I had an Acer Aspire V3-772G-9829. In my hardware customization, I had replaced the stock hard disk drive (HDD) and had added a solid state drive (SSD). Before replacing the HDD, I had made a drive image of the virgin Windows 8 installation, just in case; but there was no prior installation of Windows 8 or anything else on these new replacement drives. So now it was time to install Windows 7 on that empty SSD, which would reportedly cut down on the wait time whenever I booted Windows.
For this process, I referred back to my previous post on configuring a Windows 7 laptop, and to one or two of the earlier configuration posts it cited. In a later post, I would develop another and in some ways simpler approach to the first sections that follow, regarding partitioning and drivers.
My configuration process began with drive partitioning. I planned to devote the entire 120GB SSD to Windows drive C, but I wanted to divide the 1TB HDD into several partitions. (Rationales and details for this and other modifications are provided in that previous post.) To partition the drive, I used a YUMI USB drive to boot Partition Wizard. (The hardware customization post describes how I got the Acer to boot from the USB drive. Alternately, I could have used a multiboot DVD.) I wound up with four partitions on the HDD: one for my regular workspace (DATA), one to hold work products and archives that would change infrequently and therefore would not require daily backup (COLDSTORAGE), one for my customized Start Menu and other installation and program files (INSTALL), and one for system backups, caches, a pagefile, and other miscellany (BACKROOM).
I would use and need items found in the INSTALL and BACKROOM partitions during the Windows 7 installation and customization; therefore I copied materials into those two partitions from an external USB drive as soon as I finished the partitioning. Later, along the way, I ran TrueCrypt Portable from the INSTALL drive, encrypted the DATA and COLDSTORAGE partitions, and then copied the data into those from the external USB drive. Encryption was optional; I could have just copied the data into unprotected partitions. Encryption would protect my data against the scenarios where someone would steal my laptop, remove the hard drive, and connect it to another machine, or would simply bypass the Windows password. TrueCrypt would hopefully prevent the thief from gaining access to my data. The tradeoff was that I would have to start TrueCrypt (set to start on bootup, on my machine) and enter a password to gain access to the data partitions myself. So I would not encrypt partitions that my system and I would need each time the machine started (i.e., PROGRAMS (C), INSTALL, and BACKROOM). Another post provides further discussion of the option of encrypting the PROGRAMS partition.
I did not enable compression on any partitions that I would be encrypting; reports indicated that this would be counterproductive. I went to Start > Search > diskmgmt.msc and changed drive letters as desired. (Note: in this post, future references to programs like “diskmgmt.msc” will not mention that I was able to run them by going to Start > Search > CMD and then typing them at the command prompt in the CMD box.)
One of the Amazon comments advised changing BIOS to disable Fast Boot and Secure Boot, to enable F12 boot menu, and to switch Boot Mode from UEFI to Legacy. Anticipating another suggestion, I had already formatted the new HDD as MBR rather than GPT, and SATA mode was set to AHCI. (See the hardware customization post for more info.)
Windows 7 Installation, Drivers, and Updates: First Try
I was planning to install Windows 7 from the YUMI drive, but it encountered an error that I didn’t want to take time to fix now, so I installed from the DVD instead. Since mine was an upgrade rather than full version of Win7, I had to start by installing my old copy of Windows XP first. (Later, I found a workaround for that.) The attempt to install Windows XP was not straightforward: the CD repeatedly crashed with BSODs showing a 7B stop error code. Previous efforts to resolve that error code in another context had been unsuccessful. I solved it, this time, by temporarily changing SATA Mode from AHCI to IDE in the BIOS. Then I installed Windows 7 from DVD. Some said I should have disconnected all drives other than the target for drive C when installing Windows, so as to keep it from installing random files in various locations, and also to prevent accidental deletion or overwriting of data partitions.
I understood, from reviews and questions posted on Amazon, that Acer did not supply Win7 drivers, but that the provided Win8 drivers would work for the most part. On another computer, I downloaded the 64-bit Windows 8.1 drivers from the Acer website. I unzipped them, put them onto a MicroSD card, and plugged it into the front left edge of the Acer. Windows did not seem to recognize it. I guessed the reason was that I had not yet installed the driver. I tried again, using a USB drive. That worked. There were duplicative drivers – for both Atheros and Broadcom LAN and Bluetooth hardware, for example – and I couldn’t find a system information utility that would tell me which I had, so I just installed them all. In doing so, I found that the Broadcom Bluetooth and WLAN drivers claimed to be incompatible with Windows 7 x64, so apparently my machine was using Atheros hardware.
