Category Archives: Recent Activity

Digging Into Massive DISM Delay

If I needed proof that “no good deed goes unpunished,” I got that yesterday. I was revising a story for Tom’s Hardware about fixing an IRQL BSOD. By way of example I ran a pair of DISM commands and the system file checker (shown at the end of this post). The second DISM command took a LONG time to complete and hung up at 62.3% complete. Then, when I jumped to another PC it did the same thing again. That’s why I’m digging into massive DISM delay this morning.

What Digging Into Massive DISM Delay Tells Me

A quick online search tells me I’m not alone. Indeed, there’s a Reddit thread entitled “DISM Restore health stuck on 62.3%.” It  confirms what I’d observed on my own PC — namely, that the delay is NOT a hang, and the command will complete . . . eventually.

Next, I ran down the logs that get written when DISM /RestoreHealth is underway. First, I found a 10-minute gap between one timestamp and the next in the dism.log file. Then I used the same timestamp when that delay hit to look at CBS.log. Sure enough, the repair was mapping Windows Enterprise to the Professional Edition. This was followed by at least 3,371 files opened and examined (some lines open 1, others 2).

Based on a screen’s worth of entries summed and averaged it comes out to 3371 * 1.42 =  ~4829 files in all. Obviously, that can take some time. The end of this activity explains what’s going on: “Repr: CBS Store Check completes.” Then a bunch of missing manifests or catalogs come in, with a large number of update downloads after that. Poof! 10 minutes is gone.

When DISM Gets Going, It’s Busy, Busy, Busy

So even though DISM /CheckHealth found nothing amiss, DISM /Restorehealth found itself with a lot of work to do. And that’s where the “missing 10 minutes” went. Seemed like forever, but it’s apparently a well-worn routine — if the Reddit post is any indication.

And boy howdy, isn’t that exactly how things sometimes go here in Windows-World? And I suppose I should be glad that all the current public Windows 11 release PCs experience the same thing. At least, it’s consistent . . .

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Win10 VM Login Gotcha Manifests

Boy, I’m glad I’d seen this one before. I was setting up a Windows 10 VM this morning while researching an AskWoody newsletter story. When I’d gotten to the point of logging into the desktop I found myself unable to get the PIN or Password prompt from the lock screen to complete that maneuver. “Aha” I thought “I’ve seen this before, but on Windows 11.” Turns out the same Win10 VM login gotcha manifests when “Enhanced mode” view is turned on. Let me explain…

How the Win10 VM Login Gotcha Manifests

By default, Windows 10 and 11 both set the toggle for “Require Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts” in Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. For situations where users are logging in directly to a suitably equipped PC, that’s fine. But that doesn’t work for RDP sessions (my usual way to access other PCs here at Chez Tittel, including 3 desktops and up to 10 laptops).

The fix is to turn off Enhanced mode, sign in, visit Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options and turn that toggle off. Then you can switch to Enhanced mode and get the login prompt from the lock screen. That’s on par in importance with the ability to cut’n’paste from a VM in an RDP session — another thing I do quite frequently. That also requires enhanced mode to work.

Keep an Eye on ComputerWorld

Fortunately I just finished an upcoming story for CW on “Building Windows 11 Virtual Machines” on May 5. I went into the whole RDP razzmatazz in getting that written so I was both forewarned and forearmed for today’s RDP gotcha with Windows 10. I hadn’t confirmed this shared little zinger beforehand, but now I know for sure. That made it super-easy to fix things, too. Good-oh!

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RenamePC + Date&Time Move Into Settings

I’ve been paying a lot more attention to Microsoft’s sometimes slow and scattered migration of functions and features from Control Panel to Settings lately. Why? Because I’m in the midst of a series of stories on Control Panel, Settings and Consoles in Windows 11 for AskWoody.com. That’s why I picked up quickly on Canary Build 26217.5000. In that release,  renamePC and date&time move into Settings.

You can see the new “Rename your PC” window in the lead-in graphic. It echoes the current Windows 11 theme. It also shows rounded corners and other modern UI hallmarks.

What RenamePC + Date&Time Move Into Settings Means

More functionality keeps making its way from the older Control Panel interface into the newer, dynamic Settings environment. Indeed, the Sync capability is now fully integrated into Settings > Time & language > Date & time:

It’s no longer necessary to jump from Settings into Control Panel to sync a PC’s clock with some standard time server. Mine is time.windows.com. (Look near the bottom of the preceding screencap.)

