Category Archives: Troubleshooting

Signal Strength Impedes Swapped PC WiFi Access

OK, then. Yesterday, we spent a small fortune packing up and shipping out a tower PC and 27″ monitor to my son’s college address. In the aftermath, I moved the other B550 tower with Ryzen 5800X upstairs to his room. But alas, because I left the high-end, PCIe WiFi card in the shipped-out unit, I couldn’t get any of my plug-in (or built-in) WiFi devices to connect to the Spectrum router. Hence my claim that signal strength impedes swapped PC WiFi access.

Overcoming Signal Strength Impedes Swapped PC WiFi Access

There’s a whole litany of checks I ran through to see if I could get such WiFi devices as were at my disposal working. The PC could “see” the Spectrum router. Alas, it just couldn’t connect, not using any of the following:

  • A 5-year old Asus 802.11ac USB 3 (USB-AC 56) device with external antenna
  • A similar vintage NetGear 802.11 ac USB 3 (AC 600) device with no external antenna
  • The built-in M.2 slot with a non-Intel 802.11ax mini-card (but no external antenna)

I worked through all of the following checks, too, just to cover all the bases:

1. Reboot PC to reset startup network settings
2. Ran the network troubleshooter
3. Enable/disable device drivers in Device Manager
4. Reset Network Settings as per ElevenForum Reset Network Adapters in Windows 11 tutorial

No joy on any of these, though. Sigh.

An Alexandrine Solution?

Eventually, I installed a switch at the RJ-45 wall jack upstairs, then ran a long cable from that switch into my son’s bedroom to give him a direct, wired Internet connection. Of course, that worked right away once I’d gotten all the pieces and parts plugged in properly.

The story does have a happy ending, though. Check out the Fast.com speed test results I obtained after setting up the wired link into that PC. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen on my LAN.

I didn’t realize the Spectrum router could exceed 1 Gbps on its end. This PC has a 2.5 GbE interface, so it’s capable enough. But given a GbE LAN exceeding the speed limit makes me wonder…

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Samsung NVMe Drive Failing

In a recent story here, I mentioned a possible mismatch between some components. On the one hand: an old Samsung MZVPV512HDGL OEM NVMe drive. On the other hand: a brand-new PCIe x4 USB 3.2/Thunderbolt NVMe enclosure. Upon swapping in a newer ADATA drive my issues with the enclosure vanished. So I mounted the other drive in an older Sabrent NVMe enclosure. Now I’m getting indications of the Samsung NVMe drive failing. A strong indicator shows up as the lead-in graphic above.

What Says: Samsung NVMe Drive Failing?

The inability to perform write tests using HD Tune is a pretty big tell. Interestingly, though: chkdsk and CrystalDiskInfo both report the drive as healthy. My best guess is that write failures are occurring, and that HD Tune won’t “write past” such things, while the other tools rely on SMART data and surface analysis and aren’t seeing active errors.

My plan is to retire the drive as soon as the replacement part shows up. That’s been en route via Amazon for too long now, so I just cancelled that order and placed a new one. Hopefully it will be here tomorrow, including a 1TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus with internal read/write speeds of up to 6+/4+ Gbps. Of course, that’s not gonna happen in a USB 3.2/Thunderbolt enclosure. But I am darn curious to see how fast the bus can go when the drive is fast enough to get out of the way.

Stay Tuned: More to Come!

According to what I read online, I may be able to get read/write speeds in excess of 2 Gbps via Thunderbolt 3 from the NVMe enclosure. So far, the best I’ve seen from my older Sabrent (USB 3.2 only) enclosures is on the order of 1.1 Gbps. So it should be pretty easy to tell if the new drive/enclosure speeds things up.

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Flaky Video Driver Forces Fix Revisits

My production desktop’s dual monitor setup gets a little wonky from time to time. For some odd reason, the right-hand (primary) monitor will start blinking on and off. It’s annoying, but not overwhelming. When it happens, an apparently flaky video driver forces fix revisits. Basically, I keep trying stuff until something works. By no coincidence, that’s a decent operational definition for troubleshooting.

Items Checked When Flaky Video Driver Forces Fix Revisits

It usually goes something like this:

1. Use the Winkey-Ctrl-Shift-B key combo to reset the graphics driver. It does work, sometimes…
2. Check GeForce Experience to see if a newer driver is available; if so, install it.
3. If using the Nvidia gaming driver, switch to Studio driver, or vice-versa.
4. Uninstall, then reinstall the Nvidia driver. I also recommend using the freeware DDU tool to remove all traces of the old before installing the new.
5. Visit the Nvidia Driver Downloads page, and start trying older drivers, going back one version at a time… The recent entries in that list for my GeForce RTX 3070 Ti appear as the lead-in graphic for this story.

