Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Technical-Volume Shadow Copy Causing STOP 0x00000019 "Bad_Pool_Header"

After DAYS of searching for a solution when I knew there had to be something wrong with Acronis True Image that I prefer to use (over Norton's Ghost), I started to have the BSOD and it wasn't until I actually had 3 almost identical DELL units on my bench before I knew it  was pointing towards the Acronis program.. so here's the solution thanks to the techspot forum found here:
Originally Posted by whoppsrus5254
1. Go to windows Device Manager
2. Click "view" and select "show hidden devices"
3. Scroll down to "storage volumes"
4. Click on the plus to expand.
5. Click on each one listed and right click and uninstall. (you will get a message on some staying to reboot before it takes effect. Select no until you do them all.)
6. Reboot.
7. Wait till windows automatically reinstalls devices. Will prompt to reboot again.
8 Reboot.

12 Tweaks for Vista to help with the performance

Every once in a while, one of the tech newsletters I subscribe to point out some useful information but in most cases, they will also include issues that I find pointless or too technical for the average computer user and therefore decide it best to shed NO light on this rather then shed a little light and end up opening a huge can of worms (maybe a bad use of the word since it doesn't actually open up computer worms, but generally causes more headaches then what it was worth in the attempt to help with the performance tweaking in the first place).  In any case these 12 tweaks are quite good.  In fact this is generally what I will do witih any computer passes by me on my bench, other then I use the AVAST antivirus as opposed to the AVG antivirus, simply because I have found it to be even more user friendly. My OPTIMIZING TIPS explain how the AVG Antispyware is part of the tools I suggest however.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reformat bot discovered within ACER notebook

I am currently working on a client computer that had a very interesting, yet disconcerting bug found. Part of the cleaning/updating process that I will typically do to any computer is create a backup pretty much right away and in this case that was exactly what I had done when I first cleaned it up. That is, create a backup partition and then create a "clean image" of the system to this backup drive partition. In the case of most notebooks however, this backup partition is not the second partition on the drive as the manufacturers create a 'hidden partition' with the necessary materials to re-install the system to the factory standard (just as it was the moment you turned it on the first time you bought it).

The software (I used to use) for this backup procedure was Norton's Ghost (.pqi) and as it would be in the case of this ACER notebook, they too use this similar technology and within the hidden (first partition) is the necessary information to completely reinstall the o/s. The software I now use is Acronis True Image Home as this not only creates the backup partition but hides it within it's own software program, making it very easy to schedule regular backups and/or restoring files as necessary. Essentially the same idea as what Ghost does but without leaving the partition not 'hidden' as the Acronis Secure Zone does. This one thing, as I am learning with this computer, would have been the saving feature (of the data that was now lost), which became a problem as I activated a script while performing a deep virus scan (including archive files). From what I have discovered so far, this script made this first boot partition active, which started the built in autorun sequence which then presents the user with the ability to reinstall the factory settings. Now in my case I had started the virus scan and went about my business, working on other computers. Because it is a laptop, and I had the settings set to continue with power even with the lid closed. It wasn't until I hear the system restart and the windows boot music come on (which is very identifiable windows xp initial setup screen).

At this point I started investigating why I was being prompted to enter my information as this was not a clean install, nor was it supposed to be any install whatsoever, only to discover that the "c partition' had been wiped clean (formatted) and the data virtually lost! Fortunately for me, I had created the backup "clean install' but unfortunately for my client, this was about 15 months ago and this means one more case where Carbonite 24/7 backup system installed would have saved the day. Ironically the very next computer I started to work on--a desktop system from another client, ended up requiring a new hard drive due to physical hardware 'knocking sounds' which quickly rendered the drive unreadable. In this case a simple install of a new hard drive, windows reinstalled, I was able to install Carbonite and choose 'restore' and about 12 hours later, the system was completely restored (of all client data). In this case I was still required to reinstall all other software, but only because the acronis secure zone was not installed--it is now!

If only this computer had seen some technical help sooner then later, I would have quite easily been able to recover any lost data, just as have done with the desktop client with the dead hard drive!

What I found: a simple file that was labelled 'install' and reading the script to it, unhides the first partition and runs the built in batch files for placing the system back to factory standards.

From what I can gather, this install was triggered by the virus scan which was initiated (but only after the antivirus had been reinstalled due to no antivirus running at the time the system was first turned on to be examined and cleaned up).

