Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Server Uptime at 16 Months

So, is this a good thing or a bad thing?


Yeah, this particular box has been up for 16 months.

In August of 2011 switch one of two failed. That switch just happened to be the one this particular box was plugged in to. Prior to that the box had been up and running since Server 2008 R2 was installed (just prior to R2’s RTM).

Its sole purpose in life is to serve Terabytes of data via a teamed Gigabit NIC pair.

Note the CPU setup. It has a pair of Intel Xeon 5130 CPUs and 16GB of RAM. Yeah, it’s a bit long in the tooth. ;)

Given the server’s role serving files we tend to leave it alone. No Web browsing, no desktop access, or any other access is needed unless something happens with it.

Well, today the backplane decided to hiccup along with the 500GB Seagate ES series drive that died in it (we’ve had a _huge_ fail rate on these drives over the last two or more years).

It is time for this old box to be retired.

Its replacement will be a Hyper-V Failover Cluster based on two or three Intel Server Systems SR1695GPRX2AC 1U servers with an Intel Xeon X3470 and 32GB of ECC RAM.

Is it a good thing for one to leave a box up and running for months or even years at a time?

Is the risk worth it?

In some cases we have no choice where three shifts run 24/7/365. Coordinated downtime is about the only way in to these boxes. Though SBS tends to start choking around the 90 day mark for both SBS 2008 Standard and SBS 2011 Standard so these reboots with patch cycles tend to happen every quarter.

To mitigate this situation we need to make sure we have good monitoring in place for edge access, AD authentication attempts (especially failures), proper edge configuration blocking both inbound and outbound packets by default, and other strategies like no touching the box/VM.

In the end, the risks need to be evaluated beside the benefits of no reboot cycles and/or no patch cycles for a lengthy amount of time.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday, 28 January 2013

Learning Group Policy the Jeremy Moskowitz Way

Look what arrived in the mail:


Jeremy’s new _signed_ Group Policy book. :)

Jeremy is the best source for anything Group Policy. We’d surely love to attend one of his full week brain busting GP courses but timing for us has been difficult.

We highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. It is a handy reference and one of the best ways to learn Group Policy outside of one of his courses.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Desktop Board BIOS Flash Initiated Within Windows – Caveat

When flashing a desktop board with TXT (Trusted Execution Technology) enabled in the BIOS an update to the BIOS initiated within Windows will fail.

Prior to initiating the BIOS update reboot and disable TXT then run the update.

Once the update has completed and the system has finished its post update boot shut the system down. Pull the power and let it sit for a minute.

Power the system up and F2 or DEL into the BIOS. Verify that the update did not change any of the settings and enable TXT.

We enable TXT before installing the operating system by default. We also make sure the drive mode is set to AHCI.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Intel Desktop Board 7 Series BIOS Update Caveats – Important

We’ve been building a lot of our corporate desktop systems based on the Intel DQ77KB and the Core i5-3470S with either an 80GB or 120GB Intel 320 Series SSD installed.

We normally finish of a system install with the most recent BIOS update and then a run through the settings post update boot.

This last board stopped dead during the reboot to BIOS update process.

A call into Intel and we discovered why (from their support technician’s e-mail we requested):

In this particular case, for the 7 Series Chipset based motherboards like the Intel® Desktop Board DQ77KB it is extremely necessary to have the BIOS 0044 before applying the latest version. This is because BIOS 0044 contains the update version for the Intel® Management Engine which corrects possible problems with USB3.0 front panel headers.

All of the Intel® 7 Series Chipset Based motherboards require this Intel® Management Engine firmware update so here is a list of the required BIOS version to accomplish this fix based on the motherboard number:

Motherboard model BIOS with the Management Engine firmware update

DP75EN 0039

DH77DF / DH77KC 0102

DH77EB 0096

DQ77KB 0044

DQ77CP / DQ77MK 0052

DZ75ML-45K 0010

DZ77BH-55K 0093

DZ77GA-70K / DZ77RE-75K 0057

DZ77SL-50K 0089

You can continue updating the BIOS version once you have reached the one having the Management Engine firmware update

As we can see, we need to step our BIOS updates.

UPDATE: Put “77” in the original title. Corrected to “7 Series”.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday, 21 January 2013

Windows 8: Share Desktop Backgrounds Across PCs/Laptops

We have a number of systems with one sign-on that is tied into our Microsoft ID (Live ID).

