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Issue #538: November 12–18, 2017

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Q: I have an HP 360 Laptop. When purchased it was Win 8.1. I did the free Win 10 upgrade and had gone through a number of updates without problems. The latest update in the summer of 2017 has left me with a watered down Win 10 and certain programs such as Family Tree Maker say “no internet connection” when trying to get online through the program even though I have connection when using Chrome. Also Cortana and Store are not working. Some apps were removed in that last update. I have tried a number of adjustments but nothing seems to have worked to get the functionality of my computer back. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you and I enjoy reading your column.

– Rebecca R.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A:  It certainly is a pleasure to hear from someone who went through the whole free Windows 10 update path and came out clean on the other end.  I hear so much flack about Win 10, but I updated six different systems, and like you, I’ve had no problems with any of mine.  Let me add that your problem appears to have nothing to do with Windows 10, and perhaps not even the update you suspect caused it.  In fact, a simple reboot should have fixed this problem.  I’m not recommending that, as I assume you’ve probably rebooted more than once since the summer to no avail.

So let’s get right down to it.  Your problem is occurring because the Windows DNS Client service is not running.  This requires some explanation for the benefit of anyone reading who doesn’t understand Windows services or DNS and what they do.  So, stand-by for the fix after this brief explanation.

Windows services are specialized pieces of software that run in the background under Windows, providing functionality that supports application programs, system functions, or even other services.  In the case of the DNS Client, according to its own description, its job is to “Cache Domain Name System (DNS) names and register the full computer name for [your] computer.”  Bad things can happen when this service isn’t running, including what you described in your question.

If you’re a regular reader of my column, you probably already know that the “friendly” names that we use to refer to destinations on the web are merely for the benefit of humans, so that we don’t have to remember more cryptic IP addresses.  A Domain Name System’s job is to translate those friendly names into their corresponding IP addresses that web browsers and other application software use to locate a server on the Internet.  The DNS Client service is a cousin to the DNS itself, providing local caching of names, and other functions as described above.  Some applications, such as the ones you mentioned, rely on the DNS Client service to provide their translation.

The fix?  Well, as I said above, the problem is that the DNS Client is not running, so we need to get it started.  It should start automatically when Windows starts, but apparently on your system, something has stopped it, and in the process disabled its autostart.  To re-enable it, access the Computer Management snap-in by right-clicking on the Computer icon on the desktop or within Windows Explorer, then select “Manage” from the context menu.  In the navigation tree expand “Services and Application” then select “Services”.  An alphabetized list of services will appear in the main pane.  Find “DNS Client,” right-click on it, and select “Properties”.  In the dialog that comes up, set “Startup type” to “Automatic” and as long as you’re here, you may as well go ahead and start the service by clicking the “Start” button.  Click “OK,” back out of everything, and your problem should be gone.

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