Archive for the ‘technical support’ Category

Getting the IP Address of a Dialup Modem User

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Here are a few borrowed screenshots  to illustrate how to get the IP address of a dialup modem user in Windows XP. Yes, believe it or not I do run into dialup connection support once in a while. This is particularly tough to troubleshoot since I don’t have any dial up connections configured on my laptop – I don’t even have a landline at home!

Note: If the user has access to a web browser, visiting a website such as is probably easier.

When the dialup modem connection to the user’s ISP has been established, the “two overlapping computers” icon is added near the time at the lower right of the screen.

Right click on it to open a pop up dialog.

XP Dialup Modem Icon


Left click on Status.

That opens this window, with the General tab selected.


Left click on the Details tab.

The user’s IP address is Client IP address, of course, if you’re reading this, you probably know enough to have guessed that.













Images modified from:


Phew, first blog post in months. It’s crazy how time flies when there’s a lot going on.

Ignore CRC Errors to Copy Damaged Files

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

As I type this, I am watching a new addition to my utilities toolkit copy damaged files from a hard drive with several bad sectors that is about to be replaced.

Trying to use most programs, like a basic drag and drop in Windows Explorer, or Robocopy, or XCOPY (remember that!) will fail when the filesystem kicks up a CRC error on the file.  I’ve also had this happen with scratched CD’s and DVD’s.

The new in my software toolbox is Unstoppable Copier, a freeware tool available here. I’ve tested it once, and it seems to work as advertised. It did more than Windows Explorer managed to do, at least.

There are also roundabout ways to do this with disk image software that can ignore errors – such as ddrescue – which I’ll be running on this same hard disk soon.

Windows 7 RAID-1 (Software Disk Mirror)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Today, I learned more about Windows 7 and it’s built in software disk mirroring for hard drives than I ever wanted to know.

It’s virtually impossible to find this listed on an official page (I can’t find it), but Windows 7 Professional has software disk mirroring enabled. In previous versions of Windows, software disk redundancy was limited to the server class operating systems, e.g. Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2003, and Windows 2008. Although, IIRC, Windows NT4 Workstation had disk mirroring, but I’m too lazy to look that up.

I spent several minutes today trying to find an official page that listed software RAID as a feature… and failed. Then, before starting this post, I tried again, and still failed. There are several 3rd party sites that mention software RAID being enabled in Win7. In the end, I had to set it up myself to be satisfied that it was true.

No, dynamic disk mirrors are not really the same as RAID1, but it’s close enough for me, and better in some ways – it should be possible to move a Windows mirrored drive to a completely different motherboard, for instance.

BTW, be careful with the entry level Dell Vostro 230’s, they don’t include support for Intel Matrix Storage anymore! Yes, that’s how this whole exercise started.

P.S. I just noticed that this is blog post number 101!

Spoolsv.exe using lots of CPU on a Terminal Server

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I have this recurring problem at one client’s site.  The setup is a small Windows 2003 Terminal Server environment, with remote POS terminals over the Internet – I don’t like this arrangement for the many single points of failure (a couple ADSL lines, a couple routers, a couple switches, a single server, etc.), but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

This client is happens to be running BBL, AKA WinPOS, AKA, WinBPS, over Terminal Server.  I have no comment on the software itself, it’s the arrangement of using it over Terminal Server over the Internet that makes me nervous – no, I had no input into this setup.

A further complication, is that the printers that the software uses, Zebra, label/ticket printers, have poor drivers that I don’t believe to be TS compatible.  They sometimes get stuck when the remote session is closed.  This eventually screws up the Windows spooler service.

When this system stops working, new Remote Desktop sessions fail to start properly.  After logging into the server, I will check the processor usage in Task Manager.  If the spoolsvc.exe process is using a lot of processor time, this is what I do:

N.B. Follow at Your Own Risk.

Stop the spooler service (no one will be able to print, but they probably can’t already):

net stop spooler

Open RegEdit.exe and browse to this part of the registry:


At times, I’ll find dozens of stale Terminal Server printers listed.

Export the registry keys first, to make a backup, just in case.

Then delete the Terminal Server printers from that same part of the registery, do NOT delete the local printers.  These are the ones with the “…on MyComputer … in session…” within the printer name.

Deleting these has worked for this particular server several times to resolve the CPU hogging spooler service (spoolsv.exe)… but sometimes they can’t be deleted in RegEdit.

Grab a copy of RegDelNull by Systernals, it’s free as in beer.

Use RegDelNull.exe to remove some of the entries that would not delete manually – I’m looking at you Mr. Zebra Printer Driver.

Here’s what that looks like (anonymized, of course):

C:\Installs>regdelnull HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Printers -s

Note: In a recurrence of this problem, I had to run RegDelNull one step higher in the registry, I’m not sure why – i.e. HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print

RegDelNull v1.10 - Delete Registry keys with embedded Nulls Copyright (C) 2005 Mark Russinovich Sysinternals - Null-embedded key (Nulls are replaced by '*'): HKLM\SYSTEM\CURRENTCONTROLSET\CONTROL\PRINT\PRINTERS\Zebra101 _ on MyComputer(from MyComputer2) in session 3\PrinterDriverData\Barcodes\(0x1701)*de 93

You get a prompt to fix the Null.  Say “Yes”.

Then go back up a few steps and delete the problematic printer from RegEdit.  With the null value gone, you can delete it.

Then restart the spooler service.

net start spooler

If this works, the spooler will start, it won’t use a suspicious amount of processor cycles, and the RDP connections will start working immediately – no reboots required.

Then go and find updated drivers.

I’d be glad to hear about a better solution… please comment below.