Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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The Never-ending Windows Update Story Carries On

Back on March 6, I posted an item about Windows Application Update Rhythms. This offered a snapshot for a week’s update activities across my various PCs. Since then, of course, the updates have continued as the never-ending Windows Update story carries on. I’ve made some interesting observations since then, too.

The lead-in graphic above shows one such data point. I’ve begun to notice that sometimes Winget will update Chrome, and sometimes it won’t. It seems to be related to whether or not the app is open at the moment (yes if closed; no if open).

Never-ending Windows Update Story Keeps Going…

The same thing appears to be true for PowerShell as well, as you can see in this next screencap. Amusingly, the app itself is PowerShell so indeed it’s obviously running too. But there are ways to force a PS upgrade within the app, so this default behavior can be over-ridden. The second post in this SuperUser thread explains how to do just that. It grabs and uses the PS install MSI from GitHub to make that happen.

Never-ending Windows Update Story.update-PS

Winget updates neither Chrome nor PowerShell here.

What’s Behind the Apparent No-Upgrade Behavior?

In various discussions online as to what’s at work here, I learned (or re-learned) a few things. When installer formats change (MSIX to MSI, MSI to EXE, and so forth) Winget won’t perform the update. Indeed, I’ve seen explicit messages to this effect in Winget output from time to time. This Answers.Microsoft.com thread explains how to grab, then use, the download URL for the Chrome installer to bypass the failed (and silent, error-message-wise) Winget update. Likewise interesting!

The more I work with Winget, the more I learn about its various hiccups and gotchas. But the tool continues to impress because there’s nearly always a clever workaround to get things done. It’s definitely made the various installments of the never-ending Windows Update story around Chez Tittel shorter and more entertaining. What more could a Windows-head like me want?

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HDD versus SSD Widening Price Gap

I’m amazed at the relentless pace of technology growth and change. I can remember paying US$1,000 for a 300MB hard disk (Mac, SCSI) in the mid-1980s. I just saw some ads for NAS drives this morning, and compared them to NVMe SSDs. There’s a serious HDD versus SSD Widening Price Gap going on right now. It’s worth understanding (and watching) — at least, IMO.

Exploring the HDD versus SSD Widening Price Gap

First, let me lay out some price ranges for you. You can buy NAS drives these days in a range from 8TB to 20TB in size. The smaller ones cost under US$200 these days. (The one depicted is on sale at Newegg right now for a measley US$115 or so.) As NAS drive size increases, so does price. A monster 20GB drive will cost you upwards of US$340. (It’s on sale at Newegg, normally US$20 more.) Do the math, and per terabyte pricing falls between US$14.38 (8 TB) and US$18 (20 TB).

Now let’s look at NVMe SSDs. 8 TB is the biggest you can go with NVMe right now (though there are bigger PCIe card drives, I’ll skip them for the nonce). Most 8 TB drives at Amazon fall in a price range from US$1,000 to $1,120. Again, more math produces a per terabyte price range of US$125¬† to US$140.

The lead-in graphic shows a Seagate Exos 710 8TB NAS drive (below) and a Sabrent Rocket 4 8TB SSD NVMe drive (above). Prices were plucked from Newegg and Amazon this morning. The ratios is what gets me riled up here: on average it goes from 8.69:1 to 7.77: 1.

Price-Performance Pops!

What this all really means is that HDDs still reign supreme for backup and archival purposes where the fact of storage outweighs read/write times. But as somebody who creates daily backups on important PCs who also occasionally has to restore them, I’ll observe that there’s at least a 4:1 speed difference between the two types of media when restoring a backup (sometimes more).

For those with limited patience or time, and especially for those with limited time windows in which to return to full capability, SSDs are increasingly important for necessary backups and storage access.

