I recently needed to be able to use the Cisco VPN Client (I’m specifically referring to version: 5.0.07.0410 on 32bit Windows and version: 5.0.07.0440 on 64bit Windows, although this fix would apply to earlier versions as well) on my Windows 8.1 (32bit Windows) tablet (Acer Iconia), but was not able to connect to my remote VPN endpoint. I kept getting the this error: Reason 440: Driver Failure. I searched this error in Google and tried all sorts of fixes and patches and things from articles everywhere. No matter what I tried (for hours on end), the error message was always the same. Eventually, I just gave up.

Today, I decided to have one more look at the issue. I realized I hadn’t looked somewhere quite obvious; The Windows Event Viewer. Sure enough, under Windows Logs –> System, I found the following error message:

The Cisco Systems Inc. IPSec Driver service failed to start due to the following error: 
Windows cannot verify the digital signature for this file. A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source.

So, to put it simply, Windows Driver Signature Enforcement (DSE) was at fault. Not the software VPN Client, not DNE, not the drivers, not Windows Update, and not having other VPN clients installed. It was simply DSE.

I tried disabling DSE (and that might be all you have to do), but it turned out I had to go one step further, because I couldn’t disable DSE.

Why?

Well, my tablet has something called ‘Secure Boot’ enabled. When I tried disabling DSE, I received a message telling me it wasn’t possible to disable it because I have Secure Boot enabled. So I did a quick search on how to Disable Secure Boot. I’d gone looking for the setting previously, but couldn’t find it because I had to set a user / system password in the BIOS first. After I set a password, voila! The Secure Boot setting appeared! After disabling Secure Boot, I started Windows 8.1 and was immediately able to use the Cisco VPN Client to connect to my remote VPN endpoint. I didn’t even need to re-install it.

Note: I’m not discrediting all the other articles on the internet and all their work arounds and fixes. They just simply didn’t work for me. If you’re system doesn’t have Secure Boot, than this fix won’t work for you. You’ll either need to disabled DSE or find another solution.

The thing that caught me up, was that I have another PC with Windows 8.1 on it, and all I had to do was install the Cisco VPN client and connect. It just worked straight out of the box. No fixes required. The only difference (other than it being a PC) was that it doesn’t have Secure Boot (older BIOS).

Oh no! Your Motorola Xoom is Bricked (or is it)

You’ve tried everything you can think of. Hard reset, soft reset, factory reset, factory restore, factory wipe and erase. Nothing works! I thought that too!

Please read this entire article before trying anything!

So long as you can still reach the ‘Starting Fastboot Protocol Support’, by powering the device on (or resetting with Power + Volume Up) while holding the power and volume down button, you are probably not in as much trouble as you may think.

Visit this link and download the zip file:

http://www.android.net/forum/downloading/67/guest/SDK_tools.zip
(leave me a comment if the file is unavailable, I’ll upload a copy to this website)

Extract it to your C: drive, so the contents exist in:

C:SDK_tools

Visit this link:

http://developer.motorola.com/products/software/

Read this article for more information about the bundles.

Download the corrosponding bundle version for your location or region. I’m in Australia, so I downloaded the ‘Build H.6.1-38-9 for Telstra Australia’ bundle. Take a few moments to peruse the list, it’s a little confusing and I almost downloaded the wrong one. Make sure you download the right one. I’ve no idea what happens if you restore with the wrong files.

You’ll have to register to download the files. It’s free, which is not bad for something that is about to bring your Motorola Xoom back to life 🙂

Extract the archive and dump all the files directly into the C:SDK_tools directory.

Your directory listing should look something like this:

adb.exe
AdbWinApi.dll
AdbWinUsbApi.dll
boot.img
ddms.bat
fastboot.exe
recovery.img
system.img
userdata.img

Depending on the amount of damage you’ve done to your Motorola Xoom, you may or may not need to do all of the following commands:

fastboot flash boot boot.img
fastboot flash system system.img
fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
fastboot flash userdata userdata.img
fastboot erase cache
fastboot oem lock

Note 1. If you intend to root or otherwise modify the OS in the near or far future, skip the last command (fastboot oem lock).

