SOLUTION: “Windows cannot connect to the printer. Operation failed with error 0x0000011b”

Well, it’s not often I bother to write up a new blog post these days, but when I do, you know it’s something particularly irritating that I’ve decided to save you the trouble of solving on your own. This problem absolutely qualifies.

When attempting to share a printer over the network from one Windows 10/11 machine to other Windows 10/11 machines, the above error now often appears.

Myriad “solutions” across the internet exist, most of which involve uninstalling particular Windows hotfixes (KBxxxxxx) or manually adding the printer port. Problem is, none of these solutions actually work anymore. The problem was initially caused by Microsoft’s need to patch PrintNightmare and other related vulnerabilities in the Windows printer subsystem. These workarounds previously sufficed, but some situations require a more surgical approach now. Because if you attempt to simply roll back the patches, not only is that a temporary solution, it actually winds up forcing an install of the generic Microsoft Enhanced Point and Print driver instead of the correct one for the printer… which results in endless pages of gibberish being printed instead.

So here’s the actual solution: manually configuring group policies on affected machines (both client and “server”). The way to accomplish this is by using registry edits, because on any machine not running “Pro” editions of Windows, the Group Policy editor is MIA.

After lots of trial and error, here is the final version of the registry patch I used on all affected machines (again, client and server/sharing machine) to correct the problem. Simply reboot after applying the patch, reinstall the printer (by discovering over the network via Windows Explorer > Network on the client workstations), and you’re done.

Open Notepad, and save a new .reg file with the following contents:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Printers\PointAndPrint]


Then merge the changes with the local registry by double-clicking the new .reg file and you’re done. Needless to say, to reverse the changes, simply delete the new keys this adds (though there is no reason to do so).

Enjoy, and you’re welcome! ūüėČ

SOLUTION: Alienware, XPS laptops – Slow video streaming speeds on YouTube

Here’s a really annoying one. Dell XPS and Alienware machines, despite their significant capabilities, experience super slow high-res video streaming on YouTube. The buffer is visibly razor-thin on anything 1080p or above without any obvious reason why. This occurred on a gigabit fiber connection in my case.

The solution? As often is the case, the value-added (in this case, QoS traffic-shaping/packet inspection) networking software is actually value-subtracted. Simply navigate to the Killer Control Center software and disable the following (useless) option to correct the problem and reclaim your proper streaming speeds!

Value-added? More like value-subtracted.

Dell XPS 13 7390 and other machines: low or no microphone volume during Zoom calls

A pretty recent emerging issue I’ve encountered is problems with microphone volume during Zoom calls (specifically!) on some machines. One of the more popular models experiencing this problem regularly is Dell’s XPS 13 7390, which is an all-round terrific laptop. The common thread connecting all of these affected models is their use of the Realtek audio drivers (which very many laptops do these days).

The solution — or, at least, the workaround — for this one is actually quite simple. It turns out that the 4/22/2020 driver version of the Realtek Audio Driver is problematic when paired with Zoom specifically. Thus, rolling back this driver manually (by downloading a previous version from your manufacturer’s support site) should work.

Alternatively, though, you can actually just completely uninstall the driver altogether, forcing Windows to (at least temporarily) use the generic Microsoft High Definition Audio driver instead. Here’s how to (easily) accomplish that:

  • Click your search box and type appwiz.cpl, then press ENTER
  • In the resulting window, scroll down to Realtek Audio Driver
  • Click Uninstall and follow the prompts. Reboot.

After this, everything should be back to normal once again.

SOLUTION: Bluetooth mouse/keyboard delay in response after typing or lack of motion

Many machines experience a problem where a connected Bluetooth peripheral takes seconds to wake every time it’s left motionless for a short period or the user types on the keyboard. This delay can range between a second up to a few seconds, and it’s absolutely frustrating.

