According to its online description voidtools Everything “is a desktop search utility for Windows that can rapidly find files and folders by name.” I’ve been a user and fan of this tool for years. But yesterday, I got a real glimpse of what it can do in the Windows environment. I’m helping a friend who’s readying a new release of his excellent dictionary toolset for MS Office, through his company Lexica Software. In checking out some installation issues, I found myself looking for specific logs, config files and so forth. Shortly thereafter, I found myself also praising voidtools Everything as well. Though I knew the names of files and folders, I didn’t know where they were located. Everything made short work of my search-by-name efforts. It even supports basic Explorer right-click menus so I could open, move and delete items right from the tool itself.
Everything helped me determine where the install was placing file. It also took me straight to various database files I needed to delete, and config files I needed to alter.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
Praising Voidtools Everything for Speed and Convenience
Sure, you can use the built-in Explorer/Windows Search capability (and I still do, especially through the Start Menu and Cortana). But Everything is orders of magnitude faster than that facility. It usually starts returning results even before I finish typing my search strings. And it takes me quickly to those results when I want to investigate or manipulate them. And it’s FREE.
I was a regular and enthusiastic Everything user before yesterday. I’m even more enthusiastic now. If you’re a developer, or you work with software testing, forensics, or support, this tool is a true must-have. It is donation ware, and well worth supporting. I just added to my earlier contributions to its developer, David Carpenter, via PayPal. If you try out, use and like this tool, I urge you to do likewise.
For those running, or taking care of, Win10 installs that boot from hard disks, here’s a trick worth knowing. In Win10 compact OS for conventional HDs speeds up performance. On machines that boot from SSDs, however, Win10 disables this function by default. That’s because HDs are slow enough that compressing the OS files leans on the CPU for decompression. The speed gain from reading less data from a slower disk offsets the performance loss from decompressing that data before putting it to work. But SSDs are so fast that this trade-off is no longer favorable. That means a slight net performance loss vis-a-vis reading the data uncompressed. But for setups with small SSDs (or slower, flash-based storage devices like eMMC) this command might also prove useful because it does free up storage space and won’t impose a heavy performance penalty.
How to Query Win10 Compact OS Status
One simple command does this nicely at the command line. I show examples from PowerShell, but it works just as well in an Administrative Command Prompt windows (cmd.exe), too. Here’s what the command and its output look like from machines with the OS compacted or not:
Above: compact OS turned on; Below: not turned on, with explanation.
Anyone with admin privileges can turn it on or off easily.
The /compactOS:query parameter simply checks status.
[Click either image to see full-size view.]
To learn to use the compact command, see the MS Docs compact page. It’s easy to check status, and to turn it on or off. By default, it turns it off for PCs that boot from SSDs. I no longer have any PCs that boot from spinners, so I can’t say if Win10 is smart enough to turn it on by default for such rigs. But it’s easy enough to check — and change. If you’ve got some, either or both activities should pay worthwhile dividends for those PC’s users. Enjoy!
Saw an interesting item from Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks this morning. Seems that Adobe Shockwave is retiring. The final element of this software platform, the Shockwave Player for Windows, hits EOL on April 9, 2019. (See this Adobe FAQ for all the gory details.) Apparently, Shockwave has been unwinding for a while now. Adobe Director (the authoring tool) hit EOL on 2/1/2017, and the Shockwave Player for macOS did likewise on 3/1/2017. When the Windows version follows suit next month, it’s officially time to say bye bye Adobe Shockwave.
Right now, the download page for Shockwave is still accessible. Come 4/9/2019 it will vanish.
After You Say Bye Bye Adobe Shockwave, Then What?
Opinions differ on how users and admins should respond to Shockwave’s immanent departure. Brinkmann observes that “Third-party download sites may continue to offer Shockwave Player for Windows, and users may install the program on Windows devices.” He goes on to say that the company won’t be supporting the platform any more after that “with the exception of Enterprise licenses that may still be valid.” Rhett Jones at Gizmodo is ready to rumble, and recommends that “you should use this moment to delete Shockwave from your computer once and for all.”