MS: When Will You Make an End?

Like the Pope to Michelangelo in working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, the question more or less begs itself. Because of all the separate development groups involved across the whole OS, I’m afraid the answer is “Nobody knows!” No doubt the old rejoinder “When it’s finished” applies as well to transitioning from Control Panel to Settings as it did to the 1965 Hollywood epic that’s the source of this cheesy dialog. Hopefully it, too, leaves a legacy for the ages…

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Macrium Reflect Update Ructions

I’m feeling a bit out of sorts this morning. I’ve just finished updating the mostly excellent Macrium Reflect backup/restore software on my production PC. Because I use Reflect on numerous PCs here at Chez Tittel, I sometimes get bollixed keeping track of what’s what. Reflect got an update on May 14 (release notes). I’ve been catching up here since returning from vakay last Monday. Along the way, I’ve encountered what I have to call Macrium Reflect update ructions. Let me explain…

What’s Causing Macrium Reflect Update Ructions?

Macrium Reflect (which I’ll abbreviate as MR going forward) is good about announcing updates, and warning users to install them. Every now and then, though, one of its updates requires users to reboot the PC after it’s done. I understand perfectly well this means they’ve made changes in code that hooks into the OS. A reboot lets those hooks get detached from old running stuff and re-plumbed into its new replacements. Perfectly sensible.

But what irks me is that their release notes and update notifications say nothing about “reboot required” or “no reboot required.” I don’t like it that I get to the end of an update process and then get informed the PC needs an update before it can take full effect. Sigh.

Why Reboot Timing Matters…

Here’s the thing: If they warned me a reboot would be needed  I’d say “OK. I’ll do this later when I’m getting ready to step away from the PC for a while.” But when I’m working full-bore with two or three browsers, Outlook, Word, and Explorer all open in multiple tabs or windows, password managers enabled, and so forth, I don’t want to “Hold everything!” to reboot right away. It takes a good 5 minutes to shut everything down, reboot, then wind everything back up to return to the status quo. But if I don’t reboot, I sometimes notice laggy performance. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Please, MR developers (Paramount Software): provide a “reboot after install” warning as part of the notification and/or release notes info. It’s much more convenient to know what’s coming, and to be able to plan accordingly. ‘Nuff said, I hope!

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X Now Marks the Twitter Spot!

It’s been more than two years since Elon Musk acquired Twitter on April 14, 2022. But only now — as you can see in the lead-in graphic — has Twitter.com started redirecting users to X.com instead. I’ve been logging in via Twitter since I first joined up over a decade ago. But starting today, May 17, X now marks the Twitter spot on the web. The default question shown in the lead-in graphic adds an ironic twist to the whole affair, IMO. I have to chuckle…

If X Now Marks the Twitter Spot, Does It Matter?

I guess this redirect should last some while, so I probably won’t have to train my fingers to type x.com instead of twitter.com right away. But it’s not inconceivable that the switch should encourage people to shift away from the old domain name to the new one, either.

Out of curiosity I checked the market value of Twitter . . . err X, rather . . . this morning. According to Companies Market Cap, it’s worth $41.09B right now. Elon paid $44B for the company, and valued it at $19B on October 30, 2023. Obviously, it’s recovered quite a bit since then. It may not turn out to be the total disaster many feared after all. Time will tell, right?

X Still Stands. But In the Second Rank

According to Statista, X ranks 15th among all social media platforms worldwide. Its user base is far behind the top 5 (Facebook: 3B+, YouTube: 2B+, Instagram: 1B+, WhatsApp: 1B+, and TikTok: 1B+). But somehow, X keeps going and keeps working. I still find it a valuable source of Windows news and info. Indeed it works better for me than any of the preceding top 5 for my particular interests. Obviously, these interests are more specialized than the teeming billions covered en masse in those services!

Here’s a shout-out to Laurent Giret at Thurrott.com, whose X item there this morning alerted me this changeover. Thanks!