Today’s Fix Occurred Mid-way in Sequence

I got to Step 4 today before the blinking stopped. That’s a bit further than I usually have to go, but that’s Windows for you. I’m just glad I can concentrate on what’s showing on both displays, rather than how one or the other is (mis)behaving.

Some Windows errors or gotchas can be set aside and ignored for a while. Others — especially when they interfere with normal system operation — demand immediate attention. While today’s gotcha was one of the latter, it was familiar. Thus, I knew what to do, and how to do it, with minimum need for diagnosis and root cause analysis.

I just marched through the foregoing list and found my solution in under 10 minutes. I can only wish that all problems were so easily fixed. And that’s the way things are unfolding today, here in Windows World. Stay tuned: there’ll be more!

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Build 25174 May Drop Insider MSA

Here’s a nifty little gotcha. After upgrading my two Dev Channel test PCs earlier this week, I noticed something missing. As you can see in the lead-in graphic for this story, despite Insider membership in good standing beforehand, things were different afterward. Hence my warning: Build 25174 may drop Insider MSA info, as shown in the graphic. Both of test machines were likewise affected.

If Build 25174 May Drop Insider MSA, Then What?

If you click on the “Please link…” entry shown in the graphic, it will automatically open the “Sign-in” page that lets you choose the MSA (Microsoft Account) you wish to associate with the Insider build on the target PC. I simply picked the one I had already associated with the PCs before applying the upgrade. It took all of 15 seconds to fix.

So why am I telling you this? I can’t extrapolate from 2 machines to the entire Dev Channel population. But I can guess that if both my machines were so affected, other Insiders running Dev Channel builds may find the same thing when they check their Insider status after the upgrade.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? This reminds me of other oddities I’ve seen post-upgrade for earlier versions of Windows 10 and 11. For a long time, in fact, I had to check “Private” vs “Public” network status after such upgrades, and routinely reset them to my desired states. This strikes me as just another case in point.

Nothing in the 25174 announcement…

I just checked the 25174 announcement, and it makes no mention of this particular gotcha. I’m reporting this to feedback hub as I write this item and I see no similar reports amidst that collection. Perhaps this is idiosyncratic and only applies to my PCs. But I bet it’s not, so check yours, too, please. Cheers!

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Weird Full-Screen RDP Effect

I still use Windows 10 on my production desktop, but I run half-a-dozen instances of Windows 11 right now. Lately, I’ve noticed that with screen size expanded to fit the left-hand monitor — but not maximized — I get a weird full-screen RDP effect. I lose the start menu at the bottom of the screen. As I said: weird!

What Is the Weird Full-Screen RDP Effect?

The lead-in graphic for this story shows what I’m talking about from the Start Menu perspective. Up top, we see a Windows 10 Start Menu that surprisingly shows up at the bottom of a “full-screen” Windows 11 RDP window. When I hit the maximize¬† button at upper right, the lower (and normal) Windows 11 start menu appears. (Note: I selected “left” alignment in the Task Manager options to make it show up there for purposes of comparison and contrast).

Needless to say, when I don’t notice this and click on the full-screen Windows 10 menu, it doesn’t do anything to the Windows 11 RDP window above. This is disconcerting, to say the least. At worst, I start thinking I’ve got problems and start unnecessary troubleshooting actions. Sigh.

Why/How Did This Weirdness Present?

For some reason, this happened to me the last time I updated the Nvidia driver on my production PC. It’s now running version 516.93, installed last week. After the install completed, all the open windows moved to the right-hand (primary) monitor. That’s normal. But what’s different is that maximized RDP windows changed “auto-magically” to full-screen (but not maximized) layouts. That led me to the source of confusion when I dragged those full-screen windows to the secondary (left-hand) monitor.

Again: Weird! But by looking very closely at what I was seeing, I eventually figured out what was going on. Now I make sure to click the maximize button when using RDP. That way, I see the maximized RDP session controls at the top of the screen (see below) and know that the start menu at bottom is the start menu I want to work within that window.

Weird Full-Screen RDP Effect.controls

And that, dear readers, is how things sometimes go in Windows-world. As JRRT put it “All that glitters is not gold; not all those who wander are lost.” I wandered a bit, but ultimately figured out what was weird and why.

