The Windows Starter Issue

I admit now with windows 8 we wont see this much but I know some people still unfortunately have the  base Windows starter 7 edition on some netbooks.

What is the issue?  For some strange reason after 180 days starter believes your password is incorrect or expired and will not allow you to log in.

Reset the password using MsDART locksmith and you are good to go again right?

No, well you are temporarily but the problem will come back again.

Unfortunately as well windows starter has much of the basic user password abilities inaccessible so you can’t just edit your users and fix the issue. Oh and forget about gpedit.msc that won’t work either

Luckily though we can use the trusty command prompt to set what most people normally see as a tick next to “Password Never Expires”

The command is simple:
net accounts /MaxPWAge:Unlimited

Once you have done this, you shouldn’t be prompted to set a password in 180 days again and can continue to use your computer as normal.


Blue screen of Death (BSOD) Fatal, but useful

We have all seen this screen before at some point in time – well if you use Windows anyway.

The BSOD shows when a system has had a fatal error of which it is unable to recover from. Sounds pretty nasty – it can be, but there is some useful information on the BSOD when it occurs.

Before I explain what this information is we need to know how to make it visible. Ever notice how when it occurs your computer generally reboots and tries to run as normal again?

Some years ago Microsoft changed the operating system to reboot whenever a bluescreen error was encountered – this was so that in public spaces such as airports instead of blue screens with white writing that said FATAL ERROR on them people would see the Windows logo with the loading bar.

Luckily, the ability to stop this behaviour was left in the operating system. Under Startup and recovery in the System properties found in control panel (Advanced System Settings in Vista and above) there is a check box under system failure for “Automatic Restart”. Simply uncheck this box and next time if your computer generates a BSOD – you will have the ability to read it.

Note though, this is only useful when the BSOD is occurring after windows has actually loaded. If it is occurring on boot there is a slightly different procedure.

Most of us will recall pressing the F8 key to get to the boot menu that allows us to go to Safe Mode. What most people never realise is another option that says “Disable automatic restart on system failure”

Selecting this option will attempt to boot your system as normal – However if a BSOD occurs the system will stop on the screen which will allow you to read its contents.

Now that we know how to make that screen stay visible, we can look at using it to determine what is failing.

A BSOD has a stop code, listed near the bottom of it an example is:

STOP 0X0000007B

This code can be one of the most important parts of the screen – another is any filenames that may occur e.g.


If you have the information from the BSOD you can really drill down to what exactly is causing the error. Microsoft support site for example has articles for many of the known stop codes and these articles not only provide a description of the problem but in many cases ways of resolving the issue.

If you have a filename as opposed to a stop code – you can sometimes determine whether an application may be causing the issue. If you work in the tech industry you should know certain files are responsible for certain things e.g. in the example above NTFS.SYS – a system driver responsibly for accessing NTFS volumes. If this filename is on your BSOD it is likely you have an issue with your hard drive, it could be failing or corrupt.

Some virus scanners such as AVG have also been known to cause BSOD errors with there DLL files – try be aware of system files vs application files. In the case of application files in many cases it is possible to remove problem software in safe mode that will rectify your issue.

BSOD’s can also be used to determine issues with faulty memory. How? look at the stop code, if your system has a particular fault your BSOD Stop code will be consistent. If it has faulty memory – the stop code will be random.

So even though a BSOD indicates a severe system failure – it can indicate to you very precise information about what is causing the system failure.

iertutil.dll was not found Windows XP

Recently Microsoft started rolling out Internet Explorer 8 as a non-optional update for Windows XP. Considering how insecure the older versions are this isnt really a bad thing except when the automatic update fails and stops your computer from booting correctly.

You may have seen the following errors pop up:

iertutil.dll could not be found


Error the ordinal 681 could not be loaded.

This happens as explorer is starting to load, and causes problems with automatic installation of USB devices as well. Fortunately though there is a fix.

There are several different methods that people reccomend on how to fix this particular issue. One of them is to use system restore to return the computer to a useable state. Although this is likely to fix this particular error, it can cause you more errors and despite what people believe it DOES delete data.

The appropriate way of fixing this error is to replace the iertutil.dll file with the version that windows is expecting to find – not the corrupted version.

This file is located in c:\windows\system32\ problem is it is corrupt or incorrect, luckily though Windows saves a copy of the file in C:\windows\system32\dllcache

Now there are two ways to move this file, if you have a recovery CD such as UBCD for Windows or MSDART you can copy the file from C:\windows\system32\dllcache to C:\windows\system32 and overwrite the existing file. I would reccomend doing this only if you are having issues with keyboard/mice since USB recogniton is broken.

If you can boot into windows still it is much easier to do the following:
1. Press ctrl+shit+esc on your keyboard, and you will see the task manager pop up.
2. Goto File > New task
3. Type in cmd and press enter

This should open the command prompt, although one computer I repaired recently would throw an error as soon as you typed into the run box, if this happens, click the error then use your keyboard to move the text cursor and continue writing the command

4. Once in command prompt type the following to enter the system32 directory

– cd \ (then press enter)
– cd windows\system32 (then press enter)

Your path should now show c:\windows\system32

Now that you are in this directory I suggest you rename your current iertutil.dll file just in case you need to revert back to it. Type the following:

– rename iertutil.dll iertutil.old (then press enter)

The command line will just return it will not say file successfully renamed or anything like that.

Now we need to copy the file from the dllcache into the system32 directory. To make the command more simple you should do the following:

Considering your path should show c:\windows\system32 you will only need to cd (change directory) into dllcache not an entire path

– cd dllcache (press enter)
– path will now show c:\windows\system32\dllcache

Now you are in the dllcache directory type the following to copy iertutil.dll to where it needs to be

– copy iertutil.dll c:\windows\system32 (press enter)

You should get the message “1 file(s) copied”

If you have got this far – you can now reboot your computer. Providing this was your only issue, you should now be able to boot all the way in to your desktop.

Now – before you go doing anything to avoid the error occuring again download Internet explorer 8 full installer and install it. I strongly recommend running windows updates as well.