Windows Enterprise Desktop

November 11, 2019  3:34 PM

Nirsoft Releases Windows Update History Viewer

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
System administrator, Windows management, Windows Update

Sure, you can always get Windows Update history from Windows 10 itself. Simply click Settings → Update & Security → Windows Update, then select “View update history” under that heading. But as is sometimes the case with built-in Windows tools, their output doesn’t always tells you everything you’d like to know about info on display. That’s why I jumped all over Nir Sofer’s lastest creation when I read about it today at Learning that Nirsoft releases Windows Update History Viewer, of course I had to see it for myself. I was glad I did. In tabular form, for each update, it provides data under the following headings:

  • Title: Name of the update (same as what shows up in the Microsoft Update Catalog, where applicable)
  • Description: Text info from the KB article blurb describing the update
  • Install date: Date and time the update hit your system
  • Update operation: Usually install, this describes what operation WU ran using the update (uninstall is also an option and will be reported as such)
  • Operation Result: One of Succeeded (green button at far left); Failed (red button at far left); or Aborted (yellow button at far left)
  • Information URL: KB article URL
  • Support URL: Support note for update, when available; otherwise, links to http://support.
  • Uninstall notes: Instructions describing how to uninstall the update
  • Client Application ID: Name of process that initiated the update, usually one of UpdateOrchestrator (WU), Update, Scan for Updates (manual update initiated by user), or Windows Defender (AV update)
  • Service ID: GUID for service that handled the update process
  • Update ID: GUID for update object applied
  • Revision number: update revision number, where applicable
  • Unmapped result code: result code reported if an update fails or aborts (10 digit numeric code)
  • hResult:  error code reported if an update fails or aborts (8 digit hex code, often of the form 0x8024dddd which maps into the class of Windows Update errors)

Alas, the tool is too big (it covers the width of almost 2 27″ monitors if I show all fields fully expanded. Here’s a screen cap that shows fields I believe to be most likely of interest expanded, and those not compresssed. It’s still pretty darn huge (click the image to see a full-sized — and intelligible — view, please).

Nirsoft Releases Windows Update History Viewer

Note the traffic light status indicators at left (RGY), name, date and status info. All good stuff!
[Click image for readable view.]

That’s a whole lot more than you get from the built-in Update History output which tells you:

  • Title
  • KB number
  • Number of attempts (in parentheses)
  • Date
  • Installation status (Successfully installed or failed)

Because Nirsoft Releases Windows Update History Viewer, You Should Grab It NOW

I find Nirsoft tools to be pretty valuable in general. Invaluable even, in some cases. If you need to research updates you’ll find this useful in your admin toolbox. It doesn’t have to be installed, so you can carry it with you on a USB key or portable drive, or run it from cloud storage of some kind. Definitely helpful.

November 8, 2019  5:52 PM

Debugging Win10 Explorer Crashes

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
explorer.exe error, File Explorer, Troubleshooting

Checked Reliability Monitor today, and was surprised to see Explorer.exe threw off 4 crashes in the last few days. Debugging Explorer crashes is an interesting exercise. All of these originate from BEX64, which points to another program hooked into File Explorer. You can learn a lot from reading this TenForums thread: Intermittent BEX64 Explorer.exe crash. Here’s what I saw in Reliability Monitor (summary left, details right).

Debugging Win10 Explorer Crashes.screens

All 4 crashes list BEX64 as the Event name, though some have differing Fault Module Name sources.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Debugging Win10 Explorer Crashes Is Both Art and Science

My tool of choice for troubleshooting BEX64 Explorer crashes is Nir Sofer’s Shell Extension Viewer. He calls it ShellExView, but its executable is shexview.exe. Blissfully unaware, it took me a while to find it in NirLauncher. Because the error hit on and after November 2, I sorted Shell Extensions chronologically. Thus, I could see what was installed that day. Interestingly, only Microsoft elements fall under that rubric, thanks to what looks like a Windows Office update that day. I see extensions for OneNote, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and Word. This is weird, because MS extensions seldom, if ever, cause problems. It’s usually third-party stuff that sends Explorer off the rails.

Scanning a bit further down the list I see the latest PowerToy: PowerRename‘s Shell Extension. Then it hits me: I remember clicking the PowerToys icon a few times after the tool came out, not understanding that this shell extension works only from inside File Explorer. I ran it from the desktop without thinking, before I did my homework right around the time of those crashes. I’m pretty sure this was what caused the problem. Worse, it is definitely a self-inflicted wound. MS did nothing to cause it because “operator error” is behind those actions.

