Windows installation is partially broken, which prevents Windows installation from being remotely accessed over network

I have a long story that I will try to make short.

I have a desktop computer at home and a separate desktop computer at work.  When I am at work, I need to remotely control my home computer via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) over a Hamachi virtual LAN.  I used the same installation of Windows 7 Professional for x86-32 from 2010 January until this Windows installation partially broke in 2016.  Part of the breakage was that the Windows installation became firewalled and could not be remotely accessed via the same physical LAN, never mind from off site via a virtual LAN.  I could no longer run some programs and some parts of Windows and could no longer run anything with administrative privilege, which made troubleshooting the breakage difficult.  I gave up on trying to fix this Windows installation and started over with a new installation of Windows 10 Enterprise for x86-64 on a new drive but still using the same computer.  That was a huge chore but I thought it was worth it in the end.  Then my new Windows installation broke in the same way as my previous Windows installation.  I do not know how my Windows installations keep breaking but that does not matter now;  what matters now is how to fix my current Windows installation.  I have been procrastinating about writing this post for months by now because I can inconveniently still survive with the ability to remotely access my computer at work from home but no longer the ability to remotely access my home computer from work.  However, I really need to fix this problem because it continues to cause first-world problems in my life.  Without getting into too much detail, I can no longer run anything with administrative privilege nor use Windows Update nor run some applications (Windows says that it cannot find the executable file even though the file is still there) nor run some parts of Windows, such as the Registry Editor, Task Manager, Device Manager, and other Microsoft Management Console things.  I have used Malware Bytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) to scan for malware.  I have confirmed that the problem is only with software, not with hardware, by moving the physical drive containing my Windows installation to a different computer.  Windows runs on the other computer but still has the same breakage.  I found the advice to run NetSh (correct program name?) from the Command-Line Interface to disable the Windows Firewall but I cannot run that command because it requires administrative privilege.  I cannot use the GUI to disable Windows Firewall.  I can provide the output from nmap when I portscan my home computer from another computer if it will be helpful.  I can also provide other specific information if you need it but I do not know which of the many specifics I could provide is relevant to solving this problem.  My initial goal is only to be able to remotely control my home computer from my computer at work again.  Fixing the other things is a lower priority.  Here is an example of the result of trying to run certain programs that appear to still exist in the file system but that can no longer be run by this Windows installation:

[Window Title]
C:\Windows\system32\taskmgr.exe

[Content]
Windows cannot find 'C:\Windows\system32\taskmgr.exe'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.

[OK]

Please do not suggest any of the following:

* starting over with a new installation of Windows Yet Again.  As I already said, I already did that but the new installation broke in the same way.

* switching from Windows to a different operating system, including a different version of Windows or even the same version of Windows but for a different computer architecture.  I use different operating systems for different purposes.  Currently I prefer to use Windows on my desktop client computer, partly because I need or want to do things that are feasible only by using Windows as the host operating system.

* carrying a computer between my home and work instead of having a stationary computer workstation in each place.  I already always have my handheld computer AKA “smartphone” with me.  I do not want to carry multiple computers with me.  Notebook computers suck in practice because their monolithic hardware design means that they are still less modular than an original IBM Personal Computer from 1981.  I replace the video controller in my computer by replacing the video card and need to choose my primary peripherals, such as video controller, display, and keyboard separately.  It is very difficult to find a modern notebook computer with a non-crap combination of computer and integrated peripherals, especially with the recent conspiracy in the notebook computer industry to completely remove the overlaid numeric keypad from all notebook computer keyboards.

And yes, I realise that if I had enough money that I did not have to sell my time for money AKA be employed then this problem would be less relevant because I would have only my home computer.  I actually have worked from home for multiple days at a time but I think I actually prefer working away from home but this is already a digression and I began this post by saying that I would try to make my long story short.

Thank you for reading my post and for trying to help me.

 

Question Info


Last updated August 12, 2018 Views 53 Applies to:

"* starting over with a new installation of Windows Yet Again.  As I already said, I already did that but the new installation broke in the same way."

Honestly, you're going to have to determine what you installed or did, or allowed, that caused this. Maybe something is infected and you plugged in the same USB drive, maybe your network security/firewall isn't setup super securely, who knows.  All we know for sure is that this didn't happen by itself (if it did, every Windows 7 computer on earth would have this problem).  You may be able to narrow it down by when it happened and the software or websites used most recently before that.

I don't mean to be short, but there's is very likely not an easy way out of this. You don't want the suggestion, but a repair install (just installing over itself) is likely the fastest "non-reinstall" path to victory, if it works. And if it does, I'd recommend making some system images so if the same thing ever happens again, you don't have such a chore presented before you.

PS. TeamViewer is free for personal work and takes care of the NAT traversal for remote desktop, so no port forwarding or IP addresses or DDNS service ever required.

Shawn "Cmdr" Keene | Microsoft MVP - Windows Insider | CmdrKeene.com | tweet me: @LtCmdrKeene
Microsoft MVPs are independent experts offering real-world answers. Learn more at mvp.microsoft.com.

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I noticed that the Taskmgr.exe file in my partially-broken Windows 10 installation appears to be signed using a certificate that expired in 2016.  Is this relevant?  Windows does not say anything about the certificate when I try to run the program but, last summer (in Canada), I had a problem with a different, still-fully-working Windows 10 installation on a different computer that Windows would not let me run a program from D-Link to install the driver for a USB↔Ethernet adapter.  Windows did not say anything about the certificate being expired when I tried to run the program but I eventually determined that the expired certificate was why Windows would not let me run the program.

Also, my installation of Windows 8 (not Windows 8.1) Enterprise for x86-32 that I currently use on my desktop computer at work and that I have been using continuously since the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) of Windows 8 in 2012 August has still not broken in the same way as my installations of Windows 7 and Windows 10.  I can think of at least one significant difference between this installation of Windows 8 and my now broken installations of Windows 7 and Windows 10.  I successfully reconfigured my installation of Windows 7 so that it can share files over a network with Windows 4.x (marketing names: Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me).  I tried to reconfigure my installation of Windows 10 in the same way but did not succeed because I foolishly did not document the solution for Windows 7 and could not remember the specific solution from years ago.  This difference may be relevant because enabling somewhat recent releases of Windows NT to share files over a network with Windows 4.x (or even earlier releases of Windows too probably) requires enabling protocols with now weak encryption or otherwise weak security that Microsoft has understandably chosen to disable by default in somewhat recent releases of Windows NT.  I guess that I increased the attack surface of my installations of Windows 7 and Windows 10 but not Windows 8 by compromising in order to network with Windows 4.x .

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Apparently taskmgr.exe on Windows 8 (not Windows 8.1) on my computer at work still works even though one of the certificates expired in 2013, the year after the release of Windows 8.  The pattern seems to be that one of the certificates for at least taskmgr.exe and possibly other components included with Windows expires the year after the release of the release of Windows that includes the file because Windows 10 was first released in 2015 and one of the certificates for the taskmgr.exe file on Windows 10 on my home computer expired in 2016.  Anyway, to answer my own question, it seems that this expired certificate for taskmgr.exe is not relevant.

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