SharePoint: Resolving Access Denied errors for Site Owners

Recently, I experienced a very strange problem while working on a client’s SharePoint 2007 install. SharePoint’s permission management isn’t always the easiest or most intuitive, but for the most part it works pretty well. And then there are the head-scratchers, which make absolutely no sense until the cause of the problem is discovered.

The Problem

Users belonging to the Site Owners group were receiving “Access Denied” errors on a particular site. The Site Owners group has Full Control permissions, so logically they shouldn’t be receiving “Access Denied” for any reason, unless a specific page or library does not inherit its permissions from the site. Thus, this was the first thing I checked. All of the lists in the site were indeed inheriting permissions, so this could not possibly be the issue.

Access Denied
But I'm a Site Owner! I have Full Control!

The “Access Denied” error made it clear that the users in the Site Owners group did not have permissions to access something, but what could it be? After Googling around for a while, I found a blog post detailing a similar issue and the possible solution. In the case detailed by the blogger, the Master Page Gallery for the site collection had been set up with custom permissions. Even though users had Full Control of the site, they did not have permissions to load the Master Page, causing the Access Denied error throughout the site. This prompted me to check the Master Page Gallery permissions on my client’s site, but I found this was not the cause.

What could possibly be the cause?

With no other ideas, I decided to look in the SharePoint Group settings and make sure they were configured correctly. I noticed that all of the groups were set up so that only the group members could view membership of a group. Essentially, this means that someone in the Site Owners group cannot see which users are in the Site Members or Site Visitors groups, or any other custom groups that may be configured.

Somehow, SharePoint was trying to view group membership of a group to which the logged-in user was not a member. I toggled the group settings so that so that everyone could view group membership, and Voila! The “Access Denied” error went away.

Group Settings

Now that I’d identified the source of the error, I needed to identify the root cause. Why was SharePoint trying to view group membership using the current logged-in user?

This particular site had many custom web parts built by a third-party, so I started there. I set the groups back so that only members could view group membership, and then removed the custom web parts from a page. Once this web part was removed, the “Access Denied” error did not occur, meaning that the custom code in the web part was the culprit. It apparently was written to access SharePoint groups through the SharePoint Object Model, but was using the current user’s credentials instead of using elevated privileges or impersonation.

Attack of the poorly written web part

The moral of this story is to make sure your custom SharePoint solutions use the proper privileges when appropriate. The web part cannot do any more than the permissions it is given, and oftentimes a user, even a Site Owner, does not have privileges to perform many of the actions available in the SharePoint Object Model. Properly written code can mitigate this problem, while still maintaining proper security throughout the site. Poorly written code can cause headaches for everyone, especially Site Owners.

How to Restore Aero Effects if the Windows Desktop Window Manager Crashes

Aero” is the graphical user interface that Microsoft introduced with Windows Vista and Windows 7. It includes many productivity features for managing your windowed desktop environment, but one of the most noticeable features is the glass-like transparency effect that is typically present on the borders of windows.

Aero window effects working properly

At times, the Desktop Window Manager (DWM) service that runs Aero can crash. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but I’ve most frequently seen it when using applications that are not fully compatible with Windows 7, or when undocking my laptop with a full-screen application open.

Error message shown after the Desktop Window Manager has crashed

When the Desktop Window Manager service crashes, you’ll immediately notice that the Aero transparency effects will disappear.

Aero effects are disabled after the Desktop Window Manager service has crashed

You can fix this problem by restarting your computer, but there’s an easy fix to restart the service and re-enable Aero effects.

Restarting the Desktop Window Manager Service

Step 1: Click the Start (Windows) button and type “run” in the search box. Select the “Run” application that appears in the Programs list.

Note: You can also press the Windows Key + R to access the Run dialog.

Step 2: Type services.msc and press enter.

Step 3: Locate the entry for Desktop Window Manager Session Manager, right click it, and select Restart.

That’s it! The Desktop Window Manager service should now have restarted and Aero effects should be re-enabled.

