Of all the hassles that can plague a PC user (and, trust me, there are many), few are as infuriating as random lockups. There you are, typing along, when suddenly everything just freezes. No error message, no blue screen, just a locked-up, unresponsive system. I've been there. I feel your pain.
If you're a Windows 7 (or Windows Server 2008 R2) user, you may be in luck: Microsoft recently issued a hotfix for systems that stop responding randomly.
What causes the problem? Microsoft says it's "a deadlock condition between the Lsass.exe process, the Redirected Drive Buffering Subsystem (Rdbss.sys) driver, and the Winsock kernel." Well, duh! That was going to be my first guess.
The hotfix is available for both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7. (Fun fact: you'll often see these versions represented as "x86" and "x64," respectively.) To get it, go to the appropriate Microsoft Support page, click "View and request hotfix downloads," accept Microsoft's terms, choose the hotfix compatible with your system, and provide your e-mail address. Click "Request hotfix," then check your e-mail inbox for a message containing a link to the download.
I'm not sure why Microsoft makes you jump through these hoops, but, then again, I'm not sure why Microsoft does half the things it does.
Remove the 'Test Mode' Watermark from Windows 7
Isn't it cute the way Windows always finds new ways to surprise and annoy you? Like today, for instance, I booted my system and noticed something new in the lower right corner:
I've been using this licensed and activated version of Windows 7 for nearly a year. What's with the bizarro watermark all of a sudden?
Who knows? I've also been trying to troubleshoot a weird, out-of-the-blue "security warning" message that appears whenever I click a Start Menu program. As I regularly tell my dad when crazy stuff like this happens: "That's Windows for you."
Don't get me wrong--I like Windows 7 a lot. I'm just a little fed up with this kind of thing. And I recently gave up coffee, so I'm a little cranky. Anyway, if you've encountered that same watermark in Windows 7, here's how to get rid of it:
- Click Start and type cmd.
- Right-click cmd and choose Run as Administrator.
- At the command prompt that appears, type bcdedit.exe -set loadoptions ENABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
- Press Enter, then type bcdedit.exe -set TESTSIGNING OFF
- Press Enter, then type exit and press Enter one last time.
- Reboot your PC.
- That should send the watermark packing; it did on my system.
Oh, Windows--what exciting surprises do you have in store for me tomorrow?
Quickly Determine Which Version of Windows You Have
You probably know if your PC is running Windows XP, Vista, or 7--but do you know which version of Windows it is? For example, is it XP Home? Windows 7 Ultimate? And is it the 32-bit or 64-bit variety?
Knowing the answer to the last question is increasingly important these days, as you can't run 64-bit software on a 32-bit OS. Likewise, if you do have 64-bit Windows (often referred to as "x64"), you should always opt for 64-bit versions of your favorite applications (when available).
Windows doesn't paste this information anywhere in plain sight, but it's easy enough to find. In Vista and 7, right-click your Computer icon and choose Properties. Presto: all the information you need in one handy box.
You can also click the Start button, type version, and then click Show which operating system your computer is running.
If you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog. My 411: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.