Category Archives: Uncategorized

PatchMyPC Still Rocks

In scrolling through X/Twitter this morning, I saw that fellow MVP Rudy Ooms (@Mister_MDM) has gone to work for PatchMyPC. It had been a while since I updated and used that tool, so I went and grabbed a current download from their Home Updater page. I’m pleased to report that PatchMyPC still rocks Windows updates: it found a whopping 9 items that needed a lift, even through I run WinGet pretty much daily on most of my PCs and VMs. You can see the tail end of that update cycle in the lead-in screencap.

More Reasons Why PatchMyPC Still Rocks

After searching for a successor to the now defunct SUMo (Software Update Monitor) after it went EOL last year, I’ve yet to find any other option that comes close to doing what PatchMyPC does. It’s silent (doesn’t require ongoing user interaction). The Free version is fully functional. It’s frequently updated. It’s pretty fast, too.

My only beef with PatchMyPC is that its scope is somewhat limited. WinGet covers more than 6K Windows packages of all kinds including Windows OS tools and utilities from Microsoft and third parties, apps and applications, SDKs and Runtimes, and more.¬† For a complete list run winget search “” > allpkgs.txt at the Command Prompt, then inspect the resulting text file. OTOH, PatchyMyPC tracks 224 items as “Main Software” and 35 items as “Portable Software.” I wish it covered more! It’s such a joy to use…

Nevertheless, PatchMyPC is well worth a try. For all the items it does cover it offers the best update experience around. Check it out!

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OneDrive Windows Desktop Shenanigans

Hey! It’s another Catch-22 on the Windows Desktop. This time, it involves OneDrive configuration and files that show up after you login to Windows using an MSA. If that MSA elects to “back up” the Desktop folder’s contents, that data gets synched between a local copy and a copy in the OneDrive cloud. Here’s where OneDrive Windows Desktop shenanigans come into play: if you’re not currently connected to OneDrive, File Explorer won’t let you delete the local copy of any such desktop file or folder.

Surviving OneDrive Windows Desktop Shenanigans

When I tried to delete a couple of files I didn’t want — namely:

  • Version.doc (some kind of automatic output I extracted from Microsoft 365 Office components)
  • An unnecessary shortcut for Microsoft Edge (there’s an icon in the Taskbar already, so I don’t need a second desktop entry point)

File Explorer politely let me know I couldn’t operate on those files without a live OneDrive connection. Not even PowerToys File Locksmith would ignore that prohibition.

OneDrive Login, and the Fix Is In!

This turns out to be absurdly easy to fix. I logged into OneDrive using my Windows login MSA. After a quick file sync, I was able to delete the .doc file. The Edge shortcut turned out to be some kind of short-lived artifact that disappeared on its own when the sync-up was complete. Here’s what OneDrive shows me about itself on this test PC (Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga) right now:

OD status reports version.doc deleted “11 minutes ago.”

I’m continually reminded that those who use OneDrive to back up and/or sync files across multiple PCs had best think carefully about what they keep in the folders placed under the OneDrive umbrella. In my case that’s Desktop, Documents and Pictures. Slowly but surely, I’m learning how to make that work.

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Windows Backup App Handling Disappoints

Learned something very interesting this week. In testing out the new Windows Backup app in Windows 11 (also back-ported to Windows 10, BTW) I found something. You can tell Windows Backup to “Remember installed apps and pinned app preferences.” But that doesn’t lead to the restore out come you may expect. To me, Windows Backup app handling disappoints because it doesn’t restore them itself. It just makes it easier for you to do so, either manually or programmatically. Let me explain…

Why Say: Windows Backup App Handling Disappoints

You store a Windows Backup snapshot by running the Windows installer. Based on the MSA you use to login, it offers you its latest snapshot for the machine you’re on, plus a list of other snapshots for PCs on which the same MSA has an account (and enabled backup to OneDrive). During the install process, you get to pick what you want.

But if you continue on with restore, when you finally get to the Windows desktop, you will find links to install the apps you had installed before. That’s what MS means when it says “Remember installed apps …” and so forth. You still have to visit each such item in the Start menu, and click install. Or, you can go through and make a list of what needs installing and write a matching winget configuration or PowerShell installer.