The Acer restarted automatically as part of the process of installing the Intel RST driver. When it did so, I discovered that Windows 7 would not boot until I had removed USB drives, even if they were nonbootable. So I hit F2 during bootup and changed the boot order. I would henceforth have to hit F12 to get the system to boot from a USB drive if the SSD was bootable.
The NVIDIA VGA Graphics Driver 326.49 gave me an error message: “NVIDIA Installer cannot continue. You must install an Intel driver first.” I ignored that for the moment and finished installing the other drivers. I guessed that, among the many updates that would soon be arriving on this Acer via Windows Update, there might be one that would address the Intel driver issue. I was able to go online, now that I had installed the Atheros wireless driver. (A bubble error message told me that the Atheros Bluetooth driver did not install successfully. This was consistent with other reports by people who could not get Bluetooth to work on this machine.)
Next, I installed Windows updates. First, it was Start > Control Panel > View by small icons > Windows Update. I had already indicated, during setup, that I did not want automatic updating, because sometimes Win7 would interrupt work and even reboot the computer at the worst possible time. So now I selected “Let me choose my settings” and made an appropriate choice. I went into Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Connect to a network. Now the Updates window showed me more than 130 updates, plus three dozen optional language packs that I mass-selected, right-clicked, and said Hide. I kept rebooting as needed and rechecking for Windows Updates until there were none left.
While installing updates, I suddenly found that the Acer would not connect with the Internet. Evidently an update had screwed things up. The Acer wanted me to plug in the network cable, and that (i.e., a wired connection) was all the Windows troubleshooter could detect. It was as though the wireless adapter had vanished. I went into Control Panel > Device Manager. I saw a number of items with yellow circles and exclamation marks. I right-clicked and uninstalled them all, and then rebooted. This did not solve the problem: they and their exclamation marks were back, and the Network and Sharing Center was still telling me, “No connections are available,” when my other machine told me that there were lots of wireless connections nearby. I tried reinstalling the Atheros WLAN driver (actually, I chose its Repair option). (While I was in Device Manager, under Network Adapters, to preserve power when on battery, I also disabled Bluetooth entries, which I did not intend to use, and likewise under Bluetooth Radios.)
These steps still failed to solve the wireless problem. I did the Device Manager thing again, deleting the exclamation mark items, but this time I then clicked Action > Scan for hardware changes, and then rebooted. I did it this way, this second time around, because it seemed to be a step that had solved the problem for others. But the scan made no difference. Someone suggested that the power settings could be an issue, and that was fine; I did plan to revise them at some point, and now was as good a time as any. So I went into Control Panel > Power Options and changed the advanced power settings for the Balanced Plan. Basically, when the thing was on AC power, I wanted it to be running full-bore, no restrictions. This included changing the Wireless Adapter Setting to Maximum Performance. But it was already there. So that wasn’t the explanation for the current “No connections” problem.
In Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change adapter settings, I saw (as I should have expected) that there was no entry for the wireless adapter. The system was not seeing it. That sounded like a driver failure. In Device Manager > Other Devices > Network Controller > right-click > Properties, I saw this: “The drivers for this device are not installed.” I assumed the Network Controller was in the Other Devices section (rather than the Network Adapters section) because Device Manager could not figure out what it was.
I tried a System Restore, to get the machine back to a point where the wireless adapter had been working, on the theory that some Windows Update had caused the problem. To get into System Restore, I used Start > Search > SystemPropertiesProtection.exe. I saw that the machine was not saving many restore points. This was a critical problem. The System Protection > Configure option showed me that the system was allowing too little space for restore points, and was also attempting to protect other partitions in addition to drive C. I changed the settings, so that I would have more restore points in the future, and then I restored back to the earliest available restore point, which was just before installing Windows 7 Service Pack 1. It took a while to restore to that point. Maybe I should have instead just tried rolling back the driver in the Network Control Properties dialog. PA Bear MS MVP said that this was actually the better way to undo a bad update – that using System Restore could leave the system messed up. Apparently System Restore would not necessarily roll back all of the files that might have been affected by an update.