One more thing: given the ability to put sizable amounts of blazing fast SSD storage as the near storage tier in a multi-tiered storage architecture means that savvy storage buyers can mix and match these two types of storage ever more effectively. That’s how they mostly do things in data centers for cloud and SaaS providers nowadays anyway (except they don’t balk at spending huge amounts on top-tier SSDs like those described in this mind-blowing TechRadar story).

At this bleeding edge of the storage market, it’s clearly a case of “you can’t afford to do this at home” (unless you’re a centi-millionaire or better). But it’s interesting to contemplate how all kinds of drives keep getting bigger, and how storage architects keep figuring out how to deliver ever-huger amounts of data ever more quickly. Again: amazing!

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The Big Ethernet Dock Sleep

Corny title, I know, but eerily accurate. In the wake of some recent update, my Lenovo Thunderbolt 4 dock keeps losing its wired Ethernet connection. This is particularly vexing when the RJ-45 is plugged directly into the Lenovo P27u-20 integrated dock. Why? Because the Cat-6 cable I’m using is hard to plug and unplug. Sigh. In perverse homage to Raymond Chandler: I call this the “Big Ethernet Dock Sleep.”

Ending the Big Ethernet Dock Sleep

Upon investigating the issue, it seems to be an endemic dock problem. It appears to be related to dropped connections following sleep. In fact, from what I can see, it affects not just PC docks (I saw posts from Dell, HP and Lenovo users) but also Mac docks (I saw some Apple Support posts as well).

What’s the issue? Take a look at the lead-in graphic. Basically it shows that, by default, the GbE port on the dock can be turned off “to save power.” That’s pretty much a given when a PC goes to sleep.

The fix is dead simple, though. Simply uncheck the first checkbox and everything goes blank. I can’t say for sure that this absolutely, postively fixes the issue. But I can say for sure that the affected PC has gone to sleep, then been awakened, and the Ethernet connection stayed up the whole time.

I’ll post back if it recurs. But from what I see online, this fix has worked for others likewise affected. Thus, I’m optimistic that it will also do the trick for me. If not, I’ll post back here again.

Fingers crossed…

Note added next morning 7:30 AM

 

The X12 Hybrid slept peacefully, all night long. And when I just RDP’ed into it now, it awoke with a working Ethernet connection. Problem still not conclusively solved, but close!

 

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HDDs Still Have Their Uses

Hmmmm. Just saw a fascinating story at Neowin.net. It provides links to some low-cost deals for hard disk drives (HDDs) that range in size from 3 to 14 TB, with prices from US$60 (3TB) to US$210 (14 TB). I’m not endorsing the brand (WD) or the deals (listed from Amazon and — in some instances — Newegg). But I am amazed at just how cheap conventional hard disks can be today. And because HDDs still have their uses — particularly for archiving and spare backups — buying may make sense.

Economics Also Verify That HDDs Still Have Their Uses

I’m struck by the contrast between HDD and NVMe prices, especially for 4 and 8 TB devices. Looking at Amazon, I see that 4TB NVMe drives go for US$460 and up, with most top-end devices just below or over US$600. When you can find them (not easy), 8TB devices cost from just under US$1,200 to around US$1,500 or so.

The comparison to HDD is pretty stark. The Neowin story cites prices of US$70 for 4, and US$130 for 8 TB. Do the math to figure out the ratios. The 4TB NVMes cost between 6.57 and 8.57 times as much as their HDD counterparts. 8TB models run between 9.23 and 11.53 times as much.

Of course, denser solid-state devices are much more expensive to make. Though higher-capacity HDDs have more platters, achieving denser storage doesn’t magnify costs anywhere near as much. In fact, the HDD cost increment for going from 8TB to 10TB is US$30, and from 8TB to 14TB US$80. That clearly shows the incremental cost of storage is much, much cheaper for HDDs than SSDs.

But given the mind-blowing costs for higher capacity NVMe devices, they’re not going to replace HDDs completely any time soon. They simply cost too much to justify wholesale switchovers. Nobody’s going to use HDDs for serious, real-time workloads any more. They have no place as system drives, either. But for other applications where high capacity trumps I/O performance, they still have a vital role to play. And that explains why I still have over 40TB of spinning storage myself, much of it idle as “backups for my backups.”