Not Exactly Restore, IMO

To my way of thinking this is not what I expect when I restore a backup. I want the system as snapshotted at whatever time and date to reappear on my desktop with all pieces and parts working. MS expects somebody to go through the added time and effort to reinstall apps and applications by script or by click. It’s not the same and it’s presumptuous to equate it with a real restore that does it all on its own with no additional effort required.

What do you think? Shoot me a comment and let me know.

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MS KIR Fixes Wi-Fi Roaming Issue

One of the many things that makes big networks different from smaller ones is the added infrastructure they incorporate. This includes an authentication scheme called 802.1x aka Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP, often implemented as PEAP). Its purpose is to allow mobile devices to roam across multiple wireless access points (WAPs) without having to re-authenticate as they move. A recent set of MS updates — namely KB5032288 and KB5033375 — fell afoul of this capability. That’s why the company has declared that an MS KIR fixes Wi-Fi roaming issue.

Who’s been affected? According to the press reports and the December 19 entry in the Windows 11 Known Issues document, it’s mostly been “enterprise, education or public Wi-Fi network[s] using 802.1x authentication.” A LOT of universities have been hit by these updates. Prior to this fix (see below), experts had mostly recommended uninstalling one of these updates to undo its effects.

Say What? MS KIR Fixes Wi-Fi Roaming Issue

KIR stands for Known Issue Rollback (see this MS Learn article for deets). I wrote about such rollbacks once in 2023 and twice in 2022, where each such occurrence auto-magically fixed a similar gotcha without requiring extensive user action or interaction. That said, MS does recommend restarting affected PCs, to make sure they replace the bad code with its working alternative. PCs should fix themselves within 24 hours of MS providing the KIR via Windows Update (or equivalent distribution mechanisms). It’s been out since mid-day yesterday, so it should turn the gotcha around by close of business today.

The KIR mechanism is a great capability inside Windows. It essentially replaces bad or broken bits of code with good, working substitutes without requiring explicit downloads and installs. Indeed, this fix is already in, and should be working its way out to affected PCs as you read this.

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Gaining New Windows Backup Experience

As I prepare for an update to my Windows 10 and 11 Backup story for ComputerWorld, I’m working with a trio of free¬† image backup and restore tools. I’m unfamiliar with them so it’s as much about climbing the learning curve as anything else. As I’m gaining new Windows backup experience, I’m starting to appreciate Macrium Reflect (MR) even more than I already had. Let me explain…

Lessons from Gaining New Windows Backup Experience

Finding out where information resides and how to extract it is always an interesting proposition. For EaseUS ToDo, for example, the only way I’ve been able to get detailed completion times for backup jobs is to dig into the logs and File Explorer. My last image backup for C: took 9:40 to complete and created a ~75 GB image file.

It could be that I just don’t know where else to look for that data. But I can now tell you that MR reports it routinely at the conclusion of each backup job. I can also tell you that backing up the same PC, same target drive finishes in under 3 minutes using MR (more than 3 times as fast). That said, I do see that upgrading to the paid-for EaseUS ToDo version offers faster performance. But the ongoing stream of ToDo ads and upgrade nags is constant and, IMO, annoying.

More Experimentation, More Observation…

I’m setting up two more test PCs with AOMEI Backupper and MiniTool Shadowmaker. I’ll be doing likewise in the days ahead. My ComputerWorld story is due in just under a week, so I’m starting to get serious. Wish me luck!

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Gadget Fixes Notification Issue

I have to laugh. Sunday morning, I was at my desk before 8 AM having made it back from my daily walk kinda early. I forgot that I’d turned on the external speakers (I usually use headphones). No sooner did I get to my desktop than my speakers started chiming as a flood of notifications bonged in — pretty loudly, too. And because those notifications appear on top of the notification area of the taskbar, I couldn’t get to the volume control to turn the volume down. This caused some mild panic, because I didn’t want to wake up other family members still asleep Ultimately, I used the Sound item in Control Panel to reduce the volume. But a gadget fixes notification issue one and for all, after I get past that initial flurry.

