Ask a Windows Expert – Week 2

ask-windows-expert-logoIt’s that time again – the time to answer the questions you’ve submitted for Windows. We receive questions all the time via email and answer them in the most comprehensible way possible, with the help of a resident expert at MTE. If you would like to submit your own question, send an email to windows-help [at] maketecheasier.com. Don’t forget to replace “[at]” with “@” and remove the spaces from the address. This is your chance to make your voice heard and have your questions analyzed by one of the top experts in the field.

A: The first two things that come to mind:

  • Did the installed operating system come with your computer, or did you install your own? Try using the default operating system the computer came with.
  • Did you install any new drivers since you purchased the computer? Try booting in safe mode (press F8 just before Windows starts loading) and rolling back your drivers.

If you did neither, attempt to reinstall the operating system on the computer. If this doesn’t work, chances are that you were shipped a computer with faulty hardware. You must return it to the entity you bought it from for a replacement. They’ll understand. This kind of thing is not as rare as you might think it is.

A: Usually, this isn’t a browser-related issue, so I’m afraid to say that the attempt was in vain. Windows has a DNS client service, which sometimes can cache the IP address of a website’s domain name. When that IP changes, it can still try to connect to the old IP erroneously. Another possibility is that your “hosts” file is faulty, and contains an old IP address for a particular domain name.

Here’s the trick. Go to “C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc” and right-click the “hosts” file you see there. Remember to replace “C” with your system drive’s drive letter and “Windows” with the Windows folder that pertains to your particular version of Windows. Open your “hosts” file with notepad and have a look at it. Do you see the website that wasn’t connecting? If you do, remove its entry in the file. Make sure you don’t delete anything else except the IP address (a sequence of four numbers separated by dots) and the domain name.

If you really need the “hosts” file to have that DNS entry for some reason, hold the “Windows” key on your keyboard (next to either “Alt” key) and press “R.” Type “cmd” in that window and press “Enter.”

Once in, type

nslookup domain.com

replacing “domain.com” with the domain name you want the IP address for. Type up the IP address you find under “Addresses” in “Non-Authoritative Answer” into your “hosts” file entry in place of the old IP address. That solves the problem. Here’s what your window should look like after a lookup:

ask-windows-nonauth

If you didn’t find an entry in your “hosts file, you should restart the “DNS Client” service. Do that by following this path (Windows 7):

Control Panel -> System and Security -> Administrative Tools -> Services.

Find “DNS Client,” right-click it, and click “Stop.” Once stopped, right-click it and click “Start.”

Don’t rule out that the website could be down temporarily. Try it at a later time. Your best bet in finding out if the site is down is to ping the IP address of the site using “ping domain.com” on your command line, replacing “domain.com” with the domain you want to ping.

A: First of all, do this only if both computers are connected to the same router/switch. With different routers, you might run into a subnetting issue. Second of all, you can run into problems when attempting to join the homegroup of a computer after creating one on the other one as well. Leave the homegroup on both, restart the computers, create a homegroup on one computer, and try joining it on your remaining PC. If it doesn’t see the homegroup or can’t join for some reason, try restarting the second computer again.

When all else fails, turn to Microsoft. Follow this guide.

A: This might happen because of a virus or a memory leak within an application. I highly suggest you scan your computer for viruses before assuming a program has a memory leak. Memory leaks happen when a program continues running in an infinite loop, requesting more memory allocated for things you’re not using. It’s a bug and you should inform the developer of the application if you find out that it’s leaking. Memory leaks are very common, and can jeopardize your computer’s normal functionality.

To detect a memory leak, press “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” or “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” to access your task manager. Click the “Processes” tab and sort the items on the list by “Working Set,” with the arrow pointing down. You can do this by clicking the column name at the top of the list repeatedly. Check the numbers and note if any of them are climbing consistently. Some of them climb occasionally, but you’re looking for one that’s just rising without mercy. Your task manager window should look like this:

ask-windows-taskmgrworkingset

Once you find the bugger, right-click the item on the list and click “End Process.” Confirm the process termination. You should either discontinue using that particular program or revert to an older version you know worked OK. Perhaps it was even a fluke, and the next time you run it, the application won’t act up.

I must stress how important it is to let the application developer know of the issue.

If you would like to submit your question for next week’s part of the “Ask a Windows Expert” series, please send an email to windows-help [at] maketecheasier.com. Happy surfing!