Have You Tried Restarting?

It is a running Tech Support joke: The user is asked if they have restarted their device. It is recommended you restart your devices (phones, tablets, music players and even PC’s) at least once a week. The 2-5 minutes it takes for the device to restart will save you a lot of time in the future with the increased performance. This is even more important for PC’s.

A little background: Last week as I normally do towards the end of the week I pre-order our weekend pizza on Dominos. However, this time around Chrome refused to load the site and gave me an error ‘Your connection is not private’. I force refreshed the page thinking something was stuck in cache or perhaps a stale cookie, no change. Tried in Incognito Mode (private browsing with no cookies), still no change. Close and restarted Chrome, again ‘Your connection is not private’.  At this point I thought may be there was an issue on their end and it would resolve itself within a few hours. Came back later in the day and still getting the same error. I did a quick Google search and found an obscure forum where someone had the same issues a few days back. At this point I knew it had to be on my end as there would be a lot more ‘news’ if it was affecting everyone.

Below was the error (notes: sitename is being used instead of the actual site name and the bold text was added from emphasis to the clues which were causing the issue):

Attackers might be trying to steal your information from sitename (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards). NET::ERR_CERT_INVALID
sitename normally uses encryption to protect your information. When Google Chrome tried to connect to sitename this time, the website sent back unusual and incorrect credentials. This may happen when an attacker is trying to pretend to be sitename , or a Wi-Fi sign-in screen has interrupted the connection. Your information is still secure because Google Chrome stopped the connection before any data was exchanged.
You cannot visit sitename right now because the website sent scrambled credentials that Google Chrome cannot process. Network errors and attacks are usually temporary, so this page will probably work later.

Just for kicks I tried loading the site in Microsoft Edge and it worked fine. Tried again in Chrome and still got the same error. I closed everything and restart the desktop PC. After the desktop rebooted, I tried again and the site was working as expected. The other night I had the blog open on the laptop and noticed an item was missing from the sidebar. The PayPal Donate widget was not loading. There was a broken image in its place and upon clicking the image got the same error. At first I thought it was a coding error in the widget using HTTP instead of HTTPS. Reviewed the widget and saw everything was coded correctly. I ended up closing Chrome and restarting the laptop. After it rebooted and declining a serious of offers Microsoft Corporation 255,02 +0,33 +0,13% was trying to get me to buy/installed (Office, Teams. extra OneDrive space) left over from the last Windows update I launched Chrome and the blog loaded fine.

Microsoft made some changes when it comes to turning off your computer starting with Windows 8. Fast start-up was introduced. So when you Shut down Windows, it closes all the files and windows you have open then powers off the PC. The reason why it is a ‘fast’ start-up is because Windows kernel does not completely shutdown. I suspect also there are some temporary files retained as well.  However, when you restart your PC, Windows not only closes all open files and windows, but also the Windows kernel (and removes any remaining temporary files).  So, yes when you restart your computer you are actually fully shutting down Windows. Makes about as much sense as pressing a button marked Start to turn-off your computer!

My main desktop PC is shut down at the end of the day, while the laptop is usually put to sleep when not in use. The only time I actually reboot the laptop is usually with the monthly Windows updates or when it starts getting bogged down. Now, I really don’t know why the websites sent scrambled credentials or how I figured out that restarting the PC would fix this issue. Again, I suspect it has something to do with temporary files not being removed when shutting down. More so, with save certificates though those are saved in the Window registry for each Windows user (not Chrome which was why the issue still continued with incognito mode).

So next time you get an odd Privacy error in Chrome on a site you know it reputable, check on another device or browser to see if it is that device. If it works fine in another browser or device, restart your device and it should work. If the site does not work in another browser or device, then the site itself is having issues…though it won’t hurt anything if you do restart the device if you haven’t in a while.