I have to laugh, and at myself. But “double-click it and see what happens” remains an experimental strategy I’m unlikely to retire from the Windows desktop. So I’ll just take my lumps and keep on going. Hopefully, those of you who’ve grabbed this latest PowerToy can learn from my mistake. If you look for the PowerRename item in the right-click menu inside File Explorer for file or folder items, you can check it out as it was meant to be used. Sigh.

Debugging Win10 Explorer Crashes.PowerRename

November 6, 2019  11:00 AM

Build 19018 Kills Disk Cleanup Downloads Item

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Disk cleanup, disk management, Microsoft downloads

Here’s an interesting tidbit of Windows 10 administrivia. Starting with Build 19018 — the latest Fast Insider Preview released November 5 — the Disk Cleanup utility no longer includes Downloads among its selectable items. That’s right: Build 19018 kills Disk Cleanup Downloads item. Here’s visual proof, with a screen cap of the utility from Build 18362.449 at left, and from Build 19018.1 at right. I set up the screen caps to put the preceding item — Device driver packages — at the head of the pick list in each capture. If you look closely at left, Downloads follows Device driver packages. At right, Language Resource Files follows that same item instead. Net result: Downloads is gone.

Build 19018 Kills Disk Cleanup Downloads Item.old-v-new

Now you see Downloads (left), now you don’t (right). Very interesting!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What Build 19018 Kills Disk Cleanup Downloads Item Really Means

In two words: not much. For one, thing you can still access the Downloads item through Settings → Storage → Configure Storage Sense → set the “Delete files in my Downloads folder” to something other than “Never.” For another, you can always manage the contents of Downloads through Explorer yourself manually. For a third, you could turn to the GitHub Comet project and use Managed Disk Cleanup (mdiskclean.exe) instead. It still includes the Downloads item. For a fourth, Microsoft has itself stated that “The Disk Cleanup experience (“cleanmgr.exe”) is being deprecated,” though they are “…retaining the Disk Cleanup tool for compatibility reasons.”

Makes the whole thing kind of like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, eh? But gosh, it sure is interesting to see how the elements of the Windows 10 UI and its utilities continue to change and evolve. At least, it is to me. Enjoy!

November 4, 2019  1:12 PM

RAW Win10 Disk Report Thankfully Transitory

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

OK, then. I was working along merrily yesterday cleaning up my office to get ready for another week’s work. Looking at my Downloads and Documents folders, I saw items as far back as August. Normally, I sweep out these folders every 30-60 days. Given that yesterday was November 3, August 1 was 94 days ago. Thus, it was highest time to make my sweep. I keep an “Archives” folder on my G: drive for just that purpose, with both named sub-folders inside. Normally, I highlight the chunk of stuff I want to move, right-click and select “Cut,” navigate to the target Archives folder, then right-click and select “Paste.” It works nearly every time. But yesterday when I tried that I got a very scary response from Explorer that the target was inaccessible (see below for what chkdsk told me when I started investigating). The RAW Win10 Disk Report, thankfully, turned out be purely transitory. A quick restart, and all my drives reported properly in DISKPART. In the meantime, I was seriously concerned!

RAW Win10 Disk Report.chkdsk

This is information that nobody running Windows wants to see for any drive on which they store data of value or use. Ouch!

With a RAW Win10 Disk Report, Don’t Panic!

The tendency when seeing something like  the foregoing is to jump immediately into repair mode. Sure, I could’ve jumped into DISKPART and used the command
to try to force the drive back into the right file organization. As I tried to access another Archive on the J: drive, the same thing happened again. And when I couldn’t find either drive in Disk Management or Minitool Power Data Recovery (even though they showed up in Diskpart “List vol”), I decided to try a reboot first to see if the problem persisted or not. I’m deliriously happy to report that whatever bug bit my storage subsystems and the file systems it handles, it disappeared. Nor did I find any error reports in Reliability Monitor, either. And a complete chkdsk investigation into all drives showed nothing amiss. Here’s what DISKPART says about my production PC drives right now, in fact:

RAW Win10 Disk Report.diskpart

The basic take-away from this DISKPART “list vol” output is “Nothing to see here.” What a relief!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Should Murphy Strike with a Real RAW Win10 Disk Report, Then What?

