Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Troubleshooting Steam

When something goes wrong, and you have trouble getting your Steam games to launch, and play properly, there are many potential causes. Sometimes these “causes” can be “cured” by simply “rebooting” (turn off, then on again (aka “restart”)) your computer.

Other times it will take a bit more effort and research.

And, sometimes, it may take a total re-Install of the Steam Client.. (and, I’ve heard, sometimes that just makes things worse.) Or it might take something in between.

As a good ‘first step’ in resolving your issue you can (should) look in the Steam FAQ’s for Troubleshoot and How-To’s for previously posted answers for your particular trouble (you should be seeing an error message..)

Next, rest assured you are not the first person to have your problem, so use the ‘search feature’ in the Steam User forums. Try to use your error message as your “search term”. You should find others who have experienced your glitch, and others will have posted ‘fixes’ and steps for how they solved the trouble. If you should be unable to find your particular error (highly unlikely) you can post your question (seeking help) there. Other users will/may reply with a cure.
(Here is a good example of a helpful ‘thread’ for “cannot connect” errors: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=976072.)

Of course, you can “google it”, and get results such as: on Ask.com, someone answered: “To fix steam, you need to restart it every now and then or delete its configurations. This includes the favorite servers and games that you have downloaded in the past.” Which may (or may not) help you cure your glitch.

In those ‘worse case’ situations, you can contact Steam directly for tech support, (here: Steam Support) but be aware you will be waiting for their email reply (of dubious helpfulness..)

Further, you may need to disable, or remove, some “incompatible” programs (or settings in certain programs) which may be causing ‘conflicts’ with the Steam Client software. An alert reader sent me a copy of a list that Steam Support sent them. I am pasting it here.

Important:

The list below does not address every firewall application that could cause an issue, nor does it address viruses/spyware. Please see the Using a Firewall with Steam article and the Spyware, Adware, and Viruses Interfering with Steam article for further instructions if the issue persists after checking for the programs listed below.

Any applications running in the background may negatively affect your games or Steam itself. Certain applications can lead to more serious issues such as limited connectivity and game crashes. It is highly recommended that you close all background applications before launching Steam to ensure the best performance and stability. After you are done playing, feel free to re-enable these applications.

The applications listed below have been known to interfere with Steam and Steam games:

Hidden Processes

Certain applications may load when Windows starts and are not obviously indicated. For example, they may not appear in the Windows task bar but they may be among some of your active processes, using your system’s resources. These programs may cause crashes and other difficulties using Steam and playing games.

Please see the How to Disable Background Applications  article to see instructions for disabling non-essential background programs and preventing background applications from silently loading when Windows starts.

 Software to Look For

The following applications have been known to cause issues with Steam and playing games:

Anti-Virus Applications – Any Anti-Virus program could potentially block Steam and Steam game access, especially when not properly configured for use with Steam. Please make sure that Steam and all Steam games are listed as exceptions in these programs. If the issue persists, please try disabling or temporarily uninstalling the program to test the issue.

  • Avast!
  • AVG Anti-virus *
  • BitDefender
  • F-Secure
  • Iobit Advanced System Care *
  • Kaspersky Anti-virus
  • McAfee Anti-virus
  • Nod32 Anti-virus *
  • Norton/Symantec Anti-virus
  • Panda Anti-virus
  • Threatfire
  • Trend Micro
  • VIGuard Anti-virus

Anti-Spyware Applications

  • Ad Aware
  • CA Pest Patrol
  • PC Tools Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus (may need to disable Full-Screen detection in the Advanced settings)
  • Spybot Search & Destroy
  • Spycatcher Express
  • Spyware Doctor
  • Spyware Terminator
  • Webroot Spy Sweeper *

Firewall/Security Applications

  • CA Internet Security Suite
  • Comodo (With Portal 2 running the firewall in Defense+ in training mode allows the game to run)
  • CYBERsitter
  • ESET Smart Security
  • Netlimiter
  • McAfee Personal Firewall
  • Nvidia Network Access Manager/Firewall *
  • Nvidia ForceWare Intelligent Application Manager
  • Outpost Firewall (Disabling System Guard under Proactive Protection allows Portal 2 to run)
  • Panda Internet Security
  • Peer Guardian
  • PeerBlock
  • Tiny Personal Firewall
  • Verizon Internet Security Suite
  • Zone Alarm
  • Constant Guard by Comcast
  • Online Armor

