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Cloning Windows Server Backup Targets

posted Oct 2, 2013, 1:51 PM by Jeremy Walker

I recently ran into a case where a target of Windows Server Backup began failing. Luckily the external hard drive was under warranty. However, the customer wanted to retain the 200+ backups that WSB made to it. So I cloned it thinking that WSB would identify the drive by the Volume Label. I was wrong - WSB did not recognize it as the original external hard drive. So I did some digging on the web. I found these three pages that, when put together, helped me figure out what to do:





and


Yeah, that was a lot of digging... So I learned that Macrium Reflect gave my new external hard drive a new Disk Signature to avoid a collision. That also meant Windows gave the new drive a new GUID path. By deductive reasoning I could safely assume that Windows Server Backup identifies target disks by their GUID path. All I had to do was set the new drive's Disk Signature in the registry key for the old drive's GUID path. Here's the outline of what I did:
  1. Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\MountedDevices using Regedit.
  2. MAKE A BACKUP OF THE MountedDevices KEY BY EXPORTING IT!
  3. Run mountvol from a command line to help determine the GUID path of the two volumes.
  4. Dismount and unplug both drives.
  5. Copy the first four bytes of the value related to the GUID path for the new drive in the MountedDevices key then paste them over the first four bytes of the value related to the GUID path for the old drive.
  6. Remove the name/value pair that Windows created for the new drive.
  7. Re-connect the new drive only.
  8. Drink a beer.
  9. Celebrate.
After that, Windows Server Backup recognized the drive and I could backup to it successfully.

Windows 8 Drag n' Drop Issue

posted Dec 24, 2012, 11:23 AM by Jeremy Walker

I really love the new look and feel of Windows 8. It's much simpler as well - you just have to get used to where things have been put. That aside - I've had a very annoying issue with dragging icons in the explorer/desktop interface.

Apparently programs can now lock the drag function of explorer. To fix it, simply press the Esc key on the keyboard and the icons should become drag-able again.

Cheers!

Restore Files From a Windows System Image

posted Sep 18, 2012, 5:10 PM by Jeremy Walker   [ updated Sep 18, 2012, 5:18 PM ]

Windows Backup and Restore, the backup system built into Windows 7, when setup with default settings, makes a full snapshot of the entire local hard drive. Windows calls it a System Image. Not many people know that the snapshot/system image is actually stored as VHD files, one per partition. Windows Backup and Restore uses VSS to freeze the file system when it takes a snapshot. That means if your computer is running an instance of MS SQL Server (most-likely for an installed program), the database gets copied as well - usually without corruption.

Windows Backup and Restore is only able to restore files from the folder of files that it copied as part of the file selection made during the setup wizard - not the files in the VHDs. So, how do we restore the files form VHDs? Here we go.

Windows 7 Home and Professional are both capable of mounting VHDs as a native file system. We can instruct Windows to mount the VHDs using the diskpart command line or the Disk Management Snap-In. I prefer Disk Management for simplicity.

The VHD files are buried in a folder named WindowsImageBackup in the backup destination - usually an external hard drive. (Sometimes it's necessary to mount the external hard drive using Disk Management to get to the folders on it.) The VHDs are named with a bunch of funky numbers and letters we call a GUID.

Follow these steps:
  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click Computer then click Manage.
  3. Click Disk Management and wait for it to finish loading.
  4. Now right-click Disk Management then click Attach VHD.
  5. Browse for your VHD in the WindowsImageBackup folder on your external hard drive then click Open.
  6. Click OK.
The VHD will be mounted as the next available drive letter. You may browse the mounted drive and copy the files you need. Without setting the Read-only checkbox in the Attach Virtual Hard Disk window, you may change the files in the VHD as you please.

There are many other things you can do with VHDs. Just Google for it.

Cheers!

How to Relay Email Through IIS Virtual SMTP

posted Sep 18, 2012, 3:57 PM by Jeremy Walker

I stumbled onto this article that properly explains how to use IIS’s Virtual SMTP Server paired with Microsoft Online Exchange (a.k.a. Office 365) as an anonymous Email Relay for applications that can’t authenticate by themselves. 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2600912

This can also be used to relay messages through other outbound email servers.

How to Repair Un-bootable Win Vista and 7

posted Jun 30, 2012, 10:09 PM by Jeremy Walker   [ updated Jul 14, 2012, 5:31 PM by Jeremy Walker ]

This assumes the computer can't boot/load Windows because of a corrupt or missing system file.

