Adobe Acrobat Reader won’t print PDFs

In the last year or so, multiple systems have stopped printing PDFs when using Acrobat Reader with no errors or indication why. The job doesn’t appear in the print queue so fails within the Adobe software.

The problem has occurred in a number of versions of Acrobat Reader and Windows on workstations and terminal servers. The most recent problem was with Server 2012 R2 terminal server and Reader 11.0.10 with all but one user able to print PDFs.

After the usual net stop spooler command followed by net start spooler and a repair of Acrobat Reader I followed the steps below and yet another mystery printing error was fixed.

I’m not sure why this setting causes issues as one user on the server could print a PDF but the user with the problem couldn’t print the same PDF with the box checked. If you have any insight into why this fix works please let me know in the comments.

I’ve had a setting in Adobe Readers / Advanced Security cause me all sorts of odd issues….. since it’s two seconds to remove that checkmark I’d give that a whirl.

  • Open Reader
  • Select the Edit menu
  • Click Preferences
  • Select Security (Enhanced) in the left panel
  • Clear the check box in the top section “Enable protected mode at startup”
  • Close and re-open Acrobat Reader.
  • If it still doesn’t work open Preferences again and re-check the box.


Veeam Backups Failing – Network path not found

Recently a backup job was created to backup and VM from an ESXi host to a backup repository on a QNAP. Everything appeared to be configured correctly and all usernames and passwords were correct but it would still fail every time it was tested.

This is the error message I would see each time.

The network path was not found. Agent failed to process method {Stg.OpenReadWrite}.

After testing and removing and adding almost every part of the configuration again I finally figured out what the issue was. The credentials for the QNAP shared were correct but for some reason when I removed them from the credential manager and added them again the backup worked.

I have no idea why this worked because when I would choose the backup repository to use it could see used and free space details along with existing backups. The backup is now running without issue so it’s worth a try if you are having a similar issue.

Veeam Instant Recovery VM won’t boot after host failure

We were in the process of migrating VMs from one datacentre to another using Veeam Backup & Replication when our main host crashed with a CPU error. The production VMs had been running on the server for a few hours and hadn’t yet been fully replicated to the replication partner. One of the VMs is Server 2003 so was running in Instant Recovery mode as is couldn’t be migrated using replication like the other VMs.

Thankfully the server rebooted and all the VMs started without issue except the Server 2003 VM. When viewing the console it only displayed a black screen which was worrying as there was no backup of the last 6 hours of changes.

After submitting a case on the Veeam site a member of the support team called within 20 minutes and quickly got the VM up and running again. The issue in our case was that the Veeam B&R software is installed on a VM running on the host that crashed. When the VM restarted the Veeam services didn’t start in the required order. The Veeam vPower NFS service needs to start after the Veeam Backup service.

To fix the issue the only steps required were to restart the Veeam vPower NFS service on the system running Veeam B&R then start the VM.

How To Clean Sticky Plastic

The majority of electronics are housed in some kind of plastic which for the most part is very long lasting and easy to clean with a damp cloth. There is one type of rubberized plastic coating that doesn’t fall into this easy to clean category. The coating is used to make the plastic feel more upmarket but once it starts to degrade it becomes tacky and eventually straight up sticky.

I have tried all sorts of cleaners including Goo Gone which is usually great for removing sticky marks from plastic. Nothing worked and most just made the coating more sticky. I didn’t want to start trying more harsh solvents as I’ve damaged plastics in the past using things like alcohol rub.

An old Linksys E4200 router had become so bad that the entire top was sticky with a layer of dust attached. I was trying to clean the dust off in the laundry room when I noticed the box of baking soda and thought it was worth a try. Using a small cup I made a thick paste of baking soda and water, I then used my finger to rub the paste on the router. In a few seconds the sticky coating started to come off. It took about 10 minutes and a quick wipe with a damp cloth but the stickiness had finally gone. The plastic underneath is by no means pristine but at least it isn’t sticky and I can now clean it with just a damp cloth.

It won’t be quite as easy to use this method on things like TV remotes but it might be easy to remove the cover and clean it before reassembling.

Outlook Procedure Entry Point Error – Windows XP

This one came as a surprise since there aren’t many updates being released for Windows XP or Office 2010. On PCs running Windows XP 32bit SP3 and Office 2010, a recent update has caused an error when opening Outlook. The error message includes the message below and gives no option to continue to open the program.

The procedure entry point CompareStringOrdinal could not be located in the dynamic link library KERNEL32.dll

All the machines I’ve looked at so far with the error all worked fine after removing update KB4011273. Follow the steps below to remove the update and stop it from installing again.

  1. Go to Control Panel > Add or remove programs.
  2. Check the Show Updates box at the top right.
  3. Find the section with Office updates and uninstall KB4011273.
  4. Once it has finished uninstalling open Internet Explorer and go to
  5. Select Custom.
  6. When available updates are shown uncheck the update and check the Don’t show this update again box.

    Don't show update
    Don’t show update Windows XP

The update should not be installed automatically and Outlook will now open. It will buy you enough time to get whatever data you need before buying something more recent.

Changing Office Add Ins to Auto Load

A client has been having issues with Office add-ins for Time Matters not loading when Outlook and Word are started. The add-ins were previously working so Lexis Nexis support tried the first four steps on this list to fix the problem with no luck. I then tried the remaining steps with the same result, the add-in was shown in Outlook but wasn’t loaded or active.

Two of the machines had fresh installs of Windows 7 and Windows 10 so conflicts with old software versions and remnants left in the registry were unlikely. The add-ins worked perfectly when activated manually so it wasn’t a compatibility issue.