Anyway, when the System Restore was done, I created a restore point and then tried Windows Update again. I was indeed able to go online now. This time, I took the updates just a few at a time, even though there were about 15 of them; I rebooted after each set of updates, and postponed the big Service Pack update for last. I made another System Restore point partway through, just in case. This procedure established that the wireless-killing culprit was indeed the Service Pack. Perversely, despite my changes to the System Restore configuration, the Service Pack installation had somehow eliminated all other restore points. Ideally, I would have made another Acronis backup before this. Fortunately, the one system restore point was all I needed: I was once again able to restore the system to the time immediately before the Service Pack installation. But now the system was a little screwed-up. An attempt to take a look at the System Restore situation gave me an error:
There was an unexpected error on the property page:
The Volume Shadow Copy service used by System Restore is not working.
In addition, the Windows Update link from Control Panel was unresponsive. I tried shutting down the system for 30 seconds, to clear its RAM. That did not help. A search led to a thread suggesting Start > search for Services > right-click > Run as administrator. That did not work. Another suggestion: boot from the Windows 7 DVD and choose Repair. That did not work per se, but it did remind me that System Restore is available from the booted DVD and also from Safe Mode (F8 pressed repeatedly at bootup). I tried System Restore here, reverting again to the system state before the Service Pack installation. But I got this: “An unspecified error occurred during System Restore.” On reboot, I tried SFC /SCANNOW, but I got an error indicating that I had to be an administrator. I had assumed I was, but had not checked.
So my Windows installation was evidently completely screwed. I did not have to redo the Windows XP installation, but I did have to start over with the Windows 7 DVD. When it came time for the updates, I did a few things differently. The following section describes the steps I took, second time around, starting with certain Control Panel options.
Second Try: Essential Control Panel Settings
This time, after reinstalling from the Windows 7 DVD, I changed certain Control Panel items. I was not interested in devoting a lot of time to final changes, lest the whole effort go down the tubes again, but a few changes seemed advisable. I was making these changes under my default login, which was Ray (Administrator); this could be verified in Control Panel >User Accounts. (Note that all Control Panel references here are to the items that appear when choosing the Small Icons option at the upper right corner of the Control Panel window.) The sequence I used was as follows:
- System > System Protection > drive C only; 20GB of space. Create a restore point.
- While the System Properties is still open (or back at Control Panel > System Protection), go to Hardware tab > Device installation settings > Yes, do this automatically.
- User Accounts > Change User Account Control Settings > Never notify.
- Display > Adjust resolution > 1920 x 1080.
- Mouse > Pointer options > turn off Enhance pointer precision, in a bid to keep the mouse from jumping around while typing. (Note a separate post examining this problem in further detail as needed for this Acer.) Later, after I sold the laptop, I wondered whether this could also be accomplished by going into Device Manager and disabling the touchpad.
Next, I reinstalled the drivers I had downloaded from the Acer website (above). I still had the same yellow exclamation marks in Control Panel > Device Manager, but this time I tried right-click > Update driver software > Search automatically. This had limited success: at least it got the Ethernet connection working; maybe having the Ethernet cable connected, this time around, was part of the solution. (I did not take the option to set up a home network.) Once again, uninstalling the remaining problem items in Device Manager and rebooting did not solve anything: they came right back in the same problematic condition.
After installing the drivers, I made a System Restore point. Then I went into Windows Update. To go online, I had to disconnect the Ethernet cable; otherwise, the wireless would not work. I downloaded and reinstalled the now-familiar list of 138 important Windows updates. After rebooting, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) was newly visible as an update. I continued with all other available updates except SP1. I made a drive image before attempting that. I used Acronis True Image Home, but Macrium Reflect would have been a good free alternative. (Later, I heard good things about AOMEI Backupper.) The target storage place for the backup was the BACKROOM partition.
A search indicated that others had had the same problem of SP1 killing Internet connectivity. There was the option of not installing it. Some suggested running SFC /SCANNOW (via Start > Search > CMD) before installing SP1; I did that. I verified that I had a recent System Restore point, and then proceeded with the SP1 update. But this time, after rebooting, I had Internet access. So it was not necessary to try Jacob Taylor’s suggestion, typing this at the command prompt (as administrator):
netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled
and if that failed, typing this:
netsh int tcp set heuristics disabled
Another approach I would have tried, if SP1 had killed Internet connectivity again, would have been Windows Update > View Update History > Installed Updates > select updates included in SP1 > Uninstall. The concept there was evidently that problems arose from the attempt to reinstall updates (in SP1) that had already been installed in other Windows updates, so I would want to let SP1 have first crack at everything. Not sure how that would have worked out. Anyway, a look at System Restore indicated that, this time, SP1 had not wiped out all but one of the prior System Restore points; perhaps the persistence of multiple restore points would be an indicator of whether the SP1 installation had gone well. My guess was that running SFC /SCANNOW before the SP1 update had materially improved the odds of success in installing SP1.