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WinGet Updates Quiescent Browsers Best

Here’s one to ponder. Just this morning, in going through a gaggle of WinGet updates, I noticed something interesting. WinGet will happily install browser updates on Windows PCs, whether or not the target browser is running. But if that target is not running, it will invariably succeed and leave the program ready to run it’s newest, best self the next time it’s called. When run against running browsers, though, WinGet will often be unable to finish the job completely, despite reporting installation success. Hence, this epigram: WinGet Updates Quiescent Browsers Best.

What WinGet Updates Quiescent Browsers Best Means

Over the past 3 years or so, I’ve gotten pretty darn familiar with WinGet, Windows’ built-in package manager. It’s bundled into Windows 11 and easily available through GitHub (microsoft/winget-cli). I use this tool pretty much every day to check for updates on my fleet of 10-12 Windows PCs here at Chez Tittel. And as I use it, I get the chance to observe and report all kinds of issues and oddities, both large and small.

This is a pretty small one, as it turn out, but worth noting even so. What happens if you don’t exit a browser before using WinGet to upgrade same? It varies. Chrome will sometimes stick stubbornly to its pre-upgrade state, and require an in-app update to catch up. Firefox may require you to “Relaunch” the browser to finish things up completely. Edge does a good job of self-updating but also works well with WinGet (as you’d expect, as they’re both MS software).

Is This Just “Same-old, Same-old”?

Yesterday, I wrote a post entitled When WinGet Balks, Try In-App Updates. In a small way, this post is a further musing on some of the same themes. But because I leave browsers open on the desktop all the time — as do many other users — this one is a more focused and directed play on the same general topic.

And isn’t that just the way things sometimes (or even often) go, here in Windows-World? At least for me, anyway…

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When WinGet Balks, Try In-App Updates

OK then, I’m still working my way back into the groove after 8 days of vakay. Yesterday, I started running WinGet upgrade … on the whole fleet, to get things caught back up. I quickly noticed that WinGet wanted to update a slew of stuff, including MS Teams and MS PC Manager. But on at least a couple of test PCs, WinGet wasn’t up to those tasks. I quickly remembered that when WinGet balks, try in-app updates often works. And indeed, it did the trick for both those items.

Remember: When WinGet Balks Try In-App Updates

Most often when I see a WinGet upgrade fail to update an app, it’s because the app is running and something inside its runtime environment won’t let go of some resource necessary to bring the update to a successful finish. Apparently, that was the case for both Teams and PC Manager yesterday, where I could see a valid version mismatch between what was running and what WinGet wanted to install.

You can see what I wound up with in the lead-in graphic after I ran the in-app update function for both programs. They show the “latest and greatest” versions for Teams (left) and Microsoft PC Manager (right) up and running. It took me a minute to recollect the right approach, but it was dead easy to implement once those neurons had fired.

If this technique works for me, it can work for you, too. Enjoy!

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Black Screen Says “Welcome Back!”

OK, then. I’ve been away from the office on a family vacation to Nashville, TN, since May 6. When I sat down at my desk this morning to reboot my work routine, I  found myself literally rebooting my production desktop to regain access to Windows. With tongue planted firmly in my cheek I’ll describe this as black screen says “Welcome Back!”

Recovering from Black Screen Says “Welcome Back!”

Now that I think about it, I probably should have tried the old graphics driver restart key combo Winkey+CTRL+Shift+B before rebooting the system. Why do I  say this? As you can see in the lead-in graphic, Reliability Monitor shows that forced restart as an “Unexpected shutdown…” This means Windows itself was still working on that PC.

Had I simply restarted the graphics driver, chances are thus pretty good that my desktop would’ve returned to normal operation without a reboot. But, after leaving the machine alone for 8 days, I wasn’t worried about impacts on open files or the like.

Thus, I just went for the hammer when a pair of tweezers might have done the trick. Yet another way of observing that I’m back at work, and ready to tackle the joys and trials of getting things done here in Windows-World.

What Have I Missed?

That’s the question I’ll be seeking to answer over the next couple of days as I ease back into my daily routine. I’m happy to say that I see only a couple of “burning issues” in my inbox this morning. I’m also happy to say that the rest of the PC fleet is still working like it should. Thus I should be able to get back into the groove without further delays or disruptions.