I decided to check the registry for load settings and sure enough the add-ins were set to not load automatically. This was after a full uninstall of both Office and Time Matters so it seems like a strange setting for an add-in intended for daily office use.

Thankfully the setting is quick and easy to fix using the following steps.

  1. Open the Registry Editor
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Office > Word > Addins > (changing Word for the correct Office application)
  3. Open the add-in with the problem
  4. Double click to open the LoadBehavior item
  5. Change the binary value to 3
  6. Close the registry editor and test the Office applications.

Remove HP iLO License

In order to use the full features of HP’s Integerated Lights-Out system a license key needs to be added. The process of adding a license is as simple as connecting to the iLO web interface and following the steps in the license section. If for some reason you want to remove the license it’s not quite as simple as clicking a button.

Thankfully it’s not actually that difficult to remove the license, just a pain having to use an extra tool. The steps below show you how to complete the removal in a few minutes.

  1. Download Putty if you don’t already have it.
  2. Open putty and enter the IP of the iLO server, select SSH and open the connection.
  3. Login using the same credentials used for the iLO web interface (username is case sensitive).
  4. type the following command and hit enter. delete /map1 license
  5. The command may take 5-10 seconds to complete so wait until confirmation is shown.

Remove iLO License

Delete Recovery Partitions in Windows

Quite often a hard drive supplied in a laptop or as part of a pre-built system will contain a number of recovery or system partitions which cannot be deleted using the Windows disk management tool. The partitions may be labeled as Healthy (Recovery Partition) or Healthy (OEM Partition) and can vary in size from a few hundred megabytes up to tens of gigabytes. If the disk is being reused for another purpose the recovery partitions will not be needed so the best option is to remove them.

Unwanted Partitions shown in Disk Management
Unwanted Partitions shown in Disk Management

Normally I would boot Parted Magic from a USB pendrive and use the partition editor to clear the drive. However there are times when removing the partitions without rebooting is preferred, thankfully there is a way to do this from the command line. Simply follow the steps below to delete the offending partitions.

Using Diskpart to delete partitions

*** Ensure the partitions are not needed before continuing. Normally this would not be done on the main Windows disk as it could easily result in a damaged Windows install ***

  1. Open a command prompt as an administrator
  2. Type diskpart and hit enter
  3. Type rescan and hit enter, the drives will be scanned for partitions
  4. Type list disk and hit enter to display a list of disks in the system
  5. Select the required disk from the list by typing select disk x (where x is the number of the disk) then hit enter
  6. Type list partition and hit enter to display a list of partitions of the selected disk
  7. Type select partition x (where x is the partition number) and hit enter to select the partition to be deleted
  8. Type delete partition override and hit enter to delete the partition. There will be no confirmation before the partition is deleted so ensure the correct partition has been selected.

To delete more than one partition simply repeat steps 7 and 8 until all the unwanted partitions have been deleted.

Diskpart disk and partition lists
Diskpart disk and partition lists

Install Veeam Endpoint Backup on Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 is a bare metal hypervisor which Microsoft makes available for free with the idea being that it will be managed remotely. Since it is only intended to be a host for VMs there is no GUI and the basic setup is done using the command line or Powershell. While Hyper-V Server is perfect for it’s intended use there are times when more applications like backup and monitoring software would be useful.

Thankfully Microsoft has not stripped out all the parts of the OS which support the use of applications with a GUI. There may not be a normal desktop or start menu but a large number of applications can still be used. The application I install most on Hyper-V Server is Veeam Endpoint Backup which I use as a quick and easy backup solution for test servers.

The install process is the same for most applications, just the file names and directories would be different.

  • From another computer on the network open \\\C$ (where is the IP of the Hyper-V server)
  • Enter the login details of an account with administrator privileges
  • Copy the install files to the C: drive of the server, I usually create a folder with a short name like C:\Veeam
  • Connect to the Hyper-V server using RDP
  • At the command line navigate to the folder created on the C: drive
  • Run the install by typing the full file name (I changed the install EXE name to installveeam.exe when I copied it across)
  • Follow the normal prompts to install Veeam including .NET framework

After the install has finished Veeam can be run by navigating to C:\Program Files\Veeam\Endpoint Backup\ and running the file veeam.endpoint.backup.exe

Most of the usual functions work with the exception of creating recovery media and some of file browse windows. I have successfully used recovery media created on another Server 2012 R2 system to recover a Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 using Veeam.


HP LaserJet Pro 200 color MFP M276nw not installing

Another day another printer issue, this time a HP Laserjet Pro 200 series which wouldn’t install. For the most part I’ve found HP printers to be straightforward to install when used over a network and USB but this Laserjet was anything but.

The first attempt was made using the most recent Windows install package from the HP website but the install process would get to 99% after about 30 minutes and fail. I thought it could be an issue with a component in the full package so tried the basic drivers but the printer still would not install.

I connected to a WiFi network and tried a firmware update which indicated it already had the most recent firmware. When connected to WiFi the printer would install just fine so the issue was just with the USB connection.

The printer has a smart install feature which mounts a drive with install files to make it easy to install. It turns out this feature is what was causing the install to fail. After disabling smart install the printer was detected normally and installed in less than a minute compared to the 30 minutes for the failed attempts.

How to disable HP Smart Install on a HP LaserJet 200 Color MFP

  • On the control panel of your printer touch the Setup button
  • Scroll down to Services and touch this to enter the next menu
  • Touch Services to access that menu
  • Again scroll down until you find HP Smart Install then touch to enter
  • Set HP Smart Install to OFF.