SupportAssist for PCs

Last reply by 06-22-2022 Unsolved
Start a Discussion
3 Argentum
277

SupportAssist, test a mystery

SupportAssist includes two "tests" on the Home tab: "Optimize Network", and "Tune Performance". We're reluctant to run these, as

1) SupportAssist launches into the "fixes" without listing what they are and then prompting for secondary approval to proceed, 

2) The functionality behind them is basically a black-box. The SupportAssist for Home PCs Version 3.10.1 User’s Guide is practically useless in this regard (see pic), giving virtually no information about what is actually being affected (e.g., for "Tune PC Performance", how it is "allocating memory"?, for "Optimize Network", what PC settings are updated?), and 

3) Given the black-box nature of these functions, there's no way to Undo modifications, so if SupportAssist messes something up, it will be difficult to recover. We take recovery points, but who knows how effective they'd be.

Does anyone have a source for more detailed information about these processes?

Capture2.JPGCapture3.JPG

Replies (5)
2 Bronze
2 Bronze
272

It's probably because those tasks, in actuality do nothing.

4 Tellurium
258

Hi And Ye Shall Find:

You might find some useful information in the "Optimize Your PC" section of SupportAssist for Business PCs with Windows OS Frequently Asked Questions, although it likely won't have the level of detail you're looking.

There is an ongoing discussion in ex-jedi's April 2021 thread Prevent Automatic Recycle Bin Emptying about the Clean Files scan of SupportAssist - see Dell employee jbilinski's 23-Mar-2022 post <here> on page 4 of that thread explaining that the recycle bin is purged if it accumulates more than 20 MB of files. I also posted a question on 12-Jul-2021 <here> on page 2 of that thread asking if one of the system optimization scans of SupportAssist for Home PCs could also be responsible for cleaning of "stray" entries from my registry. I received a private message from DELL-Cares suggesting that I refer to that SupportAssist for Business PCs with Windows OS Frequently Asked Questions article, which confirmed that the Tune Performance scan includes a registry cleaner.

Release notes and user guides for recent Support Assist for Home PCs versions are posted at https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-ca/product-support/product/dell-supportassist-pcs-tablets/docs, but you will have to drill down quite far in the most recent SupportAssist for Home PCs Version 3.10.4 User’s Guide to find any mention of what the system optimization scans actually do.

I currently have SupportAssist v3.10.4 disabled on my Inspiron 5584, but when this utility was running on my system I had all scheduled background scans disabled at Options (gear icon) | Settings | Automate Scans and Optimizations | Scan Your System and Drivers At: to ensure SupportAssist would not attempt to "optimize" my system.  The only manual scans I ran on the Home tab were "Get Drivers & Downloads" and the occasional "Scan Hardware".

Dell SupportAssist v3_10_4  Settings Automatic Scans Disabled 03 May 2022.png

EDIT:

I forgot to mention that the Recent Activity log on the History tab of SupportAssist will include a top-level summary about some of the changes made to your system by these system optimization scans.

SupportAssist v3_10_4 History Tab 277 MB Cleaned From Recycle Bin After Clean Files Scan 28 Mar 2022.png

----------------
64-bit Win 10 Pro v21H2 build 19044.1766 * Firefox v101.0.1 * Microsoft Defender v4.18.2203.5-1.1.19200.6 * Malwarebytes Premium v4.5.10.200-1.0.1702 * Macrium Reflect Free v8.0.6758 * Dell SupportAssist v3.10.4.18 * Dell Update for Windows Universal v4.5.0 * Inspiron 5583/5584 BIOS v1.18.0
Dell Inspiron 15 5584, Intel i5-8265U CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Toshiba KBG40ZNS256G NVMe SSD, Intel UHD Graphics 620

251

Thank you for the links, @Imacri. Unfortunately, the SupporAssist (SA) documentation fails to explain - even at a moderate level - what's actually being modified on the device. For example:

 > What items are removed from the Registry when Tuning Performance? Is there any audit trail showing what's been changed?  Does SA take a restore point before-hand? 

> SA doesn't say what settings are updated to "ensure safe connectivity" in Network Optimization. Again, no audit trail (we tried looking through the log files, but they were unintelligible to us). History shows which jobs have been run, but not what was modified.

So it's still a black box, and we don't have the confidence in Dell to take all of this on faith. As a result we too have disabled scheduled background scans, and only use the desktop app to periodically run hardware diagnostics. It would be nice if Dell provided a 1-off executable to run these diagnostics without SA, but if so, we haven't found it.

Why doesn't Dell display a page showing Proposed Modifications, and let the user pick and choose between them, or failing that, at least copy what's being changed so reversion is possible when something goes pear-shaped?!? Their attitude seems to be "don't worry your little end-user heads about any of this - just let Big-Brother decide what's best for you".