Optional – Restarting DWM via Command Line

You can also restart the Desktop Window Manager via command line, which is useful if you wanted to create a batch script to automatically restart DWM when it crashes.

To restart DWM via command line, open the command prompt (cmd.exe) and type:

net stop uxsms

Followed by:

net start uxsms

This will have the same effect as restarting the DWM service through the Windows Service Manager application.

‘Til the Blinking Red Light of Death Do Us Part


I can still remember the launch of the Sony PlayStation 3. While the supply shortage was nowhere near that of the launch of the Wii or Xbox 360, it was still quite difficult to get your hands on one. All I knew is that I wanted a PS3. I wanted one badly enough to pay $600 for one, even though I already had an Xbox 360. I found my PS3 on the second weekend after the launch, and I never looked back over the next 37 months.

Then, suddenly, tragedy struck. I was playing Fallout: New Vegas when the game came chugging to a halt, I heard a loud beep-beep-beep noise, and the game shut off. Fallout has a reputation for being very buggy and having frequent freezes and crashes, so I didn’t think too much of it. I restarted my PS3 and began to play Fallout again. After killing a couple Powder Gangers, it happened again. So I tried restarting the PS3 one more time, and within 10 seconds, before I could even get the game booted up, it crashed yet again. It was the dreaded “Blinking Red Light of Death.”

I spent the next few hours trying all troubleshooting ideas I could find on the internet. Some people have made claims that entering the debug menu and restoring the file system will fix the problem. No luck. Others claimed that removing the hard drive and re-seating it in the HDD slot will fix it. Nothing. I’d also read that it could be from the fans being clogged with dust on the inside of the machine, and that I should run a “fan test”. Not even close.

All of the other suggestions, tutorials, and walkthroughs suggested taking the PS3 apart and re-soldering the GPU and Cell Processor to the motherboard. Keeping in mind that I didn’t have the tools necessary to take on this job, and the fact that I thought Electric Engineering 201 & 202 were hard in college, I decided not to go this route. I didn’t feel like spending 2 hours attempting a fix that I would likely screw up and make things worse.

This left me with two options: send my console to Sony and have them repair it for $150, or buy a new PS3 Slim for $300. On the one hand, I could save a little money going the repair route. On the other hand, I could get a smaller, brand new console for only twice the money. My dead 60GB console has PlayStation 2 backwards-compatibility, but I realized that I never use it. The PS2 games that I still have are sitting exactly where they were when I first moved to Chicago, so it was unlikely I’d play them anytime soon. Also, I didn’t want to take the risk of the repair lasting only a short time before the console broke again. In the end, I decided to buy a new console.

PS3 Slim
The PS3 Slim is a lot sexier than the original model...

Going the route of buying a new console was not without its hurdles, however. The first challenge was retaining my game saves and purchased PSN games on the new console. Sony provides a “Data Transfer Utility” for transferring all content, even protected content, from one console to a replacement console. The challenge was getting the data off of the old console that doesn’t work for longer than 10 seconds. I thought I’d give it a try since I had nothing to lose.

In order to perform the procedure, both consoles need to be connected to different inputs on the TV, so I hooked the new one up to HDMI, and the old one up to Composite Video. This is when I discovered that my broken PS3 still worked fine running at 480i through the AV Multi Out port. I can’t imagine anyone would be satisfied gaming on a PS3 in 480i with a 55” Samsung 1080p LCD television, so I did the logical thing and just took advantage of the old console running long enough to transfer my data to the new console.

After the entire ordeal was complete, an astonishing 24 hours later, my new PS3 Slim is functioning as if it was the same console. If the Blinking Red Light of Death ever happens to you, I have two pieces of advice: dig out your composite video cable, and be patient with the data transfer utility. The result will be worth it, and will lessen the sting of dropping $300 on the replacement console.

Detailed information about all of the troubleshooting steps I attempted, as well as the ones I chose not to attempt, can be found aplenty on Google and YouTube, so I won’t go into further details here.

