Category: Windows 8


These are the instructions to make a cloned drive bootable again if the original had bad sectors. These instructions are only applicable for any Windows that uses the BCD, which is Vista and beyond, and has a MBR. You will need a Windows 7 or later DVD or equivalent USB stick; a Windows Vista disc will be harder. This assumes that the OS files were cloned successfully.

  • Run chkdsk on all the partitions.
  • Identify which partition has the BCD files. If there is a recovery partition, chances are good the BCD is stored on that drive.
  • Use the following commands in the diskpart program:
    • LIST DISK (use this command to identify the cloned hard drive number)
    • SELECT DISK # (where # is the cloned hard drive number)
    • LIST PARTITION (use this command to identify the partition with the BCD files)
    • SELECT PARTITION # (where # is the partition with the BCD files)
    • ACTIVE
    • EXIT
  • Now run the following commands: (Of course, some are redundant!)
    • bootsect /nt60 sys /force
    • bootrec /fixboot
    • bootrec /fixmbr
    • bcdboot d:\windows /s c: (where d:\ is the drive letter with all your Windows files and c: is the system partition from above)
      • NOTE: Usually but not always the system partition is given the driver letter c:. If it was not given any drive letter, you will have to use the diskpart commands to assign it a drive letter. But it some cases it may not be c:, in some cases it may be on the same drive as your Windows files.
  • Reboot.
  • If problems still persist, run startup repair.

I currently own the Asus RT-AC66U router and I love it. I’ve had it for over a year and it has been steady as a rock. But with this “cloud first, mobile first” (and customer last) philosophy of Microsoft, I was looking for a way to make my router block all that tracking that is in Windows 10 and trying to be in Windows 7 and 8. Block it at the router level and Microsoft can’t do a thing about it. According to Asus, the RT-AC66U router supports DD-WRT. This is a requirement. If your Asus router does not support DD-WRT, then this how-to will not help. Fortunately you don’t need to install DD-WRT. DD-WRT can a pain to install on a router. You do need to install the Merlin firmware, which you can download here.

This is an advanced how-to meant for more technical people.

Continue reading

By default, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 has enabled settings that track you for advertising. Windows 8.1 also try desperately to have you log in to your computer with a Microsoft account. Those settings should be disabled and you should never log in with a Microsoft account because several of my customers have had trouble logging in when they used a Microsoft account to do so. Thankfully, in Windows 10 it is a lot easier not to log in with a Microsoft account. These are the steps to avoid potential problems and to reclaim your privacy. Logging with a non-Microsoft account makes it harder for Microsoft to deliver you targeted advertising. Just because it is very difficult does not mean we should willingly surrender our privacy.

Continue reading

I encountered a Windows 7 computer that would only boot to a black screen. The only thing I saw was a mouse arrow. At first I suspected the hard drive was corrupt, so I cloned the hard drive. But the problem still existed. With this computer I still had reason to believe the hard drive was bad. Next I scanned for a virus in Windows directory and the only that was discovered was one of those junk free programs that deliver pop-up ads.

It was at this point that I decided to try an easy solution. Since this was Windows 7 there would a good copy of the registry files at %windir%\system32\config\RegBack\. So after making a backup of the current registry files, I copied the good registry over the current ones. With this computer, some of the current registry files were twice as big as the good copies, which is why I think something was wrong with the old hard drive. After I did this, the computer booted fine.

Some other suggestions included running System Restore. I was lazy in this instance and didn’t try that. But I did increase the System Restore capacity once I got back into Windows. If you are still using Windows XP, you can always find the registry files under the \System Volume Information\ folder. Some other suggestions are that certain key folders have been corrupted or have corrupt permissions. Check the Windows folder, the Program Files folders, and the Recycle Bin folder.

This is a guide to fix Windows Update for Windows Vista and later. It is a guide for when Windows Update just does not work. The steps below assume there are no malware, viruses, or rootkits on the computer.

  1. If using an Intel processor, update the Rapid Storage Technology (RST) driver. Try downloading it from Intel’s website first, but if a compatible one is not found, you can download a know good copy here. Try Windows Update after restarting.
  2. If Windows Update still does not work, download the Tweaking.com Windows All In One repair. Make all the necessary backups. The repairs you want to make sure are done are to (1) Reset Registry Permissions; (2) Reset File Permissions on the Windows drive, usually c:; (3) Repair WMI; (4) Repair Windows Firewall; (5) Repair Internet Explorer; (6) Repair HOSTS File; (7) Remove Policies Set by  Infections; (8) Repair Winsock & DNS Cach; (9) Repair Proxy Settings; (10) Repair Windows Update; (11) Repair MSI; (12) Restore Important Services; and (13) Set Windows Services to Default Settings. Reboot after complete and try Windows Update again.
  3. If Windows Update still does not work, try an in-place upgrade.
  4. If the in-place upgrade fails, then start using Google to search for the error code given by Windows Update. If no code is given, then search for Windows Update problems without an error code.