I’m of the opinion that Shockwave is neither a blight on the Internet, nor any kind of panacea, either. If you use it, you don’t need to lose it. If you don’t use it, there’s no reason to keep it around. I looked at my collection of 8 PCs and was amazed to find that ALL of them have Shockwave installed. I’ve removed it from a couple of test machines, and will fool around with my usual websites and see if this alters my experience. If not, I’ll happily remove the Shockwave Player for Windows from the remaining half-dozen machines. After Adobe quits maintenance, though, leaving it up and running exposes users to potential security vulnerabilities and possible exploits.
The secret to getting rid of Shockwave is to remember the full name of the product: Adobe Shockwave Player for Windows. You can use Control Panel/Programs and Features or Settings/Apps/Apps & features to uninstall the program. But you have to search for it under the “A” named items, not the “S” named ones. Until I figured that out, I wasn’t able to kill this doddering old wreck of a software platform.
OK, be warned. This post is a little off-topic. But yesterday, as is my usual practice, I started posting links to my recent blogs and such on social media. For some odd reason, I found myself unable to post anything to LinkedIn. “Great,” I thought, “time to clean out the history, cache, and cookies.” Nope. Opened and closed Chrome. No help. Rebooted Windows. Error unchanged. Tried different browsers: Edge, IE and Firefox. Nothing doing. Jumped over to another PC. Still kept getting the same error message (see below). So, in desperation I looked up LinkedIn on Twitter and found the LinkedIn Help squad at @LinkedInHelp. When LinkedIn posts fail, or other problems present with that site, I recommend you do likewise.
Not the most informative of error messages, but a clear sign that something ain’t right.
When LinkedIn Posts Fail, Ask for Help!
Oddly enough, my poking around on LinkedIn didn’t turn up any ready sources of help there, so I jumped over to Twitter. Almost immediately, I got a response from their obviously active support team. When a couple of quick suggestions produced no positive results, the pro on the other end of the connection sent me a direct URL through which to contact higher-level support. I didn’t get a reply from them, but when I logged onto my PC this morning: Presto! I was once again able to post to LinkedIn.
This is the kind of user experience that a connected digital landscape with concerned and helpful players on that board is supposed to provide. My hat’s off to the crew at LinkedIn for being able to reach out, dig in, and fix something quickly, with little discernible muss or fuss. Wouldn’t it be nice if all problem reports ended on such a happy note? Something for the Windows Team to read and ponder, I hope.
As my day was getting rolling, I got a support request from the Boss. My wife Dina said “I can’t access Chrome. I saw you installed updates yesterday. What’s up?” And so indeed I had. When I went upstairs, I quickly observed she was right. No response when clicking the Taskbar icon for Chrome. Ditto when accessing Chrome through the Start menu. No response when right-clicking the Chrome entry in the Start menu, and selecting “Run as administrator,” either. So of course, that’s when I tried the next panacea in fixing Windows weirdnesses. I restarted the PC, and observed that yet again, reboot still solves simple Win10 problems.
After Update KB4482887, Chrome becomes moribund on my wife’s PC until a second reboot returns it to action.
Why Reboot Still Solves Simple Win10 Problems
When an update is applied, and the restart to cement its changes ditto, lingering traces might still need cleanup. In searching around on Google, I see this kind of issue reported pretty frequently. If a second reboot doesn’t fix an unresponsive application (like Chrome), there are other things you can try, including:
- Reboot in Safe Mode, then reboot again (a more extreme version of the simple reboot)
- Clear Cache and Cookies in Chrome (this means Chrome is working again, though)
- Turn off Hardware Acceleration in Chrome (relaunch after you make this change)
- Sometimes, more esoteric fixes like installing the Reliable Multicast Protocol or Resetting the Windows Sockets catalog (netsh winsock reset) may help
For me, it was kind of a nostalgia trip to realize that the spiritual successor to the old “three-fingered salute” (CTRL-ALT-DEL) still helps solve many common problems. I remember it well from the old DOS and early Windows days!
A recent UK academic study finds Windows 10 Home users mostly unaware about Windows Update controls. The overall update process is confusing them, too. That’s why this post is entitled academics say MS updates confuse Win10 Home users. The paper comes from the Workshop on Usable Security (San Diego, CA, 2/24/2019). It includes a Windows Home update process flowchart, reproduced here:
The sheer number of boxes and arrows shows that words like quick, simple and easy don’t necessarily apply to the Win10 Home update process.
