Windows 10... First Thoughts (July 2015)

click to see Second Thoughts

Fix the problem when Windows 10 cannot repair itself

or Another Story

 I read some reviews about the latest version of Windows so was slightly familiar with it but nevertheless I didn't immediately upgrade my business computer with its stable Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.

Day 1

Instead I opted to download the thing via the Microsoft backdoor. As it's widely advertised this backdoor is probably wide open by now. The first thing I noticed was my "Ultimate" version is downgraded to "Professional", but that may not be particularly important? £50 isn't that much is it? It is to an OAP... hang on, I'm one of, yes it is a lot of cash.

I selected the appropriate version in the download listing and waited ages for something short of a 4Gbyte of iso file. I did this on a second computer rather than my main one and found that I couldn't convert the iso file to a DVD without copying the iso to a memory stick and using my main computer with Nero to produce a DVD.

I then decided to clone my decent Windows 7 on my spare computer to another hard drive before wiping the solid state drive and installing Windows 10 as a fresh version.

This went OK apart from taking loads of time with totally disproportionate messages about percentage completion and ending with no broadband because my wireless adaptor wouldn't work. I downloaded the Windows 8 drivers (on my main computer) and those worked fine. Maybe Microsoft didn't think anyone uses a TP-Link wireless adaptor?

The new operating system looks very similar to Windows 8..... at least the version you can fiddle to look more like Windows 7 by turning off stuff and selecting various options. Microsoft must not realise that business users want a fast, no-frills operating system. Since NT disappeared business users are treated just like music downloaders.

Now to some very annoying things.... my anti-virus wasn't compatible. I eventually tried Avast as a trial version to stop an annoying pop-up warning me that I needed an anti-virus. I tried Spotmau which uncovered 149 Registry errors (despite this being a clean copy of Windows 10). Next I tried my favourite clean-up application, Registry Mechanic 10. "Not compatible", so I can't use this. Next I tried my Acronis 2013 which I use for cloning. This worked OK despite this being reported to be "not compatible" when I checked earlier. NOTE: Since trying Avast Free I've had a friend's laptop in for repair. Spybot, AVG and Vipre between them found some 300 to 400 bad infections after Avast had declared a clean computer... need I say more?

I tried adding extra hard drives and found that one with a Smart problem caused Windows 10 to lock up completely. I had to press the power button to get the computer running, whereupon I needed to allow it to carry out a disk check. The lock-up was like the type you get with a faulty CD. Surely Windows software experts can arrange a timeout when a hard drive problem manifests?

A few niggles. I didn't add a password but despite this I get a password box waiting for me to type a password. The mouse doesn't seem to work at this point so I can't select the arrow on the right of the box. Pressing "Enter" has no immediate result, but after a longish delay the desktop appears. Maybe there's a box to untick somewhere to prevent this hang-up? NOTE: I've had this problem since on several computers.

Restarting the computer takes an age. Just a blue screen with a message. Has the computer locked up? No it's just a matter of waiting... Booting up is quite fast being 30 seconds to the password glitch.

I tried the old trick of stripping out frills by selecting "best performance" and turning off countless options. Sure enough this made the computer faster, but I started getting an error message about a bad file in my proxy software. At least it happened twice then seemed to get fixed by itself.

I also tried to get Windows 10 repair features to work. I tried a system disk without its boot files. I got the message "can't fix the problem". Surely an error like the one I presented should be fixable? If the repair feature isn't first class I'm going to have trouble. Frequently I get problems caused by customers with updating laptops. Either the battery goes flat faced with "downloading 132 updates... do not turn off", or they just close the lid and you get hard drive corruption.

After a couple of hours trying out Windows 10 I decided to get rid of any of those little programs that infiltrate themselves into ones computer. Where do I find "add-remove programs" ? I looked in settings... nothing seems to be relevant. No sign of Control Panel so I gave up. I guess it's just unfamiliarity.

In summary. I need to be able to find my way around Windows 10 before my customers bring their computers to be fixed or just ring me up with questions. I'm pleased (at this point) I didn't upgrade my Windows 7 installation but maybe things will get better when I've discovered where the software people hid the old features? It's been happening since they updated Windows 95 to 98 so nothing new under the sun... NOTE: On the NET you can find a collection of Windows 7 games. These work normally on Windows 10 and a better option than the new versions.

I keep getting a message telling me I'm running short of memory. Maybe all the unwanted bells and whistles are gobbling up my RAM? Odd because I thought I'd switched them off?

Lots of peripheral companies will benefit from Windows 10 because they can sell "compatible" versions to their customers. In that instance Windows 10 may not be entirely free.

I'll add to this as I learn more.

Day 2

Computer booted up and flagged "Kmode Exception Not Handled", file hssdrv6.sys then it rebooted before I read everything.

Then it did the same thing again so I bashed the F8 key and it came up with a list of things including Safe Mode. I found Hotspot Shield in the programs and right clicked the entry, whereupon I found Add Remove Programs, Control Panel. I wondered where it had gone... removing Hotspot Shield fixed the crashing. Maybe the vendor will sort this out?? I checked the Registry and found loads of entries for hssdrv6 so removing the program failed to delete Registry entries which I guess is par for the course. I ran a Registry cleaner and deleted 262 entries. Bearing in mind my Windows 10 is less than 24 hours old this seems a lot.

I went to the Internet to check on a new version of my proxy server and was informed that "the Internet was not available". It was OK yesterday. I noticed on the bottom right it said "not connected", "connections available", but when I looked my router was connected... very odd. No matter what I did I couldn't fix this. Even deleting the wireless adaptor, putting back the drivers and re-inserting the router key failed to resolve the problem. Connected but not connected. Windows failed to solve the problem but suggested bad drivers, but these worked fine yesterday. Must be a Windows glitch?

A pal rang to say his new Windows 10 had caused his RAID system to fail. Intel appears to have noticed that their drivers are not 100% and you'll need to download their latest which are circa Issue 14.

