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  • Glacially slow at low resource utilization

    Posted on skeptamistic Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 7 Questions: Windows 7 Glacially slow at low resource utilization

    This topic contains 40 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Paul T 1 week, 6 days ago.

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    • #1915654 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Win7x64 – Looking for a trailhead here. I’m having trouble figuring out what to do next.

      Beginning last weekend, after a reboot, everything on the system starts so slowly. But Resource Monitor, after starting slowly like everything else now, shows low utilization of CPU, network, and disk. The RAM bar looks normal, too.

      I now notice that occupied space of C:, which is implemented on a 1TB SSD, has more than doubled to 90%+. Maybe that growth occurred gradually over months without me noticing, but the performance hit occurred all at once, after that reboot last weekend.

      Bad driver flooding the system with interrupts? August patching clustermess documented elsewhere?

      Tried Malwarebytes. Quarantined all 8 things that it flagged. Everything still slow.

      Tried removing patches one at a time. Very slow (of course); no change. Tried a restore point back to 31 July. Apparently that did not work.

      Available: an unused 2TB SSD. If lack of free space is the real culprit here, would I use Macrium (or something else) to image C: to the bigger SSD and then swap those SSDs?

      Potentially good news: a few Acronis backups of C: that, theoretically, can be used to take me back as far as 31 July or any of the subsequent Sundays through 18 August inclusive.

      Again, looking for a trailhead.

      Best regards,

    • #1915700 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      Your SSD may be low on space to keep up with disk requests and TRIM isn’t clearing out the space fast enough.
      Try running the disk clean up routine – right click on the disk in Explorer, Properties, Disk clean-up.

      Test if TRIM is working.

      Let us know how it goes.

      cheers, Paul

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1915822 Reply

      mn–
      AskWoody Lounger

      I now notice that occupied space of C:, which is implemented on a 1TB SSD, has more than doubled to 90%+. Maybe that growth occurred gradually over months without me noticing, but the performance hit occurred all at once, after that reboot last weekend.

      Well there’s clearly something writing data somewhere.

      I’d use a tool to check where the space is used (some temp file or directory, or a log maybe, or caching…) as that could be a significant clue. WinDirStat would be one such tool.

      I’d also check with the Windows Performance Monitor (C:\Windows\System32\resmon.exe – requires elevation), that should usually show what process or application is occupying the disk queue. If it’s some perfectly normal process and not much traffic, odds are it’s a hardware problem… but on the other hand it could also be a runaway application that’s just keeping the disk too busy writing random junk.

      (Oh and lots of small interleaved writes and cache flushes is about the worst workload possible for a typical SSD.)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1916861 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      WinDirStat would be one such tool.

      As well as the portable (100) Largest Files Finder : https://www.file.net/freeware/largest-files-finder.html

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1916864 Reply

      Microfix
      Da Boss

      just a thought..have you checked the size of your Windows CBS log?
      This article by woody will assist if CBS.log has overgrown:
      https://www.computerworld.com/article/3112358/windows-7-log-file-compression-bug-can-fill-up-your-hard-drive.html

      ********** Win7 x64/x86 | Win8.1 x64 | Linux Hybrids x64 **********

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1917129 Reply

        GoneToPlaid
        AskWoody Plus

        That is exactly what I was about to suggest to check. One has to look at the size of all files in the folder which contain the CBS.log file. My solution is to highlight all, and then click on Delete. If any given file can’t be deleted, then click Cancel since the file was actively in use. Then reboot. After rebooting and waiting 10 minutes, Windows will have automatically created a new CBS.log file which has a file size which will be well under 1 MB and may be well under 100 KB.

        Once this is done, then checking for updates, checking if a given update is already installed, or listing all installed updates will be far faster than before.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1916865 Reply

      PKCano
      Da Boss

      Hidden stuff:

      System Protection. Restore points what percentage of disk?
      Pagefile size?
      Shadow copies – how many?

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1917183 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks for these suggestions!

