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Author Topic: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!  (Read 7073 times)

rjbull

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Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« on: July 18, 2011, 10:54:51 AM »
Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!

I run Vista Home Premium, when it will let me.  It has automatic updates.  I get tired of the interminable disk-thrashing and resource usage of Windows updates, which mean I can barely use the laptop while they're downloading, but until recently things have worked properly afterwards.  Last week I was cursed with a toxic update. After rebooting, it wouldn't let me into my user account, saying that it couldn't start a Windows service.  It would, however, let me into the admin account, though without Internet access, again because it couldn't start a (different, I think) Windows service.  Oh, joy.  Lack of Internet access nowadays means no easy way to get help.

Symptoms:
Quote
Access violation at address 00723159 in module "oauie.exe."  Write of address 00000050.

WiFi said
Quote
Connection status: Unknown.  The dependency service or group failed to start.
Tried Diagnose > Windows Wireless Service is not running on this computer > Start Wireless Service > Windows cannot resolve this problem.  Please contact your network administrator or ISP.
Well, the admin is me.  It's my own machine.  This is Vista Home Premium, after all.

From the admin account, a bubble appeared from the tray:
Quote
Windows could not connect to the System Event Notification Service.  This problem prevents limited access users from logging on to the system.  As an administrative user, you can review the System Event Log for details about why the service did not respond.
Of course, being Windows, it doesn't tell you the exact name of the log, nor its location.
         

I didn't know what to do.  My first glum thought was to restore from a disk image, glum because I knew the image would be out of date, and I would lose things.  So I set out to back up as much data as possible to a removable drive, knowing most existing backups would be at least slightly out of date.  Windows UAC keeps accounts in sealed boxes, so even though I could load SynchBack Pro, it behaved as a new unregistered program and I couldn't quickly work out how if at all to pick up its configuration. Likewise with TheBat!, which was serious because that's my e-mail. I copied over all data files I could think of using Total Commander, which has a very nice directory synchronization feature. Windows doesn't make this easy because data seems scattered all over the place. Then I wanted to check what programs I'd installed since last disk image, so looked in Total Uninstall to see if it could make a simple list.  It can, but, I also found it had a menu entry, System restore. Ah-haaah... I'd forgotten that, never having had to use it before. So, with little to lose, I tried it, rolling back the latest update, and after rebooting, everything was back to normal.

My first act then was to get out the external drive and make a new disk image.  I found the last one I had was six months old, and my data backups were a month or two old as well.  Mea culpa...  Main point arising: take mouser's constantly reiterated advice to heart - BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!

Now, a day later, the system has downloaded what are presumably the same poisonous updates, because it's done the same thing again. Once more I've had my time wasted on endless downloading, once more I've had to roll the system back, and I feel condemned to a Sisyphean treadmill of repeating the process.

Please can DC help with help on the following?

  • Can anyone please recommend a good disaster recovery pocket book?  Something small, to be consulted by fuming people in a hurry, maybe a compilation of trouble-shooting charts, not some massive and pricey tombstone?
  • How do I turn off automatic updates? 
  • If you're in an admin account, is there a way to run a program as if you were the user, so you get access to the user account's configuration settings and data? Sort of the inverse of elevating from user to admin?
  • Who can I complain to or warn?
  • And will they listen?
  • Given Microsoft's near-monopoly status, and the unimaginable amounts of money it makes, why aren't its products better?  <sigh>

More disk-thrashing...  must be downloading the Update from Hell again...

Stoic Joker

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2011, 11:14:56 AM »
Set the updates to let me decide if/when to install updates. Then you can run the updates manually and select (or de-select) what you want installed.

Then install the new batch of updates one at a time, til you find the bad one. When you find the bad one, pull it back out, and select hide this update in the WU list settings.

kyrathaba

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2011, 12:00:10 PM »
+1 to what Stoic Joker said.

Incidentally, I've had good luck doing simple file/dir mirroring or full backups using FBackup4 (no affiliation, and I use the free version). +1 to what Stoic Joker said.

Incidentally, I've had good luck doing simple file/dir mirroring or full backups using FBackup4 (no affiliation, and I use the free version).