Later the same day. Still no Internet. Windows tells me it's a driver problem. The driver for the wireless adaptor is broken. I tried everything but it was adamant. I found a wireless PCI card and fitted it. Windows said it couldn't find suitable drivers so I downloaded these on my proper computer and installed them. The adaptor declared it was in perfect working order but still no network. Windows tells me it's an adaptor driver problem. That's two wireless adaptors. Both u/s.

I unreeled an ethernet cable and plugged it into the computer. "Cable connected", response from the Realtek adaptor but Windows has a stuck record. "Driver problem for the ethernet adaptor". By now I was getting fractious. Things were fine yesterday. I'll do a System Restore, but I can't find it. I tried MSCONFIG and used the entry point from Tools. Luckily there was one restore point for 2nd August so I tried it and hey presto it worked and suddenly the network was connected. I could see my proper computer, despite it having a different network name (strange), and when I opened Chrome and clicked on a History entry the Internet was clearly working. I looked at network settings and was able to connect both wireless adaptors to my router. That made no less than three simultaneous connections, including the ethernet, to the router. How odd.

A quick check on the Internet and I found that simply right clicking the Windows Start button revealed loads of useful things including Control Panel... welcome back, I knew it must be there somewhere. So why couldn't Windows 10 figure out the network problem? Why did it blame drivers?

Next I need to find out why I'm offered a password to sign in. Clearly it knows I don't have one because if I wait the desktop appears.

It seems one has to run netplwiz, add a password to one's account, then log in with the new password, then remove the "use password", then Win 10 starts with just a quick flash of the password box...

Day 3

I'm getting to know Windows 10 reasonably well now to be able to advise on a few things. I tried some ideas out and discovered a few interesting things. I had a damaged hard drive removed from a computer. I'd managed after a lot of effort to temporarily fix data corruption problems long enough to clone the drive to a new one and this magically worked and the customer was happy. What if I installed the damaged drive on a test computer, got Windows 7 working and upgraded it to Windows 10 then cloned it to a new drive?

I tried for ages to get the Windows 7 system running and gave up. What next? Well, at one point the set-up reverted to a fresh install of HP Windows 7 so I tried this. Sure enough the HP system installed but of course was a bit muddled as all the drivers were wrong. Nevertheless I attempted to upgrade this to Windows 10. I had read the key but I suspect this key was an "OEM" key and these last only as long as the computer on which it's installed so I was directed to contact HP to resolve the issue. Continuing my experiments I eventually got an upgrade running from a previously downloaded Windows Professional 64 bit, but alas the Upgrade stopped at 31%. This was due to the hard disk which was of course faulty.

I decided at this point to give up gracefully. Unplugging the bad drive I noticed another hard drive on the table. I plugged it in and found it was OK so I installed a clean copy of Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. This is an early system without updates, however, when I started an upgrade it went right through without a hitch. I noted the key and was quite pleased as I thought one needed SP1 to be installed before an upgrade was possible. I then noticed another hard drive labelled "clean format" so I repeated the exercise but this time added Registry Mechanic 10 and Vipre, because these are reported to be incompatible with Windows 10.

After waiting an hour or so I had a second working Windows 10. Oddly, it's key was the same as the first version I'd produced. Vipre had been kicked into touch but Registry Mechanic 10 worked a treat.

Day 4

Back in the workshop I needed to look in an excel file to see if I had a particular transistor and realised I hadn't updated the computer. I tried but discovered the hard drive was acting up, in fact I'd noticed this before and hadn't bothered to replace it.

Instead, I moved my previous computer onto the bench. This has a decent hard drive and has a Windows 7 operating system.

The motherboard has a built-in graphics interface but has a PCI-E slot, and I think it might have come from a customer's computer years back. Anyway I upgraded it to Windows 10 and found my first upgrade headache. The finished upgrade left me with a white desktop background and clearly in a low resolution setting. Unfortunately, the graphics of the new Windows 10 don't readily cater for low res pictures and lots of lettering and arrows an other things were missing. If I mention white lettering on a white background I think you'll understand the problem. Instead, I'll use a PCI-E graphics card which will probably have decent drivers. It was after I'd tried two graphics cards the penny dropped. This motherboard had a failed PCI-E slot which is why I removed it from the customer's computer. They'd insisted on using their expensive graphics card so I'd supplied a new motherboard. What make of computer it was I've long forgotten, but on the board is written MSI P6NGM, MS7366 Issue 1.0. I quickly established that the graphics is called "MCP73".. but what is it exactly? Well, it's an NVIDIA design, but try as I might I couldn't find a driver on their website.

After thinking hard, I remembered that NVIDIA have an auto-detect program. I quickly found this and my troubles began.

Using Google Chrome I clicked on the detect button. "You need Java", was the response, so I downloaded and installed Java. None of this was easy because I couldn't see most of the text and things like arrows were missing. Java downloaded I tried again. This time a message came up stating that I needed a newer version of Google Chrome. With difficulty I downloaded a new version of Chrome. I say "with difficulty" as I kept getting pop-ups and messages such as "Please tell us how wonderful is the new version of Chrome", and "click here to set up Internet Explorer 11" and "you've changed to the Yahoo search engine from the Google one", and a large white box with something written in white and a blank box (presumably "OK"). Finally, I got a useful message saying that the NVIDIA program needed to be run on Internet Explorer, definitely not Chrome and certainly not "E"!

I switched to Microsoft's website and located Internet Explorer downloads. There was Version 11. I clicked on this and a message came up..."You need to be running Windows to use this".. very odd, and then up came another message... "Why don't you try Windows 10". Something is clearly not right. I tried again and got the same results so Microsoft must believe I'm using an Apple computer, or something alien and not Windows 10?

I then remembered that I'd seen Internet Explorer 11 appear briefly on my screen during my hunt for a graphics driver but I'd closed it because it was asking me to set it up and I was busy.

