Fix Windows Update Errors


The thing about Windows Update services (WU or WUS) is that so many things can go wrong. Microsoft provides a Windows Update Troubleshooter that you may want to try before messing around with items manually, but we've found it rarely solves issues when Windows Update is acting up.

First off, look in the Application event log for events with Event ID 1001 and the "Information" level. The Event Name for WU issues is "WindowsUpdateFailure3" and typically paired with a fault bucket of type 5. In the problem signature, look for the code in the P2 line (such as 80246008 or 800706d9). Those are the codes you will want to include in your Web searches to see if you can find the exact cause of your issue.

If that fails to provide you a solution or you just want to reset Windows Update without having to troubleshoot too much, we've found that the following general steps fix ~90% of Windows Update errors. This should work in Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and most flavors of Windows Server.

Continue on for the steps and some great tips...

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Veeam Backup Error With SqlServerWriter


If your Veeam backups are failing with the following or similar errors:

Cannot create a shadow copy of the volumes containing writer's data.
A VSS critical writer has failed. Writer name: [SqlServerWriter]. Class ID: [{a65faa63-5ea8-4ebc-9dbd-a0c4db26912a}]. Instance ID: [{d0c7eea6-f80c-43e4-9625-8269bd1d675b}]. Writer's state: [VSS_WS_FAILED_AT_PREPARE_SNAPSHOT]. Error code: [0x800423f4].]

 

Unable to release guest. Error: Unfreeze error: [Backup job failed. Cannot create a shadow copy of the volumes containing writer's data. A VSS critical writer has failed. Writer name: [SqlServerWriter]. Class ID: [{a65faa63-5ea8-4ebc-9dbd-a0c4db26912a}]. Instance ID: [{d0c7eea6-f80c-43e4-9625-8269bd1d675b}]. Writer's state: [VSS_WS_FAILED_AT_PREPARE_SNAPSHOT]. Error code: [0x800423f4].]
Error: Unfreeze error: [Backup job failed. Cannot create a shadow copy of the volumes containing writer's data. A VSS critical writer has failed. Writer name: [SqlServerWriter]. Class ID: [{a65faa63-5ea8-4ebc-9dbd-a0c4db26912a}]. Instance ID: [{d0c7eea6-f80c-43e4-9625-8269bd1d675b}]. Writer's state: [VSS_WS_FAILED_AT_PREPARE_SNAPSHOT]. Error code: [0x800423f4].]

It lis likely that there is something messed up with the SQL Server. Even if you didn't install SQL, some programs use an instance of Microsoft SQL Express LocalDB. You will also see errors in the Application Event log such as:

Source:        SQLVDI
Event ID:      1

SQLVDI: Loc=SignalAbort. Desc=Client initiates abort. ErrorCode=(0). Process=2404. Thread=380. Client. Instance=LOCALDB#SH3A9C8C. VD=Global\{D8287396-2820-4D92-B112-C1ABC614C622}1_SQLVDIMemoryName_0.

 

Source:        VSS
Event ID:      8229

A VSS writer has rejected an event with error 0x800423f4, The writer experienced a non-transient error.  If the backup process is retried,
the error is likely to reoccur.
. Changes that the writer made to the writer components while handling the event will not be available to the requester. Check the event log for related events from the application hosting the VSS writer. 
Operation:
   PrepareForSnapshot Event
Context:
   Execution Context: Writer
   Writer Class Id: {a65faa63-5ea8-4ebc-9dbd-a0c4db26912a}
   Writer Name: SqlServerWriter
   Writer Instance Name: SQL Server Code-Named 'Denali' CTP2:SQLWriter
   Writer Instance ID: {d0c7eea6-f80c-43e4-9625-8269bd1d675b}
   Command Line: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Shared\sqlwriter.exe"
   Process ID: 2404

Continue on for the simple solution...

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Outlook 2013 2016 Starts Disconnected with Outlook.com & Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) Accounts


In Microsoft Outlook 2013 & 2016, when connecting to a Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) account such as Microsoft Outlook.com (Hotmail, Windows Live, etc.) some users are reporting that the accounts are disconnected when you open Outlook or after a certain period of time. A workaround is to put Outlook in offline mode and then return so you are working online, but this is quite an annoying solution to have to do this everytime you open Outlook.

