SOLUTION: Outlook 2016 will not start (stuck on “Loading Profile”)

This morning, I received a call from a client who was unable to open Outlook 2016 suddenly following an upgrade to the Windows 10 Creators Update.  This problem may or may not have been directly related to that update, but the timing was at the very least coordinated with it.

Each time the client clicked the shortcut to open Outlook, the splash screen opened and Outlook would hang on the “Loading Profile” screen.  These sorts of symptoms are actually not all that uncommon, and a range of different solutions exist to rectify them.

The solution this time, however, was not at all obvious.  After trying all of the usual fixes:

  • Disabling Hardware Acceleration via the registry
  • Starting Outlook in Safe Mode (outlook.exe /safe)
  • Checking/disabling compatibility troubleshooter flags on the Outlook shortcut
  • Resetting the nav pane (outlook.exe /resetnavpane)
  • Creating a new Outlook profile
  • Repairing Outlook via an Office 2016 Online Repair
  • Completely reinstalling Office 2016
  • sfc /scannow
  • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  • netsh winsock reset
  • netsh int ip reset
  • ipconfig /flushdns
  • A complete Windows 10 “network reset”

Nothing corrected the problem.  Only one bizarre workaround provoked it to open with the Exchange account attached, and that was to disable all network connectivity (in other words, by invoking, for instance, Airplane Mode).  While disconnected, Outlook opened right up.

Some troubleshooting using Process Explorer revealed that Outlook TCP connections were opening but apparently failing during the launch.  This, along with a run of the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365, eventually led to the solution:

Disabling IPV6 in the network adapter!

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu and choose Network Connections.
    1. (If on the latest Windows 10 build, you’ll need to perform this step next:) Scroll down to the bottom and click Change adapter options
  2. Double-click your primary network adapter.
  3. Click Properties.
  4. UNcheck Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)
  5. Click OK.

Voila!  Outlook now opens normally.

After this one, I had a beer.

SOLUTION: IAStorDataSvc consumes 20-40% CPU following Windows 10 build upgrade

Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology drivers haven’t been getting a lot of love from me recently, and unfortunately, that isn’t about to change today.  A recent Windows 10 upgrade (the Anniversary Update, build 1607) also includes a new Intel RST driver, and on some systems, it’s a source of significant headaches.  These systems are stricken by suddenly noisier than usual operation and higher temperatures, both of which stem from higher-than-normal CPU consumption from the Intel RST system service.

How do you know if your system is affected?  In Task Manager, you should see IAStorDataSvc consuming CPU cycles in excess of 20%, and sometimes as much as 40%.  You can kill the process, but the permanent fix is to uninstall Intel Rapid Storage Technology entirely.  The program is unnecessary for the drivers to continue functioning normally, so it won’t hurt to simply leave it out in most cases.  Before you do so, however, for safety’s sake, you’ll want to create a System Restore point.

You can also upgrade the package to its latest available version in hopes that this will correct it.  If you wish to do so, Intel lists it in the Download section on their site, or you can obtain them directly from your PC manufacturer.

SOLUTION? “Class not registered” when trying to open Chrome in Windows 8.1/10

Recently I have been seeing an increased incidence of this particular issue on newer Windows 8/8.1/10 machines.  It occurs when the user attempts to launch Chrome via any shortcut on the Desktop, taskbar, or elsewhere, or when opening any file or protocol (URL, etc.) associated with Chrome.  The only permanent “solution” is to create a direct shortcut to the Chrome.exe executable in the %PROGRAMFILES(x86)%\Google\Chrome\Application directory and then launch it from there.  However, this doesn’t fix the problems with trying to open .HTML files and URL links from other applications, which still trigger the error.

Lots of suggestions abound across the internet regarding ways to temporarily correct this problem.  Most of them center on the deletion of the Chrome Classes registry keys affiliated with the file/protocol associations, but these are only temporary; the problem resurfaces each and every time Chrome updates itself, which happens a lot.

Instead, there seems to be a much easier solution.  Bear in mind that I have only thus far tried this on one machine, but it worked immediately, and it jives with other research I’ve done on related subjects.  Please let me know in the comments if this solution also works for you.