Other Applications

  • IOBit Advance System Care
  • Airfoil
  • Alcohol 120%
  • AMD External Event Utility
  • AOLacsd.exe (AOL connection driver)
  • ATI Hotkey Poller
  • ATI Tray Tools
  • BitTorrent/uTorrent (all clients)
  • Creative Software (Alchemy, MediaSource 5 on Asus G60VX models specifcally)
  • Catalyst AI
  • Daemon Tools
  • Download Accelerators (all clients)
  • EVGA Precision
  • Garfield Daily Desktop Comic
  • GhostSurf 2007
  • Google Toolbar, Google Updater
  • GSC
  • Hamachi
  • HotSpot Shield
  • HydraVision
  • iZ3D DirectX injection
  • K-Lite Codec Pack
  • LimeWire, BearShare or other Peer 2 Peer applications
  • LogMeIn
  • Microsoft Screen Magnifier in Windows 7 (magnify.exe – may cause in-game cursor issues)
  • MSI Afterburner
  • nProtect GameGuard *
  • PC Time Limit
  • Skype
  • Slysoft AnyDVD
  • StarDock KeepSafe
  • SteamWatch
  • iolo System Mechanic
  • TeamSpeak (can lead to mic issues)
  • Total Recorder
  • Tuneup WinStyler Theme Service
  • UPEK Protector Suite
  • Ventrilo (can lead to mic issues)
  • VirtuaGirl 2
  • Western Digital Backup Anywhere
  • Whitesmoke Translator (may cause the Source engine to crash)
  • WindowBlinds
  • Xfire

* We recommend that applications listed in bold with a ( * ) symbol are fully uninstalled from your system if disabling them does not resolve the issue

 Details

Issues related to any of the programs listed below may be resolved by exiting and/or disabling the program and then exiting and restarting Steam. For certain applications, a system reboot may be required after you have shut down or disabled them.

  • Antivirus Software

    Incorrectly configured antivirus software may prevent proper operation of Steam and Steam games.

    • VIGuard anti-virus software has been found to conflict with Steam games – an error message stating “Failed to duplicate pipe handle” will be generated when attempting to load the game. Add the contents of your Steam installation folder to VIGuard’s authorized folder exceptions list to correct this issue. 
    • AVG 7.5, Norton/Symantec and Nod 32 software has been known to cause game crashes. AVG 7.5 must be fully removed from your system in order to prevent these crashes.
    • F-Secure’s “DeepGuard” feature is known to cause Error Code 51 when launching Steam games.
  • Anti-Spyware Software

    Aggressive spyware detection software may block the normal operation of Steam. We have received reports that Spycatcher Express, Webroot Spy Sweeper and CA Pest Patrol (bundled with AOL’s Security Center) may prevent Steam client application updates and connecting to game servers.

    PC Tools ThreatFire software (which is also contained in PC Tools Spyware Doctor) can prevent the normal operation of loading of Steam games, including common errors such as Unable to load filesystem_steam.dll and Engine Error: Could not load library client. If you are encountering Steam errors and have ThreatFire or Spyware Doctor installed, please do the following:

    • Disable Behavior Guard via PC Tools My Account service. Disabling the service through Intelli-Guard will not resolve the issue.
    • If this fails to resolve the issue, fully disabling or uninstalling ThreatFire or Spyware Doctor may be necessary.
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Clients

    P2P programs such as Kazaa, LimeWire, BitTorrent, E-mule, and Exeem can consume a large portion of your bandwidth, which may prevent Steam from connecting. Do not run file sharing applications while you are using Steam.

  • Firewalls

    Newer versions of COMODO Internet Security includes a sandbox feature that may disable services that Steam needs to run on. Make sure important services are not being run in the sandbox mode.

  • FTP and Web Server Applications

    As with P2P programs, these programs are generally very bandwidth-intensive and may generate errors in Steam. Examples include IIS services for Windows, Apache web server and MySQL servers.

  • IP Filtering Programs

    Peer Guardian, CYBERsitter, and Netlimiter have been found to cause Steam connection issues. These programs are not compatible with Steam and must be disabled or permanently removed from the computer in order to avoid conflicts.

  • IP Masking Programs

    Programs designed to mask your IP (GhostSurf 2007, Anonymizer, etc) will impact Steam’s ability to send and receive data.

  • Download “Accelerator” and Download Manager Programs

    These programs may interfere with installing and/or downloading updates through Steam. Download accelerator programs should be disabled while using Steam.

    Additionally, Internet Download Manager has been found to cause crashes when the Steam Storefront is loaded.

  • Windows Theme Editors

    Tuneup WinStyler Theme Service has been found to cause a crash with the Steam client application and WindowBlinds may cause crashes with Source games.

