Archive for the ‘Troubleshooting’ Category

News from “The Lab” – New server booting!

And finally my server is up, even though not running yet.

Even after trying to fix the backplane joints that seemed to be broken, it didn’t came up as I wanted it to do.

So I firstly purchased on eBay a replacement backplane, and tried it with no luck.

Then I finally got a replacement PERC 5i card, and I solved my problem with not recognized devices.

I only have to install ESXi and start playing now…

News from “The Lab” – New server faulty?

Today I think I found out what was blocking my new server from properly booting.

This is a close-up of SAS backplane.

It’s quite hard to see, but some pins of the main Cypress component are bent. A close look with a (cheap) PCB inspection microscope made me quite sure that this damage could prevent the PERC card to properly detect the backplane itself and, in turn, the disks.

I asked my colleague to fix the problem by reworking the joints, and tomorrow I’ll test if this patch works.

In the meanwhile I’m watching some spare parts on eBay… Murphy is always watching you…

Stay tuned!

News from “The Lab” – New server troubles…

As I recently discovered, my new server is not working as it should.

After some suggestions from my friends, I tried reseating all of the internal cards, starting from the PERC 5i controller and PCIe riser card. None of them made the server to properly boot.

As a last resource I removed the PERC card (the riser card cannot be removed because it’s used to connect the front panel, with power on switch, to the baseboard). Obviously as expected the F/W initializing , along with PERC BIOS messages, didn’t came up. Connecting only the card, removing connections with the SAS backplane, brought me to the conclusion that the problem could reside into the backplane or the disks. If I remove the disks I’m warned about their absence, but reinserting them doesn’t make any blinking LED to came up.

So I suspect that I have to look after some new disks to check and then pray that the problem is not due to a faulty backplane…

More coming…

Acronis 2016 with NVMe disks

Today I helped a colleague to restore its Dell laptop from an Acronis image. The process should have been easy to perform, but there was a little problem… Its laptop was using an M.2 Toshiba SSD (specifically the model THNSN51T02DU7). If you use the Acronis launcher even in WinPE mode, the M.2 disk is not detected.

And now? What to do?

Googling around a bit I found this site which explain (in Italian, many thanks to Gianluca Cecca) how to integrate a Samsung 950 Pro M.2 disk into Acronis. The problem was: where to find THNSN51T02DU7 drivers? We had to look around again with Google, and finally we came up with this explanation:

Intel and Samsung offer a proprietary NVMe driver for their NVMe SSDs, but Toshiba does not. The XG3 utilizes the standard Microsoft NVMe driver that comes baked into Windows 8-10. This makes sense because the XG3 is an OEM SSD, and not needing an additional driver for best performance makes setup easier for OEMs.
So all we had to do was:
  1. search for the original Windows 10 drivers
  2. download them
  3. integrate them into the Acronis WinPE image
  4. cross our fingers…

Locating the driver to download wasn’t an easy taks to perform. Fortunately on Dell website there was an explanation of a similar task related to WinPE and storage controller drivers. So we had to download the Intel Rapid Storage drivers from Intel’s web site (following the lin provided into Dell’s site, we were redirected to a driver version that wasn’t the last one available; Intel site then suggested us to download the last version).

We choosed to download the package from the site ( if your sistem is running in 32 bit mode, but it’s really improbable), then followed the instruction from the integration guide. Basically here are the instructions:

  1. Create the Acronis loader in WinPE format from within your Acronis True Image, writing it onto an USB pen drive
  2. Install Windows ADK; you might have it already installed if you are a developer. You can try to open ad administrator command prompt, then issue the following instruction. If you receive any errors, you might have to download Windows ADK
  3. Create three folders in C:\, naming them Temp, Drivers and Mount
    Copy BOOT.WIM file from the Source folder of Acronis WinPE pen drive, into C:\Temp
  4. Extract the drivers from into C:\Drivers
  5. Open the Administrator command prompt
  6. Issue the following command to mount the image
    dism /mount-wim /wimfile:c:\temp\boot.wim /index:1 /mountdir:c:\mount
  7. Issue the following command to merge drivers into image
    dism /add-driver /image:c:\mount /driver:c:\drivers /forceunsigned
  8. Issue the following command to integrate the drivers into the driver library
    dism /get-drivers /image:c:\mount
  9. Issue the following command to write changes into the .WIM file and release resources
    dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:c:\mount /commit
  10. Copy the new BOOT.WIM file from C:\Temp into Sources folder of Acronis WinPE pen drive
  11. Eject pen drive and delete the Temp, Drivers and Mount folders created in point 3.

    Your disk should now be visible from Acronis loader and you can proceed to data restoration.

Further steps

If you found that your Acronis loader won’t recognize your M.2 disk, probably you don’t need to read  more, as you already succeded to boot up your PC from the USB key. But what if you don’t?

Modern PC use UEFI boot process with a secure option into BIOS. This is to avoid your PC to be booted from a device you don’t trust. It might be needed to enter the BIOS and add your Acronis WinPE boot pen drive to the trusted boot sources. How to perform this task may vary from BIOS to BIOS, and you should read your PC manual to perform these steps.

Solve Windows XP svchost.exe 100% CPU load

Today I think I found the perfect solution to Windows XP svchost.exe 100% CPU load problem.

Just a step behind to show what this problem is. I use some XP virtual machines (but this problem applies to real machines too) to develop and test software. A couple of them (one running in VMWare Player, the other running in Virtual PC) suddenly slowed down to a unpractical speed. “What the … is happening now” – I thought….