Boot from a matching Windows installation or recovery disc then run the sfc tool from the Command Prompt.

Don't forget to specify the boot directory and the windows directory like this:

sfc /scannow /offbootdir=d:\ /offwindir=d:\windows

Windows Server Backup to Multiple Disks

posted Jun 17, 2012, 10:23 AM by Jeremy Walker

Personally, I feel better when my customers have multiple copies of their systems and even more so when they have at least one of those copies off-site. I was excited when I first heard of Windows Server Backup and how it makes full system snapshots. I was sold on it when I learned it can backup to more than one disk.

WSB has a quirk when adding more destinations to the schedule. The wizard complains when you attempt to add a destination and the other destinations are offline or disconnected. Here's how to add a destination without the wizard.
  1. Ensure the Windows Server Backup Command-line tools feature is installed.
  2. Open an elevated command prompt.
  3. Type wbadmin get disks to list available disks.
  4. Copy the Disk Identifier and make sure to include the squiggly braces.
  5. Type wbadmin enable backup -addtarget:<Paste Disk Identifier Here>
The tool will format the disk and update the schedule without checking the other destinations.

How to Recover VMs From ESXi 4 and 5

posted Jun 13, 2012, 3:35 PM by Jeremy Walker   [ updated Jun 17, 2012, 10:01 AM ]

I recently ran into a situation where a Virtual Machine was not booting with an ESXi server. It would have been simple to log into vSphere Client and check it out. However, the customer didn't have the root password. Simple again. Reset the password from the console - like any other software, right? Wrong. VMWare's knowledge base makes it clear there is no supported way to reset the password in ESXi 4 and 5. Wow. So what do I do next?

You'll be glad to know the datastores in ESXi are independent from the OS. That means you can re-install the OS and re-import the Virtual Machines from the datastores. However, there is one catch to this - THE ESXi INSTALLER WILL WIPE THE DATASTORES ON THE SAME DISK AS IT INSTALLS THE OS ON. I confirmed that ESXi 5.0.0 U1 installer will prompt you with options to preserve the existing datastore. However, I still recommend backing up the existing datastore by installing ESXi on another disk, attaching a new datastore and copying the Virtual Machine's files over.

I also recommend installing ESXi on a separate disk like a USB flash drive or a compact flash and leaving the datastores on their own independent disks. That way if you have to re-install ESXi, you don't risk losing your datastores.

Good luck!

How to Reset Windows 7 Offline Files

posted Jun 12, 2012, 12:20 PM by Jeremy Walker

Open Regedit and browse to
 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters
 
If the Parameters key doesn't exist then create it.
 
Add a DWORD value named FormatDatabase and set its value to 1.
 
Ensure Offline Files is enabled.
 
Restart.
 
 
This also removes previous partnerships in Offline Files. You will need to re-register the paths to sync with.

Outlook 2007 and 2010 with SBS 2008

posted Jun 11, 2012, 4:17 PM by Jeremy Walker

I found an issue with Outlook 2010 constantly prompting for credentials (username and/or password) when authenticating with an SBS 2008 server (Exchange 2007). I ran across this article which seemed to fix the problem. Note: I ran the command instead of installing the Update Rollup.
 
 
Apparently Kernel and User mode authentication in IIS 7 don't play nicely together.

Re-assign Private Key to Another Certificate

posted May 7, 2012, 3:30 PM by Jeremy Walker   [ updated May 7, 2012, 3:31 PM ]

I ran into a problem today with a newly regenerated UCC Certificate from Go Daddy.

I added a new SAN (Subject Alternative Name) to a pre-existing certificate then re-generated it, all from the Go Daddy website. The website gave me the certificate signed with the public key as usual, but I didn't have an already existing request in progress on the server. I found this article on the inter-webs:


Thank you John!

Here's a brief overview:
  1. Install OpenSSL for Windows from http://www.slproweb.com/products/Win32OpenSSL.html
  2. Export the Private Key and Certificate from Certificates MMC Snap-In.
  3. Separate the Private Key from the PFX file:
    openssl pkcs12 -in original.pfx -out privatekey.pem -nocerts
  4. Merge the Private Key and the New Certificate from Go Daddy:
    openssl pkcs12 -export -out new.pfx -inkey privatekey.pem -in gdcert.crt
  5. Import the new PFX file.
If this is for Exchange 2010 use the Exchange Console to import the PFX file.

Don't forget to give the new certificate a Friendly Name. You can do that by viewing the certificate in MMC, clicking Details, Edit Properties, then typing in a Friendly Name.

Cheers!

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