Windows SUR Tool

I had to do a restore from the recovery partition on a Vista laptop. Once the process completed I went to do Windows Updates, but the process failed with a 0x80073712 error code. Google showed me the way to Microsoft KB article 947821 which introduced me to the System Update Readiness Tool. The tool tries to fix things that can cause Updates to fail. I ran the tool and then checked the logs in c:\windows\logs\cbs\

The logs told me I had four zero-length manifest files. More Googling showed that for most people, removing the zero byte manifest files fixed Windows Update. Of course the files are protected and can’t be deleted as-is. You have to take ownership of them and assign Full Control rights to your user before you can delete them. The quick way is to install this tool, which adds ‘Take Ownership’ to the right-click menu. Since this was a client’s PC, I decided to go old school and use the command line. Here’s a link to a site with a good explanation of the process.

Once I deleted the offending four files Windows Updates worked.


January 5, 2009 at 12:37 am Leave a comment

IE Content Advisor Password Removal

I recently had a client with a PC that had an IE Content Advisor password that no one could remember (or how it even got there…) Without the password no one could access the Internet (at least, by using IE.)

So nobody has to look it up again, here’s how to fix the problem:

  • Run regedt32
  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > Software > Microsoft > Windows > Current Version > Policies
  • Click on the Ratings folder
  • Delete the Key key
  • Exit regedt32
  • Restart the PC

November 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

Pesky HTTS login problems

I had another client that couldn’t login to any of her secure web pages (HTTPS) using IE. I ran into this awhile ago and had to Google it again to come up with the answer. So I don’t have to search for it again, here’s the solution – although not what causes the problem in the first place…

The long version of what the fixes can be found in this MS KB article.

The short version of what fixed the problem in both cases is this:

  • Delete Temporary Internet files
  • Make sure Do Not Save Encrypted Pages To Disk is checked
  • Re-register the following DLLs:
    • regsvr32 softpub.dll
      regsvr32 wintrust.dll
      regsvr32 initpki.dll (takes a looooong time)
      regsvr32 dssenh.dll
      regsvr32 rsaenh.dll
      regsvr32 gpkcsp.dll
      regsvr32 sccbase.dll
      regsvr32 slbcsp.dll
      regsvr32 cryptdlg.dll
  • Reboot

November 12, 2008 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Domain users and Local computer user groups

Have you ever had this happen you? You successfully join a computer to a domain and then are unable to add Domain users to local groups (i.e., only the local PC is available in Locations?)

When joining a computer to a domain, Windows uses both DNS and WINS (and WINS contains a reference to your DNS server), but when adding domain users to the computer Windows only uses DNS. So, if the TCP/IP Primary DNS entry on the client isn’t pointing to the Domain DNS server, you can’t add Domain users to the local computer.

I ran into this on a client’s network that was initially setup only to distribute Internet connectivity to the clients. All clients have manual IP configurations that point to the ISP for DNS. Later they added a domain server and kept the manual IP configs. Very few of the clients log in to the Domain. A new inventory/POS system now requires all clients be logged in to the domain. Adding the local Domain server as Primary DNS on the client IP configs solves the problem.

August 8, 2008 at 9:52 am 1 comment

Windows and physical memory

Most people know that 32bit flavors of Windows XP and Vista have a supported RAM maximum of 4GB and 64bit flavors have a max of 128GB, well except for Home or Basic versions. But why those numbers? And why do some Server products have different limits for the same architecture, even up to 2TB?

Microsoft has various MSDN and TechNet articles listing the limits of the various Windows SKUs, but Mark Russinovich has published the best technical answer for how Windows manages memory. It’s the first of a series of posts he’ll be doing called ‘Pushing the limits of Windows.’  Recommended reading, especially if you want to know how big video cards affect the RAM available to Windows.

August 8, 2008 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

Winsock2 corruption problem/solution

I repaired a Windows XP installation for a client using their OEM CD-ROM. Everything went fine until I tried to connect to the Internet, using either their DSL or backup dial-up connection. Nothing. IPCONFIG /ALL showed on all interfaces.

When I tried to use PING from a command prompt, the error message was Unable to initialize Windows Sockets interface, error code 0.

Since the TCP/IP stack is built in to XP, I couldn’t simply uninstall and then reinstall TCP/IP. I finally found the answer in this MS KB article. The article covers Win XP (SP1 and SP2), Win Server 2003 and Vista, all of which rely on TCP/IP as a core component of the OS.

Short version of the article for this case (with XP with SP2 installed) was to run netsh winsock reset from the command line and reboot.

Worked like a charm.

March 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm Leave a comment

Virtual web development

Recently, I was hired to complete a website for a client. The site was hosted in a Linux/Apache environment and involved a MySQL database. Since I mostly do .NET/IIS web programming, I thought this would be a fun project.

Using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (running on my main machine) I created an XP SP2 virtual machine with 1GB of RAM and a standard 16GB disk. To make my XP machine a web server I added the IIS Windows Component and tested it by browsing to localhost. I then installed PHP 5.2.5, MySQL Server 5.0, MYSQL Tools, and phpMyAdmin. For graphics editing I installed Paint.NET; for HTML and PHP file editing I installed HTML-KIT; and for FTP transfer to the web host I installed FileZilla. To make sure my new web dev machine was backed up I installed the Windows Home Server Connector and added it to my WHS client backup schedule.

Worked like a champ.

March 13, 2008 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

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