Using Disk Cleanup
Hey, Doc. It’s been years since I’ve written in. I have a question about an old utility that comes from previous versions of Windows. In the Administrator command prompt under Windows 10 version 1803, what are your recommended settings for the following Disk Cleanup commands: “cleanmgr /sageset:*” after which I run “cleanmgr /sagerun:*”?
I know that a number between 1 and 99 replaces the * in both commands.
–Keith Brooks THE DOCTOR RESPONDS: The value replacing * can actually be anything from 0 to 65535. By specifying different numbers, you can create lots of preset combinations. This comes in useful for automating clean-up across large networks.
There are 24 different items to choose between after typing in the first command and launching the Disk Cleanup Settings pane. Check the ones corresponding to files you’d like to get rid of. If you aren’t sure whether to pick a particular option, click it for a brief description of what it comprises. Afterward, typing “cleanmgr.exe /sagerun:*” (with your original value replacing the asterisk) starts the clean-up process with your selected options.
Doc, this is one that I’m sure is going to impact a lot of us, so if you have a resolution, you’ll make a lot of folks happy. I built my system in 2012. Back then, it was my dream machine. It started with an Asus P8Z68V-PRO/GEN3 motherboard, an Intel Core i7-3770K CPU, 8GB of Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1866 memory, a 128GB Crucial SSD, a Cooler Master 750W PSU, and a GeForce GTX 680. Over the years, I upgraded to a 1TB Samsung 850 EVO, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. The system is still rock solid and very fast, but apparently, I have to scrap it in order to remain secure.
Of course, I’m referring to the Spectre hardware vulnerability. Microsoft’s patches don’t address Spectre. They only help with Meltdown. Only a firmware update will resolve Spectre, I’m told. The problem is that Asus doesn’t have a BIOS update for its P8Z68V that includes the Intel microcode patch. When I contacted Asus about this, it responded that the P8Z68V is end-of-life, and there won’t be a BIOS update to resolve the security issue. Digging around on Intel’s site, the company says you have to get the update through your hardware vendor.
Is there any way to resolve the Spectre issue at this point for folks in my position? I’d rather not scrap a PC that still performs well. I’ve run the InSpectre utility from Steve Gibson, and it shows that I’m protected from Meltdown but not from Spectre. –B.J. Koho THE DOCTOR RESPONDS: The Doc was recently in your exact position with a Core i7-3770K of his own, along with an Asus motherboard condemned to never receive another BIOS update. But don’t rush to trash your system. Microsoft recently released an optional patch that includes the necessary microcode to protect against Spectre Variant 2.
In theory, loading the microcode via Windows isn’t ideal. After all, upgrading to a future build of the OS could wipe out your protection, as it recently did for many folks who installed version 1803 and found a previously installed Spectre mitigation wiped out. But for anyone in your situation, Microsoft’s solution is the only way to patch against the vulnerability. Search for “KB4100347” in Microsoft’s Update Catalog ( www.catalog. update.microsoft.com) for a download link.
The Doc did confirm that his Core i7-3770K was Spectreprotected after upgrading to Windows 10 Pro 1803 and KB4100347 using InSpectre.
Inverted ATX Cases
Hey Doc, I’m a case-onthe-desk kind of guy. I enjoy appreciating what I built (who doesn’t?), and I want to keep all of that nasty debris on the floor where it belongs. I cried a little the last time I cleaned out my wife’s PC on the floor, which looked like a poor excuse for a vacuum cleaner.
I am rocking a nice new system based on a Ryzen 5, a Radeon RX Vega 56, DDR43200 memory, a PCIe NVMe SSD plus four hard drives in RAID, and an older NZXT case. The problem, as I see it, is that the PC sits on the lefthand side of my desk, with its window facing the wall instead of me. I’d rather not rearrange my life to move the case. So, are there any cases that’d give a visually stimulated patron of the PC arts a window on the opposite side? Or are all cases windowed on the left side only? –Brad Lowery
THE DOCTOR RESPONDS: If you think about the way a motherboard is laid out, moving it to the opposite wall of your case wouldn’t work in the same orientation. But there are cases that support an inverted ATX configuration, with the mobo flipped upside down, and the CPU under your add-in cards. Others accommodate smaller microATX motherboards sitting horizontally.
