I’m not usually against free upgrades, but Windows 10 has been a costly one, albeit only partly in money. Awhile back, I ran into a problem with printers after the initial Win 10 setup and it took me 2 hours of trial and error, and a sudden inspiration / brain fart to try something that worked. The simple explanation is I have a router, 3 computers, and 3 printers. Two were running Win10, 1 was running Win7. No big deal, except the printers are all wired to 1 computer. If that sounds odd, it shouldn’t — one was an old laser printer that only had a parallel port style connector, one was a newer colour model but couldn’t connect to my old router by USB or Ethernet (the router didn’t support it), and a label maker that works best when directly connected to a single PC.
With the upgrade, all hell broke loose. I could get the 3 PCs to talk to one another, and for awhile the main PC could print, but nothing else could. Then the others could, but not to the laser printer, just the ones connected by USB (that should have been a bigger clue). After fiddling for 2 hours, I was about to throw in the towel when I realized if the printer wasn’t the problem, and the printer driver wasn’t the problem, could there be a problem with the PORT driver? Not usually, that’s a pretty basic driver of input and output, but I searched in the bowels of my setup, found the problem and voila! My parallel printer started printing, and everyone could print. Great!
Then after another Windows update in early December, I lost my laser printer again. No problem, I thought, I knew how to fix it. Three clicks later, I found out that everything was still already set properly. Another hour or two, no more success. I couldn’t print to that printer no matter what. Didn’t help Andrea was in the middle of finishing her courses, but we muddled through and I was trying to figure out what to do.
One of the “saving” graces when I upgraded to Win 10 was that it said, quite clearly, that if you didn’t like it, you could downgrade back later. So once Andrea’s courses were all done, I proceeded to try the downgrade. Not an option. WTF? Apparently, buried in the small print was a note that it was an option for 30 days, but users were told to note that keeping a second copy of everything on their system was using up a lot of extra disk space so Windows helpfully deleted it after 30 days. You know, to help free up space. Would have been nice to have some sort of question or prompt at that point to say, “Hey, it’s been 30 days, and after this, downgrading won’t be an option anymore, are you sure?” Because I would have said “NO! I’m not sure! Ask me again in 30 days!”. But no, it just deleted it. On both systems. Now, sure, I have legit copies of Win 7/8, so I could wipe everything off, reinstall from scratch, put everything back the way it was, but I’m going to get forced to upgrade at some point anyway when MS Office or some such program doesn’t work on the old Windows anyway, and at the rate Microsoft is actively trying to kill old versions, that won’t be as long perhaps as most users hope.
So I accepted that the 20-year-old work horse of a printer was probably headed for the scrap heap and ordered a new network-compatible, double-sided, laser printer. Decent printer, decent price, free shipping with Amazon (I’m really enjoying the free shipping from them on my Prime membership). It arrived, and I hesitated to hook it up. I just knew there was every possibility that it wouldn’t go smoothly, and if it didn’t, I might take a hammer to it. My coping energy has been down, and is only slowly building back up since Christmas with some careful internal techniques.
However, in the meantime, just this past week in fact, Andrea upgraded her PC to Windows 10. And suddenly I couldn’t see her PC anymore, she couldn’t print, blah blah blah.
I found the problem right away, and it is the same problem that I think has underlaid some of the challenges from the beginning. When I upgraded my PC, my PC’s “name” was in the form of “Joe” (as in Joe Computer). Windows 10 however has a much stronger tie to the Microsoft online accounts, so the upgrade changed my PC name to “Joe Computer”. Now here’s the fun part — Windows 10 apparently doesn’t seem to want to admit that Joe Computer and Joe are the same computer or that Joe ever existed at all. Occasionally, when I try to do something deep in the bowels, Windows tries to tell me that Joe Computer doesn’t have the rights to do that because Joe didn’t give JC the rights. I over-ride, we keep going, all good. Except when it comes to networks.
From the beginning, Windows has told me that I’m connected to something called Network 7 i.e. a network created with Windows 7 by Joe. And that Joe created a Homegroup on said network. That I can join if I know the password. Here’s the thing — I *do* know the password, but when I try to connect I think it wants Joe to say Okay, but Joe doesn’t exist anymore. Or rather Joe Computer is asking itself, and it gets confused. It works for Andrea’s computer and the laptop, but it tells me I’m on the network already and I can join but it won’t confirm me. I followed all the helpful/unhelpful advice on Microsoft’s community forums, and nada.
Tonight, I went drastic. I disconnected from the network. I removed all the network settings I could find. It told me to do this for all three PCs, and then reconnect just 1 and create a new network + homegroup. Except that when I went to do Andrea’s PC second, it said, “Would you like to create a homegroup?”. Wtf? It wouldn’t let me do it before…oh right, my PC is now off. Joe and Joe Computer are both GONE. And her PC knows the proper name of my network, not “network 7” that I’m not sure exists anymore (it does, but I’ll get to that).
So I create a new homegroup. Looks perfect. Go to the laptop, and there is Andrea’s homegroup. Which I join, no problem, also set perfectly for the same network. Come back to my PC, turn it on, and voila! I’m still connected to Network 7 dammit.
I read something online that suggests it could be a “sticky” ID name and that it is still the right network. There’s an option to join a HomeGroup, which I do. Except this time I enter the new password from Andrea’s computer. And wait.
The computer whirs.
The icon spins and twirls.
It whirs some more.
Then it says, “Congrats, would you like to do something else now like….”.
Hallelujah and pass the ammunition! We have ourselves a network.
I quickly try to print to the parallel port to see if my some miracle it also fixed that but no. So I kill it, unhook it, and set up the new laser printer.
That can connect wirelessly to the router, and anything on the router can print to it. For some odd reason, it doesn’t ask me for a password, I am not sure why. Maybe because it is a printer and not a storage device. Odd, but I’m going with it for now. Bears further investigating, but not now.
I tweak a few things on my PC, and there is the new laser printer already in my setup. I love plug and play and auto discover — when it works.
I find an email I want to print, choose double-sided, and press SEND. And miracles of miracles, it prints just fine. No issues at all.
Andrea’s PC can’t print to it yet even though it can see it, but I think it is just delayed setup. Should work fine once she’s rebooted. I think. I hope. We’ll see. But *I* can print to it, and Andrea can print again to the colour. Plus all our machines are networked so files can be moved around more easily (particularly photos when I’m trying to amalgamate them all to one place for processing and backups!).
Stay tuned! But I’m hopeful I’m nearing a fully working network…