Disable Fast Startup in Windows 10

This new feature in the Fall Creators Update is taking many by surprise…

If you’ve got the Fall Creators Update on your Windows 10 PC, then you’ve probably noticed a new feature that Microsoft is calling “Fast Startup.” The feature claims to improve the speed of your boot times, so you spend less time waiting on your PC to boot and more time working, being productive. Windows has this feature enabled by default, so if you’re using the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, then, you’re likely booting faster than you were before, and have likely noticed it.

Most users will like the faster booting times, but there are a few things about it that you should know so you can decide if you want to disable it or not. Understanding how it works, is going to go a long way to getting you to this decision.

Normally, when you shut your PC down, you do what many call a “cold shutdown.” Here, you save everything to your hard drive or SSD, close all the programs and kill the power. RAM is cleared. When you turn the PC back on, it loads everything back on the drive BACK into RAM in order for it to function as intended. That’s the way everyone is used to having “shut down” work on their PC.

When users have Fast Startup enabled, the computer doesn’t shut down, per se. It really hibernates instead.

Fast Startup saves all of your active data to a hibernation file before turning off. When you turn it back on, it reads in the hibernation file, putting you back to where you were before it shut down. Interestingly enough, Fast Startup can only be enabled if your PC has the ability to hibernate, AND then only if hibernation is enabled.

So, this brings you up and down quicker. That’s good right? Right?

Well… not always. There are some times when you really might want it disabled.

Drivers…

Drivers are a GREAT reason why disabling features like Fast Startup are a good idea. Windows system drivers are historically known for being picky about how they are accessed. Windows has always had issues with power and power management, and some system level drives simply don’t like being accessed after being in a hibernated state. They may not flush out of RAM correctly. They may not initialize into RAM correctly from hibernation. They may really want to be loaded and/ or reloaded upon hardware startup in order to function correctly. When they don’t get initialized right, depending on how they access RAM or what portions of RAM they live in and access, they can either make the PC unstable, OR they can crash the entire PC.

Boot loaders are another GREAT reason why you may want to disable Fast Startup. Some boot loaders don’t get accessed correctly from a hibernated state, as the Fast Startup and hibernation in general has a tendency to want to lock the hard drive. When you want to boot into a different operating system, you may find that they only way you can reliably do this is to reboot the PC after “resuming” via Fast Startup, as you can’t access the boot loader choice for additional operating systems upon startup.

That extra restart WILL do a cold restart, by the way; so if you’re ever updating the operating system, or doing some kind of activity that really requires you to go “all the way down,” having Fast Startup enabled doesn’t prevent you from swapping out locked system files (or files that are in use) after Windows Update updates your PC.

So should you ALWAYS disable Fast Startup? Signs point to, “no.”

If things work ok for you… if you don’t have driver issues, problems or errors, you should be ok. You can keep it enabled and enjoy the faster booting times. You have to keep in mind, though, that if you want access to your hard drive from outside windows, you likely won’t be able to get that access with the feature enabled.

If you’re noticing that you get BSoD’s or you start having issues with devices not working or spinning up correctly; or if things don’t work without an extra restart, then yeah. You may want to consider disabling Fast Startup. Doing this is really pretty easy.

Ok… so how do I enable or disable Fast Startup on Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update?
If you wish to disable Fast Startup, follow these simple steps:

1. On the Desktop, press Win-X.

2. Choose Power Options from the context menu that appears.

3. Choose Power & sleep on the left side menu.

4. Under Related Settings, click the Additional power settings link.
Power and Sleep

5. On the left side of the Power Options window that appears, click the, “Choose what the power button does” link.
Power Options

6. On the Power Options – System Settings window that appears, if you see an Admin Link for Change settings that are currently unavailable, click it.
System Settings
7. The three check boxes under Shutdown Settings should enable. Uncheck the Turn on fast startup (recommended) check box.
Shutdown Settings

If you don’t see a check box for fast startup, it’s because hibernation has somehow become disable on your PC. Renabling this is actually a lot easier than turning Fast Startup on or off.

To enable hibernation on your PC, follow these steps:

1. On the Desktop, press Win-X.

2. Choose Command Prompt (Administrator) from the context menu that appears.

3. In the Command Prompt window, type the following:

powercfg –h /on

and press enter

If you need to need to disable Fast Startup, you can follow the steps in the above section, now.