Fix: “Print driver host for 32bit applications has stopped working” Error in Windows 7

One problem I’ve experienced when using my Windows 7 64-bit computer with networked printers is that I intermittently get the error:

Print driver host for 32bit applications has stopped working

It appears that this problem occurs for most people when printing to network printers, but I was seeing it even when not printing (I would wake my computer from sleep and the message would already be on my screen).

After doing some research, I discovered that this problem seems to be a flaw in Windows.  Apparently, Microsoft did not include a full list of printer drivers on the OEM installation CD, so some printers get installed incorrectly and cause your system to throw this error.

The Fix

Step 1: First off, you need to uninstall any printers that you have on your computer.  Click Start –> Devices and Printers, locate your printer, right click it, and select Remove device.


Step 2: Now you’ll need to reinstall the printer as a locally attached network printer (don’t worry, it will work just the same as before).  To do this, click the Add a printer button in the Devices and Printers window from the previous step.


In the resulting window, select Add a local printer.


Then click the option for Create a new port and select Standard TCP/IP Port from the dropdown menu.


Step 3: Type in the networked printer’s hostname or IP address.  The port name will automatically fill itself in with the same information.  Be sure to leave the Query the printer and automatically select the driver to use box unchecked, then click Next.


Step 4: Click the Windows Update button to retrieve an updated list of printer drivers from Microsoft.  Locate your printer in this list and proceed with the installation – this should fix your problem.


If you continue to experience problems with the print driver host for 32-bit applications crashing, try downloading the driver from the printer’s manufacturer and using that in Step 4 by selecting the Have Disk option.

What To Do if McAfee Virus Scan Update 5958 Crashes Your Windows XP Computer (or destroys svchost.exe)

You’ve probably heard about it already – a recent update to McAfee Virus Scan update caused the program to unintentionally damage Windows system files.  Symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • Loss of internet connection
  • Can’t copy and paste
  • Can’t drag and drop files
  • Missing task bar/Start menu

This problem can render your computer completely useless until you fix the damage that was done by McAfee.  We’ve put a preliminary guide together – please let us know if it works in the comments (or if you have additional symptoms or solutions).

You may see an error similar to the one shown below if you are experiencing this problem:

Which reads:

“Windows is must now restart because the DCOM Server Process Launcher service terminated unexpectedly.”

Before you follow this guide, please note the following.

The fix for the McAfee Update 5958 problem is fairly straightforward, but you should be comfortable with working in Safe Mode and using a command prompt before proceeding.

If you do not feel comfortable with the material presented in this guide, please consult an authorized repair technician.

Method 1 (New 04/22/10)

A tool was released today from McAfee which should be able to perform the procedure explained in Method 2 automatically.  Please note that we have yet to extensively test this method, so post please post your experience in the comments if you use it.

Step 1: From a working computer, download the McAfee Remediation Tool and save it to a USB flash drive or burn it to a CD.

Step 2: Boot the affected computer into Safe Mode by tapping the F8 key as it starts up.  You will eventually see a black screen with several options, select Safe Mode as shown below.  You may also be prompted to select an operating system (even if only one is present).

Step 3: Run the McAfee Remediation Tool on the affected computer.  If you are unable to access My Computer because of a missing task bar or Start menu, press Windows + R to bring up a Run dialog, type the following command, and press enter.

EXPLORER.EXE /e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

Step 4: Restart your computer, it should now operate properly.

Method 2

Step 1: You need to download the EXTRA.DAT fix that McAfee released after the problem occurred.  Since you probably can’t download this from your own computer, you will need to find a working computer and put it on a USB flash drive or burn it to a CD.

You may also need a copy of svchost.exe.  A backup version of this file may already exist on your computer, but if it doesn’t you can obtain it from a Windows XP installation disc.  More on this will be covered in Step 3.

Step 2: Boot the affected computer into Safe Mode by tapping the F8 key as it starts up.  You will eventually see a black screen with several options, select Safe Mode as shown below.  You may also be prompted to select an operating system (even if only one is present).

Windows will notify you about Safe Mode.  Click Yes to proceed.

Step 3:  Press and hold the Windows key and tap the R key.  This will bring up a Run prompt.  Type C:/Windows/ServicePackFiles in the prompt and press enter.