Besides the ability to keep our Metro UI experience relatively seamless across those systems we can also share the desktop backgrounds across them.

The path for the pictures is:

  • C:\Users\%Username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\RoamedThemeFiles\DesktopBackground\
  1. First, right click on the desktop and click Personalize.
  2. Make sure Synced Theme is chosen.
    • image
  3. Click on Desktop Background.
    • image
  4. Open Windows Explorer
  5. Open the picture’s location.
  6. One can either copy and paste from here or open a second Windows Explorer window.
  7. Copy and paste the above path into the Address Bar and hit [Enter].
  8. Copy picture content into the DesktopBackground folder.

Our preference is to set the images to Fit instead of stretch.

Once this process has been completed the desktop backgrounds on all Windows 8 machines tied in with that Microsoft ID will show the same.

NOTE: Once this process has completed Windows 8 under Personalization may show “Unsaved Theme” as being selected. Change the setting back to Synced Theme.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

How To: Set up the Intel Remote Management Module (RMM)

We install the Intel Remote Management Module (RMM) into all of our Intel server based deploys. If deploying a Tier 1 box we install theirs and make sure the KVM over IP option is enabled (license purchased).

Having out-of-band management access to a server can save critical time in the event of a server problem. We no longer need to jump in a vehicle and run down to our client’s site or have someone on-site for our remote clients.

Out of the box the RMM needs to be properly configured.

Once the server has been assembled and all of its components have had their firmware updated (Intel Download Site) we configure our RMM via the server board’s BIOS.

  1. Turn the server on and F2 into the BIOS.
  2. Server Management Tab.
  3. BMC LAN Configuration
  4. Set the IP for the RMM
    1. In the shop we leave it DHCP so that we can remote into the server while here.
    2. Client’s site we tend to plug directly into the Internet and give it a static IP.
  5. Set the BMC DHCP Host Name
    1. Convention is a bit goofy (no special characters).
    2. image
  6. Choose User ID and hit [Enter]
    1. Choose User3
      • image
    2. Privilege: Administrator
    3. User Status: Enabled
    4. Set the user name: JungleJim
    5. Set the user password: Icanacc3ssthis (x2)
  7. We end up with this.
    • image
  8. F10 to save settings and reboot the server.

If using DHCP then check the network’s DHCP Server console for the IP that the RMM has picked up.

Open a browser and navigate to the RMM IP.


Log on with the credentials set. Barring two left thumbs we should be able to log in.


Once in we are able to launch the KVM over IP, reset the server’s power, power it up or down, and check the server’s current status.

The cost on the Intel units and Tier 1 equivalents will cover one on-site visit.

We believe that an RMM/iLO Advanced/iDRAC Enterprise and other remote management module should be a part of _every_ server configuration.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Friday, 18 January 2013

The last few weeks . . .

. . . have been very stressful.

We have had a lot of new business as well as ongoing client needs creating a real crunch on our time.

So, with the need to stick around and wait for the Xplornet installer at home I've managed to get some long awaited To Do tasks taken care of and now take a bit of a mental health break. :)


That picture was taken from a parking lot yesterday afternoon in downtown Edmonton.

Keep in mind we had a very cold December with –20C temperatures being very common (and our just landed heating bill showing for it).

So, it was really neat to see a rainbow in January. :)

Oh, and the other day it was +6C here in the Greater Edmonton Area while it was –5C in Las Vegas Nevada! W00t!

All of this hard work has lead to some very intense play sessions with the kids! A local hobby store had boxes of UberARC 3200 kits on sale so we picked up a few. The four of us jumped right into putting some projects together. The first was via the building plans that came with the boxes. The second was a free-flight construction project.

Using the first box we built the UberARC 3200 tower:


We had to trim the top a bit to fit under our 8' ceiling. :)

We then moved on to the following tower project:

13-01-07 UberArc Tower - 02 Base

The above is the base for the tower incorporating four pillars with the internal walls supported by the cathedral style columns shown.

This is the finished product:




The tower stands pretty close to 7.5' tall and is roughly 22" long by 18" wide. It took two and a half UberARC 3200 boxes to build.

And, some Father/Son time:



My eldest son is right into anything mechanical with LEGO Technic being his real draw right now. He has three kits he built on his own with the above being my first kit. Together we have done some neat things for setups. We are starting to build a Technic collection of spare parts via eBay for some self-built projects we are talking about.

