14 april 2014

SQL Server Recovery Models

Simple Mode

Putting a database into simple mode means that you don’t want to take log backups and all you want to do is rely on full backups for your recovery.  How it accomplishes this is simple.  It forces the log to truncate when the database writes data to the disk (we call that a checkpoint).  So if the log isn’t storing any long-term data, then it can’t be backed up.  It’s also worth noting that SQL Server 2008 won’t shrink the log file itself; it only deletes the inactive portion of the log.  This means that if you have a huge transaction that grows your log to 50GB, and you’re in simple mode, the log will be 100% full at this point.  However, when the operation completes, that portion of the log is marked as inactive and is deleted, but the file itself remains 50GB.  Only now the file is mostly empty.  For more on managing database files see:  How to manage SQL Server database files.

How To Configure a Cisco Router to Export NetFlow Data


Following is a brief how-to video with Josh Stephens, Head Geek at SolarWinds on configuring a Cisco router to export NetFlow data. If you're not familiar with NetFlow, check out this Geek Guide to NetFlow at SolarWinds to get started.

Remove Trojan/Downloader.Geral.sie

Trojan/Downloader.Geral.sie is a generic detection used by Emsisoft Anti-Malware, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast Antivirus and other antivirus products for a file that appears to have trojan-like features or behavior.
Trojan/Downloader.Geral.sie contains malicious or potentially unwanted software which downloads and installs on the affected system. Commonly, this infection will install a backdoor which allows remote, surreptitious access to infected systems. This backdoor may then be used by remote attackers to upload and install further malicious or potentially unwanted software on the system.

Remove B-Information popup ads

B-Information is an adware program that is commonly bundled with other free programs that you download off of the Internet. Unfortunately, some free downloads do not adequately disclose that other software will also be installed and you may find that you have installed B-Information without your knowledge.B-Information is advertised as a program that displays coupons for sites you are visiting and competitive prices when you are viewing product pages at sites like Amazon. Though this may sound like a useful service, the B-Information program can be intrusive and will display ads whether you want them to or not.

Remove codec.mediacrow.eu pop-up virus

Uninstall the adware program adware that is responsible for the codec.mediacrow.eu pop-up ads from your computer

In this first step, we will try to identify and remove any malicious program that might be installed on your computer.

Remove MalSign.Generic.A8A (Virus Removal Guide)

MalSign.Generic.A8A is a specific detection used by AVG AntivirusAvira Antivirus and other antivirus products to indicate and detect a Potentially Unwanted Program.
A potentially unwanted application is a program that contains adware, installs toolbars or has other unclear objectives.
MalSign.Generic.A8A it’s technically not a virus, but it does exhibit plenty of malicious traits, such as rootkit capabilities to hook deep into the operating system, browser hijacking, and in general just interfering with the user experience. The industry generally refers to it as a “PUP,” or potentially unwanted program.
The MalSign.Generic.A8A infection is used to boost advertising revenue, as in the use of blackhat SEO, to inflate a site’s page ranking in search results.

Windows Server 2012: First Five Fixes


I think Windows Server 2012 will fundamentally change the way IT Pros manage their Windows environments. I expect many of you are already kicking the tires on Windows Server 2012 and perhaps are even running it in a limited, testing environment.
When you first build a new system, and there are a number of ways to do it, I expect you will have a checklist of standard steps. Eventually, you will be like all the cool kids and use a PowerShell workflow, but for now I’m going to assume you will be employing a manual process.
I assume you will do the following tasks by default when setting up a new Windows Server 2012 system:
  • Configure computer name
  • Configure networking
  • Install features and roles
  • Run Windows Update

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 boasts an impressive number of new features and getting access to them quickly via the GUI can sometimes be a challenge. Like its client cousin, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 now boots by default to a revamped "Start Screen" that presents programs and applications in a colorful tile-based interface, formerly known as Metro.

The new Windows Server 2012 Start Screen (Image via Microsoft).
If you're like me, I've found that using keyboard shortcuts can quickly help me cut through a few levels of mouse-clicks to get exactly what I need. Such is the case with Windows Server 2012, which features a bevy of keyboard commands you can use to quickly and easily access programs, files, and OS configuration options.
I've gathered up a list of some of the most common keyboard shortcuts, but feel free to add your favorites to the comments section of this blog.
One quick aside: The new Server Manager interface introduced in Windows Server 2012 is a joy to use -- and makes managing physical and virtual servers much easier than in previous versions of Windows Server -- but it has it's own assortment of keyboard shortcuts. Microsoft has posted a list of server manager keyboard shortcuts on Technet, so I'd suggest you give those a look as well.