At this point, you will notice that it takes your PC a bit longer to start up. This may be an issue for you in the long run; but as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Any driver issues you have, should be gone. Any update issues you have, should certainly be gone.

Was Fast Startup an issue for you? Did you have a need or desire to disable it? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and let me know what you did.

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Apple Watch can Save your Life

New studies suggest that owning an Apple Watch can identify potentially lethal health trends

I saw this, and I thought this was pretty cool.

I have an Apple Watch and have enjoyed using it for just over two years. I use it mostly for notifications and responding to text messages. I also use it to keep track of my physical activity, as well, such as it is. As a tech and software development geek, having something remind you to move and to move more during your day is important, especially when your job has you sitting on your tush all day long testing software. Some folks, me included, forget to move without being reminded. Having a subtle reminder to stand every hour makes it easy for me to take a break, move, and to refocus my thoughts, if needed. Apple Watch has made me more productive, as a result, believe it or not. It’s not been an interruption.

In a new development, it’s been found that Wearables can be used to accurately detect conditions like hypertension and sleep apnea in users that wear them. The research, conducted by health startup Cardiogram and UCSF, cited claims that data from heart sensors when combined with machine learning algorithms can identify patterns that predict if a person is at risk of certain health issues. The study followed more than 6000 subjects, some of whom were known to have been diagnosed with both hypertension and sleep apnea.

Cardiogram cofounder, Brandon Ballinger wants to “transform wearables that people already own – Apple Watches, Android Wears, Garmins, and Fitbits – into inexpensive, everyday screening tools using artificial intelligence” into tools that can not only help keep people well, but drive the growth of the market. The study is headed for peer review, according to Ballinger. This will hopefully lead to wearables being validated as a screening method for this and other major health care conditions, like pre-diabetes and diabetes, which, appears to be next on Cardiogram’s hit list

Cardiogram’s study lines up very well with the direction that Apple has been taking Apple Watch and the apps that are available for it in the App Store. Patents have been developed that involve both health related wearable technology by Cardiogram. Apple is also involved in a heart rate study partnership with Stanford University.

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Apple to Buy Shazam

There’s an interesting rumor going around that Apple is going to buy Shazam for about $400M…

shazam

Apple announced the acquisition of Shazam in a statement to Buzzfeed News, on 2017-12-11. In their statement, Apple acknowledged that Shazam was one of the most popular apps available for download in the iOS and Mac App Stores; and has hundreds of millions of users, on multiple platforms, worldwide.

“Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users,” Apple’s Tom Neumayr said. “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

Apple is reportedly in late stage talks to acquire Shazam, a popular content recognition and identification app that is currently rounding up investments as it moves toward an initial public offering. This would be an interesting development, as the popular music recognition app is currently cross platform.

Shazam has been integrated into Apple’s iOS since June of 2014 when it released iOS 8. While the deal between the two organizations is NOT finalized, its anticipated that the deal, worth approximately $400M USD could be announced as early as Monday, 2017-12-11.

Originally called 2580, named after the number users had to dial to reach the service via text, the UK company came into existence in 1999. The app is now in both the iOS and Mac App Stores and has turned into a comprehensive audio discovery and identification service helping users identify songs, movies and TV shows by capturing audio. The app has been downloaded over 1 billion times.

Apple partnered with Shazam’s marketing team in 2015 to help power their Apple Music app. This is likely where they will permanently put the app, should they in fact come to an agreement to purchase the technology.

According to Shazam’s CEO, Rich Riley, the company reported revenues of £40.3M pounds for their 2016 fiscal year. Riley indicated that their marketing shift to advertising is what helped make them profitable and helped them become an acquisition target.

Shazam is integrated into iTunes and Apple Music, and has hooks into the iTunes Store. On the Android side, it also has hooks into Google Play. iTunes users can quickly purchase recognized songs. Apple Music users can quickly add identified songs to a customized playlist.

If purchased, Shazam would be Apple’s second largest acquisition in recent years. Apple purchased Beats for $3B USD in 2014. The Shazam purchase, however, at $400M, is likely to be a 60% discount over the organization’s most recent funding round, which valued the company and service at approximately $1B USD. Shazam has raised over $143M in funding since 2002, including monies obtained through Sony Music and Universal.