Now that SP1 was installed, I faced another long list of Windows updates, so I continued the process of updating and rebooting as needed. The next issue involved Security Update KB2862330. Like others, I found that, after installing it, my USB mouse no longer worked. Some advised not even installing it. I seemed to be getting pretty well caught up on the updates, so before fooling with KB2862330, I decided to make another Acronis drive image. (Note that doing so entailed a reboot, which apparently could improve the odds of a successful KB2862330 installation.) Then I followed advice interpreted from 1 2 3 sources: run SFC /SCANNOW again, disconnect the mouse and other nonessential USB devices, download and run KB2862330, power the system down and leave it off for 30 seconds, start it up, power it down and wait again, plug in the USB mouse, and restart again. This time, the mouse worked, so evidently some of those steps had made a difference. I had seen reports that KB2862330 would insist upon being installed after already being installed once, so I looked at Windows Update. It said there were no more updates. It seemed I had successfully passed the shoals of KB2862330. It would evidently not be necessary to hide KB2862330 in Windows Updates. This was a better point at which to make an Acronis backup for long-term protection, so I did, holding the previous one in reserve for a few days just in case.
I had already installed the drivers downloaded from Acer’s site, but that had left some driver issues unresolved (above). A look at Device Manager told me that the updating process did not resolve the driver issues there. I had seen suggestions that it was better, anyway, to download drivers directly from the manufacturer’s website rather than through Windows Update. As before, I had four devices with driver issues: 3D Video Controller, SM Bus Controller, Universal Serial Bus (USB) Controller, and High Definition Audio Device, and I also had that earlier failure to install the NVIDIA graphics driver pending an Intel driver. I decided to start with Intel’s Driver Update Utility. There, I clicked “Check your system for updates.” I hadn’t installed any other web browsers; using Internet Explorer, I had to click a button at the bottom to allow the system to install an add-on from Husdawg LLC. This caused Internet Explorer to crash. I tried again; it crashed again.
While I had Internet Explorer (IE) open, I configured it. First, I opened each desired homepage in a separate tab. In other words, if I wanted IE to open with Hotmail in one tab and LiveJournal in another, then now was the time to open those tabs and log in to each as needed. Then I went into Tools (i.e., the gear icon) > Internet Options > General tab > Use current, Start with tabs from the last session. Then I made some other adjustments that had been useful for me personally. First, I went to Security tab > Trusted Sites > Custom Level > Scripting section (near the end of the list) > Allow programmatic clipboard access > Enable. In that same list, in the Miscellaneous section, about halfway down, I set “Display Mixed Content” to Enable. I saved and closed the options dialog. I navigated to YouTube.com and played a video, so as to trigger the process of installing Adobe Flash Player if needed. (I would later do the same for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.) I closed those options and went back to Tools > Manage Add-ons > Spelling Correction (on the left side) > English (United States) > uncheck “Enable spelling correction.”
Since Internet Explorer was crashing, I decided to install Google Chrome. I went into Chrome’s settings and set up Sync. This brought over everything, including extensions, from my previous Chrome installation on the other computer, so there was not much additional customizing to do. Installing Chrome entailed installing Java, at least for purposes of running the Intel Update Utility. But it didn’t install properly, even when I tried the full JRE version, or at least Intel’s Driver Update Utility didn’t run at first. But eventually Java did install. I tried again on Intel’s Driver Update Utility, and this time also tried Intel’s Identify Your Product utility. That was unsuccessful. Hours later, both it and the Driver Update Utility still said, “Analyzing computer.”
Apparently I was going to have to work through these driver issues manually. I ran PC Wizard to see what hardware I had installed. It may not have been the best choice – it was nonportable and ad-supported, and I could see right away that it got my RAM wrong, and when I uninstalled it I got a message that some parts of it could not be removed. I probably should have used something like Revo Uninstaller to remove it. I did a System Restore and then tried again with System Information for Windows (SIW) – but now I saw that its current version was no longer freeware. Likewise AIDA. Belarc Advisor was a possibility, but now I realized: why not just use the built-in Windows 7 system information tool, MSINFO32.EXE (a/k/a Systeminfo)?
