Saturday, May 21, 2005

Where's Jim?

Hi everyone! I have really tried to regularly contribute useful content to this blog over the past 6 months. However, I'm going to be offline for a few weeks; very offline, in fact. I'll be in Angkor Wok and Siem Reap in Cambodia and Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai in Thailand. If you want to do something nice for me (*grin*), scroll down and visit one of the Ads by Google links; though, do pick something you are interested in. :-) I'll be back by around June 10th. Thanks to all my regular visitors.

Friday, May 20, 2005

JoeWare presents AdMod

If you have tried modifying or manipulating objects in your Windows 2003 Active Directory using some of the new command-line tools such as dsget.exe, dsmod.exe, msquery, or dsrm.exe, then you have discovered the same limitations that many others have. I see a lot of postings to this effect in the newsgroups. These tools only support a limited set of attributes. My favorite tool for dealing with this is ADMODIFY.NET.

However, I was just referred by a fellow Exchange MVP to a new (and FREE!) command-line tool called AdMod. Most cool. This tool can update existing attributes, add values to attributes, clear an attribute, add values to multi-value attributes, delete objects, rename an object, move and object and undelete an object (if you are running Windows 2003). The undelete account feature can be very handy. I have used Quest's Recovery Manager and it is pretty cool for doing this.

Check out Joe's AdFind tool, too. Very popular tool amoungst MVPs and techies for searching the Active Directory. Much more powerful than dsquery.exe.

Thanks Joe! As we say in Hawaii, you no na oi!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Getting better backup throughput from NTbackup

Backing up Exchange to disk has become an increasingly popular way to backup Exchange databases. Microsoft is doing "backup to disk" and is keeping two days worth of backups online and available; this can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to restore from backup. And, logically, the backup you probably want to restore from is the most recent.

There is a tweak to the NTBackup's registry settings that allow you increase the buffer sizes that NTBackup uses. Essentially, you double the Logical Disk Buffer Size, the Max Buffer Size, and increase the Max Num Tape Buffers to 16. Depending on your hardware and server configuration, you may be able to get upwards of 1.2GB per minute (or 72GB per hour) backup throughput.

Devin Ganger of 3Sharp just blogged this recently and I think it is valuable enough to repeat here in my blog. Refer to this blog entry for the actual registry values and parameters for more information or Microsoft IT Showcase article Backup Process Used with Clustered Exchange Server 2003 Servers at Microsoft. Another good article is Messaging Backup and Restore at Microsoft; this article should be required reading for ALL Exchange admins.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Saving images in Internet Explorer

Ever had a problem where you right click on an image in Internet Explorer, but the Save As dialog box only allows you to save the image as a bitmap (BMP) file? I have seen this for a couple of years, but never figured out why. And, the problem was inconsistent. Thanks to Eugene Siu, I now know why. The Internet cache is full. Purge it or increase it, close the browser, reopen it, and try again! Thanks Eugene, you are my new favorite blogger!!!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Tips and Tricks Guide to Network Configuration Management and AlterPoint introduce a new chapter to the free ebook Tips and Tricks Guide to Network Configuraiton Management - 2005 Edition by Don Jones. Networking and security guru Don Jones has just written this new chapter covers questions dealing with configuration management best practices, troubleshooting, security, compliance management, and configuration management. In my experience, once a network is in place and running, one of the biggest problems that administrators experience is improper change and configuration control. This is something we should all get better at and this ebook is a good start.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Microsoft listens; let them hear you

A lot of people still don't know these exist, so I thought I would blog them. Although, I think the audience for my blog is probably already aware of these. Microsoft has a couple of e-mail aliases for product suggestions. They DO monitor these and the suggestions get routed the product group managers. For all Microsoft products, use For Exchange Server, If you have ideas for Microsoft products or feature suggestions, please let Microsoft know about them.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Making Exchange 2003 Move Mailbox reports readable

Move Mailbox report from Exchange 2003Move mailbox reports in Exchange 2003 are stored in XML format in the \My Documents\Exchange Task Wizard Logs folder of the user that moved the files. However, they are not very readable without a style sheet being applied to the XML file.

However, Exchange 2003 does not include a style sheet that will make this puppy any prettier. However, I have found a style sheet that some clever person (I don't know who; I'm not that clever) wrote for the Exchange Task Wizard.

You first need to download the MoveMailboxReport.xslt (this is a ZIP file) style sheet and put it in a folder such as your local Windows folder (since that is what my example shows.)

After moving the mailboxes, open the XML file that is created and insert a new line between the first and second line that includes the location of the XSLT file (add leading "<" and trailing ">" tags):

?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="c://windows/MoveMailboxReport.xslt"?

Complete instructions and an example are in the file. The blog editor converts any HTML codes in the text, so it is not easy to see in the blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

HP's IPAQ 6515: The Blackberry Killer?

The folks that I work around (well, at least the senior officers) all want to carry Blackberries. I agree they are a cool little device, but since I'm an "Exchange guy", I would like to see more people using Windows Mobile and Exchange Active Sync enabled devices (like my Motorola SmartPhone). After all, for full functionality of a Blackberry, Exchange users require the Blackberry Enterprise Server while Exchange 2003 has all of the necessary mobile functions built-in.