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) Software

    VPN software will prevent the Steam client application from accessing the Steam network.

  • Other Applications
    • Look’n’Stop has been reported to cause issues with Steam when its “Unknown UDP Packet” filter is enabled.
    • PowerStrip custom display modes software may cause issues with load time and crashing in games – it is recommended that you select the “Restore to default” setting in PowerStrip before playing (you may resume using PowerStrip normally once you are done).
    • The nVidia Network Access Manager has been found to cause problems as described in the Nothing appears on the Storefront screen in Steam topic.
    • Airfoil will cause the error “Game name failed to start (error code 51).” if “Instant Hijack” is enabled. You will either need to disable “Instant Hijack” (you do not need to restart your computer when prompted) or add Steam and all Steam games to the excluded programs.

In-Game Overlay Application Incompatibility List

  • X-Fire

    The in-game overlay may not function if X-Fire is running and also trying to draw its in-game chat interface on the game you have launched.

    Workaround:

    Close X-Fire, or set it to not attempt to run its in-game portion on games not launched via X-Fire.

  • Windows Blinds

    Reported as possibly preventing the in-game overlay from functioning in some games.

    Workaround:

    We are currently investigating a solution to this issue. In the mean time, please do not use Window Blinds with Steam.

  • Ventrilo

    Reported that the in-game hot-key bindings for Ventrilo may stop working with the overlay.

    Workaround: This has been reported to be a Vista issue and making the involved apps Run as Administrator solved the problem.

I do hope you get your issue resolved without having too much gnashing of teeth, hair-pulling, etc., as gaming is vital. But please note: I am not a Steam tech support guy, and if you write in with questions seeking help, I will simply refer you to the links and advice in this article. (I have stopped using Steam altogether.)

And thank you, Dear Reader, for sending me that list.

If you made it down this far, here’s a reward: a reading reco: Save our Internet before we go off the digital cliff

The Internet is a public good — indeed, a public necessity — that is being abused by profiteers. Through their greed, they’re driving us off the Internet cliff.Read more..

Today’s quote:I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous – everyone hasn’t met me yet.” ~ Rodney Dangerfield

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

January 22, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, performance, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

And once again it’s Monday!

Yippee yahoo.

* Many people have reported to me that their New Year has started out right, and good things are happening for them. I really like hearing things like that, especially in these times (and economic climes). I sure hope we’re in a “turnaround”, in general, and that you – specifically – have great things happen in 2013. (Mine is starting out right.)

* I recently ran a poll, asking if any pet owner had had their lost pet returned thanks to a microchip implant.
Now, I have to say that, I don’t want to open a whole can of worms, or start a debate over the idea of electronic implants — or what that might mean when they start doing it to humans… That isn’t why I asked the question in the poll, so let’s agree, and not ‘go there’.

smileI will say that several readers responded with a “yes”. And that I found that slightly surprising. I had some doubts as to Real Life efficacy, I confess. When I thought about those (“yes”) pet owners, I was reminded of those Visa commercials:
Silicon chip – $1.29
Trip to vet – $39
The return of the lost family pet – priceless.

(And to those who answered “no”.. well, I don’t know what to say except that you have my sincere sympathies.)

* Saw a good read this morning by Ed Bott. Have to confess I like the comments better than the article, though, as, for one thing, David Pogue weighed in.. To touch or not to touch: That is the Windows 8 question

The next time someone complains that Windows 8 touchscreens give you “gorilla arm,” you have my permission to stomp on them like that ape in the old American Tourister commercials. The reality is that touchscreens work great on modern laptops, and you might even be able to retrofit touch support on your old trackpad.Read more..

* I enjoyed the football games yesterday. And I am still sticking to the Packers 49ers as my Super Bowl pick.
It felt weird to know that Ray Lewis isn’t coming back next year.. Will their still be a Ravens?
(And I’m going to have to check the latest on RG3’s knee… Ray Lewis’ heroic effort pays off; Robert Griffin III’s does not)

* Tech Tip: 10 things to try when applications won’t work with Windows 8

If you have problems getting an app to run on Windows 8, all’s not lost. One of these strategies or workarounds may get the application running.” Read more..

* In the news:

* Latest IE attacks connected to espionage group

Symantec has linked exploits that leverage a new zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer to the group responsible for a spate of recent espionage attacks.Read more..

* Also.. there’s a version of Ubuntu for smartphones now.. but who cares?

* Break in at Microsoft’s research office sees only iPads stolen

According to a report in a Palo Alto newspaper, a break in took place at Microsoft’s office in Mountain View and the only things that were taken from the property were iPads.” Read more..