I found Drive C and started methodically with old Windows. There was both Internet Explorer 32 and 64 bits in Program files folders but neither would open. I looked in the new Windows 10 Program Files folder and again, there was Internet Explorer. I found the exe file (I should mention that in Windows Explorer, text was either light grey or shimmering rainbow colours on a white background so identifying the correct exe file was not easy) and it opened up like magic ... at least this version knows I'm running Windows !.... I copied and pasted the NVIDIA webpage to IE11 and clicked on the auto-detect button. "You need to enable Java", it said, so I clicked on "enable". Suddenly the auto-detect program ran and there was the required driver... "GeForce 7150 or nForce 630i". Success... I clicked on "download" and "run" and a few minutes later I was installing the graphics driver. When the screen went blank for an instant I knew it was installing correctly, and suddenly there was a lovely sharp picture 1440 x 900. Perfect... But why the problem before? The answer was now quite obvious... there are loads of white symbols, like arrows, that are in coloured disks on white backgrounds. Remove the coloured disks and you get white on white. I think the MS developers missed this one, perhaps believing that every graphics card would be satisfied with their standard driver. Well, this is not the case.

In summary, it looks like Windows 10 is worth installing. You might find the odd driver problem and you'll certainly lose a program or two. If it gets screwed up or if you change your motherboard you might have to give MS a call, but there's always Windows 10, SP1 to fix matters isn't there?

Day 5

A major blunder. Not mine, but those software writers working for MS. I turned on my computer that had yesterday been converted from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and was faced with a message "Installing Updates 100%". Very odd because this message was there for something like 5 minutes. What is 100% exactly? I thought 100% meant whatever it was is complete, but no, it took 5 minutes before a black screen appeared and then...."Installing Updates 1%... do not turn off your computer". Turn it off? I've only just turned it on with a view to using it. The completion figure steadily increased until it read 100% and then... another black screen followed by yet more messages about installing updates.

I reckon it must have been around 30 minutes before I was actually permitted to use my computer. Come on MS.. this is not good enough. It's one thing installing updates when you're turning off a computer but to bar one's use when switching it on.

What if it's a business and someone needs to use the computer for a really urgent job?

Imagine on a nuclear sub... Sorry old boy but the Captain tells me Northwood's sent a message telling him we have to launch those pyrotechnic thingummys. Turn on your computer and oblige pronto old chap.

Sorry Eustace but the screen tells me the computer's installing updates and it's only 2% complete, can we wait? Not really old chap... never mind it's probably too late now anyway.

Oh yes, another glitch. Whenever I open Chrome I get a message telling me it's "not default", so would I like it to be? I click on the affirmative and am taken to a window with default settings. Scrolling down to browser there's only "e". No way of selecting Chrome so the message ALWAYS comes up. This must be a fairly basic software routine so why on earth isn't it working? NOTE: I found the way to fix this later.

No use complaining because Windows 10 is free. You can always revert to Windows 7... no you can't, at least not always because you might get a message along these lines... "Cannot revert to Windows 7 because certain key files were removed in the upgrade procedure".

Looking around the Internet I found the fix for setting the default web browser. MS switch you to Edge "e" as one of their "Express" options (for "Express" read "MS preferred") and to get back to Chrome you click on the "make default" message in Chrome. This brings up the default program routine. The trick is that the browsers are hidden in Apps. MS probably didn't realise that Chrome, Firefox etc are browsers and assigned them under Apps.

Illogically, click on the single browser entry (Edge) and scroll down to "Choose an App", where you'll find your old browser. Click on Chrome (or whatever) and this will be set as the default browser. I bet at least one company will be thinking "Anti-Trust". I might try Edge later to see if it allows me to watch my IP camera.


I've been reading a few articles and keep seeing the word "Free" associated with Windows 10 and "best ever" etc. This is really misleading. Those who have paid for Windows 7 and Windows 8 are getting an update because Windows 10 is basically a major update not an upgrade. When is an update an upgrade I wonder? Well the manufacturer differentiates very easily... updates are free and upgrades are paid for. Using this logic Microsoft are treating Windows 10 as an update for existing Windows 7 and 8 users because it's free. Why include Windows 7 I wonder? Well, for a time Windows 8 was a free upgrade for Windows 7 users and "Free" meant it was an update. Microsoft had to deal with the negativity over Windows 8 somehow. And of course when you move to Windows 10 you do this via an "UPDATE" from Windows 7.

I must have paid around £200 for my Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit and a free Windows 10 Pro worth £100 means I'll be out of pocket.

However... what about the zillions of users of pirated copies of Windows 7? They get a free update to Windows 10 and "free" is a real bonus because they didn't pay a penny for a £100 new product.

I tackled my Toshiba P200-17 C laptop today because, since its update to Windows 10, the LAN device has been invisible. It doesn't even show up as "unknown device".. it's just missing. I tried everything to resurrect it but failed. Thankfully the wireless driver is reported to be working so the thing is at least usable. At least it should be but my BT broadband has stopped working.

I reckon Microsoft will eventually follow manufacturers like Symantec and in future their operating systems will be subject to an annual fee. Wouldn't it be ironic if they include Windows 10 in this switch... "from 2016 all users will need to pay an annual license fee". It sort of makes sense doesn't it? They can't charge a fee for Windows 7 but they can charge an annual fee for Windows 10 because users got it free in the first place. Those who didn't opt for the free upgrade and paid for their copy will be subject to whatever terms and conditions were printed on their package. You can probably see which is the free version because I reckon the activation keys will provide the evidence. All my upgrades appear to carry the same key.

I decided to check my two laptops again, both of which have benefited from a Windows 10 update leaving their original files in place. One is based on the Atom processor and nothing untoward in respect of its low power had been announced when upgrading. This computer is too slow to be usable. The second is a Toshiba 17" laptop with a solid state hard drive, 2 Gbyte of RAM and a dual core processor. It looked quite respectable when the update was completed but there was no internet because the LAN hardware has disappeared completely and, now BT have fixed broadband the "working" wireless driver doesn't work after all. I get a message telling me it can't connect to my router. It took me ages to find a suitable Intel wireless driver after trying a TP-Link USB wireless stick and failing to find a Windows 10 driver for that either. In the end I changed the USB stick driver folder name from Windows 8 to Windows 10 and suddenly the error message about the driver being one for the wrong platform went away and the internet became available. The Intel wireless interface was a puzzle because Windows 10 reported it to be OK and working perfectly but it wasn't as I kept getting an error report and the Wizard failed to fix the problem, suggesting a bad driver. After some initial difficulty finding a new driver I continued searching and found one that was reported to be for Windows 10. I downloaded this and ran the installation file. This was a exe file rather than being a set of drivers but whoever had produced this was lazy because it ran then just disappeared without a word or by your leave.... A second attempt was the same but when I checked to see if I could link to my router, and after putting in the security code, it worked.

