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The "Joy" of PC: Windows Hell
Old 08-08-2016, 02:11 AM   #1
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The "Joy" of PC: Windows Hell

My last visit to this forum was something like 40 hours ago. What have I been doing in between? I have been fighting with my PCs, or Windows!

Now that I have them fixed (I think), I am retelling my travail here. Maybe it's worth a chuckle or two.

1) Problem with PC running XP

It first started out with an older PC I keep to run Windows XP. This PC hosts a bunch of legacy scientific and engineering professional software that I still use to support my hobby.

The PC ran fine, but I looked up its system properties for some reason. I spotted that Windows reported only 480MB of RAM. Huh? I thought I put more than that in there.

Took the lid of the case to look inside, and pulled out the sticks of RAM. Yep, there were 2 sticks of 1GB each. So, how did Windows report only 480MB?

Boot machine up with only one stick installed at a time to see if one of the sticks was bad. Nope, Windows still reported only 480MB with either 1 GB stick.

Hmmm... How could that be? This is a 10-year old machine that I built myself, and I could not believe I have been using it with so little memory.

After a few hours of fooling around with checking to see if the BIOS ROM was up-to-date (it was), and also loaded some diagnostic software, it occurred to me that perhaps I previously used different RAM sticks on this motherboard. This MB can take either the old DDR or the newer DDR2, in different sockets. The current memory sticks were DDR2. Maybe I switched from DDR at some point, and forgot to check that the new sticks were compatible.

So, I scrounged around, and found some older DDR sticks to put back in. Yep, that worked better now as Windows could see all the memory. Out of curiosity, pulled out the MB manual to see if they said anything about this. Nope, it was supposed to work with either type. I guess it remained a mystery, but I would have to let this go. At least it ended well.

Then, while sorting through some recordable DVDs that I used for archiving, I ran across a DVD that was multi-session as reported by Nero, but it was not finalised. I wondered how Windows 7 or Windows 10 could make anything out of it.

So, I took it downstairs to my wife's PC to check it out. And that's the beginning of my descent further into the PC hell.
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Old 08-08-2016, 02:18 AM   #2
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2) Problem with DW's PC running Win 10

I upgraded my wife's desktop to Win 10 Pro a couple of days ago. This upgrade went smooth as a textbook example, with no hiccups whatsoever. It booted up mighty fast compared to Win 7. My wife has had no complaints.

Turned it on, and loaded the DVD disk in question into the machine drive. Huh? Windows sees no DVD drive at all! What the heck? I used the DVD drive on this machine to load Win 10 from a disk. Now, Win 10 says it's not there.

Perhaps the drive happened to go bad just after the installation? I needed to interrupt the boot process, by hitting <Del> key before Windows booted up, then going into BIOS set up to see if the hardware could see the DVD drive. Nope. The key press did not work. Win 10 booted fast, so I needed to be faster, I guessed. Kept doing it a few times, to no avail.
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Old 08-08-2016, 02:25 AM   #3
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Then, I remembered that my wife told me that when she logged into Win 10, she could not use the numeric keypad to enter in the numerals in her password. Windows 10 does not read the numeric keypad until she was logged in, and so she had to use the number keys on the top row of the keyboard.

Hmmm... This keyboard was wireless, so perhaps there was something about its driver. I got a wired PS2-style keyboard and plugged that in. Maybe it would work better to let me interrupt the boot process to get to the BIOS setup.

Nope, that PS2 keyboard did not work either to let me hit <DEL> key to enter the BIOS. In fact, it did not work at all even after Windows booted up. Its LEDs on the NumLock and Cap status flashed when the machine was just turned on, but that was it. What the heck?

Could this keyboard be bad? I took it back upstairs to try it on the XP machine. Nope, worked fine. So, what's going on?
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Old 08-08-2016, 02:42 AM   #4
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So, now with Win 10, my DW's desktop lost its DVD drive, and no longer worked with a wired keyboard.

But just to be sure, I was going to check this keyboard with my own Win 10 desktop to make sure that the keyboard was not flakey.

3) Problem with my Win 10 desktop

Arghh! The keyboard did not work here either. I could not use it to log in. But it worked on the XP machine. OK, I plugged the old keyboard back to my Win 10 desktop, and rebooted. Now, this keyboard did not work either.

After swapping things around a bit between the 3 desktop machines, I found that my 3 PS2 keyboards I had all worked on the XP machine, but not on the two Win 10 machines.

