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Temporary

With a fix for the ‘temporary profile’ bug still elusive, Win10 1903 and 1909 customers should check Pause Updates

By now you’ve probably heard about the disappearing-profile bug in this month’s Win10 1903 and 1909 cumulative update. The buggy patch went out on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Reports started rolling in shortly afterward about desktops that were wiped clean, wallpaper replaced, even files that disappeared. I wrote about it on Thursday morning:

Many people are in a tizzy — their desktop icons are gone, they can’t log onto their usual Admin account, and their files most definitely aren’t where they left them.

Since then we’ve seen many hundreds of complaints and dozens of articles about the mayhem. Ends up that the hapless victims had their Windows profiles swapped out, replaced by a temporary profile. The buggy patch moved their cheese and hid it where all but the most advanced Windows boffin would never find it.

Early on, Patch Lady Susan Bradley nailed the cause of the problem:

Loss of profile has historically been a race condition between the boot process and something holding files open. I personally have seen antivirus most often do this but it could be other things like antiransomware protection, group policy settings. Microsoft DOES test their patches, they really do. What they can’t do is test for the myriad of unknown ways that we set up our computers.

(Techy note: A race condition is a timing issue that arises when two or more independent programs stomp on each other. They’re very difficult to diagnose.)

Initial reports pointed the finger at a specific antivirus package as being the one that tangled with the KB 4532693 installer, but then we discovered that not all folks running that AV software were getting bit. Then we had a series of reports about local accounts (users who aren’t signed on with a Microsoft Account) getting the special treatment. Nope, that wasn’t the problem.

Microsoft hasn’t officially acknowledged the bug, as best as I can tell, aside from two posts on the Answers forum. On Feb. 12, Lawrence Abrams at BleepingComputer said that a Microsoft rep told him, “We are aware of the issue and are investigating the situation.” On Feb. 17, almost a week after the bug first appeared, Mayank Parmar at Windows Latest said:

In a conversation with Microsoft’s support team, multiple employees told us that Microsoft is aware of the issue and are actively investigating the situation. “Microsoft is aware of this known issue and our engineers are working diligently to find a solution for it,” a staff stated.

There have been multiple reports of users losing data because of the KB 4532693 patch. I haven’t seen that happen as yet, personally, so remain skeptical. Far more likely is that the data got stuffed into a .BAK or .000 or .003 folder inside the C:Users folder — the place Windows sticks profiles. If a Windows customer runs a Cleaner program while trying to fix the lost profile bug, the backup may well be gone.

Most distressing: Susan Bradley reports on a response to a Microsoft support case, in which a Microsoft technician specifically mentioned Windows Defender as a possible source of conflict:

I discussed the case with my tech lead and confirmed this to be a bug — 25270101 … find the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection and Microsoft Defender Antivirus services, right-click each of them, select Properties, and change Startup Type to Disabled, selecting OK after each change. Restart your device in normal mode and attempt to sign in with your original profile.

It isn’t at all clear if Defender might be part of the two-to-tango race condition. 

And, of course, neither the Knowledge Base article nor the official Windows Release Status page says a word. Nine days later and the buggy patch is still being shoveled out the Windows Automatic Update chute.

Not all is doom and gloom.

If you’re using Pause Updates in Win10 1903 or 1909 to block Microsoft’s patches, and your “Resume updates” date is far enough out — today or later — you didn’t get either this buggy patch or the monstrous KB 4524244 UEFI “patch,” which was pulled last week. But if you’re relying on Pause Updates, now would be a very good time to make sure it’s set out to the end of the month or later. Heaven only knows when (if!) Microsoft is going to re-release KB 4532693 and fix the disappearing profile problem.

For most of you, pausing updates until March 9 seems like a very good idea. (If you’re running SQL Server, though, you need to get the February patches installed. Sorry.)

To adjust your Pause Updates setting, first make sure you’re running either Win10 version 1903 or 1909 (type winver down in the Search box and press Enter). If you are, click Start > Settings > Update & Security. You should see something like the screenshot.

defer to 03 09 2020 Woody Leonhard/IDG

If your “Updates will resume on” date is before March 9, click the “Pause updates for 7 more days” link. (March 9 is a lucky number because the next Patch Tuesday is on March 10. Presumably Microsoft will fix this mess prior to that date. Presumably.)

In the past, I haven’t recommended that you extend the “Resume updates” date by pressing the “Pause updates for 7 more days” link because Microsoft has long warned that you can only extend updates after you’ve installed the currently available updates: 

After the pause limit is reached, you’ll need to install the latest updates before you can pause updates again.

I’m delighted — and surprised — to tell you that, at least in my tests, that limitation no longer applies. It appears to me as if you can go back in and pause updates for seven more days at a clip, even if you already have Pause updates set.

