Archive

Archive for August, 2015

Restoring OneNote cache files from backup

August 15, 2015 Leave a comment

If you’ve followed my last few posts, you’ll know that I had a Windows 7 > Windows 10 upgrade go bad, and I lost my data drive in the process.

Luckily, I had a recent local backup via the excellent Crashplan, and I restored all my data. However, I discovered that this didn’t help with some of my OneNote data. The reason for this, is that I store that OneNote data in a Truecrypt file. I typically leave the Truecrypt volume dismounted, so all my OneNote data is just stored in the local appdata cache.

Then, when I mount the Truecrypt volume manually, OneNote intelligently syncs all the changes over to the encrypted volume. It works much in the same way that it might if you had notes stored on a NAS or Shared Drive, but cached them locally on your laptop when travelling. OneNote really is awesome for this.

HOWEVER – it’s not so awesome if you forget to mount the drive and sync your cache… for five weeks. This happened, and then when I lost my C: drive, I lost the entire last 5 weeks’ of cached changes.

What to do….

Well – I tried restoring the cache from backup. I followed these simple steps:

1. First, I zipped up my current OneNote cache, and then deleted the current set. These are all the files in C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\OneNote\15.0

2. Then, I restored the same files from the backup. Crashplan allows you to select a date to restore files from, so I chose one from just before the crash, and then restored the entire directory.

3. Then I ran OneNote

Eureka! I found notes I had made within the last week, so it seemed to have worked, with no complaints. Looking into the cache directory, it looks insanely complex and arbitrary, so I didn’t want to edit it in part, but replacing the whole lot seemed to work.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

Windows 10 installation problems with Truecrypt – Overwriting the Partition

August 15, 2015 Leave a comment

I had my data drive on the SATA SSD, which typically turns up first as disk 0 in most disk-level tools like imaging and installation programs, and my system drive in the mSATA SSD, as disk 1. Both are 256GB.

Disk 0 was encrypted at a partition level with Truecrypt, which would typically make a drive or partition look unmountable and like garbage. My system would boot on disk 1 partition 1, and then I would automount the truecrypted partition on disk 0 partition 0

It appears what happened, was that when I was in the basic disk configuration screen at the start of Win10 fresh installation, although I formatted disk 1 partition 1 (the old C:), it also turned disk 0 partition 0 (the Truecrypt data) into a system partition. From what I understand of System partitions, this includes overwriting the first sectors of the partition with new boot files, like boot.ini. I would expect that on Truecrypt volume, this would spell disaster, as it might overwrite important Truecrypt initialisation data, like the master key

I saw that D0P0 was definitely a system partition now, and I don’t remember it being so before. A check of previous disk imaging notes, although part-obscured, suggest that the Truecrypt volume was NOT system-formatted – just as a primary partition.

2015-08-15 21_26_08-Home Shared - Microsoft OneNote Online

 

 

The fact it’s the only RAW partition (ie. Can’t be identified as NTFS because it’s encrypted), suggests that’s the truecrypt volume. As you can see, it’s not SYSTEM from this screenshot taken a while before I upgraded.

So – the first few sectors of my Truecrypt data volume are screwed. When I had tried mounting it using Truecrypt in Windows 10, it gave an error along the lines of “The host volume/file is in used and cannot be mounted”. At first I had assumed it was a Windows 10 error, so I restored my old Win7 image and tried mounting it from that, but got exactly the same error.

OK – so, next was to try to recover the data volume. I discovered that the way to do this was with the Truecrypt ISO, that you may remember it badgering you to create every time you encrypted a volume, and maybe you did, maybe you didn’t! I tried checking the archived Truecrypt site, but the fact is that this ISO is only available from the software installed on your machine, when you encrypt the partition.

Some tools are common to any Truecrypt ISO, like restoring the bootloader, but some are specific to your specific ISO file for that volume, such as restoring the master key.

I looked at creating a boot USB to mount the ISO file without having to burn a DVD, but that looked very hard compared to the alternative, so I plugged a USB DVD drive in, and burnt the DVD.

When booting from that DVD, it booted successfully into the Truecrypt rescue app. It gave four options, including restoring the MBR, Master key, and so on. I tried each of those, but none worked. Interestingly, they only identified one drive/partition to select from to fix – it wasn’t clear if that was the one I had originally installed in it, or not.

Also, I suspected the master key was not the same anyway. I had copies of the recovery ISO generated when I encrypted the C: drive every time I rebuild or restored my Windows installation, but the D: drive that I was trying to recover had been encrypted many iterations ago, and reattached each time. Hence it was likely specific to a recovery ISO that had long since been lost.

In any case, the recovery didn’t work, and the partition remained inaccessible.

At this point, I gave up – I could have perhaps tried hacking around with the boot sector and MBR, but I didn’t have time to learn all that. I hoped I had a full working backup on my local NAS from Crashplan, and, in the worst case, a copy of my main document folders in Spideroak too, which I use to Sync.

It turned out Crashplan seems to have worked as advertised – I restored from the image on my NAS, which took 1 hour to re-sync the block information to my PC, and then 8 hours to restore all the data over a 1Gbps ethernet connection. I’ve tested some VMware copies and some documents, and so far everything seems to have been there. I highly recommend Crashplan as a fallback for all such issues.

I’ve since played around with various other issues, such as Win10 being corrupted and Office2013 failing to work with it. At some point I’ll rebuild with the system entirely, when I have time.

Categories: Uncategorized

Did Windows 10 installer just overwrite my data drive boot partition?

August 14, 2015 1 comment

It certainly looks like it:

2015-08-14 20_38_54-Microsoft Edge

Now, this is quite alarming, because originally, I had Disk1 Partition0 as my System/Boot partition, and my Disc0 as my data partition. Despite this, when I installed Windows, it seemed to select Disk0 for the System (boot.ini, etc) partition.