      One thing I tried last night: I switched off hibernation. That freed enough C: space for me to notice. 馃檪 This evening, startup of this browser is faster.

      I’ll circle back as soon as I have results to report.

    • #1917246 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Interim results: CBS. Two screenshots are attached from C:/Windows, one of /Logs/CBS, the other of /Temp.

      The CbsPersist files indicate rapid growth near month-end July, then this past weekend when all slowness was breaking loose. The overall sizes don’t seem bad. /Temp shows no cab* files. Sorting /Temp by size shows 1.2G of DemonData swap files from March 4. That must’ve been a rough day around here.

      After trying the other suggestions, I’ll clear /Logs/CBS and then reboot.

      Consistent with @gonetoplaid‘s suggestion above, why not attempt to delete everything in /Temp and let Win7 stop me on files that are locked (probably being used) ? Some of the “temporary” files have been there since 2009. 馃檪

      Attachments:
      • #1934449 Reply

        GoneToPlaid
        AskWoody Plus

        CBS stuff looks fine (all are small files). Yeah, you might want to blow out the temp folder. You won’t be able to delete any temp files which still are in use.

    • #1917333 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Interim results: Disk Cleanup.

      A few gig. Not much, but I’ll take it. Two screenshots.

      Attachments:
    • #1917424 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Interim results: TRIM.

      Trimcheck indicates that TRIM is working.

      A quick check on the controller driver shows it’s the 2013 AMD driver.

      Do I go for a later Microsoft driver and risk BSOD, keep what I have, or try something else?

      Attachments:
    • #1917478 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Interim results: WinDirStat.

      Now this stuff is interesting. I’ve never used the tool, so here’s a noob question.

      Screenshot 1 of 2: Does the first data row indicate that 100% of occupied space on C: has a size of just over 202GB?

      Screenshot 2 of 2: But C: is on a 1TB SSD, and (not shown), it’s the only partition on that drive. I just checked the partitions in Disk Management (found that on my own).

      Hmmm: do I need to check the SSD for errors? Which utility or tool do I use for that?

      Attachments:
    • #1917485 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      Hmmm: do I need to check the SSD for errors? Which utility or tool do I use for that?

      Chkdsk.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1917532 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      Do I go for a later Microsoft driver and risk BSOD, keep what I have, or try something else?

      If TRIM is working don’t change anything, yet.
      Your machine was OK so there may be something else to be fixed.

      cheers, Paul

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1918313 Reply

      DaveYVR
      AskWoody Lounger

      Hmmm: do I need to check the SSD for errors? Which utility or tool do I use for that?

      Chkdsk.

      I would agree with this to a point.

      Not to be too alarmist, but every time I’ve have had a slow startup and loading of programs on a computer, it has preceded a full disk failure.聽 I’ve had this happen a couple times, including once on an OCZ solid state drive.

      I did the same as you. Looked at everything but a bad disk drive. Drivers, space utilization, Bluetooth adapters (disabling), and more. Then one day, *clunk*, and my drive could not be read by the computer, or any other computer I attached it to using an external sata adaptor.

      SMART has never given me any warning. And the quick drive checking tools don’t show anything.

      So I would suggest some form of chkdsk /r where /r is looking for bad sectors on the disk.

      A couple caveats:

      -this process could take a very long time (hours, possibly even days)

      -I would get advice from others if there are any better alternatives than chkdsk at this point.

      -I would image the drive using macrium reflect, if you have it, before running chkdsk. I won’t suggest Acronis since I am one of the lucky few where Acronis actually bricked one of my operating systems, and the follow up technical support from Acronis was lacking to say the least.

      Good luck

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1918367 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      You might want to check with TreeSize Free to see where all that drive space is allocated:
      https://www.jam-software.com/treesize_free/

      Group G{ot backup} TestBeta
      Win7Pro 路 x64 路 SP1 路 i3-3220 路 RAM 8GB 路 Firefox: uBlock Origin - NoScript 路 HDD 路 Canon Printer 路 Microsoft Security Essentials 路 Windows: Backup - System Image - Rescue Disk - Firewall
      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1918738 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Acting on DaveYVR’s sense of caution, I cloned C: to the new 2TB SSD, which Win7 views as J: using Macrium Reflect. In Disk Management, I right-clicked and made it Active.

