SOLUTION: Dell Laptops Hang on Reboot/Shutdown after Windows 8.1 update

I’ve recently encountered a pretty new issue involving some Dell laptops where the system will simply hang at a black screen, completely blank, when a shutdown or restart is initiated.  This behavior occurs following the installation of the free Windows 8.1 update.  There is no evidence present in the Event Log or anywhere else to indicate what might be to blame, and nothing on the internet that I could find references the issue.

In my case, I encountered the problem while setting up around 10 Dell Latitude E7240 (Latitude 12 7000 Series) notebook computers for my clients.  The solution, as it turns out, is pretty simple.

As usual, it’s a driver which is to blame for the problem.  I first stumbled across the solution while troubleshooting when I decided to disable the wireless adapters (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) using the hardware wireless switch on the side of the computer before shutting down.  You’ll notice that while Airplane Mode is on, the system reboots/shuts down just fine.

It’s because of the Dell Wireless 1601 WiFi/BT driver that’s preinstalled; for whatever reason, the Bluetooth portion of it is incompatible with Windows 8.1.  Explicitly disabling Bluetooth also fixes the problem, confirming that this is the source of the issue.

To correct it once and for all, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Download this driver from Dell.
  2. Choose to Extract Without Installing and specify a location of your choice.
  3. Wait a few seconds for the confirmation dialog to appear, then click View Folder.
  4. Double-click the Install_CD subfolder to open it.
  5. Run setup.exe and follow the instructions.
  6. Reboot the computer.

The problem is solved!

I presume this most likely affects all Dell computers running the A01 version of the driver.  I hope this solution has helped you!

Solution: Outlook Error: “Outlook Data File Could Not Be Accessed”

This is a pretty annoying little problem that I’ve seen at least a couple of times over the past several months.

It occurs when you attempt to sync within Outlook, normally following a data transfer or other procedure that involves bringing an existing .PST file into play without jumping through the hoops of importing the data into a new .PST shell.

The solution is actually easy, though it’s not necessarily easy to discover.  All you have to do to solve the problem is select the folder to deliver mail to (Inbox) for each email account.  Under the Account Settings dialog box within Outlook, there is a Change Folder button near the bottom.  This is where the setting is changed.

But what if you can’t even open Outlook?  You can still access the mail settings without running the program.  The easiest way to do this is to click Start > Start Search > type mail and then open the Mail shortcut that appears under the Control Panel heading in the search results.  This opens the standard Outlook mail dialog box as if you were running Outlook.

Solution: Google Chrome error: “An error has occurred – Download was not a CRX”

I’ve seen this problem increasingly often with the latest version (24) of Google Chrome.  It happens when trying to install an extension from the Chrome Web Store — and nothing seems to correct it.

An error has occurred
Download was not a CRX

So, what’s the solution?  Visit the Chrome Web Store from within Incognito Mode, then install the extension from there.  Problem solved!  (Or, at least sidestepped anyway.)

Solution: Windows could not connect to the Group Policy Client service

Under specific circumstances, I’ve encountered this message following a reboot on systems I am repairing/setting up:

Failed to connect to a Windows service

Windows could not connect to the Group Policy Client service. This problem prevents standard users from logging on to the system. As an administrative user, you can review the System Event Log for details about why the service didn’t respond.

The System Event Log also logs an event regarding the service timing out.  When attempting to stop/restart/configure the service, none of the options are available; they’re merely greyed out, though the service is present.

The solution is pretty simple:

  1. Change the permissions on the relevant keys configuring the Group Policy Client service to allow Full Control to Administrators.
    1. Open regedit (Start > type regedit in the search box) and navigate to:
    2. Right-click the registry key and choose Permissions.
    3. Click Advanced, then click Owner.
    4. Choose Administrators and check the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects box.
    5. Exit the permissions dialog and then open it again.
    6. Click Advanced, then choose Administrators and click Edit…
    7. Check Allow underneath Full Control, then click OK.
    8. Check Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object.  Click OK and confirm; exit.
  2. Download the default gpsvc configuration information corresponding to your version of Windows:
  3. Back at the Registry Editor window, click File > Import… and choose the .reg file you downloaded above.
  4. Merge the changes with the registry.  Reboot.

Problem solved!

The dangers of registry cleaners

Update 2014: Microsoft has since finally posted their own take on the use of registry cleaners, and it’s quite clear:

Some products such as registry cleaning utilities suggest that the registry needs regular maintenance or cleaning.  However, serious issues can occur when you modify the registry incorrectly using these types of utilities. These issues might require users to reinstall the operating system due to instability. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved without a reinstallation of the Operating System as the extent of the changes made by registry cleaning utilities varies from application to application.

Bottom line: don’t use registry cleaners, and view any product or company which recommends that you do in a rightfully suspicious light.

(My original post follows):

If you’re used to my work, you know how strongly against the use of any registry cleaners I am.  It’s no secret that many experts, including Windows guru Mark Russinovich, warn of their dangers.  The fundamental reason behind this position is that no program can know with certainty what is and is not desired or necessary to be stored in the registry.  And plus, even if plenty of unnecessary stuff is contained therein, it’s not really beneficial to remove it.  The registry as a whole is relatively small anyway compared with the amount of RAM available on modern PCs, and removing even a few thousand straggling values or keys provides very little, if any, performance improvement.

So in light of this, today I’m here with an update regarding one of the most popular posts I’ve had on this blog to date, and I felt like it deserved its own post thanks to the magnitude of the example.  In my Click2Run Configuration Failure Office 2010 post, I offer a solution to a fairly widespread and rather maddening issue with Office 2010 Click2Run installations suddenly failing.  Not even Microsoft has addressed the problem with an official solution to date, so this blog post has gotten plenty of traffic.

One thing my post didn’t include, however, was a known cause for the problem.  Well, as with most computer problems, this error doesn’t just spontaneously appear.  It’s now become apparent to me that the culprit behind this problem is actually registry cleaning applications.  The most commonly seen program responsible for this problem appears to be iolo’s System Mechanic, but it’s safe to assume that any registry cleaner could lead to the same results.  For a long time now, I have been recommending against the use of this program and have removed it from many of my clients’ PCs following consultation with them regarding its use.  If you have System Mechanic installed and have been using it, you can expect that you might run into the same problem in the future.

This is just an example, of course.  Although it’s now mostly certain that this is the predominant cause of this irritating Office 2010 problem, registry cleaners can just as easily lead to any number of other issues that are hard to diagnose and potentially impossible to troubleshoot.  Save yourself the headache and remove any registry cleaning program you may have installed from your PC today.

Disable Google Chrome’s built-in Print Preview

Google Chrome Logo

Got Google Chrome but hate the new Print Preview design? Turn it off!

1) Open Google Chrome, type chrome:flags in the address bar, and press ENTER.
2) Find Print Preview and Disable it.

You need to have the latest version of Chrome (14) for this to be possible.

If you’re also having trouble with the built-in lightweight PDF reader, you can disable that just as easily and likewise enable your favorite replacement plugin (in my case, as much as I hate to say so, I stick with Adobe for all my clients, as it’s just more compatible than any other current solution).

1) Open Google Chrome, type chrome:plugins in the address bar, and press ENTER.
2) Find Chrome PDF Viewer and Disable it.
3) Find your favorite PDF plugin (it should be disabled by default) and Enable it.

Hope this helps!  Chrome is an excellent browser, even as its market share continues to rise (and, inversely, as its level of security drops).  It’s worth making the effort to make it work for you, as it will keep you safer.