I’m having to do something with my main Vista desktop computer I haven’t had to do, well, since it had a catastrophic failure of the hard disk and that is reinstall Vista. That’s been more than a year since that happened. Unlike most people, once I’ve turned off the User Annoying Access Control (UAC) I’m happy with Vista. I don’t find it to be slow or any of the thousands of other complaints that are generated about Vista.
Vista has been acting very strange the last few days. The Start Search Box would freeze on certain letters. For example, when trying to bring up the Event Viewer (eventvwr) it would freeze as soon as I typed the first “e”. The only solution to the problem was to CTL-ALT-DEL to bring up Task Manager and kill explorer.exe. I’d then need to use Task Manager to launch a new Explorer process. Once Explorer and the Start Menu were back, I’d try to launch the Event Viewer again. Naturally, the whole cycle would repeat itself.
Task Manager would allow me to launch the Event Viewer. About 75% of the time, however, it would launch with a dialog stating that it was adding a snap-in to Microsoft Management Console. The progress dialog would stay on the screen until I resorted to Task Manager to kill the process (mmc.exe).
With failing diagnostic tools I resorted to rebooting the system. But Vista would hang on the “Logging off” message and never actually reboot. There were messages in the Event Log regarding failed shutdowns as the only option at that point was to power-cycle the system.
As a software developer, I am somewhat hard on my systems with all of the software that gets installed / uninstalled and all of the new applications that may not quite be ready for “prime-time” that get tested on the system. That makes it difficult to tell what may have been installed in the last few days that led to the problem.
The behavior could also indicate a disk that is headed for failure as well. During the few times I was able to access the event viewer I didn’t see any messages explicitly about disk issues. I’ve often seen such messages in the past.
This series of strange behavior has been happening for the better part of a week. I had been holding out to wipe the system when my release copy of Windows 7 arrives, but, alas, the grief has become too acute and I must resort to the nuclear option.
Recently I’ve been battling with my Vista system refusing to go to sleep when it wasn’t being used. When Vista was fist installed it would sleep just fine, but after some unknown period of time and some sequence of events it would stop. This system has been installed four times … the factory original install, two wipe-and-rebuild cycles due to my error in installing older programs that weren’t Vista-compatible, and one time due to failed hardware.
One of the symptoms of the problem was that the system would start to sleep and then immediately wake back up. When it did this it often would cause problems with USB devices (like the all-important keyboard). The system would no longer recognize the USB devices and would have to be power-cycled as a simple reboot would not bring back the affected USB devices.
Finding good information on what was causing the problem was difficult. There’s lots of information online. But it is all hard to determine if really applied to the situation. In the last round of searching that I did I discovered that Vista ships with a command-line program, powercfg, that, amoung it’s other capabilities is the capacity to report the event that caused the last “wake” to take place. Opening a command propmpt and running the powercfg -lastwake command reveals the device that caused the event.
I always run an administrative user, so I haven’t checked whether or not this program requires administrative privileges. (I know, it’s bad to run as an administrative user all the time. Such is my life.)
Running the command revealed that the NIC was causing the computer to wake from sleep. That seems strange as I didn’t tell Vista to wake due to NIC activity. I hadn’t installed any programs that would (or should) have changed that. There are no new devices on the network that would have probed the Vista system causing it to wake.
The standard power management configuration application (Control Panel -> Power Options), oddly enough, does NOT have any setting related to allowing activity on the NIC to wake the system.
I had to actually bring up the properties dialog for the NIC and disable it there.
Switch to the Power Mangement tab an uncheck the “Allow this device to wake the computer option.”
Once done, this solved my problem. Hopefully, this will help someone solve a similar problem more quickly.
While developing this morning on my Windows Vista Home Premium system this morning I came across an unexpected error message when trying to delete a folder through Windows Explorer. This was unexpected because, as a software developer, I’ve deleted thousands of directories over the years using Windows Explorer. I also always run as a user with admin rights. (Yes, I know this is bad, but that’s what I do.)
Naturally, I tried the “Try Again” button a few times. I even tried cancelling the operation and restarting. None of these troubleshooting steps worked.
A web search through Google didn’t reveal anything really useful. Most postings suggested that the user didn’t own the folder and, therefore, didn’t have enought rights to delete the folder and that the user should “take ownership” of the directory that they were attempting to delete. This wasn’t particularly helpful in my situation as my user account was the one responsible for creating the directory in the first place.
I solved this particular problem by engaging in good troubleshooting practices. I drilled in through the directory tree to the files that it contained. I deleted each file. I then deleted each directory up to the one I had originally tried to delete. Magically I was then able to delete it. Since the problem only involved two files and two directories it wasn’t a big deal.
There must be a reason behind this error message, but it isn’t obvious from the title, any of the text, or any of the buttons within the dialog.
Behind the screen you hear the clatter of dice. The Dungeon Master begins to laugh. What do you do?