We have a newly purchased Technic 8070 Super Car waiting to be built too.

As tough as it is to make time, it is ultra important to keep in my mind that they come first and that sometimes, especially when things are as nuts as they are now, I need to hammer down and allocate time to spend with my family.

That work/family/life balance can be so hard to keep at times!

Thanks for reading and your support over the years. It is muchly appreciated.

Speaking of life . . . Monique and the kids are in town ... so maybe it's time for some Jet Li window rattling! :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Rural Wireless ISP Review – Hotlink Wireless Versus Xplornet WiMax

When we first moved out to our acreage we went with the same ISP that the previous owners had: Hotlink Wireless.

When we signed up we were assured that at some point our 3Mbit connection would be updated to 6Gbit. So, we signed up for the SOHO package that stated we would automatically receive the upgrade when made available.

Now, the communication that we received from Hotlink, the installer, and subsequent support folks was confusing at best.

Ultimately, we ended up with a low bandwidth high latency connection that just did not work for the type of Internet based work I do from home!

After asking various Hotlink folks we finally hit upon the reason for our speed/latency issue: We were on the wrong side of the tower (line of sight ~.5KM away)! South of us are a bunch of subdivisions. Thus, the South side of the tower has all of the high bandwidth equipment installed.

On the North side of the tower not so much. And, that happens to be where we were located. Bummer. :(

The Xplornet installer finished up about an hour ago and we now have a high bandwidth low latency connection to the Internet!


We will continue to monitor the speeds we get especially when the rest of the world gets home from work as it is mid-afternoon here right now.

A caveat with Xplornet:

  • Default IP out of the box with the service is on a private subnet.
    • IP:

Since we are running Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials at home we preferred to have a public IP to allow Remote Web Access to the home setup.

We called into Xplornet's support number and had a fellow explain to us that the only way to get a publically routable IP was to have a static IP assigned for an additional fee ($9.99) per month.

After affirming the static IP charge it took him about 10 minutes to provision the IP and update our newly installed radio's firmware to allow for the new setup.

Once we plugged the new IP settings into our router and Xplornet's DNS server IPs into our Forwarders tab in SBSE's DNS Server service we were up and running.

And wow! The difference is amazing.

Typing remotely via RDP no longer has a pause before the letters appear or a pause while Web browsing and having something come up after clicking on it.

When given a choice between service providers we now know that Xplornet would have been the better way to go originally.

Some factors that need to influence choice:

  • What are our speed/latency requirements?
    • Netflix and other media streaming did _not_ work well with the Hotlink connection. Even when SD movies were chosen no other machine could access the Internet while the movie was streaming or the movie would start pausing.
  • Where are the towers relative to our location?
    • No fluff response by the provider's sales person on this question. Make sure to hammer down where the tower is. Distance and line of sight may be important depending on the technology the radio uses.
    • A tower and/or high mount may be required depending on the tower location.
  • Real world bandwidth/latency test results?
    • Ask for some real world test results/referrals if possible.
  • For the installer:
    • Have a proper shielded cable installed.
      • Cable must be grounded properly on both ends.
    • Surge suppression is a must and grounded outside the house is a must.
    • Xplornet did both of the above while Hotlink did not.

We certainly took our Shaw high speed Internet connection for granted back in town (St. Albert). 50Mbit down and 5Mbit up was our rated speeds with downloads easily hitting 2.5MB/Second to 3.5MB/Second depending on what and where.

Happily Xplornet does not block 443 inbound:


Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for reading! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday, 14 January 2013

Preparing a Microsoft Surface RT for RMA Return: Destroy That Data!

Whatever was failing in our one Microsoft Surface RT would not let us run a Refresh or a Restore to Factory routine. The unit would fail out after about five to ten minutes when it came time to reboot.

So, we were a bit hamstrung when it came to the “How” to wipe it before dropping it into the shipping box.

When initially playing with the units after setting up the Microsoft ID on them there was a point where it would force a BitLocker Unlock after a reboot on too many password tries.

We ended up having to try something like 20 or 30 times before the defective unit finally insisted that it would reboot and require the BitLocker Unlock Key.

Post reboot it had the BitLocker Unlock Key request screen.

It also offered to reset the unit to defaults with a partial or full wipe of the unit’s storage. Since the full restore process would fail from within the OS we tried it here and it worked.

