewall settings.
  4. Ran the Network Troubleshooter
  5. Ran the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant

It’s the Account, Stupid!

After noodling about with this for a couple of hours I realized that I had defined a local acount as admin. Worse yet, I had not promoted my Microsoft Account on the Optiplex 7080 Micro from ordinary user to administrator.

Because I was using my MS account credentials to attempt network login and access, I didn’t have permission to do the password lookups in LSASS needed to make the process work. Once I promoted that account to admin level, everything started working.

Sheesh! Talk about an obvious mistake. As with many problems with Windows 10, this one turns out to be entirely self-inflicted. At least, I know who to blame!



Dell 7080 Micro Performance Amazes

Well, shut the front door, please! Just for grins I started running some of my desultory benchmarks and speed tests on the Dell Micro 7080 I just bought to replace the old mini-ITX box. When you see the numbers and screencaps I’ll be sharing in the following ‘graphs, you’ll understand why my title for this item is “Dell 7080 Micro Performance Amazes.”

Why say: Dell 7080 Micro Performance Amazes?

The numbers do not lie. They’re all pretty incredible, too. Here are some start/boot numbers, with the 7080 left and the (much more expensive) P-5550 numbers right:

Table 1: Shutdown, cold Boot, Restart Times
Description Action 7080 Micro P-5550
 Desktop to machine off  Shutdown  7.92 sec  13.02 sec
 Turned off to desktop  Cold boot  10.46 sec  16.01 sec
Desktop to desktop   Restart 21.26 sec  30.01 sec 

Across the board, then, the $1,200 7080 Micro is significantly faster than the $4K-plus Precision 5550 Workstation. Of course, this takes no account of the more expensive unit’s Radeon Pro GPU. The 7080 Micro simply relies on its built-in Intel UHD Graphics 630 circuitry to render bits on its Dell 2717D UltraSharp monitor, and does so reasonably well. But this comparison is unfair to the P-5550 because UHD 630 is not like a dedicated GPU, especially a professional-grade one like the P-5550’s Nvidia Quadro T2000.

But Wait, There’s More…

The CrystalDiskMark results are also mostly faster than those from the P-5550. The lead-in screenshot shows the 7080 Micro’s CDM results. Compare those for the P-5550 and you get the following, where I’ve bolded the best times in each category so you can see that the 7080 Micro beats the P-5550 in 6 out of 8 categories.

Table 2: CrystalDiskMark Comparisons
CDM Label Action 7080 Micro P-5550
 SEQ1M/Q8T1 Read 3364.8 3373.64
   Write  2790.49 2334.67 
 SEQ1M/Q1T1  Read  2147.04 1716.39 
   Write 2800.90   2056.88
 RND4K/Q32T16  Read  1972.38  630.64
   Write  2152.12  358.26
 RND4K/Q1T1  Read  60.54  41.21
   Write  108.21  119.34

I’m particularly impressed with the 4K Random write numbers with queue depth of 32 and thread count of 16, at which the 7080 Micro kills the P-5550 (read is more than 3 times faster; write is more than 6 times faster). With a queue depth and thread counts of 1 each, it’s a split decision: the 7080 Micro is almost 50% faster at reads, and the P-5550 is about 10% faster at writes. Even when the P-5550 comes out ahead it’s by less than 10% in both cases. To me, that puts the 7080 Micro way, way ahead of the P-5550, especially considering the price differential.

Am I happy with my 7080 Micro purchase? So far, heck yes! More to come as I have more time to do benchmarking. This week is jammed up, but maybe Thanksgiving week I’ll find more time. Stay tuned.


Astonishing Dell Precision 5550 Workstation Encounter

OK, then. Just yesterday, I noticed that Windows Update offered the Dell review unit I’ve got the 20H2 upgrade/enablement package. What happened next surely qualifies as an astonishing Dell Precision 5550 Workstation encounter. Bottom line: it took less than TWO MINUTES to download, install and process the enablement package for 20H2. This is easily 3 times faster than on any other machine on which I’ve run that package, including my brand-new Dell 7080 Micro PC. I knew this machine was fast and capable, but this takes the cake. Really.