Note 2. If no userdata.img file is present in your download, please issue the command:

fastboot erase userdata

I only managed to screw up my boot partition (I think) as I only needed to excute the first command. Try them one at a time and reboot the Motorola Xoom. Give it time to come back to life before re-entering ‘Starting Fastboot Protocol Support’ again. When I say give it some time, I mean wait at least 5 minutes.

Note: you can unlock your Motorola Xoom with the following command:

fastboot oem unlock.

As for rooting the device… well I’m sure that’s the reason some of you are here! Do some more research before attempting it again, I know I did!

Comodo Time Machine is a fantastic product. Allowing you to completely ruin your Windows operating system, and then restore it back as good as new with the click of a button (well, maybe more than one click). By that I mean its great software for being able to roll back after your kids have just destroyed the OS directories or you have suffered damage by a virus.

For most users, the installation is a breeze and Comodo Time Machine does it’s job. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all of us.

I’ve been installing Comodo Time Machine on systems for a little while now, and more than once, after the initial installation, I get the following error message upon boot up:

Testing Memory <Hexadecimal Value>...

Something went wrong. I don’t know exactly what, and perhaps a helpful reader can fill us in, however at this point, it would seem all is lost. Now, I’ve only tested this so far on PCs with Windows Vista and Windows 7. So if you have Windows XP, you made need to use a little additional effort.

If you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista, possibly like me, your first thought was ‘No worries, I’ll use the System Repair Utility on the my installation media’. This won’t work. ‘Startup Repair’ won’t be able to solve the issue, and neither will rolling back to a ‘System Restore’ point. It simply won’t work, yet.

Even though this is a problem for you, as far as your computer and operating system are concerned, there is no issue. Which is correct. Yes, Comodo Time Machine has failed to install correctly (of which there are many reasons why this may occur, one being lack of space on drive ‘C:’), however that has not really done any harm to your PC. You just simply can’t get into Windows!

If you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista, yes Startup Repair can help you, but first you have to give it something to repair. I was pretty desperate when this first happened to me, and I actually ended up re-installing the entire system. Not the second time around though. No way was I re-installing, especially since I didn’t have a backup of my clients system, and I was working on site without additional PCs to help my efforts.

In come Hirens Boot CD. Admittedly, you could use any number of rescue boot CDs out there on the internet, I happened to have Hirens Boot CD 10.0 which had exactly the tools I needed. In CD/ISO form, Hirens boot CD does contain some software that others would call ‘commercial’ thus I can’t provide you with a download link to the ISO. However, this page, and this page, should get you on the right track.

Once you have the CD prepared (or USB Key), place it in your computer, and boot from it. Most recent computers are capable of booting from a USB device or CD-ROM. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a computer that couldn’t boot from CD-ROM, and I’ve worked on some old PCs!

Don’t try booting the ‘MiniXP’ It’s a little over kill for what we are going to do, although it is a very VERY responsive Windows XP based environment with most of the tools available. MiniXP runs entirely from memory, meaning you can remove the CD or USB Key once it has finished booting! Neat huh?!

Choose to ‘StartBootCD’. At the ‘Hirens All in 1 BootCD 10.1 Menu’ menu, you’ll need to use your keyboard to select option 9, then select option 1, then select option 2. You should now have MBRtool loaded.

This program requires just a little understanding about the configuration of your HDDs in your computer. For simplicity sake however, if your computer only has one HDD with only one partition on it, the following instructions will work just fine. If your computer has multiple HDDs, and you don’t boot from the otherwise known as the ‘first HDD’ then you need to pay attention to the screen and modify the instructions below accordingly. Feel free to ask for help in the comments below.

Enter 4 and press [Enter]

Enter 6 and press [Enter]

Enter 0 and press [Enter] (Zero)

Enter o and press [Enter] (O, as in the circled shaped letter for Orange) <– This final step will wipe your MBR straight away, no questions asked. If you are feeling concerned, nervous or worried at this point, I suggest you reboot again and use another program on the CD called ‘ghost’ to clone your HDD in its current state to a safe location.

Remember, I said we need to give Windows 7 / Windows Vista Startup Repair tool, something to fix? Well, now it has something to fix!