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Apple Issues Security Update for High Sierra Root User Bug

Apple on Wednesday released a special security update for macOS High Sierra, solving a recently uncovered flaw which would let people gain root access without entering a password.

You can file this one under the ol’ “face palm – how the h3ll did this make it out to production?” category.

As a software development professional with over 25 years of experience, it really makes me wonder sometimes… It’s a question, that as a Quality Assurance professional, you never want to ask, or have someone ask YOU; but when the item in question is this blatant, you really can’t help it.

Recently, a bug in macOS 10.13 High Sierra was discovered that allowed anyone – literally, anyone – with physical access to your Mac to log in with root permissions, whether they had an account on the computer or not.

Root is a super user level of access. Someone with root or super user access can do anything and EVERYTHING to your Mac, despite any and ALL security settings you’ve made or apps you’ve installed. They can burn down your entire world with root access… and there isn’t anything on the computer that can stop them.

Now, there are a few things you should know about this.

1. As of this writing, this should no longer be an issue. Apple has released a security update, Security Update 2017-001, and it will update your High Sierra build number to 17B1002 after it installs.
2. As of this writing, the update will come down and install automatically. You won’t see an update notification or red bubble on the App Store indicating an update is available. It’s going to install automatically when you restart your Mac. Period. You don’t get a choice.

I wanted to get that in front of everyone before I relay the following comment – I’ve seen this defect in action, and it was totally devastating.

root_authorizing

In fact, it was a bit more than that. I’ve never seen such an easily exploitable, completely revealing security vulnerability like this… ever.

I have access to Mac with a standard (non-admin) account. I don’t know the admin password on this box, so I couldn’t cheat on it at all. With the above vulnerability active on that Mac, I was able to bypass the administrator’s credentials and make changes to my standard account as if I were an admin, and I didn’t even need a password.

As I understand it, there wasn’t a secret account or other access point on your computer. When users tried to log in as root, without a password, High Sierra wouldn’t let you in. The bug, however, occurred when you retried logging in as root without a password. It somehow burned the account in, without a password, after multiple tries. At that point, you had access to absolutely everything on the computer. When macOS again prompted you for any kind of admin permissions, simply entering in, “root” as the user name without a password again, got you authenticated.

As I mentioned, this was probably the easiest “hack” I’ve ever done. You didn’t need any coding or any kind of technical knowledge. All you needed was physical access to the computer and the ability to spell the word, “root.”

Thankfully, the hole has been patched; and it was patched, as I mentioned, via a silent, forced update, that, to my understanding, Apple has only used one time before. You didn’t get the opportunity to decline this update, and Apple applied it to your system without asking for permission or requesting a restart of your machine, or your knowledge, really. It simply got installed and then silently applied when you either rebooted or turned your Mac on.

The only evidence that something had happened was a notification bubble that showed up a day or so later letting you know that the update had been installed.

root_security_updated

To be honest, I wasn’t happy with the news that this vulnerability was published, and I wasn’t happy with the way it was resolved, either. I wouldn’t have been upset with a “required” update that would have been installed without me getting a say in its installation IF Apple had told me that it was installing it. I don’t like the fact that Apple can just push an update to my PC and I can’t prevent it from installing, or even know that it was installed until AFTER it was installed.

That’s just as bad as the vulnerability existing in the first place.

In the future, I really wish Apple would be a bit more sensitive in situations like this. I *DO* understand why they did what they did. This was a serious bug that had to be resolved for everyone running High Sierra. However, I don’t like it when vendors force me to take an update and don’t tell me that it’s going to install or give me an option to postpone the update. People have been screaming about situations like that on the Windows side of the world since Windows 10 was released a few years ago. Just because Microsoft does it, doesn’t make it ok.

Did you happen to see this bug in action? Did you happen to play with it at all prior to Apple plugging the hole? Did the update reveal itself to you via the App Store, or did you get the silent version of the update shoved at you like most of the world did?

Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion Area below, and give me your thoughts on the whole thing?