      Doh! 聽It’s been so long that I forgot how to change the drive letters / boot sequence so that the system boots from the 2TB SSD. Ugh.

      The good news is that both drives are connected. The bad news is the no-boot-loader message.

      While everything is still in there, I’m running the SMART on the apparently troubled 1TB SSD.

    • #1919034 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      I used Macrium to clone the SYSTEM and OS (C:) partitions from the troubled 1TB SSD to the new 2TB SSD (System and J:, respectively).

      The Macrium screenshot below indicates a size-reporting anomaly that is similar to what WinDirStat reported. In the screenshot, the new 2TB SSD is the disk on the top, and the 1TB SSD is the disk on the bottom. (The SSD in between is a data-only disk.)

      I did not order Macrium to clone the HP recovery partition from the 1TB to the 2TB SSD. That’s why the 2TB SSD on the top shows only two partitions. That’s not the difference that I find more interesting.

      Macrium reports occupied space in OS (C:), on the bottom, to be 888.07GB. The occupied space reported in the “cloned” partition in OS (J:), on the top, is 190.88GB. That 190GB is so near the value reported in WinDirStat that I believe these different tools indicate the same underlying anomaly.

      I am now confident that I want to stop using the bottom-row 1TB SSD.

      What do I need to do — in Macrium, or Disk Management, or another tool — to cause the system to use what’s currently labeled OS (J:) as the boot partition, the new C: drive?

      Attachments:
    • #1919296 Reply

      DaveYVR
      AskWoody Lounger

      I’m uncertain of the cause of bootloader failing to load in these situations. I’ve had many dual OS boot scenarios get confused depending on the order and method used to install various operating systems.聽 I know just enough to be dangerous 馃檪

      In the bios, as I am sure you are aware, you can change the order of the bootloaders and drives accessed during boot up.聽 On my current computer I have three operating systems running right now. Two of them will load properly when I directly select their drives to boot (i.e., not the boot loader).聽 One will start only when I load the “windows boot loader” located on that particular drive.聽 I can only suggest playing around trying different boots from bios. You can do this without changing the order, and once you know which are working properly, edit the order to match.

      Finally, there are utilities you can use which can edit boot loaders and make it so you can select the right operating systems on a dual boot system at start up. The one I’ve used in the past is EasyBCD. But I don’t think you need to go down that road just to get one drive up and running. And I would avoid it until you have exhausted your other options. Things can get confusing quickly with EasyBCD, and might even make matters worse.

      I’m sorry my advice lead to a new problem. 馃檨 . I didn’t think you would switch over to the image unless your current drive actually failed. Hope some of the advice above helps and doesn’t make issues worse.聽 I would wait for suggestions from others before proceeding.

      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by  DaveYVR.
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1919512 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Fresh screesnhot: Windows now reports that C: occupies about 200GB on the old 1TB SSD, which basically matches my original expectations. The system is responding at speed.

      I had removed the 1TB SSD, restarted the system to attempt to boot from the 2TB SSD, then reconnected the 1TB SSD, which booted this time (I’m typing from that session now).

      New fact: The exact message from the attempt to boot the J: clone of C: is “BOOTMGR is missing.” Perhaps I incorrectly used “bootloader” in a previous message here. If so, I regret the error.

      I wonder: does Acronis somehow replace BOOTMGR so that only an Acronis recovery procedure can start the booting process? I have no idea; just guessing.

      Question: Can we conclude that 1TB SSD that C: occupies has a hardware problem? Or do we still have ambiguity because of other factors, such as the August patch clustermess?