Within the MSINFO32 Components section, I saw two different USB devices labeled as “controller,” which was the item at issue in Device Manager. Both had the same vendor ID number: VEN_8086. Both had the same device number: DEV_8C26. In fact, both also had the same subsystem number (SUBSYS_07811025) and hardware revision number (REV_04). I entered the vendor number into the PCIDatabase; it confirmed that the USB controller was an Intel product. It produced nothing for device number 8C26, but the entries under Intel were all preceded by 0x, so I looked for 0x8C26. No joy there either. Someone said that an easy way to get driver information was to run the Linux command LSHW. I held off on that for the moment. A Google search led to an Awdit page suggesting that the device in question was the Intel 8 Series/C220 Series USB EHCI #1 – 8C26. A search for that led in random directions, eventually bringing me around to the thought that evidently I could download from Softpedia something (with a 3.8 out of 5 stars rating) called the Intel Driver Update Utility, supposedly produced by Intel. When I installed it, Windows showed Husdawg as its publisher, and under the circumstances that seemed relatively legitimate. The installer called it the System Requirements Lab, and after a moment said, “A later version is already installed.” I didn’t see anything of the sort, but my Start Menu did have a shortcut for the Intel Control Center, so I tried that. It seemed to be a dead end. I saw that one user on the Amazon website for this laptop said s/he had gotten USB 3.0 drivers from some unspecified location on the Intel website; I just didn’t know where.
Along the way, an article led me to the tangential insight that my installed drivers were probably stored in C:\DRIVERSWINUSB3.0DriversWin7x64. Back at the Intel Download Center, I was having a hard time knowing what I would manually search for. The Acer user manual provided no specifications for the laptop, but a search led to indications that I might be seeking drivers for the Intel HM86 Express chipset. That was not an option in Intel’s Find by Category drop-down menus, and a search for HM86 within that webpage found nothing. An Intel page confirmed that the HM86 chipset provided “integrated USB 3.0” and CPU support. The page didn’t provide a link to the driver. I found a relevant discussion and posted a question. A link offered in that discussion led to internal Intel search results in which I found links to an INF Update Utility that looked like it might be relevant. I downloaded and ran the file (infinst_autol.exe, version 22.214.171.1246). After running, it wanted to reboot the system.
Before rebooting, I looked at Device Manager. Oddly, the USB problem was still there, but the SM Bus Controller problem was gone. Maybe the USB problem would be gone, too, after reboot. But no, it wasn’t. I seemed to have solved the wrong problem. My guess – confirmed by my old copy of SIW – was that the specific problem had to do with USB 3.0 support. The user manual (p. 27) said, “USB 3.0 compatible ports are blue.” Specifically, the tab inside the USB connector was blue. This applied only to the two ports on the left side of the Acer. They were working – I was intermittently using all four USB ports throughout this effort – but I wasn’t trying to use them for USB 3.0. Indeed, I wasn’t sure I had any USB 3.0 devices.
As another incidental insight, I found my way to MSINFO32 > Components > Problem Devices, which I had not previously recognized as the most direct route to what I was looking for. I thought maybe I could try to get drivers by focusing on the motherboard, but SIW said it was an Acer VA70_HW, and I found nothing for that on the Acer website.
My websurfing repeatedly led to the Driver-Lap list of downloadable drivers. I decided to take a chance: along with older versions of drivers I had gotten from the Acer website (above), they had several drivers I did not yet have: AHCI, iAMT, Atheros LAN, Alps Touchpad, USB, and Intel VGA. I tried installing the USB driver. I got an error: “This computer does not meet the minimum requirements for installing the software.” This did not inspire confidence in the other drivers from that Driver-Lap website. A search led to the Intel USB 3.0 eXtensible Host Controller Driver. I got the same error when I tried that. It appeared that neither of these must have been the right driver. Inspired by another thread, in Device Manager I did a right-click > Uninstall on that problematic USB item and also on each Root Hub item in Universal Serial Bus Controllers. This accomplished nothing; they all came back on reboot. A different search led nowhere. I decided to give up on the USB 3.0 drivers. Maybe something would come down the pike via Windows Update before I would actually need USB 3.0 support.
That left two other Problem Devices listed in MSINFO32: High Definition Audio Device and 3D Video Controller (which was presumably related to the earlier failure to install the NVIDIA graphics driver pending an Intel driver). I decided to tackle the latter problem first. I started with the Intel VGA driver downloaded from the Driver-Lap website (above). This gave me the “minimum requirements” error. A search led to a Softpedia download of Intel Graphics Driver 126.96.36.19971. (As with some other drivers, it was billed for Win8; I hoped that, like those, it would also work for Win7.) I wasn’t sure that this, uploaded in March 2013, was the latest and greatest, but I figured that, once installed, something would eventually recognize it and try to update it if applicable. That Intel driver installation package ran.
