Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

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So a customer calls me and is a little hesitant to explain what’s wrong with her computer. Almost without fail when they dance around what happened – you know it’s likely the Microsoft Tech Support Scam. (See Snopes). Not a big deal – we scan their computer, ensure nothing is lurking in scheduled tasks or startup, and point them to information related to reversing any charges if it got that far.

Well this time was different. “They changed my password on my computer and now I can’t log back in. Can you reset it?” That was new for me and pretty clever. I told her absolutely – we reset passwords often. A quick boot into System Rescue CD, mount the drive, and run chntpw. Voila!

So I get the computer (running Windows 8.1), boot it up, and see this:

syskey

“This computer is configured to require a password in order to startup”. This looked vaguely familiar, and not in a good way. Especially on Windows 8 since that popup has a very Windows NT vibe. A quick trip to Google and it all comes back. Syskey allows for encrypting the SAM hive where all the password hashes are stored. This was going to be harder than I thought… So I called the customer to get a little more info…

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USB-3-Connection-iconWindows reinstallations are supposed to be painless thanks to recovery partitions – press a few keys, click a few buttons, and voila! Out of the box factory condition. But in computer repair, nothing is ever easy. Failed hard drives, customers who never created recovery DVDs, and so on mean you often have to do ‘vanilla’ reinstallations. Usually they are simple. Microsoft helpfully provides install DVD iso files that allow you to install Windows using the license key on the system’s sticker (or extracted with tools like ProduKey). But a few times I ran into issues that made recovery very difficult – until I figured out exactly what was going on…

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Unable To Disable Windows Proxy Setting

BrowserProxyWe had a system come in recently that had been heavily infected by the ZBot rootkit and a variety of Trojans. MS Security Essentials had cleaned some things off, but the system still had a lot of junk on it. The main problem, however, was the computer could not access the Internet. Many virus infections create proxy servers and then set Windows to route all web traffic through the virus proxy. When most anti-virus programs kill off a virus like this, they don’t clear the proxy setting. So you have no virus, but you also can’t access the Internet. This is understandable since messing with that proxy setting is dicey in a corporate environment where they get used heavily.

Easy enough – click Start -> Control Panel -> Internet Options -> Connections -> LAN Settings and uncheck the ‘Use proxy’ checkbox.

Still can’t access the Internet due to a Proxy error. What?

Go back to the Proxy setting and it’s checked. So I uncheck it and save. Open screen up? Still checked. I check for any rogue processes running that might be setting it as soon as I unset it. Nope. Now what?

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IWD Bus Enumerator Driver Issue

I was recently setting up a new Windows 8.1 Toshiba laptop for a client and during a cursory check of the Device Manager, I found a device was not functioning properly. It was the ‘IWD Bus Enumerator’ and Windows was reporting that the driver could not be loaded:

The driver won't load due to an Error 39

The driver won’t load due to an Error 39

This seems to be a widespread issue. More common seems to be the existence of two identical IWD Bus Enumerators, one with a yellow warning symbol. Most people seem to be able to resolve this by removing the failed one and keeping the functioning one.
In my case, there was only one (even when viewing Hidden Devices). I found many reports of this issue, but little in the way of a solution. Many posts hinted at an Intel Chipset issue, but I was running the latest driver there. Finally I found a Lenovo article with a solution. Apparently Intel’s WiDi does not always install properly. So they had a pretty simple solution:

  1. Hold down the Windows logo key and press “X” to open a menu at the lower-left area of the screen.
  2. Select the Command Prompt for Administrator.
  3. Type “C:\windows\system32\” and press Enter.
  4. Type “intelwidivad64.exe /install” and press Enter.
  5. Close the Command Prompt.
  6. Check the Device Manager if the Yellow Bang mark is not seen.

Sure enough – after a little disk churning – the device… disappeared? Hmmmmm. So I did a restart and checked the Device Manager again… Now I had an Unknown Device at the bottom of System Devices. Looking at the details revealed it was the IWD device. So I tried running the IntelWidiVAD64.exe /install command again. This time a lot more happened. An Intel badged command window appeared showing the ROOT\SYSTEM\0001 device installed successfully. At the same time the Intel Display Audio device reinstalled or updated itself like it was doing a driver install. Now all devices are functioning properly!

I guess you could save yourself the double install by uninstalling the broken IWD device then running the install command. Just a guess as I had already fixed the system I had before trying it this way.