      Best regards,

      Attachments:
      • #1919528 Reply

        PKCano
        Da Boss

        There have been a couple of threads about adding a boot partition where there isn’t one, as is your case.
        You can wade through these two threads here and here. The second one is painfully long, but I think the instructions are in one of them somewhere,

    • #1919530 Reply

      NightOwl
      AskWoody Plus

      @ skeptamistic

      What do I need to do 鈥 in Macrium, or Disk Management, or another tool 鈥 to cause the system to use what鈥檚 currently labeled OS (J:) as the boot partition, the new C: drive?

      The problem you have encountered is a self inflected wound–using the wrong technique for the wrong problem!

      You have attempted to clone a hard drive (HDD) with an OS on it (your old SSD) from within an active Windows OS (again, your old SSD OS), to a new HDD–disk to disk. Windows will crash and burn if it sees two HDD with the same driver letter C: (registry conflicts) the next time you boot–Windows does not know if you will be removing 1 of the two drives so it assigns that drive letter J: to protect itself. And, when you attempt to boot to the new HDD, the boot loader is still looking for C: to boot from, but your cloned HDD is assigned J:, and that’s being remembered because that is what the drive was assigned during cloning.

      (There is a possibility that running the Windows rescue media and selecting *Repair Boot* might solve this issue. And, you may have to run that Repair up to 3 times–so you run the Repair the 1st time, and attempt to boot and it does not work, run the Repair again. Attempt to re-boot–if still fails, run Repair again–so that’s the third time you have run it. If the system will still not boot, then have to try what’s below.)

      What’s needed is to do the cloning from outside of an active Windows OS using the boot media that either Acronis or Macrium can create for you. When you boot to that rescue media, no Windows OS will be active and up and running, so no new drive letters will be assigned that will be recorded in the registry of the active OS, or to the boot loader in the System partition. The rescue media might be a Windows PE OS, but that will not be writing drive letters to the registry of your active Window OS, or the boot loader on the System partition. Drive letters that may be assigned in Windows PE will stay in Windows PE and be forgotten when you re-boot.

      Cloning can be done in two different ways, depending on what you have available:

      1. If you have a backup image file, you can do cloning from *Image > HDD*. (In your case is sounds like you have Acronis image files available to do this.)

      2. If you do not have a backup image file to use, then you would have to do a *Disk > Disk* clone. (This is what would be necessary if using the Macrium rescue media, being as it does not sound like you have an Macrium backup image. You could of course make a backup image to use before doing the cloning if you wanted to.

      Important: Regardless of how you clone–it’s important to remove whichever 2nd HDD is not going to be used when you are prepared to re-boot! You do not want two HDDs with the same data attached at the same time if they are active HDDs with an OS on them, and the drive letter C: assigned to both drives!

      So, after the cloning operation, shut the system down, and remove that 2nd HDD before re-booting.

      On older systems, it used to be necessary to put the new cloned HDD onto the same HDD controller port as the old HDD to have things work correctly. Newer system typically do not have this problem, but in the future if other devices are attached to different controller ports, the assignment of drive letters may change under certain circumstance–primarily when booting to media other than the Windows OS–such as rescue media. Can cause confusion if you’re not looking out for this.

      Questions?

      NightOwl

      No question is stupid ... but, possibly the answers are 馃槈 !

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1919538 Reply

        satrow
        AskWoody MVP

        and the drive letter C: assigned to both drives!

        Windows will not allocate C: to more than one drive, the problem here is triggered before Windows gets to allocating drive letters (the System drive is always C:) because the chain from the BIOS/Windows handover is broken.

        The Windows BootMgr/bootstrap as read from the MBR (Master Boot Record) basically tells it to find an Active partition and then the \Boot\BCD on the ‘hidden’ partition, or the System volume (that will become C:, the Windows drive). If the partition containing the Boot\BCD folder (or the folder on the System drive) is missing or corrupt, Windows will fail to find the data required to load itself.

        https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/927392/use-bootrec-exe-in-the-windows-re-to-troubleshoot-startup-issues

        https://www.techsupportalert.com/content/windows-7-startup.htm

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1923926 Reply

          mn–
          AskWoody Lounger

          Then there’s that one problem I’ve seen once in the wild… cloned drive with same id on two simultaneously connected devices (original and new).