After reboot, I looked at MSINFO32 Problem Devices and at Device Manager. Unexpectedly, the High Definition Audio Device problem was gone; the 3D Video Controller problem remained. I tried running the NVIDIA graphics driver (above). It ran. After reboot, Device Manager and MSINFO32 reported only one remaining problem, and that was the unsolved USB issue (above). I checked Windows Update and also tried a right-click to update drivers on the Intel Display Adapter. Nothing there. I was done with the project of installing drivers on this laptop. I had the final working set of drivers saved in a folder on my INSTALL partition, in case I needed to reinstall anything later. Time to move on.
Basic Tools and Setup
My INSTALL partition had a folder containing a handful of programs that I would typically install early in a Windows installation process. I went ahead and installed all of those now: my Brother printer driver, Bullzip PDF Printer (later switched to CutePDF), Everything (the file finder utility), Chrome, Microsoft Security Essentials (later switched to AVG), Windows Defender, Ultimate Windows Tweaker, Unlocker, and Classic Shell. The previous posts have more details on those programs, but here are a few key notes:
- Bullzip: Options: General tab: file name I:Current<smarttitle>.pdf; confirm overwrite; remember last folder. Dialogs tab: always show “Save As”; never show “Settings.” Image tab: resolution 300 x 300. Actions tab: open the document after creation.
- Ultimate Windows Tweaker: adjustments as desired. Note that a few of the following comments in this post assume some of these adjustments. Ideally, I would have detailed those tweaks here, but the details can get lengthy, some are commonsense, and others become evident soon enough.
- Classic Shell: import previous saved settings: right-click on Start button > Settings > Customize Start Menu > Backup > Load from XML file. Reboot to take effect.
I supplemented the Ultimate Windows Tweaker settings with additional tweaks in Windows Explorer: Organize > Folder and Search Options > View tab > show hidden files, empty drives, extensions, and protected operating system files. (I inadvertently checked a box to create or display the built-in administrator account, and had to hide it (since user Ray was already an administrator, and I did not want to have to choose between accounts at startup) by typing “net user administrator /active:no” at an elevated command prompt.) Also, I clicked on each drive in Windows Explorer, displaying its folders in the right-hand pane. I selected all folders and did a right-click > Take Ownership (having created that right-click option in Ultimate Windows Tweaker, above). For each drive other than C, I also selected right-click > Properties > Customize > Optimize this folder for documents > Also apply this template to subfolders. I ran the Windows 7 Navigation Pane Customizer to hide other unwanted items in the Windows Explorer navigation pane.
I also had a file full of registry edits (Win7RegEdit-x64.reg) that I would execute all at once. Some of its commands would likely have to be reviewed and modified to suit other users’ systems. For example, some might prefer to point to drives other than those indicated in that .reg file. Some of these commands were merely helpful; others were essential for desired functioning, within the arrangement I was setting up. As an example of the latter, the Classic Shell would not point to my customized Start Menu (stored on the shareable INSTALL partition) until a certain command in this Win7RegEdit-x64.reg file ran.
I also had a list of commands that I would commonly type into Start > Run (or Search). I found it helpful to enter those commands at this point, so that the system would remember them, with the correct extensions. These commands (some of which I had already used in this installation) were: msinfo32.exe, control, SystemPropertiesAdvanced.exe, taskmgr.exe, compmgmt.msc, services.msc, devmgmt.msc, diskmgmt.msc, msconfig, cleanmgr, cmd, mdsched.exe, perfmon.exe, taskschd.msc, and regedit. (That list was editable in the registry at HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerRunMRU.) Incidentally, I also got around now to deleting the old Windows XP files (C:Windows.old) that my upgrade installation of Windows 7 had required. (See first mention of “upgrade,” above, for alternatives.)