I've noticed that all the computers that I've updated seem to be very busy when not running an application (at least not one I wanted to use). Checking their status by opening Task Manager I see that over 50% of the processor power is being gobbled up by services. Clearly there's a problem because with Windows 7 I generally see 98% idle time. Something is clearly wrong so I'll investigate further. Part of the answer to this problem is in the updating procedure. Near the end of the process you're given a choice of "Express" or "Custom".. the latter being in small font. Definitely choose custom because you can kick into touch a whole host of INFILTRATION/HIJACKING stuff. These are probably responsible for stealing loads of processing power.

Much Later

I think there are quite a lot of bugs in Windows 10. Hopefully these will all get resolved soon? If I turn on my Toshiba laptop the wireless part doesn't work properly, telling me it can't connect to my new Sky router. The easiest (and only way) to fix this is to restart, whereupon it immediately connects to the router and the Internet is fine... very odd.

I had my first customer Windows 10 problem yesterday. He'd tried Windows 10 but didn't like it probably because Control Panel is hidden away etc. Simple solution, he'd thought... System Restore back to Windows 7. Oops, now it comes up with a "non-genuine" message and dire warnings to pay up etc. Also Microsoft Office wasn't working because Vipre kept blocking access. Alas, no further restore points were offered so the PC arrived here. NOTE: I understand MS pushed out an update which caused a "genuine" operating system to think it was a pirate copy.

The first thing to sort out was the non-genuine message and the fact that Windows 7 wasn't activated. This was straightforward and after a reboot it was activated and genuine. Next, I installed the Windows 10 update. Now, I must re-iterate the fact that you should NOT use the Express Settings option at the tail end of the installation process. Choosing the manual method reveals loads and loads of Microsoft spyware. This stuff can render ones computer virtually unusable whilst these spyware programs are "analysing" your data. Once installation is complete, check the hardware status because there may be missing drivers and therefore non-working bits and pieces. First though use the simple trick of applying "Adjust for best performance". This speeds up the computer at the expense of stupid bells and whistles which may be OK when a computer is brand new, but an awful handicap once the Registry gets big.

Next, I looked at the MS Office shortcomings. Most of the files were present but I noticed Excel was missing (and no doubt other stuff as well?). This is Office Pro 2003 and after a repair from a CD in Drive D everything worked normally. I rebooted and opened My Computer, Computer or whatever Windows 10 now calls it! and was surprised to see Drive C and Drive E but no Drive D. Try as I might I couldn't get it back, despite trying lots of suggestions around the Net. I deleted stuff in the hardware list and rebooted but still no sign of the missing DVD optical drive. Finally I could see Drive C and Drive D but no Drive E. This customer has neatly labelled all the various drives so I could see that what had been Drive E had now stolen the Drive D name. Exasperated, I switched the SATA cables around so that Drive D (which was labelled Drive E) was now labelled Drive D. After a reboot everything clicked back into place. Both DVD drives (which are indentical) were working and carried the right labels, and both drives showed up in Disk Management. Clearly a Windows 10 glitch. Maybe something wrong with the Plug & Play software?

Next, I kicked "E" into touch and selected Google Chrome then deleted loads of those stupid shortcuts in the area displayed when the start button is pressed, leaving the weather forcast, news and Pictures. Now the end result looks much like Windows 7. Bootup and shutdown are fast and the PC is nice and responsive. Alas, Vipre had to be removed and Registry Mechanic 10 (which is not supposed to work, and in fact locked up) also had to go.

I just need to point out that most of the useful technical things are revealed when the start button is right clicked.

Just the one question remains. Having restored to Windows 7 why did the operating system become de-activated?? I may have stumbled on the answer which was a bad Windows 7 update from MS.

Bloody Updates

Pardon the French, but Microsoft programmers seem to have no concept of a typical customer. The majority of people using a computer will turn it on and wish to do a specific thing with it. For example, open a laptop and check the time of a train.

I turned on my Windows 10 Toshiba laptop the other day to check something I'd seen on the TV. It booted up and displayed a screen with writing saying "Configuring Windows... do not turn off power". All I want to do is to have a quick look on the Internet, but no such luck... Eventually, after displaying 100% for an eternity the thing rebooted and, oh no, a similar "Configuring" message came up again. I think it was something like 20 minutes before the desktop appeared.

Firstly, with a laptop you either work from its battery or plug it into a mains supply. What if the battery was low but entirely adequate for a quick check on train times? Tough! By the time "Configuring Windows" had got underway your battery would be flat and, with no mains supply, the Registry might be stuffed.

Last night, when turning off my Windows 7 PC I noticed an exclamation mark. An update is clearly going to be installed I thought... I turned off the PC and went to bed. The following morning the PC took 20 minutes "Configuring" itself before the desktop appeared. Later a friend called... my PC stopped working he said, so I turned it off and tried a repair.... "Is it a Windows 7 system", I asked... Of course it was, and he'd not waited till the "Configuring" had finished and was now in a pickle... the PC wouldn't boot up. This is a very common problem. Lots of people do not sit watching a boot up process. They turn on their PC and make a pot of tea. Returning 5 minutes later and seeing what is apparently a frozen "Starting Windows" after 5 minutes they just reboot.

Sometimes recovery is straightforward but sometimes a new intallation of the operating system is necessary.

Microsoft MUST sort out their update philosophy. Computer users must be getting fed up with having to sit and wait for something, which is after all, an error in the software, to be corrected. The public would be absolutely irate if say, when turning on say a coffee maker or a TV set or even starting their car they were told to wait 20 minutes while a software error is fixed first. Microsoft operating systems should not be sold to the public until all the bugs are fixed and, if this isn't feasible, at least have these updates carried out in the background rather than at bootup or when turning off a computer.

