random thoughts to oil the mind

Tag: Windows Page 1 of 2

Windows 10 Home/Pro

I recently gave my machine a long overdue brain transplant, but stupidly didn’t consider what would happen to my Windows 10 licence after making a major change to the hardware. Of course, upon booting back up I was greeted with the friendly warning that my OS installation had not yet been activated.

While it is possible to reactivate Windows after a hardware change, this relies on you having linked the licence to your Microsoft account, which I hadn’t done beforehand. Various attempts to troubleshoot the problem just had me going around in circles navigating the same help pages from different angles (“have you tried turning it off and on again?”) And as tempting as it sounded to spend another evening elbow-deep in transistors restoring the status quo ante, there’d be no guarantee that my copy would be activated again with the original hardware in place (anyone know if this is the case?)

So the only option was to buy a new licence. I was a bit loath to fork over the full price for a license from Microsoft, given that I’d only lost my original one through stupidity. But there are plenty of third parties selling licenses for throwaway prices, which are presumably legitimate for at least some value of legitimate. Off I go and basket up a Microsoft Windows 10 Pro licence for a reasonable price, wait with baited breath for a licence code, plug in the numbers and… it failed.

It was then that I noticed I had Windows 10 Home installed but had actually bought a licence for Windows 10 Pro. Fine, it should be possible to upgrade Home to Pro using my licence without having to install fresh, right?

Apparently not. After a few attempts at entering my key while trying to install Windows 10 Pro, I searched around and found various websites supplying generic keys for installing whichever version of Windows you prefer. Unfortunately, entering one of these keys would initially tell me my copy would be upgraded, before complaining that my version of Windows wasn’t activated, but would I like to troubleshoot my problem again?

Fortunately, there was a simple low-tech way out of this particular Catch-22. The solution was to cut the internet connection after entering the generic code for upgrading to Windows 10 Pro. The upgrader moaned a bit, but otherwise did its thing. Once the system was rebooted, I could then enter the licence key I’d purchased and boom. Back to having a fully licensed copy with no more annoying watermarks. Troubleshooters be damned.

[Photo by Tadas Sar on Unsplash]

Laptop

CPU Throttling

Over the past few weeks I’ve had a niggling suspicion that my machine was running slowly. Things felt a little sluggish, sites were less responsive, switching between applications took longer than usual. My machine was showing signs of ageing, despite its relative youth.

Then I tried launching Heroes of the Storm, a game I hadn’t played for a few weeks and which had been updated in the meantime. After getting through the menus and starting a game, the performance gradually plummeted, with the frames per second dropping from around 20 at launch to just 1 when there were a few moving characters on screen at once.

Since other games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive didn’t exhibit the same unplayable jerkiness, instead reacting rather more like the rest of my system in being generally lethargic, I assumed something in one of the patches had ruined my settings. After rooting around on the forums I found a variety of potential solutions, including running the 32-bit client, verifying the installation, reinstalling the game, reinstalling drivers, changing resolutions, running the game in windowed mode, forcing Nvidia’s hand in the control panel, and many more.

In reality, however, the problem had nothing to do with the game itself, but something had instead gone horribly wrong with my power management settings. Although I hadn’t touched them myself, somehow my CPU was stuck in first gear, being throttled down to 5% instead of dynamically altering to cope with the demands of the system at any particular time.

The solution on Windows 10, in case anyone should have the same problems, was simple:

  1. Navigate to the power options in the Control Panel (or for a shortcut, hit WIN + R and type powercfg.cpl).
  2. Verify that you’re using the default Balanced power plan.
  3. Click Change plan settings then Change advanced power settings.
  4. Scroll down the list to Processor power management and check the entry for Maximum processor state.
  5. Normally this should be set to 100%. If it isn’t, either do so manually, or if you haven’t otherwise changed anything about your power management settings, click Restore plan defaults.

Real(ly Tacky) Tek Driver Update

Argh, you’re kidding me. Did the Realtek HD Audio Drivers 6.0.1.7245 really just copy everything it found in the folder with the setup file over to the Program Files directory? Not the files in the executable .zip file, not the files in a list, no, everything it could get its grubby digital hands on. So a quick driver update ended up copying 40 GB of crud between two hard drives. Reminder to self: clean out the TEMP folder more often!

Windows on Inactivity

Here’s a little tip for anyone like me still using Windows Vista who’s having trouble with the system logging/locking you out after a certain period of inactivity (usually 5 or 10 minutes). The two most common culprits for this are the screensaver settings or possible power saving options, both accessible from within the Control Panel. However, what isn’t obvious and what drove me mad trying to find, is that even if you have None selected as your screensaver of choice, it appears Windows still sees fit to still log the user out after the allotted period of time. This despite the fact that the On resume, require logon checkbox is greyed out.

After much headscratching and searching through forums, I eventually discovered that you can prevent Windows automatically presenting you with the login screen after a few minutes of inactivity by reenabling the screensaver, providing an extraordinarily large number and unchecking the On resume, require logon checkbox. No more interrupted video viewing!

Fixing a Broken Network Printer

There’s one problem which was driving my parents nuts on XP for some time before we finally got around to finding a reasonable solution. For whatever reason, one of their computers insisted on automatically adding the shared network printer on the other machine as the default printer in the list. This regardless of whether we had already assigned a local default, and whether the network printer was already in the list.

Whilst that already caused some consternation when documents would be sent to the wrong machine, it was compounded by the fact that if the printer was offline at the time, Windows XP would spend 100% CPU time trying to find the damn thing, leaving the PC highly unresponsive until the print queue was manually cleared. Meaning the options were between remembering to change the printer on every print job, or forgetting and rebooting the machine in between.

Fortunately, we found the handy little script below on some forum or other (praise be to the original author). It stops Windows’ printer service, deletes any waiting print jobs, and then restarts the service. Copy the lines below into a batch file (or into a simple text file and change its extension to .bat) or alternatively download the same script as a file.

@echo off
echo.
echo Purging the print queue . . .
net stop Spooler
echo Deleting all print jobs . . .
ping localhost -n 4 > nul
del /q %SystemRoot%\system32\spool\printers\*.*
net start Spooler
echo Done!
ping localhost -n 4 > nul

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