Fix “Please Insert a Disk into Drive” in Windows

One annoying, but common error in Windows is when it cannot detect certain media when connected to your computer. For example, ever pop in a disc into your CD/DVD drive and then when trying to open files, you get slammed with the following error:

Please Insert a Disk into Drive X

please insert a disk into drive

Well hello, there is a disk in drive X! Unfortunately, Windows is not able to recognize the device or media. You can also get this error if you connect other hardware, like a USB stick and then try to open it.

There are several reasons why Windows does not detect media when it is inserted properly and I’ll try to go through all the various methods of fixing this problem.

Method 1 – USB Drive

If you’re having this problem with a USB flash drive, the problem is most likely the current file system format. For some reason or other, the file format on the USB drive is not being recognized by Windows as a valid file system (FAT, FAT32, NTFS, etc).

If you don’t care about the data on the USB stick, then the easiest thing to do is to simply format the entire drive and then re-connect it to the computer.

You can format a USB drive by going to My Computer, right-clicking on the USB drive letter and choosing Format.

format usb stick

The default setting is to format a removable device in FAT32 file format, which is usually fine. I would only choose NTFS if you really know what you are doing and have specific reasons for formatting the flash drive in that file system format.

format usb drive

If you must recover the data from your USB flash drive, then you will first have to use a third party program to try and get the data off the flash drive, then format it.

You can try the following free programs to recover data from a USB flash drive:

Lastly, you can sometimes get this error if the drive letter is already reserved by some other device connected to the computer. In that case, you have to change the drive letter for the USB drive. This is especially true if you have a card reader that has 4 or 5 slots on it. Each slot gets it’s own drive letter, so it’s best to change them all to something at the end of the alphabet like W, X, Y, and Z.

Check out my previous post on how to change the drive letter for a USB drive in Windows.

Method 2 – CD/DVD Disc

You can also receive the “Please insert a disc into drive X” error when using CDs and DVDs. The problem can be caused by other the CD/DVD media, the CD/DVD ROM drivers, or the actual CD/DVD drive hardware.

Here’s a couple of things to try:

1. Check Media Format – Firstly, make sure the media you are trying to use actually is supported by your CD/DVD drive. If you are trying to put a DVD into a drive that only reads and writes CDs, you will get this error.

If you try to play a Blu-ray disk in a drive that only supports CDs and DVDs, you will get this error.

If you try to use a DVD+ disc in a drive that only supports DVD- discs, you will also get this error.

You can see what kinds of discs your CD/DVD drive supports by simply looking at the icons on the front of the drive.

disc read error

As you can see in the image above, this drive can support DVDs and compact discs and can read and write. It does not support Blu-ray discs.

2. Check File System – Another consideration is to determine what kind of file system is being used on the CD/DVD. There are many different formats and if you’re using a burned CD/DVD from someone else, the format used to burn it could be incompatible with your computer.

There are many formats including Joliet, UDF, ISO 9660, HFS (Mac), etc. There are also different writing modes like Disc-at-Once, Track-at-once, Session-at-Once, etc. Not all drives necessarily support all writing modes. And even if the drive supports it, not all applications support it.

So in theory, you could get this error not just from Windows, but from an application in Windows that is trying to access a CD/DVD on your computer.

3. Check Hardware Drivers – Did you recently update the drivers for your CD/DVD drive? If so, try to roll back the drivers in Windows.

If you haven’t messed with the drivers, another thing you can try is to remove the drive from Device Manager and reboot the system. Windows will redetect the hardware and will reinstall the drive.

uninstall dvd drive

4. Update Firmware – Sometimes if you are not running the latest firmware for your drive, you could get this error with certain types of media.

It’s best to visit the manufacturers’ website and download the latest firmware for your CD/DVD drive.

Method 3 – Windows Startup

If you get the Please insert disk into drive whenever you start up your computer, then it could be an issue with a floppy drive, if you’re still using those!

Basically, you need to make sure you pull out the floppy disk before starting your computer up. Or you can do the following. Go to My Computer, then click on Tool, Folder Options and click on the View tab.

restore previous folder windows

Go ahead and uncheck the Restore previous folder windows at logon option and restart the computer.