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Thinking About Windows 10/11 SSDs

I’m still busy benchmarking away on the two Thunderbolt4/USB4 PCs that Lenovo has recently sent my way. But as I’ve been doing so, I’ve been thinking about Windows 10/11 SSDs in general. On that path, I’ve realized certain principles that I’d like to share with you, dear readers.

I’m spurred in part to these statements from a sponsored (and pretty contrived) story from MSPowerUser entitled “Is NVMe a Good Choice for Gamers?” My instant response, without reading the story — which actually focuses on storage media beyond the boot/system drive — was “Yes, as much as you can afford.” Spoiler alert: that’s what the story says, too.

Where Thinking About Windows 10/11 SSDs Leads….

Here are some storage media principles that flow from making the most of a new PC investment.

  1. The more you spend on a PC, the more worthwhile it is to also spend more on NVMe storage.
  2. Right now, PCIe Gen4 drives run about 2X the speed of PCIe Gen3 drives. They don’t cost quite twice as much. Simple economics says: buy the fastest NVMe technology your PC will support.
  3. Buy as much NVMe storage as you can afford (or force yourself to spend). For pre-built PCs and laptops, you may want to buy NVMe on the aftermarket, rather than get the drives pre-installed. Markup on NVMe drives can be painful. Hint: I use Tom’s Hardware to keep up with price/performance info on NVMe SSDs and other PC components (it’s also the source for the lead-in graphic for this story, which still prominently displays the now-passe Intel Optane as an SSD option. Caveat emptor!).
  4. Corollary to the preceding point: fill every M.2 slot you can in your build. For both my recent Lenovo loaners — the P360 Ultra and the P16 Mobile Workstation — that means populating both slots with up to 4TB each. Right now, the Kingston KC3000 looks like a 4TB best buy of sorts.

Thinking Further (and Outside the Box)

More thoughts in this vein, with an eye toward external drives and multi-tiered storage (archives and extra backups):

  1. If you’re going to put an NVMe SSD in an external enclosure, you will be OK for the time being in a USB 3.2 rather than a USB 4 enclosure. Right now, the newer enclosures cost more than twice as much but don’t deliver anywhere near 2x the speed (except on synthetic benchmarks — I used C: imaging times as a more reliable indicator). Over time this will no doubt change, and I’ll keep an eye on that, too.
  2. I don’t consider spinners (conventional mechanical hard disk drives, or HDDs) any more, except for archival and inactive storage. If I need something for work or play, it goes on an SSD. If I might need something, someday (or to restore same) then it’s ok on an HDD.

I used to restrain spending on NVMe SSDs because of its high price differential. I’m now inclined to believe that restraint is a false economy and forces less productivity as a result. That’s why I’m rethinking my philosophy. I haven’t quite yet gotten to Les Blanc’s famous dictum (“Spend It All”) but I am coming around to “Spend As Much as You Can”…

Remember This Fundamental Assumption, Tho…

My reasoning aims at high-end PCs where users run data-, graphics-, and/or compute-intensive workloads. It does not apply, therefore, to home, hobbyist, and low-end office users. For them typical productivity apps¬† (e.g. MS Office or equivalent), email, web browsing and so forth predominate. They wouldn’t need, nor benefit much from, buying lots of fast NVMe storage. That said, a 1 TB fast-as-possible NVMe for the boot/system drive is the baseline. Other storage options will balance themselves against budget to dictate other choices and PC builds for such users.

In different terms, if you’re not maxing out your PC running data analytics, 3D models and other high-end graphics rendering, or AI or machine learning stuff, this advice is most likely overkill. Too, too costly. But for this user community, more spent on NVMe (and GPUs and memory as well) will repay itself with increased productivity. ‘Nuff said.

