Category Archives: Troubleshooting

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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IPRI Spawns Desktop Oddities

OK, then.  I had to try it again after Windows 11 Insider Preview, Beta Channel, went to Build 22635.3566. DISM … /analyzecomponentstore was showing what’s become a “typical” 13 reclaimable packages that really weren’t there. (Note: I blogged about this back on April 4 for an earlier such build.) Last time, an in-place repair install (IPRI) fixed the issue. So I tried again, but observed that IPRI spawns desktop oddities even as it fixes the bogus reclaimables issue. That required some cleanup. Sigh: let me explain…

What IPRI Spawns Desktop Oddities Means

After the initial reboot following the IPRI, the taskbar and its icons failed to appear at the bottom of the display. That meant I had to open Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Esc did the trick), click on Run task, then type explorer.exe into the input box. That set my desktop mostly back to rights, with icons on taskbar in their usual places and positions.

But there was one more thing: icon spacing on my desktop was totally bizarre. I only allow 7 items on my desktop as a matter of routine, mostly repair stuff and default stuff — e.g. Recycle Bin and the two desktop.ini items that show up because of my folder settings choices. But icons were spaced about 2″ apart horizontally and vertically. Ultimately, I resorted to WinAero Tweaker to establish minimum horizontal and vertical spacing between icons (32 pixels’ worth, as it happens). And BTW, I had to reboot to get those settings to “take.”

All’s Well That Ends Well

I can’t remember even niggling issues at the desktop in the wake of an IPRI before this matter of the bogus reclaimables started showing up in the Beta Channel releases about two months ago. But since then, I’ve sometimes had to choose between cleaning those bogus items out and a working desktop. Because the former doesn’t really seem to cause any problems, while the latter is definitely a productivity buster, it’s not a hard choice to make.

But gosh, I’m still glad when I can clean up a mess AND get to a working desktop. I’d love to know what’s causing this to occur, and why the number of bogus reclaimables has so far been “Lucky 13.” But such minor mysteries are part of the allure when one lives in Windows-World. Cheers!

IPRI Spawns Desktop Oddities.nobogus

Number of reclaimable packages: 0! And a working desktop, too… [Double-click image to display in own window.]

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Varying Office Visions for Up-to-date

Here’s an odd one: I find myself trying to reconcile varying office visions for up-to-date. I’ve got a Microsoft 365 Subscription on the one hand, and the Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise – en-us on the other. Both currently stand at version 16.0.17425.20176. The update checker in the application version (top of lead-in graphic) says it’s up to date. WinGet, however, wants to update the apps version to 16.0.17531.20046, says it’s succeeding, but not getting anywhere. What to do: yikes!

Reconciling Varying Office Visions for Up-to-date

I blogged about a similar gotcha last month (Office Update Hiccup Is Easily Fixed: March 11). Alas, this time the same fix (Repair the office install, then try again) does NOT appear to resolve the issue. Indeed, even though I tell it to fix the apps version, the repair tool works on the subscription version anyway.

Despite some interesting discussion and suggestions at Microsoft.Answers, I can’t get any of their proposed “other fixes” to work, either. Sometimes, when updates get wonky, you just have to wait for MS to get the picture and provide fixes from their side. Methinks this could be one of those times. Indeed, I’ve spent enough time trying to handle this myself, so I’ve decided to wait for a next update and see if that fixes things.

Ain’t that just the way things go from time to time, here in Windows-World? Rhetorical question, I know, but my answer is “Yes!”

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Beta Channel Rollback Follies

Found myself in an interesting pickle after running an in-place repair install on the 2018 vintage X380 Yoga for Build 22635.3495. Before the repair, DISM . . .  /AnalyzeComponentStore was showing me bogus reclaimable packages (see lead-in graphic). After the repair install, those bogus packages were gone — but alas, so were my start menu and task bar icons. Thus, I found myself engaged in Beta Channel rollback follies as I returned to the earlier status quo.

Before Beta Channel Rollback Follies, Some Flailing Around

Before I went to System > Recovery > Go Back to return to the previous status quo, I tried a bunch of repairs on the affected PC. None of the traditional usual suspects gave up the goods:

  1. Turned off Start 11v2 and went back to default Start menu
  2. Tried jacking around with Start11v2 settings galore
  3. Ran explorer.exe from Run box/Task Manager run

Whatever I tried, I was stuck with an invisible Start menu and no visible Taskbar icons. In the end it proved to be more trouble to run Windows without easy menu access than to put up with those bogus reclaimable packages.

Follies, Enumerated and Excoriated

Along the way back to where I started, I had a few bumps in the road. Because I typically run my test PCs through an RDP window on my main desktop, I had to remember “Oh yeah, you have to run Recovery options from the physical desktop.” I also stumbled around numerous Start11 menu settings that didn’t work as they’re supposed to — simply because the underlying Start menu was itself out of order.

