Category Archives: Troubleshooting

Exorcizing Zombie Adobe Flash Player Elements

Some Windows 10 users may see a Flash Info logo show up on their desktops. Don’t worry: that’s Adobe’s way of telling you the Flash Player remains active on your PC, and needs to be removed.  I wrote about Flash end-of-life (EOL) and removal techniques on December 29. That story reported the EOL date falling at year’s end. Apparently not everybody has worked through its various uninstall possibilities yet, either.  The TenForums thread “Strange Logo on Desktop” turns out to be an admonition from Adobe to make Flash Player go away. Alas, the process doesn’t work 100%. Thus, I’ll explain how one goes about exorcizing zombie Adobe Flash Player elements.

Exorcizing Zombie Adobe Flash Player Elements.flash-info-logo

Here’s what the Flash Info log looks like: a faded Flash logo with the “i” (information) element superimposed.

Several Flash Player Uninstall Options Available

Flash shows up in lots of places, apparently. Likewise, uninstalling it requires a variety of removal techniques.  Adobe’s warning for its Flash Player Uninstaller hints at this. It reads: “These instructions are NOT applicable to Flash Player included with Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer on Windows 8 and later or with Google Chrome…” It advises those users to check out the Flash Player Help page for disabling same.

There’s also an uninstaller available via the Microsoft Update Catalog. Counter-intuitively KB4577586 is named “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player.” When downloading this item, be sure to grab the one that matches your current Windows version. Note: apparently, there is no such update for Windows 10 Version 20H2.

If Adobe Flash Player shows up in Programs and Features, you can use its built-in uninstall functions to get rid of it. Or you could turn to a third-party product like Revo Uninstaller to do the job instead.

Exorcizing Zombie Adobe Flash Player Elements May Require Manual Efforts

After running the afore-linked KB4577586, the original poster for the TenForums thread that prompted this story reports that the icon remained on his desktop. On top of everything else on screen, it wouldn’t get out of his way. Should that happen, one can remove the Macromed folder and its contents from these two parent folders:

1. C:\Windows\System32
2. C:\Windows\SysWOW64

Savvy readers will recognize that these folders are where Windows keeps 32-bit elements, tools and utilities for use on 32- and 64-bit systems, respectively. You may need to run a special-purpose delete utility to remove these folders or you can boot into command line recovery mode and delete them that way. Your choice. Either way, that should result in exorcizing zombie Adobe Flash elements that may still be hanging around your system. Et voila!


Restoring Missing 21292 N&I Taskbar Item

Here’s an interesting learning adventure. Upon introducing Windows 10 Build 21286, MS also introduced a News and Interests (N&I) taskbar item. I covered this topic on January 8. But after upgrading my Lenovo X220 Tablet to a newer Dev Channel release, N&I disappeared. Remembering a related story, I followed its activation advice. And that, dear readers, is how I found myself restoring missing 21292 N&I taskbar item a few minutes ago. Here’s the deal…

Going About Restoring Missing 21292 N&I Taskbar Item

Restoring or activating N&I requires the third-party ViVe tool. Helpfully, it can enable or disable Windows 10 A/B and hidden features. Download ViVe from Github, where the latest release is v0.2.1. For myself, I just observed that v0.2.0 also works. That’s because  I just used it successfully on my X220T, not yet realizing a newer release is available.

After you download the ZIP file, extract it into a folder. Next, run an administrative cmd or PowerShell session from that folder. Then, execute the following sequence of commands:

vivetool addconfig 29947361 2
vivetool addconfig 27833282 2
vivetool addconfig 27368843 2
vivetool addconfig 28247353 2
vivetool addconfig 27371092 2
vivetool addconfig 27371152 2
vivetool addconfig 30803283 2
vivetool addconfig 30213886 2

Note: If using PowerShell, prepend the string “.\” before each command or it won’t work.

Cut’n’paste these commands into the window. Please execute each one individually. Next, you’ll need to restart your PC. Voila! The N&I item reappears in the Taskbar. At least, it did on my X220T PC.

8 Commands Too Much? Try Some Batch Files

OTOH, if you prefer, WinAero offers a ZIP file in its story. It  activates all necessary settings from one batch file, and deactivates them from another.