Method 4 – BlackBerry Users

If you have a BlackBerry and are getting this error when trying to connect it to your computer to transfer files, you might have to make a simple change.

From the Home screen, go to Options and choose Media Card. From there you can configure a few options.

Media Card Support – ON

Mass Storage Support – ON

Auto Enable Mass Storage Made When Connected – PROMPT

blackberry media card

Hopefully some of these solutions will help you figure out this annoying problem in Windows! If not, post a comment and I’ll try to help.

How to Repair Corrupted Excel Files

Excel is probably just as important to most workers as wearing clothes and eating food. I pretty much use Excel on a daily basis to do everything from managing finances to analyzing customer data. It’s so powerful, it’s hard to imagine life without Excel.

And that’s exactly why it can be so terrible when you end up with a damaged or corrupt Excel file! All of that work and it might be lost forever, unless you were smart enough to make a backup.

Luckily, most corrupted Excel files can be recovered, you just have to try out a lot of different ways. If your Excel file is corrupted, below are some ways you can hopefully repair the file or at least get some of the data back.

Method 1 – Run Repair

The first thing to try is to open it with the Repair option in Excel. You can do this by clicking on File and then Open. In the Open dialog box, single click on the Excel file and then click on the small arrow next to the Open button.

repair corrupt excel file

Go ahead and click on Open and Repair and you’ll get a message asking if you want to repair, which will recover as much data as possible or if you simply want to extract data, which will copy out the formulas and values.

excel open and repair

You can try to repair first and see if it can recover the whole file, if not, you can then try to extract the data.

Method 2 – Save File To Different Format

If you are able to open the file in Excel, you can try to save the file out into different formats and then re-open them in Excel and try to save them back as Excel workbooks.

Click on File and then Save As. Choose SYLK (Symbolic Link) from the Save as type list and click Save. Then close the workbook.

excel corrupt file

Next, click File and Open again, but this time choose the SYLK file. You may have to choose All Files from the Files of type list to see the SYLK file.

Once the file is open, click File and then Save As. Now you will choose Microsoft Excel Workbook and click Save. Note that saving using the SYLK format only saves the active worksheet. You will have to save each worksheet individually and repeat this procedure.

Along with the SLYK format, you can also save the file out using the HTML format. Once saved out, re-open it and try to save it as an Excel workbook. With the HTML format, you don’t need to save each worksheet individually.

Method 3 – Change Recalculation Option

If you can’t open the file at all, you can try a couple of more things. Firstly, try setting the recalculation option in Excel to manual. You can do this by going to Tools, Options and clicking on the Calculation tab. In the Calculation section, go ahead and choose Manual.

If you are using Excel 2007 or higher, the procedure is different. You have to click on the Office button at the top left, then choose Excel Options.

recover excel corrupt

Click on Formulas and then click on Manual under the Calculation options section.

excel calculation manual

Now try to open the corrupted Excel file and see if it opens. If not, keep reading!

Method 4 – Open in Word or WordPad

You can also try opening the damaged Excel file in Microsoft Word or WordPad. In order to do so, you first have to make sure you have the Microsoft Excel Converter installed. You can download it from the Microsoft website.

Even though you might be able to open the files, you will lost chart sheets, dialog sheets, macro sheets, and you will lose all cell formulas. However, you should be able to view the data.

If you have macros, try opening the file in WordPad as the Visual Basic code in your modules might show up. You will have to perform a search for “Function” or “Sub”.

Method 5 – Link to Corrupted File

In Excel, you can link to other Excel workbooks from within a worksheet. You can try to use this method to extract data from a corrupted Excel workbook.

Click File then Open and navigate to the folder that contains the corrupted file. Then click Cancel. Now go ahead and click File and then New and click OK.

In cell A1, type =FileName!A1 and press Enter.

corrupt excel file

If everything goes well, you should see the data from cell A1 of the corrupt worksheet appear in cell A1 of your new workbook.

excel corrupt data

If so, now you can simply drag the corner of the box and expand the selection out to however many rows and columns existed in the corrupt workbook.

recover excel data

Method 6 – Use Excel Viewer

You can also try to download Microsoft Excel Viewer, which may be able to open the file for you. All it lets you do is copy the cells and paste them into a new workbook, but it’s better than nothing.