If this folder does not exist, proceed to Step 3.5.

If the ServicePackFiles folder exists, press Windows + R again and type cmd.  Press enter and you will see a command prompt.  Type the following commands in succession, pressing Enter after every line (please note that the direction of the slashes matters here!):

copy “C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386\svchost.exe” “C:\Windows\System32” /Y

copy “C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386\svchost.exe” “C:\Windows\System32\dllcache” /Y

Step 3.5: (Only follow this step if the ServicePackFiles folder does not exist):  You need to obtain a clean copy of the svchost.exe file.  The best way to do this is with a Windows XP installation disc.

Put the disc in your optical drive, press Windows + R, and type CMD.  You need to navigate to the the CD by typing in the drive letter followed by a colon.  In my example, the optical drive is called D.  I would type D: in the command prompt and press enter.

You then need to type the following commands in succession, pressing Enter after every line.

cd i386

expand svchost.ex_ C:\Windows\System32

Step 4: Finally, you need to copy the EXTRA.DAT file you downloaded in Step 1 to the computer.  Press Windows + R and type cmd.  Then navigate to your flash drive by typing the drive letter followed by a colon, then press enter.

For example, my flash drive is called G, so I typed G: and pressed enter.  You can type dir and press enter to view the contents of the directory to verify EXTRA.DAT exists.

To copy the file, type the following command and press enter:

copy EXTRA.DAT “C:\Program Files\Common Files\McAfee\Engine”

Step 5: Restart your computer.  Now that you’ve replaced svchost.exe and copied EXTRA.DAT, your computer should now start properly and operate normally.  If you continue to have problems, or have information that could be beneficial to include in this guide, please post in the comments below.

So What Exactly Happened?

What went wrong? The shortest explanation is that McAfee inadvertently flagged an important Windows system file, svchost.exe, as a virus and attempted to remove it.  This is what caused Windows to reboot and all the other problems.  In some cases svchost.exe was not damaged, but in all instances I saw today it needed to be replaced.

What does this guide do? This guide replaces your damaged svchost.exe file with a good version, and also applies an update to McAfee so it will no longer see svchost.exe as a virus.

That sounds simple, what’s with all the command line stuff? After svchost.exe was damaged, it unfortunately removed simple-but-critical features in Windows like drag and drop or copy and paste.  Most of the commands performed in this guide simply copy files, but since you can’t do it through the graphical operating system anymore it becomes a little more complicated.

Will this happen again? Probably not.  This event was very unlikely (and will be better guarded against in the future, I would imagine) – so it still remains critical that you keep your antivirus software and operating systems up to date.  Unfortunate incidences like this can happen, but most of the time updates do more good than harm.

I had something different happen! Please let us know in the comments below!  It will help us make this guide better.

Fix: What To Do if Removing a Virus Blocks Executable (.EXE) Files From Opening

I have recently observed that after removing certain fake anti-spyware viruses (such as “Windows Security Center” or “Anti Virus 2010″), all executable (.exe) files will no longer open.  No matter what file you try to open – iTunes, Firefox, or even Malwarebytes – they will not open because they are all .exe files.

To fix this problem, I came across a process that fixes the registry keys that have been changed due to this virus.

The Problem

When attempting to open any executable file, you see the image shown below.  It is a notification asking you to choose what program you would like to open the file with, which means Windows does not understand how to open .exe files.

The Solution

Disclaimer: Before you start this guide, please keep in mind that this is an advanced procedure and you could potentially end up doing more harm than good by following this guide.  If you are not comfortable with the procedures mentioned in this guide, please call your computer’s manufacturer for support or bring it to an authorized PC technician.  We can take no responsibility for damage done to your system by following this guide.

Step 1: Open the Run dialog box by going to Start -> Run or pressing WIN + R.  Then open the command prompt by typing “command” (instead of typing “cmd” because “cmd” links to an .exe file which will not open).  “Command” links to a .com file which is not affected by the virus.

Step 2: Once you have opened the Command Prompt, type “regedit” and hit enter.

