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14 april 2014

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.