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Mon, Feb 20, 2017 10:43 pm

Determining the last system image backup time for a Windows 10 system

I backed up a Windows 10 system to an external USB disk drive using the backup utility that comes with the operating system that can be run by right-clicking on the Windows Start button then choosing Control Panel then Backup and Restore (Windows 7), which is found beneath System and Security, and then choosing Create a system image. If you create a system in that manner and then later wish to know the date and time you backed up the system without reattaching the drive you used, you can do so from a command prompt window with administrator privileges by using the wbadmin get versions command as shown below:

C:\WINDOWS\system32>wbadmin get versions
wbadmin 1.0 - Backup command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2013 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Backup time: 2/19/2017 8:31 PM
Backup target: 1394/USB Disk labeled Seagate Backup Plus Drive(E:)
Version identifier: 02/20/2017-01:31
Can recover: Volume(s), File(s), Application(s), Bare Metal Recovery, System State
Snapshot ID: {d4a62a80-ac6f-4aba-8886-6ba570c1284a}


Once you have the version identifier(s), you can use it to view the details regarding what volumes were backed up on the system to the external USB drive using a command in the form wbadmin get items -version:version_id.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/utilities/backup] permanent link

Fri, Jul 08, 2016 10:55 pm

Ejecting a CD or DVD drive from a command prompt

If you need to eject a CD/DVD disk drive from a command line interface (CLI) there are a number of ways to do so. Three ways to do so from a command prompt on a Microsoft Windows system are included below.

Batch File

@echo off
echo Set oWMP = CreateObject("WMPlayer.OCX.7")  >> %temp%\temp.vbs
echo Set colCDROMs = oWMP.cdromCollection       >> %temp%\temp.vbs
echo For i = 0 to colCDROMs.Count-1             >> %temp%\temp.vbs
echo colCDROMs.Item(i).Eject                    >> %temp%\temp.vbs
echo next                                       >> %temp%\temp.vbs
echo oWMP.close                                 >> %temp%\temp.vbs
timeout /t 1
del %temp%\temp.vbs

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/utilities] permanent link

Sun, Aug 16, 2015 11:00 pm

Obtaining BIOS information in Microsoft Windows

If you need to obtain information regarding the BIOS in a system running a Microsoft Windows operating system (OS), you can do so from a command prompt using the wmic command. E.g. to obtain the BIOS version, you can use wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion. You can also use the wmic bios get biosversion command, which may also show the BIOS date, depending on the BIOS manufacturer. Other commands that you can run are systeminfo | find "BIOS" and msinfo32. The latter command will open a window showing BIOS information along with a plethora of other information.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Sat, Feb 14, 2015 4:43 pm

Correcting "Windows Installer Service could not be accessed" Problem

When I tried to install Norton Ghost 7.5 on a Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 server, I received the message below:
Windows Installer
The Windows Installer Service could not be accessed.
This can occur if you are running Windows in safe
mode, or if the Windows Installer is not correctly
installed. Contact your support personnel for assistance.

[ OK ]

I downloaded Windows Installer 3.1 Redistributable (v2) From Microsoft's Download Center and installed it, but I got the same results when I tried to reinstall Symantec Ghost 7.5.

Microsoft's article, "Error 1719: The Windows Installer service could not be accessed" error message when you try to add or remove a program states the behavior may occur if the following conditions are true:

I was starting the Symantec Gost 7.5 installation process from a CD with an autorun file, but I noticed there was a file, Symantec Ghost.msi in an Install directory on the CD. The installation process likely uses the .msi file for the installation.

Microsoft's article recommends steps to resolve the problem. You should first determine the location of the file msiexec.exe on your system. The file will be in the Windows system32 directory, which is usually either C:\Windows\system32 or C:\WINNT\system32 for versions of Windows after Windows 98. For Windows 98 the file is usually in C:\Windows\System. You can search for the file or you can determine the Windows directory by obtaining a command prompt and checking the value of the %WINDIR% environment variable with echo %WINDIR%, which will tell you which directory is the Windows directory on a system. You can then verify that msiexec.exe is in that directory.