The full wipe process took a _long_ time. However, once it was done we were presented with the “Choose a theme” screen one sees the first time a Microsoft Surface is fired up.


We are now confident that there is nothing left in the way of personal data on that unit.

Off it goes.

When we first picked these units up there was a good amount of excitement around them and the prospect of picking up a Surface Pro when it became available.

After our experiences with the flaky nature, as expected with a v1 product, of the Surface RT we will be hard pressed to be first in line for a Surface Pro.

We are of the mind that we will look to established Tier 1 product vendors such as Toshiba for anything ultraportable going forward.

For now, we have a Toshiba Satellite U920t slated as replacement for the Surface RT and Acer TravelMate TM6593G used at home.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Friday, 11 January 2013

Hyper-V: Creating a Fixed VHDX on 8x RAID 6 10K SAS Spindle Set: 130GB

Our previous blog posts on this subject:

For today’s test we are running the following setup:

  • Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC
    • Dual Xeon E5-2630
    • 128GB (16x 8GB) Kingston ECC
    • Intel Integrated RAID RMS25CB080 with BBU
    • 8x 600GB Seagate 10K SAS drives at 2.5”

The operating system is a freshly installed Windows Server 2012 Standard.

The RAID 6 array setup in the RAID controller’s BIOS is as follows:

  • Logical/Virtual Disk 0: 120GB
  • Logical/Virtual Disk 1: 3.1TB

We start the New Virtual Hard Disk Wizard in Hyper-V Manager and run through to create a fixed VHDX with a 130GB size.


Our test results are:

  • Start time: 13:29
  • End time: 13:31
    • image
  • Result: 2 Minutes

Yup. 2 Minutes.

As a just-in-case we ran this test again this time while watching the Performance Monitor:


  • Start: 13:37
  • Finish: 13:39
  • Disk Queue Length:
    • image
  • Disk Throughput:
    • image
  • All three measures:
    • imageimageimage
  • Result #2: 2 Minutes

Check out that throughput at 1GB/Second! And, Disk Queue Length hovering around 5 for the working virtual/logical disk.

This test demonstrates that a properly configured disk subsystem will perform as good or better than expected.

Now on to the SSD tests! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Hyper-V 2012: Set up Native Teams, Virtual Switch, Binding, and SR-IOV

We have just finished installing Windows Server 2012 Standard on a new Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC. We have added the necessary Roles and Features including Hyper-V.

This particular server comes with a quad port i350 Gigabit adapter built in. We also added an Intel i350-T4 quad port Gigabit adapter into the mix.

With this particular setup we are configuring our NICs as follows:


  1. On board and PCIe Port 0 name: Management
    1. Static Teaming
    2. Address Hash
  2. On board and PCIe Ports 1-3 name: vSwitch
    1. Static Teaming
    2. Hyper-V Port


Note the white cables indicating which ports on the NICs and Cisco SG500X-48 to keep track of things. Once relocated to our client’s site our cabling is set up in a similar manner in that cables are colour coded for their roles with a Legend in our audit notes.

Once we have our teaming set up we can move on to creating our virtual switch.

  1. Hit the Start button on the keyboard to bring up the Start Menu
  2. Right click on Hyper-V Manager
    • image
  3. Click on Pin to Taskbar
  4. Hit the Windows key or ESC key to get back to the Desktop.
  5. Right click on Hyper-V Manager icon on the Taskbar
  6. Right click on the Hyper-V Manager shortcut
  7. Left click on Run as Administrator.
  8. Hit Start on the keyboard
  9. Type: NCPA.CPL [Enter]
    • image
    • The Network Connections window will pop up
  10. Note the Device Name for the Management and vSwitch teams.
    1. Microsoft Network Adapter Multiplexor Driver (Management)
    2. Microsoft Network Adapter Multiplexor Driver #2 (vSwitch)
  11. Minimize that window.
  12. In Hyper-V Manager right click on the Server Name and click Virtual Switch Manager...
    • image
  13. Click the Create Virtual Switch button.
  14. Name the virtual switch and choose the NIC to bind to.
    • image
  15. External Network choice is as noted above:
    • Microsoft Network Adapter Multiplexor Driver #2 (vSwitch)
  16. Uncheck Allow management operating system to share this network adapter
  17. Click Apply and OK.
    1. Answer Yes and check the “Don’t bug me” box.
  18. Click OK to close the Virtual Switch Manager.
  19. Bring up the Network Connections window.
    1. Right click on the vSwitch and click on Status
    2. Click on the Details button.
    3. The Network Connection Details window should be blank.
      • image
  20. Click Close and Close again.
  21. While looking at the Network Connections window hit the ALT key on the keyboard.
    • image
  22. Click on Advanced and then Advanced Settings...
  23. Make sure Management is on top of the Connections list in Adapters and Bindings.
    • WRONG:
      • image
    • RIGHT:
      • image
  24. If binding order was changed then a reboot is required.
    1. Hold the WIN key and R (WIN+R):
    2. Shutdown –r –t 0 –f [Enter]
      • image

