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This month’s Windows and Office security patches: Bugs and solutions

You have to wonder who’s testing this stuff.

Admins, in particular, have had a tough month. April brought widespread breakdowns – bluescreens, hangs, very sluggish behavior – to hundreds of thousands of Win7 and 8.1 machines. This wasn’t a “small percentage” kind of event. For some companies, rebooting overnight on Tuesday brought seas of blue screens on Wednesday morning.

The first round of cumulative updates and Monthly Rollups arrived on Patch Tuesday, but the now-ubiquitous second round didn’t show up until late Thursday afternoon, two and a half weeks later. Talk about admins taking a beating.

We still have one Tuesday left this month – the mythical “E week” that Microsoft never talks about – so the month may yet end with both a bang and whimper.

Here’s how things look as early Monday morning.

Still no ‘optional non-security’ cumulative update for 1809

It took a while, but the second round of April patches finally arrived. The one exception is for Windows 10 version 1809, which still hasn’t seen an “optional non-security” patch. (They’re “optional” because you have to be a seeker – click Check for updates – in order to get hit with the patch.)

We have a reliable report that the second patches this month were held up because of continuing problems with the Japanese new era date bugs. That same report also says that even the latest patches have bugs. I find it all amazing – Microsoft’s been working on this problem for at least a year, and the patches-of-patches have been stumbling all over themselves.

Even Win10 1903 – the version still in beta testing – got a new patch, KB 4497093, bringing the build number up to 18362.86. It’s for “Insiders who are currently in the Fast ring only and on Build 18362.53. We’ll roll this out to the Slow and Release Preview rings in a bit.”

Six dirty patches, five blasted antivirus companies

April’s Patch Tuesday brought immediate complaints of Win7 bluescreens. Within a couple of days we found out that six patches – for Win 7, 8.1, Server 2008 R2, 2012 and 2012 R2 – had conflicts with five different companies’ antivirus products. The current tally:

Sophos – The company now says it’s figured out the source of the problem:

“We have identified a permanent fix and are now automatically rolling out the fix to customers starting 25th April 2019. This will take place over a two- to three-week period.”

Microsoft continues to block the six dirty patches on systems running Sophos Endpoint.

Avira – The folks at Avira have been remarkably quiet. Our latest report from UAz says they may have finally hit upon a solution – verified in the very early hours of Monday morning. Earlier attempts at an Avira solution failed, sometimes spectacularly. Microsoft has not changed its terse announcement:

“Microsoft has temporarily blocked devices from receiving this update if Avira antivirus software is installed. We are presently investigating this issue with Avira and will provide an update when available.”

Arcabit – The small Polish-language AV supplier has released an update that solves the problem, according to Microsoft, although the Microsoft link to Arcabit’s support article points to a Technical Assistance phone number, and no discussion.

Avast/AVG – The company has issued hotfixes to avoid the bluescreens. (Avast owns AVG.) Oddly, though, the way to install the hotfixes isn’t what you might expect:

  1. Boot your machine
  2. Let the machine stand for approximately 15 minutes while emergency updater works. The updater runs on system context rather than the user, so you do not need to log in for it to activate.
  3. Reboot your machine. Your machine should now operate normally, even with the Microsoft updates listed above.

That, to me at least, is a very distressing way to apply a hotfix.

Microsoft no longer blocks the six dirty patches on machines running Avast or AVG.

McAfee – Late to the game, McAfee has acknowledged that installing the dirty six patches may lead to slow boot up times or slow performance. The only solution to the problem, at present – aside from uninstalling the dirty six – is to disable any user-defined (non-default) Access Protection rules.

Microsoft says it is “presently investigating this issue with McAfee,” but they’ve been saying that for a week.

A few more patch problems

I’m seeing scattered reports that Win7 users are being offered KB 3185319 — an update from Sept. 13, 2016 — as a checked Important update to Win7. It’s part of the MS16-104 bundle. I wrote about bugs in this patch back in October 2016. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen KB 3185319 appear out of the blue.

There are also reports of locked Server 2008 machines after installing this month’s Monthly Rollup, KB 4493471.

Keep up with the latest on the AskWoody Lounge.



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The Best Prebuilt, DIY, and NAS Solutions for a Plex Server

Plex rose to prominence as a media center. Initially, it was a DIY Netflix and Spotify allowing for remote access of videos, music, and pictures.

However, since then, Plex added plugins for streaming content, podcast support, and connectivity with antennas for live TV and DVR. As such, Plex is a cord cutter’s dream.

Ready to build your own Plex server? Check out our roundup of the top Plex servers on the market, from pre-built and DIY options to Plex NAS hardware.