The fix?

  1. Uninstall Java (all versions).
  2. Uninstall Chrome.
  3. Reboot.
  4. Reinstall Chrome.

This corrected the problem completely on my user’s machine.  It may or may not work for you; if it doesn’t, try one of these other solutions:

  1. Open regedit.
  2. Delete (if present) the following registry keys:
    1. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{5C65F4B0-3651-4514-B207-D10CB699B14B}
    2. HKLM\Software\Classes\Chrome
    3. HKLM\Software\Classes\ChromeHTML\open\command\DelegateExecute
  3. Reboot.

Then:

  1. Open Default Programs and set a different browser temporarily to default (for example, IE).
  2. Open Chrome and choose to set it as default when automatically prompted.

Hopefully this helps someone else struggling with this problem.

SOLUTION: Cannot Uninstall Microsoft Security Essentials from Windows 10

Recently, I encountered two different workstations that had upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 on which Microsoft Security Essentials inexplicably was not uninstalled during the upgrade process by Windows Setup.  This is baffling, because MSSE isn’t designed to work with Windows 10 (it doesn’t work), and plus, it precludes the use of Windows Defender, which is essentially the Windows 10 upgraded equivalent of MSSE.

If you’re in the same situation, you’ll also discover that it is impossible to remove Microsoft Security Essentials from Programs and Features; when attempting to do so, you simply receive a generic message which states “You don’t need to install Microsoft Security Essentials.”  That’s great, Microsoft, because we don’t want to install it, we want to uninstall it.

Anyway, the solution to this problem is actually quite simple:

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog.
  2. In the Open: field, type:
    • explorer “%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Security Client\”
      and press ENTER.
  3. Highlight the file Setup.exe, right-click it, and choose Properties.
  4. Choose Compatibility.
  5. Click Change settings for all users.
  6. Check the box next to Run this program in compatibility mode for: and choose Windows 7 from the drop-down box.
  7. Click OK on all dialogue boxes to exit all windows.
  8. In the search box at the bottom of the screen, type cmd. At the top of the pop-up window, underneath the heading Best matchright-click Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator.
  9. In the Command Prompt window that opens, type the following command:
    • “%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Security Client\setup.exe” /x /disableoslimit
  10. Follow the instructions to uninstall.

That’s it!

Special thanks to corrado_boy_g60 at the Microsoft Community for information leading to this solution.

SOLUTION: Windows 10 Start Menu text is unreadable / too dark

This problem seems to affect primarily Haswell-based notebooks with Intel HD Graphics drivers in use.  I have not yet seen it affect Broadwell chipsets, but it may.

The issue is that the Start Menu text is too dark — and in fact, it becomes gradually darker — and illegible, fading into the background of the Start Menu.  While it seems likely that a Windows 10 setting (or theme) should be to blame, it actually is neither.

The problem is the Intel Graphics driver, which includes a setting that purports to implement application-specific fixes.  To correct the problem, all you have to do is disable the setting and reboot the PC:

  1. Right-click the Desktop and choose Graphics Properties…
  2. Choose 3D.
  3. Under Application Optimal Mode, click Disable.
  4. Reboot the PC.

The problem is solved!

It’s likely in the future that Intel will correct their driver optimization presets for the Windows 10 desktop windows manager / Explorer.exe, but until that day, this is the correct workaround.

SOLUTION: Malware extensions continually reload within Chrome even after reinstallation

Greetings again random internet-surfing technology enthusiasts,

Today, I’d like to tackle a puzzling issue that many techs encounter with regard to disinfecting Chrome and problematic extensions that manifest within it.  Of course, anyone with any technical expertise is aware of the fact that browser extensions are currently one of the hottest attack vectors for unsuspecting users’ machines, but removing and keeping such extensions from reloading is another matter entirely.  Some of examples of these include:

  • AdBlocker (not the legitimate and excellent AdBlock)
  • Vosteran Search
  • WebProtector
  • and many, many others

Most techs use some degree of automatic scanning and removal tools, and that’s fine, provided they don’t rely on them exclusively (as it doesn’t work… something I’ve covered countless times in the past).  However, even those who dabble in manual or assisted-manual disinfection procedures have probably found that Chrome is one of the most problematic items to permanently clean on a user’s PC.  This is ironic because Chrome also happens to be the browser I recommend to my clients for safety and speed currently (and it has been for quite some time).  Does that mean that we should move on to a different browser choice instead?