We used to also use SA to identify available updates but ran into numerous issues (below) and now rely on manual checks. Clearly Dell has invested resources in developing the SA tool. Too bad it's half-baked.

SA Issues (Dell Update seems to suffer from many of the same defects).

> Timeliness: It can take weeks - even for "Urgent" updates, as discovered through manual checks against our service tag - for updates to appear in SA.

> SA continues to flag drivers for update even when the device has already been updated (i.e., by manually downloading from the Drivers & Downloads page, or through Windows Update). Often we'll see something like "Old version = 1.23.456, New version = 1.23.456). It's possible Dell isn't providing unique identifiers after providing their own versions of drivers (itself a violation of best practices), but we've noticed that SA (and Dell Update) only recognizes the update only after it was performed through SA or Dell Update!

> SA actually prevented some updates from being applied. When investigating this, we noticed numerous USBIEUpdate errors in the Event Log. Constant subsequent (automatic) failures & retries caused CPU / RAM usage spikes, which resulted in issues on the device. At that point (and at the advice of Dell Cares + ProSupport) we uninstalled SA in it's entirety on all our XPS devices.

> SA doesn't uninstall cleanly. After getting fed up with SA and uninstalling, we noticed residual Scheduled Tasks, data folders, and 50 (?) orphaned registry entries. If Dell a) is going to install SA without user approval, right out of the box, b) doesn't adequately document SA, and c) doesn't provide a bug-free experience, users should, at a minimum, be able to remove traces without requiring 3rd party apps (e.g., CCCleaner).

 

 

4 Tellurium
244

Hi And Ye Shall Find:

All excellent suggestions but I don't know if anyone from Dell actually pays much attention to user feedback these days. They seem fully committed to this "one size fits all" black box approach that you described.

User rickhev suggested on 27-May-2022 in ex-jedi's Prevent Automatic Recycle Bin Emptying that user should have greater control over what SupportAssist does or doesn't "optimize" when these SupportAssist system optimization scans run, and many other users have made the same suggestions about greater granularity for settings and detailed audit trails in the past. Dell employee Dell-Geoffrey R posted <here> in July 2021 in ex-jedi's thread that the problem with automatic emptying of the recycle bin would be fixed in August 2021, and employee NikhilKiroula posted another update <here> in August 2021 stating that "We are working on this feature and this is planned for December release...", but it's now June 2022 and my current SupportAssist v3.10.4 (released November 2021) will still empty my Recycle Bin when it contains over 20 MB of files if I run a Clean Files scan.

Further to your comment about the remnants that are left behind when you uninstall SupportAssist, note that when I have to perform a clean reinstall of SupportAssist I follow DELL-Chris M's instructions in SA Uninstall / Reinstall, but instead of uninstalling from Control Panel | Programs | Programs and Features I use the portable edition of Revo Uninstaller Free to clean up most of the orphaned files and registry entries left behind by the "native" uninstaller. Dell Tech Expert XPS_Man has posted an alternate method in DanNJ316's SupportAssist Scan Hardware Not Working where they suggest users uninstall SupportAssist with Microsoft's Program Install and Uninstall Troubleshooter (available for download from the MS support article Fix Problems That Block Programs From Being Installed or Removed) and then manually clean up the orphaned files and registry entries. Dell Tech Support also posted a YouTube video at Dell SupportAssist Not Installing (updated 17-Jun-2022) about how to manually clean up some of the mess left behind the "native" uninstaller before attempting a reinstall. In a perfect world the "native" uninstaller would do this cleanup automatically but I doubt this will ever happen.

To their credit, Dell did push out a fix for the UsbUpdate.exe errors being logged in the Win 10 Reliability Monitor and Event Viewer around the middle of June 2022. See my 21-Jun-2022 post in HKP11's Support Assist for further details.
---------------
64-bit Win 10 Pro v21H2 build 19044.1766 * Firefox v101.0.1 * Microsoft Defender v4.18.2203.5-1.1.19300.2 * Malwarebytes Premium v4.5.10.200-1.0.1702 * Macrium Reflect Free v8.0.6758 * Dell SupportAssist v3.10.4.18 * Dell Update for Windows Universal v4.5.0 * Inspiron 5583/5584 BIOS v1.18.0 * Revo Uninstaller Free Portable v2.3.9
Dell Inspiron 15 5584, Intel i5-8265U CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Toshiba KBG40ZNS256G NVMe SSD, Intel UHD Graphics 620

240

Thanks for the links, Imacri. We use Revo portable as well as CCCleaner portable. We've not yet used the MS Troubleshooter, but have bookmarked the link for future reference. The Youtube link also seems useful for the next time we get frustrated and uninstall SupportAssist.

I do wish there was a more systematic vehicle for Community feedback being passed to Dell. They'd be a better company if they paid some attention to what's being said here.

Latest Solutions
Top Contributor