Category Archives: Microsoft Windows

Copy many large files from phone to SD card

When I replaced my Android phone, I needed to copy files from an old micro SD card to a new micro SD card. I used a Windows 7 computer with the phone (with old SD card) attached to a USB port on the PC and the new SD card attached to another USB port on the same PC.

This large copy operation worked fine except with files larger than 400 megabytes. Windows Explorer’s drag and drop copy function would fail after copying several hundred megabytes. Without warning the new SD card would vanish from Windows’ device inventory and the copy operation would stop.

I wrote an article in 2009 about Windows’ copy problems. The robocopy command line utility seems to fix many of these problems.

I used Windows 7’s ROBOCOPY command line utility with the /XO and /W:5 switches.  This way, even if the robocopy operation fails, it won’t try to copy files that already have been copied. It worked, even when the new SD card would vanish from Windows’ device inventory.  The restarted command would simply resume copying from the point at which the last attempt failed.  Voila!



Remove the Windows 10 upgrade popup, updated

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, and you’re sick of being nagged by Microsoft’s pop-up to upgrade to Windows 10, go to the Ultimate Outsider website and download and install their GWX Control Panel. It’s received rave reviews. Cost: gratis. Here’s the full description.

Microsoft Strikes Again – How to NOT Upgrade to Windows 10


New and Improved Method

Update, April 3, 2016: Steve Gibson, founder of GRC (Gibson Research Corp), has written a great little freeware utility that also blocks upgrades to Windows 10. Steve writes most of his code in assembler, so his utilities are tiny. He calls this newest utility Never10. He’s created a page dedicated to Never10, where you may download it for free. It’s only 81 kilobyes in size and doesn’t require installation on your Windows PC.  You need just run it once to turn off upgrades to Windows 10, and run it again to allow upgrades to Windows 10. Short and sweet, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Should I upgrade to Windows 10?

The short answer: Maybe.

In general, I don’t recommend installing ANYthing that’s version anything dot zero. Wait until version something dot one fixes the bugs. Call me cautious.

In any case, I don’t recommend upgrading to Windows 10 UNLESS Microsoft has invited you to upgrade by displaying an invitation in a small pop-up in the lower right hand corner of your Windows 7 or 8 desktop. Apparently this indicates that Windows 10 drivers exist for your hardware and devices. In this case Microsoft can push the four gigabyte Windows 10 upgrade on to your PC. The choice is yours. Microsoft claims that you’ll have thirty days to rollback your new Windows 10 installation to your previous version of Windows. Caveat Upgrader: backup your files first.

If you’re using Windows 8 or 8.1, I recommend upgrading to Windows 10 as soon as possible. Or replace Windows with Linux.

If you’ve not received a Windows 10 invitation, be patient. Don’t download the four GB Windows 10 iso installation file from Microsoft. Chances are that Windows 10 drivers don’t yet exist for your hardware and devices. Allow time for Microsoft and third-party vendors to develop Windows 10 drivers. You have a year to take advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade offer.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Windows 10 privacy concerns

Within days of its release, concerns about Microsoft Windows 10’s handling of users’ data have arisen. The 12,000 word 45 page Windows 10 EULA (end user license agreement) states that Microsoft may do what it wishes with your data.

If you wish to control your privacy, DON’T choose “Express Install”.

This loss of privacy is one downside to Microsoft’s new SAAS (software as a service) model. Linux on the desktop looks better and better.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

A First Look at Windows 10

Today Microsoft presented a glimpse of their next version of Windows to about 50 trade press writers. (Watch 39 minute video) Microsoft is distancing itself from Windows 8; apparently “9” wasn’t distant enough, so the new version will be named Windows 10. It will ship next Spring.

Just as Windows 7 was actually a service pack for Windows Vista (which should have been offered gratis), it appears that Windows 10 fixes many objections to Windows 8’s user interface(s).

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Updating Windows 8 to 8.1

Microsoft’s update from Windows 8 to 8.1 was released in April, but I still encounter PCs that are stuck on Windows 8. And I do mean stuck. Windows 8 is a dead-end: Microsoft will not provide security patches for Windows 8. Users must update to Windows 8.1 to receive security patches. If you haven’t updated from Windows 8 to 8.1, I recommend that you do so now.


Unfortunately, at least 50% of the time, the update from Windows 8 to 8.1 is a royal pain. Problems range from existing anti-virus programs blocking the update to stalled downloads. It’s a huge download of about three gigabytes, so aborted updates can consume hours each time you must restart the update. I like the detailed step-by-step instructions in About Technology‘s How to Update to Windows 8.1. If the update’s download stalls for hours, I recommend the steps in this article: Fix: Your Windows 8.1 install couldn’t be completed error. (If the net stop bits command refuses to execute, you can run services.msc in the Run box, and stop the Background Intelligent Transfer Service from within the Services window.)

If your update fails, you may need to remove the ‘USB Bluetooth’ device from within Windows’ Device Manager and re-try the update.

This painful update procedure (roughly equivalent in magnitude to going from the original Windows XP to Service Pack 1, but far more trouble-prone) is just more proof that Windows 8 is a disaster.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Windows 8 has flopped.

Windows 8 logoHere’s the evidence::

  • Current Windows 8 usage on web is about half that of Windows XP.
  • Current Windows 8 usage on web just crept past that of the unpopular Windows Vista.
  • Windows 8 usage on web decreased slightly last month over the previous month.
  • Microsoft fired Windows 8’s project manager, Steven Sinofsky, in November, 2012.
  • Microsoft’s board fired CEO Steve Ballmer in 2013.