* 2013: The year Gigabit Wi-Fi arrives

No more idle chit-chat, Gigabit Wi-Fi, thanks to 802.11ac, is on its way to your home and corporate networks.Read more..

* Today’s quote:Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.” ~ Unknown

[I don’t know about tools so much.. but if you change that to “screw” or “nut”.. yeah! {Also, the ‘common’ bolts don’t vanish, but the one-of-a-kind specialty ones sure do..}]

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

January 7, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, hackers, IE 7, ie 8, IE 9, Internet, tech, troubleshooting, Windows 8 | , | 4 Comments

Troubleshooting Internet Explorer (A Collection of How To’s)

It is a simple and well-known fact of life — sometimes things go wrong with computers.

When that something is your web browser, and you cannot surf the ‘net, or log in to your email, or Google Docs, well, that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a computer these days.

Causes: There can be many reasons your browser can get ‘corrupted’ and stop functioning properly – from viruses, to Updates failing to install properly, and also “cookies” can ‘go bad’ – and so there is no 1-click-cures-all, (wouldn’t that be great?) but here are some things you can do to try to get Internet Explorer working like it should, and/or working like you want it to .
[note: most of the practical steps described in the article links below can be applied to other web browsers.. (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) ]

IE_iconRestore Missing Favorites In IE*

Internet Explorer Runtime Error!!*

Quick Tip: Turn on ClearType in Internet Explorer

Can’t Download? Reset IE

How To Clear Your Cache

View Multiple Mail Identities in One Browser

Extracting text from Web pages*

Precautions for your Internet privacy*

Quick Tip: Customize new tabs behavior

IE’s Menu bar, Taskbar icons, and bad Updates*

Internet/E-mail Troubleshooting – JavaScript

What is a “homepage”?

How to use tabs in IE 7

Saving webpages as files

I hope you found this collection of How To articles helpful.

Today’s quote:Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

Bonus tip: If you are in a position where you need to get your Dear Sweet Aunt Martha (or other utterly tech unsavvy type) a computer so that they can have email, do yourself a favor, spring for an iMac.

Bonus reading:

* Infographic: Spam Olympiad

Spammers and “slammers” took advantage of world-wide attention on the London 2012 Olympics to flood us with junk and fill the social media streams with abuse. Here’s a snapshot of their activity.Read more

* Are You Forwarding Hate Email As A Political Propaganda Tool?

Have you noticed that as the we ramp up for the U.S. Presidential election the hate email propaganda starts to roll in. I have been getting so much of it (mostly from personal acquaintances) that it actually makes me very uncomfortable and has me questioning the  stability and IQ of our population. I sometimes feel […]” Read more..

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories. Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, consumer electronics, Firefox, how to, IE 7, ie 8, IE 9, Internet, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The First Steps Of Any Tech Troubleshooting

My loyal readers should know the Troubleshooting Basics (the first things you do) for when your device, gadget, computer, program, or doodad is misbehaving.

The first thing you check is: Is it plugged in? Turned on/getting power?

Never assume that just because you didn’t disconnect the printer (aka “pull the cord out”) that the cord/cable is connected. Eyeball your connections to confirm. Why spend hours installing device drivers, or reconfiguring your network,  only to discover that the cat (or vacuum cleaner) has loosened a cord?

(Cordless mice and keyboards need batteries.. when was the last time you changed yours?)

The second thing to do/try is always: Close it, then “launch” it again. (You may need to use Task Manager to “End” the “Task” to get the malfunction program to close.)

If that fails, the third step is ALWAYS: reboot. (aka “restart”, aka “turn it off then turn it on again”.)

Only after you have done those three fundamental steps is it okay to think about calling tech support.

Why do I say that? Because those three things solve 99% (or so) of all “glitches”. And it is the first things your tech is going to ask you to do.
It really doesn’t matter what tech problem you are experiencing, nor on what device, nor who made it. A Samsung Wireless Internet Blu Ray player, or Sony camera, or Gateway laptop.

These are the ABC’s.

It’s 2012. We should all know these by heart. (Because even though they market us these doodads (and services) as mature and “easy to use”, truth is, they aren’t quite ready for Prime Time.)

Today’s reading reco: Tone The Brightness of Your Monitor Down With PangoBright

The illumination factor of the LCD and LED monitors of today, can be quite bright. To manage the illumination on my monitor, I use an automated utility called F.lux to manage the brightness of my monitor to match the indoor lighting.  It has been a keeper on my main PC for the past couple of” […] Read more..