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Store Reinstall Solves Stuck Terminal

Interesting! As is my usual practice, I just installed KB5015882, the upcoming CU preview. It targets production Windows 11, and takes it to Build 22000.832. After that update and restart, I noticed two things. First, this PC was still running the old Windows Terminal version. Second, Windows Store offered me an upgrade for same, but it got stuck during the process. After forcibly closing Store, and returning to the same page, a Store reinstall solves stuck Terminal once and for all. Deets follow, and a general approach to app repair.

Praise Be! Store Reinstall Solves Stuck Terminal

To begin with, when I ran Windows Terminal, I noticed it was still running an old version (no access to Settings, nor various supported command line environments). When I visited the Store, and searched on “Windows Terminal” its app page hung while trying to upgrade that very tool. So I terminated the whole shebang by clicking the close button at upper right.

Just for grins, I ran winget upgrade --all. It did not upgrade my Windows Terminal install, though it found and updated numerous other items successfully. Go figure!

Then, I opened the Microsoft Store again. I repeated my search on “Windows Terminal.” Lo and behold, it offered an Install button this time. When I clicked that option, it downloaded and installed the latest version. As you can see from the lead-in graphic above, the result was a current version of Windows Terminal, which runs PowerShell version 7.2.5 by default. Fixed!

When Windows Apps Get Wonky…

When apps start going sideways, I go through a drill to clean them up. This drill consists of the following steps:

    1. Visit the Store, look up the app and see what it offers. Apply any resulting upgrades or installs. If this doesn’t work, go on to
    2. Use PowerShell and Winget to find the name of the package for the app in question. Here,  winget list terminal reports that name is Microsoft.WindowsTerminal.
    3. You can use winget to uninstall, then reinstall the package as follows:
      winget uninstall Microsoft.WindowsTerminal. Then,
      winget install Microsoft.WindowsTerminal
      will install the current version.

Most of the time — as in this instance — if the Store offers options, they will usually suffice to fix app issues. Steps 2 and 3 are only needed when the app itself is somehow damaged or corrupt.

Put this in your bag of Windows 10 and 11 tricks. It could come in handy someday!

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Use NSlookup for Machine Name Checks

Certain recent Dev Channel builds have played intermittent hob with RDP. Thus, for example, I had to switch from using the machine name to its IP address to RDP into one particular PC. In troubleshooting that issue, I quickly realize it makes sense to use NSlookup for machine name checks. Indeed as you can see in the lead-in graphic, when NSlookup resolves that name correctly, RDP will also accept that name to establish a connection.

Why Use NSlookup for Machine Name Checks?

Because it will tell you if RDP can recognize the machine name. Under the hood, both RDP and NSlookup rely on access to local DNS records to resolve the name into an IP address (see lead-in graphic). When the command line works, RDP should also be able to rely on the same underlying service — namely, DNS — to do its thing as well.

Of course, this raises the question as to why my local DNS server — which runs on the boundary device from Spectrum that sits between my LAN and the cable Internet connection — sometimes fails to resolve valid machine names. Feature upgrades can cancel existing IP address leases, and require the DNS cache to be rebuilt. And apparently, recent lightning storms can also mess with that device’s DNS cache when the power fails. So, I’m learning to flush and rebuild that cache as part of local device hygiene.

At least I now know what’s going on and why I must sometimes switch from machine names to IP addresses to access certain devices. Good thing it’s easy to log into and handle the reset over the LAN. It’s always something, right?

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Recent 25145 Dev Channel Hijinks

The last two Dev Channel builds are 25145 and 25140. For both of them, my Start Menu has been munged when first accessing the desktop. On 25140, a restart set things back to rights. On 25145, I launched File Explorer, then restarted the process in Task Manager. That worked, too. So while recent 25145 Dev Channel hijinks have been irksome, they’ve been by no means insurmountable.

Limits to Recent 25145 Dev Channel Hijinks

Interestingly, this phenom occurs only my Lenovo X12 Hybrid Tablet. It does not pop up on the Lenovo X380 laptop. I don’t see any interesting errors in Reliability Monitor on the X12 that could point to possible causes. Once again, I find myself wondering if it might be related to 8GadgetPack, which has wonked around for a while lately¬† in the wake of new Dev Channel builds.

Recent 25145 Dev Channel Hijinks.relimon

This time Relimon doesn’t have much useful to say (the SearchHost item is a known gotcha, unrelated to my issue).

Frankly, it’s hard to pinpoint the cause of this trouble without more data to go on. But now that I know how to work around it without a restart, I’ll keep plugging away as new Dev Channel builds keep coming. Either the problem will get fixed in the background, or I’ll get enough data to identify — and hopefully deal with — the actual cause.