And remember, N&I only appears in Build 21286 or higher-numbered Dev Channel Insider Preview releases at the moment.

More About the ViVe Developers

Note: the authors of ViVe are Rafael Rivera and somebody named Lucas/thebookisclosed/albacore. Both are active Windows developers and toolsmiths. Rivera is also an occasional contributor to (which is where I first came across him and his work). The other person is also the author of the excellent Managed Disk Cleanup utility, also available on GitHub.


MTPW Data Recovery Works Eventually

This is not a dig at the Data Recovery Tool in  MiniTool Partition Wizard (MTPW). When I entitled this item MTPW Data Recovery works eventually, I only meant to observe that it takes FOREVER to recover the contents of a damaged or corrupted drive.

I just learned this the hard way, when something corrupted both drives in my Wavlink ST334U dual drive dock. One of the two drives involved was a Toshiba 8TB unit with approximately 4 TB worth of production PC backups. Thus, I really wanted to recover some — but not all, at north of 100GB per image — of those files. The lead-in screencap for this story shows Data Recovery scanning to recover the contents of the other drive. It’s a mostly disposable 500GB unit that incorporates two Samsung EVO m.2 SSDs into a pseudo-array on a Syba SATA adapter card. Note that it plans to take 4:25 to recover 207.17 GB in 4119 files.

How Long, When MTPW Data Recovery Works Eventually?

Hmmm. Let’s see 4:25 for 207 GB means 19.787 times longer to recover 4 TB. That’s roughly 89.4 hours. Which in turn is 3 days, 17 hours, and 24 minutes. Of course, that’s way too freaking long for most ordinary people to wait for the whole thing to complete. Especially me.

Turns out that you can manipulate the left-hand menu in MTPW Data Recovery, and instruct it to recover only the files you tell it to by clicking checkboxes. And, as it turns out, by expanding listing items with a plus sign (“+”) to their left. Eventually, you get a map of what the recovery utility finds on the drive, and can pick what you like.

In my case, I liked the following:

1. About 1.5 TB worth of the most recent backups
2. About 2.5 GB worth of legal work archives
3. About 124 GB worth of info snapshotted from a now-retired E: drive

Thus, of the 4-plus TB worth of holdings on that 8 TB drive, I decided to recover under 1.7 TB. How long did this take? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 hours. Long enough that, when I copied the recovered files from the 4 TB HGST drive I pressed into service to receive them back to their original home, that process took 2:43:00.

What About the Other Drive?

I let Data Recovery scan for about an hour, then checked over the drive’s contents. It’s always been a scratch drive, so I was able to confirm there was nothing on that drive I couldn’t live without. So, I quit out of Data Recovery and MTPW. Next, I opened Disk Management, where the drive showed up as RAW at full capacity with an E: letter assignment. I changed it back to its original M: assignment to produce this screencap:

With the right drive letter in place, I can recreate the drive.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Next, I right-clicked on its box, and then selected “Format” from the pop-up menu. I named it Syba.5 (Syba dual SSD adapter with 0.5 TB of storage space, give or take). The formatting operation took a surprisingly long time to finish (almost a minute) with the following result:

Even on a Quick Format, it took almost a minute for this drive to format.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

OK, then. I guess I’m back in business. Now if I can only figure out what went wrong in the first place, so I don’t do this to myself again. Sigh.


Restore Point Failure Forces Strategy Change

I run Macrium Reflect backup on my production desktop every morning at 9 AM. Hearing the big Toshiba 8TB drive chunking away reminds me it’s got things covered. I should’ve turned to that backup image immediately after a driver install yesterday. A new Realtek Universal Audio Driver (UAD) was expected out of that update. But I wound up with a Realtek HD Audio driver instead. Because I decided to try a restore point made just before that driver install, I bought trouble as well. And that’s why I say: Restore Point failure forces strategy change. Let me explain…

How Restore Point Failure Forces Strategy Change

Silly me. I should know better. I rely on Macrium to provide a failsafe against glitches. This includes self-inflicted wounds, like ignoring Device Manager’s warning that it couldn’t find a replacement UAD driver in the version v6.0.9045.1 pointer I picked up yesterday. Though it came from my own TenForums Realtek UAD thread, and a usually impeccable source, it didn’t work the way it should have.