Method 7 – Use Later Excel Versions

If the corrupted Excel file was created in Excel XP, Excel 2003, etc, try opening it in a later version like Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.

As the versions increase, the ability for the program to recover a file increases also, so you might get lucky and be able to recover your file.

Method 8 – Delete Temp Folder

At this point we’re hoping and praying, but it’s worth a shot. You can delete the contents of the C:\Windows\Temp directory and then restart your computer. Try opening the file again.

If you still can’t open your Excel file, post a comment here and I’ll try to help!

It’s the day after Patch Tuesday, and my Vista Business machine has lost ALL network connectivty

I try to be a responsible security professional, and practice what I preach. I know it’s important to keep operating systems and applications updated with security patches, so I have Microsoft’s Automatic Update configured on my home Vista PC to install automatically. I tell my friends to do this, since I don’t want them to get 0wned. I have my mom’s PC set for AU since I don’t have the time to deal with her computer gremlins that are a result of her unsafe surfing.

What did this bring me? A Vista Business 64-bit machine with no network connectivity. Of course it happens when I’m late for a client appointment and I need the machine so I can print out a Google map to the site. To top it off, it snowed six inches last night, and I know the roads are going to suck.

I rebooted my machine, logged in normally, and still had no network connection. I tried to release and renew my IP, but was told the network adapter was not connected.

Begrudgingly, I fired up Event Viewer and found a number of entries for Event 4375:

Windows Servicing failed to complete the process of setting package KB938371_40 (Update) into Staging(Staging) state

and Event 4385:

Windows Servicing failed to complete the process of changing update 942831-1_RTM_neutral_LDR from package KB942831(Security Update) into Staging(Staging) state

KB 938371 explains the patch contains updates to several internal components that Windows Vista requires in order to install or to remove Windows Vista Service Pack 1 more reliably. This update must be applied separately before you install Windows Vista SP1 to make sure that Windows Vista SP1 can be installed or removed from the computer. Update 938371 is necessary to install and to remove Windows Vista SP1 on all versions of Windows Vista.

Great. Looks like I won’t have to worry about Vista SP1 breaking anything on my machine, since it won’t be getting installed!

KB 942831 ended up being a fix for MS08-005, Vulnerability in Internet Information Services that could allow elevation of privileges. Microsoft considers this an important, not critical fix, so I decided I could disregard this error for the time-being. I pretty satisfied these Automatic Updates were not the root cause of my networking issues.

The final error I found was Event 1060:

\SystemRoot\SysWow64\Drivers\GEARAspiWDM.sys has been blocked from loading due to incompatibility with this system. Please contact your software vendor for a compatible version of the driver.

I searched my system for this file, and found it located in the F:\Windows\System32 directory, which is not my operating system’s boot drive – Its an almost dead hard drive that used to run my 32-bit Windows XP machine. I’ve been trying to resurrect data off it, and had mounted it in an external USB caddy.

Interestingly enough, I’ve had this old 32-bit XP drive plugged into my Vista 64-bit system for over two months, and have never seen the Event 1060 error. I’m wondering if these two failed Microsoft updates have anything to do with it. On a whim, I renamed the GEARAspiWDM.sys file to GEARAspiWDM.sys.old and rebooted, and got my network connection back.

I did notice GEAR posted updated 64-bit drivers two weeks ago, so maybe I’ll try to install them. I also found the GEAR driver is a part of iTunes, which was not previously supported on 64-bit Vista (who knew?) If updating the drivers and/or iTunes doesn’t fix my problem I may uninstall both, then manually clear up all the GEAR registry entries, then start with fresh installs of both.

My suspicion is something new with the XP 32-bit GEARAspiWDM.sys messed with Vista’s 64-bit driver signing system, which threw the network card offline. I’ll do some more investigation tonight and post an update if I find anything.

On a semi-related note, the GEAR wiki states:

There appears to be an incompatibility between older versions of the GEAR Software drivers and the Intel Application Accelerator with certain combinations of Intel chipsets and operating systems.

