Disabling Services on a Non-Responsive Computer

April 21st, 2009

I was faced with a client that had a server rendered unresponsive but somewhat functional by malfunctioning anti-virus software.  The services would either hang upon being stopped, or automatically restart themselves.

 I could not get remote desktop to respond, and was not in a position to go to the client location to investigate.  Thankfully some remote administration utilities were working, and RegEdit was one of them.

 Remember that each service in Windows lives in the Registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\<shortservicename>

 The shortservicename is that same name that you would use with the NET START or NET STOP commands, and can be found by opening the Services Administrative Tool and going to the properties of the service and reading the Service Name Property off the General tab.

 To disable a service from starting, navigate to its key as described above and change the Start value to 4.  4 is the numerical value for the Disabled status.  Then you can reboot the computer and the problematic services will not start.

Hope this helps someone;

James

Symantec BackupExec 12.5 Unknown Errors on HP Server

April 1st, 2009

After installing Symantec BackupExec 12.5 on an HP DL380 running Windows Server 2008, the backups at one client were failing partway through the backup with this error message: 
Backup started on 3/22/2009 at 3:18:16 PM.
Backup Set Detail Information
Storage device “HP 1” reported an error on a request to write data to media.

Error reported:
A device attached to the system is not functioning.

V-79-57344-34036 – An unknown error has occurred.

Normally I would suspect hardware, but the same tape drive and SCSI controller worked the night before running BackupExec 11.0 and Windows Server 2003 prior to the upgrade.

The client called Symantec, and he was escalated to Level 3 support without a resolution before I had a chance to look at it.  Thankfully, my “Google-Fu” was strong that day, because I found this:  http://seer.entsupport.symantec.com/docs/305233.htm

Turns out there is a known conflict between the HP Server Management Agent and BackupExec.  Funny thing is, it does not appear to be consistent.  Some combinations of BackupExec and HP Agent versions work, some don’t, and I haven’t been able to figure out any rhyme or reason to which ones may or may not work, or why.

 Hope this helps;

James

Authentication Oddities after a Windows Server 2008 Upgrade

April 1st, 2009

Here’s an “interesting” feature I ran into after upgrading one of a client’s domain controllers to Windows Server 2008.  (All DCs were on Windows Server 2003, and all except this one remain on Windows Server 2003 for the time being.)

I got a call the next day stating that three things were broken:  Backup Exec would error out in the middle of a backup job, you could not use RDP to log in to the Windows Server 2008 DC, and the client’s Websense Admin Console would not let the domain administrator login.  (We’ll save the BackupExec issue for another time.)

When investigating the login issues, I noticed that when you tried to use the domain administrator account to log into the server from the server console, it worked fine.  When you attempted to use RDP to log in, it failed.  When looking at the security event log, it reported that the domain administrator account was disabled.

Even though I knew the domain admin account was NOT disabled, I took a look at its properties anyway, and discovered that the Pre-Windows 2000 Login Name (SAMAccountName for those of your who script or program) was populated, but for some reason, the Login Name field and UPN Suffix was not.  Simply filling out those two fields made the login work, and fixed the Websense Admin Console login problem as well.

 Hope this helps someone else;

James

Save Money by Buying New Hardware and Upgrading Your Operating System

March 23rd, 2009

In today’s economy, companies are looking for any way possible to save money.  One way to save money is with server consolidation. 

Many companies have deployed server hardware to support individual applications.  This can be an expensive way to allow applications to have their own server for vendor and user segregation.

Using virtualization technologies such as Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware’s various virtualization products can allow you to consolidate multiple physical servers onto one physical server running all the applications as virtual machines.

If you don’t need all the features that VMWare provides, you should take a close look at Hyper-V and how it can save your company money.  If you purchase Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, it includes the right not only to load Windows Server 2008 on the physical hardware with Hyper-V, but also the right to load Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition on four virtual machines running on the same host.

You can also take advantage of downgrade rights to downgrade those virtual machines to older server operating systems, as long as you still have install media and license keys to allow you to install them.

Buy one high-end 64-bit Intel or AMD-based server, one copy of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, and get one physical computer running Windows Server 2008, and four virtual computers running Windows Server 2008 or an earlier version of Windows Server. 