It’s odd to see 16 hyperthreads/8 cores show up on a laptop. Apparently, they’re all ready (if not actually thirsty) for work.
[Image is shown 2x actual size for readability. CPU Meter Gadget.]

After Astonishing Dell Precision 5550 Workstation Encounter, Then What?

Good question! I need to run a bunch of benchmarks on this system, then gather up those results for publication here. But in the meantime, this system has taken everything I’ve thrown at it, and simply KILLED it. As you can see from the preceding CPU Meter gadget screencap, this machine comes equipped with an i7-10875H CPU and 32 GB of RAM. So far, I haven’t been able to slow it down much, if at all, by throwing work at it. Desultory benchmarks, like CrystalDiskMark, are frankly breathtaking (this is far and away the fastest system in my house right now). Even CrystalDiskMark turns in some pretty impressive read/write numbers:

By comparison, CrystalDiskMark results from my production desktop with its i7-6700, Asrock Z170 Extreme7+, and a Samsung 950 Pro 512GB SSD, are mostly lower. The top line reads: 1954 (read) and 1459 (write): 58% and 62%, respectively. The second line reads 1550 (read) and 855 (write): 90% and 41%, respectively. This changes in line 3 which reads: 1230 (read) and 391 (write): 194% and 109%, respectively. The two bottom lines are nearly identical, with a 42.49 (read) and 98.99 (write): 103% and 83%, respectively. There’s no question that newer-generation M.2 PCIe technology is faster on bulk reads and writes. And as you’d expect, random reads and writes being shorter and scattered about, those metrics don’t vary overmuch.

Performance Theory, As Usual, Beats Practice

According to its specifications, The P-5550’s SSD is an SK Hynix PC601A 1TB SSD. It’s a PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe device with theoretical maximum of 958 MB/sec per lane, or 3,832 MB/sec for all four lanes. The actual performance is always slower, as the top-line numbers from the preceding CrystalDiskMark output show. But it’s not half-bad and is, in fact, the best-performing NVMe SSD currently at my disposal. At over US$4K for this laptop as configured, it’s pretty pricey: but you do get a lot for the money.

The Cold Boot/Restart Numbers

Here’s a set of average times, taken across three sets of measurements for typical PC on/off maneuvers:

+ From desktop to machine turned off (shutdown): 13.02 sec
+ From turned off to desktop prompt (cold boot): 16.01 sec
+ From desktop to desktop (restart): 30.01 sec

Across the rest of my stable of PCs, these times are at least 50% faster than anything else I’ve got. I still have don’t these measurements for the Dell 7080 Micro PCs, though. Given that they’re also brand-new and have similar CPUs and NVMe drives, i’m expecting numbers more like than unlike the preceding ones. Stay tuned! I’ll report that soon in another post.

For the moment, suffice it to say that the “Workstation” in the Precision 5550 product name is not just wishful thinking. This system delivers speed, graphics and compute power, in a beautiful, compact package.Facebooklinkedin

KB4589212 Offers Intel Microcode Updates

On November 10, Microsoft rolled out KB4589212. That support note is entitled “Intel microcode updates for Windows 10, version 2004 and 20H2, and Windows Server, version 2004 and 20H2.” It is currently available only from the Microsoft Update Catalog, where a search on KB4589212 provides links to related downloads. As you can see from the following screencap, KB4589212 offers Intel microcode updates as downloads that apply to Windows Server and Windows 10 for X64 and X86 systems, versions 20H2 and 2004.

KB4589212 Offers Intel Microcode Updates.catalog

If you read the note, you’ll see this update applies to all Intel processors back to Ivy Bridge (circa 2011-2012).
[Click image for full-sized view.]

If KB4589212 Offers Intel Microcode Updates, What’s Covered?

