RandySea

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About RandySea

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  1. Let me say first I am pretty experienced and have tried various diagnostics before posting. I have never seen this combination of seeming contradictory diagnostics while getting no error messages. My wife’s Dell XPS 13 laptop with Windows 10 Home stopped booting after Dell Support Assistant pushed a bios and drivers update last week. After accepting the updates, there was a period of downloading, a bunch of “done” boxes, and a prompt to finish and restart. My wife hit restart and the laptop seemed to be running normally. She doesn’t remember if she had to log on again or not. At this point, I did a full disk image backup. (Question whether I backed up the new but not yet apparent problem or not.) Then I closed the lid, which normally puts the laptop in Sleep mode. When she opened the lid, the power light came on but the screen was blank. No error messages at all. No “boot failure”, etc. I used the power switch to force shutdown then to start up again. Nothing happened. All startup and shutdown has to be done by the power switch. Sometimes on startup there is a Dell logo, a circle of stars, and then a blank screen. Other times just a blank screen. There is never a Dell logo on opening the lid, though the power light usually comes back on. There are no error messages on starting up. If I get the Dell logo on starting with the power switch, I can use F2 for bios info. Bios version 1.6.1, though I don’t know if that is pre or post update. The F2 bios information shows the correct hard drive info, but that may just be stored and not a rescan. I don’t know. Bootrec /scanos says there are no Windows installations. I can sometimes use F12 for diagnostics. I can also get into Advanced Recovery Options by holding the power button for 20+ seconds, again only sometimes. All the Dell hardware diagnostics say “passed.” Dell’s Startup Repair says there is an error, but “Startup Repair couldn’t repair your PC. “ I can boot from a USB containing Windows PE. This is a recovery USB created by Macrium Reflect, a backup program. However, it does not see any hard drive at all. From the Advanced Recovery Options screen (20+ second hold down of the power switch), I can get to a administrator command prompt after entering my Windows password. There I can see my two main partitions plus three hidden Dell partitions. A DIR shows all my Windows and program files on C: and all my data files on the fourth partition, which shows in this window as E: but in Windows as D:. I can do file operations, like copy a file from the hard drive to a USB stick. QUESTIONS: Does anyone have an idea what might be happening? Would some utility to fix the boot sector work without doing further and irreparable damage? Anomalies: 1. Boot from Win PE USB stick sees no hard drive at all. Command prompt from Advanced Recovery asks for my Windows password and sees all five partitions ordered C,D,E,F,G, where E is what Windows shows as D:/ 2. Sometimes after a power switch forced shutdown, the machine will come back on when the lid is later reopened. Makes me wonder if there is some unintended move into a hibernate state. I disabled hibernate right when my wife got the laptop 15 months ago. That also made me wonder if the machine got stuck somewhere while restarting itself after the bios/drivers update. That is, maybe it didn’t actually restart on pressing the restart box, but just returned to a regular running state without actually updating. Then closing the lid actually started the updates installing, and hung the machine. Incidentally, I have talked to several Dell support people who were not helpful. All they could say was “needs a new motherboard.” Since the laptop came from Costco, their tech people also support it. Their idea was a factory re-image of the hard drive. I have to think there is a simpler solution that will not cause all the work of re-setting up programs and data. Also, it may be a bios corruption from an update, which disk re-imaging would not fix. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Here are my notes of things tried. I did this yesterday and repeated it today while taking better notes. I have summarized the highlights above. F2 for bios info Boot: UEFI THNSNS512GPUK BVNe Toshiba 512Gb Par SATA config - Raid On checked. Not checked: AHCI Drives: SATA-2 and M.2 PICe SSD-0 both checked Secure boot: was enabled, I disabled it for testing No events in logs except on and off F12 after exiting F2 screens (this is a character only screen) Boot mode is set to: UEFI; Secure Boot: OFF Device config: Physical disk info Port: 1.0 Model THNSNS512GPUK NVMe Toshiba 512GB Status Non-RAID Diagnostics: ePSA Pre-boot System Assessment (4304.07) “No problems detected with this system” Did not do extended memory tests - 38 minutes Exit diagnostics and restart: just blank screen Force shutdown with power button, then restart gets Dell and back to F12 Try Windows boot manager choice Get Dell logo, circle of dots, then just blank screen Force shutdown with power button. Restart first gets blank screen, then force shutdown and restart again gets Dell logo. F12 and boot to USB Macrium Reflect Browse “this PC” only shows the Recovery drives created by the USB boot, not any actual disk partitions Search drives for Windows operating systems shows none Exit gets Dell logo, circle of dots, then blank screen Hold power button 30 seconds Get Dell logo and “Please wait”, then blue Recovery Select Advanced Recovery Options Troubleshoot, then Advance options Command Prompt Choose account to continue Logon to my account; enter password Window titled: Administrator: X:\Windows\system32\cmd.exe In cmd box, “not enough memory resources are available to process this command” Change to C: Dir looks normal for C: partition. Change to D: It has no files, 489 Gb free. Says “Recovery.txt” Change to E: Looks correct for D: partition folders. Just one file showing. Not sure if there were individual files in D: root. 199 Gb free. CD Data folder; looks correct, with subfolders and individual files Change to F: recovery Volume is WINRETOOLS; 456 Gb free Startup Repair Startup Repair couldn’t repair your PC.