By this point, I had copied my data into the DATA and COLDSTORAGE partitions. So now I could go back to Windows Explorer and right-click on each partition to check and adjust some settings as needed. First, in the General tab, (1) No encrypted partitions should have compression on; and (2) I was going to be installing Copernic to do my file searching, and so usually turned off file indexing. I found that Windows Search imposed a serious performance penalty and could not be paused while I was triying to do my work. Agent Ransack would be an idiosyncratic alternative.) Next, in the Tools tab, (3) Check Now > Automatically fix file system errors. (I could have optionally checked “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors” > Start > Cancel to get the option to Schedule a Disk Check for drives other than C, with the aim of rebooting and starting those disk checks overnight.) Finally, in the Sharing tab, for all but drive C, I went into Advanced Sharing > Share this folder and clicked Permissions > Everyone > Full Control. (Later, I would scale that back by removing Everyone and typing just my own user name > Check Names.) Note that these settings could unacceptably compromise security for some kinds of situations. As discussed in another post, there were other possibilities.
Control Panel Tour
At this point, I decided to pin the Control Panel icon to the taskbar for easier access; later, as described in another post, I might pin other programs to the taskbar as well.
Some Control Panel items were better addressed in Win7RegEdit-x64.reg (above) or in other ways. Those that called for direct adjustment at this point were as follows:
- AutoPlay: uncheck “Use AutoPlay for all media and devices, and set each item to “Take no action” except for those audio and video formats that I would want to play in Windows Media Player.
- Indexing Options: When I was using Windows Search, I had to configure this. In Modify, I chose all of the locations that I wanted to index. (I was not sure why these were not already checked, having just indicated (above) that I did want to index these drives.) Then I went into the Advanced button. Since I was using TrueCrypt (later VeraCrypt), and therefore wanted my data to remain encrypted, but was encrypting only the data partition (i.e., not drive C), I indicated that I wanted the index (containing information about data file contents) to be stored on an encrypted partition too.
- Keyboard: later, to defeat the computer’s tendency to type the same key twice (e.g., “askk”), I would make the keyboard’s repeat delay longer.
- Mouse: Hardware tab: Power Management > uncheck “Allow this device to wake the computer.” (Saves battery power when sleeping.)
- Personalization: I got Desert.theme, put a copy into C:WindowsResourcesThemes, went into Control Panel > Personalization, and selected it.
- Programs and Features: Turn Windows features on or off > turn off Games, Indexing Service (as the tooltip indicates, this is the predecessor service; it is not the same as Windows 7 Search), Tablet PC Components, Windows Gadget Platform.
- System: Advanced system settings > Advanced tab > Performance > Settings > Advanced > Change > Uncheck “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” and set No Paging File for all drives, with one exception: a paging file of System Managed Size on drive C, to take advantage of unused space on the SSD. (This was a change from my previous approach, above, which also used the BACKROOM partition for a paging file.) I had to click the Set button after each change. I exited and reentered this part to verify that the changes took effect. I decided to go back into Ultimate Windows Tweaker > Additional Tweaks > Delete pagefile at shutdown. Back at Control Panel > System, I went into Windows Experience Index: View and print detailed performance and system information for future reference. (Mine was 7.1.) Towards the bottom: Activate Windows.
- Windows Firewall: verify that it’s on.
At this point, I made an Acronis image, to preserve what I had achieved so far, as protection against some possible future screwup that might otherwise require me to reinstall and reconfigure all these things.
I wanted to cable the newly configured machine to another computer. Despite the talk about crossover cables, it appeared that two contemporary computers could use a straight Ethernet cable (alternately, a switch) for this purpose, without the expense and hassle of a router, and that it was not necessary to disconnect my wireless network connection to make that cable work. Nor was it necessary to set up and join a homegroup. The problem for me was that Windows assigned my new “network” (i.e., the two computers, cabled together) to be an unidentified public network. This essentially prevented file sharing. Not at first: for some reason, I was initially able to share files; but when I returned to it later, the two computers could not see each other. One part of my solution was to run a .reg file that would change the unidentified Ethernet local area network to be a “work” rather than a “public” network. The contents of that three-line .reg file were:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
That worked: after a reboot, the unidentified LAN was labeled a “work” network in Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center. I had already configured Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings > Home or Work to allow network discovery, file and printer sharing, and so forth. Another part of my solution was to go into Network and Sharing Center > Local Area Connection (for that unidentified network) > Properties > Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) > Properties > Use the following IP address > 192.168.0.1 (make it 0.2 on the other computer) > Tab (to let the Subnet Mask fields become automatically filled in).
Unfortunately, there was still no connection. In frustration, I considered buying a USB “bridge” or “transfer” cable, but it sounded like those were intended just for one-way mass transfer of all files, not for synchronizing. Apparently Laplink Sync would be an exception, but at the cost of $40, and with reports indicating that it was much slower than Ethernet. I also realized that I liked my Beyond Compare synchronization software and was not especially eager to learn the ways in which someone else’s product might be secretly screwing up my data. But why was this networking thing so damned recalcitrant?