Intro to Virtualization: Hardware, Software, Memory, Storage, Data and Network Virtualization Defined


What is virtualization? What are the different types of virtualization? And most importantly, what are the benefits of virtualization? In this guide, designed specifically for IT professionals who are new to virtualization, we’ll take a detailed look at the different types of virtualization as well as the benefits of each:
  • Hardware Virtualization
  • Software Virtualization
  • Memory Virtualization
  • Storage Virtualization
  • Data Virtualization
  • Network Virtualization

Boot a Hyper-V Virtual Machine from a USB Drive

The idea for this article came to mind while I was writing my recent post about Windows To Go, which outlines how you can boot into a fully operational Windows 8 work environment from a USB drive. So I decided to share the specific steps with you on how to boot a virtual machine from a USB drive in your own environment. Although I’m writing this from the standpoint of using a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V environment, this also works with Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2.

How to Design a Backup Strategy in SQL Server

Designing a backup strategy is fairly straightforward, but it can get complicated when you’ve got a lot of moving pieces in your scenario.  Here we'll discuss some of the factors you’ll want to take into consideration when designing your strategy as well as some good practices.  Notice I stayed away from the phrase ‘best practices’. 

How to Plan SQL Server Database Files

One of the most important tasks you can do in SQL Server is to setup your data and log files.  Not getting these files setup correctly can be one of the biggest causes for production problems whether it’s disk contention, space usage, or something else.  And honestly this level of planning is often overlooked and by the time the problem is discovered the application and its users have already suffered.  So let’s get into some good discussion about how to setup your database files.

Changing SQL Server Job Owners with PowerShell

Changing a job owner in SQL Server is relatively easy in SSMS and in T-SQL, but when you need to change it several times, it becomes a bit more involved.  While making the change in T-SQL can be done more quickly than in SSMS, it can also be tricky to code and debug.  This is where PowerShell can make your life much easier.
Here we’ll start by right-clicking on ‘Jobs’ in SSMS and choosing ‘Start PowerShell’.

How to Connect CentOS Web Server to a SQL Server

Configuring SQL Server and Its Host
First, the SQL Server (and the appropriate database) must be configured for Windows and SQL Server Authentication. This requires a restart of the SQL Server service if changed. In addition, the server must also have TCP/IP connections enabled with a static port defined (for my example, I will be using the default of 1433), and the firewall on the host for the SQL Server must allow connections to SQL Server on the static port.
At this stage, the first thing to test from your CentOS system is whether you can telnet into the SQL Server host on port 1433. It is important at this stage to test this as you need to determine (a) whether the CentOS system is properly resolving the DNS name of the Windows system (if you are wanting to connect via hostname rather than IP address), and (b) if the Windows system is properly responding on port 1433.
Provided everything is working at this stage, we’re ready to get onto setting up the CentOS system to talk to the SQL Server.

Remotely Managing Windows 2008 Server Core Firewall

As you already know by now, in Windows Server 2008, Server Core installation does not include the traditional full graphical user interface (GUI). Therefore, once you have configured the server, you can only manage it locally at a command prompt, or remotely using a Terminal Server connection. A third management option is to manage the server remotely using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) or command-line tools that support remote use.
Read more about Server Core on my "Understanding Windows Server 2008 Server Core" article.
One of the major pains of managing such a GUI-stripped installation is the configuration of the Windows Advanced Firewall settings. Without properly configuring these rules, you will find it extremely difficult to remotely manage your server.

Anti Virus Exclusion Guidelines for Microsoft Products


Running a good, constantly updated Anti-Virus program on your computers - server and workstations - is a must when looking into the potential risks in today's IT world. However, when installing Anti-Virus software on a computer, you also risk having issues with some of the services and applications that run on these computers, most specially with the server machines. Anti-Virus software scans and sometimes locks files on the computers, and when you scan these files, performance and operating system reliability problems may occur because of file locking.
This is why it is extremely important to properly configure the Anti-Virus software to exclude specific files, file type and/or folders on the computers (most importantly - server machines) with an anti virus exclusion.

Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing


There’s lots of confusion about the security of using public cloud computing. I hear questions about data security at rest, security in transit, and how secret a provider must keep stored data whenever I speak at a conference or teach a class.
The US government also hears these questions, both from inside and outside the government. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the US Department of Commerce, is typically responsible for issuing security guidance and has helped to create and publish guidelines on operating system hardening and secure data processing.

Basics of Cisco Switch Administration – Part 2


In Basics of Cisco Switch Administration - Part 1, we covered some of the basics of Cisco switch administration – how to log in, how to show configuration, how to change interface speed & duplex, how to enable switch ports, and how to show switch port status. In Part 2, we will stick to the basics of switch administration by covering how to save your configuration, how to use the Cisco Network Assistant, how to speed up switch port startup, and basic VLAN commands.

Basics of Cisco Switch Administration – Part 1


Perhaps you are asked to configure a switch port or see what MAC address is on what port. Maybe this isn’t something you do every day and need a refresher course on the most basic Cisco switch administration tasks. Let’s find out how to perform some basic Cisco switch administration tasks.

How to Configure a Cisco Router as a Terminal Server

Whether you have a rack of 3 Cisco routers and switches or 30, it is always nice to be able to easily and quickly get to the console of each device. This is especially true if you do much reconfiguration. By using a Cisco router with async ports as a terminal server, you can very quickly go to a single device and configure all your Cisco router and switches (in that rack) from a single device. Let's find out how to do it...

What is a VLAN? How to Setup a VLAN on a Cisco Switch

What is a VLAN? How to Setup a VLAN on a Cisco Switch
Have you ever wondered what a Virtual LAN (or VLAN) is or been unclear as to why you would want one? If so, I have been in your place at one time too. Since then, I have learned a lot about what a VLAN is and how it can help me. In this article, I will share that knowledge with you.

How can I disable the User Account Control (UAC) feature on my Windows Vista computer?

Windows Vista has the built-in ability to automatically reduce the potential of security breaches in the system. It does that by automatically enabling a feature called User Account Control (or UAC for short). The UAC forces users that are part of the local administrators group to run like they were regular users with no administrative privileges.

How to Unlock Password Protected Word Documents

The following article details the steps for removing Microsoft Word document passwords using the our recommended download for Office document password removal. These instructions are valid for all versions of Microsoft Office including Office 2007. Note: Use this article if you're looking for Excel password recovery.

Download Windows’ Missing or Corrupt Legacy DLLs

Windows Vista shipped without including a number of DLL files for legacy graphics engines like Direct3D.   When attempting to use games or 3D applications that require these DLLs, users can get a range of "required DLL missing" error messages.

Excel Password Recovery Instructions (.xls)

Often when an employee departs, they take important Excel passwords with them. This guide outlines how to use a simple Excel password recovery application to crack lost or forgotten passwords, allowing you to unlock password-encrypted Microsoft Excel documents quickly as possible.

The Ultimate Guide to Hard Drive Partitioning

Disk partitioning divides the data storage space of a hard disk into separate areas referred to as 'partitions'. Partitions are usually created when the hard disk is first being prepared for usage. Once a disk is divided into partitions, directories and files may be stored on them. Because of later changes on the computer and operating system, often an administrator or power user will be faced with the need to resize partitions, create new partitions in the unallocated space, and sometimes even undelete partitions that were previously removed or deleted.

How can I write (burn) ISO files to CD or DVD?

ISO files are actually images of complete CDs or DVDs compiled as one whole image file (*.iso), just like Ghost does for hard disks and partitions. ISO images can be loaded into several different CD/DVD recording software packages to create CDs or DVDs.

Fix a PST File Automatically With Outlook’s Inbox Repair Tool

This article provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the included Outlook Inbox Repair Tool, also known as Scanpst.exe
From time to time, the .pst or Personal Folders file used for everything (email, calendar, contacts, tasks & more) in Outlook gets corrupted, damaged, or otherwise negatively affected on a seemingly regular basis.
Luckily there's the fortuitously included "Inbox Repair Tool" from Microsoft. The bad news is it's buried in the bowels of your hard drive's Program Files folder.

How to Enable IMAP Access to Exchange Mailboxes

Why use IMAP?

At first glance enabling IMAP on your Exchange Server might seem like a backwards step since much of the advanced client functionality that Exchange supports requires a MAPI enabled PIM application, usually Outlook.