In addition to covering most Intel processors still in use back to Ivy Bridge (which is as old as anything I’ve got, from the 2012 mini-ITX box), this microcode update covers 7 different CVE items (3 from 2018, 2 from 2019, 3 from 2020). Here’s that table of items, plucked verbatim from the Microsoft Support note:

CVE number CVE title
CVE-2018-12126 Microarchitectural Store Buffer Data Sampling (MSBDS)
CVE-2018-12127 Microarchitectural Load Port Data Sampling (MLPDS)
CVE-2018-12130 Microarchitectural Fill Buffer Data Sampling (MFBDS)
CVE-2019-11091 Microarchitectural Data Sampling Uncacheable Memory (MDSUM)
CVE-2020-8695 Intel® Running Average Power Limit (RAPL) Interface
CVE-2020-8696 Vector Register Sampling active
CVE-2020-8698 Fast store forward predictor

I’ve run this on half-a-dozen different 20H2 PCs of all vintages from 2012 to 2019 with no ill effects. This one’s definitely worth downloading and installing sooner, rather than later. That said, note that microcode vulernabilities do require physical access to PCs to foist. Once foisted, though. they’re mostly indetectible and difficult to remove, too. Take no chances: schedule this update for your next maintenance window. You can access the CVE links in the preceding table to learn more about the vulnerabilities involved. In fact, the most recent CVE is fascinating: it decrypts data based on detailed voltage consumption over time simply by carefully monitoring and plotting CPU power usage. Zounds!Facebooklinkedin

VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue

Suddenly, the usual login prompt from my Credit Union, where my wife and I both bank, has become inaccessible on my local network. No PC, no browser, no nothing will open the login URL. Errors proliferate like mushrooms after the rain instead. What gives?

Credit Union Access Issue. VPN login works, other access doesn't.
VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue. VPN login works, other access doesn’t.

I’ve been working in and around IP networks professionally since 1988, and with IP networks since 1979. I’ve seen many weird things, and now have another to add to that list. From my LAN right now, no PCs can login to our credit union on the web. Nobody, that is, unless I go through a VPN link. Otherwise, when we (my wife and I bank together) try to access the login page, a raft of error messages presents. Only the VPN works around weird credit union access issue, which throws up beacoup HTTP error codes. (Explanatory text verbatim from Wikipedia.):

400  Bad Request: The server cannot or will not process the request due to an apparent client error (e.g., malformed request syntax, size too large, invalid request message framing, or deceptive request routing).
401  Unauthorized: Similar to 403 Forbidden, but specifically for use when authentication is required and has failed or has not yet been provided.
403  Forbidden: The request contained valid data and was understood by the server, but the server is refusing action.
404  Not Found: The requested resource could not be found [(aka “File not found/Page not found”)].
501 Not Implemented: Server either does not recognize the request method, or it lacks the ability to fulfill the request.
502 Bad Gateway: The server was acting as a gateway or proxy and received an invalid response from the upstream server

How VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue

I can only assume that the address resolution for the specific login URL is somehow malformed or invalid. Changing DNS server assignments at the Windows 10 clients (in the TCP v4 Interface properties) does not help. When I switch to VPN, though, that bypasses the local DNS infrastructure. That connection uses the VPN provider’s DNS infrastructure instead. Then, we have no problems accessing the bank URL.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. I can’t remember the login credentials for the Spectrum device that acts as a Wi-Fi AP and router at the network boundary. Thus, I can’t check the DNS situation on that device, which is where DHCP tells all my Windows 10 machines to get their DNS information from. I’ve got a call into Spectrum to see if they can help me break into my router without having to do a factory reset. In the meantime, we’re using the VPN to access the credit union stuff, and plain-vanilla networking for everything else. It’s strange and unfathomable, but at least there’s a workaround.