Stay tuned, though. I could always be wrong, and have to hare off after other Windows issues. Should that happen I’ll report back here…

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Yoga Pro 9i Shows Incredible SSD Speed Variations

I’m digging into the behaviors of the svelte and powerful Yoga Pro 9i I’ve had for two weeks today. It’s a speedy and powerful beast of a laptop. It’s half the thickness (30.23mm/1.2″ vs 19.4mm/0.77″ on average) and ¾ the weight (2.95kg/6.5 lbs vs 2.23kg/4.9 lbs) of the Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation (Gen1). But it’s either on par with or faster than that bigger beast of a desktop replacement. All this said, though, running various NVMe drives and enclosures, I’ve observed that the Yoga Pro 9i shows incredible SSD speed variations.

Why Say: Yoga Pro 9i Shows Incredible SSD Speed Variations

The first set of CrystalDiskMark (CDM) results for the Yoga Pro 9i serve as the lead graphic up top here. These come from the internal SSD inside the unit’s M.2 drive slot. According to Device Manager that drive is an SKHynix_HFS001TEJ9X115N (1TB PCIe x4 NVMe 1.4). Those are pretty respectable results, and serve as a point of reference against external drives.

What makes the Yoga Pro 9i interesting is its two USB-C ports. One is labeled USB-C (20 Gbps) and the other is labeled Thunderbolt 4 (which means 40 Gbps) [see the ports diagram from this April 29 post]. Theoretically that means port 3 (USB-C 20 Gbps) tops out at half the speed of port 4 (USB-C Thunderbolt 4 40 Gbps).

And indeed my only Thunderbolt 4 NVMe enclosure — an Acasis TB-401u claims to support that 40 Gbps top rate. The on-the-ground reality is, however, something quite different with a Sabrent Rocket 1TB NVMe 1.3 SSD  installed therein. Much of this comes from an older v1.3 SSD inside a 1.4 enclosure with access to TB4/USB4 compatible ports. But these results fall far short of what I’d expected to see:

Yoga Pro 9i Shows Incredible SSD Speed Variations.acasis

This looks like results for a typical USB 3.x UASP device IMO

In fact, I got at least some better results from a less-capable Crucial CTP2000P3SSD8 (2TB, NVMe 1.3) inside a less capable enclosure (Sabrent EC-NVME: USB 3.1 Gen2) in the slower USB-C 20 Gbps port. Here they are:

Yoga Pro 9i Shows Incredible SSD Speed Variations.sabrent/crucial

Big bulk reads (top left) are much faster, but everything else is (mostly) slower.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here. What I take from it is that for the fastest backups and big file transfers (video, AI models, and the like) you’re better off spending more on a faster enclosure and a faster SSD to get the most out of the connection. I’m going to have to systematize this, and run some more tests. Great fun!

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Dev Home Environments Missing Local ISO Access

As far as I can tell the ability to create and manage Hyper-V VMs using the latest release of Dev Home (Preview) is nothing short of terrific. Whereas Hyper-V Manager makes it difficult or blocks use of RDP during VM set-up and install, Dev Home is completely friendly to this oh-so-common way to get stuff done on Windows networks. I have 8 PCs (1 desktop, 7 laptops) in  my office right now. I work on the desktop and RDP into the other machines as a matter of course. Alas, I suffer with Dev Home Environments missing local ISO. Let me explain…

Why Say: Dev Home Environments Missing Local ISO Access

I could be wrong, but I don’t see any way to access a local image source on the “Choose an image to use*” pane when setting up a Hyper-V VM inside Dev Home. If you look at the lead-in graphic you’ll see dev options for Windows 10 (top) and 11 (bottom) with three Ubuntu items inbetween. That’s it!

Given Dev Home’s focus on developers and developer environments, this may make sense. But given that Dev Home works seamlessly and properly in an RDP session, and Hyper-V does not, it makes me want more. Specifically, it makes me want the ability to use a local ISO file of my choosing as the basis for a Hyper-V VM when I click the Create Environment button in Dev Home.

Why? Because it “just works” in setting things up and getting them running. Working with Hyper-V Manager to create VMs through RDP is tricky and frustrating. Working with Dev Home to create VMs is an absolute breeze.

A Different Alternative: Fix Hyper-V Manager

If MS doesn’t want to add a local filesystem link to this aspect of Dev Home, that’s OK. But if so, they should fix Hyper-V Manager so that it works properly with Windows 11 (default to TPM support, turn off Windows hello login that doesn’t work on RDP). Is that too much to ask? Gosh, I hope not!

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