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The Difference between Outlook.com and Gmail

I recently had a very good friend of mine ask me the difference between the two. Here’s the skinny…

eMail services today aren’t like they used to be. It used to be that you got email because of the online service you used (like CompuServe, Prodigy, American Online or MSN, to name a few…). Some of them were IMAP related services. Some of them were POP3 related. In very rare occasions, depending on the level of service you purchased, some of them were corporate based or corporate classed, like Microsoft Exchange services. And, on top of that, you nearly ALWAYS had an email application (like Outlook or Outlook Express) to read your email with.gmail

Today, it’s a completely different story.

Today, nearly all email addresses are services that you choose to use. While the players have largely changed – all except for Microsoft, who still offers email via Outlook.com – most users choose to use web based email services provided by one of the larger consumer SaaS providers like Google, Microsoft, (and yes, even) Yahoo! (still…).

So, as I said, I recently had a very trusted, and good friend ask me what the difference between Outlook.com and Gmail were; and more importantly if one was better than the other. My answer, as always, was qualified. It depends.aL0gJ9_Y

It depends… on your needs.

So, for this discussion, I’m going to leave the Office compatible applications OUT of the conversation. Both offer Microsoft Office or Office compatible app suites, including eMail, but they also offer

• Word Processing – Word Online vs. Google Docs
• Spreadsheets – Excel Online vs. Sheets
• Presentations – PowerPoint Online vs. Slides
• Online Storage – OneDrive vs. Google Backup and Sync

For the sake of our discussion, we’re going to call these pretty much even; though, Google’s online storage offering does offer full computer backup, where OneDrive does not.

We’re going to instead concentrate on the email offering, which, believe it or not, is also, pretty much even. However, there are a few differences, and I want to touch on those so that you can pick out the service that is really the best for you.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the differences between Gmail and Outlook.com

Feature Gmail Outlook.com
Cost Free Free
Accessibility Online or Offline; but offline isn’t easy Online or offline
Tags & Folders Uses labels instead of folders Folders and Categories
SPAM Filtering Comprehensive Rudimentary
Attachment Size 25MB 10MB

 

There are perhaps one or two more differences of note; and depending on your situation, they may make a difference to you.

The biggest one is that will likely may any difference to anyone is that Outlook.com supports Exchange and Gmail does not. This won’t make any difference to you unless you intend to use Microsoft Outlook as an email client. Exchange allows you to take full advantage of all of Outlook’s features.

For example, while Gmail supports calendaring, Exchange’s calendar features are an industry standard. In fact, most of the features in Outlook are an industry standard. The thing about Outlook.com is that if you really want to use it, you’re best email client is going to be Outlook. If you’re not wanting to use Outlook, then you don’t have to.

Outlook.com will still work with a web browser, and work well; but if you really want that to work well, you’re going to need to use Edge or Internet Explorer. While Outlook.com works with any web browser, its feature set is deprecated with anything else other than a Microsoft web browser. Gmail works with Outlook, but it requires either POP3 or IMAP configurations. Gmail also really wants to live in a browser, and more than that… it really wants to live in Google Chrome.

So, at the end of the day, where does this really leave us? Honestly, that’s pretty easy.

If you want to use Outlook, then you should choose Outlook.com or Office 365 for your email needs. Outlook.com will default to Exchange regardless of the email address it creates for you. If you want to use it as either a POP3 or IMAP service, you can, of course, but you won’t get the advantages of Exchange, in Microsoft Outlook if you go that route.

If Exchange Services aren’t important to you, then , as I mentioned you can still use Outlook.com as a POP3 or IMAP service provider, or you can simply go with Gmail, which has some of the most reliable, easiest to configure services available It just depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it… It’s really up to you.

So what are the differences between Gmail and Outlook.com? Why do you pick one over the other? To be honest, I’m going to tell you exactly what I told my friend:

They’re effectively identical.

The only reason why you choose one over the other is going to depend on what type of mobile devices you have (Google services plays best with Android devices…); or whether or not you need or want Exchange.

If either of these are a toss up, then by all means, just pick one. To be honest, most folks aren’t going to care and it won’t really matter… It’s not your email needs that are going to drive you to pick one over the other. It’s going to be another service – Exchange, Office Suite compatibility, web browser needs/ choice, or full app client that are going to push you to choose one over the other.

If none of that makes a difference to you, then by all means… flip a coin.

However, I’d love to hear what you chose and why. Did you go Google or Microsoft? Chrome or Outlook? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me what direction you went and why. I’d love to hear all about it.

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