Having been down the road of attempting a UAD update and winding up with an HD Audio drivers instead, I already knew the easiest way out of this spot was to roll back and start over. My mistake — which I will never repeat again — was to use a questionable but more recent Restore Point, rather than a known, good working Macrium backup image (an .mrimg file). When it failed, I found myself turning to that .mrimg file anyway.

When Failure Takes Longer Than Success…

The truly galling part of this misadventure is that it took 40 minutes for the Restore Point to fail and return control of the PC into my hands. It took just over 10 minutes to restore Macrium’s image backup file and for me to get restarted on the failed Realtek driver update (not to mention the Windows Update items for Patch Tuesday as well).

Ultimately, I did find a v6.0.9079.1 UAD driver at Station Drivers that did work as expected later. It was the easy part of the post Restore Point cleanup efforts, some of which are still underway. Ironically my big, honkin’ 8TB backup drive and the little 500GB SSD parked next to it in myWavlink dual SATA drive caddy both got hosed in the Restore Point’s wake. I’m using the Data Recovery feature in MiniTool Partition Wizard v12.3 to recover the 8TB drive’s contents now. This task has already taken 14 hrs and is 22% complete. When it’s done, the 500GB drive recovery should go MUCH faster.

What’s Next?

When the cleanup is done, I’ll be turning off restore point capture on my C: drive. I’ll also purge all the storage space that restore points currently consume (1.7 GB according to the WizTree graphic at  the head of this story). I figure if I don’t have any more restore points around to “try it and see what happens” with, I’ll be unable to repeat this recent debacle.

For the record, the item that caused the restore operation to fail was a Dropbox file. It’s ironic that something deliberately mirrored between cloud and desktop could cause such an operation to crash. Another copy is still in the cloud, safe and ready to mirror back locally when needed. Sigh.


Failing Drives Need Copy First and Foremost

I’m a long-time member and supporter at (joined November 14 2014). Just recently I saw a thread where a member reported issues with an apparently failing hard disk drive (HDD). Immediately, he and other responders started chewing on how to diagnose and possibly fix the HDD. “NO!” I remember thinking as I started reading the back-n-forth. “Failing drives need copy first and foremost,” I went on, “so progressive failures won’t cause more data loss.”

Why Do Failing Drives Need Copy First and Foremost?

If an HDD is starting to fail, there’s usually a cascade involved. First, one or two small failures, followed by increasing frequency and severity of failures. After that: complete drive failure. Once you have a clue that a drive is starting to fail — and SMART monitors like HD Sentinel or CrystalDiskInfo will clue you in quickly — the next step in troubleshooting is: Make a snapshot!

When trouble rears its head, the temptation to start diagnosing and attempting fixes can be nearly overwhelming. But in this particular case — a possibly failing HDD — such diagnosis and fix activities can severely exercise the disk. If it is failing, that could either make existing data losses worse, or cause data losses that haven’t yet occurred.

How to Get That Snapshot

I’d try a disk image using something like Macrium Reflect Free. If the disk is seriously corrupted, however, it might not work. In that case, use File Explorer or copy commands at the command line/in PowerShell to copy anything and everything you can see.

On the other hand, if you have a reasonably current backup of the failing drive — and you should — you can copy only items dated since the backup was made. Once you’ve captured what you can, you won’t experience further data loss as you pursue various troubleshooting strategies. Now that you’ve done due diligence for data protection, go for it!

When in Doubt, Replace the Disk

In my experience over 36 years of working with personal computers, I’ve had half-a-dozen hard disks fail on me. (I bought my first PC in 1984: a Macintosh 512K, aka “Fat Mac.”) As disks start to fail, they become increasingly unreliable and problematic. I’ve always replaced them as soon as diagnosis pointed out unquestionable failure signs or symptoms. I learned the hard way to backup, too: I lost the better part of a book manuscript in the late 80s when an external (and expensive!) 300MB SCSI hard disk experienced a head crash. Please: learn from my bad experiences. Don’t wait to have your own. Take my word for it: you won’t like them, not one little bit.