[Click image for full-sized view. Source: WUS Paper.]
Why Academics Say MS Updates Confuse Win10 Home Users
The paper’s abstract ticks off the reasons why Win10 users are baffled, and sometimes unhappy, about the update process. If a user sets a specific restart time, the OS will restart then even if the machine is in use. Just over one-quarter (28%) of Win10 Home users know about “Restart outside active hours.” Users are blissfully unaware that “quality updates” are mostly bug fixes. Their perception of updates is that they primarily add features and functions to Windows.
There’s more. Half the surveyed population reported unexpected restarts. Half reported that concern about the state of their PC increases as the time to complete an update rises. Users with prior negative experiences with updates were less likely to believe themselves able to control the update process.
Conclusions from the study include the following:
- The Windows 10 Home update process frustrates most users
- Most users don’t really understand what goes on during that process, and what updates really do
- Microsoft doesn’t really offer much help, insight, or information to help Home users understand the update process
- Surprise reboots during the update process are disruptive and upsetting
- Microsoft should offer users the ability to delay or defer restarts before a “surprise reboot” occurs
Gosh! I don’t think the update experience is all that different for users of other Windows 10 versions (Pro, Enterprise, and Education). Fortunately, IT people in organizations of any size bear the brunt of this confusion and distress. But the overall sensations described in the study sure seem familiar to me!
[Note: thanks to Windows Report whose March 1 story “Study shows Windows 10 fails to assist users during the update process” brought the study to my attention.]
First a confession: I wrote a book about viruses, spyware and other software nasties back in 2004. At the time, the aftermarket was the only way to go in getting protection from such stuff. And for a while I bounced around among BitDefender, Avast, Webroot, and others before settling on Norton AntiVirus. Today, it’s called Norton Internet Security (NIS) and it still gets pretty high marks from Virus Bulletin and even at PC Magazine. I know I don’t need it any more, but I still use it on my production PC. Why? Because I’ve got 1,500-2,000 accounts, labels, URLs and passwords stored in their password safe and I’m too darn lazy to migrate to something else. And that’s how I found myself knocking out Norton promo pop-ups this morning. Here’s an example of what shows up on my desktop, from time to time:
I don’t mind as much as some when these appear. But I do mind, very much, when I can’t make them disappear quickly and easily.
Why Bother Knocking Out Norton Promo Pop-ups
In this day and age of Windows 10 notifications, I’ve gotten used to the occasional blivet popping up in the lower right-hand corner of my right-hand display. But lately, the Norton items that have been popping up have wandered closer to the display’s center. They also occasional lose their “close handles” (the little X at the upper right that closes the pop-up window). And sometimes, I can’t make them close at all. Strangely, when this happens, ending the associated process task in Task Manager doesn’t work, either. Sheesh! I HATE when that happens.
Knowing there had to be some way to deal with this I wandered into a months-long stream of calumny and vituperation from unhappy Norton users. Gosh! Seems like nobody likes pop-ups very much, and the ones from Norton attract plenty of scorn and requests for relief from users. But in my case, relief came from further research online. At a site charmingly named It Still Works I found an article “How to Get Rid of Norton AntiVirus Popups.” The secret is in the app’s settings where an item called “Special Offer Notification” is easily turned off.
Since then, I’ve seen no further promotional pop-ups. Let’s hope it stays that way. Now I find myself asking “Am I supposed to be grateful that Symantec provides a way to turn off that noise?” I’m not even sure I want to know the answer. And that’s how things go here in Windows-World . . . today, at least!
This morning, I checked on Reliability Monitor to see how my production PC was doing. Right away, I noticed a LiveKernelEvent error had occurred on 2/21. That’s the same day I updated my Nvidia GPU driver. Prior experience with this error code means I had reason to think “GPU issue” (see this Windows Report story for more info). Here’s what that error detail looks like:
The last time I saw this, GeForce experience hung during the driver install. Could that program or the driver installer be the cause? Let’s find out.
Putting My Nvidia LiveKernelEvent 141 Error Returns Theory to the Test
It just so happens that GeForce tells me there’s a new driver available for my GeForce 1070 GX graphics card. Right now, I’m running version 418.98. Let’s see if a switch to 419.17 makes a difference. I worked through the 5-8 minute install sequence and re-opened Reliability Monitor. Here’s what I found (not what I expected):
No LiveKernelEvent 141 errors here! Must be something else…
OK then, so much for that theory. It’s cool that I was able to formulate it and shoot it down almost immediately thereafter. Now, all I have to do is figure out why my Nvidia graphics card occasionally throws this error. It should be interesting to try to figure it out (I’ve tried all the steps in the afore-cited article and none of them helps), but it looks like this could take a while. Stay tuned! I’m going to keep digging in, and see if I can find a fix. In the meantime, I’m glad my Reliability Index continues trending upward (it’s between 9 and 10, so in three more days I could reach the top).
Hibernation is an inactivity option for Windows 10 PCs that’s been around since before Windows 10 itself. Hibernation sits halfway between sleep mode and the old-fashioned shut down (off) mode. When a Windows 10 PC is set to hibernate, it saves the current state — including open programs and documents — and writes them to a special disk file named hiberfil.sys. When you start back up, the contents of that file are copied back into memory, and your PC is off and running once again. But there are some wrinkles to the Win10 hibernation situation, and they’re worth knowing about.
It’s hard to tell if hibernation is turned on or off on a Win10 PC. Two important clues: 1. A hibernate option in the Shut Down menu (shown), 2. Hiberfil.sys file at the root of your C: drive.
Understanding Your Win10 Hibernation Situation
Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any way at the command line to check a Win10 PC’s hibernation situation (on/off; enabled/disabled). But if you visit your Shut Down menu, then right click the arrow to the right of that word, a pop-up menu appears. If Hibernate shows up on that menu, it’s enabled/turned on; if it’s absent from that menu, it’s disabled/turned off. Easy-peasy, right?
Use Powercfg to Turn Hibernation On or Off
If hibernation is turned on, and you want it off, or vice-versa, there’s an easy fix thanks to the
powercfg command. To turn hibernation off, enter this command in an administrative Command (cmd.exe) or PowerShell session:
powercfg /hibernation off
A similar string turns hibernation back on:
powercfg /hibernation on
/h works just as well as the full term
/hibernation in command strings, BTW.
Why Turn Hibernation Off, Anyway?
hiberfil.sys is set to half the amount of RAM in your system. On a PC like mine, with 32 GB RAM, that sucks up a fair amount of disk space. Some folks don’t much care for such space allocation. Likewise, when you turn off hibernation you also turn off Windows built-in Fast Startup capability. For some users, especially those on certain laptop or tablet PCs, turning of fast startup makes the difference between being able to use the Restart command to restart normally, versus having to disconnect the battery and AC power, then perform a cold reboot, before being able to reboot a machine. As with so much else that’s hardware-based in Windows 10, YMMV. For some, however, it’s indisputable that disabling hibernation is a good thing. For others, not so much.
Late last year MS started testing an Office app (UWP) with Insiders. It replaced the preceding “My Office” with a slicker new version. Starting today, February 20, 2019, anybody who wants to can download the app from the Store (here’s the Office Apps blog announcement). OnMSFT.com also reports that “MS plans to roll it out to everyone over the next few weeks.” That how MS’ new MyOffice app makes Office ubiquitous. If you visit the Store and search for “MyOffice” here’s what you’ll see:
Generally Available MyOffice App Makes Office Ubiquitous
The new app works with subscription (365) Office versions. I actually had to launch my copy (already installed, it seems) from the Launch button on its page in the Windows Store (I couldn’t find it via the Start menu, but I’m running Start10). But indeed, it works and happily showed me my 365 account info, recent documents, and even my available programs (see next screencap):
MyOffice also works when you’re offline if you have local executables, and will work with Office Online if you don’t (but you have to be online for that to fly). Also, MyOffice works with equal facility on Windows and non-Windows devices. That included Android and iOS phones, as per my recent “try-and-see” maneuvers just now. Access to the Google Play Store and Apple AppStore works, or you can check the “Office for mobile devices” offerings from MS.
Check it out! You may just find it useful . . .