The day after the above updates. My PC was very slow to boot up and eventually a message came up saying update 141 of 141 was being applied to the Registry. Bearing in mind ANY Registry update might go wrong, 141 of them seems not a good idea...

Stolen hard drive space

I paid good money for my hard drives running Windows 7. The last thing I need is Microsoft stealing part of them, which it's done by installing two enormous folders on the root of Drive C. One's named $Windows.~BT and the other $Windows.~WS.

I noticed also that an Outlook PST file was sitting in the "BT" folder. I moved this out to the Desktop.

If you try to delete these or their contents you won't get very far, but by using a piece of code run under Command Prompt you'll be successful. The reason for the problem is the security system built into Windows. Would you believe MS have bagged loads of files and declared themselves the "owner" and you cannot do anything with them, let alone delete them. That is unless you take ownership of the files yourself, which is what these routines are designed to do...

copy and paste these lines into CMD:

takeown /F C:\$Windows.~BT\* /R /A
icacls C:\$Windows.~BT\*.* /T /grant administrators:F
rmdir /S /Q C:\$Windows.~BT\


takeown /F C:\$Windows.~WS\* /R /A
icacls C:\$Windows.~WS\*.* /T /grant administrators:F
rmdir /S /Q C:\$Windows.~WS\

Now you'll be able to delete them. Note that the first folder takes ages to complete its change of ownership so just hang on until it's finished and you get the flashing cursor...

Now, when I Send/Receive in Outlook, I get a message that the PST file that I'd moved has gone missing. I wondered whether to ignore this message or to put back the PST file. Oddly the "BT" folder was still there (but empty). Did I forget to delete it? Anyway, I moved the PST file back from the Desktop to the BT folder and now the message doesn't appear. So Microsoft is messing around with my E-Mail settings as well as stealing my hard drive space... this is not good enough!

In fact if Microsoft can find my email summary file and make a copy in their new "BT" folder, could they not upload a copy to their own servers? Messing around with people's emails should be made a criminal offence... then again I'm pretty sure it is already..

If I choose to wipe out my expensive Windows 7 Ultimate 64 and replace it with a half-baked cheapo Windows 10 so be it, but I haven't so I treat this invasion of my computer seriously.

Second Thoughts

A customer rang me to say that his computer had started upgrading to Windows 10. As far as he knew he hadn't asked it to.. it just started by itself and would I stop it. Well, the easiest way to stop it is in fact to just let it finish, then reverse the process.

When it's almost completed installation an Express button appears, which if selected fills your computer up with loads of ghastly Microsoft invasive programs. Never select Express, instead look for the Custom option written in much smaller font on the left then deselect everything. At least you'll be able then to quickly reverse the entire process, unless of course you'd like to try Windows 10. It's not bad when the express options are not installed... To reverse the process go to SETTINGS, UPDATE & SECURITY and RECOVERY.

Having just reversed the process for one customer, a second customer rang and explained his laptop had overnight installed Windows 10 without asking and now his PC was doing the same!!!

It seems Microsoft software engineers have made Windows 10 upgrade an automatic update. It's about time someone took Microsoft to task and claimed against their reckless behaviour. How about criminal damage for starters? Not only does the update install automatically it apparently decides what to install. When you deliberately install Windows 10 you'll get the option (although this is hidden away) to deslect invasive stuff that really slows down your computer.

Another Windows 7 user called me about a printer problem. It seems Windows 10 had installed itself without his knowledge and his printer didn't work because no driver was available. His anti-virus had been kicked into touch also. Fortunately we were able to reverse the upgrade process. I then checked my own Windows updates and found a "recommended" update sitting there with a tick in its box. I removed the tick, made the update "hidden" and turned off Windows 7 updates.

 Around a year later (sometime in 2017)

All the hype concerning Windows 10 is over, the free upgrade/udate process has been terminated and Windows 10 is just another new operating system. I've had several itinerant computers to deal with and things are back to normal. I've figured out how to find missing features just like I had to deal with when Windows 98 took over from Windows 95. Microsoft people have made some improvements but they've also missed some opportunities.

Take for example the computer that feeds our TV set. I use this occasionally to play CDs or DVDs or to see photos from memory sticks or from phones using a wireless connection to the Chrome Cast dongle. Last night at 11pm I thought I'd watch a specific film. I'd already checked both Sky Movies and Netflix but found neither was offering it within my contract, so I'd downloaded it from the Internet and placed it on a DVD. Anyway, I turned on the TV computer and up came a message saying something long-winded about updates, but re-assuringly included 100% within the message. After 10 minutes the 100% message changed to another with slightly different wording and a much lower percentage completion. Another 20 minutes elapsed and finally the desktop appeared.

I opened the DVD tray and inserted my new film. It was swallowed up but nothing else happened so I clicked on "My PC" and found no DVD icon. Very odd. I detached the lid and peered into the computer and found the data and power leads were OK so rebooted the computer. This time the desktop came up fairly quickly.. after all I'm using a solid state hard drive... but still no DVD drive icon, so I opened Google Chrome and after kicking into touch a couple of really annoying messages searched for a solution to the problem. I found a list of around six methods of restoring ones missing icon. Only the sixth worked however and it seems my DVD had been made "invisible" so turning on invisible hardware allowed the icon to appear normally.

By now the opportunity to at least start watching my film was fast disappearing as it was now 10 minutes short of midnight. However I clicked on the thing and got a message that the required codec was missing. I checked the issue number of my VLC player and found it was way too old compared with that on my main computer which was able to play the film.

I downloaded the latest version. It was now past midnight and all I wanted was to check I could play the film, maybe the next day. Alas the thing produced stuttery sound and only a washed out blocky picture. Maybe the DVD player is a trifle slow I thought, so copied the file to my desktop. Eventually I was able to try again. Slightly better results insofar as sound was concerned but no luck with the picture. Clearly something was hogging processor power or maybe there just wasn't enough of it or perhaps Windows 10 was inferior to Windows 7 when it comes to playing films? By now it was nearly half past midnight and I was going to turn in. My main criticism is this. When one switches on a computer it's just a tool. If I pick up a hammer I expect it to work like a hammer and it should come with a heavy bit and a handle and be usable immediately. Microsoft seem to believe that a computer is different. Turn on a computer equipped with a Microsoft operating system and before it works it will just mess around and, in my case, download loads of software, install loads of software and switch itself off and on interminably until its software build is OK by Microsoft's yardstick. Basically, it's fixing errors in code made by Microsoft's programmers.