Fortunately, nope.  There is indeed a pretty universal solution to this problem, and today I’ll reveal it to you.  For purposes of illustration, we’ll choose the third example extension I listed above for today’s explanation (WebProtector).

Each Chrome extension is affiliated with a unique identifier to help users locate and install the extension from the Chrome Web Store.  WebProtector’s, for instance, happens to be kfecnpmgnlnbmipaogfhoacoioifjgko.  The Web Store does indeed host this extension in spite of its fraudulence; and Google, for all their great work in producing a relatively safe browser in Chrome, have done a pretty terrible job of keeping the store cleaned of such filth.  The problem with WebProtector (and many of these other extensions) is that even after they’re cleaned from the computer and all other malware is removed, the users may find that they reload themselves regardless later on with little or no warning.  You might think that completely uninstalling Chrome, removing all directories on the system relating to Chrome, and cleaning/resetting the user’s Chrome Data profile (as I described in another post recently) should logically solve the problem.  But it doesn’t.  The extension yet again reloads itself upon future reinstallations.

The answer to the puzzle is Policies in the Windows registry.  Chrome stores its policies in the following two keys:

  • HKCU\Software\Policies\Google
  • HKLM\Software\Policies\Google

Under these keys you will find a subkey called Extensions; it is from this key that Chrome is instructed to load the infected extensions upon each reinstallation and subsequently thereafter at regular intervals.  Simply deleting these keys (provided the user is not reliant on any policies in Chrome for administrative purposes) will prevent the behavior.  At an elevated command prompt, try typing these commands:

REG DELETE “HKCU\Software\Policies\Google” /f
REG DELETE “HKLM\Software\Policies\Google” /f

Specifically, the autoinstall keys that are likely being used are:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Google\Chrome\ExtensionInstallForceList

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Google\Chrome\ExtensionInstallForceList

However I like to remove the entire Policies key on most machines as other suspect keys are also often used, such as whitelisting of bad extensions and even blacklisting of good ones.

It also goes without saying that the extension itself must first be removed for this to work.  That includes killing the keys relating to it in the following locations:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Google\Chrome\Extensions\
  • HKCU\SOFTWARE\Google\Chrome\Extensions\

As well as the associated files within the user’s Chrome User Data directory.  If you’re really just looking to clean sweep the entire program, you can follow my previous instructions to backup the user’s Bookmarks and other personal items and then simply wipe out all related keys and files after uninstalling Chrome.  This will finally solve the problem!

SOLUTION: Microsoft Outlook 2013 hangs at “Loading Profile…” after Office Update

Now here’s an interesting conundrum.  A recent update to Microsoft Office 2013 that’s being pushed out automatically to clients results in some of them being unable to open Outlook 2013.  Instead of running normally, the program will hang at the “Loading Profile” stage of launch, as though the profile is corrupt (if you haven’t already checked this, it could actually be the case instead of course).  A workaround is to open Outlook using the well-known /safe command line switch; but this is merely a workaround (which in turn disables all add-ons), not a permanent solution.

For a much more reasonable resolution, try this instead:

  1. Run regedit (Start > Run > type regedit and press ENTER)
    1. On Windows 8, Win + R; type regedit and press ENTER
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common
  3. Right-click, select New > Key and name it Graphics
  4. Select the Graphics key you just created, right-click in the right panel and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value and name it DisableHardwareAcceleration.
  5. Double-click the new value and assign it a value of 1.
  6. Close regedit and try opening Outlook again.

This should fix the problem.  I first stumbled upon the solution when I realized that opening my TeamViewer Remote Support program while Outlook was loading kicked it into launching, which suggested either a network- or graphics-related cause (as TV affects both of those when launching).  The original solution listed here came from the Microsoft Office 2013 Issues Blog, though the symptoms listed are different from these.

Hope this helps! 🙂