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I have a fairly new laptop that came with Windows 8.1 and has a Realtek USB 2.0 SD card reader. After installing Windows 10 on it, at some point the SD card reader would show me the contents of the SD card, but then when I’d try to open files on the card it would randomly drop the card as if I had pulled it out and put it right back in. I thought it might be a dirty or loose connection in the SD card slot, but I blew the slot out and nothing changed. The card was a brand new card that was unboxed an hour earlier. The computer is only a year old and the card reader had rarely been used. Because this random card connection failure was very specific, I decided that the problem could be in software rather than hardware. I also knew of a couple of other people who had similar SD card problems after moving to Windows 10.

Here’s how I fixed the problem. I went to the manufacturer’s support site and downloaded the original Windows 8.1 driver for the Realtek USB SD card reader (Windows 10 can install drivers from Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 in most cases). I extracted the ZIP file (because that’s how they packaged it, obviously!) I opened Device Manager, found the card reader under Universal Serial Bus controllers, right-clicked and chose to update the driver. Instead of having Windows do the work for me, I said to “browse my computer for driver software” and to “let me pick from a list of drivers.” I clicked “Have disk…” and pointed it to the extracted folder where the driver was stored. The hard part is that you can’t just point it at the extracted folder itself; you must point it at the folder where the driver’s INF file(s) happen to be, which was actually a subfolder called “DrvBin64” for the Realtek card reader’s 64-bit Windows driver. From there it was just a matter of clicking “next” until the driver was installed.

To make sure Windows 10 didn’t auto-update the driver back to the bad version, I had to open the System control panel (right-click the Start button for a quick shortcut there), click “advanced system settings” on the left, click the “hardware” tab, and change the device installation settings to NOT install drivers automatically from Windows Update.

I can’t guarantee this will fix your SD card issues on Windows 10, but if it worked for me then it’s definitely worth a shot! Windows 10’s generic device drivers don’t always work 100% correctly with the hardware they support, but fortunately you have the option to force it to use the original driver that is known to work.

If this helped you (or didn’t help you) let everyone know in the comments below! Be sure to include your computer’s make and model number!

I’ve mentioned tech support scammers here before, and I think I’ve come up with the perfect solution to ruin their business model:

Waste all of their time.

If you run into a tech support scam website with an 800 number to call and you’re bored, give them a ring and make up a story! Have a great time leading the scammers on. Make some excuse about how your Internet is still dial-up and you can’t get YouTube to work. Tell them you need to renew your antivirus because you have the flu. Ask them if they offer sexual services. Whatever you can think of to waste their time and keep them from being available to scam someone else.

The number that I’ve seen most recently is (844) 544-1381.

I have been seeing A LOT of people lately who have been caught in today’s most common computer scams.

I want to review them briefly and help you avoid making a mistake and giving control of your computer or bank account to a scammer. All of them are modern takes on the “snake oil” smoke-and-mirrors show from history designed to separate you from your money.

There are three ways that the latest wave of tech scams work:

  1. You get a random call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or another large computer company, sometimes on all of your cell and home phones in a short time frame. They’re always sporting a fairly heavy foreign accent and phrase things strangely. They’ll tell you all kinds of stories about how terrible your computer is or how many viruses you’re leaking on the Internet. It’ll sound REALLY BAD. They’ll offer to help you fix it…for a price of course.
  2. The pop-up scary talking warning! Your browser loads an infected website or a malicious ad and gets kicked over to a HUGE SCARY WARNING that says your computer is infected and you need to call the number on the screen. If your speakers aren’t muted, it’ll also talk to you in a synthesized voice. If you call, you’ll get the same people as in (1) but this time they didn’t have to luck up and cold-call you, plus you’ll already be terrified so they can trick you into doing what they want.
  3. You call “tech support” for a large company like HP or Dell. You’re not really talking to an HP or Dell employee; you’re talking to an iYogi employee in India whose job is to sell you a support contract. I’m not sure if they’re the same people doing the other two, but it’s the same song and dance as the other two: you’ll get a nice show hyping up how horrible of a situation your computer is in and a hard sell on buying support from them.

In all of these situations, the person on the phone will want to use remote support tools such as TeamViewer or Citrix GoToAssist to get remote control of your computer. Once they have remote control, they are capable of doing ANYTHING THEY WANT to your computer, though they don’t usually seem to infect machines; it’s mainly a high-pressure sales pitch for $300 of computer snake oil.


For cold-call scammers in (1), hang up quickly. If they call again later, keep hanging up. The more they talk, the more likely it is that they’ll convince you to remote them in and pay up.

For the huge scary pop-up in (2), open Task Manager and kill your browser from there. If that’s not working out, just hold the power button on the computer for five seconds and it’ll shut off. Your computer IS NOT INFECTED. If it happens again after rebooting, try power-cycling your modem and router; these can get temporarily “infected” in a way that causes the computer to land on these scary sites quickly, but this “infection” doesn’t survive the power to the box being unplugged.

For the big corporate tech support calls in (3), it’s a bit more difficult because sometimes you’ll be talking to a legitimate support agent that isn’t going to try to scam you. The key things that tell you it’s going to be a scam are that they (A) want to get remote access to your computer without spending a lot of time trying to talk you through it first, (B) they tell you that your computer has serious problems and want to help you fix them, or (C) they mention money at any point in the process. IF ANY OF THESE THREE THINGS HAPPENS, try calling back or seek help from someone else that you trust. Make sure you’re calling the support phone number on the manufacturer’s official website as well!

Almost all of the computers I’ve checked in the past month that were targeted by these scams didn’t have any serious problems before or after the scammer got on, but many of my customers had to initiate chargebacks on their cards or change their bank accounts or get their cards exchanged which is frustrating and annoying.

If you’re in or near the Chatham County, Randolph County, Orange County, or Wake County areas of North Carolina and you’re concerned that your computer has been messed up by a scammer, you can get support from me at Tritech Computer Solutions in Siler City, including 100% free in-store diagnostics and repair quotes.

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