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Craig Anderton

Follow-Up to My Windows 10 Comments - I Spoke Too Soon!

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Posted (edited)

You Don’t Need a Product Key to Install and Use Windows 10

"Microsoft allows anyone to download Windows 10 for free and install it without a product key. It’ll keep working for the foreseeable future, with only a few small  cosmetic restrictions. And you can even pay to upgrade to a licensed copy of Windows 10 after you install it."

https://www.howtogeek.com/244678/you-dont-need-a-product-key-to-install-and-use-windows-10/

Reinstall Windows 10

"If you're having problems with Windows 10 on your PC or you want a fresh copy of Windows 10 without the clutter of old files or apps, you can reinstall Windows 10  to try and fix your issues and return your PC  to a cleaner state."

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4000735/windows-10-reinstall

Reactivating Windows 10 after a hardware change

"When installing Windows 10, the digital license associates itself with your device's hardware. So, if you make significant changes, such as replacing your motherboard, Windows will no longer find a license that matches your computer.

Here’s how to prepare Windows 10 for activation before you make any significant hardware changes. If you didn't prepare before the hardware change, we also provide the steps to help  you reactivate Windows 10."

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/20530/windows-10-reactivating-after-hardware-change

 

Edited by abacab
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I have Win updates disabled and only enable it when I want to update. I often make image files of my boot drive and I can restore those images either inside of Windows 10 or with a boot CD that has Acronis or Macrium. I also have a 2nd HD with a fairly current Win 10 image from a few months ago. When I want to use it I disconnect the main boot SATA cable and plug it in the alternate boot HD.

 A few years ago I took a lot of time researching hidden Win updates and found out how to stop them too. I few years ago in Dec using Sonar, there was a mysterious MS hidden update that messed up a lot of DAWs. Even reverting to image files only worked for about 30 min until MS applied the hidden update. Noel explained the whole fiasco, maybe some of you remember.

This post is such a wake up call for all of us to have several tools in our toolbox, because this sort of thing can happen to any of us.  To have to reinstall from scratch is so time consuming. I never trusted system restore points and the recovery CD enough to not have these other tools. 

Sometimes I feel like a survivalist, always devising means of surviving a disaster. Murphy's Law sure applies to computers.

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Again, thanks everyone. Mark, the Linux-based option sounds good...now I just need to learn enough to be able to do it. :) 

I thought that making images (with Macrium, I've heard Windows backup/restore is funky, even though it worked once for me) and recovery discs would take care of any issues...apparently not. Thankfully, all my data is always backed up, including what's relevant from the 😄 drive. So at least no data will be gone.

It looks like it's time for a complete re-install, unless I can somehow use a working computer to repair the disk that's not working, and repair Windows from a different computer. But that seems like a long shot. Then again, it's about time I had an SSD boot drive :)  Oh well. 

I wrote a column for Pro Sound News years ago that said making music with computers would continue to get less reliable, and aside from my current experience, there are the "death by a thousand cuts" posts all over the web about problems, bugs, and glitches involved in running music software on a computer. I think that ultimately, the answer is going to be that you have to use hardware that's no more than 2 or 3 years old max, have two computers (one with the bare minimum of software needed to do what you do, the other with more specialized programs and non-music programs), and have all copy protection be licenses on hardware dongles, with backup licenses in the cloud, because you can't trust licenses keyed to specific hardware. I've already "dongled" as many programs as possible when given a choice of a dongle-based or computer-based license.

Programs also need to include an easy way to backup all the data stored in folders like Documents (Windows) or Libraries (Mac) so that you can restore your preferences, presets, and other elements that don't install with the program, but are part of your using it.

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1 hour ago, Craig Anderton said:

  I thought that making images (with Macrium, I've heard Windows backup/restore is funky, even though it worked once for me) and recovery discs would take care of any issues...apparently not. Thankfully, all my data is always backed up, including what's relevant from the 😄 drive. So at least no data will be gone.

I think that figuring out why you cannot boot with the Macrium rescue media should be priority #1. If you can just figure out how to boot that up, you are almost home free.  :D

Macrium Rescue media  should work regardless of the current state of Windows on the C: drive. If the bootable media is bad,  then you can always re-create that media on another PC.

Macrium Rescue is a self contained, bootable "live" version of Windows PE, with a copy of Macrium Reflect onboard. Once you have booted from that, there is no longer any dependency on whatever is on your hard drive.