Curt

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2011, 01:57:13 PM »
Start > Control Panel > Windows Update > (in left margin:) "change settings"

cyberdiva

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2011, 02:30:44 PM »
I second/third/fourth the recommendation that you change your Windows Updates settings from Automatic to Let Me Decide.  But that by itself may not be sufficient, since many of us don't know how to tell whether or not an Update will turn out to be the Update from Hell.  That's one reason I subscribe to Windows Secrets, a weekly online newsletter with columns by several knowledgeable people.  It comes in both a paid and a free version, and I'm under the impression that the paid version asks you to pay what you feel you can/want to (but I could be misremembering).  I get the paid version.  In it, and perhaps in the free version as well, there's a column devoted to providing guidance about Windows Updates.  I hold off installing any until I've read that week's edition of Windows Secrets.  There's also a free Windows Secrets forum where all things having to do with Windows are discussed.  I have found it helpful on occasion.  However, what I really value is the weekly Windows Secrets newsletter. 

cyberdiva

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2011, 02:39:37 PM »
One more thing.  I don't know of any good disaster recovery book, but I highly recommend frequent backups and setting system restore points.  I know there are some folks on this forum who are less enthusiastic about restore points, but for me they've been a lifesaver many times.  I tend to set a restore point any time I'm going to do anything about which I'm uneasy, whether it's installing a piece of software, messing with the Registry, or even accepting Windows Updates, etc. (yes, I know that Windows supposedly sets restore points when it installs updates, but I want the restore point to return to even before the updates are downloaded).

JavaJones

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 03:24:27 PM »
Usually if you just wait a few days or a week before installing new updates, the Interwebs will tell you if there are any major problems with it. Personally I think it's ok to wait a few days/week on updates, despite them fixing security vulnerabilities. And it can save you from trouble like this.

- Oshyan

Stoic Joker

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2011, 03:39:38 PM »
Usually if you just wait a few days or a week before installing new updates, the Interwebs will tell you if there are any major problems with it. Personally I think it's ok to wait a few days/week on updates, despite them fixing security vulnerabilities. And it can save you from trouble like this.

Generally speaking, yes, I do this also. Primarily as a safety measure for the managed client networks. As pushing a bad patch to hundreds of machines at multiple disparate locations is a level of sucks that I very much wish to avoid experiencing :).

Just don't lag more than a week, especially if the patch is critical or for a hot topic exploit. 3 days is a good safety buffer I think.

J-Mac

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2011, 09:00:36 PM »
The Windows Secrets Newsletter has a section authored by Susan Bradley on nothing but MS Patches. She reports on all new patch releases and recommends to install, wait, or skip each patch as noted. Her column is also shown as a thread in the Windows Secrets Lounge, which is their forum. The latest patch-watch column thread is here: http://windowssecrets.com/forums/showthread.php/139366-Office-File-Validation-patch-leads-to-problems

I always wait and then read her column, as well as ComputerWorld and a few other sites to see if any patches are causing problems and I only install patches after a time when there doesn’t seem to be any notable issues.

Jim

gonetomorrow

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 03:26:58 PM »
Full empathy for your nightmare.  I don't know if this works for Vista, perhaps the coder gurus here do, but
http://windowssecret...structive-reinstall/
might be worth a read.

rjbull

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2011, 03:29:29 PM »
The story, continued:

Now having a working PC again, I tried Stoic Joker's idea of testing the updates one by one.  I got into a mess...  I uninstalled at least one update using Uninstall rather than going back to a restore point.  The same problems as before occurred, only now I didn't seem to have a restore point I could go back to, to correct things.  So I was left with having to restore a disk image.  This was heart-in-mouth, because I hadn't done it before, and because TeraByte Image for DOS (IFD) reported an error.  I had to say, just keep going, and eventually got things back as they were.  Of course now I'm worried that the error will come back to bite me.  IFD didn't say what kind of error.

I'm now left with a dilemma.  If I don't install (some of) the updates, I may have a security hole.  If I do install them, I have a high risk of Windows destroying itself.  Not a happy choice, is it?  If a similar disaster happens again, I might consider starting from scratch with a shrink-wrapped copy of Win7.  No guarantee of avoiding another Update from Hell, but the OS is generally said to be better, so may as well get that benefit.  But reinstalling all those programs and data would not be fun.

While the main laptop has been waiting attention, I got a quick look at the Web with my old Win98 laptop, but it's getting long in the tooth.  Or rather, the OS is.  I'd guess the hardware is still good for a while.  So I need to think about some kind of backup machine for e-mail and Web stuff, maybe a netbook or other cheap laptop.

