Vol. 24, #11 - March 18, 2019 - Issue #1223
Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance
Microsoft's process for providing software updates for its Windows and Windows Server platforms has evolved considerably over the years to the point where many of us today have difficulty understanding the updating process because of its complexity. Those of you who learned programming many years ago will be familiar with a tool that was frequently used in the early days of computing to explain the logic behind a program. Yes I'm talking about the flowchart.
It's been years since I've had to resort to flowcharting anything -- I think the last time I made one was to refresh my understanding of how DNS lookups work. I've often thought that creating a flowchart to describe how Windows Update works might be useful, but I've balked at the time it might take to research the subject in detail.
Fortunately some others have now done some work in this area. Jason Morris, Ingolf Becker and Simon Parkin of University College London have recently written a paper called In Control with no Control: Perceptions and Reality of Windows 10 Home Edition Update Features (PDF. 2.6 MB) and have given me permission to republish the Windows 10 Update Model flowchart from their paper here under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Their flowchart which is shown here describes how software updates are applied to Windows 10 v.1803 (the April 2018 Update) Home Edition:
Note that this flowchart is based on research the authors performed using virtual machine experiments together with a review of the related literature, but they indicate in their paper that the flowchart is "not assumed to be exhaustively complete" since "the behaviour of the update mechanism is dependent on a complex range of user and system properties." Despite this disclaimer the flowchart accords well with my own understanding of how the Windows Update process works in Windows 10, and I hope that other readers will find it helpful too.
I also recommend that interested readers read the paper from which this flowchart has been excerpted as it includes some fascinating analysis of survey results from Windows 10 users concerning their perception vs. reality of how the update process works.
How do our newsletter readers feel about the effectiveness of Microsoft's current process for keeping Windows 10 updated? Are there any changes you think Microsoft should make to how Windows updating works? Email us your comments: [email protected]
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor
Got any IT pro tips you'd like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]
Readers who can't or don't want to install adblocking software can use the HOSTS file on Windows computers to block all kinds of stuff. One way of doing this is by downloading a custom HOSTS file created by a former Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) who periodically releases updated versions of this HOSTS file. You can download the latest version from here:
GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
Veeam Backup & Replication Community Edition works perfectly with both standalone ESXi and Hyper-V hosts. Whether you run a test lab or a production environment, it’ll be a perfect match.
StreamArmor is a portable application which scans NTFS drives to highlight alternate data streams where malware can often hide files and data from Explorer and other file management tools:
Wireless Network Watcher is a compact NirSoft tool which can scan your network and report on everything that's currently connected:
DNSQuerySniffer is a tiny network sniffer which detects and displays DNS queries as they're sent on your system:
Last week we shared some reader feedback on how to identify and deal with spoofed emails. A reader named Craig from Australia had some additional thoughts to share on this subject:
We use Cisco Ironport mail filtering appliances. Pretty much set and forget devices (yes, we do monthly checks for updates) and the stop at least 99% of spam from hitting our mail server.
Question: What kind of music would you prefer your local coffee shop to play over their speakers?They have a fair few smarts in them, one of which is sender reputation. If an IP address is a known spammer the device simply won't accept a connection from it. My understanding is the thousands of these devices installed around the world work together to determine what is spam and what isn't.
I've had users asking me to check the spam filtering is still working because they got ONE spam message. That tells me it's doing a pretty good job.
Phishing emails are pretty rare on our systems. We still watch out for them tho…
If any other readers have suggestions for dealing with spoofed emails you can email us at [email protected]
Christiaan from South Africa sent us the following question which we're redirecting to our readers for their suggestions:
Hello! We need to buy some new laptops for our sales team just now. Question for your readers: what brands/models have the best keyboard? Dankie!
Great question. I often miss my old ThinkPad from way, way back in 1994 that used to run Windows 3.1 -- not that I miss Windows 3.1 of course, but I miss the wonderful clickitty tactile-feedback keyboard that laptop had. Most laptops I've used or tried out these days have crummy keyboards that I fund…find dffici…uccu…ltt to typeonwitho utma kingmi steaks.
What can our readers suggest for this reader? Email us at [email protected]
Last week's factoid and question was this:
Fact: Electric cars may be good for the environment but they're likely to be bad for America's system of highways and roads. That's because federal, state and local governments rely on fuel taxes for the money needed to fix potholes and repair crumbling roads:
Question: How do you think U.S. federal, state and local governments will respond to this problem? And what about other jurisdictions like the UK, Europe, Australia, Canada etc? Is road maintenance funded differently in your country?
Frank from Germany responded to this question:
Hi Mitch, I don't know how it is in the US, but here in Germany, it's not mandatory that taxes are reinvested in the area they were generated from. For example, the fuel tax is about 40 billion Euros a year (41 billions in 2018), but only 5 billions a year are used to invest in road infrastructure (both combined, new streets and maintenance of existing ones). The rest goes into other ministeries that can't cover their expenses with their own income.
So I don't see this as a big problem for keeping road infrastructure intact -- at least not in the coming years. Should we be completely electrified one day, then a part of the "current-tax" will be used for this for sure…
Another reader named Bruce commented as follows:
I've long thought that, instead of gas tax, governments should using a mileage tax to determine how much one should pay.