Best Plex Server: Pre-Built and DIY Options

From enterprise workstations to streaming devices and DIY PCs, these are the top Plex servers you can buy.

1. Nvidia Shield TV Pro



Nvidia Shield TV Pro


Nvidia Shield TV Pro

Buy Now On Amazon
$189.99

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is among the best streaming devices on the market. Its hardware is capable of streaming in 4K from a variety of providers including Netflix. Using the optional Samsung SmartThings Link, the Shield transforms into a smart home hub.

Plus, it’s engineered for gaming, running Android games as well as retro emulators including PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, and Wii titles. You can stream games from your PC to the Shield TV using Nvidia GameStream provided you’ve got a compatible GPU.

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro doubles as a Plex server and client. Its hardware handles around two or three simultaneous transcodes. You can mount USB drives and microSD cards as removable storage, and mount network shares. Several antenna options connect with the Shield TV for DVR and live TV in Plex. If you’re using your Shield TV as a Plex server, I suggest opting for the 500GB Pro variant. Even that hard drive is likely to fill up quickly though.

Because of its versatility as a Plex server and client, along with gaming, smart home, and media streaming functionality, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is the best overall Plex server you can buy.

2. Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower Server System



Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower Server System


Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower Server System

Buy Now On Amazon
$488.90

The Dell PowerEdge T30 features a Xeon E3-1225 v5 processor, which is more than powerful enough for a home Plex machine. You’ll benefit from a 7833 PassMark which should handle just shy of four simultaneous 1080p transcodes.

As configured, it supports four hard drives, but you can add up to six for a range of storage options. The T30 plays well with Linux too making it the ideal dedicated Plex server. Its 280W PSU means you can run the T30 as an always-on server without huge energy costs.

3. Raspberry Pi 3 B+



Raspberry Pi 3 B+


Raspberry Pi 3 B+

Buy Now On Amazon
$54.99

Although it’s certainly not the most powerful device available, a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is a great entry-level option. You can easily turn the Raspberry Pi into an inexpensive Plex server. It’s best for users planning on streaming in-home only, or for a travel Plex server. Try installing Kodi as well for a home theater PC (HTPC) combined with Plex media server functionality.

4. Intel NUC 7 Mini PC



Intel NUC 7 Mini PC


Intel NUC 7 Mini PC

Buy Now On Amazon
$397.29

The Intel NUC 7 Mini PC is compact, but the i5-7260U CPU offers a decent PassMark rating just shy of 6000. With VESA mounting bracket compatibility, you can attach to the back of a TV or monitor.

Unfortunately, storage options are limited to a single 2.5-inch SATA drive or SSD. If you require a lot of storage space, this isn’t the device for you. Moreover, unlike a modular desktop, you can’t upgrade the CPU, just the hard drive and RAM.

As such, it’s not future proof. Nevertheless, it’s a solid option for those seeking an HTPC Plex server. Intel NUCs are small, powerful, and energy efficient.

Best NAS for Plex Options: Plex NAS Devices

While the best Plex server devices come in pre-built and DIY packages, you might consider a Plex NAS set up instead. Network Attached Storage (NAS) differs from a server in that it’s intended as a centralized location for data storage on a network.

Customization and settings are usually more basic than on the average server. Plex NAS options usually come preconfigured—just add hard drives.

1. QNAP TS-453Be 4-Bay Professional NAS.



QNAP 4-Bay Professional NAS


QNAP 4-Bay Professional NAS

Buy Now On Amazon

The QNAP TS-453Be four-bay Plex NAS comes complete with 4GB of RAM and an Intel Celeron Apollo Lake J3455 Quad-core CPU. It’s pretty pricey but is capable of 4K hardware transcoding, and has an HDMI output.

Onboard, you’ll find a 10Gb Ethernet port and support for the likes of VMware and Hyper-V. RAM is upgradeable to 16GB, and you can add up to 64TB worth of hard drives for more storage space.

Unfortunately, all of this comes at a premium. The QNAP TS-453Be is pretty pricey. For the price of this NAS without hard drives, you can snag a far more powerful server with a 10TB drive.

2. Synology DS218play



Synology DS218play


Synology DS218play

Buy Now On Amazon
$229.99

Synology’s DS218play delivers excellent value with a tiny footprint. At its core, there’s a quad-core processor capable of handling 4K video playback at 30 frames per second. There’s an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, and 1GB of DDR3 RAM.

It’s a decent entry-level Plex NAS, but you won’t win any benchmarking tests with its processor. However, the Synology DS218play is one of the best NAS options for Plex streaming.

