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Originally published Friday, January 24, 2014 at 4:01 PM

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Computer update locks up Word files — what happened?

Most likely the documents were inadvertently encrypted ­— an issue that came to light only after hardware changes altered the Windows user profile, Patrick Marshall writes. He offers a step-by-step fix.


Special to The Seattle Times

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Q: Last week I installed a new motherboard and processor in a home-built desktop. After reinstalling the original Windows 7 and data from the Windows.old folder, I found my Word files (Office 2007) are now restricted. When I attempt to open them, I get the following message: “Word cannot open the document: user does not have access privileges.”

I had created a folder on the C: drive for Word documents and placed a number of subfolders in there as well. When I open the top-level folder, all the Word documents and some of the subfolders show the file/folders name in green font.

Anything in green font seems to be restricted. I’ve tried to change permissions in the file and folder security tab, but nothing works so far. When I tried to copy the folder to a USB drive I got a message that the Word files are encrypted. This isn’t something I would have done.

— Bruce McKibben

A: The green font you see in Windows Explorer indicates those files are encrypted, and only the owner of encrypted files can open them. (It might be you had inadvertently created an encrypted folder in your earlier installation of Windows.)

When you reinstalled Windows 7, you had to create a new Windows user profile. Unfortunately, the Word documents you now see in green were encrypted by someone — you, I suspect — using a different user profile. Since the user profile’s encryption key is no longer available to export and import, follow these steps:

1. Open a command prompt in Windows 7, type dpapimig.exe and then press Enter.

2. Type the password that you used on your old computer.

3. Finally, click “Confirm my account information and update content protection.”

Those files should now be accessible.

Q: I am lost in space on Internet Explorer, with delays of about 5 minutes before my homepage opens. The same thing happens when I try to open other pages from it. I tried uninstalling and then downloading and reinstalling Internet Explorer 9. Same thing.

I did purchase and run a full system scan with Malwarebytes. It identified 13 errors from something called PUP. I used the removal tool and it would not open. It just sat there spinning.

Ideally, I would like to resolve the IE issue, though I can use Firefox. But I do not know how to change the Internet default from IE to Firefox.

— Jim Wells

A: It does sound to me like either malware or a conflict with an Internet Explorer extension or add-in. If it were me, I’d just use another browser. The alternatives — which include either reinstalling Windows and your applications or hiring someone to do troubleshooting — are likely not worth the effort.

And, yes, I’d stay on Malwarebytes to resolve removal of that PUP. It may well be the culprit. PUP, by the way, stands for “potentially unwanted program.”

You can go here to make Firefox your default browser: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-make-web-links-open-firefox-default .

Note: Microsoft has resolved its problems with battery management in the Surface Pro 2. Unfortunately, it didn’t do a very good job of letting owners know about the nature of the problem, the extent of the problem or even the availability of the fix.

I began to hear last week that a fix was being rolled out via an automatic firmware update, but it didn’t get to my computer. So finally I contacted tech support.

I was advised to check not the Windows Update utility in the Control Panel that I had been checking, but instead the PC Settings Update and Recovery utility. There I found that a firmware update had been available since Jan. 15. Why it didn’t install automatically I can’t begin to guess.

That wasn’t the end of the saga, however. I tried to install the firmware update manually and received an error message informing me the battery was too low. The message said I should charge my battery and try again.

Problem is, my battery was fully charged. After browsing on the Internet for a while, I found one user who said you might try holding down the increase sound button on the side of the unit at the same time as holding down the power button for 15 seconds. I did so, and it worked. I installed the update, and the battery management, sleep and shutdown features have all been working properly.

Now the only mystery to solve is why Microsoft hasn’t been front and center informing its customers about the problems and fixes.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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