If an initial report of a RAW disk persists through a reboot, the problem is real rather than transitory. Numerous repair operations are possible. Data loss may be inevitable on an affected drive, unless (a) those repairs succeed or (b) you have a recent backup from which to restore drive contents. There are lots of file recovery tools out there. I’ve personally used Piriform Recuva (free) and MiniTool Power Data Recovery ($$$) to good effect in recovering from file and or partition loss (a RAW report is most likely some kind of partitioning or disk organization problem). There’s a September story on TechRadar entitled “Best free file recovery software of 2019…” that’s probably worth looking into. Ditto for the October 2019 Lifewire story “20 Best Free Data Recovery Software Tools.”

If none of these repair tools does the trick, you may have to pony up big bucks (fees of US$200 and up are not uncommon) for a commercial data recovery service to try and get what it can from your drive. Otherwise, you’ll have to walk away from that data. Moral of the story: always good to have a some-what current backup around. I backup my production PC’s OS and data drive daily, and back up all other drives monthly, with both local copies and into the cloud. It’s the only way to be sure drive failure — and even persistent Windows weirdness sometimes — doesn’t render that data forever lost and inaccessible.

November 1, 2019  12:55 PM

Recycle Bin Explorer Use

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
File Explorer, Recycle Bin, tips and tricks

It’s safe to say that there’s more to Windows 10 than any single user can know. I keep learning new stuff all the time. Case in point: Recycle Bin Explorer use. Until yesterday, I didn’t know that typing “Recycle Bin” into the Explorer’s address bar opens that built-in folder. At the same time it also brings up access to a set of Recycle Bin Tools. Here’s a screen cap of what you’d see in your explorer if you (a) typed “Recycle Bin” into the address bar, and (b) clicked on the Recycle Bin Tools ribbon entry. It’s highlighted in the following screenshot, in fact:

Recycle Bin Explorer Use.RBTools

This technique displays the Recycle Bin’s contents, and shows available Explorer tools for working on same.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What Does Recycle Bin Explorer Use Buy You?

It’s an easy way to see what’s inside the recycle bin. You will typically see ordinary files, like the ones shows above (cleaned out of Downloads on that test machine). You may also see objects that use Windows Security Identifiers (SIDs) as part of their names. (Learn more about SIDs in this Window Support article: Well-known security identifiers in Windows operating systems.) Account-based SIDs usually start with the string “S-1-5-21-nnnnnnnnnn …” (where n is a digit from 0 through 9). This happens from time to time and indicates deletion of certain system objects or items through various OS facilities (such as disk defragementation).

The tools can be helpful, particularly those related to restoring accidentally deleted files. “Restore all items” puts everything in the Recycle Bin back where it came from. To use “Restore selected items,”  you must first select the items you wish to restore, then click that tool (otherwise, it won’t do anything). Both can be handy when things that you really wish to keep make their way  into the Recycle Bin. Also, if you mount a backup (using something like Macrium’s viboot facility), you can use these tools on a backed-up version of the recycle bin as well.

Getting into Recycle Bin in Explorer Many Ways

Me personally, I tend to rely on third-party tools like CCleaner or UnCleaner to take care of the recycle bin for me. That’s probably why I never learned this stuff before. But who knows? It could come in handy some day. But as far as I can determine the easiest way to access this beast is to type Recycle Bin into the address bar to call it up in Explorer (see below). There are numerous other ways to get there, as shown in this Password Recovery article “7 Ways to Open Recycle Bin in Windows 10.” If you don’t like my approach, check out that article and pick a different way you like better. It’s not like there aren’t lots of other options — at least 6 of them, in fact!

My preferred method for accessing Recycle Bin in Explorer involves typing “Rec” in the address bar, as shown here

October 30, 2019  11:29 AM

Autopilot Gets Oct 22 False Alarm Update

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

As the upcoming release of 1909/19H2 draws ever nearer, Windows updates come with increased frequency. Occasionally, something unintended may slip through the net. I’d wondered why an Autopilot update showed up on my production PC (KB4523786). But an article I saw in Windows Latest this morning, cleared things up. I now understand that on many PCs, Autopilot gets Oct 22 false alarm update. A Microsoft tweet addresses this, but limits the mistake to Windows Home users. That leaves me wondering why I see this on a Windows Enterprise based PC:
Autopilot Gets Oct 22 False Alarm Update.history

It’s hard to update Autopilot when it’s not installed on your PC in the first place (bottom item). I imagine that’s why that update failed.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Wondering Why Autopilot Gets Oct 22 False Alarm Update

The aforementioned WL story Microsoft pushes and pulls wrong Windows 10 update explains the occurrence as an accident. It also references a tweet from the Intune Support Team. It asserts that the Autopilot update “was incorrectly offered to customers running Windows Home edition during a regularly scheduled Windows update scan.” Alas, the scope of the mistake seems to have reached further than that. I don’t see any evidence of this on Windows 10 Pro machines running 1903. Nor the Release Preview, Slow or Fast Ring releases for 20H1 through the lens of the other 8 PCs here at Chez Tittel. But it did hit at least one Enterprise machine — namely, the one I run on my desktop. (For the curious, it’s an MSDN/Visual Studio Subscription license).

