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: “The requested system device cannot be found” on UEFI systems

With GPT disks and UEFI all the rage now, it’s not uncommon to encounter a scenario where boot parameters need to be repaired in order to reach the operating system.  Generally speaking, it’s often easy enough to accomplish this by executing the command bcdboot X:\windows (where X is the system drive letter) from a recovery environment.

However, other times, even in spite of this command properly completing, the system still will not boot.  In many cases the failure is evident when attempting to perform bcdedit /enum and receiving a message such as this one:

The boot configuration data store can not be opened.
The requested system device cannot be found.

Performing bootrec /fixboot also provokes the following error:

Element not found

This is bad news on a GPT disk using UEFI rather than BIOS.  Essentially, the system is looking for the EFI partition, which in this case is either missing or corrupt.

If it’s corrupt but still exists, you can simply enter diskpart, select the system partition (usually around 500 MB in size and with an ID of “EFI”) and assign it a letter, exit diskpart, and then perform a chkdsk command on the new partition assignment.  This sometimes will correct it.  Other times, forcibly removing the EFI and boot folders from the EFI partition and then executing the bcdboot command with a specific system partition parameter (e.g.: bcdboot X:\windows /s E:, where X: is the Windows partition and E: is the EFI paritition) works.

But let’s say the partition is missing altogether.  This is most often the case following a drive image using imaging tools to a new SSD for example.  Sometimes the tools (especially if executed externally on another system rather than live within the target OS) will remove the EFI partition and only image the Windows partition.

If this happens, most people will tell you that you will need to reinstall Windows from scratch.  However, all is not yet lost!  It’s fixable — but in order to accomplish it, you must recreate the EFI partition manually and then reload the boot parameters from there.

Here’s how it’s done at a command prompt from a recovery environment.  I’ve bolded the commands I typed to make it easier to read — hold on tight:

X:\windows\system32>diskpart

Microsoft DiskPart version 10.0.10240

Copyright (C) 1999-2013 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: MININT-3A416N9

DISKPART> list disk

Disk ### Status Size Free Dyn Gpt
——– ————- ——- ——- — —
Disk 0 Online 489 GB 0 B *

DISKPART> sel disk 0

Disk 0 is now the selected disk.

DISKPART> list part

Partition ### Type Size Offset
————- —————- ——- ——-
Partition 1 Primary 489 GB 1024 KB

DISKPART> sel part 1

Partition 1 is now the selected partition.

DISKPART> shrink desired=1024

DiskPart successfully shrunk the volume by: 1024 MB

DISKPART> create partition efi size=260

DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.

DISKPART> format quick fs=fat32

100 percent completed

DiskPart successfully formatted the volume.

DISKPART> exit

Leaving DiskPart…

X:\windows\system32>bcdboot c:\windows
Boot files successfully created.


Following these steps, the machine should now be bootable.  If it’s not, it’s probably time to call a professional!

Good luck!

 

SOLUTION: “Restart your computer to install important updates” won’t go away in Windows 7

In recent weeks, I’ve encountered multiple machines unable to install Windows Updates thanks to a perpetual message claiming:

No matter what the user does, these machines simply won’t install any updates.  If they’re rebooted as requested, nothing happens, and the message simply reappears upon reentering Windows, no matter how quickly the user attempts to invoke the process.  Resetting the SoftwareDistribution repository, by the way, does not solve this problem.  Neither does restoring the conventional Windows Update settings using a variety of troubleshooters, such as the Microsoft troubleshooter.

What does work, however, is removing a single registry key which is responsible for the problem:

osupgrade-key(apologies for high-res screenshots; I’m too lazy to correct this)

The particular key in question is:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update\OSUpgradePendingReboot

All that’s necessary is to delete this key, and the problem evaporates, like it never even happened!  The key is related to the Windows 10 in-place upgrade process which (used to) take place through Windows Update.  The situation seems to suggest that these machines were nearing the final stages of the upgrade when something happened and they failed to install it.  Now, the upgrade windows has officially passed.

As always, of course, it’s wise to create a System Restore point before modifying your registry, etc., yada yada.

Hope this helps!

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: “No bootable devices found” on Dell Laptops – SSD not detected

A relatively new form of problem which has been introduced by the wider adoption of solid-state drives (and other drives with more particular power requirements than standard mechanical hard drives) is that of drive detection and compatibility.  This applies most notably to sleep/resume and cold boot detection of these devices, which sometimes are not detected at all on specific systems.  Occasionally a BIOS update on the computer or a firmware update to the drive can resolve the issue, but other times, the drive may simply be incompatible.

I have seen this most recently with Crucial brand SSDs, which by and large have proven to be a good value — when they work.  Reliability hasn’t been a concern with regard to the drives I’ve purchased for my clients, but on occasion, drive detection is a problem.  Specifically, some of the newer Dell Latitude laptops (of which I purchase and service quite a large number) seem to struggle with Crucial SSDs.

The message you will see on a Dell Latitude if this happens to you is:

No bootable devices found.
Press F1 key to retry boot.
Press F2 key for setup utility.
Press F5 key to run onboard diagnostics.

Interestingly, if the user presses F1 to retry, the machine then boots normally.  This indicates that the problem has to do with the machine not detecting the drive quickly enough during POST to continue with the boot process.

With other machines, the problem can be resolved by switching ON “Hot plug support” (or similar) in the BIOS Setup.  However, this option does not exist within Dell’s BIOS Setup.

So, then, what’s the solution?  Actually, it’s precisely the same thing I posted in my previous update as a response to a completely different problem: bypass the RAID controller and use AHCI interface instead.  The problem apparently seems to be related, at least in part, to how the system processes the communication between the drive and the chipset via the Intel RAID controller.  Disabling RAID does require jumping through a couple of hoops, but it’s relatively quick and easy.  See my post here for full instructions!

Once this is complete, the machine boots normally each and every time!

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.

ASUS Q502LA Official Driver Downloads

Looking for drivers for your ASUS Q502LA notebook? Good luck, because entering the model number at the ASUS website won’t get you to the right page.  Wondering why that is?  So was I, so I eventually located the correct page and have made the link available for you here:

https://www.asus.com/us/support/Download/3/686/0/1/CPUDRIVER_Ix-5xxxxU/45/

That’s it.  Because you need a support post to find drivers on ASUS’ fundamentally broken website.

By the way: if you’re having trouble with sleep/resume (you see a black screen) after upgrading to Windows 10 on this machine, you’ll want to ensure you have the latest ASUS system software installed (ATK, FlipLock, etc.) as well as the latest BIOS version.

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: Mouse cursor freezes after typing in Windows 10

Recently, a client came to me with a problem where his mouse cursor would freeze for a few seconds after pressing any key on the keyboard in Windows 10.  The delay was driving him nuts, and I empathized with him after using the computer for a short time.

In retrospect, the problem appears to be mostly limited to Synaptics drivers, and only on systems where such drivers are installed and active within Windows 10 (which also features its own “precision” touchpad driver settings).

Fortunately, the solution — while elusive — was simple:

  • Search Mouse in the searchbox at the bottom of the screen; Choose Mouse & touchpad settings from the results
  • Choose Additional mouse options
  • Click the ClickPad tab, then click Settings…
  • Click the Advanced tab
  • Set the Filter Activation Time slider all the way to 0.

touchpad(Note the slider just below the touchpad diagram)

That’s it!

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.