That’s remarkably good news.

Questions? Observations? Vituperations? We’re all ears on AskWoody.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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How to Quickly Create Temporary Email Addresses With YOPmail

When you want to safeguard your privacy online a good place to start is by using a disposable email address. It allows you to sign up to services or send messages anonymously, or just cut down on the amount of spam your real email address receives.

One of the best options for creating temporary email addresses is YOPmail. Let’s take a look at how to use it.

What Is YOPmail?

YOPmail is a disposable email service. It lets you use any “yopmail.com” email address you want and gives you access to the inbox for that address—even if someone else is already using it.

yopmail

You can use YOPmail wherever you’re asked to enter an email address but don’t want to use your real account. Use it for websites that ask you to sign up, or apps you’re testing that want you to log into, and you won’t be inundated with newsletters or have to deal with spam in Gmail.

Unlike a regular email account, YOPmail is not private or password protected, so you should only use it for throwaway purposes. Never use it for anything personal or important.

You also don’t need to set it up. Whenever you need to fill in an address form on a website and don’t want to use your own, just type in a random address and you’re good to go.

How to Create a YOPmail Account

You can, in theory, use YOPmail without ever needing to visit YOPmail.com. When you visit a website that asks for your email, enter [anything]@yopmail.com and it will be accepted as a genuine email address.

If you do need access to the inbox—maybe to validate an account, or to grab a free download a site is offering—you’ve got two options.

yopmail inbox

  1. In the box at the top left of the YOPmail website, labeled Type the Email name of your choice, enter the first part of the address you chose and click Check Inbox.
  2. Alternatively, just go to yopmail.com/[your chosen address] and you’ll arrive straight at the inbox. You don’t need a password in either case.

When you use a simple, common word for your address you’ll almost certainly find that it’s already being used. The inbox is likely to be full of spam and messages for other people. This is fine because all YOPmail inboxes are public and shared.

But remember that just as you can see other people’s stuff, they’ll be able to see yours. For this reason, you should never use a disposable email address for anything even vaguely connected to your real identity.

You can get a little more privacy by using a random combination of letters for your email address. It’s unlikely anyone else would use, say, [email protected], so you should have that inbox to yourself. Even so, it’s still public, and not secure.

yopmail generator

You can use the YOPmail Generator tool to help create unique addresses. Find it in the Random Email Address section of the website’s sidebar. You’ll also find links to browser plugins for Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera, but none of these are available anymore.

Disadvantages of a YOPmail Disposable Address

YOPmail is easy to use and works as promised. However, some sites have cottoned on to the existence of disposable email addresses, so you might occasionally find that they don’t accept YOPmail as a valid address.

To work around that, the service offers a few alternative domains you can try instead. Use any of the addresses below and the messages you receive will be automatically forwarded to the corresponding YOPmail address.

  • @yopmail.fr
  • @yopmail.net
  • @cool.fr.nf
  • @jetable.fr.nf
  • @nospam.ze.tc
  • @nomail.xl.cx
  • @mega.zik.dj
  • @speed.1s.fr
  • @courriel.fr.nf
  • @moncourrier.fr.nf
  • @monemail.fr.nf
  • @monmail.fr.nf

More Disposable Email Addresses

Using a temporary email address is a great way of protecting your privacy and cutting down on the amount of spam you get.

YOPmail isn’t the only option available. Take a look at our guide at some of the other best disposable email services for more choices.

You can also use disposable user accounts


5 Disposable Web Accounts to Keep Your Identity Safe




5 Disposable Web Accounts to Keep Your Identity Safe

Identity theft is on the rise. According to StatisticBrain, between 12 and 15 million people lose an average of $5,000 per victim each year. One way to stay safe is with a disposable web identity.
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as another way of safeguarding your privacy and hiding your identity online.



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What Are Temporary Environments Used For Security and Code Testing Called?

A child's sandbox in a grassy field
Hyena/Wikimedia

Answer: Sandboxes

While many people think of the sand-filled children’s play area when faced with the term “sandbox”, within the field of computing a sandbox is a handy tool that serves as a container in which the user can run code, make modifications, and otherwise interact with software without putting the greater computer system at risk.

Sandboxes can be simple, such as the desktop software Sandboxie that creates simple sandboxes to contain single programs, or complex enough to incorporate multiple physical servers. Sandboxes offer a way for people to execute code and experiment without making permanent (and potentially damaging) changes to the system they’re working within.

A simple example of how a home user might take advantage of a sandbox would be to run their web browser sandboxed when visiting suspicious websites or when launching an application from a source they don’t fully trust—in both instances, the activity of the web browser and the application launch would be contained within the sandbox and any malicious changes would fail to reach the primary operating system (and would be completely discarded when the sandbox was terminated).





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