Wouldn't it be much better to let the computer start immediately and be a usable tool, then surreptitiously check for updates, then equally surreptitiously install them? But no, Microsoft have other ideas. Take the case of a laptop computer.. turn it on to check a train time and oops.. it's downloading software updates... wait 20 minutes.. then don't dare turn it off.. what if there isn't a mains supply? After maybe 10 minutes the screen fades out and something really nasty happens... in the middle of a Registry update all power is lost and a computer expert will need to mess around for a couple of days to restore operation.

A customer arrived with a laptop the next day. I can't open the "E" thing he said and see the Internet. Sure enough, nothing would convince "E" to open, so I made a shortcut to Internet Explorer. There you go.. the Internet now pops up normally..

The next day a knock on the door. It's the same customer. Now neither E nor Internet Explorer will open he said. Sure enough they wouldn't open. What about the new anti-virus I asked? I'd suggested that the first thing he should do was to download a free anti-virus.. I clicked on the Avast icon. Nothing happened. You've got a virus I said.. leave it with me.

I think this is the first Windows 10 installation I've seen that's got a virus so I'm interested to investigate the problem.

I found that nothing would open and you couldn't even switch off the laptop, except that closing the lid caused the Log-in screen to appear once it was opened again. I pressed the power button and tried Safe Mode. This is not a straightforward thing to do as you have to jump hurdles and through hoops etc to get Safe Mode. Some icons responded and some didn't and looking at Avast's record I found it had detected a virus. Clearly it hadn't removed it completely and it had just regenerated itself but this time including Avast in it's conquests.. make a mental note to advise customers to not use Avast!

Avast's log showed it had found three instances of the virus. The install exe file, a bit of data and an uninstall exe file with their locations. I looked and found duplicates of these and deleted them. Then I did a registry search and found some records using the same names so deleted these also. Msconfig isn't as useful in Windows 10 because one can't see everything that's started at bootup.

Basically, what I found was one of those "Make your computer run like new" programs. There was a desktop icon showing this and of course this icon could be opened normally. Opening it showed a message suggesting registration before zillions of errors could be cleaned up and of course registration would cost the usual $39 or whatever. Not handing over the $39 of course made the programe get into tizzy and prevent one from doing anything at all (except handing over $39). How do these programs get into your computer? At least two ways.. either is possible.. piggybacked with software such as Google Chrome from a rogue site or linked to a large "Download" label that you thought was for something you wanted but positioned or placed to simply misdirect you. Another way is to offer a frustrated computer user the option of speeding up their computer, without mentioned a fee. In fact usually offering a free download, omitting the bit about paying for actually making use of the free download.

The obvious thing the writer of the turbocharging software will arrange is to really slow down the host computer so much that $39 seems to be a really worthwhile investment. Something like turning off the response to clicking on something like "E".. which is where we came in. With sky-high labour costs a visit to a computer expert will be more than $39 anyway.. so you're sunk.

There's a further way that a virus can get into your computer, setting aside things like opening rogue emails etc. and that is via an unsolicited phone call from an Indian "gentleman", "working for Microsoft". The call will go something like this... "we've had a message from your computer" etc etc and he will then ask you to type various things which give him remote access to your machine. Then, if you refuse to pay up.. something like... all your desktop icons will vanish.

Let's see some details of my latest customer's problem. The rogue software went under the name, "One System Care". The rogue codes were "pckeeper.exe", "dw_util.exe", "task_util.exe" and a folder named "hvnvektnwpho". No doubt the latter a random series of letters which stood out like a sore thumb I might add. Also, the Registry carried instructions to regenerate the various pieces of code if perchance Avast (in this case) had the temerity to delete them. As the customer hasn't returned yet (now 24 hours later) I guess all is now well. What's really annoying is that some of my tried and trusted programs no longer work in Windows 10. I suspect that in most cases this is because each particular company just wants to make more money eg Vipre and Registry Mechanic.

The next week

A neighbour dropped by. In fact it was the same neighbour whose laptop I'd fixed recently. He opened the lid and it said something along the lines "installing updates.. do not turn off". He explained it had been showing this screen all day. Pressing the power button just brought up the same message and the battery was sealed inside the case would you believe so no joy disconnecting it! I suggested he just leave it for 24 hours. The day after next I met him in the lane and he said my solution worked. It took a whole day before it booted up. It REALLY annoys me that Microsoft cannot get their act together.

One of my customers tells me I have to submit my invoices in PDF format otherwise they won't get paid. It was easier to do this rather than argue with them. I just add £20 to each to cover the extra work. All went OK initially until today. I opened Adobe Acrobat XI Pro and attempted to convert the latest invoice. A message came up telling me Word was opening and nothing else. Usually this message appears only briefly but today the program appeared to hang. Instead, I opened Word and attempted to convert to PDF but this also hung although the computer seemed to be working overtime. I had to eventually reboot as Word had locked up and Outlook couldn't open Word as its editor.

Searching the Net brought up the usual raft of stupid suggestions but eventually I spotted an explanation that seemed plausible. It concerned the options selected for PDF conversion in Word so I deselected all the options I didn't understand and when I tried again the conversion took place instantaneously.

Yet another Microsoft update. This one started unannounced on my laptop with a dud battery. The writers had the grace to hint it may take some time, but it took much longer than an hour. So long in fact that I needed the mains socket into which the laptop was plugged. This was when I discovered the dud battery because unplugging the thing caused the laptop to just die. Nothing lit.. just dead. I plugged it back in and a message came up saying everything was being re-instated. Eventually it was working again. I looked for the Update switch... nothing... it seems Microsoft don't let you turn off updates, at least in this "free" version. True, there's a Registry trick but I was fed up by this time. After a short while the confounded update started again, but this time I was given the option of postponing it till "later". As I didn't now need to use the laptop I let it go ahead and well over an hour later the update had finished. It's Update 1607 the "Windows Anniversary Update". No doubt a ruse to install loads of unwanted rubbish.