To determine which Intel chipset is being used on the motherboard, download the Intel Chipset Identification Utility from Intel’s website.

To date the problem has been detected on systems with the following combinations of chipsets and operating systems:
– Intel 815E chipset and Windows 2000
– Intel 845E chipset and Windows 2000
– Intel 850 chipset and Windows 2000
– Intel 860 chipset and Windows 2000

This issue can be corrected by completing either of the following:

1) Download and install the latest GEAR driver set.
2) Uninstall the Intel Application Accelerator.

I’m using an AMD CPU so this isn’t my issue, but hopefully it will help someone with a similar problem.

Microsoft’s Zune Device Diagnostic Tool Now Available

Microsoft’s Zune Device Diagnostic Tool is now available. The Zune Device Diagnostic Tool compiles data to help Product Support Services diagnose Zune USB and wireless sync connection problems.

While you’re troubleshooting your Zune, go ahead and upgrade to the most recent version of the Zune client software, version 2.1 as of today [12-24-2007].

Kurt also mentioned that a new Zune firmware release, version 2.3, is now available. Go into Device Settings to install the update.

Supported OSs for both the client and diagnostic software are Windows XP SP2+ and Windows Vista.

Lastly, check out this post on that discusses resolutions to many Zune sync problems.

I sure hope Santa Claus brings a nice 80GB Zune to our household!

Firefox 2.x and excessive memory consumption

I usually have a lot of tabs open in Firefox while I work. I’ve noticed (as have many others) excessive memory consumption by the browser at times. Right now firefox.exe is using 121,484K with only 9 tabs open. I rebooted first thing this morning, and I’ve had Firefox running for only about four hours.

Most of the information I’ve found says the problem has to do with misbehaving Add-ons, extensions or themes. I’m only running four Add-ons, and decided to uninstall all but my Buttons and Google Browser Sync. Unfortunately, the problem persisted even after a reboot.

I did some more searching and found this thread that suggests loading this image to see if your browser memory consumption goes through the roof. Mine did. I read further down the thread and found a problematic add-on is indeed Google Browser Sync.

Check out this list of problematic extensions to see if any of your favorite add-ons are listed. If none of your extensions are listed, try the suggestions found on the Standard Diagnostic for Firefox and the causes for Firefox Hangs.

You can also try the Leak Monitor extension to help determine what is the cause of your Firefox memory leak. has four tips on handling Firefox memory usage as well.

Sonicwall Viewpoint 4.1 Installation Error: SQL Server does not exist or access denied

At one of my client locations we use Sonicwall’s Viewpoint reporting system to gather usage data from the Sonicwall firewall and content filter.  Viewpoint is a pita to upgrade or move to a new machine, and I treat the program with care, since it’s very easy to unintentionally break. I was upgrading from an old version (2.9) only because I could no longer access the administrative interface through a web browser to run reports.

One very important thing to know about Viewpoint is it will not install properly on a machine that had any previous instances of SQL Server or MSDE on it.  Plus, if you want to use SQL Server instead of MSDE for the Viewpoint database, Sonicwall will not provide you technical support.

After much trial and error I found that just removing prior SQL/MSDE instances was not enough to make the installation a success.  I would complete phase 1 of the installation, only to have phase 2 fail with the following error:

SQL Server does not exist or access denied

I searched the Sonicwall tech support web site and forums, but could only find one document that addressed this error, and of course it didn’t work (not a big suprise, if you’ve ever dealt with Sonicwall tech support you know what I mean)

In order to complete the Viewpoint 4.1 Installation I had to:

1) Uninstall the SQL/MSDE from Add/Remove Programs and any other software that used SQL/MSDE.  In my case, I had a copy of Dell’s IT Assistant, a part of the OpenManage Management Station.  Reboot.

2) Use MyUninstaller to remove Microsoft SQL Server Express 2005, even though the uninstallation process in step 1 had removed it from Add/Remove Programs.

3) Delete the sgmsconfig.xml from the root of the installation drive (C:\ in my case)

4) Rename all of the remaining Viewpoint and SQL/MSDE directories on the hard drive

5) Reboot, then run the Viewpoint installer.  I was able install without problems, but phase 2 takes a looooong time, and I thought the machine was locked up.  Be patient.