Read more to get the details and resolution...

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Windows 8 Tips: Close the Active App and More


Playing around with Windows 8 RTM has been quite an adventure! I tried working without the Start Menu for a few weeks, but the new Start Screen was usually such a horrible productivity sink that I ended up installing one of the 3rd party Start Menu add-ons (Stardocks's Start8). Most of my usual programs worked fine, though I did hit some walls on a couple forcing me to migrate to alternatives until Windows 8 compatibility is added. The Metro style (or Windows 8 style, now that MS can't use "Metro" anymore) apps.... some are good, but the majority are quite horrid and this unfortunately includes most of the default apps that come with Windows 8. For example, the Mail app doesn't allow you to adjust the three panes' column widths. Everything Metro is dumbed down to the point of being unusable. Also I've hit my share of bugs, even with the RTM release. For example, I added my Google calendar to the Calendar app and it loaded it without issue, but when I try adding events after hitting save everything I type in just goes into oblivion. Nothing shows up, yet no error message or anything else. Hopefully most of the worst show-stopper bugs will be fixed once the October release hits and since the apps are all on the App Store you can get updates quite easily. As for the back-end of things... beautiful. So many great features and improvements that I wish everything except the Start Screen (and the fact that they took away most of the old Desktop/Taskbar customizations) was simply part of a Windows 7 service pack. It's just that good from the Task Manager to the Copy/Move file dialogs.

 

Finally, the most absolute worst part of Metro is from a usability perspective. Absolutely nothing is intuitive other than tapping the tiles to open apps. Microsoft is trying to get us to learn this new environment that will be on all their device types, but throws you in without much of a tutorial at all. Here's my initial list of tips... I'll edit this post as I come across new ones. 

 

  • Tip 1: if you aren't sure how to do something in an app, do one of two things -> (1) Right-click or (2) Move your mouse to the upper-right corner and move the mouse down or the lower-right corner then move it up. This will bring up other menus. Don't always expect left-clicking on things to do what you expect it to do or give you all the available options.
  • Tip 2: To close the currently opened Metro-style app, grab the top of the app and drag it all the way down to the bottom of the screen.
  • Tip 3: To view all the opened Windows 8 apps (Metro apps) move your mouse to the upper-left corner and move the mouse down or the lower-left corner then move it up. Right-click on any of them to get an option to close them.
  • Tip 4: On the Start Screen, click the little minus "-" symbol in the lower-right corner to zoom out. Now you can more easily group tiles and even title the groups by giving them a name.
  • Tip 5: Right-click on any Start Screen tile to Run as Admin, Uninstall, Resize the Tile, etc. You can right-click on multiple Start Screen tiles to select more than one so you can unpin multiple tiles at once.

Hope this helps!

WinRM Has Connection Issues When Using a Custom HTTP.sys Inclusion List


If you've ever set your Internet Information Services (IIS) to only bind or listen on certain IP addresses using the httpcfg set iplisten command (e.g., to have Apache & IIS running on the same server), you may have inadvertently caused an issue for yourself if you want to use Windows Remote Managment (WinRM) from the command line or using PowerShell. A good idea of whether or not you have an issue is if running commands using WinRM (e.g., "winrm quickconfig") fail with the following error:

 

Message = The client cannot connect to the destination specified in the request. Verify that the service on the destination is running and is accepting requests.

Consult the logs and documentation for the WS-Management service running on the destination, most commonly IIS or WinRM. If the destination is the WinRM service,

run the following command on the destination to analyze and configure the WinRM service: "winrm quickconfig".

Error number:  -2144108526 0x80338012
The client cannot connect to the destination specified in the request. Verify that the service on the destination is running and is accepting requests.

Consult the logs and documentation for the WS-Management service running on the destination, most commonly IIS or WinRM. If the destination is the WinRM service,

run the following command on the destination to analyze and configure the WinRM service: "winrm quickconfig".

 

To get WinRM to start working again, continue on reading...