          That’s a time bomb really as Windows thinks they’re the same drive and sends writes to either… even if it isn’t an expensive multipathed storage device for large servers.

          But I understood this shouldn’t happen with Macrium Reflect, at least not with recent versions and default settings…

    • #1919536 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      @nightowl,

      Thanks!

      I have a repair USB available. I will try it and report back here later.

      Best regards,

    • #1922798 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      The repair USB failed.

      Updates:

      1. A Macrium Reflect scan of C: indicates no errors.
      2. After I set the boot sequence correctly and then exit BIOS Setup, the Acronis recovery fails to start from its USB stick.
      3. Using Acronis to create new rescue media from a USB stick fails. Unable to create bootable media. Error occurred while processing the .wim file. The Acronis support site is not helpful to me.
      4. Using Acronis to create new rescue media from a different USB stick fails with the same message.
      5. Using Macrium to create new rescue media from a separate USB stick fails. Failed to generate WinPE WIM: The WIM could not be mounted. The log files that Macrium creates and refers to are attached to this message.
      6. Using Win7’s “Create a system repair disc” completed as expected on a CD. (Yes, a CD in day and age.)
      7. After booting from the CD, the recovery process finds and fixes a problem on the C: that’s implemented on the 1TB SSD.
      8. Change boot order again, this time from C: on the 1TB SSD. It works.
      9. Use Macrium to clone the working C: to the 2TB SSD.
      10. Remove the 1TB SSD from the case.
      11. Boot.

      Apparently I now have a dual-boot system. The booter presents “Windows 7” and “Windows 7 Professional (recovered)” and I select each in turn to verify that they boot.

      THANKS TO EVERYONE so far. 馃檪

      So, the suspect 1TB SSD is sitting on the desk while I try to learn more stuff, like:

      1. Do I want two Win7 entries in my boot menu? If not, how do I get away from dual-boot?
      2. Shall I consider converting the 2TB SSD from MBR to GPT, on the hypothesis that GPT would be more robust, perhaps auto-recovering from the damage that the MBR apparently had sustained?
      3. How do I verify that the 1TB SSD is working, or broken? SMART gave it a clean bill of health. Shall I consider some third-party test software? Take it to a hardware tech?
      4. Are USBs really this unreliable as recovery media? The CD, burned from Microsoft’s original recovery-media option in Win7, is the first recovery medium that worked. The two sticks that I tried had been sitting, for months, in a little-used desk drawer in a climate-controlled office. I’m scratching my head on this one.
      5. I like the idea of being able to restore to dissimilar hardware, so I had paid for Acronis. (Somehow I believe that any recovery solution must support dissimilar hardware, but that’s just me.) The recovery USB made with Acronis didn’t work. A fresh attempt to make one also failed. Got trailheads for Acronis alternatives?

      Best regards,

      • #1922857 Reply

        anonymous

        How do I verify that the 1TB SSD is working, or broken? SMART gave it a clean bill of health. Shall I consider some third-party test software? Take it to a hardware tech?

        Yes you might consider some testing software, check your drive manufacturer’s website. A professional technician would have the software and tools to verify proper operation of the SSD. (Tip: Some drive technicians might refuse to service a drive after a user has tried to fix the underlying hardware themselves.)

        Are USBs really this unreliable as recovery media?

        No, usually they are not so unreliable, some very old flash drive models will not boot as a disc drive. You should try use the flash drive to know if it works every few months.

        Are these heavily used flash drives? Were there any hard write errors? There are a weird combination of failure modes for flash drives. Was your log file similar to this Macrium forum post?

    • #1922802 Reply

      DaveYVR
      AskWoody Lounger

      Hi skeptamistic, glad you got yourself out of the woods.

      Curious, how is your imaged drive working. Any slow downs or hickups?

      Cheers,

      Dave

    • #1924049 Reply

      anonymous

      skeptamistic, You may be fixed or almost there as per DaveY.