One catch to booting from the optical drive or USB, is that some boot media is set to boot only as UEFI (GPT), or legacy BIOS (MBR). If it doesn't match your current BIOS settings for that, it may be ignored.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

To the OP, with regards to the 'Missing Device' error (Whatever it's wording) sometimes when that happens it also says that it couldn't load or read or whatever certain Windows files, one was winload.dll or .whatever on the system drive, which I thought was odd, because I didn't think it would be reading or loading anything from Windows so early in the boot process, but anyway that is what it was saying. So the 'device' it is referring to isn't necessarily a hardware device as it orriginally sounded to me.  So I started thinking that it maybe a faulty hard drive or RAM causing stuff to not be able to be accessed or read.

Anyway I kept trying stuff, I swapped out the system drive for a new one, same thing, all versions of Win 10 I tried eventually crashed with a blue screen of some description, so for giggles I installed the latest Ubuntu, it also rebooted itself mid flight, so I thought in my case I could rule out Windows as the offender, as it also happened in Linux. So I downloaded memtest86 and started testing the RAM, sure enough there were a lot of errors, the builtin memory test thing in Windows wouldn't even complete the extended test, it would at some point lock up.

So today I'll start going through the 4 RAM sticks and see if I can pinpoint the offender/s, I guess it could also be something to do with the slots/motherboard, probably less likely, but I'll go through the RAM first.

Anyway as said, it seems the missing device thing isn't necessarily talking about missing hardware, but some software file, albeit perhaps caused by flaky hardware. At least I was able to get it to boot when it wouldn't boot from DVD unlike in your case,.

Edited by Cardinal Sin

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Posted (edited)

For those interested in Clonezilla, you can download it here: https://clonezilla.org/downloads/download.php?branch=stable

I find by far the easiest way, is to download an iso image and burn a CD from it, but you can create a bootable USB disk if necessary.

I've put together a couple of videos showing how to backup/restore. For the most part, you just keep pressing enter to select the defaults (BTW - pressing CTRL + F5 on your browser will restart them).

Here's a quick(ish) tutorial on how to backup a disk:

clonezilla_backup.gif

And one on how to restore:

clonezilla_restore.gif

Edited by msmcleod
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Things may well have changed, but many years back I got a lot of wasted time and space from non usable backup images from clonezilla, since switching to Acronis TI I have a perfect record with backup images (at least those I''ve had to use), and have great confidence using A/TI. ymmv

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2 minutes ago, Cardinal Sin said:

Things may well have changed, but many years back I got a lot of wasted time and space from non usable backup images from clonezilla, since switching to Acronis TI I have a perfect record with backup images (at least those I''ve had to use), and have great confidence using A/TI. ymmv

I've never personally had a problem, and I've been using it for several years. I do backups & restores quite regularly, as I use it to keep my studio PC & house PC in sync (I've cloned the motherboard BIOS chips so they appear as the same PC).

The main thing to bear in mind when dealing with Windows images, is that it uses more than one partition as part of the OS disk. That's why it's always best to do a complete disk copy, rather than backup individual partitions.

In saying that, once you've restored a disk, it's usually safe from then on to just use a partition restore, but this is no good in the case of a disk failure and you need to restore to a brand new disk.

 

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Yeah I always do the whole disk.

Well my problems are over for now, with the help of memtest86 I tracked down the offending stick of RAM, remove that and all is good, except until I can find another matching stick or buy another 4x8GB matching sticks I have to run with 24GB (16GB@Dual Channel and 8 Single) or 16GB Dual Channel, either of which should be no problem, but you know my OCD wants it to be 32GB Dual Channel like it has always been.

Anyway, for now no more of those weird and wonderful errors . . . yah

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 Craig, I agree with abacab if you have a Macrium image file you made, you can essentially go back in a time machine and restore your C drive to that state it was in when you created that image. It doesn't matter if you even use a different computer with a different HD you want to try or your current HD or a new SSD like you said.

 Just boot up Macrium in a CD drive, point to the image file and tell it to restore to a different HD not the boot drive in that computer. Then remove that HD and put it in your DAW and you'll be set. You can then build your boot drive from that starting place instead of an install from scratch.

Unless something is wrong with your DAW's CD drive, there's no need to involve another computer.

Hope things work out soon, man.

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Just skimmed thru this thread...

As long as the optical drive is properly functional, you should be able to boot from it.

The OS itself won't have any effect on this.

If the first boot device (in the BIOS) is listed as "Windows Boot Manager", change the list to have the optical drive listed first.

Some motherboards also have a "boot-override" where you press F12 (or other hot-key) and select the desired boot drive.

 

With Win10, I'm of the mind that you've got to be running the Pro version. 

The Group Policy Editor makes it quick/easy to disable OneDrive, Cortana, etc.

You can also completely disable all Automatic Updates.

Windows Updates are mostly fine... but occasionally a problem occurs.