A customer arrived. He wanted Windows 10 removing because it was too slow and he didn't understand it. It had overwritten Windows 7 but he wanted Windows XP. I obliged but it was tricky as I'd long forgotten the tricks needed to install it. At the same time I suggested a solid state hard drive for the operating system and to use his old drive as a data drive. I fitted a 128GByte SSD and the computer was incredibly fast. Fortunately Windows XP installed on the SSD trouble free. I had half-anticipated problems and was prepared to clone to the SSD from an ordinary drive, but I didn't need to.

A week later I had a major problem with my own computer. It has twin 1T drives operating in Raid 1 (mirrored). The computer had been getting slow to boot up and about 11am that day the thing stopped working. Several programs were open and even though the mouse cursor was working nothing could induce the frozen display to change. The hard drive activity lamp was permanently lit so I waited... and waited but no joy, so I turned off the power. The computer then booted up and appeared normal except my mirrored data drives were resynching. I looked in the Intel Storage Manager and found the mirror process for my 1T system drives was rebuilding. I carried on using the computer, eventually switching off at midnight. The next morning I booted up and found the dreaded "no boot disk" message. The BIOS looked OK but the initial RAID start-up screen showed both disks "off-line". The are a couple of options open.. one is to reset RAID and the other to delete RAID. Neither looks good as a dire warning appears in either case. I've always wondered whether this applies to RAID 1 but I wasn't prepared to take a chance. Fortuitously, soon after 11am the previous day I'd ordered a pair of new 1T hard drives. SSDs would have been better but they are still too expensive in large sizes. When the new drives arrived I used my workshop computer to clone the newer of the two old drives. Before that I'd done a test which declared both old drives were fine (which was puzzling). The cloning was successful so I fitted the new drive in my computer together with the unused new drive and switched on. The first thing I noticed was no RAID screen, but the computer booted up fine with the second drive also visible. How can I resurrect my mirror system? I thought I'd use the mirror feature in Windows 7 as this works OK with my data drives, but would the Intel Storage Manager work? I've never tried this program other than to manage the RAID drives once they'd been installed using the DOS program which appears at bootup. Surprisingly, Intel Storage Manager worked fine. It roped in the spare drive and rebuilt the new 1T drive perfectly. I now had my two mirrored RAID 1 system back... with two brand new drives. Not all was well however. For some very odd reason the rebuild that had taken place after 11am a few days before used the contents of the drive that had been kicked into touch. All the work I'd done between 11am and midnight had disappeared. I looked at the other old drive. Maybe I'd cloned the wrong one? But no, both the old drives carried exactly the same data. Even the email acknowledging the order for the two new hard drives had disappeared.

I searched the system for anything that had occurred after 11am. Nothing... not even Windows logs. My computer must have been using RAM between 11am and midnight and hadn't written anything to either hard drive? Surely not.. I remain baffled.

A few days later.... 16th March 2017, I turned on the computer and not a lot happened. Certainly the display remained black and the hard drive lamp wasn't flashing. Surely the display hadn't failed? I poked at its buttons a few times but nothing happened. Unlike some there isn't a blue light at the front so you can never tell what's going on. I've since found out the blue light is on the back where you can't see it... how is that useful Mr HKC? I turned off the power to the display to no avail. I waited about 10 minutes and turned off the mains supply to the computer.. waited 30 seconds and turned it on again. Still a black screen so I went out to the workshop and borrowed another display. I plugged it in and after a couple of minutes a Windows 7 start up screen showed up. It wasn't doing anything.. the sort of pulsing effect wasn't present. Then the pulsing started and the computer suddenly rebooted. Was it stuck in an infinite loop? No.. the Windows 7 screen re-appeared and then a sky blue screen with those words of explanation... something like "configuring updates" and "35%". Microsoft are at it again. I thought I'd switched off auto updates but clearly it's been resurrected. Finally the boot sequence finished and the desktop appeared. I transferred the monitor leads and the old monitor worked fine.... except of course that all the icons had been rearranged willy nilly. I have around 120 icons on my screen. It's almost as bad as my physical desktop but not quite. It took 5 minutes to rearrange them.

I looked at the hard disk status expecting to see the two RAID arrays in a mess, but no, surprisingly both were OK. I looked at the Windows system log and found that the computer had even noticed I'd turned it off. The was a warning about one of the hard disk drivers missing. Maybe the update was to blame for that? I checked the update history and found two updates had been successfully installed. Forget about the Microsoft anti-virus one, the culprit was KB4012215. Microsoft just stole another 30 minutes of my life. At least if anyone rings me to tell me their computer has stopped working I'll be a bit wiser now.

A couple of days ago we were waiting for a particular email. I checked to see if it had arrived. We use Outlook 2003. Our ISP is Sky. We use BT email, my main email address uses my own domain name which is registered with UK2 and my website host is Hostpapa who also handle my non-BT email. All a bit complicated, but it sort of grew like Topsy and works OK so why change? Of course each email account has a user name, a password and a set of server details. The latter are never standard because they also grew like Topsy. I was getting a message telling me the server wasn't recognising my user name or password, or both, and I should contact my ISP or the email provider. I noticed the problem wasn't the Sky account or the BT account but the Hostpapa accounts. so I flipped to my wife's Windows 7 account and found exactly the same problem so found Hostpapa's free phone number and called them. A French Canadian always answers. He sounds laid back and I can only understand half of what he says. Maybe his technical gibberish-speak isn't the same as mine? I explained the problem, identifying their email server by name. Thankfully I wasn't asked the sort of questions one gets from Indian call centre ignoramuses reading from a script, such as switch off the router, unplug this and unplug that.. he just asked me if I minded being put on hold. I kept checking email and suddenly it worked. Maybe they'd been hoovering the inside of the server? The chap came back and clearly wasn't surprised to hear things were now fixed. I breathed a sigh of relief. I'd imagined a payment had been missed at UK2 or Sky, or BT or even Hostpapa and a plug had been pulled somewhere in my over-complicated emain chain. I must say this was a rare occurrence although Sky seem to do three times as much hoovering as most. Usually my customers panic in a case like this and start fiddling with user names and passwords... after all that would line up with the error message.. so I can't blame them, but 99% of the time it had been just a server glitch after all, and by the time this is fixed they end up with the wrong password.