      You mentioned:
      “Interim results: Disk Cleanup. A few gig. Not much, but I鈥檒l take it. Two screenshots.”

      When using Microsoft’s “Disk Cleanup”, press the “Clean up System Files” button, and see about removing the “old MS updates and Previous Windows version OS”, Delivery Optimization files, etc., and consider clicking the tab(?) to delete all but the last restore point (be careful now) if you feel the last restore point is sufficient for you to have (only one) and reboot afterwards.

      Please note that there have been times that we have run Disk Cleanup, Windows update files, old Windows Versions and the reboot took up to 45 minutes to complete. Usually it is not that long, maybe 5 to 8 minutes, but we have seen 45 minutes! We too, got worried but left it alone and finally made it to the Desktop.

      Just reboot, sit back and wait. It is finalizing the cleanup at that moment and it does take time to complete.

      FYI Hard drive filling up? Good Ole Woody spoke of this in 2016. Windows 7 log file compression bug can fill up your hard drive, https://www.computerworld.com/article/3112358/microsoft-windows/windows-7-log-file-compression-bug-can-fill-up-your-hard-drive.html

      And here is another similar situation I just remembered. “Windows 7 PC gets very sluggish” https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/windows-7-pc-gets-very-sluggish

      Cybertooth is a good guy, worked very hard and finally got resolution of the issue. I and many others, like here, were helping him.

      I hope you have success.

    • #1930747 Reply

      NightOwl
      AskWoody Plus

      @ skeptamistic

      THANKS TO EVERYONE so far.

      Looks like you ended up with a little bit of a mess here! Things have not turned out exactly the way one would have expected.

      A *dual boot* set up should not have occurred–somehow your second cloning attempt did not go according to plan. But, we would have to try and re-construct what you did to see if we can find where things went wrong.

      The USB and failure to create boot media on both Acronis and Macrium is worrisome. Possibly a corrupted OS problem from your hard drive problems? Again, would have to explore this more–and try different trouble shooting efforts.

      Using Win7鈥檚 鈥淐reate a system repair disc鈥 completed as expected on a CD. (Yes, a CD in day and age.)

      As an aside–Macrium will allow you to create a CD/DVD rescue media–so if that still functions normally as it did for the Win7 repair disc, you should be able create the Macrium CD/DVD rescue media for future use, instead of the USB route. I don’t know about Acronis–I’ve not used that product.

      Curious, how is your imaged drive working. Any slow downs or hickups?

      You have not responded to several posts since your last post. So, it’s unclear if you want to look at the above issues here, or not.

      Let us know what you want to do.

      NightOwl

      No question is stupid ... but, possibly the answers are 馃槈 !

    • #1931380 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      THANKS AGAIN for checking in!

      DaveYVR asked about the imaged drive. The news is good. After a repair operation from the Win7-prepared recovery CD, C: is implemented on that new (Crucial) 2TB SSD, occupying the expected amount of space. Speed is as expected. The dual-boot configuration is present as noted, but I can live with that for now.

      Anonymous asked whether the flash drives were heavily used or threw hard write errors. No. They had been sitting a desk drawer in a climate-controlled office for months. Before then, they had been little used. They had been purchased mainly for recovery.

      Anonymous also asked about the Macrium log. Yes, my log was similar in structure and sequence, but the exact error messages differ. Unfortunately I did not retain the first Macrium error log, so it’s difficult to draw a firm conclusion from the comparison.

      Anonymous suggested those two articles. I plan to follow up here after reading them. Sounds like Cybertooth’s case study will be inspirational.

      NightOwl is asking about intent, and I’m glad to be asked.

      I am a “weekend warrior” when it comes to IT, using what I have during the week and attempting changes during weekends.

