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  • Update to Windows 10 for FREE

    Windows 10 Free AssistivechnologiesT

     

    Upgrade Ending Soon

     

     

    M icrosoft offered W indow s 10 as a free upgrade for som e tim e after it’s introduction, and in fact there is still a no-cost upgrade path if you have a legitim ate W indow s 7 or above key, or you can also visit the “assistive technologies” page and get an upgrade if you claim to have a need for such technologies.

    The “assistive technologies” m ethod w as som ething M icrosoft w inked at, not requiring any sort of evidence that the person upgrading actually required any kind of special accom m odation.

    N ow , how ever, that option appears to be com ing to an end in a couple of m onths, according to the site itself:

    If you use assistive technologies, you can upgrade to W indow s 10  at no cost as Microsoft continues to improve the Win 10

    experience for people who use technologies.

    Take advantage of this offer before it expires on December 31 2017.

    Here is the Link.

     

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows10upgrade

     


  • Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10

    Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10

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    Forced updates is Windows 10’s boldest feature. It takes the responsibility of updates off your shoulders. At the same time, mandatory updates make life more difficult for those who like to tweak their system. And you won’t ever be safe from broken or incompatible updates. Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Updates will change in Windows 10. Right now you can pick and choose. Windows 10, however, will force updates onto you. It has advantages, like improved security, but it can also go wrong. What’s more… Read More

    The new Windows Update also covers hardware drivers:

    “In Windows 10, your device is always kept up to date with the latest features and fixes. Updates and drivers are installed automatically, with no need to select which updates are needed or not needed.” –Microsoft Support

    When you’re using non standard hardware, this process can introduce issues. Moreover, drivers provided by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) are not always the best solution.

    If you’d like to keep your custom drivers or if you’re not keen on updating a running system, let us show you how to lock in your drivers.

    Undo & Temporarily Prevent Driver Updates

    Microsoft admits that “in rare cases, a specific driver or update might temporarily cause issues with your device.” To prevent the troublesome driver (or update) to reinstall automatically, Microsoft offers this solution.

    Roll Back Driver

    First, you need to remove the irksome driver. The best option is to roll back to the previous version. Right-click the Start button, select Device Manager, right-click the respective device, select Properties, switch to the Driver tab, and click the Roll Back Driver button.

    Roll Back Driver

    When you’re done, move on to blocking the automatic driver update, which will inevitably be initiated during the next Windows Update cycle.

    Remove & Replace Driver

    Should the roll back option not be available, a workaround is to uninstall the driver and replace it with your preferred version. Before you proceed, obtain the desired driver version from the OEM or a third party supplier.

    Note that some manufacturers offer utilities to uninstall old drivers, ensuring a clean removal of all driver-related files from your computer.

    If you need to manually remove the driver, right-click the Startbutton, select Device Manager, right-click the affected device, and select Uninstall.

    Device Manager

    In the following dialog, check the box Delete the driver software for this device and confirm with OK. This removes the driver file from Windows Update.

    Confirm Device Uninstall

    Next, you need to block future updates for this driver.

    Block Driver Update

    To prevent this driver from being reinstalled the next time Windows Update runs, you can use the Show or Hide Updates Troubleshooter (direct download), which we have introduced previously.

    Briefly, download and run the troubleshooter from Microsoft, on the first screen click Next, then select Hide updates, check the driver/s you would like to hide, click Next again, and you’re done.

    Windows 10 Hide Updates List

    You can reverse this setting. Select Show hidden updates from the troubleshooter, check the update/s you want to unhide, and click Next.

    How to Stop Automatic Driver Updates

    To stop Windows 10 from automatically updating your drivers, you have several options. Note that the Local Group Policy Editor is not available to Windows 10 Home users.

    Control Panel

    For this solution, you need to head into the System portion of the Control Panel. Right-click the Start button and select System. In the Control Panel sidebar, select Advanced system settings.Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified If you want to be the master of your Windows experience, the Control Panel is where it’s at. We untangle the complexity of this power tool. Read More

    Control Panel System Settings

    In the System Properties window, switch to the Hardware tab and click Device Installation Settings.

    System Properties

    You will be asked whether “you want to automatically download manufacturers’ apps and custom icons available for your devices.” Select No and Save Changes.

    Device Installation Settings

    Note that if it works, this setting disables all your driver updates.

    Local Group Policy Editor

    On Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions only, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor to disable updates entirely. Some users report that this is the only setting that worked for them. The advantage of this method is that you can also disable updates for selected devices only.