MS has since stopped distribution of this update. So if it’s not already in your update history you won’t see it, period — that is, unless you actually USE Autopilot in your environment. And in that case, of course, the update should be there, successfully applied. One wit opined about this mistaken item “…for once, there’s an update that actually doesn’t break Windows.” I had to laugh when I saw that, while also reflecting on its somber truth. Reminds me of that old saying “Advice, like alcohol, only affects you if you swallow it.” And so it goes, here in Windows-World.

October 28, 2019  1:12 PM

More Odd USB-C Symptoms

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Troubleshooting, usb storage device, USB-C

Call me hard-headed, or perhaps stupid and irresponsible. I’ve kept using a Sabrent NVMe enclosure with Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB SSD on my Lenovo X380 Yoga. This, despite an error message indicating that it draws more voltage from the USB-C port than the port can provide. (See my October 21 post Multiple ISO Mount Strategies Prove Helpful for more details.) As you might expect, I have been reaping the not-so-happy results of such activity. It has taken the form of more odd USB-C Symptoms on that machine. I’m talking about regular and frequent dwm.exe crashes (the Windows desktop windows manager). Take a look at this Reliability Monitor snapshot:

More Odd USB-C Symptoms.relimon

All of the critical events shown represent APPCRASH for dwm.exe, 36 total. Happens only when a USB-C/Thunderbolt attached NVMe SSD is present.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Trial-and-Erroring Diagnosis for More Odd USB-C Symptoms

I noticed this behavior while leaving an RDP session open on the X380 Yoga laptop. After about an hour, the connection would fail, and I’d find exactly 9 repeated instances of wdm.appcrash at the same time. Remembering the error message, I’d observed and reported in the afore-cited Mount Strategies post, I unplugged the USB-C SSD. Since that time, the error has not recurred. I can also leave RDP up and running into my desktop overnight without issue, either. It’s weird that this would manifest as a desktop window management issue in Windows 10, but the relationship between having the device plugged in and causing the error is too strong to overlook.

Of course, the old troubleshooting (and data science) saying goes “Correlation is not causation.” Now that I’ve unplugged the USB-C NVMe device, I’ll still keep watching that test machine to see if more odd USB-C symptoms recur anyway. So far, it’s been less than 24 hours since I unplugged the device. It may be too early to tell, but I am encouraged that the dwm.exe crashes have not recurred since, despite numerous — and some extended (4 hours or more) — RDP sessions into the test machine. We’ll see if this stacks up to something . . . or perhaps nothing.

October 25, 2019  4:12 PM

Belkin’s Best Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

After obtaining new Lenovo laptops earlier this year, I’ve been digging into Thunderbolt/USB 3.1 technology around USB-C ports. Both my X380 Yoga and X1 Extreme include Thunderbolt-capable USB-C ports. I’ve put those to work with a variety of different connections. After this year’s SpiceWorld trade show — where Belkin is a long-time exhibitor and attendee — the company kindly offered me the chance to play with some of their USB-C based offerings. I mentioned the company’s Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock (F4U098) in an October 9 blog post. That left me hankering for a full-featured dock with  USB-C outbound connections plus built-in charging capability. Upon request, Belkin obligingly sent me its Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD (F4U095). Recently, I’ve been familiarizing myself with its capabilities. Here’s what the unit, Belkin’s best Thunderbolt 3 dock, looks like:

Belkin's Best Thunderbolt 3 Dock.front

This dock measures 8.17×3.4×1.2″/20.74×8.8×8.8cm and comes housed in brushed aluminum that is sturdy and attractive.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Who Needs Belkin’s Best Thunderbolt 3 Dock?