Fortunately, it’s also incredibly easy to solve:

  1. Right-click the Start Button and choose Device Manager.
  2. Expand Bluetooth.
  3. Right-click your Bluetooth adapter and choose Properties.
  4. Click the Power Management tab and uncheck the box that reads “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power”

The power savings are minute at best anyway, and this should completely solve your problem. Enjoy, and you’re welcome! ūüėČ

Bypass Microsoft Account Creation during Windows 10 Build 1909 OOBE Setup

This is a quick and easy one. In previous versions of Windows 10 setup, selecting an offline (so-called “limited”) account was relatively easy. However, with the latest build of Windows 10 Home, if the machine is connected to the internet during setup, the option disappears.

It’s true that you can simply disconnect from the network (or open cmd and delete the wlan profile), then click back and try again, to avoid this. But there’s a much easier way.

Instead, in the sign-in field, type a bunch of random numbers, then click Next. At this point, you can choose to create a local/limited account instead‚ÄĒeven if you’re connected to the internet. It’s really that easy!

SOLUTION: Windows 10 upgrade failure 0x8007001F – 0x20006

This week, a client brought me a Windows 7 PC which refused to upgrade to Windows 10, despite their having reserved a license long ago for the OS and attempting to install it repeatedly. The error message they were receiving was:

0x8007001F – 0x20006
The installation failed in the SAFE_OS phase with an error during REPLICATE_OC operation

A screenshot of the setup error message which repeatedly plagued this machine

My usual remedial measures, after poring through setup error logs and all that fun stuff, were completely unsuccessful in this instance. Myriad internet searches also turned up lots of other people with the same problem, but no actual solution. Everyone simply wiped/reinstalled Windows.

Some of these attempts included:

  • sfc /scannow
  • BCD rebuild
  • Boot parameters rebuild
  • System (boot) partition rebuild
  • Filesystem checks, etc
  • Permissions repairs

Nothing at all worked. Eventually, however, I stumbled across a solution almost too simple to seem likely to work: an in-place upgrade of Windows 7. In other words, in colloquial terms, a conventional “repair install”.

All this involves is to grab Windows 7 install media matching the version installed and perform an “upgrade” process right from within Windows. Once complete, I had to reenter the Product Key and reactivate – so make sure the sticker is legible on the particular machine you’re working with. If it isn’t, specialized activation backup/restore methods will be required to continue with the process and eventually the Windows 10 upgrade.

After this, everything worked perfectly. The W10 upgrade process was smooth, and the client is now happy as a clam!

SOLUTION: bootrec /fixboot Access is Denied

So here’s a new one. Warning: this one’s rough. It’s an advanced one, and there are possibly more causes than simply this… so as always, I take¬†zero responsibility¬†for anyone messing with their own machines without professional help.

This particular story is just that: a case study, basically, referencing the circumstances of the individual machine I was working on. This post is more for my reference than for anyone else’s from that standpoint. ūüėČ

A client’s machine came to me, stuck in a boot loop to WinRE. Nothing corrected it, but the machine seemingly wasn’t even trying to boot to the Windows partition. As is often the case with Windows 10, System Restore was of no help. As always, the first step, then, was to repair the BCD and boot parameters (this was a GPT/UEFI drive), so I went through the usual steps first.

However, once reaching the¬†bootrec /fixboot¬†step, the result was¬†Access is Denied. This is the first time I’ve seen this message to my knowledge, so I did some digging.

What I discovered is that apparently the latest build of WinRE doesn’t properly handle this command in some situations. I booted to an older build of a Windows ERD (based on 1703), ran the same commands, and this time, it worked.

After this (and after disabling automatic restart on system failure), I was finally reaching an intelligible boot error screen, thus confirming that the system was at least¬†attempting¬†a boot from the Windows partition. The error referenced the file WdFilter.sys, which is located at¬†c:\Windows\system32\drivers\wd\WdFilter.sys. It’s the Windows Defender Real-Time scanning filesystem filter driver, specifically.

I navigated to this directory next and noted the file creation/modification dates on the two files, which was 10/23/2018 (in case this is of any use to anyone else with this problem). The same dates were shared by WdNisDrv.sys (the Windows Defender network stack filter driver). WdBoot.sys, meanwhile, was dated sometime in April 2018.