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  • Filed under: Microsoft
  • Trouble Installing .NET v1.1 SP1

    netlogo One of the more annoying problems we run into when trying to ‘fix’ a computer and get all Windows Updates installed is .NET Framework v1.1 Service Pack 1 (SP1) from KB867460. Of all patches, this one seems to fail the most. It will fail in Windows Update or installed manually. A lot of people just leave the failed update since they don’t use .NET (or have no clue they use something that does). We recently had a client who used a software package to run their business that was built on .NET, so we wanted to ensure they had the latest updates and patches. But all of their computers refused to install SP1. Thankfully there are a couple of tools which can help fix the problems.

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  • Filed under: Microsoft
  • Trouble Installing IE10

    ie10The rollout of Internet Explorer 10 has been a little bit rocky for some users. First – a number of hybrid graphics systems on higher end laptops weren’t compatible, but the IE installer didn’t make that clear. But beyond incompatibilities, a number of latent errors in user’s systems are causing IE10 to not install (or IE9 to not update or try to reinstall itself). The net is full of queries from users asking how to get IE10 to install, with a number of 9C errors (9C47, 9C48, 9C57, 9C59) after Windows Update failed. Inability to update IE9 is another common problem. So here are some possible solutions when the standard methods of removing IE9 or IE10 don’t work.

    While a complete Windows reinstall is the best way to fix most of these problems, sometimes a user has a lot of installed applications that make a reinstall difficult or time consuming. Especially if this is the only issue the system is having. So I’ve collected a few common ways to ‘fix’ Internet Explorer and get Windows Update ‘clear’.

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  • Filed under: Microsoft
  • Recovery 169-580-90We do a fair amount of data recovery from hard drives that are still functional, but for whatever reason have a number of bad sectors. So if a tool like Acronis cannot clone the drive because there is significant file system damage, we’ve had great luck with the Linux dd_rescue tool in the System Rescue CD.

    However, some problems crop up when you rescue clone from an older hard drive onto a newer Advanced Format Drive – dd_rescue has no concept of the new AFD layout. Tools are available from most HD manufacturers to repair this misalignment, but afterwards it can cause other problems. For most Windows Vista and 7 computers, there is a recovery partition on drive D:  Often after alignment, the boot information is incorrect and the boot loader cannot start the WinRE environment on Drive D:After much trial, error, and research – we were able to fix most issues with the F8 Recovery console on Vista and Windows 7.

    The good news is, it is fairly easy to fix if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty in a command window.

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  • Filed under: Microsoft
  • MS Security Essentials Removal Script

    206546-microsoft-security-essentials_originalWe have encountered a variety of systems where a virus infection has corrupted Microsoft Security Essentials in a way that makes it impossible to remove or reinstall using normal methods. Unlike most AV vendors, Microsoft has not released a ‘Removal Tool’ that will remove every trace of the anti-virus, so most people have had to try and use a variety of manual methods. We recently wrote about a handy script that was able to remove MSE in a number of cases, but the owner took it offline (along with the rest of his very useful reference site) and it was lacking a few additional keys.

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    WindowsGlassRegistry corruptions don’t always require a wipe and reinstall. You can often get the registry ‘back’ using a backed up copy. Microsoft published a procedure for doing this way back in knowledge base article KB307545. The trouble with this procedure is it is very tedious, utilizing Windows XP recovery mode  (basically a DOS prompt) and tricks to get into the System Volume Information directory.

    Instead, utilizing the fantastic System Recovery CD, you can quickly restore a backup copy of the registry.

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  • Filed under: Microsoft
  • netlogoHave seen this on a couple of Windows XP systems – .Net 2.0 Security update KB2804577 will successfully install, but then it is flagged to be installed again. And again. And again.

    Weeding through a variety of MS support forum posts, I finally found the answer at the bottom of a thread that mainly contained ‘THIS IS THE WRONG FORUM’ replies. SMH. Thankfully someone answered the question:

    GMazeika replied on May 17, 2013

    Check file C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\System.Security.dll

    In XP version of file must be 2.0.50727.3646. My old file had version 2.0.50727.3644.

    Replace System.Security.dll with version 2.0.50727.3646 and restart Automatic Updates service.

    Sure enough – grabbed the right version from another Windows XP box and the update stopped requesting to be installed. Scary that the top answer to that thread is ‘just hide it’ when it’s a security patch.

  • 2 Comments
  • Filed under: Microsoft
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