I'm ok with the government knowing how far I've driven, as long as they don't know where I've driven.
Interesting idea, not sure how they could implement without knowing where you drive though.
Also a couple of weeks back we posed this question: "What kind of music would you prefer your local coffee shop to play over their speakers?" A reader named Matthew responded with:
Liquid Mind! It is the most soothing, peaceful music you can listen to. Bar none. Makes for great background sound when trying to drowned out conversations in a coffee shop while studying for a certification exam:
Liquid Mind is the work of Chuck Wild, keyboardist from the 80s band Missing Persons.
OK checked it out but IMO the synth pads are pitched about two octaves too high for me to consider it "background" music for doing any real work. My own go-to music when I wantread a book or write up a report is Seasons by Gabriel Lee:
I actually own an original copy of the CD of this title and have played it oh, about a zillion times over the years.
Now let's move on to this week's factoid:
Fact: US music fans throw more money at vinyl, CDs than iTunes downloads now.
Question: Do any of our readers still listen to music on CDs? And do any of our readers actually collect old vinyl records and/or purchase new ones? Or does everyone just listen to music on their phone using earbuds? SPEAK LOUDER, I CAN'T HEAR YOU, MAYBE I'M GOING DEAF FROM USING EARBUDS ALL THE TIME
Email your answer to [email protected]
>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]
Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida
Register for your city's Tour event here:
Microsoft Business Applications Summit - June 10-11 in Atlanta, Georgia
Microsoft DevDays - June 17-21 in Redmond, Washington USA
Microsoft Inspire - July 14-18 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA
Black Hat Asia - March 26-29 in Singapore
Cyber Security Summit - April 4 in Denver, Colorado USA
Cyber Security Summit - April 25 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
European Identity & Cloud Conference - May 14-17 in Munich, Germany
Cyber Security Summit - May 15 in Dallas, Texas USA
Infosecurity Europe - June 4-6 in London, England
Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit - June 17-20 in National Harbor, Maryland USA
Cyber Security Summit - June 27 in Washington D.C. USA
IT Nation Connect - March 25-27 in Gold Coast, Australia
Dell Technologies World - April 29 to May 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA
SharePoint Fest - April 29 to May 3 in Washington D.C. USA
VeeamON (Veeam) - May 20-22 in Miami, Florida USA
Citrix Synergy - May 21-23 in Atlanta, Georgia USA
SharePoint Conference - May 21-23 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA
Computex - May 28 to June 1 in Taipei, Taiwan
Microsoft Azure + AI Conference - ;June 10-13 in Atlanta, Georgia
Cloud & DevOps World - June 12-13 in London, England
Just chill out: Datacenters and cold winters
Is the bitter cold outside affecting the operation of your datacenters or server room? Here's what can happen and what you can do about it.
Review: Software-defined storage platform DataCore
DataCore provides a flexible software-defined storage platform designed to help organizations to get a handle on their storage. Here's our review.
A quick cyber insurance guide for GDPR compliance
The danger posed by hefty noncompliance fines is driving demand for GDPR cyber insurance for businesses whose primary customer base is in the Europe Union.
10 data security mistakes small and midsized businesses must avoid
Good data security can cost quite a bit, but trying to save money on security will cost you more. Don't make these common data security mistakes.
Weathering the storms: What you need to succeed in your IT career in good times and bad
To ensure a successful career, what kind of personality trait, character attribute, practice, or habit will make an IT pro stand far above the crowd?
Whale Gulps In Diver - Then Spits Him Out
Diver Rainer Schimpf had an extremely rare run-in with a whale, which briefly had him in its gigantic mouth:
Flyboard Air - Personal Flight System
Flyboard Air - a personal flight system powered by 5 jet engines which can reach speeds up to 100 mph and altitudes up to 9,000 feet:
We Have Been Eating Pineapple All Wrong
There's more than one way to slice a pineapple. Here is a new and unconventional method that has just gone viral.
The Big Store - Piano Scene - The Marx Brothers
Chico and Harpo Marx play a fantastic piano duet in this famous scene from the movie 'The Big Store' (1941).
Roll your Own Windows Patching Tool with PowerShell
This tutorial based on PowerShell helps administrators build an automated routine that audits Windows machines, then applies missing patches to lighten this management task. Get started today.
5 Steps to Escape From Windows Boot Loop Hell
A Windows reboot loop is a vicious and frustrating cycle, but there are ways you can fix the problem, including booting in Safe Mode. Learn how here.
How to Manage Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365
Security is a priority now more than ever. IT pros can manage MFA for Office 365 using conditional and application access to succeed with their security strategies. Keep reading here.
How RDS Licensing Rules Work and Recommendations to Follow
Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services licensing policies can be confusing if you don't know the Client Access Licenses and Remote Desktop Services roles. Learn more here.
WServerNews goes out each week to more than 500,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? Ask Our Readers by emailing your problems and/or questions to us at [email protected]
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]
Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7www.mtit.com.Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.