I Just Changed The Way I Receive Windows Updates AND Here Is Why…

November 23, 2014

I cannot stress enough, from a computer security standpoint, the importance of the Windows Updates. Microsoft goes to great lengths to keep our PC’s safe; HOWEVER, this past week I had an experience on a brand new PC that I had customized to my liking where I believe a Windows Update caused me a lot of grief. I experienced similar symptoms, as reported at 404 Tech Support, where they made determination that a specific update on machines with the Avast Anti-Virus installed caused the following symptoms to occur:

  • Restarting or shutting down would never complete
  • Uninstalling a program would hang
  • Certain startup programs would never launch
  • Opening computer properties (Right-click on This PC, select Properties) would never open

In my case, I experienced the exact same symptoms; HOWEVER, was not the same cause(s). I did not (initially) install the update as indicated in the 404 Tech Support article and do not have Avast installed. My problem started out when I booted my Windows 81. box and was greeted with a message indicating that Windows was installing new features and telling me to wait. Of course I am scratching my head going, “What new features???  I didn’t install or ask for any new features”. Needless to say, the computer hung on that screen (and message) and did not move forward. I ended up booting into the Windows reset, refresh and restore options. I attempted a restore and that did not work properly, as well. I performed a reboot again, and the PC did start to the desktop; however, that is when I experienced the symptoms as reflected above. After a second start of the computer, the computer started to run properly (for whatever reason). I immediately ran a scan for malware and checked all areas (startup, processes, services, etc…) to make sure I was not hit with something.

The only thing that I could come up with was when I went to do the Windows restore, the restore point was showing that Windows updates KB2920189 and KB3011780 had been installed. Update KB3011780 was showing in the Windows Updates history that it had been cancelled at one point, but also showed on the same date it did install successfully. It is my thinking that this update may have caused the issues I was experiencing.

After getting things back in order and the computer running properly. I manually downloaded the update as reflected in the article 404 Tech Support had problems with (which showed as an optional update on my PC) and the update installed with no issue on my PC. Note: By the way, that optional update (KB8000850) is a large core Windows update.

Needless to say, after reading the article at 404 Tech Support and my own experience with a potential Windows Update that went wild, I now have my computer configured to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download or install them…”.

Windows Update Configuration

I do not recommend this setting, but from a troubleshooting standpoint, I am going this route for now. There have been too many Windows 8 (8.1) updates that have caused problems and this will put me in control to monitor the updates more closely and to educate myself more about Windows Updates.

If anyone else experienced a Windows Update issue, please feel free to share your experience and comment below…

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A Troubleshooting Tool To Delete Potentially Unwanted Software (such as adware, spyware, trojans, viruses and worms)

November 16, 2014

Recently during a software install I found myself in a hurry and noticed about halfway through the install I was authorizing third party installs (of other software) that was piggy backing the software that I really wanted to install. Needless to say I do not like the idea of software developers doing this; especially when the third party software is very questionable in nature. I know the developers work very hard and need a source of income, but they are affecting their reputation when the third party software installs are sketchy in nature. So, please; when installing any software make sure you read the initial install instructions and if there is a selection to customize the install, make sure you do that so that you can see specifically what is being installed. Anyhow, I have been testing Windows software for many years and found myself, due to being in a rush, becoming the victim. I knew immediately that I pulled the trigger on something that I did not want…

FreeFixerTo remedy my issue, where a third party start page modifier (browser hijacker) was installed, I performed research on the name of the poison I was seeing and then I ran a utility called FreeFixer to analyze and help me fix the problem.

FreeFixer

FreeFixer scans a large number of locations where unwanted software has a known record of appearing or leaving traces. The scan locations include the programs that run on your computer, the programs that starts when you reboot your computer, your browser’s plug-ins, your home page setting, etc.

Now, the catcher to FreeFixer is that following the scan that it performs (which is very extensive and impressive) it does not know what is unwanted, so it presents the scan results and it is up to you to determine what needs removed and/or set back to their default settings. The good here, following a scan by FreeFixer is that you can get more info on a suspicious file by click on the “more info” selection; AND, if you delete a selection the file selection is quarantined where you can restore from in the event you mess up.

