No internet on Windows 10 when WiFi connected

I’ve been struggling with my WiFi connection on Windows 10 for a while.  It would connect but not get access to the internet, or perhaps connect and work perfectly for a while – anything from a few minutes to a day or so – and then lose connection to the internet even though it was still connected to the WiFi point.  Restarting my laptop didn’t usually fix it, but restarting the access point usually did, so I assumed the issue was with the WiFi point.  However, I recently upgraded our WiFi point and the issues still occurred.

Searching on the web produced plenty of ideas to try, but none of them worked.  My laptop came with Windows 10 pre-installed and most of the advice related to machines that had been upgraded to Windows 10.

I eventually found an anonymous comment on a post on microsoft.com relating to Windows Vista which suggested turning off IPv6 which indicated “I fix many computers each day, it’s my job…  so If this doesn’t fix your prob then I’d really like to know cos it hasn’t failed me yet “.  I gave it a go, and my internet connection was restored.  A week later, I still haven’t seen any recurrence of the problem, so I am confident that the problem is fixed.

Clearly, this fix won’t work if you need IPv6, but I’m still using IPv4, as are the majority of users, especially in home networks.

Hopefully this will help someone else!

WiFi adaptor settings
WiFi adapter settings on Windows 10

Where has my hard disk space gone?

It always happens eventually. I’ve had my latest laptop for about a year, and the other day I got that dreaded message that my hard drive was almost full. I’ve used various tools in the past to analyse where the space has gone, but the latest one I have found beats them all by a mile.

WinDirStat is a free Windows disk analysis tool. You tell it which drive(s) to analyse and it quickly gets to work, eventually producing a three pane output of results.

Pane 1 (top left of the screen) is a list of your top level directories ordered with the largest first (though you can change the sort order if somthing else is more useful to you). Clicking the [+] beside an entry opens up the next level down, again ordered by size. This is a great way to find the biggest directories on your hard drive. It’s amazing how many big directories you can simply remove all together. You can delete directly from this pane, either deleting to the Recycling bin or deleting permanently.

Pane 2 (top right of the screen) lists file types and the amount of space occupied by each type. Again, this is ordered by space occupied and you can change the sort order. So now I know that 17% of my hard drive is filled with Outlook data files. I’m not going to simply remove those files, but that lets me know that there is scope to save significant space if I can go into Outlook and purge some old emails.

The third pane (at the bottom of the screen) is a graphical representation of the hard drive. Each file is represented by a rectangle. The larger the file, the larger the rectangle (though I don’t know if the smallest files are ignored or aggregated into a rectangle together). The rectangles are colour coded by file type. Clicking on a rectangle opens the entry in the first pane, so that you can see the details of the file; Clicking on a directory or file in the first pane highlights it on the third pane.

Great tool, great UI. Did exactly what I needed. Highly recommended.

A final thought, it’s almost worth getting just to see the Pacman style progress bars as it chomps its way through your hard drive, analysing what is where!

Slow file opening on Windows XP

For years I have suffered from having to wait for a long time (sometimes several minutes) when opening Word and Excel files on my Windows system.  It isn’t always slow, but when it is, it is really slow.

Recently, I found the cause of the problem and the solution.  So, if you suffer from the same problem, read on.

Windows opens many files, and especially ones that relate to Microsoft software using a technology known as DDE.  This allows applications to share data, but when everything doesn’t work as expected, something somewhere in the Windows system has to time out before you can open your file.

The solution, if you don’t need DDE, is to turn it off for the file types that cause you the problem.  In my case, these are .doc, .docx, .xls and .xlsx.  You will need to turn it off for each file type affected, but the method is the same in every case.

A word of warning: if you don’t know what a pathname or a parameter is, you should probably get a friend who is more confident with PCs to help you.  If you mess this up, you might struggle to get things working again.

Open file manager (or press My Documents) and select the Tools menu then Folder Options…, then press the File Types tab.

Find the relevant extension in the file type list (eg DOC for .doc files) and highlight the entry.

Folder options dialog with DOC type highlighted
Folder options dialog

Press Advanced, highlight Open,

Edit File Type dialog with Open selected
Edit File Type dialog

and press Edit… to display the Editing action for type dialog.

Editing Action for Type dialog in initial state
Editing Action for Type dialog

Uncheck the Use DDE checkbox and edit the string in the Application used to perform action: box:

  • ensure that there are quotes around the application pathname (if you fail to do this, Windows will fail to find the application if there are any spaces in the pathname, eg “Program Files”)
  • ensure that there is no /dde switch on the parameter list
  • ensure that there is a “%1” parameter (if there isn’t one, Windows will add it automatically, but it won’t put in the quotes and if you have a space in the pathname to the file you are opening, eg “My Documents”, then it will try to open multiple invalid documents which will fail)

You then need to click OK and Close as appropriate, and that’s it.  Except, you may need to redo this every time you apply a Windows update to your PC.  That’s a pain, but not as big a pain as waiting and waiting and waiting for  documents to open.