For Want of a Nail…

Last night, I drove to the nearby Spectrum outlet and swapped my Technicolor cable modem/VoIP device for an identical replacement unit. The theory was that something about this device was behind the issue. It was sheer hell trying to get back online because Spectrum’s activation drill requires providing account, password, and other identity characteristics. I keep all that stuff in Norton Password Vault, and I couldn’t get access to that info through my iPhone nor did I have another path onto the Internet to grab the necessary data. I eventually had to spend another 45 minutes on the phone with tech support as they FINALLY activated our Internet service, TV, and VoIP phone. Reminded me too much of Catch-22 “How can you see you’ve got flies in your eyes when you’ve got flies in your eyes?” Last night, I couldn’t see much of anything for far too long!

Because our son attends school online, doing without Internet is impossible. Thus, I ordered a 5G hotspot from Verizon last night, so we have a medium performing fallback. They tell me the hotspot I ordered delivers about 200 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream in our neighborhood. I’ll be finding out — and making sure the fallback works — when it shows up via USPS early next week. Sigh.

Router Reset Solves Resolution Hiccup [Added 1 Day Later]

With a little more time to think about what could cause my problem, I formulated a hypothesis about the cause — and a likely fix — for my troubles. All nodes on my LAN had an issue with that one specific URL. But neither the site operator nor my ISP could replicate that problem. Thus it had to be on the boundary between my LAN and the ISP’s aggregation network. That means only one possible culprit: the Spectrum router. It sits at my network boundary. It also provides DHCP to the nodes on the LAN and acts as the DNS server for all internal nodes.

“Aha” I thought, “I bet resetting the router will fix this issue because it reloads — or repopulates, rather — the DNS cache.” I was right. After powering off the router, letting it sit for a minute or two, then powering it back on, our name resolution issue was gone. Glad to have it fixed because it was deucedly inconvenient without credit union account access. Ultimately, it was the “VPN trick” that led me to the solution. Sigh again.Facebooklinkedin

Audible Clues When 8TB Backup Drive Goes South

Audible Clues When 8TB Backup Drive Goes South when I don't hear the backup drive run.
Except for November 10, all backups start just after 9 AM.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
This morning, I noticed something different just after 9 AM. That’s when the usual scheduled backup job on my production desktop fires off, and about 2 minutes later the drive starts clunking away. Check the timestamps for the Macrium Image (mrimg) files in the lead-in graphic in File Explorer. Except for today — November 10 — all the other jobs show a stamp in a range from 9:02 – 9:21 AM. What was different this morning? No drive clunking provided audible clues when 8TB backup drive goes south. And sure enough, when I checked Explorer at first, the drive was MIA. In fact, Disk Management showed a drive with neither GPT nor MBR disk layout.

After Audible Clues When 8TB Backup Drive Goes South, Time for Repairs

Luckily, I’ve got a commercial license for MiniTool Partition Wizard (MTPW). It includes both Data Recovery and Partition Recovery capabilities. So first, I let MTPW define the drive layout as GPT (as it must for a drive bigger than 2TB). Next, I ran the program’s Partition Recovery capability. About 30 seconds later, the drive’s contents were visible in the MTPW Partition Explorer. But I still had to assign a drive letter before repairs were complete. Immediately thereafter, I ran a manual image backup using Macrium Reflect to make up for the backup I’d missed along with the 8TB drive. As you can see from the most recent timestamp for the top file in the lead-in graphic, today’s belated backup is stored with all its predecessors.

A Bit of Insurance Against Recurrence

I also finally switched in my brand-new Wavlink USB 3.0 docking station (Model: ML-ST3334U) for the old Intatek unit I’d been using. Turns out the Inatek couldn’t handle even a 4 TB and and 8TB drive. Given that I’ve had problems with this dock before, I’d been waiting for the “next fault” to force the swap. I think that’s what happened this morning. I also think the Inatek can’t really handle ONE 8TB drive without power issues. The Wavlink, OTOH, is rated to handle 2 8TB drives. That’s why I bought it, and why I hope this means I won’t see my big backup drive go bye-bye again soon.