In cases where FreeFixer is unable to delete files in normal Windows mode they are registered for delayed removal with FreeFixer’s Native Deleter, which removes the files upon the next reboot. The actual delete operation is done before the logon screen appear. The majority of malware can be deleted at this point.

In the end, I am finding that you need to have a good understanding of the Windows architecture in order to use this powerful utility. FreeFixer is definitely a tech toolbox keeper. There is a 32bit and 64bit version of FreeFixer available as a full install or portable app.

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Android Version of CPU-Z (popular system information tool)

November 5, 2014

I am sure many of the techie types out there have heard of CPU-Z, a system information tool that gathers information on the main devices and components of your computer (such as CPU, Motherboard, Memory, etc…). These types of tools are not only useful for identifying components, but are useful as troubleshooting tools as well.

Today, I noticed on Google Play (the Android Store) that there is an Android version of CPU-Z that is just as good as the PC version in identifying cpu, clock speeds, sensors, battery levels, screen resolution, and much more (for your smartphone or tablet)…

CPU-Z

Android version of the popular CPU identification tool for PC/Windows., CPU-Z is a free application that reports information about your device.

- SoC (System On Chip) name, architecture, clock speed for each core ;

- System information : device brand & model, screen resolution, RAM, storage.;

- Battery information : level, status, temperature ;

- Sensors.

Requirements :

- Android 2.2 and above (version 1.03 and +)


Create Your Own Bootable Tech Toolbox With AOMEI PE Builder

October 8, 2014

I am going to start off this blog post with this statement, “If you are someone who is often called upon to troubleshoot a Windows Based PC, then AOMEI PE Builder FREE is the first step in creating your very own bootable tech toolbox.”.

AOMEI PE Builder FREE will walk you through the process of creating a bootable (and customizable) disk, based on the WindowsPE environment, that will allow you to perform system maintenance, troubleshooting and fast recovery tasks when the computer is corrupted (i.e. by malware) or cannot be used.

 AOMEI PE Builder

What is WindowsPE? Windows Preinstallation Environment (also known as Windows PE and WinPE) is a lightweight version of Windows used for the deployment of PCs, workstations, and servers, or troubleshooting an operating system while it is offline – Wikipedia

AOMEI PE Builder FREE in a nutshell:

  • FREE Must Have Software for computer techs and home based users
  • Creates recovery media on a CD/DVD disc, USB Flash Drive, or ISO Image File (If you are planning to use this on multiple PCs, it is recommended that you use a 32 bit system to create the recovery disk and add-on tools. This way the tool will work on 32 bit systems and 64 bit systems.)
  • Works only on the Windows 8/7 and Server 2008 R2/2012 platforms
  • No Need to Install AIK/WAIK (Typically when creating WindowsPE media, AIK or WAIK need to be installed. Not required with AOMEI PE Builder)
  • Comes integrated with Windows system recovery & repair and Windows Disk Management
  • Comes integrated with AOMEI’s Disk Partition Assistant and AOMEI’s Backup, Imaging and Restoration Software (called AOMEI Backupper Standard) – which I featured HERE on the blog and currently use as my “go to” backup and imaging software
  • Comes integrated with various (commonly known) tech tools and maintenance utilities, such as:

7-Zip
Everything
IrfanView
Notepad++
SumatraPDF
Q-Dir
Recuva
PENetwork
Filezilla
QTWeb
OSFMount
BOOTICE
NTPWEdit

  • Can easily add other portable tools to WindowsPE (I do not know of any other WindowsPE builders out there that offers the ability to selectively add “your own” portable troubleshooting tools during the build process)

In closing: I can remember the days where we could make a DOS boot disk to get a system up and running for troubleshooting and repair purposes. With the complexities of today’s computers and operating systems it is not that simple anymore; however, AOMEI’s PE Builder gives you an EASY option to create a Windows 7/8 boot disk that will definitely help you navigate around those complexities and help get your computer (or someone elses) up and running.