Gadget Fixes Notification Issue.controlpanel-sound-speakerlevels

The Levels pane in the Sound item for the default output lets me turn things down…”

How a Gadget Fixes Notification Issue

Gadgets appear elsewhere on the desktop, so they aren’t rendered inaccessible when a flood of notifications appears. I can go to the Volume Control gadget shown as the lead-in graphic above any time, and click on the sound level I want to raise or lower volume levels.

The name of the gadget depicted is “Volume Control.” It appears on Page 3 in the 8GadgetPack collection (lower right; details at bottom).

Volume Control 1.2 makes it easy to raise or lower volume without accessing the notification tray Volume Control.

This may not seem like a big thing, but when you’re trying to let sleeping … err … family members …err lie, it’s kind of a lifesaver. ‘Nuff said!

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Dev Channel Drops Protected OS Files

Since time immemorial, there’s always been a toggle in Windows versions to let users choose whether or not to “Hide protected operating system files…” But with a recent build (23481) MS Windows 11 Dev Channel drops protected OS files toggle. This control is gone, gone. gone.

I don’t like that change, nor do lots of other Insiders working with this latest Dev Channel version. Seeing (and occasionally working with) protected OS files is something I find extremely informative and useful. Thus, I’m joining into the general hubbub to entreat MS NOT to drop this toggle from its File Explorer Options.

Say NO to Dev Channel Drops Protected OS Files

Anyone testing Dev Channel Build 23481 should visit Feedback Hub. Tell them: Turn this his toggle back on. Making the inner workings of Windows more opaque does nobody any favors. That said, there are some “tricks” in PowerShell to show such items forcibly for those with admin privileges. See this StackExchange thread for details. If I end up having to learn this stuff, it will make great article fodder.

But in my experience, trouble is better avoided than detected and shot. This could get interesting. Stay tuned, and I’ll keep you posted. My take is it’s fine to have a toggle to protect ordinary users from stuff they probably don’t care about. But it’s not fine to withdraw the ability for power users and admins to choose to see the scaffolding that supports Windows and makes the OS work. ‘Nuff said…

Thanks for the Heads-Up!

Thanks to Rafly Pratama at MSPowerUser.com, whose June 15 story “These File Explorer old settings will be killed in Windows 11 & users are furious” alerted me to this impending debacle. Often such reporting focuses on less important stuff. Again, IMO, this one matters. Please raise some heck along with me on this topic. Thx!

Note added June 16

Over at WinAero, Sergey Tkachenko has already added entries to restore all of the File Explorer options that got knocked out in this update. Even if MS doesn’t relent from some or all such changes, there will be ways to keep them alive. Direct registry edits can do it, or you can use WinAero Tweaker version 1.55 (or higher) instead.

Note added June 23

As you can read in this Windows Latest story, MS is rethinking its position on hidden and protected OS files. Glad to hear, and hope they do reverse course on some of those original changes. Stay tuned!

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Windows 10 Dual Progress Bars Mystery

Back in November 2017, I posted the item shown in the lead-in graphic to Windows TenForums.com. I get two progress bars when running DISM ... /StartComponentCleanup on my Windows 10 PCs. The thread is interesting to read, and offers a good explanation in item#4 for what’s happening: a spurious line feed somewhere in the DISM routines that handle this task. Just this morning, I noticed that this Windows 10 dual progress bars mystery persists to this day. But I’ve figured out more…

More Data for Windows 10 Dual Progress Bars Mystery

This doesn’t happen every time I run DISM ... /StartComponentCleanup on my Windows 10 PCs. It happens only if I’ve just applied a Cumulative Update to that machine, and I haven’t rebooted the machine a second time after the post-update reboot. And, in fact, I just replicated this very same issue on one of my Windows 11 22H2 PCs as well in those same circumstances.

I’m still wondering about why this happens. I take it as ongoing proof that problems do make themselves visible in Windows (10 and 11) occasionally. Ditto for the observation that some glitches are more important than others.