I did find one glitch during the installation – even though I was asked what password I wanted to use for the Viewpoint login, it was not applied.  I had to use the default login and password, which you can find in the Viewpoint 4.1 Administrator’s Guide.

You may find Some of the Microsoft Knowledge Base articles I found helpful if you are having SQL/MSDE uninstallation problems:

KB 311762 – How to identify which MSI file was used for an existing MSDE installation

KB 823467 – BUG: You cannot start the SQL Server Agent Service for an instance of SQL Server or the SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine that has the same instance name as a previously uninstalled instance of the SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (Windows)

KB 317619 – FIX: Cannot Remove Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine After You Upgrade to MSDE 2000 SP2

KB 320873 – How to manually remove a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE 2000) instance

KB 909967 – How to uninstall an instance of SQL Server 2005 manually

Aaron also has a detailed procedure for removing SQL Express manually.  It also seems that the SQL Express uninstaller requires the .NET framework 2.0, so if you don’t have the .NET 2.0 framework, you may need to install it prior to uninstalling SQL Express.

IIS authentication troubleshooting using AuthDiag

One of my educational clients uses a web based Student Management Package for attendance, grades, and other school record keeping functions. The web server that powers these apps is a Windows 2003 server running IIS.

All of a sudden, the IIS server started getting “403 access is denied” errors when users were attempting to login to the application. According to the local network administrator nothing had changed on the server in the past few weeks, but it had been rebooted recently. Since school hadn’t been in session prior to today, nobody was using the application, so we had no idea how long it had been since the last time it operated properly.

The first thing I did was to review the Windows event logs and web server log, which showed no obvious errors. I ran dcdiag.exe and netdiag.exe on the domain controllers to verify the domain was healthy and operating as expected (it was).

Since everything looked okay on the web server with the exception of the Access is Denied messages, I suggested to the local admin that technical support for their student management package be contacted to assist in solving the problem.

To make a long story short, technical support said that the IUSR and IWAM accounts were corrupted, IIS would have to be uninstalled, reinstalled, then reconfigured. Of course technical support said this was going to be billable to the customer and was going to be a major ordeal with considerable downtime.

I decided that sounded like a ton of effort and expense, and if IIS was going to be redone anyway, I’d try to fix it myself. To help diagnose the cause of the problem, I downloaded the IIS Authentication and Access Control Diagnostics (aka AuthDiag) from and installed it on the web server.

I ran AuthDiag, then selected the “User Rights or Privileges” link, and it created the following report:

User Rights and System Privileges Information

Not found privileges: Log on as a batch job; Adjust memory quotas for a process; Replace a process level token

Found privileges: Log on as a service
Not found privileges: Adjust memory quotas for a process; Replace a process level token

Found privileges: Allow log on locally; Access this computer from the network; Adjust memory quotas for a process; Impersonate a client after authentication

Not found privileges: Access this computer from the network

Found privileges: Log on as a batch job; Allow log on locally; Access this computer from the network

Found privileges: Log on as a batch job; Access this computer from the network; Adjust memory quotas for a process; Replace a process level token

Found privileges: Log on as a batch job; Impersonate a client after authentication; Log on as a batch job

Found privileges: Bypass traverse checking

Found privileges: Impersonate a client after authentication

To check privileges of custom Anonymous user (if it configured) run ‘Check Authentication’ for appropriate Site

Diagnostics complete

Obviously, the “not found privileges” messages had something to do with my “403 access is denied” errors.

I edit the webserver’s Local Security Settings, and added the missing accounts to the policies that AuthDiag had flagged as being incorrect. I performed an IISreset, and the web application started working properly once again. Nothing was wrong with the IUSR and IWAM accounts, and IIS did not need to be reinstalled.

If you’re having IIS permission problems, I highly recommend AuthDiag. Other things this little program can check include Kerberos Configuration, User Rights and Privileges, Registry and Server Permissions. Make sure you get the version appropriate for your CPU. AuthDiag is also found in the IIS Diagnostics Toolkit. has a nice description of the various features and benefits of AuthDiag.