Once the reboot has completed we are ready to go with our Hyper-V configuration steps. We will leave that for another blog post. :)

Some explanations and caveats with SR-IOV:

UPDATE: Missed this very good post on Hyper-V and SR-IOV:

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Intel Server Systems Remote Management Module 4 (RMM4) Display Resolution

Once the server with the RMM4 has been set up there is an important step that needs to happen to allow the RMM4 to establish a remote KVM over IP session:


Make sure the desktop display resolution after installing the graphics driver is set to 1440x900 or 1280x1024 before logging off the desktop the final time.

Otherwise the KVM over IP session will show a black screen after clicking the Launch Console button.


This is an especially important step for all servers with an RMM2/3/4!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Video: Running Windows Server 2012 Datacenter with Hyper-V on Intel Server System Dual Xeon E5440 and SATA RAID 6

The following video was taken with the new Samsung ATIV S Windows Phone 8 device. The quality is okay with the phone’s focus routine lacking at times.

We had a client server system that needed its life extended for some lab work that they need to accomplish.

The server configuration:

  • Intel Server Board S5000PSLSATAR
  • Dual Intel Xeon E5440 CPUs
  • (8x 2GB) 16GB of Kingston ECC
  • Intel RAID Controller SRCSASRB
  • (8) 500GB Seagate ES series SATA in RAID 6
  • Intel Server Chassis SC5400LX with 10 hot swap bays.

We had to replace the two backplanes as they were ultimately the cause of system boot problems.

Intel Server System running Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

When it comes to setting up production systems we prefer to use only new hardware for new operating systems.

There are so many ways that things can go sideways on us when we do one of the following:

  • Install a modern operating system on 3+ year old hardware.
  • Install an old operating system (2008 or previous) on new hardware.

In this case we are talking about a lab setup. Exception made.

Note that one of the biggest performance limiters in this system is the RAID 6 SATA array. The RAID controller does not have a battery backup on it so write performance is poor.

Plus SATA is not a good platform to install in a server. Period.

Check out this system’s performance in our 130GB VHDX creation time blog post.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

How to turn OFF Ring Backs on Rogers “Please enjoy this ring back while we connect this call”

Meh, pretty much every client has asked what’s up with the “Please enjoy this ring back while we connect this call from Rogers” and then a tune plays while the cell phone starts to ring.

And, pretty much all of them have signed off on it being outright annoying.

Trying to find the “how” to turning it off proved to be challenging. A call to 611 brought about the solution:

  1. Text OFF to 555
  2. Text message will be received with an URL.
  3. Tap the URL: http://rogers.com/m/ringbacksonoff
  4. Tap OFF for Ringbacks
  5. Tap OFF for Voice Greeting

Now, I had tried to turn these settings off via the My Account feature on the handset. It took me to the Web site linked above but the changes did not take for some reason.

Using the above method we have finally ditched the message and music.

People like to hear those rings. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Update KB2750149 Breaks Hyper-V 2012 Failover Clusters

It seems that a recent update is wreaking havoc on Hyper-V 2012 Failover Clusters.

If updates have not been run as of yet then avoid this one.

If things are not working as expected after a round of updates and this one was included uninstall and hopefully things come up as they should.

Error quote from the Forums post:

A weak event was created and it lives on the wrong object, there is a high chance this will fail, please review and make changes on your code to prevent the issue.