FWIW, I’ve sent feedback to the hub about this. It’s entitled “Build 25145 start menu nonresponsive on first boot.” Please upvote if you encounter the same thing on one of your Dev Channel PCs or VMs. Cheers!

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Chez Tittel Internet Restore Recipe

Last week, I recited my adventures in reworking my LAN to improve stability in the wake of a line of thunderstorms. This weekend, I’m off to Waco on a legal project. The boss — my wife, Dina — asked me to provide instructions on how to bring the Internet back up should it go down while I’m away. Here, then, is the Chez Tittel Internet restore recipe. I hope other readers find the various contortions involved interesting, if not amusing.

Steps in the Chez Tittel Internet Restore Recipe

Basically, the first step is to unplug and restart all of the key devices in the Internet chain here at the house. I usually check (and if necessary, reset) items in this order:

1. The main link to the Internet is the Spectrum boundary device: A Spectrum Wave 2 RAC2V1A router/WAP/4-port switch device. It obligingly shows a red light when its Internet link is down. That’s my signal to unplug power from the device. The device, with an “A-OK” blue light is shown as the lead-in graphic for this story.

2. I’ve got a second such device on the LAN in my office. It’s an ASUS AX6000 router (AKA RT-AX88U model number) that I use purely as a WAP for 802.11ax (and lower) Wi-Fi access in the house. I show a rear-end view, because resetting the device involves unplugging the power brick from the port at the far right.

Chez Tittel Internet Restore Recipe.asus-reset

3. I’ve got two Netgear unmanaged GS108 8-port switches in my office, too. One sits on the baker’s racks to the left of my desk, the other on the windowsill at the right of my desk. Here again, the quick’n’easy reset technique is to unplug the barrel connector for the incoming DC power from its brick. Once again, my guiding image includes a rear view of the device, where the barrel connector for power plugs in at the far right.

Putting the Recipe to Work

I always check the color of the light on the Spectrum device first. If it’s red, I know I need to unplug and wait for it to come back up to see if that helps. If it stays red after two full power cycles, it’s time to call Spectrum to ask for help on their end. This pretty much demonstrates the problem is theirs.

If the Spectrum device is blue, but the in-house Internet isn’t working, this can be on of two things:

1. The Wi-Fi from the ASUS device isn’t functioning. This manifests as networks that start with an Arb… name string lacking Internet access (“No internet”). When this happens, I unpower the AX6000, wait a minute or two, then power it up again. That has always worked so far.

2. The local Ethernet isn’t functioning. That’s definitely a switch problem. If this happens, I disconnect power first from the switch on the baker’s racks, wait a minute and try again. Most of the time that does the trick. But if not, I do likewise for the switch on the windowsill. So far when the former hasn’t worked to restore the wired LAN, the latter has always done so.

And that’s how the network gets brought back up here at Chez Tittel most of the time. Especially after power glitches occur. Over the years I’ve only had to bring Spectrum in for tech support a handful of times (and the phone app now obligingly reports outages, often before I notice them if they occur after hours). Cheers!

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Lightning Storm Prompts Network Rework

My son, Gregory, graduated from high school on Tuesday night. After we got home a big line of thunderstorms rolled through, and we experienced a quick half-dozen power interruptions. It wasn’t enough to toast anything, thank goodness. But that lightning storm prompts network rework here at Chez Tittel. Long story short, I’ve added a new GbE switch. I’m also keeping an eagle eye on my Asus AX6000, currently serving purely as a Wi-Fi Access Point (WAP) on my LAN.

Why the sudden vigilance and rework? Because the network starting crashing constantly the day after the T-storms rolled through. I think I’ve got things under control now, but only time will tell. For a while, though, I grew increasingly convinced the AX6000 had been damaged: the network stayed up with it out of the loop, and started crashing when it was added back in. After a factory reset and a recopy of the old configuration, though, it seems to be back in the pink. Perhaps the firmware got discombobulated?

If Lightning Storm Prompts Network Rework, Then What?

As I said before, I’m watching my network more closely than usual right now. My attempted cure — a factory reset on the WAP — seems to be holding up so far. I’m thinking about adding a second UPS to my office, so I can plug my networking gear in. This will not only let it run for a while on battery power, it will also provide added circuit protection.

What with family activities and a fast press at work right now, I’m definitely not down for extended, ongoing network troubleshooting. Hopefully my fix will hold. If not, I will purchase a new WAP. I may also swap out my two 8-port GbE switches for a 16-port model with more professional features. Given that time is money, I’d rather spend a little extra in exchange for improved reliability and availability.

And, that’s the way things go here in Windows-World, especially when the T-storms start rolling through…

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