Vol. 19, #5 - February 3, 2014 - Issue #965
More Remote Login Solutions
- Editor's Corner
- Got tips?
- Free eBooks: Now on the Microsoft Virtual Academy Site
- More Remote Login Solutions
- Tip of the Week: Redefining Map Drives and Speeding up User Logins
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Asia Pacific
- Webcast Calendar
- MSExchange.org: Office 365 Online Conference
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Enterprise IT
- Sharepoint, Exchange, and Office
- System Center
- Windows Server News
- Is it time for a private cloud tune-up?
- A DaaS market cost comparison
- Hypervisors have limits: What not to virtualize
- Five steps for successful bot removal from enterprise desktops
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Don't Let Bandwidth Hogs Slow Down Your Network
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
Last week's newsletter Issue #964 Remote Login to Desktop PCs generated so much excellent feedback and suggestions from readers that we've decided to devote another issue of WServerNews to this topic. Isn't it great that we, the editors of your favorite newsletter, actually *listen* to what you, our beloved readers, have to say? After all, as this Dilbert comic illustrates, being receptive to feedback often isn't a characteristic of corporate life:
The Tip of the Week in this issue was submitted by reader Joseph Moody, who previously contributed the guest editorial for Issue #944 Automating Driver Deployment back in August of last year. Be sure to check out Joseph's tip, and while you're at it why not send us one of your own tips for inclusion in our newsletter? We credit submitters by name and can include a short bio with links to your website, blog, Twitter or LinkedIn page. Note that all submissions must be original content and must not have been previously published elsewhere.
Free eBooks: Now on the Microsoft Virtual Academy site!
You can now find all the latest FREE EBOOKS from Microsoft Press on a new landing page at the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Be sure to bookmark this page and return to it periodically to download the latest FREE EBOOKS on Microsoft products and technologies.
And now on to some of the terrific feedback we've received from readers concerning solutions for remotely logging on to desktop PCs...
More Remote Login Solutions
Ian, an IT Project Manager in the UK, sent us the following feedback:
Great article on Remote Login tools. These are vital, not only for business, but for us IT pros who don't get to clock off, and who are at the beck and call of relatives who "can't get the magic box to make that internet thing work"!
One tool that I use at work, but which also is available for free, is Join Me:
It's a great little tool, with tons of features for business users, but which also has a free version that is just right for showing dad how to launch his email...Definitely worth a look.
Keep up the good work!
Have any other readers used this tool? What do you think of it?
Brian, who works with a transportation company in the USA, shared his own recommendations as follows:
This newsletter was very timely. I'm in the same boat as many others…scrambling trying to find an alternative to LogMeIn. I spent the entire weekend testing alternate solutions. Following are the three that I tested.
Remote Utilities by Usoris Systems
I never heard of this one prior to my search however I decided to look at them because in direct reaction to LogMeIn's announcement they changed their licensing to allow their product to be used free for business on up to 10 Remote PCs. I was surprised at how much I liked this one and actually decided to use this for one of the smaller businesses I support and for my home.
I know you mentioned this one but wanted to provide some feedback since I tested this for about 16 hours. This is an awesome product. With the new Web Management Console that they built in version 9 and the ability to use an iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows 8 Phones (I have one so I was excited about this) makes this one a very slick contender. The performance is top notch. I was a little disappointed at the amount of dialog boxes a user has to click on when installing the host so that you can access a machine at anytime. Remote Utilities was one click and done. The biggest issue I see with this one is their licensing/cost model. If you want three concurrent sessions you pay $2,839 one time cost….until a new major version comes up. Then be prepared to pay again. A lot of bad reviews on this aspect which makes me nervous.
I'm still in the process of testing this one but wanted to send to you since most of us only have a couple days left on our LogMeIn accounts. All I can say is Wow so far. You may want to share with others and have them try it out. The link I provided shows a comparison of this product with Bomgar, LogMeIn Rescue, TeamViewer, GoToAssist, WebEx, CrossLoop and VNC.
Wow, thanks for the excellent reviews and suggestions!