Running the taskmanager showed a svchost.exe process taking up the 100% of CPU time. Uhm that was really suspicious, so I had to investigate more. I used Process Explorer from SysInternals (now Microsoft) to detect who was that process and what it was doing to my poor machine.

svchost.exe is a part of XP (and others Microsoft’s NT-like OS) that takes care of running different processes as services, so it’s definitively a kind of srvany launcher (a commonly used program to start an executable as a NT service). But why was it taking up so much CPU time? Ok, to cut the longest debugging part, I stopped, one at a time, the services launched by the faulty copy of svchost, and I found that the Windows Update Service was responsible of taking up all of the CPU time.

Ok, once found were the problem was, now I had to find the solution for it. After googling a bit around, I found that this was a widely known problem afflicting XP with Internet Explorer 8, but the solution was not so obvious. Somewhere it was stated to clear the downloaded patch folder located in %WINDIR%\Software Distribution, deleting it after the service has been stopped, but that didn’t fix the problem.

The final solution that worked for me in both my virtual machines was:

  • stop Windows Update Service from management console or command line
  • start Internet Explorer and connect to
  • search for KB2898785, that is Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP
  • download the executable
  • close Internet Explorer
  • launch the patch and wait it to end the installation (you will be warned it has to restart system)

After restart, you will be able to connect to Microsoft Update or Windows Update to download other updates, and svchost.exe should not take up the whole CPU time again.

Actualizing A-GPS data when service is broken…

Since May 15th Long Time Orbiter data provided by Global Locate lacks some files, so my iPaq cannot update GPS data using Quick GPS Connection software.

I’ve just sent an email to Global Locate to signal this problem, and I’m waiting an answer. In the meanwhile I tried to manually fix the problem.

If you check, you can see that at some point directory name changed: from hh:mm:ss.nnnnnn to hh:mm:ss. Also directory contents changed: svstatus.txt file is missing in the new directories, and this is the first file downloaded by Quick GPS Connection software.

So I manually downloaded lto.dat file from directory, and via ActiveSync I copied it into \Application Data\Global Locate\Gpsct on the iPaq. Now Quick GPS Connection says data is valid and will expire within 6 days and 20 hours.

I’ll wait an answer from Global Locate to see if the problem will be fixed on server.

June 16th UPDATE

It seems that service status has been restored. Today I connected my iPaq and it successfully downloaded data on its own. Checking directories contents let me know that in directory the missing svstatus.txt file has been restored, and so in all subsequent directories.

Resurrecting a Toshiba Satellite A60-217

About a month ago, my Toshiba Satellite A60-217 notebook had a big problem. When I turned it on, on the screen appeared some vertical gray lines with several flashing dots. I firstly though about a LCD monitor problem, but when I tried to boot in Windows and Linux my opinion changed: something weird happened to its RAM memory.

Firstly I removed the 512MB SODIMM memory expansion; I thought that if that was faulty, maybe the on-board memory could be still in good conditions to make the notebook working. But I was wrong: the gray lines were still be present on display, and so the boot was unsuccessful. My last trying was to remove all of the peripheral except for the DVDRW drive, and booting from a Knoppix DVD executing memtest-x86. It was a not so big surprise when memtest-x86 crashed. I was definitively convinced about on-board memory failure.

Now the question: what to do with a notebook that has on-board memory broken? At that time I had already changed the power supply since about one year (because the previous one died), the internal 2.5″ IDE hard disk (because the original was too small) and the DVDRW drive since a couple of month (also the original drive unexpectedly died). I didn’t want to spend money for a new notebook, as I spent a lot of money on it changing all of those stuff (and surely I won’t be able to use them in a new laptop).

So I Googled around a little bit, and found this web site. It was clearly explained that removing the on-board memory and placing a SODIMM module in the expansion slot will lead to fix the problem.

As I had nothing to loose on trying this solution, I found a way to open my laptop here.

Well, after some time spent opening the case, using a desoldering station at my workplace to remove chips, and some time again to reassemble my notebook, now I have a perfectly working Toshiba Satellite A60-217, with no more on-board defective RAM.

The only issue I found is this one: A60-217 model can only have 1.2GB of RAM; 1GB in the expansion slot and 256MB (fixed) on-board memory. Available memory is reduced by 64MB because that amount is reserved as video memory for the embedded graphic card. As I only had a 512MB memory expansion, before the failure I had 768MB-64MB=704MB of memory available; now I only have 512MB-64MB=448MB of RAM available. I’m thinking about buying a 1GB SODIMM expansion to increase available memory, but I have to look for a DDR PC2700 module, as it is the only kind of expansion supported by this notebook.

Making LightScribe work…

Today a friend of mine was trying to label a disk with LightScribe, but the drive did not show up in LightScribe control panel drive list.

After googling around, i found a couple of articles that reports how to turn LightScribe to work. You have to manually edit your registry, then the device will show up and you will be able to label your disk.

The key you have to modify is located into

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

and is named allocatecdroms. Put its value to 0 and you will see your drive working.

Why do you have to do so? Technical description of the key meaning is available on Microsoft TechNet website. Basically this item controls sharing of CDROM drives between current logged on user and other administrative PC’s users. If the value is 1, CDROMs are allocated privately for currently logged on user, and cannot be shared with other administrative users.As LightScribe runs with a service, logged with another account with administrative privileges, it won’t be able to access your drive. Putting 0 in this key allows LightScribe service to access your drive.

Remember: after changing the key you have to restart your PC (maybe you can also logoff and logon again without having to restart).