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Webmin and Virtualmin FTP Backup Deletion Fails


Anyone who's used Webmin or Virtualmin knows what wonderful tools they are for managing a Unix or Linux Apache web server. One issue that some have run into is that when scheduling backups to an FTP server, and in particular a Microsoft Windows FTP server, if you've configured Webmin/Virtualmin to delete backups older than a certain number of days those backups sometimes don't get deleted. Continue reading for the cause and the solution to this issue...

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The AutoPlay Window Pops Up and Closes Right Away When Media is Inserted


I recently ran into an issue where a user would insert an SD card, CD, or other removable media and then the AutoPlay (note this is different from, though related to, AutoRun) dialog window pops up briefly for a split second and then closes itself automatically. At first I though the ESC key or something was stuck down, but that wasn't the case this time. In addition, it would even automatically exit the AutoPlay control panel window as soon as that opens.

 

It turns out that there are a number of software programs that could conflict with Windows AutoPlay. Examples include some virtualizing software and even some CD burning/CD writing software. In our case, it turned out to be an issue with a Motorola phone driver, of all things, that was loaded in the system (Motorola MotoHelper Driver). If that fits what is happening to you, you would want to uninstall the driver from the Programs and Features control panel.

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Administratively Create and Modify Windows 7 Libraries


Libraries are one of the cool new things about Microsoft Windows 7. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn't included any administrative tools for the handling of them so system administrators can't easily configure or create them using logon scripts. In addition, at the moment there are no Group Policy settings (or Preferences) that can let admins set up libraries. Hopefully these features will be added in the future, but until then there are still a couple ways to customize and deploy custom libraries. Continue on for a review of the most promising options and also grab a couple of our downloads to assist you...

[Note: Download links are at the end of the article]

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Orca MSI Editor Crashes When Deleting Rows from a Transform


Orca is Microsoft's database table editor for directly creating and editing Windows Installer (previously Microsoft Installer) packages and merge modules. You are most likely familiar with these installation packages as MSI files.

 

You may have noticed, though, that Orca would freeze when you dropped a row at times. This is because the version that comes with the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SDK (and Vista Platform SDK as well, I believe) would crash if you deleted some rows from a transform, such as registry entries. The newer versions of Orca seem to fix this, beginning with the version from the Windows SDK for Windows Server 2008. Last I checked, there's an even newer version - version 5.0 - included in the Windows 7 SDK.

 

Well, that's the answer to your crashing issue, but there are more questions that now arise:

  1. The Windows 7 SDK is huge. Where exactly can I find the Orca.exe program in it?
  2. How do I go about downloading just the portion of the SDK that contains Orca?
  3. Are there any good alternatives to using Orca to edit MSI tables directly?

Read on for the answers to these questions!

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20 Apple Snow Leopard Annoyances (and their solutions)


Luis Villazon has submitted an article at TechRadar UK that outlines some of the more annoying issues that people may run across while using Apple's Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system (next to the issues with NTLM, of course). It's a nice compilation with some of the solutions being the harder ones to figure out (e.g., tracking down a corruption issue with Smart Groups in Address Book). The annoyances:

 

  1. Exposé leaves windows in the background
  2. Can I stop the screensaver from closing?
  3. I can't log in as root user when using Terminal
  4. My Time Machine backups are broken
  5. Files don't open in the right application
  6. How can I change the Stacks display?
  7. How do I get a Stack's items to be highlighted on mouseover?
  8. Can keyboard shortcuts open applications?
  9. Address Book and Mail crash at the same time!
  10. Exposé doesn't work on the Dock when I'm using Spaces
  11. Where have some of the preferences gone?
  12. How can I find and open a single hidden file?
  13. How do I get rid of the blue glow in Exposé?
  14. The icons from the menu bar have vanished
  15. Snow Leopard won't install on the hard disk
  16. Can line breaks be added in Text Substitution?
  17. I can't change application icons
  18. QuickTime X won't auto-play
  19. I can't run Windows apps via Parallels
  20. QuickTime videos simply refuse to play

 If you want the solutions, you'll have to head on over to techradar.com and read the article 20 Snow Leopard annoyances solved.

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