Sunbelt W2Knews Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Jan 29, 2001 (Vol. 6, #5 - Issue #239)
Never A Dull Moment
This issue of W2Knews contains:
- EDITORS CORNER
- TECH BRIEFING
- Why Support Often Counts The Most: Executive Excellence.
- NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
- MS Down - Wednesday: a typo / Thursday&Friday: DoS Attacks
- How Bad Were PC Sales in 2000?
- Dell Website Features StorageCeNTral White Paper
- NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
- Secure Idle W2K-Users With the New Fortress-NT/2000 V3.0
- Sick & Tired Of Having To Mess With Logon Scripts?
- NEW - High-End Batch Processing with ActiveBatch
- W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
- This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
- PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
- A+ Certification Test by Comp TIA
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Never A Dull Moment
Never a dull moment in this industry. Rapid change all over the
place. It's been a busy week again and MS was scrambling to keep
its websites up. Below is what happened and what can be learned
from their mistakes. Some other interesting things are that we
have put our whole website behind a Cisco PIX firewall now, and
the new back-end Database of our website is a brand new Dell box
running W2K with SQL 7 and a RAID set. It's blisteringly fast.
We will soon come out with our HTML newsletter. I got a bunch
of feedback on this of people that were concerned. Well I have
good news. It's going to be a separate list so you can choose
if you want HTML or text.
The SysAdmin browser was field tested by the NTSYSADMIN list, and
it was almost uniformly decided by that list that this puppy was
not yet ready for prime time, so we are not releasing it yet as it
needs some more work! OK, let's have a look at this week's news.
PS, I'm sending this out with a new version of Lyris, but it's
not sure if it will come through, so this issue may need to be
resent. Don't be surprised if you get it twice in your mailbox.
(email me with feedback: [email protected])
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Why Support Often Counts The Most: Executive Excellence.
This is a story from a user that was sent to me completely uninvited
but it was so good that I thought I'd share it with you. At the very
end I have a link with a fully updated comparison for the leading
defraggers on the market in a grid form.
"We all have horror stories. Late, Lousy, Loudmouthed, Lackadaisical
support... That's life in the Tech lane. This particular story is
about excellence, dedication and hard-headed insistence on customer
satisfaction, backed up by a corporate policy that knows no limits
when it comes to making the product work.
A long time ago, I bought Executive Software's Diskeeper. It took
a while, but, together with Tim Payne - their HelpDesk rep - I got
it working satisfactorily on Microsoft's SBS. Subsequent upgrades
through Diskeeper 5.3 required minimal support That support was
prompt, courteous and efficient. Then came Version 6.
This new and improved version had many nice features, but refused
to defrag more than a few percent of the heavily fragmented files
on one of my partitions. On all the other partitions it worked fine.
Did I mention that this upgrade came along just in time for my new
invention - the M: drive?
The M: drive on my server is a 6 GB, compressed, NTFS, fault-tolerant
mirror volume set. Its sole purpose is to act as a primary online
backup for workstations. Every night, three whole workstation par-
titions are backed up to the M: drive. The backup software synchs
three subdirectories on M: to the three partitions I back up. It
also maintains a two-level archive of any changes made (i.e. deleted
or modified files) in three more subdirectories.
This lets me undo up to three days back, without resorting to weekly
tapes. Thus, M: always contains exact images of three workstation
drives, any of which can be simply copied back to restore a machine
to an earlier (pre-catastrophic) state. I also keep several large
.ZIP files on the M: drive. These files range from 7 to 40 MB each.
When they get fragmented, they virtually eat up the disk surface.
All in all, M: contains around 76000 files of various sizes, in
nearly 6000 directories, interspersed in a hopeless tangle of self-
refragmenting 4096-byte (8-sector) clusters. Frankly, I'm surprised
that any defragmentation program can straighten out this mess.
I initially tried some other products like Ontrack's JetDefrag and
Norton Speed Disk, but I was stuck with Diskeeper for now. While
these tests with other tools were going on, I had been quietly
corresponding and working with Tim Payne of Executive Software, UK.
Over a period of approximately a month, Tim walked me through a nerve-
wrecking series of tests and procedures. Since this is my only server, we had to be very careful with experiments. I couldn't afford to have the office down, just because of a few tests the guy might want. Tim read through myriads of logs, scanned hosts of screen-capture images and, eventually (apparently working together with Executive's programmers) supplied the required solution.
Diskeeper 6 now runs rapidly, efficiently and effectively on my
worst-configured volume - the formidable M: drive. After a single
manual run, the whole disk was defragmented, but was still full of
directories, randomly sprawling all over the platters. A boot-time
run with Diskeeper's directory consolidation option took care of
that. M: is now just an ordinary NTFS disk that gets itself
optimized whenever the SmartScheduler feels like it (several times
a day, according to my NT Event Log).
