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Old 03-28-2017, 04:28 PM   #1
DMcCunney
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How do you fix Win10 BSODs? Get a new machine.

My old desktop had quirks. It was a Win7 Pro box I upgraded to Win10 using Microsoft's free upgrade offer. I had already upgraded a friend's Win8.1 laptop and a Win7 travel laptop, and my SO upgraded her Win7 Home laptop. All went swimmingly, and have been mostly trouble free.

My desktop was odd man out. It was "New and different Win10 Blue Screens of Death - collect the whole set!", and I had been.

The box was a refurb Dell Optiplex Small Form Factor machine, which came with 4GB RAM, a 2.4 ghz quad core Xeon processor, a 240GB SATA HD, and Win7 Pro. I added RAM to bring it to the 8GB max the machine would take, a 240GB SSD, and a low profile ATI graphics card with a GB of video RAM to replace the on-board Intel graphics. There were some speed bumps in getting it where I wanted, but the end result was a machine dual booting Win7 Pro and Ubuntu Linux from SSD, with data on the HD.

It worked well on Win7 but had issues with Win10, even though the upgrade went with no obvious problems. One annoyance was that while the Xeon is a quad core CPU, Win10 only saw two of them. There's a list on Intel's website of what processor models are supported by Win10, and the Xeon wasn't on it.

And BSODs were increasingly problematic. BAD_POOL_HEADER, DCP_PROTECTION_ERROR, and KERNEL_SECURITY_EXCEPTION were too frequent visitors. The last straw was a rear fan failure. The fan is integral to the power supply, and finding a replacement for a no longer made machine would be fun. The simple solution was a new machine.

Off to poke around on Micro Center. The Cleveland based retailer has been expanding, and there's a store in Brooklyn convenient to me. Their website offered a deal on a refurb off-lease corporate machine. HP Elite 8200 Small form factor, with quad-core i5-2400 CPU (on the supported list) at 3.1ghz with a 3.4ghz Turbo mode, 8GB RAM, Intel HD 2000 graphics, a 500GB SATA HD, and Win7 Pro installed, for $249. Sold!

The machine has headroom for expansion. There are four RAM slots, each with a 2GB stick installed, but can be taken to 32GB by swapping in higher capacity RAM. There are four SATA connectors on the motherboard, a PCI-slot, two PCI-e slots, and a mini PCI-e slot. It's USB2, but there's a four port USB3 card that can plug in to the mini-PCIe slot as a future upgrade. I was able to swap in the Crucial MX-100 SSD from the Dell box, and the ATI card.

Getting it up and running under Win7 was painless. It saw the SSD, and the ATI card. And because it was a refurb off-lease corporate box, it wasn't laden with trailware to remove. It had Win7 Pro, Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, and a current Java runtime. Those were all things I'd install anyway.

Next step was a Win10 upgrade. Microsoft's free upgrade offer has long since ended, and you can't download the upgrade media. But I had the Win10 Pro media on a thumb drive from when the offer was in effect. I was betting it would still work.

And it did, with a quirk. When I inserted the thumb drive and ran setup, it asked if I wanted to check online for updates before proceeding. I said yes, it looked, and told me it didn't see an existing Win10 install and I would need a product key. The Win7 Pro key from the new machine would likely work, but first, I reran setup and said no to the "Check online for updates?" query.

It matter of factly performed the upgrade from Win7 Pro to Win10 Pro with no prompts for a product key. (It did check for updates and included them after copying the base upgrade files across for installation. The result, several reboots later, was a validated Win10 Pro installation. )

Thus far, it's a pleasure to use. The machine is significantly faster than the box it replaces, is rock solid stable, and there have been no traces of BSODs. My impression is that the problem with the Dell box was simply inadequate hardware support. It was a usable platform for Win7, but not up to Win10.

I wound up removing the ATI card, as built-in Intel HD 2000 graphics provided better performance. Intel graphics have historically been fine for 2D graphics but fallen down on 3D, which is why I added the ATI card to the Dell. I'm not a gamer, but did want better 3D available. The Intel graphics in the HP box are improved over what was provided with the Dell.

A plus is the the HP machine is designed for easy service. A side panel comes off by pulling a lever, and there is easy access to all components. I was able to add the 240 GB Seagate Barracuda drive from the Dell as a secondary drive in an unused bay beneath the built-in DVD-ROM, which eased the shuffling I needed to do before migrating to SSD.

And some disk performance tests showed the 500GB Toshiba HD provided with the HP machine is significantly faster than the Barracuda from the Dell, which is another factor in the improved performance I see.

Next step, once booted from SSD, will be repartitioning it from Windows Disk Management, carving out a raw slice, and installing Ubuntu. On the Dell, Ubuntu saw the raw slice, formatted it ext4, and installed to it with no intervention from me to tell it where to install. The result there was a multi-boot setup offering a choice of Ubuntu, Win10 from SSD, or Win7 from HD (since I upgraded the Win7 instance on the SSD.) Since I upgraded to Win10 on the HD, Win7 won't be an option on multi-boot, but I don't care.