The reason it’s alarming, was that Disk0 was whole-volume encrypted using Truecrypt. If the Win10 installer has overwritten the start of the disk with new boot files, it has likely destroyed critical sectors of the Truecrypt volume and made my whole data drive unusable.

Ouch.

Luckily I have a backup, but this is still a rude shock. I guess I might have missed this when preparing the disk at the start of the Win10 installation, which I did play with. If so, then it’s something to look out for yourself.

Categories: Uncategorized

Adding 3 monitors on Windows 10

August 14, 2015 11 comments

I’m currently using an HP EliteBook 9470m, and am trying to set up Windows 10 after some problems with my existing Windows 7 installation. Unfortunately, it’s not all plain sailing.

The last issue I just tackled is using more than two monitors. I have three – my main laptop display, and then two 1920×1200 HP monitors that are orientated in portrait mode, and then sat side-by-side.

This is quite a complicated concept, since not only more than two monitors, but one is 90′ rotated, and the other is 270′ rotated. They are also set up in virtual space to match the physical arrangement – if I move my pointer off the top of my laptop screen, it slides onto the bottom of my external screen – which is the left if you turned the screen back to landscape.

To top it off, one is running off Displayport, the other off VGA, off the internal Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip.

Laptop with two portrait screens

It’s weird, but it works

So – once Win10 was installed, naturally it just cloned to one of the two displays, in Landscape. My battle was then to get my setup as it was before, described above.

 

The first issue, is that it only seems to recognise two displays in any of the display settings. The default driver from Windows is 10.18.10.4252, dated 10/07/2015.

2015-08-14 19_55_57-Start

Going to the Intel website finds a slightly later driver, v15.33.38.64.4252, dated 27/7/15. Aalthough not certified by Microsoft WHQL, I installed this, rebooted, and then got some recognition of my three displays in the native windows config screen.

Given the same end build number of 4252, I wonder if perhaps it’s the same driver as was installed previously, and changed nothing. I wonder this, because even after the reboot, the main Intel HD Graphics Control Panel only let me use two displays. I could now choose from all three displays – it listed them all – but I could only select any two to be active.

2015-08-14 20_00_37-Intel(R) Graphics Control Panel

Eventually, I managed to tease Windows into admitting I had three displays. I couldn’t find any way to do this within the (usually more powerful) Intel Control Panel, but did so from the right-click menu on the background, and went for a Clone Display option, choosing both the external displays

2015-08-14 20_02_19-

I kept juggling with these options, and then in the Control Panel, until I managed to get all three displays lit up at the same time. I was then able to configure each display in turn for orientation and resolution, and finally, position, to get the setup I wanted.

2015-08-14 20_05_13-New notification

All this was generally much harder than with Windows 7 – mainly because the Intel Command Centre has various screens and options hidden in single panes, making it harder to quickly fire off a flurry of different changes. Doing so in the alternative interface, the native Windows background menu options, would have been laughably awkward to do, having to reopen the menu for each individual change.

2015-08-14 20_08_01-

Anyway, it all seems to be working so far, so on to the next issue.

 

 

Categories: Windows10

Europcar extra day charge of GBP 1000 – really?

August 12, 2015 Leave a comment

I know there are plenty of stories out there already – this is a +1.

In short – 2 week rental from LCY to LHR (London City to Heathrow) in the UK. The rental was very good value – perhaps GBP25 a day, and after a journey from hell, my wife’s gallows humour charmed the agent into giving us a free upgrade (Qashqai with high trim level) and free one-way rental. Booking agency was rentalcars.com

Crisis on the day of departure – daughter spends 2 hours A&E, another 2 hours in now-rush-hour traffic, and we miss our flight. I put off extending the car while we check flight options, and by the time I do, too late – the office I phone is closed, and I can’t find a means of extending it anywhere. There’s nothing on the front of the rental agreement about extending rentals, or a daily rate, although my wife finds something amongst the 2mm-high print on the back.

So – being used to Avis/Hertz corporate rentals, I dismissively assume another day at the daily rate, or worst case, a full-price one-day rental fee of GBP100, a quote I get from Europcar’s website for that day, directly. I rock up the next day, and the returns agent bemusedly tells me it will be GBP1073.34 for the extra day! Yep, almost fifty times the rate we had paid per day so far!

I had spotted a similar story when belatedly googling the extension, and had a sinking feeling this would happen. He suggested I speak to the manager, and said he would keep the rental open until then. I phoned Amex, cancelled the card Europcar had on file, then walked in to speak to the manager.

The agent in the main office listened, confirmed the GBP1000, then said she’d speak to her manager. I watched her go over, talk to him, and to my relief and his credit, he told her to manually close the original rental as being returned on time yesterday at no extra charge, then log the extra as a one-day rental for GBP50. Hence they would just deduct GBP50 from my GBP250 card deposit…

It appears evident that the lack of clarity on these extra charges is an effort to sucker anyone who extends past the terms of the rental to profit from their omission; I don’t think you could argue that GBP1000 is a risk offset for an unreturned car, in a centre that turns around 30 cars an hour.

Anyway – takeaways that might be of use here:

– If in doubt, perhaps cancel your card before you go in. They might try to pursue the charges, but the initial effort will be on their part. There’s no reason why you might cancel your card if you simply lost it.
– If they say there’s no way to repeal the charge, then they’re lying, as there is evidently a workaround:
– Ask to leave the return open when you return it (or discuss it before you return it)
– Close the reservation manually as being on time
– Pay a new rental fee for the extra time
– The agent did this after verbal instruction from the office manager, and it took two minutes

D

Categories: Uncategorized