The server "seems" to run faster, since the new DKP 6.0 was installed
and nightly backups glide through with much less acousticlicking (the
clacking sound a self-eroding hard disk makes as it gradually destroys
In the process of diagnosing the problem, Tim carefully explained
every aspect of what we were doing. Not only the Hows, but also the
Whys. I found this (and Tim's inexhaustible patience) an educational
and practical experience, at two levels. First, I learned many new
things about the internal workings of NTFS, including security and
other aspects of the system. This alone made Diskeeper well worth
the money I had paid for it. But I also learned a lot about good
Keeping a (frustrated) customer's attention on a difficult technical
issue, over a long period of time, without ever talking down and with
not the slightest inkling of arrogance, is something I've come to
appreciate and now strive to apply in my own relations with clients.
Executive Software (for whom I don't work, but maybe I should) cares
enough about one Small Business user (with only 10 licenses), to spend
whatever salary Tim Payne earns, just to ensure that the product I
bought from them will do the job I want it to do - under extremely
Was I just lucky to have met Tim? I don't think so. Tim certainly
outdid himself in handling my problem professionally, with expertise
and persistence, above and beyond. No doubt about that. But every
person I had any contact with, at Executive Software, was courteous,
patient and helpful. That's not dumb luck. It's an outright, top-down,
corporate statement of commitment. That, is what I call SERVICE."
Here's the update with the most recent 'Defragger Feature Shootout'.
NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
MS Down - Wednesday: a typo / Thursday&Friday: DoS Attacks
It was all over the news, and even the Wall Street Journal reported
on it. This is what I have been able to make out of it. I may be a
bit wrong, but I'm not far off.
Wednesday one of their techs screwed up and made a small error in
the configuration of their DNS routers. (these devices are kind of
in between MS and the Internet) and this error made the links between
www.microsoft.com and their IP address http://22.214.171.124 invisible for the rest of the Net.
When this became to light, it suddenly became clear to the hacker
community that the four MS DNS servers were all on the same subnet,
so they decided to launch a focused Denial of Service on those
machines, and WHAM they all went dark again. Well, we learned another
lesson here. Never have a single point of vulnerability if you want
to stay in the air. If you do, you get swiftly punished for it.
So, put some procedures in place for a sign-off by a manager that
knows his stuff after crucial changes like this are made, or have
a colleagues sidecheck what is being done. Next, make sure your DNS
servers are redundant (Sunbelt was bitten by this too). I just found
out a site called http://www.secondary.com that provides this. Check
it out. And obviously they did not have a disaster recovery plan
in place in case DNS conked out. MS-Guys, you should have done
what I told you in W2Knews Issue #1 this year!
How Bad Were PC Sales in 2000?
The numbers are in. The two '800-pound Sumo Wrestlers' of the IT
industry analysts (IDC and Dataquest) came out with their year 2000
figures. Their numbers were somewhat different but they show the
big ugly picture: PC market saturation.
IDC claimed that the US PC market grew only 0.3%. Gartner was
somewhat more positive and said 10.3% growth in the US for 2000.
The world wide estimates were respectively 9.2% and 14.5%. And
who were victorious in during this period? Dell grew an estimated
30% in boxes shipped and HP did approx 20%. Who lost? Compaq.
Keep in mind that these are the total of business _and_ consumer
PC's. The scene in Servers is different and I'll talk about that
in one of the coming issues.
Dell Website Features StorageCeNTral White Paper
Dell has been selling storage area networking gear that they OEMed
from EMC for a while. But now they have released their own stuff,
which was developed in house. It's called the PowerVault 660F, and
is an (up to) 70 Terabytes SAN that allows 20 servers to connect.
It's cheaper than the EMC stuff by a long shot but they will continue
to sell the EMC gear at least for a while.
They have designed it from 14 Fibre Channel disk drives, it's all
in one box, and Dell said that the price comes to be about four-and-
a-half cents per MB, which is actually about half of the competition.
Entry level systems start at about $45K which is affordable if you
compare the stuff that is on the market at the moment.
Dell also came out with an included bunch of software for backup/
restore/recovery for Netware and NT/W2K and package that lets multiple clusters share a single PowerVault 660F. And how to keep track of all that NT/W2K storage and make sure it does not get out of control? Well, they like StorageCeNTral (SC) and put a white-paper on their website that describes what SC does. Read the white paper and find out why 78 of the Fortune 100 (including Microsoft) decided for SC's patented TruStor I/O quota filter technology: Here is the Dell link
THIRD PARTY NEWS
Secure Idle W2K-Users With the New Fortress-NT/2000 V3.0
"The simplest and most effective way to prevent security breaches".
Despite the fact that very elaborate and powerful solutions exist to
make sure hackers do not enter your networks, a very high percentage
of security breaches come from a very down to earth cause: your users
are leaving their workstations with confidential information on the
screen or readily accessible.
Apart from the security issue, a user that logs on in the morning in
your environment with concurrent licensing and grabs a batch of
licenses is a resource hog. This can add unnecessary costs and eats
your budget in additional license expenses.