AutoDiscover Configuration for Exchange 2007 and 2010

The AutoDiscover feature in Exchange 2007/2010 is often overlooked during setup but is an important factor in ensuring smooth day to day running of your Exchange environment. Its main function is to provide the mail client with all the configuration options it needs, from only the user's email address and password. This is particularly useful for remote users and smartphone users, who no longer have to enter advanced settings like server names and domains. It is also vital for the correct functioning of features such as Out Of Office and the Offline Address Book in Outlook.
AutoDiscover simplifies email client configuration for remote and mobile users; you may not have noticed it but most email clients nowadays will simply ask for your email address and password first, e.g. the Android email setup screen:

Configure Exchange 2010 to Receive Emails for Other Domains

Exchange 2010 is similar to Exchange 2007 in that it will only accept email for your internal domain name. However, there are instances that may require your Exchange servers to receive emails that are in not your internal domain name. When this happens you will need to configure your Exchange servers to accept email for those other domains. To find further explanation on what an accepted domain is and the types of accepted domains, visit our previous Petri IT Knowledgebase article, Configure Exchange 2007 to Receive Email from Other Domains.

Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 2.0

Microsoft announced the release of the second version of their VMware-to-Microsoft virtualization conversion tool, the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC2.0(download at the link). The announcement was on the Server and Cloud blog, so a little bit of marketing was thrown into the mix. Microsoft wants you to know that small, medium, and large enterprises are making the jump from vSphere (and management stack) to Hyper-V (and System Center).

About That Windows 8.1 UpdateAbout That Windows 8.1 Update

One of the more entertaining things about covering the IT industry over the last decade has been watching Microsoft’s marketing efforts for their many and varied products. There have been some laudable successes: The Windows 95 launch had an inspired (and epic) "Start Me Up" ad campaign featuring The Rolling Stones that introduced us all to the ubiquitous (and now soon-to-return) Windows start button and menu. Or the launch of the original Xbox at CES in 2001, which featured Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) giving Bill Gates keynote presentation tips. Or how about the seamlessly efficient roll-out of Windows 7, which helped Microsoft recover from the Vista debacle that inspired Apple's infamous (and devastatingly effective, despite not always being factual) Mac vs PC ads?

Microsoft Releases Virtual Machine Converter 2.0

Microsoft announced the release of the second version of their VMware-to-Microsoft virtualization conversion tool, the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC2.0(download at the link). The announcement was on the Server and Cloud blog, so a little bit of marketing was thrown into the mix. Microsoft wants you to know that small, medium, and large enterprises are making the jump from vSphere (and management stack) to Hyper-V (and System Center).

Using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) for Windows 7/8.1 Migration

A few years ago, Microsoft released an interesting (and useful) tool for IT professionals called the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAPT). This tool helps organizations to prepare for migrations from existing servers and clients’ infrastructure to new versions. This tool helps you in making a preparation assessment, answering questions such as the following.
  • Is my server hardware capable of hosting a virtualization platform?
  • Which of my client devices need to be upgraded with more RAM and CPU power in order to run Windows 7 or 8.1?
  • What PCs should be replaced?
  • What server loads can be migrated to a virtualized platform?
  • What software am I running on my clients, and will it work with Windows 7 or 8.1?

After all these years, I’m still somewhat surprised by the fact it is a rather unknown tool, but I'm also happy to see how interesting the results are for my customers. And above all, it is totally free (which shouldn’t be the main reason for using this tool of course, but still a nice to have).

Install the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit

It all starts with downloading the installation bits from the Microsoft website. As of this writing, the latest release is version 9.0, which is dated February 10, 2014. You candownload Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit.
While I don’t expect any difficulties in the installation itself, here are some guidelines and prerequisites that can be of assistance:
  • Don’t install this tool on a domain controller. It’s not supported and it won’t work
  • You don’t need a powerful machine to run this tool. I often install this on the management station of the IT team, or on a lightweight server like file and print or any other application server you have available.
  • The tool can be installed on any OS version Windows 7 SP1 or higher, Windows 2008 R2 or higher, and even Windows Server 2012 R2, should you already have that in your environment.
  • Make sure you have the latest version of .Net Framework 4.5 installed. Mind you, this installation requires a reboot, so make sure you pick any nonbusiness critical machine to install this tool.
  • By default, the MAPT Toolkit will install a local version of SQL Server 2012 Express edition; this is mainly my default scenario. However, you could integrate this with an already present SQL Server installation having version 2008 or higher.

