Fix: Setup cannot copy the file winhlp32.exe when installing Windows XP SP3


Our desktop team has finally started deploying Windows XP Service Pack 3 to corporate computers.  Their silent installation package kept failing on my laptop.  I finally ran the installer manually, and found it was failing with the following error:

Setup cannot copy the file winhlp32.exe

I checked the NTFS permissions, and found that Everyone was denied access to the C:\Windows\Winhlp32.exe file.  I logged in with administrative access, removed the deny permission, and SP3 installed successfully.

Turns out that I had implemented this change in file permissions as a workaround to the Help Keypress Vulnerability in VBScript enabling Remote Code Execution, detailed in this Technet Blog post.  It’s funny, the things I forget I do to my system to try to deal with security vulnerabilities because I can’t update patches on my own machine.

Find Windows system uptime from the command line


Here’s a quick and easy way of checking how long a Windows server or workstation has been up, via the command line.  It pipes the results of Net Statistics Workstation into find.  Run the following from a command prompt:

net statistics workstation | find /i “statistics since”

The results will look like

Statistics since 8/12/2009 11:08 PM

Which shows the machine has been up since 11:08pm on August 12, 2009.

Fix: The IP address you have entered for this network adapter is already assigned to another adapter that is hidden from the Network Connections folder because it is not physically in the computer


I brought up a snapshot of a Windows Server 2003 R2 guest today and could not login to the domain.  After further review I found the server had lost its static TCP/IP settings – both NICs were set to DHCP (they had previously been statically set).  When I attempted to add the TCP/IP addresses back to the NICs, I received the following error message:

 
“The IP address you have entered for this network adapter is already assigned to another adapter “Fast Ethernet Adapter #2”. “Fast Ethernet Adapter #2″ is hidden from the Network Connections folder because it is not physically in the computer. If the same address is assigned to both adapters and they both become active, only one of them will use this address. This may result in incorrect system configuration. Do you want to enter a different IP address for this adapter in the list of IP addresses in the Advanced dialog box?”
 
Solutions – KB825826 outlines several potential fixes.  I ended up using Method #6 to remove the hidden network adapter.  To uninstall the ghosted network adapter from the registry, complete these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd.exe, and then press ENTER.
  2. Type set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1, and then press ENTER.
  3. Type Start DEVMGMT.MSC, and then press ENTER.
  4. Click View, and then click Show Hidden Devices.
  5. Expand the Network adapters tree.
  6. Right-click the dimmed network adapter, and then click Uninstall.
Next I configured the static IP on the NIC, and regained network connectivity.  A reboot was required in my case, only because services dependant on domain availability did not automatically startup.

Howto: Do not display the name of the user who has locked a Windows computer or server


Normally when a Windows workstation or server is locked, you’ll see something similar to the following Windows Security message:  

This computer is in use and has been locked.
 
Only DOMAIN\USER (user name) or an administrator can unlock this computer.
 
To not show the name of the user who has locked a computer, the following can be defined in a workstation level GPO
 
Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options\Interactive logon: Display user information when the session is locked.
 
There are three choices if you enable this policy:
 
  • User display name, domain and user names (default setting)
  • User display name only
  • Do not display user information
 
Besides being able to apply this to Active Directory GPOs, this setting appears in the local security policy on my Windows XP SP3 VM.  The setting is not available on my XP SP2 laptop, but I see from KB837022  there is a hotfix that corrects this problem in XP SP2.


Alternatively, the following DWORD can be created in the registry of XP SP2, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 machine to accomplish the same thing:
 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system\DontDisplayLockedUserId
 
User display name, domain and user names = 1
User display name only = 2
Do not display user information =3
 
You need to restart the machine for the change to take effect.
 
You may also be interested in the related Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options\Interactive logon: Do not display last user name setting. This security setting determines whether the name of the last user to log on to the computer is displayed in the Windows logon screen.

If this policy is enabled, the name of the last user to successfully log on is not displayed in the Log On to Windows dialog box.  If this policy is disabled, the name of the last user to log on is displayed.

Howto: Disable the clicking sound in Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer


The clicking sound that Windows plays when you click on a link in Internet Explorer or open a folder in Windows Explorer can get annoying. 

Here’s how to disable the sound in Windows XP:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices
  2. Click the Sounds tab
  3. Scroll down the list under Program Events. Under the Windows Explorer section, highlight Start Navigation.
  4. Under the Sounds box, select (None) > OK, close Control Panel

Here’s how to disable the sound in Windows Vista:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel > Sound
  2. Click the Sounds tab
  3. Scroll down the list under Program. Under the Windows Explorer section, highlight Start Navigation.
  4. Under the Sounds box, select (None) > OK, close Control Panel

You should no longer hear the clicking noise when you select links in Internet Explorer or open directories in Windows Explorer.

Howto: Fix Slow USB 2.0 file transfer on Windows XP


USB storage devices can be optimized for either quick removal or performance.  If optimized for quick removal, data transfer can potentially be reduced to a crawl. 

To optimize your USB drive for performance: 
  1. Right click on the USB drive and select properties
  2. Select the Hardware tab
  3. Under All Disk Drives, highlight your USB drive and select Properties
  4. Select the Policies tab and select Optimize for performance.
  5. Press OK twice, and your transfer speeds should increase dramatically
Note that when your drive is optimized for performance you’ll need to use the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the taskbar to eject the drive – otherwise you’ll risk corrupting your data by just removing the drive from the port.
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Howto: Register Firefox Portable as the default Windows browser


Ramesh has written some instructions detailing how to register Firefox Portable as the default browser for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

He uses a utility called DefaultBrowser to define the default browser in XP, and uses a tool called RegisterFirefoxPortable to do the same in Vista.

This is pretty slick, something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.