Once I realized local repairs weren’t getting me anywhere, I knew enough to say, “Time to roll back.” I’ll stand pat on my current situation until MS comes out with a new Beta update (it usually happens once every week or two). Then, I’ll try again. Hopefully the next one will work properly and not show a bunch of spurious reclaimable packages, either. We’ll see…

A Terrible Trade-Off

Normally, running an in-place repair install results in a Windows image that’s pristine and works well. This is the first time I can ever recall that such a repair took a mildly bollixed image and left it unable to work properly after it was applied. As I’ve been thinking about what this might mean, I’m pondering a clean install on this test PC as an alternative to waiting for the next Beta Channel release. It will probably depend on how much free time I have this week. Stay tuned! I’ll keep reporting on this one…

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Recent Windows 10 Uncommonly Reliable

It’s my habit to drop in on the built-in Reliability Monitor tool in Windows from time to time. That gives me a rough and ready read on how well — or badly — the focus system is doing. I usually launch this tool by typing “Reli” into the search box, but you can launch it from the Run box or the command line by typing perfmon /rel. If you examine recent history from my production PC, it should be obvious why I  say “Recent Windows 10 uncommonly reliable.” In other words, nothing to see here, folks. That’s good!

Fingers Crossed: Recent Windows 10 Uncommonly Reliable

Noticing that things are going smoothly is one thing. Talking about it — and risking some kind of jinx — is entirely another. So I’m tempting fate here, but I must also observe that:

  • I actively run the target system at least 9 hours a day (weekdays) and at least 6 hours on off days
  • I’m not hesitant about installing or changing stuff around as I’m researching software, tools, scripting, and OS configurations
  • I take a complete image backup at 9 AM every morning (7 days a week) so I’m always prepared to restore same should I shoot myself (or my PC) in the foot
  • It’s been a busy 18 days since my last critical error on March 28. I replaced the CyberPower UPS software that day because the old version kept crashing. The replacement has been quiet since.

Gosh, it’s nice to see my trusty old (closing in on 8 years: i7-6700 Skylake, Z170 mobo, 32 GB RAM, NVIDIA RTX 3070Ti GPU) desktop still chugging along so well. I know I’ll need to replace it soon, but I feel little pressure or need to do so immediately, in the face of these recent Relimon results. Jinx factor aside, that is…

Alas, as I know only too well, this could change in a moment. Good thing I’ve got a 2021 vintage B550 mobo with 5800X Ryzen CPU, 64 GB RAM, and so forth, already put together and ready to drop in should the need arise. But I still don’t feel a pressing need to migrate just yet. Stay tuned…that will no doubt change!

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So Long Syba DUAL mSATA

I guess it was inevitable. I purchased a Syba Dual mSATA SSD adapter (model SD-ADA40107) back in 2015 or thereabouts. Yesterday, I plugged it into multiple PCs and laptops inside a USB 3.0 SATA drive caddy and … nothing doing. It’s resisted all resuscitation attempts, including the maker’s own hardware utility, as shown in the lead-in graphic. Thus, I must say “So long, SYBA Dual mSATA” and consign it to my Goodwill safe e-waste disposal bag. It was nice while it lasted.

After So Long Syba DUAL mSATA, Then What?

I’ve had trouble with this and other similar devices. It cost perhaps US$45 when I bought it back when, so it’s no great loss. The real question is: do I buy more hardware to house those still-usable Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB SSDs the now-failed adapter houses? I can now buy the same Sabrent USB 3.0 mSATA enclosure that used to cost US$30 or more for about $15. That’s pretty cheap.

“Why bother?” you ask. Because even an mSATA SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure is still 8 or more time faster than an equivalent flash drive or a conventional HDD. But because I have 3 of them already (250, 500 and 1000 MB in size) it may be a simple case of overkill. I’ll have to ponder the state of the exchequer and think about this for a while. As I’m thinking you can see what CystalDiskMark says about the 500 MiB mSATA device I just plugged in:

So Long Syba DUAL mSATA.850-500

This is still 4-8X faster than UFDs or HDDs (same port, same PC).

As I do, I’ll bid adieu to the non-functional Syba adapter. It was a useful bit of hardware. I’ve still got another one (also with 2x250GB Samsung EVO SSDs) ensconced in a drive caddy where it serves as my M: drive on the production PC. I guess I should start planning to replace that, too. It’s just a matter of time…

 

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Office Update Hiccup Is Easily Fixed

Last Friday, WingetUI informed me that Microsoft Office needed an update on my production PC. When I tried to update it, however, it failed inside the tool and running winget inside PowerShell. Then, it did nothing inside Outlook when I clicked Files > Account > Update Options > Update Now. Obviously, something was hinky about Office itself, or perhaps the update package. I got an error message that read “Installer failed with exit code: 4294967295.” Fortunately, this Office update hiccup is easily fixed.

How Office Update Hiccup Is Easily Fixed

As it happens, I wrote a story for ComputerWorld back in April 2021. It’s entitled “4 steps to repair Microsoft Office.” I only had to go to Step 1 “Run the Office Quick Repair tool.” You can see the steps to get there, and the Repair button to run it, in the following screencap:

Here’s how to get to the embedded repair info: Settings > Apps > Apps & features > click on Microsoft 365 Apps (for enterprise in my case, YMMV by version). If you click Quick Repair it uses local windows files from your PC. If that doesn’t work, you can try Online Repair and use files from the MS Office download page instead.