Create Inventory

  • Once the MAP Toolkit is installed, you can launch it from your Start Screen or Start Menu by going to Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit. Your default screen should look like this, in which we will create the SQL database:
  • Once your database has been created in background, we can start the inventory; obviously, selectPerform an inventory from the main page, which launches the Inventory and Assessment Wizard.
Depending on what systems you want to integrate in your inventory, completing this step might be easy or a bit more difficult in a sense that you have to know your administrative user accounts of the different systems (e.g. VMware, Linux, Oracle Database admin account). Some technologies also have certain plugin dependencies (for example Oracle database client).
Completing this wizard shouldn’t be much of a problem. Assuming your inventory ran fine, you should now see a console with data in it, looking similar to my screenshot.
Now, depending on your environment analysis and the assessment scenario you want to go through (client migration, server migration, cloud migration, etc.), you have different options and results you can use from within the assessment tool.

Use MAP Toolkit to Determine Windows 7/8 Readiness

In this first example, I want to dig a bit deeper into a Windows client migration scenario. Organizations want to find out if/why/how they should plan the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8, so I think my example is rather accurate.
  • From within the MAP toolkit, select the Desktop scenario on the left column. Your inventory should look similar to the image below. Again, I’m using sample data here, so don’t worry too much about the accuracy of the results.
Already from this screen, the inventory tells us a lot:
  • 60 percent of my organization’s clients are Windows 8 ready
  • 59 percent of my organization’s clients are Windows 7 ready
  • Clear overview of what versions of Internet Explorer are installed on my clients
  • The number of PCs that have Office 2010 running, and what PCs are Office 2013 ready.
If you click on one of the summary titles, another view will pop up that gives you more detailed information about the selected inventory (in my case I selected the Windows 8 Readiness).
Interesting to note is the number of machines that are being reported as “Ready after upgrades”. How in the world could this inventory tool know if my client hardware is adequate? What hardware specs is this assumption based on?
To find this out, click on the customize assessment properties in the Options section on the top right of the window:
Which will bring up the following default settings:
If you want to change these settings to a more real-life scenario for your environment, selectuse custom settings, and make sure you close this window by clicking on the Run assessment. This will go through the gathered inventory again and show you some new results. Hence in my scenario a few more clients need some hardware upgrades before being considered Windows 8 ready.

MAP Readiness Report and Proposal

Another very interesting feature of the MAP toolkit is the readiness report and proposal. As the name implies, all information that is visible onscreen gets reflected in a report as well as migration proposals, which could be of interest for IT partners.
  • From the Options section, click on Generate Windows 8 Readiness and Proposal.
  • Browse to the MAP toolkit installation folder (default location is C:\Program Files\Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit\Reports), in which you will find a ton of reports in Word and Excel formats.
Let me give you a quick overview of the Microsoft Excel file “Windows8Assessment <date & time>.xlsx."
  • Different XLS-tabs with detailed inventory information
  • Summary table
  • Device hardware overview (CPU, RAM, Disk Space, Video Controller)
  • Listing of all different device components, summarized per device type
  • List of discovered applications, version numbers and number of installs
  • And more…
The Windows8Assessment <date & time>.xlsx file is a 25-pages long document that can be used as a proposal template by IT partners or even internal IT departments to present an overview to IT and CxO management level. It’s not online retaking numbers from the assessment inventory by showing them both in nice looking tables and pie charts; it also describes Windows 8 features, business reasons to migrate to this OS version, and closes the template document with next steps, actually referring to the more technical phases of the future migration project.
In part 2 of the MAP Toolkit series, I’ll talk more in detail about server migration and cloud migration scenarios. As always, feel free to share me your comments from within the Petri website or get in contact with me on Twitter as @pdtit or by sending an email to info[at]pdtit[dot]be.

How to Configure DNS on a Domain Controller with Two IP Addresses

How can I configure DNS on a DC with two IP addresses?

Sometimes it’s unavoidable to run an Active Directory domain controller (DC) on hardware that is configured with two network cards (NICS). While not a recommended configuration, it is possible to run a domain controller with two IP addresses. In this Ask an Admin, I’ll show you how to configure the NICs and DNS so that AD runs smoothly. This lab assumes you have one DC in your AD domain running DNS, configured with two NICs, each with one IPv4 address.