But weirder things have happened on my production PC, and may happen again. As we all know, that’s just the way things sometimes go (or go south) in Windows World. Count on me to keep you posted as and when such weirdness happens.Facebooklinkedin

Impatience Prompts Production PC Forced 20H2 Upgrade

Because Impatience Prompts Production PC Forced 20H2 Upgrade, that PC is now up-to-date.
Because Impatience Prompts Production PC Forced 20H2 Upgrade, that PC is now up-to-date.

OK then, I admit it: I just flat-out got tired of waiting. It’s been 20 days since 20H2 went GA, and my production PC still hadn’t gotten “the offer” from Windows Update. Having long ago downloaded the ISO for 20H2 using the Media Creation Tool, I used it. The process took almost 40 minutes from start to finish. That’s much longer than it took my PCs that did get “the offer” to finish the task. At least 4 times as long. Right now, I’m pausing for this blog post. Next, I’ll do my usual post-upgrade cleanup, now that impatience prompts production PC forced 20H2 upgrade is done.

After Because Impatience Prompts Production PC Forced 20H2 Upgrade, Then What?

My usual post-upgrade cleanup routine of course. This consists of:

  1. Running TheBookIsClosed/Albacore’s Managed Disk Clean (mdiskclean.exe) utility to get rid of Windows.old and other stuff
  2. Using Josh Cell’s nifty (but increasingly dated) UnCleaner tool to get rid of about 310 MB of junk files.
  3. Running Macrium Reflect to capture an image of this pristine OS update
  4. Getting on with business as usual

Just for grins, I ran DriverStore Explorer to see if it would find any outmoded drivers. As you’d expect, everything was ship-shape. Ditto for DISM ... /analyzecomponentstore, which tells me no updates since the GA date of October 22 have left old, orphaned packages behind. And because this kind of upgrade really is like starting over, Reliability Monitor gets a clean slate (in fact, it’s “dead empty” right now):

Right after a feature upgrade (which is what happens when you install from setup.exe), Reliability Monitor is devoid of data, and runs only forward from there.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Status: 2004 to 20H2 Upgrades at Chez Tittel

This is the last and final machine to transition from 2004 to 20H2. My upgrades are done. One profound impetus for this change came from the three new Dell PCs — two review units, and one new purchase — that showed up over the past two weeks. All of those new 11th-gen PCs got “the offer” as soon as they booted up for the first time. I know that my production PC is solid and reliable and I’ve long since worked out any driver kinks on this machine. Seeing the Dell units transition painlessly (and incredibly quickly), I bet that the production PC would also get over the hump. But while it worked, I can’t say it was fast. But all too often that’s how things go here in Windows World. Stay tuned!


WU Gives 1903 Users Forced Upgrades

It’s not quite the apocalypse, but the end of support for Window 10 version 1903 is approaching on December 8, 2020. Thus, MS is now force upgrading PCs still running that OS through Windows Update (WU). Of course, 1903 has been out for some time, having gone GA in May 2019. It’s also been succeeded by three subsequent versions — namely 1909, 2004 and just recently 20H2. When end of support hits, MS stops issuing security updates, which makes machines running such an OS vulnerable to new security threats that won’t be patched. Not good! Time to upgrade then, which explains why WU gives 1903 users forced upgrades these days.

When WU Gives 1903 Users Forced Upgrades, Then What?

The funny thing is, Microsoft is upgrading these 1903 PCs to version 1909. What makes that funny is that this version (for Home and Pro users, anyway) will itself go out of support in May of next year (2021). Thus, those who go through an automatic upgrade through WU will have to repeat the process next May when 1909 itself runs into the same wall. Other,  newer ISO versions of Windows 10 are readily available through various sources. The Media Creation Tool for 20H2 is available through the Download Windows 10 page. Or, you can use AveYo’s excellent MediaCreationTool.bat script to access ISOs for most known Windows 10 versions. (I wrote about this for Win10.Guru on November 2, 2020.)