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KB5012170 Can Provoke BitLocker Recovery

Here’s an interesting tidbit that’s making the rounds right now. KB5012170 appeared on August 9 on the latest Patch Tuesday. According to various sources — see this Neowin story, for example — some users’ PCs boot into BitLocker Recovery after the mandatory post-update restart, rather than business as usual. Thus, applying KB5012170 can provoke BitLocker Recovery (though unintentionally).

Of those affected, some have been able to get back to rights by applying the PC’s BitLocker Recovery key. Others have had to update their UEFI before that key application “takes.” In my case, I apparently dodged that bullet, because none of my production Windows 11 machines (four Lenovo laptops of various descriptions, and a Ryzen 5800X desktop) fell prey to this gotcha.

You can see the “success” report for this KB item boxed in red in the lead-in graphic for this story, in fact…

If KB5012170 Can Provoke BitLocker Recovery, Then What?

BitLocker keys can be stored in at least three ways. 1. On paper, 2. Electronically (usually on a USB drive). 3. Associated with a specific MSA (Microsoft Account). I prefer method 3 because it’s easy to set up and MS manages it automatically on your behalf.

You must log into your MSA online (I go through account.microsoft.com). Then go to Devices, and pick the affected PC. Next, click on Info & Support. There you’ll find a Bitlocker data protection item that includes a link to “Manage recovery keys.” That’s what you want. It will show you recovery keys for all the devices associated with that MSA (I show 11, of which I’m actually using 2, so I just got rid of the rest after saving a backup copy to an encrypted disk).

BTW, that means it’s essential to add all devices you might ever want to recover to your chosen MSA. Do so right away, if you haven’t already!

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Tracking Windows Releases Gets Challenging

I have to laugh. I found myself re-reading numerous recent Windows 10 and 11 news stories, trying to figure which OS is which. It doesn’t help, either, that sometimes the news outlets themselves get their wires crossed. I believe that tracking Windows releases gets challenging because we’ve got so many of them to consider. Let me explain…

Why Say: Tracking Windows Releases Gets Challenging?

Windows 10 has two release tracks right now — namely, Release Preview and Production (current release). Windows 11, OTOH, has four: (1) Production; (2) Release Preview; (3) Beta and (4) Dev channels. Each of these releases has its own Build numbers. In those numbers, feature upgrades change the front and major part, and cumulative updates (CUs) change the minor and rear part. Thus, for example 22000.778 describes Windows 11 Production right now. The 22000 part comes from the Windows 11 feature upgrade to 21H1. The 778 part comes in the wake of KB014668 (6/29/2022).

Not too challenging with 1 or 2 such items to keep track of. But with 2 tracks for Windows 10, and 4 tracks for Windows 11, it’s a bit trickier. MS offers web pages to track this kind of stuff, but I don’t always find them terribly informative. It’s probably my fault.

Check Out the Release Info at UUPdump.net

If you look at the intro graphic for this story, you’ll see it’s comprised of the “release buttons” at the head of the UUPdump.net web page. Click any button, and you’ll get a complete release history for the selected release track, in descending chronological order. The info is comprehensive and all-inclusive.

You have to learn how to read release names and numbers to recognize and distinguish cumulative from feature updates in this presentation, though. That’s because UUPdump builds update ISOs to clean-install Windows images that include slipstreamed CUs.

So, if a release name there says “Feature Update” that doesn’t mean it’s really a feature update. Instead, you must recognize that feature updates usually include a minor (right-hand) component labeled “1” or “1000” to the right of the period in the build number. Once you understand those are the only “real” Feature Updates, the update history there makes sense. Works for me, anyway.

So when I want to get straight info, UUPdump.net is where I head. You can do likewise, but also check the MS clearinghouse named Windows release health. It, too, offers good info about production releases and updates. For Insider Previews, the MS web pages named “The Changelog” and “Flight Hub” are equally helpful. Cheers!

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