C:\>dir %WINDIR%\system32\msiexec.exe
 Volume in drive C has no label.
 Volume Serial Number is E88C-7773

 Directory of C:\Windows\system32

03/21/2005  02:00 PM            78,848 msiexec.exe
               1 File(s)         78,848 bytes

You then need to check the registry to make sure that HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSIServer\ImagePath has a value that corresponds to the actual location of the msiexec.exe file on the system. You can do so using the regedit command or using a reg query command from a command prompt.

C:\>reg query HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSIServer

    Description    REG_SZ    Adds, modifies, and removes applications provided a
s a Windows Installer (*.msi) package. If this service is disabled, any services
 that explicitly depend on it will fail to start.
    Type    REG_DWORD    0x20
    Start    REG_DWORD    0x3
    ErrorControl    REG_DWORD    0x1
    ImagePath    REG_EXPAND_SZ    C:\Windows\system32\msiexec.exe /V
    DisplayName    REG_SZ    Windows Installer
    DependOnService    REG_MULTI_SZ    RpcSs
    DependOnGroup    REG_MULTI_SZ
    ObjectName    REG_SZ    LocalSystem


If the msiexec.exe file is in C:\Windows\System32, you should see C:\Windows\System32\Msiexec.exe /V as the value in the key. In the case of the system I was working on, the file location matched the registry value.

If the values don't match, you will need to enter the correct path in the registry or put the file in the directory listed in the registry. Once the values match, you will need to reregister the msiexec.exe file. To do so, restart the computer in Safe Mode (hit F8 to get the menu of boot options before Windows starts when you reboot).

Once you've logged into an administrator account on the system in Safe Mode, you will need to use the following procedure:

Click Start, click Run, type the following line, and then click OK:

msiexec /regserver

Note: For 64-bit operating systems, you also need to reregister the 64-bit MSI installer. To do this, click Start, click Run, type the following line, and then click OK:

Drive:\Windows\Syswow64\Msiexec /regserver

On 64-bit editions of a Windows operating system, 32-bit binaries are located in %systemroot%\SysWow64 folder. 64-bit binaries are located in the %systemroot%\System32 folder.

Once you have reregistered the msiexec.exe file, you will need to reboot into standard mode. Then try the installation process again that failed previously. If that fails, Microsoft does offer another alternative for dealing with the problem. See "Method 2" at "Error 1719: The Windows Installer service could not be accessed" error message when you try to add or remove a program.

In my case, I was then able to successfully reinstall Symantec Ghost 7.5 on the system, though I did receive another error at the end of the process that was not associated with the previous installer problem. The error I received at the end is shown below.

Symantec Ghost Configuration Server
08001 [Sybase[[ODBC driver][Adaptive Server Anywhere]Unable to connect to
database server: Database server not running

[ OK ]


  1. Windows Installer 3.1 Redistributable (v2)
    Date Published: September 2, 2005
    Microsoft Download Center
  2. "Error 1719: The Windows Installer service could not be accessed" error message when you try to add or remove a program
    Article ID : 315346
    Last Review : March 1, 2007
    Microsoft Help and Support
  3. File Extension Details for .MSI

[/os/windows/utilities/backup/ghost] permanent link

Sat, Aug 09, 2014 3:55 pm

Editing ISO files with Magic ISO Maker

I had an issue with a bootable Windows PE DVD no longer working as I expected. I thought the problem was due to the boot.wim no longer being created correctly. The .wim file is a Windows Imaging Format file and boot.wim contains a bootable version of Windows PE. On a Windows 8 system, I was able to use the Windows Explorer to copy the boot.wim file from within an ISO image, but I needed a way to replace the boot.wim file in another ISO image file with the one I copied. To do so, I used the Magic ISO Maker program, which provides the capability to create and edit ISO files and extract files from within ISO files. It also can deal with the BIN disc image format and Apple Disk Image DMG files. MagicISO can open and manipulate just about any disc image format. Magic ISO Maker can deal with ISO, BIN, IMG, CIF, FCD, NRG, GCD, PO1, C2D, CUE, CIF, and CD formats.

