This article is a short story about an error in Windows 10 that took me just over a month to resolve. I wrote the article because of the nature of the error (mostly a series of silent background errors not causing serious issue), the length of time it took to sort out (just over a month), the nature of the resolution (out of my control), and the conclusion (that we should keep our machines up to date). I hope you enjoy reading about it.
I have a ThinkPad X1 laptop that I have had for about 3 years now (still in Warranty) and the laptop came with Windows 10 Professional preloaded. I have written about this machine before in my Windows 10 Articles here in Experts-Exchange. Here is a recent article on Problems and Solutions:
I have kept this machine up to date all the time, and this past May 2019, I updated to Windows 10 Version 1903 Build 18362 as soon as it came out. I was in general agreement with the journalistic pundits that Version 1903 is a very good quality version. From early May to early July there were very few errors and no crashes of any sort, and I was very happy the overall reliability. Version 1903 is (in my opinion) as good or better than any Windows 10 version before it.
Then in early July, I noticed a “Windows Hardware Error” in Reliability History and the details showed a Live Kernel Event 141. This is traceable to the Video Driver (Intel HD520 Video). The error indicates that the Video Driver could be corrupted. A true hardware check with Lenovo Diagnostics showed nothing, so this was an operating system error and not a true hardware error.
Here is the error for anyone who might be interested in the details.
Summary: Hardware error < (NO)
Date: 7/1/2019 9:28 PM
Status: Report sent
Description: A problem with your hardware caused Windows to stop working correctly.
Problem Event Name: LiveKernelEvent Code:141
Parameter 1: ffffc78e27af0010
Parameter 2: fffff8023f7997d0
Parameter 3: 0
Parameter 4: 42b8
OS version: 10_0_18362
Service Pack: 0_0
OS Version: 10.0.18318.104.22.168.256.48
Locale ID: 1033
The video driver had been Version 22.214.171.12476 since February 2019 and it had been working well, but in early July, Lenovo Vantage updated to Version 126.96.36.19959 and that is when the errors started. Build 6859 was quickly replaced by Build 6913 (within 2 or 3 days).
I tried a complete reinstallation of the driver. I uninstalled back to VGA, restarted, installed the new driver and restarted again. The Windows Hardware Errors continued, so I tried several more things:
The frequency of errors reduced substantially, but they did not go away.
Windows update to 18362.239 on July 9 did not solve anything. However, I noticed that Search (now separate from Cortana in Version 1903) was a blank window. The Search dialogue certainly had been working up to this point. Quick fixes did not help, and so I did a Windows 10 Repair Install and the Repair Install did work (Repair Install fixes many errors and I recommend you understand how to do this). But the Windows Hardware Errors continued.
Just before heading to our Cottage for a week in late July, Glary Utilities (recommended application from Glarysoft) indicated that there was an update to Snagit. The Snagit updater had not yet caught up, so I downloaded the package, updated to Version 2019.1.3.3847 and the Windows Hardware errors went away for a couple of days. I thought perhaps this was the cause, but the errors came back again.
Saturday after our return home, Lenovo had a Chipset update available (V10.1.1.45). The last update (V10.1.1.38) was in 2017 and again I thought this might have been the issue. But after a day or so, the Hardware Errors returned once again. Then August 1, the Microsoft Windows Update Catalogue updated the Intel System Update to V188.8.131.52813. This was successful for a bit, but the errors returned once again. See the Reliability History screenshot farther down to see this update installed.
So, a month had passed. I have updated the Video driver, reinstalled the Video driver, updated Snagit (red herring it seems), updated the Chipset driver, saw an Intel System update and yet the errors continued.
As I noted earlier, for the most part, these errors were transparent to me. I only saw them in Reliability History. But in the last week, occasionally while typing (posting, writing, editing) would become halting and jerky. Each occurrence was matched with a Windows Hardware Error in Reliability History.
Then on Friday, August 2, I ran the Lenovo System Update application and it said there was a new BIOS update (V1.44) for the machine. The last BIOS update (V1.43) was in June two and a half months earlier. I allowed the BIOS update to occur, and after restarting the laptop, there has not been a single Windows Hardware Error since - Touchwood.
This was not the first Intel Driver issue I have had. In July 2017, the Windows Update Catalogue updated the Intel Wireless driver to V19.70 (from a properly working V19.50). Right away I noticed that Intel ProSet had stopped working every time I started the laptop. I opened a case with Intel and they finally gave me a pre-release driver V19.71. That worked successfully and Intel Wireless drivers have worked properly ever since. I am now on Version 20.90.
Conclusions from this lengthy error resolution:
(1) Even though updates can go wrong, it is generally a good idea to do updates. In my case, the Intel Video and Network drivers went wrong, but those errors were an annoyance rather than any real problem. Further updates (I think both Intel and HP for sure, and likely numerous others) find their way into the Windows Update Catalogue and these catalog updates are very difficult to turn off. Indeed, it is very difficult to turn off all updates on Windows 10. Keep Windows and Drivers up to date. It causes more issues and takes more time to not update than to update and deal with the odd issue that arises.
(2) Keep track of what is going on in Reliability History. There may well be more than one cause for a given issue. Both error and update information is listed here that may not be evident unless you go look.
Control Panel, Security and Maintenance, pull down Maintenance and select View Reliability History. You can see highlighted the Intel System Update here.
(3) Work through what is happening. Sometimes re-installing the driver may work. Other times, you need to wait (as I did) for associated applications to be updated.
(4) BIOS here appears to have been a critical update for this particular problem resolution. I noticed that some of the Windows Hardware Errors occurred shortly after startup and Windows Hello uses video at the UEFI level and then at the Windows level, so this made sense.
(5) Vendors may be entirely responsible. I finally convinced Intel that their new network driver (at the time) was flawed and they gave me a pre-release version of the driver to fix the issue. In both of the Intel cases, the errors were entirely outside of my control. Nothing I did caused the issue. I relied upon vendors fixing their software.
Am I out of the woods? I think so but I can never be not entirely certain. On a recent morning, Windows Hello said it had an issue at Microsoft’s end. This failure normally leaves a Stopped Working error; this time it left a Windows Hardware error. Windows Hello has failed several times over the last three years. It appears to be just one of those things and I have never found a precise cause. Other than that, and for good startups, there are no errors.
Good luck troubleshooting. It is satisfying to work through an error, correct it and restore proper operation.
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