Computer Tips

Fix Windows 10 install stuck at “Getting Ready”

If you ever see a Windows 10 install getting stuck at “Getting Ready”–the issue could be caused by various factors.  Below are some tips to help you fix this issue along with other tips for other kinds of installation related errors.

1. UEFI booted installation — disable secure boot and enable “Legacy Booting”. When you insert the USB or DVD installation, make sure to select “legacy boot option in boot devices list of your laptop or desktop”.  If you see HP, Dell or other logos when you are booting up Windows 10 instead of the Win10 logo, that is a sign something is off (this only applies to clean install, if you are upgrading–you may still see the logo of your computer manufacturer.)  The UEFI bootloader–booting up your USB installer is the culprit of the installation getting stuck in that “Getting ready”.   If you ever shut it down when it is stuck in that “getting ready”, you will see that installation has failed error and to restart installation again.  Once you ensure that legacy booting is enabled in BIOS, you need to hit ESC or F9,F12 or whatever key shows you the boot devices list so that you can select the regular legacy boot and not the UEFI boot option for your thumb drive.

2.  If your Windows 10 install gets stuck on “Getting Updates”–it may actually be using a slow internet and not stuck at all.  Make sure you are using a fast internet or you could always just install without the “Get updates” option during the upgrade installation.

3.  If you get other installation errors, make sure to disconnect all peripherals aside from mouse and keyboard.

4.  Instead of using the Windows Update service inside Windows got upgrade from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to 10.  You could just download the Media Creation Tool found here https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10ISO

5.  If the Media creation tool is not working for you, it usually means your USB flash drive may not have enough space on it.  You can try running the media creation tool in admin mode by right clicking and clicking on “Run as Administrator”.   Make sure your thumb drive is not locked.  Try a different flash drive if it still keeps failing at writing to the USB after it has downloaded the Win10 ISO.  Make sure to choose the right version for your system architecture, most new systems will be 64 bit.

6.  If after you install Windows 10 and it gets stuck on “Working on it”– Go to control panel and then Windows Update.   Click on check “check for updates”.  Let it take however long it wants for the update, and it should show you the upgrade option.

Threat Spotlight: Follow the Bad Rabbit

On October 24, 2017, Cisco Talos was alerted to a widescale ransomware campaign affecting organizations across eastern Europe and Russia. As was the case in previous situations, we quickly mobilized to assess the situation and ensure that customers remain protected from this and other threats as they emerge across the threat landscape.

There have been several large scale ransomware campaigns over the last several months. This appears to have some similarities to Nyetya in that it is also based on Petya ransomware. Major portions of the code appear to have been rewritten. The distribution does not appear to have the sophistication of the supply chain attacks we have seen recently.

Read more

Changing system date from Terminal – OS X recovery

When you’re booting your Mac from the recovery partition and are planning to reinstall OS X, you might be met by the following message:

An error occurred while preparing the installation. Try running again

Now, if you haven’t used your Mac for a while, the error might be caused by an incorrect system date setting. You can check this by going to utilities and opening the terminal. Once in the terminal enter the following command and hit return/enter:

date

The result of this command will be the date that the system currently has been set to. For some reason, it might have been reset to 2001, in which case we need to set it to the right date. To do this, we enter a new command. This command will be entered as follows:

date {month}{day}{hour}{minute}{year}

Every bracket should be replaced with a two-digit number. For example, March 18th 2013 12:50 would become the following command:

date 0318125013

Enter the command and hit return. You can then check if it was set correctly by running the first command again. If the date was wrong, it was likely that which caused the error, and after you quit the terminal it should be able to install OS X just fine.

Installing macOS or OS X: What to do when ‘the installer payload failed signature check’ or ‘this copy of the install OS X application cannot be verified’

If you encounter an error when trying to install a fresh operating system, it could be a problem with the date and time.

The other day a co-worker needed to borrow a Mac, so I grabbed an older MacBook Air from storage. I decided to wipe out the laptop’s flash storage and install a fresh version of OS X. I created a bootable USB flash drive installer, plugged it into the laptop, pressed the Option key as the machine booted, and then selected the USB drive as the boot disk.

I then ran Disk Utility to reformat the drive and then ran the installer to install OS X. It looked like things were moving along, until this appeared on the screen.

osx boot install error
Error message while trying to install OS X El Capitan from a USB installation disk.

installer payload fail sierra
Error message while trying to install macOS Sierra from a USB installation disk.

I created another boot disk using a different storage drive, in case it was a hardware problem, but I got the same error. I figured that the fact that the laptop had been in storage for a while had something to do with it, and it did.

Note: This fix should work with OS X Mavericks and El Capitan. It also worked for me with macOS Sierra, which shows a different error message (“The installer payload failed signature check” pops up near the end of the installation) than the one that appears for El Capitan and Mavericks.

How to fix the problem

The installer checks the date on the computer. If the date isn’t current, you get the error above. The fix involves correcting the date on your Mac.

If you have an older OS on the Mac

If you have a complete OS on the Mac already, boot into it. Fix the date in the Date & Time system preference (Apple menu > System Preferences). Reboot using the USB boot disk, and you should be able to proceed with the installation.

