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Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste

pavane 03 Oct 11 - 02:27 PM
JohnInKansas 03 Oct 11 - 03:12 PM
pavane 03 Oct 11 - 03:35 PM
pavane 03 Oct 11 - 03:38 PM
pavane 03 Oct 11 - 05:01 PM
Arthur_itus 03 Oct 11 - 05:07 PM
JohnInKansas 03 Oct 11 - 08:16 PM
JohnInKansas 03 Oct 11 - 08:28 PM
Bernard 04 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM
pavane 04 Oct 11 - 01:32 PM
JohnInKansas 04 Oct 11 - 03:07 PM
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Subject: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: pavane
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 02:27 PM

Closed down last night with the usual "installing updates" that I don't seem to be able to prevent - and today it loads up IE instead of Firefox, installs Google toolbar etc, and seems to have zapped all my cookies and remembered passwords. When I went back to Firefox, all my bookmarks had gone.

Also removed half of my desktop, and changed the background. It has taken me an HOUR just to get back into a few apps and sites. Is there any way I can guard against this in future?
I don't want to turn on my other machine in case the same thing happens.


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 03:12 PM

I've never seen anything like you describe, and especially "installs Google toolbar" is NOT something Microsoft would be likely to do. Many update installs include a reboot, and if the current (at time of update) OS had a problem the reboot might have reverted back to an older setup from System Restore. Since Restore only keeps the last half-dozen successful changes, it would be unlikely to go back very far, but a new versions gets saved only when you restart after changes, so it's the number of restarts that counts, not the calendar.

Another possibility, assuming you've had more than one user ident on the machine, is that you've just restarted as a different user(?).

If the other machine wasn't installing updates when you shut it down, you should be able to restart it and stop installation of the latest update, at least until you're ready to shut down again.

If you can get it up, you should be able to finish a backup by exporting a copy of your shortcuts before allowing an update. Most of what you seem to have lost should be in your "username" folder, so just copying the folder to somewhere else should get most of what you lost ("should" and "will" are two different things?). If you're using a "password locker" of some kind, you may or may not be able to make a backup, since a "locker" should be encrypted and moving, copying, or making a backup of encrypted files doesn't usually work well unless you can unencrypt before copying. "Remembered" passwords are usually just cookies, and theoretically you can copy them and put them back later, although it doesn't always work as well as it might. (Cookies crumble so often I don't usually try to save them.)

Stilly reported in another thread that an "incorrect signature" caused a Microsoft AV program to foul her Chrome recently, but your description doesn't sound like that glitch was involved since the sig has been corrected, and the AV program affected wasn't one you'd be likely to use.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: pavane
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 03:35 PM

OK - I can see that all the folders immediately under my user name Neil on the desktop have been emptied - but the contents are still present under c:\users\neil.

I thought that previously, one was a shortcut or alias to the other, because they all held the same stuff.

Since the user folder structure was empty, I suppose Windows reverted to some defaults. Does this imply that some link between the folders and aliases got broken during the update? It would certainly account for the problems.

Also, there were previously some folders to which I got "Access denied" but that has cleared. It still all looks like a Windows job rather a than malicious attack. (I do have Norton running)


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: pavane
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 03:38 PM

It didn't restart as a different user, but perhaps behaves as if it did. It still recognises my user name and password, at least.


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: pavane
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 05:01 PM

Panic over. It must have been a bootup glitch. After I rebooted, it was back to normal. Weird


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 05:07 PM

Panic over :-) Blimey Microsoft get blamed for everything :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 08:16 PM

Setup of User dependent things are generally in a folder called "username," or in your case Neil. In the Neil folder, there should be a sub-folder called "Desktop." An icon for a Neil folder, that you place on the desktop, is a shortcut to the item called Neil in the Desktop folder under the Neil folder. The item called "Neil" in the Desktop folder should be a shortcut to the folder called Neil that contains the Desktop folder, that has the Neil shortcut in it.

I'd explain further, but I think I'm getting dizzy from the circular linking. ...; but I'm sure you'll understand.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 08:28 PM

More seriously, most Windows setups will include a "Guest" username. A Guest user may not display on the login page; but the system sometimes defaults to "Guest" if there's an error in selecting the user you want, or in entering the password. (Especially for an error in the password, a machine with a Guest username - displayed or not - may go directly to the Guest desktop rather than waiting for you to re-enter the password.) On most machines, there's little defined for the Guest desktop, so it looks like your machine has been blasted.