What's going on? My wife's Win 10 still worked with the wireless keyboard, but now I could not logged onto my desktop at all!
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Old 08-08-2016, 02:49 AM   #5
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So, why was it that the 2 Win 10 machines would not work with PS2 keyboards that were fine with Win 7 and Win XP? And if my Win 10 desktop did not work with it, how could I load the upgrade into it 3 days ago with no keyboard? Was I dreaming?

I needed to go surf the Web to see how many had this same problem. I went to my beloved laptop, which I left running on Win 7, after seeing nothing exciting on Win 10 that I must have. This laptop had most of the daily software that I used, and I would not want to disrupt it.

I had responded to MS nagware about the Win 10 upgrade on this laptop, but never let it proceed with the upgrade. And the day after the offer expired, some weird things started to happen with it, but I was able to limp along.

4) Problem with my laptop running Win 7

Now, this laptop became so slow, it was not usable. ARGHH! Maybe it happened to get hit by a virus or a worm. Maybe it was just coincidental with Win 10 upgrade expiration, and had nothing to do with it.
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:04 AM   #6
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Without the laptop to go to the Web for help, I resorted to using the slowest machine available: a netbook that was also upgraded to Win 10 two days ago. The upgrade also went without a hitch on this machine.

After 1/2 hour of surfing, I found the answer to the question of why my wife's Win 10 now only worked with the wireless keyboard and not with the more common wired PS2-style keyboard.

In order to speed up the boot process, Win 10 does not load all keyboard and mouse drivers. It only loads the driver for the device that happened to be in use when software is installed. After installation, if you change your keyboard or mouse from a PS2 to a USB design or a wireless design, or vice versa, tough luck! You cannot even log in to reconfigure the software!
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:13 AM   #7
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The way to make Win 10 look for all different sources of keyboard and mouse inputs, like previous Windows OS's, is to disable the fast startup. So, I did that.

Surely enough, now my wife's PC could see both keyboards simultaneously, and I could type on either one with both plugged in. One mystery solved.

You may remember that the reason for me to replace the wireless keyboard with a wired one was to see if the latter would let me interrupt the boot to enter BIOS setup to see if the DVD drive was still recognised by the hardware. This, I now did, and the DVD was still there in the BIOS.
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:17 AM   #8
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So, how did Windows load itself from the DVD drive, then forgot that the drive existed?

I vaguely remembered that I had seen this before, on an earlier version of Windows. Maybe Win 95, maybe Win Me, at the beginning of this "Plug and Pray" technology. Yep, I would install Windoz from the CD drive, then once it was up, it forgot that the drive was there, which became inaccessible.
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:20 AM   #9
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Darn, this has been close to 20 years, and my "superior memory" failed me as to how to fix it, although it was a déjà vu.

A bit more of Web surfin', and I rediscovered how to force Windoz to scan for and recognize the drive again. Darn, something never changes with Windoz.

So now, my wife's Win 10 machine had its DVD drive back, and could work with whatever keyboard I plugged in, but it lost its fast start-up feature. Oh well, one has to decide what is more important. Fast boot up to get to the point where one cannot type in the password, that's not too useful eh?
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:29 AM   #10
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Now, I could go fix my own Win 10 desktop. So, how did I install Win 10 without a keyboard? I was certain that I did log in after the upgrade, fooled around a bit with the screen fonts and tweaked the ClearType. So, I was not dreaming.

Reflecting a bit, I believed that I did use another wireless keyboard when I ran the upgrade. Then, I rearranged things a bit, and plugged in the PS2 keyboard, then never thought of testing the PC with the PS2 keyboard.

So, I installed that wireless keyboard, and what you know, I was able to log in now. Darn, my "superior memory" is slipping. Then, with that keyboard, I disabled the fast startup. Yep, just like my wife's PC, this desktop now could read from either keyboard.

I installed 2 DVD drives on this PC, and checked to see if Windows saw them. Yep, they were there. It's really hit-or-miss with "Plug and Pray" technology.
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:33 AM   #11
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With the Win 10 machines working well, I now turned my attention to my Win 7 laptop, the one I spent the most time on, the one I surfed the Web with, and have made many posts on this forum.

It was so sluggish that I strongly suspected a virus, although I had AVG, McAfee, and MS Security Essentials running on it. I have had a rootkit virus defeating all these 3 programs before, on a Win Vista machine.
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:42 AM   #12
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One thing peculiar about this Win 7 laptop. I turned on Windows Update right after I bought it 3 years ago, but only let it tell me if there were updates to be installed. I did that so I would know when updates were made, and usually let it installed whatever MS recommended. For the last several months, there had not been many updates. I think that was because MS was concentrating its effort on Win 10, and was a bit slack in maintaining Win 7.