If you can’t open regedit (which is certainly possible because it is an executable file itself), try typing the following commands, one at a time, and press enter after each one.

cd \

cd \windows

copy regedit.exe


This makes a copy of regedit in the form of a .com file so it can be opened.

Step 3: As a precaution you should back up your registry.  To do this, go to File->Export to save a backup file.  You should save this backup to a USB flash drive or other type of portable media just in case you can’t access your hard drive.

Leave the Registry Editor open after you have made a backup because you may need it in the next step.

Step 4: You will now need to run a special registry file that will re-establish the file associations for executable files.  This file is specially tailored for your operating system, so make sure you use the correct file.  You will need to right click these files and select Save As to download them to your computer.

After downloading the correct file for your operating system, you need to try opening it to add those values to the registry.

a) You can first try double clicking the file (or right clicking it and selecting Merge).  If this works you can skip to Step 5.

b) If a) didn’t work, go back to the Registry Editor which you opened in Step 2 and go to File -> Import.  Navigate to the .reg file you downloaded and select it.

c) If neither of those worked, check out the final section of this guide for more help.  Windows XP users can check out this guide which offers the registry fix in a .COM file format.

Step 5: If you were able to successfully install the registry fix for your operating system, you should be good to go now.  Restart your computer and try opening any executable files to see if it worked.

If you encounter problems after changing your registry, you can restore the backup you made in Step 3.

If you still have problems

I’ve dealt with a few computers that have been afflicted with this problem, and I have discovered that there is a tremendous amount of variability that can occur.  If this guide wasn’t able to help you, I recommend checking out the following guides which offer more solutions:

If you’re still stuck after that, post in the comments below and provide as much information as possible.

Remember, if in doubt: call your computer’s manufacturer for support or contact an authorized PC technician.  We can take no responsibility for damage done to your system by following this guide.

WordPress Fix: How to Properly Align Images in RSS Feeds

This image is on the right here, but in the RSS feed it would appear without formatting.

One of the only complaints I’ve ever had about WordPress is that images didn’t maintain alignment in our RSS feedRSS feeds are used to offer subscriptions to visitors and can be used with applications like Google Reader.

When adding an image to an article in WordPress, you have the option to align it on the left/center/right side of the screen – but when viewed in the RSS feed the images appear with no formatting.  A little searching revealed why images weren’t aligning in the RSS feed: WordPress developers removed the deprecated align attribute from image tags.

Removing the align attribute was the right thing to do to stay compliant with web standards, but it had the unfortunate side effect of breaking alignment in RSS feeds (the alignment for the web version of an article works because it is defined by in a CSS file).

The Fix

Fixing the alignment is as simple as installing and activating the Align RSS Images plugin for WordPress.  After activating the Align RSS Images plugin, images will automatically appear with the correct format in your RSS feed.

Align RSS Images works by finding any images in a post and applying the correct formatting to them in the RSS feed.  This is done dynamically when the RSS feed is generated, so no code gets added to your original post.  Best of all: the feed still remains compliant with W3C feed standards.

Note: After activating Align RSS Images, it may take a few hours for the changes to appear in your RSS feed.

Check out a before and after comparison below!

Before, no image alignment.
After, now properly aligned!

[Align RSS Images – WordPress Plugins]

How to Remove Duplicate Facebook Entries from Motorola Droid Contacts

One mildly irritating bug I’ve noticed on my Motorola Droid is that some of my contacts accumulate duplicate Facebook profiles in their contact information.  Opening their contact information can show from 5-7 additional Facebook profiles, but they all open the correct profile page.


Here’s a quick fix I came up with to remove the duplicates:

  1. Open the Facebook application.
  2. Touch the Menu button and select Settings.
  3. Scroll down and touch Sync Contacts.
  4. Select Remove Facebook data.  This will delete all Facebook contacts from your phone (but don’t worry, they’re read-only and we’ll restore them in the next step).
  5. Repeat the entire process but this time change the synchronization settings back to Sync all.

Your Facebook contacts will now synchronize and the duplicates should now be removed.