If you have shared files, and allow access by "Everybody" the OS assumes that anyone not "legally logged on" is an anonymous "Guest," even if no Guest username has been defined.

The only reasonably certian cure I've found is two cups of coffee before booting up, to make sure the operator is on line before trying to start things.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM

Sometimes the system will default to 'User' as the primary username identifier during setup even though you may have used a different username... can be very confusing when you're trying to find folders you need to back up, such as Documents. Don't confuse this with the 'All Users' folder, either!

If you decide to change your username, the folder name does not change...

When you look in the Documents and Settings folder and don't see your chosen username, you may well see 'User' instead... DON'T RENAME IT!! Even if you know what you're doing with the registry, it's too easy to miss something and louse the whole thing up! It's better just to live with it...

Another cause for confusion if, for example, you use a laptop that sometimes is standalone and sometimes connects to a domain server - you may end up with two profiles... one for the 'Local Machine' and the other for the domain. In such cases, your Documents and Settings folder may have Fred and Fred.DOMAIN_NAME folders if your username is 'Fred' - again, don't try to rename or delete them! Worse still, you may end up with others suffixed with .000, .001 etc. It's usually safe to remove any redundant ones (the 'date modified' is the clue), though they may prove reluctant to comply!

As for booting, my own 'rule' is to wait for the hourglass to stop randomly spinning, then wait for the HDD activity to calm down somewhat... okay, you may have to wait some time for the latter!


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: pavane
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 01:32 PM

Thanks John - that must have been it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: WTF? Microsoft splats my syste
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 03:07 PM

then wait for the HDD activity to calm down somewhat... okay, you may have to wait some time for the latter!

Replacing a hard drive, and copying about 180 GB of files onto it, my Vista machine took 11 days for the hard drive to quit thrashing. It continued "sporadic twitching and jerking spasms" for an additional couple of weeks.

The drive thrashing is particularly annoying when I copy a fairly large number of files to my external USB backup drive, since the "safely remove hardware" function insists that I should close programs that may be using the drive before it will let me disconnect the external, even if NO PROGRAMS are open.

The main reason why the drive remains "busy" long after you're not doing anything with it is the Vista "search indexing," which it insists on doing if the drive is set to index content. Since Vista search (with or without indexing) has NEVER RETURNED A USEFUL RESULT for me, I prefer to leave the indexing turned off; but no matter how many times I turn it off Vista turns it back on randomly. When you turn it off again, the OS has to write the "I" attribute to every file on the drive which, with 544,994 Files in 102,983 Dirs on my System Drive takes 3 to 9 hours, depending on how many folders haven't been reset to remove the attribute.

Although the indexing runs as a background process if you leave the drive connected, it still blocks removal of the drive until it finishes its useless crap.

A second reason for the "safely remove" to report that the drive is in use is related to a difference in the file structure on NTFS formatted drives.

On a FAT formatted drive, the root sector contains only the filename and the location at which the file/folder starts, with minimal other information. The root sector has fixed length and can't be moved, which is why you can't put more than a fixed number of files at the top. Each folder contains only the filenames and starting address for each file. In either case, each cluster of a file/folder contains the location address for the next cluster that's part of the file. (In some implementations there's also an address for the preceding sector.)

This "daisy chain" construction means that in order to compile a "directory listing" the computer has to run through the entire chain of clusters for each file that's to be listed.

On an NTFS formatted drive, the root sector is "extensible" and can be any size (and hence can contain lots more information) and theoretically can be anywhere on the drive. (Although moving one isn't implemented in any Windows OS so far as I've seen.) Unlike on a FAT drive, the "root" can be split across non-contiguous space on the drive. When a file is saved or moved, it's initially written just as on a FAT drive, but the system goes back and "completes" the folder entry to include all the cluster addresses used by each file, with the 8+3 filename actually used by FAT drives plus the "long filename" if needed, and all the other "essential information" such as the 120+ attributes, so that a directory listing can (theoretically) be compiled directly from looking only at the folders.

Since both the "search indexing" and the "directory completion" processes run in background, you're unlikely to notice them on a permanently mounted drive, but waiting for permission to disconnect a large external can make them very apparent, although identifying what's causing the delay "ain't easy."

The additional information contained in folders once the directory completion is finished is a big help on current large drives, but also may produce some obvious "lags" in moving or deleting files if a fairly large number of moves have been made. For recently changed files, the system has to do an old-fashioned cluster by cluster search to identify all the parts of a file that you try to delete, which in some cases takes minutes rather than seconds.

John


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