Copies of these files are stored in c:\Windows\system32\drivers. Suspecting that one of the October-dated versions was corrupt, I replaced both WdFilter.sys and WdNisDrv.sys, then booted the system.

This time, the machine¬†finally¬†reached Windows. The work wasn’t finished yet: to bring everything up to consistency, I next performed a Component Store Cleanup and DISM RestoreHealth command followed by a system file check and repair. After all of these steps, the problems were completely resolved, and everything was back to working normally.

SOLUTION: Switch Windows 10 from RAID/IDE to AHCI operation

PSA:¬†You¬†should not¬†be attempting these fixes unless you’re a professional! ¬†And it goes without saying, you will ALWAYS need your local admin password, recovery media, and backups of your data before fooling around with low-level storage driver configuration — or really anything else for that matter. ¬†See the comments section below for examples of a couple of people who ran into mishaps after encountering other underlying issues or forgetting their admin password before starting the process. ¬†PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

It’s not uncommon to find a system on which RAID drivers have been installed and something like the Intel Rapid Storage Technology package is handling storage devices, but where an SSD might require AHCI operation for more optimal performance or configurability. In these cases, there is in fact a way to switch operation from either IDE or RAID to AHCI within Windows 10 without having to reinstall. ¬†Here’s how.

  1. Right-click the Windows Start Menu. Choose Command Prompt (Admin).
    1. If you don’t see Command Prompt listed, it’s because you have already been updated to a later version of Windows. ¬†If so, use this method instead to get to the Command Prompt:
      1. Click the Start Button and type cmd
      2. Right-click the result and select Run as administrator
  2. Type this command and press ENTER: bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal
    1. If this command does not work for you, try bcdedit /set safeboot minimal
  3. Restart the computer and enter BIOS Setup (the key to press varies between systems).
  4. Change the SATA Operation mode to AHCI from either IDE or RAID (again, the language varies).
  5. Save changes and exit Setup and Windows will automatically boot to Safe Mode.
  6. Right-click the Windows Start Menu once more. Choose Command Prompt (Admin).
  7. Type this command and press ENTER: bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot
    1. If you had to try the alternate command above, you will likely need to do so here also: bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot
  8. Reboot once more and Windows will automatically start with AHCI drivers enabled.

That’s all there is to it! ¬†Special thanks to Toobad here for outlining this procedure.

Update 8/2/17:  Thanks also to Aalaap Ghag for clarification of instructions for those who have already updated to the Creators Update.  Thanks also to those who wrote in about removing {current} to make this work for some users.

Guide: Western Digital WD5000F032 External Hard Drive Disassembly

Everyone who does any sort of data recovery knows that Western Digital external hard drives can be a real pain to break into if they fail. ¬†While I’ve found plenty of extremely helpful visual guides to¬†disassembly of these models in the past, the model I received today for repair wasn’t among them. ¬†It’s a WD5000F032 (also WD5000C032, and perhaps other similar model numbers as well), and the method to disassemble it is completely different.

So I took it upon myself to create a guide of my own.  Hope this helps you!

Western Digital WD5000F032 external hard drive Disassembly

Western Digital WD5000F032 external hard drive Disassembly

Step 1 - Remove the rubber liner

Step 1 – Remove the rubber liner

Step 2a - Press the plastic tabs on top...

Step 2a – Press the plastic tabs on top…

Step 2b - ...and bottom

Step 2b – …and bottom

Step 3 - Slide the contents out of the shell casing

Step 3 – Slide the contents out of the shell casing

Step 4 - Remove screws

Step 4 – Remove screws

Step 5 - Remove more screws

Step 5 Step 5 – Remove more screws

Step 6 - Remove the final screw

Step 6 – Remove the final screw

Step 7 - (Optional) remove the drive from the bracket

Step 7 – (Optional) remove the drive from the bracket

SOLUTION: Google Chrome process will not close; Chrome will not re-open

A frustrating issue that I have encountered on multiple recent customers’ PCs is an inability to¬†completely close all Google Chrome processes–and, even more frustratingly, a consequent inability to¬†reopen¬†Chrome once it has been closed on the machine. ¬†This happens regardless of whether the¬†Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed checkbox is checked in Settings.