      Here’s the state of my thinking now, with more questions that certitudes, and more intent than plan:

      1. Study Cybertooth’s case.
      2. Figure out: how do I know, before purchase, whether a USB stick can be configured to be bootable? What specification to do I look for?
      3. Assuming that the info from #2 indicates that my USB sticks so support boot images, then address the possibility from NightOwl that the OS image is somehow corrupt. Because Win7 currently starts as expected after a dual-boot selection, and that applications run as expected, I can live with some risk for now because I believe the Crucial SSD is reliable enough until I know more about what I must and <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>can</span> do in the near future.
      4. Assuming, instead, that info from #2 and #3 indicates no OS corruption, then ascertain whether the dual boot reality indicates a threat. If it does, get rid of dual boot sooner rather than later.
      5. Because of a license feature, I upgraded to Acronis 2019 this past week, and it is already running its programmed backups as expected. Test the Acronis “Survival Toolkit” feature with a USB stick that is identified from Step 2.

      Beyond this “recovery” episode, I am now looking for additional trailheads. I am skeptical that MSFT will improve its behavior, and so I am considering alternatives for my foundational (host) OS.

      Perhaps I am overreacting to what might’ve been just a bum SSD (and maybe USB sticks) after decades of previously flawless hardware behavior?

      What are good trailheads for evaluating a switch to another foundational OS, even if it hosts Windows for a few apps that are Windows-only?

      • My two “compliance” apps, QuickBooks Pro and TurboTax, might be available via SaaS providers, so I might be able to switch from local, perpetual licenses to SaaS. I’ll think about privacy and response time.
      • But my freelance practice still uses a few Windows-only apps that are not SaaS-available. Changing from those apps to multi-OS or SaaS alternatives might require a time-expensive skills upgrade (details omitted). I’m not afraid of that, but it’s a months-long change, so the ability to run Windows apps on a reliable OS solution will continue to be important transitionally.

      With that Win-only app reality and the Win7 “deadline” approaching, I feel a need to plan for a migration to Win10, arguably on newer hardware, and perhaps with a proven host & guest OS stack that can keep this Win7 image going for a while longer. Perhaps I need to consider the difference between Type I vs. Type II hypervisors and shop hardware accordingly?

      This box has an AMD Athlon-II motherboard that has held up nicely for a decade (yes, it’s been that long!). I have swapped power supplies twice, drives twice, upgraded RAM once, etc. I don’t regret maintaining it, nor staying on Win7 this long, but having the experience that I just had, I would regret not seeking alternatives for continued reliability in the workbench and tool box. As it turns out, Joel Hruska’s writeups at https://www.extremetech.com/ about AMD’s Ryzen releases remind me of the price-range sweet spot from which I purchased this box in 2009. Apparently AMD becomes a performance:price leader every 10 years, and here I am, ready to shop hardware again. 馃檪

      Best regards (and Happy Labor Day),

       

      • #1931749 Reply

        anonymous

        Figure out: how do I know, before purchase, whether a USB stick can be configured to be bootable? What specification to do I look for?

        The ability to be used as a boot device usually is not shown on the package. If you are able to select boot devices with your UEFI BIOS a working flash drive could show itself as a USB FD.

        Do you have preferred name brand of flash drive?

        Verbose specifications are available on usb dot org, it is the official site of the USB Implementers Forum, Inc.

      • #1931865 Reply

        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Figure out: how do I know, before purchase, whether a USB stick can be configured to be bootable?

        All USB drives are bootable. It’s a computer spec, not a USB spec.

        evaluating a switch to another foundational OS

        Given your reliance on Windows apps I can’t see the point in trying to move away from it.

        Make sure you have a bootable recovery USB for Acronis and that you have a recent image backup stored externally. Then it doesn’t matter whether you stay on W7 or get new hardware with W10.

        cheers, Paul

        • #1932160 Reply

          mn–
          AskWoody Lounger

          All USB drives are bootable. It鈥檚 a computer spec, not a USB spec.

          Unfortunately this is isn’t quite correct in practice.

          Any number of individual computer models are unable to boot some kinds of USB drives, such as ones that are too large. Ancient IBM Thinkpad 380XD for example was unable to boot from USB drives larger than 256 MB …

          Even some not terribly old models (date of manufacture 2017 in the latest example) seem to be unable to boot from USB3 drives, have to be USB 2.0 to boot even if otherwise USB 3 works too. (Would be easier if this thing had a 2.0-only port but no, all ports are 3 and… so, might want to use a hub that doesn’t support USB3.)