A reader named Ulf in Luxembourg suggested another solution:
I have been using Radmin for several years and it works flawless:
A reader named Bruce who owns a consulting company suggested a built-in Microsoft solution could be right for some customers:
This could be a case for setting up Windows Server 2012 Essentials. It has Remote Access built in and it works quite well:
I have several business (and my home office) set up with it and using it for over a year now. Along with the built in backup (which backs up the clients as well as the server) it makes a compelling case for setting one up. It's very reasonably priced for the features included and using the built in wizards not hard at all to set up.
Along the same lines another reader named Allen from New York State said:
I'm surprised you didn't mention Microsoft Remote Web Workplace. I was recently surprised to find a small business using LogMeIn when they already owned Remote Web Workplace but didn't know it. Remote Web Workplace allows you to logon to any machine in the local area network that is turned on. The machine does not have to be left with someone logged in.
For readers who aren't aware, Remote Web Workplace is a feature of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) that allows users to remotely log into a front-end network-facing portal of the server:
Another reader named Michael suggested this solution:
I use splashtop!
It is a paid subscription.....works awesome.
Tom, who works in Engineering IT Support for a university in Texas, USA, suggested another solution:
I use CrossLoop to support friends and family across the US.
The biggest advantage is the quick setup and the easy configuration to navigate NAT routers and other networking equipment while still maintaining security.
The reliable VNC is the base technology, but the users never see the VNC controls. You open CrossLoop, select the share password and send that info to the helper. The helper opens CrossLoop and enters those numbers. The CrossLoop server handles the details of the connection, so there's no worry about telling non-techies how to connect through a NAT router. I've done software training, support calls, and even done some Photoshop on the remote desktops. There's a little lag, but it's been very reliable and extremely handy.
Dave, an Engineering Manager based in New Jersey, shared the following idea for Cisco customers:
If you are a business and already have Webex for your conferencing and live support tool, then Webex Remote Access is a cheap add-on ($5 per connection per month):
The performance is not necessarily the best, the admin screens have too many options for tweaking and not very intuitive, but at this cost of the add-on, it works good enough. One feature I like, for which I am not sure other such tools can do easily, is that for Windows, the Webex Remote Access client app loads at Windows startup, so if I need to login a customer's PC and debug device drivers, and they BSOD Windows, as long as I have automatic restart enabled, and can log back in knowing the Windows login password, I can regain control after a catastrophic Windows OS failure. We've need this in the past when remote debugging device drivers overseas with different time zones like the UK and Japan.
I can even use this same tool also if the PC has domain login which may be difficult with tools like TeamViewer. For example, you can make any Windows machine automatically login at start up, but not if it is on a domain. I have my desk PC in the office setup for Webex Remote Access which has a separate set of passwords and security to login, but then I can login to my domain in the office after establishing a connection, then doing a Windows login (which shows as the first screen after the remote session is established).
That's an interesting point about remote login capability for domain users. I wonder how many of the solutions recommended here by our readers might not work or be cludgy when the users involved are in an Active Directory environment? Send us your thoughts at [email protected] if you have any further feedback on this matter.
Eric, who is a Coordinator of Technology and Media for a library in New York State, pointed out the following to us:
I was surprised that the grandaddy of them all, Go To My PC, was not in your list of popular remote desktop access programs:
I have used it successfully for ten years with hardly any problems. Shortly after I purchased it for myself, Go To My PC offered my company a deal on multiple licenses that was so good that no other paid product has ever been able to make us a comparable offer. Of course, the price has gone up a bit since then, but it's still a great deal for us.
Finally, TeamViewer got another vote from reader Jon who is based in Edmonton, Canada, who said:
I'm a big fan of TeamViewer for remote access to Windows desktop and laptop machines. I use it all the time to support my relatives.
What your WServerNews Remote Login to Desktop PCs article did not mention was the TeamViewer Apps that let you access these same machines from a SmartPhone. Lots of people do Apps, but TeamViewer even has a Windows Phone app! As a Windows Phone or Die kinda guy, that is important to me. Though I will admit that I haven't yet made the effort to figure out exactly what finger movements are necessary to actually control a Desktop from a Smartphone. But as a retired I.T. guy who started programming in 1971 and got his Computer Science degree in 1974, I'm allowed to take things slowly.