The solution: Fortress-NT/2000. It provides several flexible but
tamperproof security enhancements to Windows NT/2000 Workstations
and Servers to limit workstation access, guarantee that unattended
workstations get locked, and idle users are logged off. Key
- Idle Logout Screen Saver ? logs out idle users after a period of
inactivity that only YOU can set.
- Guarantee that a password-protected screen saver is always enabled, with a maximum specifiable delay. This goes beyond the enforcement possible with the domain-wide policies, closing some gaps that are left open. Fortress-NT also allows the user to specify a shorter timeout, if desired.
- Enforcement of logon/logoff times, with more flexible settings
than those offered by standard Windows NT/2000 user management;
Fortress-NT also lets you specify the duration of a user?s session
(e.g., logon session cannot last longer than 30 minutes).
- Remote administrative control: You as an Admin can log off a
user remotely, start a password-protected screen saver on a remote
workstation, view workstation and logon session information, or
update Fortress-NT policies on the fly.
- Specify different policies based on time of day and/or NT group
- FortLock utility that lets users quickly lock their workstation
or logoff with a simple button click, taskbar icon click, or
hotkey press. Additional information about FortLock is available
from it's online help file.
- Tamper-proof. Users cannot defeat or override Fortress-NT
- Very small memory footprint, with no discernable impact on
The powerful remote control features of the FortressConfig app allow
you as an admin to send policy sets to remote workstations. These
policies allow you to define a daily schedule determining when the
secure screen savers are turned on, plus other settings like when
an idle user should be logged out. It's also important to note
that you can define multiple policies for different groups, so you
can set different levels of security based on NT/2000's own group
memberships. Finally, version 3.0 allows you to lock a workstation
remotely, as well as forcibly logoff a user session remotely.
This V3.0 has become a pretty useful piece of software. 30-day trial:
Sick & Tired Of Having To Mess With Logon Scripts?
The new version 3.0 of ScriptLogic has turned out to be a major hit.
This is a great new version if you are sick and tired of logon
script coding. Most of you are using Windows NT Shell Scripts,
VBScript/JScript, Perl, or WinBatch and they usually are a 'time-
sink' headache. You're a system admin, not a programmer!
If you have never looked at something to make Logon Scripts easier,
this is the time to do it. ScriptLogic V3.0 takes centralized client
administration to a new plateau. The new Pro Edition adds a great
many features, including:
A more granular 3-part validation logic system that now allows
you to validate each function (drive map, printer deployment,
security policy, Internet, MS Office setting, registry change,
etc.) based on:
- Group membership.
- Domain membership.
- Active Directory Site membership.
- A specific user's logon ID.
- A specific workstation name or subset of workstations based
on a partial name match.
- A TCP/IP host address or subnet.
- A distinguished TCP/IP host name.
- A NIC's MAC address.
- A specific client OS type, including W95/98, NT/2000 WS, SV
or Terminal Server client.
- Whether the client connected over the local area network or
via dial-up networking.
A new Service Manager applet, that allows you to:
- Globally monitor the status of the RPC services on all your
- Start, stop and configure the startup parameters of the
- Remotely install and uninstall the RPC services on all the Domain
controllers throughout your enterprise from a single location.
- Monitor the replication status of any changes made to the
ScriptLogic configuration through the ScriptLogic Manager.
A new System Options screen that allows you to:
- Specify the conditions which must be met prior to executing
ScriptLogic (e.g. exclude all servers).
- Control the client application files update behavior.
- Easily import your own company graphic to display during
the logon process.
- Specify particular servers to locate the ScriptLogic and
KiXtart RPC services on.
- Edit the text of the warning message boxes that are seen by
the clients logging on. (Internationalization).
- The ability to install service packs to your Windows NT WS,
even if the user logging on is NOT a local administrator of
- The ability to synchronize the time on Windows NT/2000 clients,
even if the user logging on does not have the "Change the
system time" right on their local machine.
And check the ScriptLogic V3.0 webpage for the features of the
earlier upgrade from 2.0 to 2.5. You should really download this
puppy and have a look at this great time saver. Eval copy at:
NEW - High-End Batch Processing with ActiveBatch
ActiveBatch is a brand new one-stop solution to your Enterprise
Cross-Platform Job Scheduling needs. Jobs can execute in an
unattended, secure and reliable manner. ActiveBatch, designed
from the ground up for Windows 2000/NT, supports the flexible
scheduling of jobs using Date/Time and Event (using Microsoft's
built-in WMI) triggers.
Jobs can be scheduled based on hardware or software event(s).
ActiveBatch's scaleable architecture and workload balancing
provides for the efficient use of system resources. Restart/
Recovery and "failover" ensure your jobs complete on-time.
ActiveBatch's COM-based infrastructure also supports easy Web-
enabled access. You can download a full-function evaluation copy
including the full ActiveBatch User's Guide"
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
Want to move to W2K on your servers, but not ready for Active Dir.?
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Lost a Password? Check out both of these sites:
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