Magic ISO Maker Unregistered startup

The unregistered version has a limitation preventing you from saving an image greater than 300 MB, but in my case that was not an issue since the image size was 175 MB.

Magic ISO Maker Unregistered startup

I did purchase the software though, since it worked well and I often deal with much larger ISO files. When you purchase the software, you will receive a zip file by email containing a .reg file, which will provide you a temporary license. Extract the .reg file from the .zip file, and double-click on it to create the registry entries to register the software. You should later receive a permanent serial number.

The steps to take to insert or replace a file within an existing ISO file using MagicISO are listed below:

  1. Select File.
  2. Select Open.
  3. Browse to the location of the ISO file you wish to modify and open it.
  4. If you have a Windows Explorer window open side-by-side with the Magic ISO Maker window, you can drag the file you want to insert into the ISO file over into the Magic ISO Maker window and into the directory there where you wish to insert the copy of the file into the ISO file. If a file by that name already exists, a "Query for overwriting" window will appear notifying you that the file already exists and asking if you want to overwrite it. You can click on the Yes button to overwrite the file.
  5. Click on File then Save as to save the update to the ISO file in a new ISO file, since you can't save to the ISO file you have open within Magic ISO Maker.

VirusTotal analysis of Setup_MagicISO.exe on 2014-08-09

[/os/windows/utilities/MagicISO] permanent link

Sun, Aug 03, 2014 12:02 pm

Creating shortcuts with XXMkLink

If you need to create shortcuts from the command line or within a batch file on a Microsoft Windows system, you can use the free XXMkLink program from Pixelab, Inc.. The company also produces free and commercial versions of XXCLONE, for cloning disk drives, and XXCOPY, a file management utility for copying files.

To use XXMkLink, download the zip file and extract XXMKLINK.EXE from within it to an appropriate directory on a hard drive. You can then run that program without any parameters to see options available for it.

C:\>"\Program Files\Utilities\XXMKLINK"

XXMkLink     ver 1.00    (c)2005 Copyright  Pixelab, Inc.

=========== Syntax =======================

xxmklink spath opath [ arg [ wdir [ desc [ mode [ icon[:n] ]]]]] [switches...]

  where  spath     path of the shortcut (.lnk added as needed)
         opath     path of the object represented by the shortcut
         arg       argument string (use quotes with space, see below)
         wdir      path of the working directory (for "Start in")
         desc      description string (shown in Shosrtcut's Properties)
         mode      display mode (1:Normal [default], 3:Maximized, 7:Minimized)
         icon[:n]  icon file [with optional icon index value n]

         Currently, the following switches are supported

         /p        prompts before action
         /q        no output when successful (quiet)

  Note:  Switches (whose first character is always slash) can be placed in
         any position of the command argument.  A string that starts with
         a slash as a non-switch argument must be surrounded by a pair of
         double-quotes (").  It is recommended that the XXMKLINK's switches
         be placed before or after the non-switch arguments for clarity.

         Make sure that each element is surrounded by a pair of
         double-quotes (") if embeded space is present.

         The third field (arg) is for the argument string for the object
         (typically a program that requires command arguments) that must
         be entered as one string here, even if it has many parts that are
         separated by spaces and possibly with double-quote characters.

         When double-quoted string has an embedded double-quote,
         add a backslash in front of each embedded double-qoute.

         Use an empty string (two consecutive double-quotes) as a
         place holder since this command syntax is sensitive to the
         order of the field, optional switches cannot alter the
         pre-determined order as defined by the program.

         When an invalid display mode is specified (not 1, 3 nor 7),
         the default (Normal Window) value will be used.

         When the icon specifier does not point to an existing file,
         the icon field will be ignored.