Given that 20H2 is still in the trickle-out process and hasn’t gone into wide distribution, it may make sense to upgrade from 1903 to 2004. In that case, you can use the afore-linked script to grab just what you need. Other good sources for 2004 include and the HeiDoc Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download tool. Either one will also let you pick a version for the ISO you download, including 2004.

Moving Up from 1903

If you must upgrade from 1903 to some newer version — and I agree with Microsoft that it’s time to get cracking — I think 2004 makes most sense. Hopefully, these various sources for an ISO will help. And remember, to use an ISO for installation mount it as a virtual drive, then run the file named setup.exe from the root of that mounted drive to get the process underway. The Windows 10 Installer will do the rest. Cheers!Facebooklinkedin

Intel Laptop Graphics Driver Upgrade Pros Cons

Here’s an interesting topic for Windows 10 power users and admins. As stated in this post’s title, there are plusses and minuses regarding Intel’s new — and frequently updated — DCH drivers. Intel graphics drivers show up on laptops with Intel CPUs. That’s simply because a graphics component is built into most such processors, particularly mobile ones. Indeed, some laptops have additional external (usually PCIe-attached) GPUs. But any of those with Intel CPUs can switch back and forth between the on-chip GPU and that external GPU . Thus it’s important to ponder Intel laptop graphics driver upgrade pros cons — particularly when choosing and upgrading drivers.

Understanding DCH Helps Unravel Intel Laptop Graphics Driver Upgrade Pros Cons

DCH stands for Declarative Componentized Hardware supported apps. This is the new, forward-looking architecture for Windows Drivers. It’s explained in a Microsoft Docs article entitled DCH Design Principles and Best Practices. There we find an explanation for each of the acronym’s letters (I quote this material verbatim):

  • Declarative (D): Install the driver by using only declarative INF directives. Don’t include co-installers or RegisterDll functions.
  • Componentized (C): Edition-specific, OEM-specific, and optional customizations to the driver are separate from the base driver package. As a result, the base driver, which provides only core device functionality, can be targeted, flighted, and serviced independently from the customizations.
  • Hardware Support App (H): Any user interface (UI) component associated with a Windows Driver must be packaged as a Hardware Support App (HSA) or preinstalled on the OEM device. An HSA is an optional device-specific app that’s paired with a driver. The application can be a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) or Desktop Bridge app. You must distribute and update an HSA through the Microsoft Store. For details, see Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for driver developers and Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for app developers.

Componentization is Good!

To me, the componentized piece makes the DCH driver both interesting and relevant to laptop owners. Basically, it means base driver packages from the device maker are OK — Intel, in this case. That’s because customizations from an OEM or laptop maker can slipstream onto the base level driver. And it won’t affect the behavior or reliability of the graphics circuitry. Especially for those who use their laptops for gaming (where drivers matter quite a lot, and change pretty frequently) this is good news.

Case in Point: Intel’s November 6 igfx_win10_100.8935.exe Driver Release

Late last week, Intel dropped the afore-mentioned new DCH drivers release. The release package is available at Intel Graphics – Windows 10 DCH Drivers web page. This new release covers Windows 10 versions 1709 through 20H2. It also comes in both ZIP (direct access to driver files and components) and .exe (self-installing formats). Those who use the Intel Driver & Support Assistant are already familiar with the .exe versions of the company’s drivers, because those are this tool’s default versions. If you look at the Release Notes for this …8935 version you’ll see that all of the key issues fixed call out computer games (Crysis Remastered, PGA Tour 2K21, Doom Eternal, World of Warcraft, Shadowlands, Red Redemption 2, and so forth). Hence, my earlier point about gamers as primary beneficiaries for such updates.

Other admins or owners with Intel GPU circuitry on their laptops can relax about updating laptop drivers on major-branch laptops (Dell, Lenovo, HP, and so forth). Why? Because the DCH architecture means that Intel’s base level driver is more or less guaranteed to “play nice” with any such customizations as the OEM/mfgr may add for its own laptops. In the past, I’d relied on the various vendor update services (e.g. Dell SupportAssist, Lenovo Vantage, HP Support Assistant, and so forth) as the sole source for laptop graphics drivers.