I think a lot of the draw of the Blackberry is that the devices have that nifty little keyboard. Using my SmartPhone for e-mail or any sort of note-taking is painful, at best. Well, that and the bosses always want what people at other companies (or commands have.)

HP iPAQ 6515 Enter the HP IPAQ 6515. Not only does it look a lot like a high-end Blackberry, but it will actually emulate one. But, best of all, it runs Windows Mobile 2003, supports Bluetooth, 802.11, supports quad-band GSM and GPRS network access, a built-in GPS, supports SD cards, a touch screen, and has a killer video screen!

The product is supposed to be released soon. You can read more about it here.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Using all that GMail space - a GMail file system extension for Windows

As many folks have found, GMail allows each mailbox 2GB of data storage space. However, as you may have also discovered, the maximum message size is 10MB. So, to fill your mailbox, you are going to have to send and receive a LOT of mail!

One popular use of GMail is to store frequently used tools. Since I have my own web server, I usually don't bother doing this. If I have important tools, I just park them in an area on my web site where I can download them. But, since I work with the military and government, I frequently need to transfer tools and files back and forth between the Internet and the NIPRnet.

A clever fellow named Bjarke Viksoe has written a file system extension for Windows that allows you to connect a drive letter to all that storage in your GMail account. It is called the GMail Drive Shell Extension. With this tool, you can easily move files back and forth between your GMail mailbox and your computer. I have just started playing with this, but it is very cool and definitely worth blogging. It is worth noting that this shell extension was originally the idea of Richard Jones; Mr. Viksoe notes this on his web site, too.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Exchange 2003, Windows 2003 SP1, and PAE

Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 introduced a new feature called Data Execution Protection (DEP). The DEP feature essentially protects the operating system from applications that might run applications with buffer overruns. Some folks are finding that when they run the Exchange Best Practices Analyzer, it is reporting that PAE is enabled.

Exchange 2000/2003 is not compatible with DEP nor PAE. On some hardware, PAE (Physical Address Extensions) is automatically enabled. PAE allows the Windows Server operating system to use memory above 4GB. This can benefit some types of application servers such as SQL Server or Terminal Servers. This does not benefit an Exchange server.

In order to make sure that your Windows 2003 SP1 server is not using PAE or DEP, you should include the following lines in your BOOT.INI file:


The above options carry the Paul Bowden seal of approval. The /EXECUTE switch is not well documented, but it can be found in the Windows Internals 4th Edition Book. Of course, if the server has more than 1GB of physical memory, the BOOT.INI should include these options:


As many administrators have found out, the /NOPAE /NOEXECUTE=OptOut and the /NOPAE /NOEXECUTE=AlwaysOff options do NOT always turn off DEP and PAE. This may depend on the hardware you are using, so use the /3GB /USERVA=3030 /NOPAE /EXECUTE switches in your BOOT.INI file.

References /Bibliography:

KB 283037:Large memory support is available in Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003

KB 817566:
When starting with both the /PAE and the /3GB switches, the system may not start

KB 823440: Use of the /3GB switch in Exchange Server 2003 on a Windows Server 2003-based system

KB 328882: Exchange Memory Use and the /3GB Switch

KB 291988: A description of the 4 GB RAM Tuning feature and the Physical Address Extension switch

Newsgroup discussion and comments from Paul Bowden

KB 827281: CPU and memory scalability for Exchange Server 2003 and for Exchange 2000 Server

Friday, May 06, 2005

Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 and Dell Servers

I have seen a couple of posts in the newsgroups about people having problems installing Windows 2003 SP1 on Dell servers that are running Dell Open Manage. I have installed SP1 on a number of Dell Servers with Dell OpenManage v4.2 and have not had problems, but some people are reporting problems with the BSOD (blue screen of death) during or after installation.

The Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 readme file indicates that the version of OpenManage that should be used with W2K3 SP1 is OpenManage 4.4. Right now, the latest version of OpenManage is v4.3, but Dell expects to have v4.4 out by mid-to-late June of 2005.

If you are running Dell servers, you should read visit Dell Support's Windows 2003 SP1 page prior to attempting your updates. Better to spend some time reading than to troubleshoot bluescreens later!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Microsoft releases "Best Practices for Public Folders" tech document

For some people (myself included), often public folders are almost a mystery. I understand some of the replication and hierarchy gizmos that are going on in the background, and other times I'm really perplexed. Microsoft has changed a few of the details of how public folder replication and hierarchy replication works in Exchange 2003, also. One of the nicest changes is that the administrator can now "force" replication.

Anywho, today Microsoft published the Best Practices for Public Folders technical document. Some of the useful tidbits in this document includes understanding referrals, troubleshooting, the "why use a public folders", and "is public folders the right solution." While a lot of folks believe that Sharepoint will eventually replace most public folder applications (and I partially agree), there will always be a place in most organizations for public folders.