          And that’s not getting into weird hassles with BIOS/UEFI. Those exist too.

          Firmware/BIOS update, if available, may fix some of these.

          • #1934303 Reply

            Paul T
            AskWoody MVP

            Isn’t that what I said, it’s a computer thing?

            cheers, Paul

            • #1934313 Reply

              mn–
              AskWoody Lounger

              Yes, it is… as long as you can choose your computer based on how well it works with which kinds of USB devices.

    • #1934432 Reply

      DiPersiaTech
      AskWoody Plus

      I don’t believe I saw anyone suggest running disk management on the 1TB SSD to see how things are allocated.聽 Based on what WinDirStat was showing, I’m wondering if the 1TB SSD only had a 200GB partition (Was this SSD cloned from a 200GB mechanical drive by chance?)

      Run disk management while that drive is in the system and post a screen shot.

    • #1939501 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      @dipersiatech,

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      The 1TB SSD was cloned from a 1TB mechanical drive.

      The 1TB SSD is not in the box at the moment. As part of previous testing, I removed it. C: is now implemented on a 2TB SSD.

      I expect to post more reports within a few days.

    • #1944140 Reply

      skeptamistic
      AskWoody Plus

      Here’s the latest.

      Apparently a SATA data connection from the motherboard was a culprit, if not the culprit. The port on the motherboard is loose. When I do not use that data connection, everything works as expected — so far. 馃檪

      Using remaining SATA connections that seem reliable, I have cloned the Win7 (OS) and Data partitions to backup SSDs, using Macrium.

      I am now attempting to recreate a bootable USB for rescue media with Acronis. When the suspect SATA connection was still used, Acronis Rescue Media Builder did not recognize a fresh USB stick. Now, without the suspect SATA connection, Acronis Rescue Media Builder sees the stick.

      After a successful test of the rescue media, I plan to start patching Win7 again according to the Defcon status and Patch Lady guidance.

      Because I have some Windows-only apps, I need to plan for a Win7 to Win10 upgrade. I’m sure most of this community who intends to migrate to Win10 already has, so: these days, where’s the best up-to-date primer? Eventually I will have to replace this hardware, but all of the apps that I care about work on Win10, so naturally I’m inclined to avoid a reinstall-everything exercise if feasible.

      Lessons Learned So Far:

      • If you think your decade-old motherboard hardware might fail someday and so you might want to replace it sooner instead of being such a tightwad, you might be right.
      • If Leonard Spector tells you several years ago to develop, test, and maintain, a Puppy Linux based recovery kit, you might want to take him seriously.
      • Maintain contact with this community, especially about patching.
      • Learn more about Macrium as a possible adjunct to, or replacement for, Acronis.

      New things to think about:

      • Physical to virtual conversion. Seems like a faster way to “recover” (rehost) than traditional recovery models. Maybe it’s worth hosting a copy of the old Win7 image on Mac Parallels or Linux with — what — VirtualBox?.
      • The “new” hardware these days looks good at pre-tariff prices. The M2 memory, Ryzen, Thunderbolt or USB 3.1 Gen 2 (or whatever it’s called), to say nothing of good ‘ole RAM. It’s the best of hardware times and the worst of OS provider times.

      THANKS AGAIN to everyone for the coaching.

      More news as it becomes available

      Best regards,

    • #1944741 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      Learn more about Macrium as a possible adjunct to, or replacement for, Acronis.

      Different software, same function. I use both and wouldn’t change unless I needed something specific that the other doesn’t have.

      Physical to virtual conversion

      This is a great way to run one OS under another on one machine, e.g. W7 under W10. It’s not really a recovery environment unless the whole machine is run under the VM OS.

      It doesn’t matter what VM software you use, as long as it does what you want, the price is right and it runs on your hardware.

      cheers, Paul

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