  2. Thanks, vakta. That link is scary - if it works, it is just too easy to remove a Windows password. I wonder, though, if it's true when one has a very strong password. I couldn't tell much from the comments at that link. Apparently you go through a process of downloading and set up a USB boot stick. Then the final step, which should be removing the password, is instead a notice that you have to purchase the full version. I am simply back to "show last user". I didn't need to do a system restore because I had a second admin account I could use. Also, there is a way to get Windows to show all admin accounts even if "show last user" is disabled. In any non-admin account, if you try to do something requiring admin privileges, it will prompt you with the names of all existing admin accounts. You can enter the pw for any one of them to complete the operation.
  3. My last idea of name and back didn't work. There must just be something in the Randy2 profile, regardless of name, that does not allow logon except when "show last user" is enabled. There may be a registry entry controlling this, but I don't have any idea where or what it might be. More likely, it's just one of those unknowable and unfixable glitches.
  4. Thanks, Steve, What you suggest makes sense. In fact, it is essentially what I did when creating Randy3. However, it has some undesirable consequences. It would remove everything I had set up for Randy2. I have certain programs only showing when logged in as admin Randy2 for example. And many programs have had their defaults changed. This could include default data directories, printers, etc., all stored in the Randy2 profile that would be deleted. I don't know of any way to save the Randy2 profile, delete Randy2, create a new Randy2, and restore the old profile. Right now, I am just taking the path of least resistance. I can access Randy2 by allowing Show Last User. I should say that your post did just give me another idea to try out. As I noted previously, Windows 10 did not let me change the name Randy2 to Randy2. I tried that in case there was something weird but invisible in the name Randy2. But Windows said Randy2 already existed. Now what if I changed Randy2 to Randy2AD? This would not delete the profile, just change its name. Then I could see if a logon without showing last users works with Randy2AD. If that was ok, I could try changing Randy2AD to Randy2. Or I could just leave Randy2AD as my preferred admin logon name. I'll report back.
  5. I have gone back and forth but nothing is repaired. The only way I can log on to Randy2 (see OP) is if Show Last User (the default) is in effect. If I disable it to improve security a wee bit, I cannot log on to Randy2.
  6. I'll check out that link soon, holdum. But for now, I'll just say that I have never used Microsoft sign in, so it can't be that.
  7. This started when I changed "show last user on sign-in screen" to disabled. This forces one to reenter the user name at each logon, along with a password. I have two user accounts: Randy1 is a regular user; Randy2 is an admin. After I made the change above, I could still login with Randy1, but Randy2 always gave me an "invalid name or password." At first I thought I was really screwed. No usable account with admin privileges! However, it is weirder than that. In Randy1, let's say I attempt something requiring admin privileges. I get a popup with Randy2 in it and a prompt to enter my password for Randy2. This still works. That tells me both the account and password are good. There is just an oddity with the logon name. I go into Control Panel, User Accounts. I click Manage Another Account. Again, I am prompted for the password for Randy2 to get admin privileges. This works. As a precaution, I create another admin account, Randy3. I reboot. I can now login normally with Randy1 or Randy3, but still not with Randy2. When logged on as admin Randy3, I go back to User Accounts and try to change the name of Randy2 to Randy2, thinking maybe there is some hidden character messing up the logon of Randy2 and I might be retyping the name now cleanly. I am told that "Randy2" already exists on the system. Finally, I give up and restore the default "show last user at logon." Now I can login any of the three users. Anyone have an idea what might be happening here?