 A SATA Problem

 A customer, to whom I supplied a computer many years ago (then upgraded progessively so that only the original case now remains from the first incarnation) rang to say his machine was failing to boot up. I tried it and it booted up normally so called to say it was now working. All I'd done was to replace the CMOS battery which read almost zero volts. After a short while the phone rang again... still not booting up. This time I was able to emulate the fault and, also by swapping SATA leads, get it to boot normally. Soon the boot failure became permanent and Windows 10 clever repair features had completely given up. Very odd so I suggested a failing hard drive and recommended a new solid state drive. This arrived and before fitting it I booted from the old drive (even odder as it actually worked) and backed up his email. I then attempted to clone the old drive to the new solid state drive but failed, after which no amount of persuasion would make the computer boot up.

At this point I decided to install Windows 7 to the SSD and to fit the old drive with its intermittent Windows 10 as a source of data, but why had the system failed? Was it a failing drive or something more sinister as the owner admitted to having been scammed recently and had installed some software allowing a crook in India free reign within his computer.

After a lot of effort I'd installed Windows 7 but the computer intermittently tried to boot not from the new SSD, but the old drive (presenting a failing repair option). Eventually, I unplugged the old drive and booting from the SSD was then OK. During the process of getting things to work the DVD failed so I fitted a new one. The phone rang later with the news that the new DVD wasn't being recognised.

To cut a long story short.. this is what I found. The motherboard has 6 SATA sockets. The SSD was plugged into SATA2. I found that if the DVD was plugged into SATA1, 3 or 4 it would be recognised immediately after booting up but after a second boot-up the DVD had vanished. It would only re-appear (and only once) if it was moved to an alternative SATA socket. Very odd...

I then tried SATA5 and the DVD worked fine even after rebooting several times. I plugged the old hard drive into SATA6 and this too worked faultlessly. It seems that SATA1 to 4 are usable independently but only one of the four can be used.

I'd also discovered that boot-up was taking several minutes prior to the DVD disappearing but took only 20 seconds when fitted to SATA5. Shutting down was also slow, but once only a single SATA was used in the set 1-4 boot-up and shut down were very fast.

What's the answer? My guess is that there's a hardware fault in the selection circuitry of SATA1 to 4. SATA5 and 6 must use different circuitry so these are unaffected by the fault.

Moving now to 2019 

 My Workshop computer crashed. It was my first Windows 10 Free Upgrade from Windows 7. The repair features declared that repair was impossible and nothing I did would fix things... the computer wouldn't boot up. It turns out that a software update had arrived, installed itself and somehow had concealed or modified the instructions needed to boot up. The SSD drive looked OK and tested OK but nothing would persuade it to boot. I fitted a spare hard drive carrying a copy of this specific Windows 10 and the computer booted up perfectly. I came back later and exactly the same problem had befallen it. I wiped the SSD and installed Windows 7 which is working fine. Needless to say, a few weeks earlier, I'd already tackled a couple of customers computers that had failed with unrepairable Windows 10 builds so I hadn't been surprised when mine died... I'm just unlucky.

In April 2019 we were watching the semi-final football match between Watford and Wolves. At the end of the second half when the tables were turned and Watford were in the ascendancy Microsoft Windows 10 programmers ruined our viewing...

We were watching the match from BT Sport using a small computer attached to the TV and suddenly a large box appeared in the centre of the screen. The gist was that my computer was going to reboot and there was absolutely nothing one could do to prevent this... then the screen went blank and our viewing was interrupted. At this point we managed to revert to a standby option which was casting the match from my daughter's mobile phone. I checked periodically and found messages including things like 18% complete... and in the end it must have been around 10pm that night that the computer desktop re-appeared. Something like 4 or 5 hours had elapsed since the warning box had first appeared. This, in my humble opinion, is totally unacceptable. And, not content with ruining the family's viewing, Microsoft has completely altered the computer's performance. It's only a tiny Intel Atom processor but it managed flawlessly before the mammoth update. Now, whenever an icon is clicked, it takes about 20 seconds before anything happens which means I'll need to probably spend hours changing the running software to eliminate whatever Microsoft has deemed to be useful to them rather than users.

 Automatic Repair Failed? Read on...

Of course, when offered the chance to freely upgrade my old version of Windows to Windows 10, because a couple of my computers had suspect versions, I jumped at the chance. All worked fine and I had a couple of utility computers now running with a free legal copy of Windows 10. The second time I upgraded I'd spotted the option to cut out a whole mess of spyware by avoiding the "Express" installation. By unticking a dozen or so options the computer would be a lot faster. Alas, about a year or so later both my freebee Windows 10 installations had crashed and all the repair options failed to resurrect them. I set aside the hard drives and installed my old standby Windows 7.

The other day (June 2019) I looked again at fixing one of my old Windows 10 installations. No luck however, as I got the same message to the effect that a boot drive wasn't accessible. I also got another message, slightly less ominous, during further attempts but that too failed to respond to any of the repair options offered by Windows 10. During my experiments I noticed a couple of further "advanced" options, yet untried. One was to Reset the computer and the second to allow recycling. The first sounded slightly promising but the second clearly aimed at scrubbing the hard drive. I followed the instructions and selected what I imagined to be a clean re-upgrade to Windows 10. To my surprise, after an age whilst the progress percentage went from 1% to 100%, I was asked to supply a name and various settings.. followed by a brand new Desktop. It had worked... but what about activation?? I deleted all the stuff alongside the start menu, set a solid colour background and selected My PC to appear, then selected Best Performance and plugged in the ethernet cable. After a short time my Windows 10 was activated....

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