However, right after Win 10 upgrade offer expiration, Windows Update popped up with more than 100 updates of more than 500MB of download that it wanted to install. Was this coincidental? One thing I did was to say OK to the Win 10 nagware, but kept delaying the installation until it expired. Perhaps that caused MS to delay the update to Win 7, which made sense if a user was not going to stay with the old OS.
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:50 AM   #13
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As usual, I said OK to the big updates that MS recommended. It hung and never went anywhere. Then, my laptop quickly deteriorated to the point it was useless. And so, I suspected a virus which might just be coincidental to all this Win7/Win10 upgrade timeout.

So, here were some of the things I did over the next day and night (could not remember them all).

* Restore the software to a state 2 months ago, when the machine was still running. Did not help.
* Ran full-scan with MS Security Essentials. Did not find anything.
* Ran full-scan with AVG. Did not see anything.
* Ran full-scan with McAfee. Nothing.
* Ran memory and hardware test from HP, the laptop maker. Nothing.
* Ran MS Windows Dedenfer Offline from stand-alone CD. Nothing.
* Ran various other anti-viral/anti-rootkit software. Nothing.
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:58 AM   #14
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Just as I was about to abandon all hope, and either upgrade to Win 10, or wipe the disk clean and reinstall Win 7, or do a full-disk restore from my network server, I saw an error message popping up. Something about Javaws.exe causing an exception error.

Ah ha! What the crap is that? A virus?

It turned out to be the Java Updater, and this has caused much grief to many other PC users. What a piece of sh*t! Perhaps there were other factors involved, but the fix was to remove it, and clean out all the Java Runtime Environment.

Ah, what a relief! I had my PC back. And while I was at it, I wiped out a whole bunch of other craps that might be totally innocent, but that I no longer used or never used.
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Old 08-08-2016, 04:12 AM   #15
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Then, I looked back at the MS Windows Updater, and saw if the Win 7 big updates that MS recommended would install. Nope, the process still hung.

My machine was usable now, but one thing that had been bugging me was the fact that the software was always active doing something, even when I was not actively using it. The CPU ran hot, and the fan was on high speed, and there were a lot of HD activity. I might as well get to the bottom of this.

I spent quite a few hours looking at the Task Manager, trying to see what process was active. To make a long story less long, suffice to say that it was the god-d*mned Windows Update that was stirring things crazy.

What worked for me was to download and install Win 7 Rollup Update after SP1, the so-called KB890830. Immediately after instaling this and rebooting, I saw a HUGE improvement.

As I am typing this now, after a few hours of running, I have yet to see the fan running on high speed, and the hard drive activity light occasionally blinks on instead of being on solid. The CPU load as reported by Task Manager is bouncing around a few percents, instead of greater than 50%.

Darn! Just think of the wear and tear that was put on my laptop. I have already replaced the CPU fan once, and risked ruining the laptop by opening it up.

I was about fed up with this, and told my wife that I was getting too old to spend so much time maintaining PCs. At least, my efforts paid off, else I would be even madder spending all that time for nothing.
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Old 08-08-2016, 06:35 AM   #16
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Wow! You have way more patience than me. It is amazing the fixes you can find with a nicely worded Google search but at some point I just trash the dang things. That keyboard issue is ridiculous. Hope I can remember it in the future. Does the same thing apply to mice?
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Old 08-08-2016, 06:42 AM   #17
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Windows 7 update is broken. It hangs and hangs saying it is updating, yet it never finishes. I did a clean reinstall and after hundreds of updates it finally finished, it took forever.

I have a triple boot set up, XP sp3, Win 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Ubuntu seems to just work and updates with no problems, why can't MS get the update problem solved?

Win 10 is pushing out the "Anniversary Update" now. Only takes 2 hours, ugghh...
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:17 AM   #18
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NW-BOUND...

Thank you. You've saved my psyche with your posts.

Having been going through almost the same circle of frustration for the past three days, have been hesitant to admit this pending failure. Stressed pressure on a tired old brain, to remember what was second nature 15 years ago. Lost drives, boot failures, sightless bios, and doing over and over again the same way, until it works on the fourth try.

Trying to use UBCD, and the drive isn't there to do it. AARGH....
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:28 AM   #19
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NW-bound, Thank you for your saga. I enjoyed reading it. I just picked up a used PC with Windows 7 on it. According to the internet I should be able to use an old internal 56K modem with it (just for kicks, I guess). But after countless hours of internet researching, I have learned a lot about modem drivers, but still haven't succeeded. Good thing I have all this extra time on my hands!
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:59 AM   #20
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Maintaining windows sounds like returning to a full time job. Anyway, I assume you are getting some level of satisfaction from this.
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