Press the [ESC] key three times to return you to the DOS prompt. Remove the CD/USB, put your Windows 7 or Windows Vista installation media in the drive and type: reboot (followed by a press of the enter key). Be sure to boot from your newly inserted installation media again.

After selecting your language, Time and currency format and Keyboard or input method, click Next. Click the text link ‘Repair your computer’. The ‘System Recovery Options’ window will appear. Don’t be alarmed at the fact that it doesn’t detect your installed operating system (Windows 7 or Windows Vista), this is what we want!

Click the next button, and from the main menu choose ‘Startup Repair’. This process should only take a few seconds. If you want some assurance it worked, click the ‘Click here for diagnostic and repair details’ link and scroll to the bottom. You should see something like this:


Root cause found:
----------------------------
MBR is corrupt
Repair action: Disk metadata repair
Result: Completed succesfully. Error code = 0x0
Time taken = ####ms
----------------------------
----------------------------

Click the Close button and click the Finish button. Your system should automatically reboot. If not, click the Restart button.

Hopefully you are now staring at your Windows 7 / Windows Vista logon screen or desktop!

For Windows XP Users

 Thankfully Windows XP has something  a little less evolved, but no less powerful called ‘The Recovery Console’. To access it, you’ll need an original Windows XP (SP1/2/3) installation media disc. Boot from the media and when prompted, press the R key.

When you are asked for the Administrator password, enter it. If you are on Windows XP Home, and you’ve never configured an Administrator password, chances are it’s blank, so just press enter. This may apply to some Windows XP Professional users as well.

At the prompt, assuming you have Windows XP installed to C:> type:

fixmbr

Ignore the warnings, unless you understand what they are (your situation couldn’t get any worse at this point anyway), and press the [Y] key followed by pressing the [Enter] key.

Type:

exit

to leave the recovery console and reboot. Hopefully you are now staring at your Windows XP Logon screen or desktop!

Why Does This Work?

When you install Comodo Time Machine, it makes a modification to your HDD MBR (Master Boot Record) telling your computer to first boot Comodo Time Machine (instead of your Windows OS), which in turn is configured to boot your Windows OS. When we use MBRtool to erase your MBR, we then use one of the options above to rebuild or repair your MBR. Regardless of Windows XP, Vista or 7, your MBR will be repaired/rebuilt to only boot your Windows OS again! By passing Comodo Time Machine altogether.

What About Comodo Time Machine?

It’s up to you. If you try again and it fails, you know now you have a way to get things working again. Having said that, I’ve had an almost 100% success rate when installing Comodo Time Machine again the second time around. I don’t why sometimes it fails the first time around like it does, it just does.

Any comments, improvements or criticism is welcome.

Kudos to qmchenry at Tech-Recipes for the Windows XP Recovery Console instructions, where you can find additional comments and instructions about it’s use.

It happens to all us would be system admins at one stage or another. You install Windows 2000 or Windows XP on a machine, and for some reason (you didn’t check the BIOS, or you have some strange device like a ZIP drive connected), the Windows boot drive, is not C: It’s something else, like D: or E: even. How can you rectify this problem?

  1. Disconnect any strange devices, check your BIOS settings, and reformat.
  2. Do a little registry editing. See the link below (both of them):
    1. http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=223188
    2. 2b. http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=249321

Within the second link, be sure to follow section 3, under the Resolution section. Your values might be slightly different (especially if you are using Windows XP or Windows 2003), but the idea is the same, correct the drive letter.

Once you have made your changes, reboot, and voila! You can log on to your system, and your Windows drive, is now called C:

NOTE: You will more then likely need to re-install any programs you already had installed. In fact, performing a Windows Repair may very well be in order.

Most people would probably just format and start over, but there are plenty of people who have reasons to use the steps above. There are many things and reasons for the driver letter allocated to your Windows drive or partition, to be something other then C:, and if you really need your system working again, ASAP, and if you don’t have the time to reformat, re-install your software, re-install your drivers, configure your PC to your liking and then finally get back to work, perhaps this is just the guide for you!

If this gets more then 10 diggs, I’ll create a full blown fail safe and fool proof guide. I might even make it a PDF!

Are you Diggin‘ it?