Thus far, things have proceeded smoothly. There will still be things to do after boot from SSD is set up, like installing Ubuntu and setting up the rest of my preferred configuration, but that was expected. I foresee the Snoopy Happy Dance in my future.
______
Dennis

Last edited by DMcCunney; 03-28-2017 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 03-28-2017, 05:21 PM   #2
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You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

After spending ten years of a former life as a PC tech and white box builder, I'd just as soon go down to Best Buy and get one built by someone else.
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Old 03-28-2017, 05:32 PM   #3
DMcCunney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wodin View Post
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

After spending ten years of a former life as a PC tech and white box builder, I'd just as soon go down to Best Buy and get one built by someone else.
That's effectively what I did do.

I used to build my own machines from components, but got cured of it. If I still did so, Micro Center has a whole DIY section with motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards, RAM, cases and the like. Those customers tend to be gamers constructing top end gaming machines. I'm not a gamer, so...

I essentially bought a packaged system off the shelf, and my actions were confined to some expansion and reusing some components from the failed machine.

The machine I got was an off-lease corporate desktop. It was usable as was, but since I had some components to reuse, I could. I think I've actually had the case open and fiddled with hardware for an hour or so all told. I spent much more time on that in my build-from-components days. Preferring to spend my time using the machine instead of fiddling to make it usable drives my current strategies.
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Old 03-28-2017, 06:29 PM   #4
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I've repaired a number of broken systems that were upgraded from Win 7 to Win 10. In all cases the problems were created by starting from 'dodgy' Win 7 configs.

In a couple of cases I was able the restore the Win 7 config, once I spent a bit of time cleaning up the Win 7 environment, e.g. running sfc /scannow, removing vendor bloat, cleaning the registry, getting rid of unused application programs installed in weird places - like Wordperfect in WinSxS etc, the Win 10 upgrade was fine.

In at least half a dozen other cases, after cleaning up what was there, I was able to do this ==>> Windows 10 an In-place Upgrade - Windows 10 Forums. That is a non destructive reinstall of Windows 10, the built in Restore and Reset options of Windows delete everything except itself and MS application bloat.

I managed to grab the 32 and 64 bit ISO's from MS before they deleted them, now you have to use their Media creation tool. After the in place upgrade you have to run WU for as many times as it takes to get Windows completely up to date. I suggest you get Windows completely up to date before updating other MS products (Office, VS etc).

The only applications I've needed to fix after an upgrade to Win 10, were browser add-ons (easily fixed) and Security Suites - as a result I uninstall any Security Suites (with dynamite if necessary) before doing any upgrade.

One other tip, avoid Windows 10 Home, IMO some of the things it leaves out (such as WU customisation and Group Policy editor) are essential - its crazy that users of Windows Home are expected to edit the registry manually, whilst users of Windows Pro get a GUI tool to to the same thing. They should have had just two major versions - Consumer (Pro) and Enterprise.

I won't allow my friends etc to buy computers with Home, if necessary I offer to lend them the money for the upgrade. I usually find retailers will discount an upgrade to Pro if you're prepared to haggle over a few extras - I usually need or want something. I avoid buying online because they normally have take or leave it attitude to pricing.

BR

Last edited by BetterRed; 03-28-2017 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:45 PM   #5
DMcCunney
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The only applications I've needed to fix after an upgrade to Win 10, were browser add-ons (easily fixed) and Security Suites - as a result I uninstall any Security Suites (with dynamite if necessary) before doing any upgrade.
Browser addons are fairly easy.

I'm contrary on Security Suites. I don't run them. I have Windows Defender active here mostly to keep Windows quiet.

Security suites try to protect you against viruses and malware. I view both as infections, and infections have vectors through which they enter the host. Ward the vector, and block the infection.

The primary vector for viruses is email. I use Gmail as my primary account. I read and reply to mail in my browser, and I'm happy to let my mailstore reside on Google's servers. I don't need a local copy of mail. Gmail implements viewers for all common attachment types, so I can look at them without them every actually reaching my machine. And the sort of email that might have malicious content in an attachment is they sort of thing that gets flagged as spam. I used to run Symantec Corporate A/V, courtesy of a corporate site license. The version I was running reached End Of Life and would no longer get signature updates. I no longer worked for that employer, so a new version would be on my dime. The only things it had ever "caught" had been false positives. I asked myself whether I needed A/V, concluded I didn't, and dropped it. It hasn't been missed.

The vector for email is the browser, and most exploits target IE. I run Firefox as my production browser on Windows and Linux, with some add-ons to block malicious content. I don't run "active" anti-malware software. I have the Malware Bytes freeware malware scanner here un Windows, run it occasionally, and it never finds anything. I warded the vector.

Security products assume you will be compromised and try to limit the damage and clean up afterward. I prefer not to get compromised in the first place.

Quote:
One other tip, avoid Windows 10 Home, IMO some of the things it leaves out (such as WU customisation and Group Policy editor) are essential - its crazy that users of Windows Home are expected to edit the registry manually, whilst users of Windows Pro get a GUI tool to to the same thing. They should have had just two major versions - Consumer (Pro) and Enterprise.
Getting Group Policy Editor was a reason for wanting Pro editions of Windows over the Home versions. I've made use of it. One thing I've needed to do was run scripts on startup and shutdown. Startup scripts can be handled with Task Scheduler. Shutdown scripts are problems, because you need a way to trap the shutdown event and run a script when it occurs. Group Policy Editor lets you do that, but Home editions don't have that.

It hasn't been an issue on the SO's laptop which came with Win7 Hopme and upgraded to Win10 Home, but her needs are simple. Mine are more complicated.
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