Missing drive causes Windows Live Writer to crash

Live Writer image

My favourite web authoring tool, however…

… since an automatic update to Windows Live Essentials the other day, Windows Live Writer has failed to start, giving “Windows Live Writer has stopped working” immediately. Actually I’m not 100% it was working just before that, but I think so.

I am of course writing this in Windows Live Writer, so what was the solution?  I tried Microsoft “Fix it”, which didn’t. Endless googling/binging had yielded nothing helpful, and the event log gave no clues. However, I also found that Adobe Reader’s update to version “X” would not install because of “Error 1327. Invalid Drive F:\”.

I found an article on the Adobe forums suggesting re-creating the missing drive using (for example)

subst f: c:\windows

and the installation worked fine. And this also fixed Windows Live Writer!

Obviously I don’t want to have to do that every time, so I’ve mapped F: to a folder on the NAS. And in fact this is how it was many months ago, until at some point I killed my F drive in favour of an S. This must be behind the problems – something in the guts of WLW (and the Adobe registry settings too?) must be referencing the ghost of my old F drive, and the recent updates must have changed the behaviour to make this critical.

Anyway, problem solved, though I am left feeling uneasy that I don’t know why this happened.

Some time later… I couldn’t let this lie… I found a couple of registry keys set to “F:”

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\Personal


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal

I changed these to “%USERPROFILE%\Documents” and “C:\Users\Flowers\Documents” respectively, then disconnected my F: drive again, and sure enough WLW opens fine. So that is probably the true fix to this problem: WLW crashes on start-up if either of these keys points to a bad drive.

Now to show Helen how to use WLW to post to her blog