Why am I going through so much detail technically? Because I feel it is finally time for the average, every day user of the computer to understand some basic 'backup' issues and that is to first think about what you currently have on your computer and then ask yourself if you were to have that stolen from you (whether through natural hazards or theft, for example), what would you miss? If your system had any pictures that you had taken and had transferred to your hard drive for example, would be gone unless you have posted them to a photo sharing site such as flickr or webshots. Knowing that we used to think "viruses" are such a problem and wouldn't think twice in spending $50-$75 for antivirus software which required a yearly subscription to stay active in the scanning to the ability of having all of your data safe all the time for less then $50 per year, which would you say is most important?

That being said, I don't know how many times I hear people asking me "how much is it going to cost?" to get their computer fixed... since that will depend highly on just what the problems are, in this one clients case with the ACER notebook, a computer that had absolutely no tech support for over a year, since it was first set up, out of the box. You must figure in to any 'repair', the cost of essential software that is required for your computer and in my opinion, that would be both, the Carbonite 24/7 off-site backup system as well as the Acronis true image software. Then, if you have a technically apt friend, (like me), to help you on a much more regular basis (other then waiting until you find your computer is running incredibly slow or you have already had a friend that 'knew more then you' work on it--only to find it is either worse or still has problems), I am realizing that with each and every client computer I have ever worked on requires one main component and that is the logmein service which is also completely free to install and use. The ideal features of this logmein (online service) allow for any individual to decide/determine what level you want to be able to communicate with the remote computer, and offer additional 'pay services' which can keep your entire computer infrastructure safe and secure.

With more and more great online services showing up (the age of Web 2.0?), I believe it is this sort of blog post that I can use to help educate and inform any and all of my "existing clients" .. The purpose of this blog post is so that I can get the information out there to anyone interested in knowing more about how to prevent and maintain your computer from serious issues causing grief. I do try to keep my site up to date with TIPS and SOFTWARE/SUPPORT but most of all, it is the Blog where the communication to not only my existing clients but anyone that wants to stay informed on these and many technical issues. If you have come across this site for the first time, welcome, if you have subscribed to the RSS feed or have the site bookmarked as one of your favorites so that you can also stay up to date, wonderful. It is truly the best method in which I can get my comments out to ALL of my clients WITHOUT forcing them to read an email message that they may or may not find useful! THAT afterall, is what RSS is all about!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Spybot S & D issues

If you are having troubles with Spybot Search & Destroy, it may be because there is a new release out that pretty much requires that you uninstall the previous version. When you uninstall the previous version it will prompt you to restart your computer. You MUST do this before attempting to install the new version.  Note if your initial Spybot S & D was installed by me, then I would have also set up the settings to do everything automatic. That is, when you click on the icon, it automatically checks for updates, downloads the updates and then performs the scan and finishes by removing whatever it finds and ends with the log of what it found. Since the new version is detected during the start up, it beings to download/install the new version and you will find yourself in an endless loop. Therefore it is best to simply uninstall completely first.  As with any new release/versions available, you can always get them direct and easiest from my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page.






Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An update is available that improves the performance and reliability of Windows Vista

While on the topic of Vista and its many tweaks, we are getting very close to the final (actual) release of SP1 for Vista.   This one update will suffice until such time!





TIP-Windows Vista Email Stuck?

A recent problem I came across with a computer was an email message stuck in the outbox and even trying to delete would not work. Thankfully I was not alone and Microsoft was aware if this so you can learn how by reading this.





Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Although this recent CNet Blogger Peter Butler post may help those techies out there, I don't suggest just anyone attempting this sort of fix. As he makes mention of with his company computer and the IT department, this service is a critical item within the normal operating system of Windows and should be 'stopped' or worse, 'disabled' by the person that looks after your computer's technical problems. It is quite often posts like this, or not to name names but PC Magazine, is also quite noted for giving such 'tips' that lead to major problems such as antivirus and/or anti-spyware programs not doing the job they are supposed to because of loopholes from disabling certain services.  If you are a client of mine and are reading this post then I might suggest throwing me that email question as to how you can get your system optimized the tweaked without causing shortfalls with the operating system. Note that I do try to give many TIPS on OPTIMIZING both through this blog and through my website.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The list of anti-spyware that is not so anti

Spyware, Adware and Malware are all pretty much the same thing... you don't want it on your computer. The problem is with so many of these issues it becomes uncertain as to what is the legitimate cleaning solution with regards to the anti-spyware cleaners. This website does a very good job by providing the lengthy list of programs to stay away from.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Commercials

With the game about to start, I am once again looking forward to the
one time in the year when I actually look forward to watching the
commercials. Being in the USA for this years Super Bowl game will
make it all that much easier as it is always more difficult to
actually see the American Commercials with the local/networks in
Canada inserting their own!