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.

Spec­tre Pro­tec­tion

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 (­a­log. up­date.mi­ 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.

USB Prob­lems

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.

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