Who will need or want this expensive beast (MSRP US$350, best price ~US$332)? It’s made for those who want to use a full-sized mouse, keyboard, display and extra storage when docked in the office. Undock, and they can use the same device uncoupled on the road. Simply put, this is a great solution for road warriors who bounce between “away” and “office” roles. In fact, it gives them a full-blown desktop experience in the office. Yet they keep the same core capability, OS, and built-in storage on the road. All that’s needed is to uncouple a single USB-C cable between dock and laptop, and you’re ready to travel. A look at the unit’s back shows the real action (there’s only one USB 3.1 and an RTS headphone jack on the front shown above):

Belkin's Best Thunderbolt 3 Dock.rear

Ports, from left to right: (1) Gigabit Ethernet, (2) RTS headphone, (3-4) 2xUSB 3.1, (5-6) 2xUSB-C/Thunderbolt, (7) DisplayPort, (8) DC-in.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

The USB-C connection between dock and laptop ferries power (up to 85W) and various signals (up to 40 Gbps). Thus, a single cable handles charging for the laptop. That same cable also handles audio, video (up to 2 4K displays, daisy-chained via DisplayPort or equivalents), another USB-C/Thunderbolt device chain (via the second USB-C/Thunderbolt port), up to 3 USB 3.1 device chains (via 1 front and two rear USB 3.1 ports), along with networking up to GbE speeds. That’s what gives the unit such appeal for those who want a quick and simple dock/undock experience without sacrificing speeds and feeds when in the office.

Typical Dock Setup

A typical docked usage scenario could include the following:

+ 1 or 2 external monitors
+ a conventional hands-on mouse and keyboard (wireless or wired, depending on the hardware used)
+ an audio connection (either to headphones or external speakers, depending on the hardware used)
+ wired Ethernet at up to gigabit speeds
+ one or more external USB storage devices (typical office use would mandate a least one external drive for extended storage and backup while docked)

Perspective from “The Boss”

My wife, Dina, has a 7-year-old Jetway Mini-ITC desktop with an Ivy Bridge i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB built-in EVO 940 SSD, and 2 external USB drives attached. Just for grins, I switched her over to one of my 8th-Generation i7 Lenovo X380 Yoga laptops (i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB Samsung OEM NVMe SSD) with her familiar mouse, keyboard, and display (a 4K Dell UltraSharp  2717D).  Of course, the Belkin F4U095 tied it all together. Her response to the changed set-up was “When can I switch over this this rig?”

She really liked the look and feel of the new setup, and said the performance from the docked laptop was noticeably faster than her Mini-ITC PC. Longer-term, we’re planning to switch her over to something similar. If it works for her, it should work for most people who want the flexibility of a full-blown desktop experience in the office, with the ability to unplug and “go mobile” as-needed. IMHO, this is a great choice for anybody who wants to make a laptop their primary (or only) PC.

Net-Net Summary

The Belkin F4U095 is attractive, capable, and equipped with enough docking ports for office/desktop hook-ups. My only real reservation about the unit is cost: best to shop around for a deal if you can. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending what could buy you a second, lower-end laptop or PC just for making connections. That said, for company or work use, this makes a great way to enable road warriors to get a desktop experience in the office and use a single laptop away as well.


October 23, 2019  5:31 PM

Weird DedicatedDumpFile Side Effect

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Crash reports, Registry hacks, Windows 10, Windows Registry

In writing an Admin Toolkit item today for Win10.Guru, I stumbled across something weird and unexpected on my working file drive (F:\). I can only describe it as a weird DedicatedDumpFile side effect. It produces a locked file on that drive that I cannot delete, nor attribute to a running process in Windows 10. I was profiling that drive in WirDirStat, and noticed a 32GB (!) file taking around half of the space consumed on that drive. At first, I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Nor could I understand and why a new version appeared with each system reboot. Eventually, I searched the registry for the filename in question — F:\ZZDump\dumpfile.sys. Thankfully, it popped up in the CrashControl key (HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\CrashControl ). A little subsequent Googling and voila! it started making some kind of sense. Here’s what set me off this morning:

Weird DedicatedDumpFile Side Effect.nodel

Try as I might, I couldn’t delete this file inside the OS. Why was it locked?
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What Causes This Weird DedicatedDumpFile Side Effect?

Creating the DedicatedDumpFile sub-key inside the CrashControl environment targets a specific file system location for a complete dumpfile. I was fooling around with this on my PC, after reading an MS DOCS article earlier this year. Specifically, it describes how to target a different drive from the system/boot drive for a full-size memory dump. What I didn’t realize was that it would write such a dump each time I restarted my system. Nor did I stop to consider that the impact of a complete memory dump from a machine equipped with 32 GB of RAM is substantial. Compound all that by targeting a smaller SSD with 111 GB of usable capacity (of which it is nearly 29% of the entire drive) and you’ve got something definitely noticeable.