With Automatic Updates fully disabled, you choose if/when to apply updates.

When you go to apply Updates, you can be sure you've got an up-to-date backup image file prior to starting the process.

 

A savvy computer user can get themselves out of many types of problems.

Most times, it's a matter of finding and working thru the solution.

Once in a while, you get a situation that you just can't seem to solve (or that burns a lot of time).

These types of situations are a reminder to all of us... to stay diligent with proper backups.

 

Craig, (I know) you know your way around a PC.  😉

If I can be of any assistance, shoot me a PM or give me a call.

 

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36 minutes ago, Jim Roseberry said:

If the internal optical drive is defective, you can connect an external USB optical drive.

 

Macrium also gives you the option to make a bootable USB flash rescue media.

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I use a product called Active disk ( https://www.disk-image.com/index.html ) for the OS drive, that way I backup all of the C: drive and can restore it to any new drive within 30 minutes (I've also used this product on a few hundred machines for a standard company image). I have a RAID-1 for my data drive, and save the image there.

Maybe that can help someone!

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, msmcleod said:

For those interested in Clonezilla, you can download it here: https://clonezilla.org/downloads/download.php?branch=stable

 

Thank you msmcleod! Clonezilla is a beast, but very difficult to use. It took me months to figure out how to use it. but once you get the hang of it, it's very powerful, can image any OS. Too bad it doesn't have a GUI. Text-based instructions for something this complicated turn a lot of people off, but your tutorial will really help.

Edited by mdiemer

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Craig, I haven't read thru all this, but have you tried restoring the boot with the Macrium rescue CD? It will fix broken boot problems that can prevent booting. Rebuilds the master boot record. 

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I am on 1809. I have updates set to wait for me (pause updates) The only issue I ever see is Chrome just freezes sometimes, otherwise all is good especially with CWbB-no issues. I also have a myriad of apps on my desktop PC (my DAW) Always have. I do think I just don't go as deep as most others do. 30-40 tracks usually with a zillion VSTS.

Should I be on a newer build of Win 10 Pro? This is what it states in win update page on my PC:

Updates Available. Last Checked yesterday. Has the Alert Upside down yellow triangle with exclamation point inside it.
Intel - System - 4/11/2018 12:00:00 AM - 1815.12.0.2021
STATUS: Pending

Thanks

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That "A required device isn't connected or can't be accessed." " <- is usually because the original install disk cant be accessed ... its Dsim (Win installer system related . It can make changes to the core of Windows).        

btw the "sfc /scannow" is a bit naughty the way they have it set up.. it will  put all your preferences back to win 10 defaults   (restore spyware etc if you disabled it).

Think you only get 3 chances at a key ... then you have to phone m/s tech support .. at whatever their crazy   phone charges are per minute.

Could you have possibly unplugged a HD and plugged it into another sata port...or maybe added a hd aftter installing Win off of some boot media?     Seems like it's looking for a particular drive that probably housed the install media, say a drive E or I or whatever.     Unfortunately, without seeing it, it is tough to be sure.     This is only a guess.

Suggest that after you resolve this situation, you use third party clone ware from this point forward.

I would suggest you get a copy of Hirens Boot Disk.  It will not only find your product key, but has AOMEi backup on it which is a free, but excellent cloning backup program.  I have done three backups in the last two weeks because of the work situation here.  I usually schedule it while I am sleeping.  Wake up and I am good to go.

Wish I had more to offer you Craig.  Good luck.

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Hi guys, you might still be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free last month I upgrade my emachines netbook from Windows 7 starter to Windows 10 with no key it never ask for one.

Watch this video it explains how to upgrade to windows 10 for free no tricks.

Carey is a great Guy with a lot of Computer knowledge. 

 

 

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Hey all, thanks for your help. I'm glad I started this thread, there's a lot of great information in here. Y'all are the best!

So here's the final scoop on what happened: I was able to boot from a Macrium recovery disk generated for my office computer. Apparently the one for the studio computer was somehow corrupted. I re-imaged the drive, and was back at the desktop. 

However, Windows said the C : drive needed repairs, and to restart. When I did, the repair process was not able to complete. I tried again, and upon rebooting, there was the "required device isn't connected" issue again.  

So even though the C drive wasn't showing the usual signs of failing, maybe that's what interfered with the Windows update process.

I talked to PC Audio Labs. I'll pick up a new C drive tomorrow, and re-image it. However, the image will be of the Windows OS that wouldn't update, so it will be interesting see whether I'll be able to do the official Windows update, or whether there's some intractable problem with the Windows OS on my machine that will require a re-install.

Thanks again!! I've learned a lot that will be helpful in the future.

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