Two workarounds exist: either reboot the machine or open Task Manager and kill the hanging chrome.exe process that is responsible for this problem.  But, of course, this is no long-term solution.

Fortunately I have found the long-term solution!  Keep in mind it may be different in your case depending on the cause, but it appears that this problem is always a product of one of two conditions:

  1. A problematic plugin/extension, or
  2. Corrupt User Data of some sort.

For¬†sake of justification, in the case of my customers’ machines, the first one was caused by a problematic QuickTime plugin (disabling it fixed the problem), and the second one was a corrupt Cookies store–one which¬†could not be cleared¬†using the¬†Clear Browsing Data¬†dialog.

In light of this, there is a relatively easy way to solve either.  Here is the process by which I propose you approach the solution in your particular case:

  1. First, open Chrome and navigate to chrome:plugins.  Disable all plugins and restart the browser.  You may have to kill chrome.exe manually once and then reopen/reclose the browser to test this.  If the behavior persists, reenable the plugins one-by-one to narrow down the one which is responsible.
  2. If this doesn’t work, reenable all plugins, then navigate next to¬†chrome:extensions and disable all extensions next. ¬†Repeat the close/open process to see if the behavior persists.

If this still doesn’t work, now that you’ve ruled out any plugin/extension issues, you’ll need to employ this final phase of the fix, which involves locating corrupt User Data and fixing it.

METHOD 1: From The Ground Up

The first approach involves¬†recreating a new User Data store for your Chrome profile. ¬†This is the most surefire way of correcting the issue as it involves working from the ground up with a new profile and reintroducing customizations (such as Bookmarks, Preferences, etc.) until you find one which is a problem (in my case, it was Cookies). ¬†Here’s how it works:

  1. Open up a folder browser window (a Windows Explorer window) on your PC and navigate to the folder %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome
  2. Inside this folder, you will find a subfolder called User Data.  Make sure Chrome is closed (including the hanging chrome.exe process), then rename this folder to something such as User Data.old
  3. Open Chrome again and close it.  Voila, no problems.
  4. Note that a new User Data folder has now been created which is blank. ¬†Here’s the tricky part. ¬†The new profile doesn’t have any of your previous data in it (as you probably noticed). ¬†If you’re simply using a roaming Google Chrome profile (such as one where you sign in while opening the browser) to retain your settings, it’s as easy as signing in again to repopulate your stuff. ¬†But if you aren’t, you’ll need to manually copy over the data from the corrupt profile. ¬†To do so:
    1. Navigate to %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome\User Data.old\Default to get to the old corrupt profile data that you are no longer using.
    2. Open another folder browser window and navigate to the new profile data here: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default 
    3. Close Chrome (if it isn’t already) and copy over the¬†following user data files within this folder one at a time, opening and closing Chrome in-between each time to check for a hanging chrome.exe process after the file is copied:
      1. Archived History
      3. Extension Cookies
      4. Favicons
      5. History
      6. Login Data
      7. Preferences
      8. Shortcuts
      9. Top Sites
      10. Visited Links
    4. If you copy a file and the behavior reappears, that’s obviously your culprit. ¬†In my case, it was Cookies, which you’ll notice I didn’t even list above because I bet that’s what your problem is too!

METHOD 2: From The Top Down

You can reverse this method if you want to try and retain as much as possible of your profile (i.e., if you have a ton of extensions installed that you don’t want to redownload–though to restore those you can technically also simply copy the subfolders within the Default folder as well that relate to them). ¬†First I would create a backup of the User Data folder before beginning just in case, and afterwards I’d begin¬†renaming¬†suspect files one by one until you find the culprit. ¬†Start with Cookies and go through the rest of the files in the Default folder until you find the problem.

Thank goodness this is solved! ¬†It’s an annoying one.