A customer had just upgraded to Windows 8.1 and after he did, the computer would no longer boot. A blue screen appeared, in same color as the Windows 8 blue screen of death, but with white lines and blocks instead of anything readable.

Some drivers do not upgrade properly to Windows 8.1. An often overlooked driver is the one the antivirus program uses. The ultimate problem was the version of McAfee that came with the computer was not compatible with Windows 8.1. (Not that I was surprised that McAfee was the cause of problems.) I had to remove McAfee in safe mode. Continue reading

Now this is a difficult problem. I have a customer with Windows 8 who could not activate Windows. The primary problem was a HP computer with the product key embedded in the UEFI. (Which means, of course, no product key sticker. One of my many reasons to hate Windows 8.) Everything I tried to activate Windows failed. I even used a Magic Jellybean keyfinder to recover the product key.

Before you start the repair process, be sure you have the Windows 8 product key.

Continue reading

Sometimes in Windows when you log in, you will get this message: “Windows cannot load the user’s profile but has logged you on with the default profile for the system”. The cause of this message is one of the user specific files has become corrupted. Chances are good that user’s registry hive is corrupted. There are several hidden files in the folder c:\users\[username]\ folder (Windows Vista and later) or c:\documents and settings\[username]\ folder (Windows XP and earlier). Hereafter in this blog post we will call these directories [old user].

Chances are good you won’t be able to fix this problem.

  • Try System Restore first, but be sure to choose a restore point several days before the problem occurred.
  • If that does not work, try your backup next, if you have one.
  • If that does not work, then you will need to create a new user. Below are the steps you need to take to migrate to a new user.
  1. Create a new user and log in to that new user. Do not open any programs just yet. And do not delete your old profile until you are absolutely sure everything has been copied.
  2. Browse to the new user’s folders, c:\users\[new user]\ or c:\documents and settings\[new user]\, hereafter called just [new user].
  3. Copy all the non-hidden files and folders from [old user] to [new user].
  4. After that finishes, browse to [old user]\appdata\local\ (Windows Vista or later) or [old user]\local settings (Windows XP or earlier). If you want, you can copy everything from this folder to the corresponding folder in your new user profile. It probably is a good idea only to copy folders from Microsoft or programs you currently have installed.
  5. Next browse to [old user]\appdata\roaming\ or [old user]\local settings\application data\ and copy those folders to the corresponding folder in your new profile.
  6. Log off and then log back in.
  7. See if your settings transferred. You might have to set up your email again. And that means you will might need to Google the location of the old email files and how to import them.

If the Master Boot Record (MBR) or partition information has been damaged by a virus, Windows will not boot. Variants of the TDSS rootkit, for instance, will infect the MBR and remove the system and active flags on all partitions. The purpose of that is to make sure the boot process must active the TDSS rootkit. You’ll know this has happened when all you get is a flashing cursor when attempting to boot from the primary hard drive. It can be easily fixed with the Windows 7 DVD. This process is easier with the Windows 7 DVD than with the Windows 8 or Windows Vista DVD. This solution only works if the hard drive has a MBR. The MBR replacement, GUID Partition Table (GPT), requires a computer with the UEFI instead of the BIOS. GPT is more secure than the MBR.

  1. Boot into the Windows 7 DVD and choose Repair Your Computer.
  2. Startup Repair may run, if it does, let it fix the problem. If it doesn’t, then run startup repair immediately. Then immediately reboot back into the Windows 7 DVD.
  3. Open a command prompt.
  4. If using Windows Vista or later, run the following commands:
    chkdsk c: /f /x (NOTE: The Windows DVD may have the Windows partition another drive letter. Make sure you use that drive letter.)
    bootsect /nt60 sys /force /mbr

    bcdboot c:\windows /s c: (NOTE: The Windows DVD may have assigned the Windows partition another letter. Use the drive letter Windows assigned for c:\windows.)
    diskpart
    select disk # (use the list disk command to get a list of drives and use the # of the boot drive.)
    select partition # (use the list partition command to get a list of partitions on this drive and choose the partition with Windows on it, likely the largest.)
    active
    exit
  5. If using Windows XP or earlier, use the same commands except replace /nt60 with /nt52 in the bootsect command and do not use bcdboot.
  6. Reboot and run TDSSKiller.

So here is a problem I encountered. A computer would not connect to the internet. The first thing I do is, of course, run the ipconfig command. This showed that it wasn’t getting an IP address from the router. So I tried to open the command prompt as an administrator, but all I got was a message saying “The specified service does not exist as an installed service” along with something else below it related to the action I was trying to perform. Whenever I tried to run anything as an administrator, I got this same message: “The specified service does not exist as an installed service“. Continue reading