This particular glitch, while interesting, is benign. It’s just a hiccup in the DISM output. Everything works as it’s supposed to, except for the dual progress bars (or appearance thereof if my TenForums informant is correct about the “spurious linefeed” theory). But here is the error in Windows 11 as well. Note: the build number shown, 22621, identifies this OS as Windows 11 22H2 even though the “Major” OS version reads “10.”

Windows 10 Dual Progress Bars Mystery.Win11I love a good mystery. I hope someday to see this fixed, though…

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Canary Flash Drive Blows Up

I have to laugh. When MS offered a free USB drive to Dev Channel Insiders automatically upgraded to Canary, I jumped at the chance. Last weekend, the drive showed up in the mailbox. Today, I tried following the instructions depicted in the form letter to which that drive came affixed. But alas, the Canary flash drive blows up at the end of that process. I can’t recover its contents, either.

The whole image (which doesn’t fit my WordPress template layout) looks like this (click to blow up to full size, please):

Canary Flash Drive Blows Up (cover letter and drive as received from MS).
Canary Flash Drive Blows Up (cover letter and drive as received from MS).

This is the error message that sent me haring down an interested but ultimately unfruitful rabbit hole:

Oops. The error code indicates a device failure of some kind.

To be more specific, I find an error explanation from MS that says “the partition that is reserved for system is damaged.” In attempting to recover from the error, I can’t repair the drive, either…

When Canary Flash Drive Blows Up, It Resists Repair

I attempted to re-format the drive (which shows up with a 32 GB boot partition and the rest of its 58.5 GB unformatted) in Explorer. It takes two tries, but format eventually tells me there’s no device accessible. Can’t format what you can’t access, eh?

On the second try, I get a more informative error message.

I tried to get into it with MTPW (MiniTool Partition Wizard). No joy there, either. Couldn’t even get to a format command. Sometimes, the device shows up, and sometimes it doesn’t.

DISKPART provides the most information and the best error info, as you can see in this PowerShell output.

You’ll want to click on this to read what it says: The device is not ready.

No matter what repairs or low-level formatting tools I tried on this UFD, I got exactly nowhere. Sigh.

Is It the Device, or the Method?

Just for grins I inserted another USB2 UFD (like the one MS sent, but from a different maker). I ran through the Media Creation Tool and built a bootable Windows 11 image. It completed successfully, and passes all disk checks (e.g. chkdsk, Lenovo’s device check utility, and so on). I am therefore inclined to blame the device, rather than the process (which I cheerfully confess I ran on Windows 10, not 11). Would things have turned out differently had I run the MCT via Windows 11? Alas, I’ll never know…

Good thing I have LOTS of UFDs. I really just wanted MS to send me something. Too bad I killed it!

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Windows 10 PowerToys Registry Preview Issue

I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is general to Windows 10, or specific to my two remaining Windows 10 installs. But I’m seeing a Windows 10 PowerToys Registry Preview issue here at Chez Tittel. Don’t take it wrong — the tool works just fine. But you can’t use its built-in “Open file” button, nor the “Ctrl-O” key combo to open a registry (.reg) file. Instead, only a right-click on a .reg file in Explorer (or equivalent, such as VoidTools Everything) will do the trick.

What’s with the Windows 10 PowerToys Registry Preview Issue?

I wish I knew. Everything works as it oughter on Windows 11. As far as I can tell, the issue applies only to Windows 10. Given that there’s a relatively easy workaround, I’m guessing there’s some kind of simple gotcha preventing the Explorer hook-up in Windows 10 for Registry Preview “File Open” from working.

I’ve already tweeted @ClintRutkas, fearless team leader for PowerToys about this. Hopefully, that will help spur corrective action. But it reminds me that it’s always interesting to take new software facilities for a spin. Despite internal testing’s best efforts, stuff like this often pops up when more general releases occur.

Don’t Stop Your Own PowerToys Investigations

Please note that the issue — and Registry Preview itself, in fact — pops up only in the latest version. And, as you can see below that version number still starts with a leading zero. By convention, that means this is still a pre-release version out on extended beta test. These things happen with such software, for sure. But it’s fun to find one yourself now and then — just be sure to report in with your findings. Cheers!

Windows 10 PowerToys Registry Preview Issue.version-info

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