Check our review of the DS418play, the next model up from the DS218, to get an idea of Synology NAS setups.

3. TerraMaster F4-220 4-Bay NAS



TerraMaster F4-220 NAS


TerraMaster F4-220 NAS

Buy Now On Amazon
$299.99

If you need a budget Plex NAS, the TerraMaster F4-220 is a great option. It’s powered by a dual-core 2.1GHz CPU, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and has an HDMI output. This maintains compatibility with software such as Kodi. The device comes bundled with remote control too.

The HDMI port even maintains 7.1 channel compatibility. Like other NAS devices, it’s not cheap, but you’re paying for a quality storage unit that’s simple to set up. When we reviewed the TerraMaster F2-220


TerraMaster F2-220 NAS Review




TerraMaster F2-220 NAS Review

The F2-220 2-bay NAS enclosure by TerraMaster is a sub-$200 personal backup and storage solution. It has a dual core Intel CPU, and can handle up to 16TB of storage.
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(functionally similar to the F4-220, but with two bays rather than four) we found it to be a rock solid performer and is perfect for Plex and more.

The Best Server and NAS Options for Plex

Ultimately, there are loads of potential Plex server options. I suggest using server hardware rather than a NAS. You’ll get a more powerful system for less money, and it’s upgradeable.

The PowerEdge T30 is a solid choice with an excellent CPU. As a Plex client and server, the Nvidia Shield TV offers unrivaled value. Now that you’ve picked out a Plex server, it’s time to choose the best Plex client device for streaming your media


The Best Plex Clients for Streaming Media




The Best Plex Clients for Streaming Media

What are the best Plex clients for streaming all the latest media? We’ve rounded up some of the best media-streaming devices around, including the Amazon Fire Stick, Playstation 4, Raspberry Pi, and more!
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Explore more about: Buying Tips, Media Server, Plex.



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This month’s Windows and Office security patches: Bugs and solutions

March was an unusually light patching month – all of Office only had one security patch – and there don’t appear to be any immediate patching worries. Just as in the past few months, Microsoft’s holding off on its second cumulative update for Windows 10 1809, raising hopes that it’s taking Win10 quality more seriously.

Win10 1809 deployment proceeded at a positively lethargic rate, even though Microsoft declared the OS fit for business consumption last week, leading to all sorts of speculation about the next-next update, Win10 version 1903, ultimately overtaking its younger sibling.

Dell’s Encryption Console gets clobbered by March’s Patch Tuesday Win10, 8.1, 7 patches

Dell has confirmed that every Windows patch in March – every one of them — bowled over its Encryption Local Management Console. The only solution offered is to either roll back the March patch or upgrade to Dell Encryption 10.2.1.

Few individual users have the Encryption Console, but it’s not uncommon on corporate machines.

Win10 version 1809 second cumulative update still MIA

All of the Windows 10 versions had two cumulative updates in March, except for Win10 version 1809, the latest version of the last version of Windows. I take it as a hopeful sign that Microsoft’s spending more time to get the bugs ironed out before delivering the “optional non-security” Win10 patch. (It’s “optional” in the sense that you’ll only get it if you click on “Check for updates.”)

There are five irritating, acknowledged bugs in Win10 1809 that haven’t been fixed yet:

  • IE 11 authentication issues
  • Audio devices stop working unexpectedly
  • MSXML6 may freeze the system
  • Custom URI schemes may not work correctly
  • Windows Deployment Services PXE may not work

Other versions of Win10 have some of the same bugs, introduced by earlier patches.

Just what Windows 7 needs – another round of ‘Get Windows 10’ nags

We’re covering the demise of Windows 7 intently over on AskWoody. But there’s one thing you definitely don’t need – another nagging patch from Microsoft. KB 4493132, a Win7 patch that does nothing bug nag, is definitely worth skipping.

We have some late-breaking news from Michael Horowitz that Win7 now has a scheduled task called refreshgwxconfig-B that seems to be associated with the widely despised “Get Windows X” campaign. It’s not clear at this point where the unwanted task came from.

Win10 1809 now ready for prime time, with 1903 on its heels

Microsoft changes its Windows updating terminology capriciously and with absolutely no consideration for settings baked into earlier versions of Win10. But never mind. With word from on high that Win10 version 1809 has been deemed worthy of business deployment, we also have assurances that we’ll get similar confirmation for Win10 versions from 1903 onward. (And that makes me wonder whether we’ll have yet another change in terminology soon.)

In general, March’s patches seem quite tame. Let’s hope that’s the new normal.

Questions answered and discussions dissed on the AskWoody Lounge.



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