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Strange Encounter of the First Kind

Definitely not meeting up with the space aliens. But strange things started happening with my Intel NUC mini PC. It seemed to be possessed by something.

The computer started freezing. Meaning it froze the screen display and would not respond to any user inputs. Total system lock-up.

Microsoft and WIN10 (I have pro) are always doing updates and changing things. So it is very difficult to know in which direction to look for the problem. Also, I have had several firmware updates to the NUC embedded software (Archaically referenced as the BIOS)

The only way to escape the freeze was to pull the power plug and recover from a power-loss restart.

The system would seem to run normal but within 10 minutes or so, it would repeat the freeze-up trick.

I am not going to expound on my trouble shooting and all the options.  I did a search on the internet and I have not been the first NUC owner with the issue. The problem with folks posting on the internet, there is seldom an “Ah-Ha!” moment where the solution is presented.

The gist of what I read that it most likely is a driver from a recent update or software addition that is not compatible with the NUC hardware. Yeah, I can buy into that…

The Intel NUC has a website: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/intel-driver-support-assistant.html  It will test the NUC real time and advise and provide proper updates for the machine that is asking. Very cool, IMHO.

It tells me I need a driver update. One single update. I click the download and update but the response is that it can not locate that file. “Really?”, I am thinking, Hmmm…

I keep trying every few hours. About 12 hours later, I get the surprise, it has found the file and it starts the download/update in under 60 seconds.

The best news is the alien invader is gone!  The lock-ups have ceased. I also had the chance though the investigative process to deep probe the NUC operating system and tweak a few settings like fan speed. A few other settings as well, but not critical to this subject.

The NUC is running better than ever and the cooling fan is much more under proper control. Another subject area…

Bottom line, there was a bad driver. Probably provided and installed by Intel in a very recent previous update. The fact the file could not be found for 12 hours has me thinking Intel was aware of the issue and killed the immediate file access until it could be updated.

I am more a, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” type. I just replaced some severely out-of-date payment apps on my eCommerce sites so was in the mind-set, “It’s time get up to SOTA (State Of The Art)” in all my systems.

But sometimes updates can also break things.  Alien invaders is a good excuse…

Update 11/8/2020:  Win 10 was still going into lock-up as described above.  The bad driver seemed to be the cause as its replacement gave me  several days of no lock-up.  But they have returned. Now the screen goes black and the computer is locked.

I am suspecting the Linux System within WIN10 with which I had experimented. I unloaded the Linux application but I did not disable the system software I enabled which permitted Linux to operate. Since it is NOT a mainstream application it could very well have some instabilities. I have turned that sub-system off.  More time will tell me if that was my alien invader…

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