  E.g.   mklink "c:\Program Files\mydir\My Shortcut.lnk" c:\boot.ini
           (At least two arguments are always needed.)

         mklink c:\myauto c:\autoexec.bat "/q" . "I say \"Hello.\"" "desc..."
           (In this example, the third argument string, "/q" was entered
            as a quoted string.  If it were without the quotation marks,
            it would be treated as the xxmklink switch, /q, not the argment
            string for the object program.)

At a minimum, the following two arguments are needed to the program to create a shortcut:

spath - path and filename for the shortcut; if you don't add a .lnk at the end of spath, one will be added automatically, since all shortcuts must have a .lnk extension.

opath - path and filename of the object represented by the shortcut, i.e. the location and name for the file or program for which you are creating the shortcut.

E.g., suppose I wanted to create a shortcut on the desktop for the account under which I'm currently logged into the system that points to the WinSCP program, winscp.exe. I could use the following command, if the xxmklink.exe file is in C:\Program Files\Utilities and the winscp.exe program is in c:\program files (x86)\network\SSH\WinSCP\. If I was logged into the JDoe account, the environment variable %USERPROFILE% would equate to C:\Users\JDoe.

C:\>"\Program Files\Utilities\xxmklink" %USERPROFILE%\Desktop\WinScp.lnk "c:\program files (x86)\network\SSH\WinSCP\winscp.exe"

XXMkLink     ver 1.00    (c)2005 Copyright  Pixelab, Inc.

The shortut created as follows

Shortcut path:     C:\Users\JDoe\Desktop\WinScp.lnk
Target object:     c:\program files (x86)\network\SSH\WinSCP\winscp.exe
Working Directory:
Display Mode:      Normal Window (1)
Icon file:

If I then hit the Windows key and the "D" key simultaneously, I would then see the WinSCP shortcut on the desktop.

Security information for current version of XXMkLink, which is 1.00

SHA256: 2fe7b3b9c73e6467ba8d4e5157491a4409b44eab359d0320a3cba1e2bbec08ca
MD5: 8f67bd67f4bd752837276caff870e474
VirusTotal dection ratio: 0/54
Analysis date:2014-06-28

[/os/windows/utilities] permanent link

Sat, Aug 02, 2014 10:13 pm

Mustang PEBuilder 2 winpe_x86 exists

On a Windows 8 system, I had to kill Mustang PEBuilder 2 through the Task Manager due to it hanging while creating an ISO file. When I restarted it and clicked on Create WinPE ISO, I saw the error message below:

Folder C:\winpe_x86 exists. Move, rename or delete and try again. Program will terminate.

When I clicked on OK, the Mustang PEBuilder window closed. The C:\winpe_x86 directory gets created during the process by which Mustang PEBuilder 2 creates the .iso file. The directory and its contents are normally deleted after the ISO file is created. When it has not been deleted and I had previously seen the error message, I was able to delete the C:\winpe_x86 folder and all its contents and restart the process of building an ISO file without a problem. But this time I received "access denied" messages when attempting to delete some of the directories and files within it.

The problem was due to the directories and files being owned by TrustedInstaller. To remedy the problem, I took the following steps:

  1. Right-click on a directory that can't be deleted and choose Properties.
  2. Click on the Security tab.
  3. Click on the Advanced button.
  4. The owner will be listed as TrustedInstaller; click on Change then in the "Enter the object name to select" field, type Administrators.
  5. Click on OK.
  6. Click on the checkbox next to "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects" to check the box.
  7. Click on the Apply button.
  8. In the "Permission entries" list, make sure Administrators have "Full control".
  9. Check the checkbox for "Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object. When notified that this will replace explicity defined permissions on all descendants of this object with inheritable permissions, click on Yes.
  10. Click on the Apply button.
  11. You can now close the "Advanced Security Settings" window by clicking on OK.
  12. You can click on OK again to close the Properties window for the directory.

You should now be able to delete the directory and all subdirectories and files within it.


  1. Windows 7 - How to Delete Files Protected by TrustedInstaller
    Help Desk Geek

[/os/windows/utilities/diagnostic/mustang] permanent link

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 11:30 pm

Acronis Bootable Media Image Backup

I was unable to backup a new HP PC with RAID drives using a couple of other backup programs I often use, but was able to do so using Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5.