    First, you need to collect the device IDs for hardware you don’t want Windows to manage for you. This could be your graphics or sound card ID.

    Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager. Double-click the respective device, switch to the Details tab, and select Hardware Ids from the drop-down menu under Property. Using one of the values in the next step should be sufficient.

    Driver Hardware ID

    Now we’ll head into the Local Group Policy Editor to exclude these devices from Windows Update.

    Press Windows key + R, enter gpedit.msc, and hit Enter. In your Local Group Policy Editor, head to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Device Installation > Device Installation Restrictions. Here, double-click on the setting Prevent installation of devices that match any of these device IDs.

    Local Group Policy Editor

    Enable the Setting, click the Show… button, then for each device, enter its Value, and finally OK all your changes.

    Prevent Driver Installation

    Attention: Once you have restricted a driver using the Group Policy Editor, you won’t be able to manually update that driver. To change a restricted driver, you need to disable the setting in the Group Policy Editor, make your changes, then enable the restriction again. Thank you for the hint, Guillermo!

    Alternatively, if you would like to disable all driver updates, you can also Enable the setting to Prevent installation of devices not described by other policy settings. However, we recommend only blocking updates for selected drivers, as described above.

    Registry

    The Windows registry is your last resort. Press Windows key + Rto launch the Run dialog, enter regedit, and hit Enter. Now navigate to this registry string: How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother In most cases, fixing our registry will do nothing. Sometimes registry errors cause havoc after all. Here we’ll explore how to identify, isolate and fix registry problems – and when to not bother at all. Read More

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\DriverSearching

    Open the SearchOrderConfig value and set Value data to 0. Confirm with OK and reboot your computer.

    Registry Value

    Like other methods described above, this setting disables all driver updates and should only be used if Microsoft’s troubleshooter does not allow you to hide specific updates from Windows Update.

    Keep Your Drivers Under Control

    A bad or corrupted Windows driver update can ruin your PC experience. We’ve shown you how to prevent or reverse such a tragedy caused by automatic updates in Windows 10. This is not to say that all updates are bad, though.

    Updating your drivers is essential for maintaining performance, security, and accessing new features. When you do block automatic updates, remember to manually check for critical driver updates every once in a while. How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? First, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke! If drivers do need updating, though, here are your options.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1176


  • 11 networking commands every Windows admin should use

    11 networking commands every Windows admin should use

    The Windows operating system contains numerous built-in, command line networking utilities. These tools range from the obscure to the commonplace. However, there are 11 built-in networking tools that Windows networking administrators should be familiar with.

    Ping

    I am guessing that the ping command is probably the most familiar, and most widely used of the utilities being discussed in this article, but that does not make it any less essential.

    Ping is used to test the ability of one network host to communicate with another. Simply enter the Ping command, followed by the name or the IP address of the destination host. Assuming that there are no network problems or firewalls preventing the ping from completing, the remote host will respond to the ping with four packets. Receiving these packets confirms that a valid and functional network path exists between the two hosts.

    networking utilities

     

    NetStat

    If you are experiencing problems with network communications, then network statistics can sometimes help point you toward the root cause of the problem. That’s where the aptly named NetStat command comes into play. This command has a number of different functions, but the most useful of these is to display network summary information for the device. To see this type of summary information, just type NetStat -e.

    ARP

    The ARP command corresponds to the Address Resolution Protocol. Although it is easy to think of network communications in terms of IP addressing, packet delivery is ultimately dependent on the Media Access Control (MAC) address of the device’s network adapter. This is where the Address Resolution Protocol comes into play. Its job is to map IP addresses to MAC addresses.

    Windows devices maintain an ARP cache, which contains the results of recent ARP queries. You can see the contents of this cache by using the ARP -A command. If you are having problems communicating with one specific host, you can append the remote host’s IP address to the ARP -A command.

    networking utilities

    NbtStat

    As I am sure you probably know, computers that are running a Windows operating system are assigned a computer name. Oftentimes, there is a domain name or a workgroup name that is also assigned to the computer. The computer name is sometimes referred to as the NetBIOS name.

    Windows uses several different methods to map NetBIOS names to IP addresses, such as broadcast, LMHost lookup, or even using the nearly extinct method of querying a WINS server.

    Of course, NetBIOS over TCP/IP can occasionally break down. The NbtStat command can help you to diagnose and correct such problems. The NbtStat -n command for example, shows the NetBIOS names that are in use by a device. The NbtStat -r command shows how many NetBIOS names the device has been able to resolve recently.