I’ve been experimenting with using Intel DHC drivers plus the occasional OEM/mfgr graphic driver on four Lenovo PCs for the past six months now. My experience has been almost completely positive, with only one install issue on a Lenovo X380 Yoga last month, easily remedied by a manual install after downloading the driver file from the Lenovo Support pages.

DCH Graphics Drivers: Worth Trying Out

Looks like DCH Intel graphics drivers are pretty safe, and ready for day-to-day laptop use. Don’t take my word for it, though. Conduct your own experiments on test machines (as I did) and see how things go. I’m reasonably certain of positive results. If not, I hope you’ll tell me all about it (comment on this post). Cheers!Facebooklinkedin

Terrible Trials of Web Security

I run another Web site with a friend and colleague at Win10.Guru. Right now, the site is (mostly) inaccessible because we’ve fallen foul of Google’s Safe Site tools. Over the past couple months we’ve been hammered, dealing with terrible trials of web security. If you visit our site right now, you’ll get this dire warning:

Terrible Trials of Web Security

This is NOT an inviting entry into the website. It is calculated to scare people away.
[Click on image for full-sized view.]

If you click on the Details button, a link reads “visit this unsafe site.” Again, this is intended to discourage visitors. But because of Google’s security assessment, it’s the only way into our site right now using Chrome. Edge returns a 503 Service Unavailable Error, and Firefox times out. For the nonce, Win10.Guru is off the air. My partner and I are freaking out, trying to get this fixed. But this is only the latest installment in a litany of horrors we’ve endured lately.

What Makes for Terrible Trials of Web Security?

To start with, we faced multiple daily page injection attacks. Hackers were redirecting visitors to our website to third-party clickbait sites. (Presumably, because they could get paid for such clicks.) Some illicit redirect links also included malware, phishing scams, and other unsavory stuff. Thing is: hackers were also able to access and change the master permissions file for the site itself. This is, of course, the very special file named .htaccess that controls permissions and configuration of the file structure for the site. According to our hosting service, this is supposedly  impossible. Yet we demonstrated that our file structure changed over time because malicious actors were at work.

Once we’d shown them what was what, the provider granted us their high-end security software as a wrapper around our site. Presto! Our problems went away. But the trial period is over now, and it costs over US$300 a year for that added security on the site. My partner refuses the outlay for perfectly valid financial reasons. That said, I’m of the opinion that such a sum is better spent than having the site mostly inaccessible. Not to mention the days and weeks he’s spent trying to keep things cleaned up.

The Devil Really Is in the Details…

The Details button also lets users “report a detection problem.” My partner and I have been doing that multiple times daily. We’ve been asking our network to do likewise, hoping that a chorus might be more convincing than a couple of lone voices in the wilderness. If it’s not too much to ask, please click the preceding link and attest to the lack of ill will or intent on our part for It might make a difference.

But according to what I’m learning it takes 7-10 days for Google to review and change such rankings. I’m also trying to purchase additional security coverage on my own recognizance for the site, and keep getting an error message when I try to make payment. Gosh! It’s been one of those days, I’m afraid. Here’s hoping we’ll get this fixed soon. All I can say right now is “Ouch!”

[Note Added July 18, 2020] Crisis Averted!

Yesterday, July 17, working with the security team at GoDaddy subsidiary (with whom we’ve obtained a subscription to their website security scannning and protection services) we finally got all the obstacles cleared away and a clean bill of health for the site. You can check its status any time through this URL: One of their third-level tech support folks was finally able to convince Google Safe Browsing that our site was neither “deceptive” nor were we foisting any phishing exploits. I guess that means it helps to have a trusted third party vouch for your site, or something. At any rate, all the dire warn-offs are gone and the site is behaving normally. Thank goodness!Facebooklinkedin