[ More ]

[/os/windows/utilities/backup/acronis] permanent link

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 5:53 pm

Unattended Install for Debugging Tools for Windows

I wanted to install Debugging Tools for Windows on several systems. I wanted to do an "unattended", aka "silent", installation where the installation would occur automatically without any user intervention, except perhaps at most a command being issued at a command prompt. The Debugging Tools for Windows comes as an .msi file, which is a Microsoft Windows installation file.

At Forcing MSI Installation Into a Specific Directory, I found a suggestion to put TARGETDIR on the command line when using the msiexec command. E.g. to specify the directory where an application should be installed when the installation file for that application is an .msi file, the author of that page suggested that you can use a command similar to the following:

msiexec TARGETDIR="C:\MyTargetDirectory" /i MyProject.msi

You can use the /q option to specify that the installation does not present a GUI installer window or prompt the user - see Command-Line Options for other command line options.

That did not work in this case, however. So, I decided to try the webpage author's suggestion to turn on logging during an installation of the software where I performed the install normally from the GUI installation method. I turned on verbose logging using the command msiexec /i dbg_x86_6.11.1.404.msi /l*v c:\windbg.log, which created a log file c:\windbg.log.

During the installation process, I chose a "custom" install and specified the installation directory be C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\ rather than the default installation directory of C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\. When the installation was completed, I saw the following when I opened the log file with Notepad:

MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:12:281]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\'. Its new value: 'C:\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:13:291]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:16:866]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:18:062]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:24:941]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:25:095]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying _1394 property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\1394\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\1394\'.

I could see that the property being modified was INSTDIR rather than TARGETDIR, so I then tried the following command at the command line:

msiexec INSTDIR="C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\" /i dbg_x86_6.11.1.404.msi /q

That put the software in the directory where I wanted it installed and did not display a GUI window or any prompts.

To uninstall software installed through an MSI file, you can use msiexec /x Package|ProductCode. In this case, after the installation, I ran regedit and checked the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall. I could see that the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\{300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD} registry key was the appropriate one, since within it I saw the following:

DisplayNameREG_SZ Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)
UninstallStringREG_EXPAND_SZ MsiExec.exe /I{300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD}

That told me that the ProductCode for Debugging Tools for Windows is {300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD}. However, if I used MsiExec.exe /I{300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD} to uninstall the software, I would get a GUI uninstall window where I would have to select the "remove" option. For a silent uninstall from the command line, I can use msiexec /x {300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD} /q. The /x option indicates that you want to remove the software. The /q option indicates you want a silent uninstall. Without the /q option, you would be prompted to confirm the removal of the software.

The DisplayName registry entry is what you will see under "Uninstall or change a program" or "Add or Remove Programs" under the Windows Control Panel. E.g., in this case, I would see Debugging Tools for Windows (x86) there.


  1. Debugging Tools for Windows
    WHDC - Windows Hardware Developer Central
  2. File Extension .MSI Details
    FILExt - The File Extension Source
  3. Windows Installer
    Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. Forcing MSI Installation Into a Specific Directory
    Arthur Zubarev
  5. Command-Line Options
    MSDN: Microsoft Development, MSDN Subscriptions, Resources, and More
  6. Unattended/Silent Installation Switches for Windows Apps
    Unattended, A Windows deployment system

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Sun, Sep 27, 2009 3:25 pm

Memory Errors Encountered During Testing on 2009-09-26

My wife's Windows XP Professional PC would boot into Windows, but whenever she logged on and tried to do anything, the system would reboot. I ran memory tests on the system with five free programs and one commercial program.
ProgramVersionFreeErrors Detected
Windows Memory Diagnostic Beta 0.4YesYes
MemScope 1.10Yes Yes
QuickTech Pro 4.11NoNo
Memtest86+ 1.70YesNo
Memtest86 3.3YesNo
DocMemory 3.1betaYesNo

More Info

[/os/windows/utilities/diagnostic/memory] permanent link

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