Sig[0].Name=Application Name
Sig[1].Name=Application Version
Sig[2].Name=Application Timestamp
Sig[3].Name=Hang Signature
Sig[4].Name=Hang Type
DynamicSig[1].Name=OS Version
DynamicSig[2].Name=Locale ID
DynamicSig[22].Name=Additional Hang Signature 1
DynamicSig[23].Name=Additional Hang Signature 2
DynamicSig[24].Name=Additional Hang Signature 3
DynamicSig[25].Name=Additional Hang Signature 4
DynamicSig[26].Name=Additional Hang Signature 5
DynamicSig[27].Name=Additional Hang Signature 6
DynamicSig[28].Name=Additional Hang Signature 7
UI[3]=Microsoft Management Console is not responding
UI[4]=Windows can check online for a solution. If you close the program, you might lose information.
UI[5]=Check for a solution and close the program
UI[6]=Check for a solution and close the program
FriendlyEventName=Stopped responding and was closed
AppName=Microsoft Management Console
ReportDescription=A problem caused this program to stop interacting with Windows.

We tend to wait on updates with our managed clients.

It seems that regression testing for updates has not been up to the same standard it has been in the past at Microsoft.

So, we test here in-house beforehand. It is a part of our service offering.

Hat Tip: SBS Diva

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Microsoft Surface RT RMA Woes Continue

Wow ... all I can say is wow.

When it came to getting an RMA situation resolved Asus was at the top of the list for being the most painful to deal with.

Trying to get Monique’s Surface RT replaced has now supplanted that feat that has been held by Asus for five years now.

After a huge number of times trying to get things started on the myservice.surface.com site a tweet from @Surface said to go here:


See that little red box?

I can’t for the life of me figure out why my phone number, now running at least a half dozen to a dozen permutations, is not being accepted. Note the distinct lack of “you need to do this” or “Error because ...”

At this point the words that come to mind are not of polite company. :P

One should _NOT_ have to go through such grief to get a replacement unit for a defective product.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Hyper-V Cluster Error: FailoverClustering 5120: Cluster Shared Volume is no longer available ... STATUS_CONNECTION_DISCONNECTED(c000020c)

This was a bit of a strange thing to see on one of our clusters:

Log Name:      System
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-FailoverClustering
Date:          1/8/2013 9:48:10 PM
Event ID:      5120
Task Category: Cluster Shared Volume
Level:         Error
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:      NODE01.DOMAIN.LAN
Cluster Shared Volume 'Volume4' ('CSV 04 XPVM-01') is no longer available on this node because of 'STATUS_CONNECTION_DISCONNECTED(c000020c)'. All I/O will temporarily be queued until a path to the volume is reestablished.

A search turned up the following:

This KB talks about network connectivity with specific bindings for the adapters that the cluster uses for communication.

Well, we knew that we had the configuration on the NICs correct.

However, we were unable to ping via the Heartbeat network (Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1) that was set on a separate tagged VLAN.

The problem ended up being found in the fact that their Gigabit switch had been recently replaced with a warranty replacement. We had missed the VLAN configuration when we set up the replacement switch.

Sure enough, a dig through the Failover Cluster Management console brought up the big red X on the Heartbeat Network.

And, ultimately we found out the reason why that setting was missed. Our network audit notes were not up to date on the VLAN setting for the Heartbeat Network.

In this case this mistake only caused a minor problem with cluster communication that redundant networking structures took care of in the cluster setup.

We cannot emphasize enough just how important it is to keep good a good audit trail of any and all client IT Solutions and their components.

Besides facilitating consistency across our solutions our clients have a working paper that will provide anyone with a very in-depth view of their network setup should the need arise.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Hyper-V: Creating a Fixed VHDX on 8x RAID 6 SATA Spindle Set: 130GB

In our last post Hyper-V: Creating a Fixed VHDX on SSD: 40GB Time we saw that a single SSD setup was capable of creating a 40GB fixed VHDX in about 5 minutes.

We have a server setup on the bench that we were running troubleshooting steps on and some component replacements.

  • Intel Server Board S5000PSLSATAR
  • Dual Intel Xeon E5440 CPUs
  • 16GB (8x 2GB) Kingston ECC RAM
  • Intel RAID Controller SRCSASRB
  • Intel SC5400LX Server Chassis with 10 hot swap bays
  • 8x 500GB Seagate ES series 7200RPM SATA drives in RAID 6
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter RTM with Hyper-V only

First off, there is no battery backup on this unit so performance is not that great. It is a stop-gap situation for our client.

We started the run at 16:55:


We started the process to let it run after we closed up shop.

The file’s final write time was at 19:33:


So, in this case with a decent RAID array configuration, though missing the battery backup for the RAID controller’s cache, we saw a 140GB fixed VHDX file created in 2.5 hours or thereabouts.