I subscribed to the Windows Secrets newsletter.  I searched their archive but couldn't immediately see any comments on the updates I think might have been responsible.  I was disappointed that the first one didn't come as an e-mail newsletter rather than a link to a Web page, especially as it doesn't even contain a contents list or synopsis, other than the title.  I'd rather minimize the effort of checking the integrity of updates, something we should be able to take for granted.

Thanks for all the suggestions.  Wouldn't it be nice if we had computers that just worked...

cyberdiva

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2011, 03:59:39 PM »
I agree that it's not always easy to find the update information you need from Windows Secrets, especially if you're trying to find it after a while rather than at the time the updates were first issued.  But perhaps if you post the KB numbers of the updates you've got questions about, some of the folks here might be able to provide help. 


Curt

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2011, 04:52:12 PM »
I don't understand why you keep updating Vista, it is not being updated with new features or anything really important. If you security programs are good, you need not to update Vista at all.

rjbull

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2011, 02:39:38 PM »
I don't understand why you keep updating Vista, it is not being updated with new features or anything really important. If you security programs are good, you need not to update Vista at all.

I've been wondering myself, as I run Online Armor firewall with HIPS, and F-Prot AV. 

There's slightly more to the updates, as can be seen from the screenshot of what Vista thinks I should install.  E.g., IE 9.  I'm somewhat surprised by the update system, as I've already hidden a security update for PowerPoint 2007, that Vista had failed repeatedly to install.  That's probably because I don't have 2007 (that I know of...) as I have Office 2010.  Yet, Vista doesn't automatically mark SP1 for Office 2010.

I've marked the two updates that I think gave me problems.  Suppose I ought to look for any reports from anyone else...

cyberdiva

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2011, 06:02:50 PM »
I haven't been able to find out anything about the second one you list, but the first one, KB2507938, has been on Windows Secrets' Install list since mid-July.  Hope that helps.

Curt

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2011, 06:10:17 PM »
Quote
kb 2507938 = Vulnerabilities in Windows CSRSS could allow elevation of privilege

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2507938

Quote
kb 2532531 = Description of the update for Bluetooth Stack for Windows 7 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2532531

Known issues with this security update

Affected Windows Vista SP1 systems that are upgraded to Windows Vista SP2

Consider the following scenario. You are running a system that was upgraded from Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to Windows Vista Service Pack 2. Whether or not the system has update 942567 installed, the system will have support for Bluetooth 2.1 technology and is affected by this vulnerability. Therefore, you must install this security update.

For more information about update 942567, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
942567  Description of the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless

BTW, others are also having problems with kb 2532531:


Quote
Cannot install updates (KB2529073 &) KB 2532531 for Windows 7 - Microsoft Answers

Curt

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2011, 06:14:00 PM »
btw: Because of this thread I have now updated my Vista for the first time since October 2010. Much to my surprise Firefox is now faster. Go figure!

rjbull

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2011, 02:33:34 PM »
I haven't been able to find out anything about the second one you list, but the first one, KB2507938, has been on Windows Secrets' Install list since mid-July.  Hope that helps.
Does being on the Windows Secrets list mean they consider it in quarantine?  They're recommending you defer installation until it's status is clearer?

Turns out there's a thread on some of the same updates in the Windows Secrets forum - Latest batch of Vista updates failed to install.

Looks like I'm going to have to get to know Windows Secrets forums  :(

cyberdiva

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Re: Windows Update disaster - recovery help, please!
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2011, 09:12:48 AM »
Does being on the Windows Secrets list mean they consider it in quarantine?  They're recommending you defer installation until it's status is clearer?

The Windows Secrets list includes safe updates as well as doubtful ones.  I think they have five kinds of recommendations: SKIP - patch not needed; HOLD - do not install until its problems are resolved; WAIT - hold off temporarily until the patch is tested; OPTIONAL - not critical, use if wanted; and INSTALL - OK to apply.

I'm sorry I didn't see the thread you found.  I print out the patch list when it appears, and I just referred to that when I responded to your query.  And yes, I've found the Windows Secrets forum to be quite helpful, though as with any forum, some contributors are more knowledgeable/reliable than others.  :)