Corsair’s Carbide 600C, for example, is a reasonably priced chassis designed for inverse installations. Because it’s purpose-built, the three bundled fans inside are already set up for optimal airflow. Be Quiet!’s Dark Base Pro 900 costs quite a bit more, but adds modularity. This allows you to move the motherboard tray to support larger form factors, flip it around entirely, move hard drive bays, and create room for custom cooling loops. The Thermaltake Core V21 is more cube-shaped, enabling vertical or horizontal placement. You can even stack two on top of each other to create room for elaborate water-cooling or storage setups. BitFenix, Cooler Master, Rajintek, and SilverStone have their own options as well.
Dear Doc, I have been trying to exorcise a demon that has plagued me for at least six months. That is, my USB ports mostly work. For all the simple devices, they seem to function fine. But for my Corsair K95 keyboard and Logitech mice, the problem rears its ugly head. The keyboard starts fine, and I can input my PIN using the number pad. After that, the pad is useless unless I only want to move the cursor around.
I have addressed all of the issues reported by Kaspersky Total Security, I’ve removed and reloaded the latest USB drivers, and I even installed a separate USB card. Nothing helps. My thinking is that the problem is with the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 motherboard.
I’ve been working on computers since the early ’80s, but this one eludes me. I have not wiped and reinstalled Windows, because I have a ton of software installed, and it makes me physically ill to think about reconfiguring all of it. Please help!
–Leland Litchfield THE DOCTOR RESPONDS: It’s tempting to blame the issue on your motherboard’s USB ports, except that you mentioned the problem persists with your peripherals plugged into an add-in card. Regardless, the Doc would start by making sure you have the latest BIOS for your Z170X-Gaming 7 motherboard (a new version was published earlier this year). Also, grab the latest Thunderbolt 3 controller driver from Intel’s website—the one on Gigabyte’s support page is incredibly old.
Assuming those aren’t the root of your issue, though, and that you’ve already tried moving your devices around to ports corresponding to your motherboard’s other controllers, you could always disable the Windows 10 fast startup feature to see if it might be related. In Windows Settings, click “System,” then choose “Power & sleep” from the left-hand pane. Click “Additional power settings,” then “Choose what the power buttons do.” Next, choose to “Change settings that are currently unavailable” and deselect “Turn on fast startup (recommended).” This should force Windows to initialize all drivers when it starts up.
Backing It Up
Dear Doctor, we recently bought a new MacBook for our CEO. We were upgrading his old Mac to a new one, and instead of copying files over and reconfiguring all of his settings, I used Time Machine to create an image of the old system. Then, I restored that image to the new one.
It took a while to complete the process, but I preferred that method, and it was frankly pretty easy to do. I was wondering if you have a good recommendation for a Time Machine alternative that’s compatible with Windows. I Googled some options and found RollBack, Genie Timeline, CrashPlan, and Backblaze. – Javier Monarrez THE DOCTOR RESPONDS: It sounds as though you’re already familiar with some of the most popular options. RollBack RX Home is free to use, though it only gives you seven snapshots. Genie Timeline costs $40. Both of those options are designed to be used locally. CrashPlan for Home no longer offers new subscriptions; instead, the company suggests moving to its Small Business product for $10 per month. It gives you the option of creating local and online backups with no capacity limit. Backblaze involves a subscription as well ($5 per month), and it’s cloud-based.
Alternately, Windows 10 includes functionality that you may find sufficient—and at no additional cost. If you open up Windows Settings, then click “Update & Security,” you’ll see “Backup” on the left pane. Selecting that brings up an option to “Automatically back up my files,” which is off by default. Turn it on, then click “More options” underneath the toggle. The backup is configured to run every hour, and maintain those saved files forever. Windows gives you a list of protected folders, which you can add to. Or, simply use exclusions if you want to start by backing up complete drives or directory structures.
Should you ever need to restore an old file, type “File history” in the Windows 10 search bar to bring up “Restore your files with File History.” There, the user interface lets you to step backward and forward in time to find a file that was deleted, or pick out an older version you might have mistakenly saved over.
The same Backup pane in Windows Settings also has an option called “Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7),” which is used to create an image of Windows 10 itself. Clicking this takes you to another window labeled “Back up or restore your files.” If you’ve never used the feature before, click “Set up backup,” pick a destination, decide if you want Windows to configure the backup or choose what to save manually, then create a schedule for updating the image.
Between the File History and Backup and Restore options, it’s easy to get a lot of powerful protection up and running from within Windows.
An inverted ATX layout makes Corsair’s Carbide 600C ideal for windows on the right-hand side.