Take it easy, Jon, and enjoy your semi-retirement providing remote tech support for your relatives ;-)
Send us feedback
Got more feedback on this topic? Let us know at [email protected]
This week's tip was submitted by reader Joseph Moody and is aimed at IT admins that still have traditional file servers and how they can resolve some of the issues associated with using drive mappings.
My users love to complain about login times. I am sure that I am not alone in this. The faster their phones and tablets get, the more ancient our desktops seem to be. I tried explaining that desktops do more than a mobile device. At login, their settings are being customized, printers are being installed, and network drives are being mapped. To appease the masses, I started investigating some slower logons.
Most of the time, a logon takes just over a minute. By using the Group Policy Operational Event logs (available on Vista+ machines), I can see which Client Side Extension (CSE) is eating up the logon. For us, drive mappings were the culprit. The screenshot below shows one particularly bad logon where Drive Mappings took 42 seconds to finish!
By redefining how our users connect to these legacy shares and streamlining certain policies, I was able to significantly reduce logons. Here is what I did:
Trim the Fat First!
The ultimate way to speed up the Drive Mappings CSE is to stop using mapped drives. For the most part, my users won't let me make such a radical shift so quickly. There are ways to speed up processing without major changes though.
First, I needed to get a list of all GPOs containing Group Policy Drive Maps. In the Group Policy Management Console, I can right click on my domain name (Test.local) and select search. From here, I can create a list of all GPOs containing a certain CSE.
I saw that many of my drive mappings were set to Replace instead of Create or Update. Changing these to Create can speed up login times.
I also noticed that many drive mappings pointed to specific sub-folders within a central folder. For example, we had a folder named HR Data but had separate drive mappings for the five sub-folders. By replacing those mappings with a single top level one, machines processed 4 fewer preferences! These changes took 15 seconds off the average initial logon!
Using Alternative Ways
Some of our departments are more tech savvy than others. We are testing alternative mappings for these users in an effort to further decrease logon times. One promising method is by using the Favorites location in Windows Explorer (as pictured below).
The items in this pane are stored within %UserProfile%\Links. I am redirecting this folder (with a .3 second logon impact) to a network share. By using PowerShell, I can prepopulate this folder with "mapped drives" based on security groups!
When using the Links folder this way, certain departments have zero mapped drives! This means faster logons and helps shift how our users use resources. Our ultimate goal is to convert all of our legacy drive mappings into background driven connections (like you see above)! Now I just need a way to make my printer connections faster.
About Joseph Moody
Joseph Moody spends his days figuring out how to better manage 6,000 computers. His solutions can be found at his blog at:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
Here are some books to check out on administering different Microsoft server platforms:
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Administration
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Administration Instant Reference
Mastering Microsoft Lync Server 2013
Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Inside Out: Connectivity, Clients, and UM
Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Inside Out: Mailbox and High Availability
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Installation and Configuration Guide
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 - Das Handbuch
Professional Microsoft IIS 8
Mastering System Center 2012 Operations Manager
Microsoft Private Cloud Computing
Microsoft Virtual Academy
On-demand from MVA: Two New System Center Courses
Learn to increase your organization's productivity by enabling access to corporate resources, regardless of location or device used with this new Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) course: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2 & Windows Intune:
Gain a deep and well-rounded understanding of ITIL for IT Professionals offered in System Center 2012 R2 and how these offerings help ensure success for your company with this new course: System Center 2012 R2: ITIL for IT Pros:
Quote of the Week
"You cannot sell what people do not want to buy." --Akio Morita in his book "Made in Japan"
Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.
Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
Server performance problems? Find out why with FactFinder Express. See whether the issue is a slow app, slow SQL requests, or a CPU/Memory/Disk bottleneck. 30 day free trial.
Monitor and report on Remote Desktop & XenApp sessions on your network. Audit teleworkers, licensing/app use, performance, & more. Perfect for corporate networks, MSP/Cloud Providers, & SaaS vendors.