I didn’t have to, because the first try did the trick. After the repair completed the update ran without further difficulties. Darn! It’s nice when an easy repair succeeds. Read the rest of the CW story to see what other steps might be required if the Repair tools shown above don’t work. Things can get interesting in a hurry, so I’m just as glad they did not. As Sinatra famously sang “…nice and easy does it every time!”

 

 

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Windows 11 Nears Built-in IPRI Facility

Here’s a nice Windows 11 milestone to ponder. Those who opted for KB5034848 (released 2/29/2024) already have it. Those who wait for the March Patch Tuesday release will get it. What is it: an IPRI, or in-place repair install capability, as depicted in the lead-in graphic from my Lenovo ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation. That’s the basis for the title (also above) that reads “Windows 11 nears built-in IPRI facility.” Let me explain what makes this cool…

Sussing Out Windows 11 Nears Built-in IPRI Facility

I’ve been hip to the IPRI technique — which basically involves launching setup.exe from an installer image that matches whatever version of Windows is currently running — since I joined up at TenForums.com back in November 2014. It’s my favorite technique to restore Windows to stable, normal operations when things start getting weird and normal troubleshooting techniques shed no light on things. IPRI works by re-installing all the OS files but leaving apps, applications, and the registry alone.

And now in the CU Preview for March (and thus presumably also in the March update), Windows 11 users running the latest version will get the “Reinstall now” button that lets them attempt to “Fix problems using Windows update.” While this will reduce my level of need for UUPdump.net to built an ISO for IPRI from time to time, it is incredibly convenient and generally helpful. Good stuff.

One word of warning: Having tried this tool out on a Beta release a couple of months back, I can observe it takes quite a while to do its thing. It took me 55 minutes to get through the process on that Beta image, and I assume it will do something similar with this Preview CU image should I put it to the test again. I’m pretty sure that’s because it has to build a custom image (just like the UUPdump.net batch file does) before it can start doing its repairs.

And so it often goes, here in Windows-World, where spending more time for improved convenience is a common trade-off. Cheers!

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SearchApp.Exe Sets Windows 10 Crash Record

It took me a while to count them up, but my Windows 10 production PC hit some rocks yesterday. As SearchApp.exe sets Windows 10 crash record on that PC — 49 Critical “Stopped working” events in one day — I find myself wondering if it’s time to move onto a new production PC here in the office. As you can see in the lead-in graphic, the reliability index dropped like a stone!

Cringing As SearchApp.Exe Sets Windows 10 Crash Record

Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of this. As I dig into similar reports online — as in this TenForums.com thread — I see my problem is neither unique nor necessarily pathological. But gosh! It sure it disconcerting to see so many crashes in a single day.

I know why it happened, too: my Start menu stopped working properly about mid-day yesterday. Thus, I found myself using the Windows Search box a LOT more than usual. Then I figured out I could scroll through “All apps” and get to what I needed alphabetically. Eventually, I went into Task Manager and clicked the “Restart” option in the right-click menu for File Explorer. That restored Start to normal behavior and stopped the weird search bomb from going off, apparently.

Another Brick in the Wall?

I keep thinking that the time is coming ever closer when I’m going to have to switch my production work over to a new desktop. I built one last year (an AMD 5800x, B550 mobo, 64 GB RAM, etc. etc.). Could this be Windows’ way of telling me “time to go!” Perhaps… Let me procrastinate a bit longer, please?

But as Pink Floyd put it “You can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat…” So I’d best get moving in the next month or two. The beast must be fed!

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Canary 26063 Throws Install Error

Oh well: it happens sometimes. One of my two test PCs on the Insider Preview Canary 26063 throws install error right near the end of the install process. It’s one I’ve seen before –namely:

Failed to install on ‎2/‎22/‎2024 - 0xc1900101

It’s something of a grab-bag error in that it can come from insufficient disk space, driver conflicts (esp. from external USB devices), an out-of-date driver on the target PC, AV conflicts, and more (see this MTPW Backup Tips note for all the deets).

When Canary 26063 Throws Install Error, Then What?

I’m trying a two-pronged strategy this morning. First thing is a simple retry. And when I ran that option in WU, it thought for a while, then jumped from the download phase to the GUI install phase. So obviously, it checked over yesterday’s UUP downloads and found them satisfactory. Right now, WU is 49% into installling 26063. Here’s hoping that works.

But on the other prong, I’m downloading the 26062 ISO from UUPDump.net. I’ve observed that when a WU-based install fails, sometimes a local install using setup.exe from a mounted ISO will work. It may also provide more useful error messages in local logs should it fall over near the end of the process yet again.

FWIW, this seems to be a pretty substantial update, too. And indeed on the other test PC — the one where the upgrade worked –it  says 24H2 in the Winver window. I guess that means MS is floating Windows vNext to Insiders right now.

Lookit that! 26063.1 says “Version 24H2.” It’s arrived…

More to Follow…

Now, the WU install is at 64% and UUP is building images and stuff for the upcoming ISO file. Based on yesterday’s experience, this will still take a while. I’ll jump back in and update when it gets wherever its going. Stay tuned!

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