Today’s quote: Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” ~ George Orwell

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

July 17, 2012 Posted by | advice, consumer electronics, how to, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , | 2 Comments

For Emergency Repairs, You Need This Disc

Should the worst happen, and your computer decides to give you some white text on a black screen (saying essentially gibberish words, like, “Stop Error 0x0000005a” or “IRQ not less than or equal to”) instead of “booting” into your Windows Desktop like normal, you’re probably going to start panicking.

Well, yes. A certain amount of panic is probably justified. You quite probably have a rather serious “glitch”. Take a breath, and take comfort in the fact that there are Pros who can help you, (shameless plug: such as myself) and if you have the right tools you might be able to repair Windows yourself.. and get a working computer again.
And by “right tools”, that typically means a “boot disc”. And – typically – that means the “Windows Install” disc.

Before you do anything else today, please do this: find the discs that came with your computer.

Do you see a “Windows″ or “System Recovery” disc? No? Not surprising. Most PC makers are using a recovery partition these days (see, About the Recovery (D:) Drive). 
[note:
The “recovery partition” option wipes your hard drive, (aka “Drive C:”) and reverts the machine to the factory-condition state –> total data loss. All your updates and installed programs — gone. Thanks, manufacturers! *]

If you have a Windows 7 PC, you’re in luck: you can make a “boot disc” which includes an automated startup (“boot up”) repair tool, some repair/diagnostic tools, and the ability to access a System Restore point and revert your system to an earlier (working) time. (see, My favorite Life Saver flavor? System Restore).

If your PC is older: I have to opine, you really should upgrade to Windows 7 for security reasons if nothing else (see: It is time to face facts and finally dump Windows XP.) and also say that there is no reason (I can see) to wait for Windows 8 (unless you are planning on getting a touchscreen/tablet..). And I can tell you that to get a “boot disc” appropriate for your machine, you should click here: How To Get Windows Re-Install Discs.

The disc you’re about to make will give you important “recovery” options, that can get your computer working again.

So if you have a partition and not a disc. Remedy that now. All you need is a blank CD or DVD.

Step 1) Click the Start button and type repair into the Search box. The top result is what you want to click – “Create a System Repair Disc”.

repair

2) Your optical drive should be detected (if not, use the ‘drop-down arrow’ to select your CD/DVD drive). Click “Create disc”.

repair2

The drive tray should open, so put in your blank disc…

repair3

After a few moments, the tray should open (“eject”) and you will now have a “bootable” System Recovery disc…

repair4

.. and a powerful tool for repairing your computer in the event of serious errors. You need to make this disc BEFORE you need it.. though I hope you never will.

In case I wasn’t clear: do it now.

[note: To use this disc, and make repairs, you will need to “boot” to it. If you don’t know how to do that, see How to boot from a CD ]

Kudos to Microsoft for making this tool a part of Windows.

* Utter, snide, facetiousness. A terrible move; and whoever decided that should be ashamed. And fired. IMHO.

Today’s quote:He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”  ~Epictetus

Bonus: As a reward for reading down this far, I will explain a bit of Geekspeak you may have seen but not recognized (maybe you have) “disc” – with a “c” – is an optical disc, which you probably think of as a “CD” or “DVD”. When it’s spelled with a “k” (“disk”), they’re talking about hard drives.. usually the storage inside your machine.

Bonus bonus: Amazon has a list of hundreds of up to 50% off gifts for dad (aka “a sale”).

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

June 4, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, troubleshooting, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What To Do When Windows Does Not See The Drive*

You Plug In A Storage Device, And Nothing Happens

A reader e-mailed me a question I believe will be of interest to other readers of this series. He wants to use a thumb drive to transfer files between his computer at his work and his home computer, but the work computer will not “recognize” (aka “see”) the thumb drive when he plugs it in. He wanted advice on how to fix this.

Q: My thumb drive works great at home, but when I took it into work to try and copy some files so I could work at home, I plug it in and the little window never opens so I cannot use it. What am I doing wrong?
A: There are several possible reasons for this, and here’s a few things to try: Read more..

*      *      *

Bonus reading: Sync Box, Google Docs, Evernote and More With Social Folders

If you use Box (online file storage service) and Google Docs, then you are well aware that there is no easy way to sync your online files (and folders) with your computer; UNTIL NOW! I came across an online service called SocialFolders where you can sync your files at Box, Google Docs and more (such “[…] Read more..

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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April 16, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, Plug and Play, tech, thumb drives, troubleshooting | , , , , , , | 6 Comments