Sound too good to be true?  Check out Microsoft’s Licensing FAQ at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/licensing-faq.aspx#virt

 James

One Way to Save Money on your IT Budget

March 23rd, 2009

One area most businesses struggle with is support of remote users.  While commerical products exist that help solve this problem, they are not inexpensive, especially if you have a large number of remote users.

Free products such as VNC can be used as well, but if your users are protected by firewalls, configuring the network appropriately to allow access can be a hassle, and increase your security exposure.

We have found a free tool that takes VNC, an industry-accepted remote control tool, and adds a web-based proxy as a conduit for remote control of hosts from anywhere, with the permission of the end user.  It is available at http://www.zolved.com/remote_control.

I have personally tested the application while supporting our clients running operating systems ranging from Windows 98 to Windows Server 2008 with no issues.  If you need a way to reduce your travel expenses to remote computers or want to ditch expensive subscriptions to other tools, take a look at Zolved.  It may meet all your needs, and you certainly cannot argue with the cost.

Windows Update Error Code Listing

February 9th, 2009

It never seems to fail that I always run into at least one PC a month that has problems with Windows or Microsoft Update, and like most people, I do a very poor job of translating psuedo-random hexadecimal error codes into useful information.

Thanks to this website http://inetexplorer.mvps.org/, I found a very comprehensive listing of the Windows Update Error Codes that makes for a great starting point for researching those pesky WU/MU issues.  You can go directly to the error code listing here:  http://inetexplorer.mvps.org/archive/wuc.htm

 Hope this helps;

James

Why to use Vista (even if you don’t use Vista)

January 19th, 2009

I’ve found that booting from the Vista DVD can be useful, even if you don’t have Vista loaded on a computer.

 For example, I spent a day last week helping a customer recover from a failing hard drive on a Windows 2000 Professional computer.  Of course, she didn’t have the local administrator password, and my password reset disk would not work because the NTFS volume showed a dirty shutdown.

So, how did I get it fixed?  I booted off the Vista DVD, and chose the option to Repair instead of Install Vista.  Vista then tried to auto-detect the installation, and could not find one.  However, if you click next on this screen, it opens up a variety of recovery options, including Memory Diagnostics, the Complete PC Restore Option, and a Command Prompt.

 I was able to start the Command Prompt, run CHKDSK multiple times, and at least get the drive clean enough to reset the administrator password, log in, and image the failing hard drive to a newer working hard drive.

 Hope this helps someone out there;

 James

Pictures of the New Office

January 16th, 2009

Our new training facility is coming together quite nicely. We will be running our first training class here on Tuesday, January 20th.

I’ve included some pictures below for anyone who would like to see the new building.

 

VRMC V1.8.0 and Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1

December 8th, 2008

Ran into a weird one this morning, and figured I would share it in case it saves someone else my headache.

 Windows Server 2003 SP2 running Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 was awaiting me when I started this morning.  As I think the Virtual Server Administration Webpage is something that only its designer could love, I downloaded the VMRCPlus client from Microsoft and installed it.  When I attempted to connect to localhost to manage the local Virtual Server, it kept giving me an “Access Denied” error message.

 For some reason, it would not work correctly unless I installed the .NET Framework Version 3.5.  I could not find this documented anywhere, so I figured I would share it.  I’m not sure if the tool actually requires V3.5 of the framework (Versions 2 and 3.0 were already installed on this server), or if installing 3.5 fixed some other strange problem in the process.

 Good luck;

 James

New Training Facility to Open

December 1st, 2008

Well, after seven months of searching, we have finally found a home for our new training facility.  We have leased Suite 102 in the Cleaveland Building, located off 220 Alternate directly across from the Botetourt Athletic Club in Botetourt County, Virginia.

 We are extremely excited to finally have our facility, which will offer two training rooms with high-end PCs for the best training experience for our clients.  We will spending the month of December getting the computers, furniture, and Internet access in place, and are currently accepting training reservations for training at the new location taking place after January 1st, 2009. 

 If you need training before then, we can always provide the training at your location.  Just let us know.

 We hope to see you at our new location soon.

James