Forcing an upgrade to Windows 10 Anniversary Update

There remain people who advise those on Windows 7 or 8.x to hold fire on upgrading to Windows 10. Now that the free upgrade no longer is available, that advice may hold more weight than it did. Even so, there are those among us who jumped ship who do not mind having the latest versions of things at no monetary cost to see what is available and I must admit to being one of those.

After all, I do have a virtual machine with a pre-release version of the next update to Windows 10 installed on there to see what might be coming our way and to get a sense of what changes that may bring so that I am ready for those. Otherwise, I usually am happy to wait but I noticed that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update only came to my HP Pavilion dm4 laptop and not other machines with Windows 10 installed so I started to wonder why there was a lag when it came to automatic upgrades.

So that these things do not arrive when it is least convenient, I took advantage of a manual method in order to choose my timing. This did not involve installation from a disk image but was in-situ. The first part of the process is standard enough in that the Settings app was started and the Update & security item chosen. That dropped me onto the Windows Update and I first clicked on the Check for updates button to see what would happen. When nothing came of that, the Learn more link was clicked to bring me onto part of the Microsoft support website where I found that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update installer could be downloaded so I duly did just that.

Running it produced a screen asking whether or not I wanted to proceed. Since I wanted to go ahead, the appropriate button was clicked and the machine left alone until the process complete. Because the installer purely is a facilitator, the first stage is to download the rest of the files needed and that will take a while on any connection. Once downloading was completed, the actual process of installation commenced with several restarts before a log-in screen was again on offer. On logging in to the machine, the last part of the process started.

The process took quite a while but seemingly worked without a hitch. If there was anything that I needed to do, it was the re-installation of VirtualBox Guest Additions to restore access to shared folders as well as dealing with a self-inflicted irritation. Otherwise, I have found that previously installed software worked as expected and no file has been missed. Waiting a while may have had its advantages too because initial issues with the Anniversary Update will have been addressed but it is best not to leave it too long or you could have the feeling of being forgotten. A happy balance needs striking.

Dealing with an “Your insider preview build settings need attention” message in Windows 10 Settings

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Having now upgraded all my Windows 10 machines to the Anniversary Update edition without much in the way of upheaval, I came across the following message on one of them:

Your insider preview build settings need attention. Go to Windows Insider Programme to fix this.

It appeared on the Update screen of the Settings application and I believe that I may have triggered it by letting foolish curiosity take me to the Windows Insider Programme screen. Returning there offered no way of resolving the issue so I had to try the registry editing tip that I discovered elsewhere on the web. Naturally, the creation of a System Restore Point before proceeding with changes to the Windows Registry is advised.

Typing REGEDIT into Cortana brings up a clickable link to the Registry Editor. Having clicked on this, I then clicked on the Yes button on the ensuing dialogue box that Windows 10 throws up every time you make a system change such as installing new software. With the Registry Editor opened, I made my way to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsSelfHost\UI\Strings

Once there, I deleted every entry that mentioned “Insider” or “Windows Insider” to leave only two afterwards: “(Default)”, “UnknownErrorDialogValues”. That resolved the issue and I now intend to stay away from the Windows Insider Programme screen in Settings so that the message never appears again.

Getting rid of Windows 10 notifications about disabling start-up applications

On several Windows 10 machines, I have been seeing messages appearing in its Action Centre pane with the heading Disable apps to help improve performance. It appeared again recently so I decided to look further into the matter.

What I found was that the solution first involves opening up Control Panel and that takes a little finding in Windows 10. You could use Cortana to get to it or right clicking on the Start Menu and left clicking on the Control Panel menu. Using the Windows key + X will produce the same menu and choosing the same entry will have the same effect.

Once Control Panel is open, it makes life a little easier if you change to the Large icons view using the drop-down menu under the Search Control Panel box on the right hand side. Then, what you need to do is click on the Security and Maintenance icon.

Once in that Security and Maintenance section, you are presented with two subheadings, one for Security and one for Maintenance. So long as you have not dismissed the message in the action centre, you will see a corresponding entry under the Maintenance section. At the bottom of that entry, there will be a link that turns off these messages permanently and clicking on this will have the desired effect.

Compressing a VirtualBox VDI file for a Windows guest running on a Linux Host

Recently, I had a situation where my the VDI files for my Windows 10 virtual machine expanded in size all of a sudden and I needed to reduce them. My downloading maps for use with Routebuddy may have been the cause so I moved the ISO installation files onto the underlying Linux Mint drives. With that space, I then set to uncovering how to compact the virtual disk file and the Sysinternals sdelete tool was recommend for clearing unused space. After downloading, I set it to work in a Powershell session running on the guest operating system from its directory using the following command:

./sdelete -z [drive letter designation; E: is an example]

From the command prompt, the following should do:

sdelete -z [drive letter designation; E: is an example]

Once, that had completed, I shut down the VM and executed a command like the following from a bash terminal session:

vboxmanage modifyhd [file location/file name].vdi --compact

Where there was space to release, VDI files were reduced in size to return more disk space. More could be done so I will look into the Windows 10 drives to see what else needs to be moved out of them.

Killing Windows processes from the command line

During my days at work, I often hear about the need to restart a server because something has gone awry with it. This makes me wonder if you can kill processes from the command line like you do in Linux and UNIX. A recent need to reset Windows Update on a Windows 10 machine gave me enough reason to answer the question.

Because I already knew the names of the services, I had no need to look at the Services tab in the Task Manager like you otherwise would. Then, it was a matter of opening up a command line session with Administrator privileges and issuing a command like the following (replacing [service name] with the name of the service):

sc queryex [service name]

From the output of the above command, you can find the process identifier, or PID. With that information, you can execute a command like the following in the same command line session (replacing [PID] with the actual numeric value of the PID):

taskkill /f /pid [PID]

After the above, the process no longer exists and the service can be restarted. With any system, you need to find the service that is stuck in order to kill it but that would be the subject of another posting. What I have not got to testing is whether these work in PowerShell since I used them with the legacy command line instead. Along with processes belonging to software applications (think Word, Excel, Firefox, etc.), that may be something else to try should the occasion arise.