The following screencap shows the values for the CrashControl key on the affected system (left) and on another system with only default settings (right, from Insider Preview). The simple presence of the DedicatedDumpFile seems to cause a memory dump at each reboot. Only if I set CrashDumpEnabled to zero (0) — or delete the DedicatedDumpFile subkey — does this behavior stop.

Weird DedicatedDumpFile Side Effect.2ways

My extended definitions from the production PC left, a default setup on an Insider Preview PC right.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Another interesting Windows mystery unraveled, with a couple of possible fixes. Glad to have sussed it out, and to understand that using a dedicated dump file comes with certain (hidden) costs.

October 21, 2019  10:41 AM

Multiple ISO Mount Strategies Prove Helpful

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Troubleshooting, USB drive, USB-C, Windows 10

On Friday, MS went through the unusual step of releasing two versions of the lastest Fast Ring Insider Preview. At first, an initial version 19002.1 proved likely to cause restart issues. Later that day, MS issued 19002.1002 to correct same. Through sheer dint of struggle, I managed to get both of my test PCs updated to 19002.1. However, Windows Update (WU) proved unwilling or unable to offer those machines the CU for 19002.1002. Thus, I turned to, and an ISO for the 19002.1002 build. That’s when things got interesting from the ISO mount perspective, and reminded me that multiple ISO mount strategies prove helpful.

Multiple ISO Mount Strategies Prove Helpful.winver

It took a couple of tries, but I was able to mount the ISO after copying it onto the OS drive. Installation via setup.exe was a snap thereafter.

Why Did Multiple ISO Mount Strategies Prove Helpful?

Using on my production PC ultimately produced a file named 19002.1002.191017-1454.VB_RELEASE_SVC_CLIENTPRO_OEMRET_X64FRE_EN-US.ISO It is 4.07 GB in size — not at all atypical for a current Insider Preview ISO. Because I planned to use it on two machines, I figured I’d want to copy it to my fastest SSD-based external USB drive. Right now, that’s a 1 TB Samsung 970 EVO NVMe mounted in a Sabrent EC-NVMe enclosure. However, when I attached the device to my Lenovo X380 Yoga, while Explorer “saw” the drive and the ISO file, it refused to mount. In fact, Explorer hung at “Working on it” and the virtual drive never mounted.

That’s what led me to a different strategy. Instead of trying to mount the ISO from the external drive, I copied it to an older (and slower) Mushkin Ventura Pro 64 GB USB 3.0 flash drive. Then I used that drive to copy the ISO file to the local hard disk on each of my two Fast Ring test machines (the aforementioned X380 and a Lenovo X220 Tablet). From the local OS SSD on each machine, I knew I’d get the fastest install performance anyway. So that’s how I did it. And indeed, both machines are now updated to 19002.1002, as the preceding screencap shows.

What Happened to the USB 3.1 Sabrent NVMe Drive?

Only this morning did I finally get a clue about why the ISO wouldn’t mount from the external NVMe-based device. Preparing to write this blog just now, I plugged it in again to the X380 Yoga’s USB-C/Thunderbolt port. This time, I got an error message from Explorer that helped me understand I had an issue. Here ’tis:

Multiple ISO Mount Strategies Prove Helpful.error

Oho! Seems that the 1 TB Samsung device wants more power than the USB-C port on the X380 Yoga can deliver. That explains the “interminable” mount it presented Friday.

What I don’t understand is why Explorer didn’t produce this error message on my initial attempts to use the device. Had it shown up immediately, I would not have made multiple tries to get it working before moving onto a different strategy. And it’s why I’ve always got a fallback or alternate strategy planned, whenever I work on installation, problem-solving, or troubleshooting tasks. Expecting failure makes it much easier to face and deal with when it happens, as it sometimes will. But that’s how things go sometimes, here in Windows World.

I’ve got another Belkin dock here at Chez Tittel now (Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD). This one has its own external PSU, and is able to deliver up to 85 W of charging power through the USB-C port. Presumably that means I should be able to use it to hook the Sabrent Device up to either of my X380 Yoga PCs. I’ll make that part of my testing when I post a mini-review of this device here at Windows Enterprise Desktop later this week. Stay tuned!

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