If you don’t have an OS on the Mac

If you are in a situation like I was, and you don’t have a complete OS on your disk (you reformatted it), you’ll find that there’s no way to access the Date & Time system preference when you use an external USB boot installer drive. The Apple menu doesn’t give you access to System Preferences. You have to use the Terminal to set the date and time.

osx boot install error terminal
How to access the Terminal when you boot from an external boot drive installer.

If you use an external boot disk, you Mac starts up into OS X Disk Utilities. You can access the Terminal by clicking on the Utilities menu and selecting Terminal. Once the Terminal has launched, follow these steps.

    1. At the prompt, type date to see the date that’s on the Mac. For example, here’s the date of the MacBook Air I worked on.
  1. If your Mac is connected to the internet, you can tell your Mac to check online for the current date and time. You can do this by typing at the prompt ntpdate -u time.apple.com and then pressing Return.
osx boot install error terminal set date auto

Your Mac should now have the current date and time. If you enter date again (as I did in the screenshot above) the information that appears will be current. You can now run the OS installer.

If you don’t have an internet connection

You can still use Terminal to set the date. Go into the Terminal as described above, then follow these steps.

    1. At the prompt, type date to see the date that’s on the Mac.
    2. Figure out the numerical representation of the date and time. The pattern you need to follow:
      • Month: in two-digit format. For example, July is 07.
      • Day: in two-digit format. For example, the 19th is 19. Another example: the 7th is 07.
      • Time: in military format of hours and minutes. For example, 2:00 p.m. is 1400.
      • Year: Last two digits.

In my example, the numerical representation is 0719140016. This stands for July (07) 19, (19), 2 p.m. (1400), 2016 (16).

  1. At the prompt, type date [numerical], with [numerical] being the representation you figured out. In my example, I typed date 0719140016. Then press Return.
osx boot install error terminal set date manual

The date should be set. You can check the date again by typing date at the prompt. You can now run the installer.

Email Services in HKUST

Virus Precaution

Handling Email’s File Attachments

Nowadays, advanced email clients (such as Netscape Messenger, MS Outlook, Eudora, and PC-Pine, etc.) are powerful and user-friendly.  They provide features for users to run programs or open documents sent from  file attachments of emails directly and easily by a simple click or key-stroke.  Since a user may receive emails from many different sources, it could be dangerous if a user tries to open file attachments of emails from distrusted or unknown parties.  This situation is similar to invoking programs or opening documents from an unknown floppy disk.

Furthermore, email messages with file attachments from friends, relatives or colleagues might also be harmful some times because they might just be sent in an involuntary or unconscious condition (eg.  the sender’s machine is already infected by a virus).  Usually messages with malicious file attachments are unsolicited ones, and would look a bit weird and out of context (eg. a colleauge suddenly sending you an attachment which is said to be a joke).  In any case of doubt, it is always advisable for the recipient to double check with the sender before opening the file attachment.

While virus hoaxes (contain plain text messages only) are usually not harmful, emails with file attachments of unfriendly files (executable programs or documents with embedded macros/scripts) could be destructive.  For example, opening an infected MS Word document can cause problem because the infected document may have macro viruses which can make MS Word behave abnormally. ITSC’s web page on “Anti-Viruses” explains virus hoaxes and macro viruses in more details.

In general, the following precautions should be noted when handling email file attachments:

  1. Usually, for most email tools, user will need to issue a command (by clicking a button or hitting a key) before a email’s file attachment is opened.  User is recommended to think twice before opening an attachment from distrusted or unknown source as it could be an unfriendly program or document.
  2. According to our experience, when an infected Word document is opened, user will be prompted before a Word macro is executed.  In this case, it is highly recommended to response with “no” (to skip running the macro) unless user is very sure that it is safe to do so.
  3. Generally speaking, user is advised to be very careful when handling email attachments because opening an attached file from suspicious source is somewhat like opening a file from a suspicious floppy disk.

What is Computer Virus?

A computer virus is an executable program. Depend on the nature of a virus, it may cause damage of your hard disk contents, and/or interfere normal operation of your computer.

By definition, a virus program is able to replicate itself. This means that the virus multiplies on a computer by making copies of itself. This replication is intentional; it is part of the virus program. In most cases, if a file that contains virus is executed or copied onto another computer, then that computer will also be “infected” by the same virus.

A virus can be introduced to a computer system along with any software program. For Internet users, this threat can come from downloading files through FTP (file transfer protocol), or referencing email attachments. (Please refer to our web page on Handling Email’s File Attachments for details.)

When a virus is introduced to a computer system, it can attach itself to, or sometimes even replace, an existing program. Thus, when the user runs the program in question, the virus is also executed. This usually happens without the user being aware of it.

A virus program contains instructions to initiate some sort of “event” that affects the infected computer. Each virus has an unique event associated with it. These events and their effects can range from harmless to devastating. For examples:

  • An annoying message appearing on the computer screen.
  • Reduced memory or disk space.
  • Modification of data.
  • Files overwritten or damaged.
  • Hard drive erased.