Hang in there. Microsoft promises that Windows 9 will ship in Spring of 2015.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

If you plan to use XP after April 8 . . .

Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP after April 8. If you insist upon continuing to use Windows XP after that date (a strategy that I don’t recommend), you should remove administrator privileges from most users. Read this December 10 report on the beneficial results of removing administrator rights.

The report highlights the following key findings:

  • Of the 147 vulnerabilities published by Microsoft in 2013 with a Critical rating, 92% were concluded to be mitigated by removing administrator rights.
  • 96% of Critical vulnerabilities affecting Windows operating systems could be mitigated by removing admin rights.
  • 100% of all vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer could be mitigated by removing admin rights.
  • 91% of vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft Office could be mitigated by removing admin rights.
  • 100% of Critical Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities and 80% of Critical Information Disclosure vulnerabilities could be mitigated by removing admin rights.
  • 60% of all Microsoft vulnerabilities published in 2013 could be mitigated by removing admin rights.

An easy way to strenghten Windows XP’s security is to first create a new user account with Administrator rights. Make sure that you can log into this account. Then edit the remaining users’ accounts so that they have Limited rights (not Administrator rights). Use the new Administrator account only when you must.

wpid-enable_java.jpgApril 17:
Disable Java in web browsers.

Go to Start / Control Panel / Java. Click the Security tab. On the Security properties sheet, uncheck the box labelled “Enable Java content in the browser”.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Recover a disappeared Windows partition

A client recently complained that his Windows XP computer had run slowly for weeks and now Windows wouldn’t start. Following power on, the Windows XP splash screen appeared for a few seconds, followed by a system reset. This sequence would repeat in an endless loop.

A low-level check of the disk revealed no bad sectors and Memtest86 revealed no bad cells. I used an Ubuntu (a Linux distro) boot CD-ROM; Ubuntu couldn’t see any partitions on the hard drive(!). This is not good news. I booted from a BartPE1 CD-ROM. It couldn’t see any partitions on the hard drive either. I booted from a Windows XP setup CD with a view to doing a repair install, but it could not see a Windows partition or system on the hard drive. Uh-oh.

BartPE screenshotThe cure for this sick pup? Boot from a BartPE CD-ROM, go to the command prompt, and enter the command CHKDSK C: /F. On this disk, chkdsk needed nine hours(!) to repair the NTFS partition and its table. At the 19% point during phase 1, the screen didn’t update for more than an hour. Several times, the PC seemed to have frozen. I was tempted to shutdown BartPE, but the PC’s drive activity light indicated that something was accessing the hard drive, so I allowed it to continue.

After nine hours, chkdsk reported that it had finished repairing the disk and exited to the DOS prompt. I rebooted the PC. Sure enough, Windows started and ran. A quick look revealed tbat the 160 GB disk had 0 (zero!) bytes free. This sick puppy needed more attention, but at least its data could now be salvaged.

I don’t need BartPE often, but when I need to access an NTFS partition and run a Windows or DOS command on a machine that can’t boot Windows, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

  1. BartPE (Bart’s Preinstalled Environment) is a lightweight variant of the 32-bit version of Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, similar to Windows Preinstallation Environment, which can be run from a Live CD or Live USB drive. – from Wikipedia

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

How to share a 32-bit Windows XP PC’s printer with 64-bit Windows 7 PCs.

Offices are introducing 64-bit Windows 7 PCs into workgroups of existing 32-bit Windows XP PCs. Allowing locally connected printers on the 32-bit Windows XP PCs to be shared over the network by the 64-bit Windows 7 PCs may seem to be impossible, if while adding a printer to the 64-bit Windows 7 PCs, you merely browse to the shared printer that’s locally connected to a 32-bit Windows XP PC. I’ve never been able to make this work. However, I have found a method that does work. Assume

  • A 64-bit Windows printer driver for this printer is available. (Check its setup CD.)
  • Existing 32-bit Windows XP PC with locally attached shared printer is named FRONTDESK.
  • This locally attached printer is shared with share name HPLaserj1.

Follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that the 64-bit Windows 7 PC has the correct 64-bit printer driver installed. One way of doing this is to
    • Temporarily remove the shared printer from the 32-bit Windows XP PC and connect it via USB to the 64-bit Windows 7 PC.
    • Within Devices and Printers, add the new printer.
    • After the printer has been installed on the 64-bit Windows 7 PC, remove it and reattach it to the 32-bit Windows XP PC. You may delete the shadowed printer icon from the 64-bit Windows 7 PC’s Devices and Printers group.
  2. On the 64-bit Windows 7 PC, within its Devices and Printers group, choose Add Printer.
  3. Choose local printer. (I know that you want to choose Networked printer. Don’t.)
  4. Choose Add a port. Name this new port \\FRONTDESK\HPLaserj1. The 64-bit Windows 7 PC should find the printer that’s shared by FRONTDESK and add it to its Devices and Printers group.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Stop Windows Automatic Update’s “Restart Now / Restart Later” nagging popup

Have you been annoyed by this popup dialog box after Windows Update has run? It annoys you every ten minutes until you finally relent and restart your computer.

Here’s a way to get rid of this (in Windows XP):

  • Click Start
  • Click Run
  • In the Run window, after “Open”, Enter sc stop wuauserv

(Be sure to press the OK button after entering the command.)

The nagging will stop and its tooltray icon will disappear. This allows you to restart when you wish.