And then it worked. I think this must be why so much networking advice is so unhelpful. People get partway, and then the thing is somehow fixed. I don’t know what I did. But the machines were networked once again.
Preferred Programs and Miscellaneous Tweaks
When I first wrote this post, I followed a philosophy different from that of previous installations linked above. I did not plan to install every program I might someday use, so as to have them ready if the need arose. It took time to do these installations, they required space, and they introduced potential system burdens, program incompatibilities, and other complications. Instead, this time, I limited myself to frequently used programs, some of which were listed and discussed in the previous posts (above). In a later installation, though, I reverted to the previous approach. It seemed more convenient to do the installations and get it over with.
There were also some tweaks, described in those previous posts, that I did not try again this time. There, again, the previous descriptions suggest why. My tweaks this time included the following:
- Firefox: See another post for basic settings. Also: Address bar > about:config > pass the warning > plugins.click_to_play > double-click to change value to False > close the tab. While in about:config, search also for browser.contentHandlers.types. These came in sets of three: .title, .type, and .uri. My Firefox installation had six sets of three, running from 0 through 5. None of the existing ones had Feedly as a value, and I wanted Feedly as my RSS reader. So I had to create a new set of three. I did this, as advised, by right-clicking in an empty space and choosing New > String > type the name of this new preference (e.g., browser.contentHandlers.types.6.title, and likewise for .type and .uri entries) > enter the string value (for .title, it was Feedly; for .type, it was application/vnd.mozilla.maybe.feed; and for .uri, it was http://cloud.feedly.com/#subscription/feed/%s). After restarting Firefox, I went into its Tools > Options > Applications > Web Feed > Use Feedly. (That option would not have been there before making the about:config changes just described.) The other Firefox change I made at this point was Tools > Options > Privacy > Tell websites I do not want to be tracked. Check the results for this and other browsers (below) in the Do Not Track Test Page. (Later, I would switch to the portable version of Firefox, so as not to have to do all this reconfiguration when I installed on a new machine.)
- Chrome: go to Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy section > Content settings > Plug-ins section > Click to play > Done.
- Opera: Ctrl-F12 > depending on version, turn on the Enable Plugin only on demand option or the Click to play plugins option. Also, Settings > Preferences > Advanced tab > Security > Ask websites not to track me.
- Turn off defragmentation on the SSD, so as to reduce unnecessary wear.
- As advised, I searched my system for cttune.exe and ran it, so as to configure the way text was displayed. Possibly this had already been taken care of somehow; I did not find that it actually made a difference for me.
- In Control Panel > Notification area icons, I customized what would appear in the system tray.
- I ran taskschd.msc (Task Scheduler) and imported previously saved XML files to schedule batch files that would open assorted webpages, folders, and programs at specified dates and times.
- In Start > Run > msconfig > Services tab, I clicked on the Manufacturer heading to sort services by manufacturer. I unchecked the boxes for a few that I didn’t want to leave running, and also for a few that, after research, were not familiar to me or were definitely not wanted. Experience suggested leaving most Microsoft services alone. The ones I unchecked were for Acronis, Apple, IObit, and McAfee.
- Desktop > right-click on Recycle Bin > Properties > uncheck “Display delete confirmation dialog.” In the same place, for security purposes, consider choosing the “Don’t move files to the Recycle Bin” option for drives (e.g., drive C) that may store cache or other history items from which private data could be retrieved.
- In Microsoft Word 2010, I ran a script to remove the existing set of Autocorrect entries, and then installed my latest saved set; but I found that it did not work right this time around. The solution that worked was to copy MSO1033.acl from another computer that had a working set of Autocorrect entries, and keep a copy of that MSO1033.acl file on the INSTALL partition for future use.
I ran Win7RegEdit-x64.reg again, now that I had installed all of the programs to which it referred.
As hinted above, the problem of the jumpy mouse cursor was still with me. Frequently, while I was typing, the cursor would become active, and what I was trying to type in one location would suddenly be typed in another location instead. During the typing of these two sentence, for instance, it happened four or five times. The solution of this problem is a subject for another post.
I rebooted and made another Acronis image. I would still be adjusting program settings for some time to come, and there would be later posts about Acer Aspire problems and configurations in this blog, but this generally seemed to conclude the setup.