Next up, we have an Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC with eight 600GB 10K SAS spindles that will be running in RAID 6 with battery backup.

We may just run this experiment on this box twice. Once with RAID 6 and once with RAID 10 to see just how different, if there is any difference, the file creation process will be. And, again with the battery backup removed.

We also have a bunch of Intel X25-M 80GB SSDs here in the shop that we may plug into the above unit to test. Hopefully we will have the time to do all of this!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

A Ford Dealership Experience Exemplifies What SMB IT _Can_ Be Like for Clients/Customers – Painful

This is a really good read:

It really brings out the customer’s experience in our own industry with folks that cobble together IT “Solutions” that end up causing them more pain and grief than anything with the, “Oh, it’s Microsoft’s fault that things are broken” being the mantra from the consultant.

Microsoft, having lived with this black eye for so many years has moved very solidly in favour of eliminating the SMB IT Solution set altogether, or at least as much as possible, with the Big Cloud Push.

But, it’s not like Microsoft did not _try_ and do anything about it beforehand.

Remember the SBSC? The Small Business Specialist Community was a _huge_ investment by Microsoft in us and the solution set.

Get trained, get certified, get noticed was essentially the SBSC mantra with a lot of resources to back it up from Microsoft.

It certainly worked for us. We got trained, got certified, and received the logo and the great communication from within Microsoft and the SBSC program.

And, it did indeed differentiate the small business IT Solution Providers that were serious about providing the best solution to their clients from those that flew by the seat of their pants cobbling things together.

Going forward, the on-premises solution set will not be going away. In fact, the on-premises solution set will become all the more important to those businesses that require data ownership to be in-house among other reasons.

Our plan is to continue to get training on the Microsoft products, and certification on key products, we need to build our solution sets.

  • Windows Server 2012
  • System Center 2012
    • Microsoft Private Cloud
  • Microsoft Exchange 2013
    • E-mail infrastructure.
    • Building highly available Exchange environments.
  • SharePoint Server 2013
    • SharePoint Foundation 2013
  • SQL Server

Those clients/customers that have had an IT experience similar the Ford dealership provided to their customer are ripe for the Cloud. And, quite frankly who could blame them?

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday, 7 January 2013

Microsoft Surface RMA Pain

Wow, trying to get an RMA for the Surface RT that Monique uses has been nothing short of a hair pulling experience. :(


That is the _sixth_ attempt at trying to get this failed unit replaced.

Surface Pro is officially off our list of products to purchase.

Because of our experiences with the Surface RT units we will stick with Toshiba or other manufacturer's tablet and convertible products.

Sad ...

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Hyper-V: Creating a Fixed VHDX on SSD: 40GB Time

We are running a test to see how long Hyper-V in Windows 8 (should be similar in Server 2012) takes to create a 40GB fixed VHDX.

We started the process at 12:05:


The system setup where this test is being run:

  • Intel Desktop Board DH67
  • Intel Core i7-2600K
  • 32GB Kingston RAM
  • 300GB Intel 320 Series SSD
    • Single partition for the OS.

The process took about 5 minutes to complete:


The next step will be to try the experiment on a spindle based setup. The best way this is going to happen for us will be to use a USB 3 SuperSpeed dock and run the test as USB 3 will assure us we are getting the maximum throughput the 7200 RPM spindle can offer us.

Unfortunately, the Renesas USB 3 chipset on the DH67 board is not very stable in Windows 8.

So, we will run this test on a newly set up Windows 8 machine that will be based on the Intel Desktop Board DX79SR as soon as we have it available.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Surface RT: Wireless/WiFi Can’t Connect – Workaround

We have been having WiFi connectivity issues with both Surface RT units since the December updates.

Prior to that we were connecting flawlessly no matter where we were with them.

A workaround for now is to do the following:

  1. Open RegEdit
  2. Navigate to Computer\HKey_Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class
    • image
  3. Search for AutoUse40MHz
    • Change from “1” to “0”
  4. Change Band from “6” to “4”.
  5. Reboot.

When the Surface RT finishes its reboot it will be forced to B/G only:


Considering file copies to USB run around 5MB/Second or thereabouts running at 54Mbps on the WiFi is not a really big hit in “performance” on the Surface RT.

To date, once we made these two changes the units have not had a WiFi problem.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer