Category Archives: Fixes

New symptom pattern

Came across a new pattern of symptoms the other day. I mean new to me, of course, I’m sure somebody, somewhere, has seen this before. But I didn’t find anything on it via Google.

The complaint was about a corrupted user profile, which is not particularly unusual, but when I went into a different user account to try to fix it, there was very little I could do. Attempts to open an elevated command prompt, to do a system restore and to scan the hard drive, among others, resulted in program file not found, though the files were exactly where they should be.

I hit F8 at startup (this was Windows 7) and tried system restore via computer repair. This failed repeatedly, in some cases reporting corrupted files. So I extracted the hard drive and connected it to another machine, then scanned it using chkdsk and a couple of anti-malware progs. Some apparently minor problems were found and fixed (both malware and file system).

After reinstalling the HD I found the user profile fixed, then was surprised again to be told that system restore had completed successfully. Had I missed something or is this a fault, whereby sys rest reports failure prematurely? I don’t know, sometimes you just have to draw a line, especially when you’ve found a fix! (The problematic programs were all happy to run now too.)

Internet Explorer fails to open

If you’re searching for a fix for this, you might want to look elsewhere. I do mention things that have apparently helped others with the same issue, but in the end I had to give up! (I’m categorizing this post as a “Fix”, I don’t have a “Failures” category!)

A client’s computer, running Windows 7 (64 bit) and IE 11 (64 bit) seemed generally ok, if a bit slow (like the vast majority of older PCs), except we couldn’t get IE to open. It would try to get going, the busy cursor would appear, then nothing. Looking at processes in Task Manager, it would appear in the list then disappear from it again a few seconds later.

This is quite a common problem. Microsoft themselves offer suggestions for this scenario to be tried in sequence: restart, install the latest updates, and switch IE off and back on (in Windows features). Of course I tried these, to no avail. Another obvious option was to restore all of IE’s default settings (think I tried that first in fact—yes, I should keep better notes).

I also (of course) did a thorough anti-malware scrub, utilizing Combofix, AdwCleaner, Junkware Removal Tool and Malwarebytes Antimalware. No joy. Well, quite a bit of ad/malware found, but the original problem remained.

What else did I try? Ah yes, the system file checker (command prompt: sfc /scannow). No issues found. And I ran Ccleaner on the registry.

As a supposedly last resort, that I admit assuming would fix it if at a cost, I downgraded IE, by switching it off (as above) then uninstalling the Windows Update that it came in with and restarting (most of the previous attempts also involved at least one restart), after which IE 10 reappeared. But it behaved exactly like IE 11! (If it had worked I’d have needed to hide that update so Windows wouldn’t automatically re-upgrade IE to 11.)

At that point I gave up. By which I mean, I rang the client to ask whether he particularly needed IE for anything, or could switch to a different browser. He was OK to switch, and Chrome was already installed, so I made that the default and Bob’s your uncle. In effect. Of course, not having actually fixed the issue I couldn’t in all conscience charge the normal rate but the client is quite happy and the machine is not only off my hands but much cleaner than it started so that’s alright. Ish. Some jobs are like that.

Start button stops working

I just fixed quite a difficult case. As it often is, the situation was made murkier by there being multiple issues. The main problem, though, was one I’d seen before: the Windows 10 start button stops working (except for right-clicks, which is useful), taking with it Cortana and other task bar located features.

On the previous occasion I was asked to fix this, it succumbed to the command line procedure described in this PC Advisor article. This time, though, that wasn’t enough. So I tried renaming the TileDataLayer folder as recommended in this video but though that basically did the trick, the start menu was left looking very sparse indeed, missing not only program buttons and tiles but even Settings. Luckily, the fix for this situation is in the video‘s comments: create two temporary users, login as one then copy that folder from the other to the “real” user account. (Then of course switch back to that and delete the two temp accounts.) Job done!