Microsoft Power Query for Excel is an Excel add-in that enhances the self-service Business Intelligence experience in Excel by simplifying data discovery and access:
Wake On LAN Manager lets you add a list of computers behind a firewall and wake them up on demand:
Lync Conference 2014 on February 18-20, 2014 at The Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada
SharePoint Conference 2014 on March 3-6, 2014 at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada
NEW! - Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014 on March 4-7, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia
NEW! - Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC 2014) on March 30-April 2, 2014 in Austin, Texas
NEW! - Microsoft Build Developer Conference (Build 2014) on April 2-4, 2014 in San Francisco, California
TechEd North America on May 12-15, 2014 in Houston, Texas
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
NEW! - Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
European SharePoint Conference on May 5-8, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
Add your event
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MSExchange.org: Office 365 Online Conference
- Hear from a top analyst from Osterman Research with the latest survey research on Office 365 & MS Exchange top trends and challenges
- Learn how vendors are solving some of the biggest Office 365 Exchange issues and problems
- Get answers to your questions from the expert panel of Microsoft MVPs.
All from the convenience of your office, on March 6, 2014
This unique, online conference is limited to 1,000 participants, so register today!
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
We'll start off this week with some links to where you can find more info about setting up SkyDrive Pro to sync to your Office 365 subscription:
Extreme Density: 5,768 Hosted Shared Desktops in a single Blade Chassis (The Citrix Blog)
Deliver a Windows application to 500 users (The Citrix Blog)
Cisco Launches Desktop as a Service (Data Center Knowledge)
Amazon Enters Desktop Virtualization Market With WorkSpaces (Data Center Knowledge)
Enterprise Threat Encounters: Scenarios and Recommendations – Part 1 (Microsoft Security Blog)
Maximizing Your Virtual Machine Density in Hyper-V (Part 3) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Download Linux Integration Services 3.5 for Hyper-V (4Sysops)
Get notified if your email account has been caught up in data breaches (WindowsNetworking.com)
Free tool that allows you to analyze PDF files (WindowsSecurity.com)
SharePoint, Exchange and Office
Setting up ADFS 3.0 (Server 2012 R2) for Office 365 (Office 365 Evangelist)
Product Review: DirectRestore for Exchange (MSExchange.org)
Database Configuration for Maximum SharePoint Performance (Video, Slide and PowerShell Script) (Third Tier)
SCOM 2012 R2 – PowerShell To Determine Agent Required Disk Space (stefanroth.net)
SCOM 2012 – Maintenance Mode Console Tool V 1.0 (stefanroth.net)
ConfigMgr 2012 – OSD Front End (ConfigMgr System Center)
Is it time for a private cloud tune-up?
When it comes to the private cloud, a lot of organizations take a "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach; however, it's critical to periodically check in and tweak your configurations to ensure that your systems continue to run smoothly and your users' needs are met. Find out why inside.
A DaaS market cost comparison
As the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) market continues to grow, it is becoming a challenge to sort through the countless vendors and offerings available. Fortunately, this exclusive tip does the work for you – inside, explore a detailed cost comparison of four of the top vendors in the DaaS market today.
Hypervisors have limits: What not to virtualize
Just because you can virtualize almost any workload, doesn't mean you should. You have to consider key factors when determining what to virtualize to ensure it's worth the time and effort the process requires. Access this exclusive guide to learn how to recognize your virtualization limits.
Five steps for successful bot removal from enterprise desktops
Bot infections are becoming an increasingly pressing concern for today's IT pros – but there are ways to minimize the security risks they introduce. Inside this essential guide, explore five key steps that can help you effectively respond to advanced malware infections and successfully conduct bot removal.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
The Royal Netherlands Army testing the brakes on one of its Leopard tanks:
Outdoor fitness in Russia and the Ukraine. Exercising outdoors provides fresh air and is a lot more fun!
The ferry 'Ostend Spirit' hits the beach for demolition in Aliaga Turkey:
A compilation of some amazing, funny and outrageous scenes that you can't see anywhere else in the World - only in Russia!
A mailman gets into a battle with a ferocious cat while attempting to deliver the mail:
WServerNews - Editors
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 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-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 www.mtit.com