Aug 11, 2014

Can't open files in search results from a mapped network drive on Windows 2012 R2 Standard Server with Windows 7 or Windows 8 clients. File icon is blank too.

I recently implemented a new Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard server running the Essentials Experience Role.   The mapped drives are applied to the client machines using Group Policy.   Typically the users go to any mapped drive in Windows Explorer on their PC, type in their search criteria in the search field in the upper right hand corner of the window and then get a list of all matching files on that drive - Word docs, Excel sheets, PDF's, etc.

But occasionally they were having a very strange issue where the search results appeared but they could not open any of the files when they double-clicked on the files.  No error message was given.  Also, they could not right-click on files either.  The other weird part is that the little icon next to the file name that usually shows the file extension icon (Word, Excel, PDF, etc.) was a blank icon.

I did a ton of online research but couldn't find any help for this issue.  I don't think I've completely solved it yet but I do have a way of getting the search results to start working again.  I found that if I go to the Windows 2012 R2 server, pull up the list of Services and restart the "Windows Search" service, that my search results will start functioning properly on the client PC's - they'll display the proper icon and they can be opened as expected.

So something is clearly wrong with my Windows Search service.  I'm still trying to figure out what causes it to fail but at least now I know how to fix the search results issue in the meantime.  

Please comment below if you've run into this issue and found any other fixes.

Oct 9, 2013

Remote Desktop (RDP) connection to Windows 8 login prompts "Connect a smart card". Also for Remote Web Workplace (RWW).

There have been a few hurdles getting users connected into Windows 8 machines via Remote Desktop (RDP) or Remote Web Workplace (RWW) from Small Business Server.

When you try to log in, you may see a message that says "Connect a smart card".  The issue seems to be caused by trying to "push" or "save" your credentials into the remote session as you are logging in.  I know in RWW, you should go back to the "connection options" and un-check the box the says something like "Login to this session as InsertUsernameHere".   This may also effect RDP - try not to save or send your credentials along with the initial launching of the session.  Try to wait and just enter them manually once you get to the Windows 8 login screen.

If that doesn't help, the other workaround is to click on the "Other user" avatar on the Windows 8 login screen, rather than clicking on YOUR avatar.  Then manually enter your username and password.  My users have had success with the "other user" trick if all else fails.

Window Vista laptop gets a "local only" wifi connection from Verizon FIOS router. Can ping router but can't connect to the internet.

I ran into a heck of a time with a Windows Vista laptop and a new Verizon FIOS installation recently.  All other devices in the home could connect to the FIOS wireless network without any issue.  The Vista laptop would see the wifi network, it would accept the wifi password/key and it would show a solid connection in the system tray but the status of the connection would show "Local only", meaning it could not access the internet. This was certainly accurate because even though I could ping the router, I can't access anything on the internet.

After much troubleshooting, I figured out that I COULD access internet sites via their IP address, just not by their domain names. So this indicated that my DNS servers weren't working.  Everything was set on automatic but since it wasn't working, I changed my DNS settings to manual and I entered in two DNS servers used by Verizon FIOS:

The instructions on how to change these settings may vary slightly depending on your OS, but this method should work:

  1. Hit the Start button and then type in "network connections" and hit enter.  
  2. Now you should see your network device listed here - either Ethernet or wireless. Right-click it and hit Properties. 
  3. Then click on TCP/IP v4 and hit Properties. 
  4. On the bottom part of the window, select "Use the following DNS server addresses:" and enter those two addresses. Or you could try using two Google DNS servers if you like: and
  5. Click Ok
  6. It may require a reboot for those settings to kick in

Aug 22, 2013

Problem uninstalling Internet Explorer - try it in Safe Mode. Can't uninstall IE 9, getting errors.

I was working on a laptop yesterday - Windows Vista with IE 9.  I was trying to uninstall IE 9 in order to re-install it to try to fix some problems but it was giving me errors when trying to run the uninstaller.

So instead, I tried booting into Safe Mode first. Then I had no problems uninstalling IE 9.  Just use the normal steps of going to Add/Remove Programs (or Uninstall Programs) and click on the Show Installed Updates links on the left. Then find Internet Explorer 9 and click Uninstall.

Aug 20, 2013

Can't play embedded YouTube videos in Chrome. Won't load and shows a black box. Try resetting Chrome browser settings.

I've been having an issue with Chrome for a few weeks where it won't play YouTube videos that are embedded in another webpage. It just shows me an empty black box with no thumbnail of the video or playback controls.  If I go directly to to watch the video, I don't have any problem. Embedded videos play fine in Internet Explorer.

I tried manually disabling all of my Chrome extensions and clearing my cache but none of that helped.  Just today (8/20/2013) I see that there is a new Chrome update available. One of the features is a new "Reset browser settings" button.  It resets everything back to the default settings but keeps basic customization like bookmarks, themes, etc.  I thought it would remove all of my extensions but in fact it simply disabled them.

I'm glad to report that this DID fix my issue with embedded videos!  I then went back in and enabled all of my extensions again and the embedded videos are still working! Woo-hoo!  So whatever this reset did, it took care of my problem.

Here's how you do it:

  1. In your Chrome menu, hit the icon with the 3 horizontal bars (called "Customize and control Google Chrome")
  2. Select "Settings"
  3. Scroll to the bottom and hit "Show Advanced Settings"
  4. Scroll to the bottom again and hit the button labeled "Reset browser settings" as seen here...

Jul 30, 2013

Windows 7 PC wakes up on it's own. How to stop it from waking automatically.

I had built a new Windows 7 PC for a customer that I found was randomly waking up from sleep on it's own while just sitting in my office.   I determined that it was the network adapter that was waking it up.  Now unless you have a machine that you are trying to log into remotely when it's asleep, you can probably disable this feature.

  1. Open your Device Manager - hit the Start button and type "device manager" and hit enter. Should take you right to it. 
  2. Expand the item called Network Adapters. You may see more than one network adapter listed here. I suggest starting with your hard-wired Ethernet LAN adapter before trying this on any wireless adapters. Right-click the adapter and hit Properties.
  3. You should see a Power Management tab. Switch to that tab.
  4. The settings in this tab will vary depending on your particular adapter, but what you want to look for is any option that mentions "Allow this device to wake this computer", "Wake on LAN", "Wake on link", "Wake on Magic Packet", etc, and disable (un-check) that option.
  5. Click OK and close Device Manager
  6. Test and see if your device stays in sleep mode. May require a reboot if its not working right away

Presence not shown or unavailable in Outlook 2010 but it's displayed in Lync 2013

Recently after upgrading one Office 365 user from Lync 2010 to Lync 2013, his Outlook 2010 was no longer displaying the "presence" indicators - the little green/red/yellow status bubbles next to people's name.
It seems there can be a variety of different causes and fixes, but in this case, the following information is what helped me out.  

First, look at this location in the registry...

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers] 

It should show this ...


Then, check on the following two entries...

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers\Communicator] "ProcessId"=dword:00002458 "UpAndRunning"=dword:00000002 

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers\Lync] "ProcessId"=dword:00002458 "UpAndRunning"=dword:00000002

The "UpAndRunning"=dword:00000002 value indicates that this particular IM service is available for use.  The system appears to be confused, thinking that both Communicator (the old name for Lync) and the current version of Lync are available.  What you need to do is to go to the entry for Communicator and change the dword value to 0.  

Now restart Outlook and see if your presence indicators are back.