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    Hostname

    The previously discussed NbtStat command can provide you with the host name that has been assigned to a Windows device, if you know which switch to use with the command. However, if you’re just looking for a fast and easy way of verifying a computer’s name, then try using the Hostname command. Typing Hostname at the command prompt returns the local computer name.

    Tracert

    Contrary to what a rather infamous YouTube video might lead you to believe, Tracert isn’t pronounced “Tracer T,” nor can it show you how many people are using Google right this second. Instead, Tracert, or “Trace Route,” is a utility for examining the path to a remote host.

    Functionally, Tracert works similarly to Ping. The major difference is that Tracert sends a series of ICMP echo requests, and the request’s TTL increased by 1 each time. This allows the utility to display the routers through which packets are passing to be identified. When possible, Windows displays the duration and IP address or fully qualified domain name of each hop.

    IpConfig

    One utility that I find myself using constantly is IPConfig. At its simplest, the IPConfig command will display basic IP address configuration information for the device. Simply type IPConfig at the Windows command prompt, and you will be presented with the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway that the device is currently using.

    networking utilities

    If you would like to see more detailed information, then type IPConfig /all. Doing so causes Windows to display IP address configuration that is much more verbose. This is also the command that you will have to use if you want to see which DNS server the Windows device is configured to use.

    The IPConfig command can do much more than just display IP address configuration information. It also contains options that can help you to troubleshoot problems related to DNS and DHCP. For example, entering the IPConfig /FlushDNS command purges the contents of the computer’s DNS resolver cache.

    NSLookup

    NSLookup is a great utility for diagnosing DNS name resolution problems. Just type the NSLookup command, and Windows will display the name and IP address of the device’s default DNS server. From there, you can type host names in an effort to see if the DNS server is able to resolve the specified host name.

    Route

    IP networks use routing tables to direct packets from one subnet to another. The Windows Route utility allows you to view the device’s routing tables. To do so, simply type Route Print.

    The cool thing about the Route command is that it not only shows you the routing table, it lets you make changes. Commands such as Route Add, Route Delete, and Route Change allow you to make routing table modifications on an as needed basis. The changes that you make can be persistent or nonpersistent, depending on whether you use the -P switch.

    PathPing

    Earlier, I talked about the Ping utility and the Tracert utility, and the similarities between them. As you might have guessed, the PathPing tool is a utility that combines the best aspects of Tracert and Ping.

    Entering the PathPing command followed by a host name initiates what looks like a somewhat standard Tracert process. Once this process completes however, the tool takes 300 seconds (five minutes) to gather statistics, and then reports latency and packet loss statistics that are more detailed than those provided by Ping or Tracert.

    networking utilities

    NetDiag

    Perhaps the most useful of the network utilities that are built into Windows is NetDiag. The NetDiag command is designed to run a battery of tests on the computer in order to help the technician figure out why the computer is experiencing networking problems.

    One of the things that I really like about this tool is that although there are a number of optional switches that you can use, you don’t have to use any of them unless you want to. Entering the NetDiag command by itself will cause all of the available tests to be run.

    In some cases, NetDiag can not only identify problems, but can also fix those problems. Obviously, NetDiag cannot automatically correct every problem that it finds, but appending the /Fix parameter to the command will tell NetDiag to attempt to fix the problem automatically.

    The Windows operating system is jam packed with command line utilities. Many of these utilities are left over from operating systems that were introduced decades ago. Even so, the utilities that I have discussed in this article are every bit as useful today as they were when they were first introduced.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1176


  • Why Is the Dialogue So Quiet on My HDTV?

    Why Is the Dialogue So Quiet on My HDTV

    We’ve all been there: the characters on screen are talking and it’s way too quiet so you crank up the volume only to be blasted by a loud explosion two seconds later. Why is the dialogue so quiet and what can you do to fix it? Read on as we show you how to tame wild swings in TV audio output.

    Why Is There Such Variation In Volume?

    It’s a situation nearly everyone can relate to. You’re sitting there watching TV and suddenly the characters are talking in hushed tones about something important. You can’t hear what they’re saying very clearly so you turn the volume up until you can. Everything is perfect and you can hear their conversation clearly and then BOOM—a car crash, explosion, or sudden shift in action blows your eardrums out as the volume level skyrockets relative to the quiet conversation to which you were just listening.

    Why does it seem like so many TV shows and movies—especially action films—swing so wildly in volume levels? Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you can narrow down a common source of variable volume in different content to a single issue. Many can combine to create an annoying TV viewing experience. Let’s first take a look at of the issues that can cause this volume variability before we jump into what you can do about it.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1176