To show my endorsement of AOMEI: As I mentioned earlier, I currently use AOMEI Backupper Standard and have been very pleased with the software. I just recently, without no problem, used this backup software (and imaging software) to image a drive in a computer so that I could seamlessly move the contents of the drive to a new solid state drive that I installed.  I also use it to perform daily backups of my personal files to external drives.


A Geek Squeak – The Windows Club Releases FixWin V2 For Windows 8

October 3, 2014

The Windows Club (one of my favorite sites) recently released FixWin V2, a very popular Windows fixit utility, for when your back is against the wall. Please make sure you read the “How To Use FixWin V2″; which, in summary instructs you to run the system file checker (sfc), create a restore point; the, run each potential fix one at a time.

FixWin 2 for Windows 8 is a portable tool that offers to repair and fix over 50 common Windows annoyances, issues & problems. They have been  categorized under 6 tabs, viz : File Explorer, Internet & Connectivity, Modern UI, System Tools, Troubleshooters and Additional Fixes. The best part of using the tools, is that it provides direct links to bring up the built-in 16 Windows Troubleshooters. No need to open your control panel and search from them! Simply open the Troubleshooters tab of FixWin and open any one of the troubleshooters. It’s so simple… READ MORE @ The Windows Club

FixWin V2


FREE Software To Quickly Retrieve The Serial Presence Detect (SPD) From Your RAM Modules

September 30, 2014

I recently came across PassMark RAMMon (FREE for personal use) to help me positively identify the RAM Modules in a PC and thought I would pass this onto my readers.

Passmark RAMMon

PassMark RAMMon generates an extensive snapshot of the manufacturer, the clockspeed and other data of their DDR2, DDR3, XMP and EPP memory devices and even some older memory types. It uses SysInfo DLL SDK to gather the SPD attributes from RAM devices. 

What is SPD?

Serial Presence Detect (SPD) is the standard set forth by JEDEC for a host system to retrieve attributes of memory modules. The SPD standard is intended for use on any memory module, independent of memory technology or module form factor.

RAMMon displays the values stored on RAM module such as the memory capacity, the manufactuer, serial number, model part number, the CAS latencies supported and the module voltage.

Also, depending on your RAM type, other specific SPD data can be retreived as well. Such as the module thickness, module width, maximum operating temperature and more.


A Complete Collection Of Over 300 Tech Related Programs

September 24, 2014

At the top of my blog you will see a tab labelled “GEGeek”, which will redirect you from my blog to the GEGeek web site. It is not typical to see bloggers have a redirect link, from their blog, that takes them off the blog or away from the site. In my case, and if you know me, I am atypical…

The point being here is that I strongly encourage you take advantage of using the GEGeek tab and visit the GEGeek site; especially, if you are an information technology professional. GEGeek is the most awesome tech site out there where everything (and, I mean everything) you could possibly need to learn about computer information technology, to acquire tools for troubleshooting, etc.. can be found neatly wrapped up in one place. I feel greatly honored and appreciative that the site developer, at GEGeek, has given me the OK to have this direct link on my blog.

To further make a point of how unbelievable this site is, the site developer has compiled the GEGeek Tech Toolkit. I know there are numerous tech toolkits out there; but, where this one shines is that it contains over 300 tech related programs (over 600MB Compressed – Expands to 2.8 gig)… Included in the GEGeek Tech Toolkit is a program that will keep the essential tools in the kit, up-to-date. How awesome it that?

GEGeek Tech Toolkit

I know myself, with my passion for computers and information technology, I have spent hours upon hours testing out utilities and programs that could be useful as my tools of the trade (so to speak). When I first discovered GEGeek and the GEGeek Tech Toolkit, I knew within minutes of hitting the site that I had discovered a goldmine.

Please take a moment, especially if you have the same passion as I do, and visit GEGeek. Within a minute of visiting, you will be going WOW and adding the site to your bookmarks; plus, don’t forget the GEGeek Toolkit (which, by the way is FREE).


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