Vol. 19, #44 - November 3, 2014 - Issue #1004
Power plan considerations
- Editor's Corner
- Save these electrons!
- From the Mailbag
- Power plan considerations
- Tip of the Week - Playing DVD movies on Windows 8 or later
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Security and Privacy
- SharePoint, Exchange and Office
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- Three things that will kill your cloud
- How does Hyper-V differ from VMware ESXi?
- Can you trust your DaaS provider’s IT staff?
- Save time and effort with preventative troubleshooting
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- The Most Epic Airline Safety Video Ever Made
- Magic At Cabaret Television Show In Istanbul Turkey
- Amazing Circle Illusion
- How To Draw A Perfect Circle
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Running Hyper-V? Free Hyper-V Backup for WServerNews subscribers
- 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!
This week's newsletter is all about considerations for implementing power plans in Windows Enterprise clients. We welcome Jeff Stokes, who was formerly a Senior Premier Field Engineer at Microsoft and has contributed the guest editorial on this topic. While power plans are important for an enterprise, perhaps even more important is empowering your employees. Let's see what we can learn about this subject of empowerment from the Dilbert comic strip:
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at [email protected]
Save these electrons!
Keith Mayer has just finished his 32-part blog series called Modernizing Your Infrastructure with Hybrid Cloud, check it out:
It's definitely worth a read or at least a quick lookthru if you're thinking about deploying a hybrid cloud solution for your organization. Our thanks to Chuck Timon of Microsoft for pointing this out to us.
From the Mailbag
Last week in Issue #1003 POODLE for Windows admins, I mentioned in the Tip of the Week section that I now advise all my friends and relatives to change the Windows Update settings on their PCs from "Install updates automatically (Recommended)" to "Download updates but let me choose whether to install them." Then I tell them that when the Windows Update popup appears in their taskbar notification area, they should wait a week and haunt the Microsoft Answers forums to see whether any problems have been discovered with the newly released updates before they go ahead and install the updates on their PCs. A reader named Amaziah suggested that such a strategy is equally important in business environments:
Mitch, I wait until the end of each month to do Windows Update on all our systems.
This if course makes perfect sense because not only should you watch for any concerns about newly released updates, you should also test the updates to ensure they don't break your existing applications and workflows. Such testing takes time and effort however, and my observation is that many organizations don't have a standardized process for testing new updates before they roll them out in their production environments. What do our readers do in this area? Share your comments with us at [email protected]
Concerning the POODLE vulnerability which was the main topic of last week's newsletter, a reader who is experienced in information security but prefers to remain anonymous shared the following comment with us:
Steve Gibson goes into great detail as to why the Poodle attack is wildly unlikely in the TWIT Security Now! Podcast #478. A transcript is available at:
See "Poodle Bites" on that page for links to the podcast and transcript.
Finally, way back in Issue #999 When Microsoft calls YOU, we talked about a scam that seems to be going around these days, namely someone who says they're from Microsoft Support and tells you your computer has been infected with malware and you need to follow their instructions and/or pay money immediately or the FBI or RCMP or Interpol or whatever will soon be pounding on your door. An observant reader pointed out to us that Microsoft has a blog post that tells people how they can report such a scam when it happens to them:
Please help secure the online world outside your company network's perimeter (i.e. the Rest of the World or RotW) by spreading the word about this blog post far and wide on social media so your friends and relatives and even your sworn enemies can keep their home PCs safe from this kind of scam. Remember, the more the RotW gets hacked, the greater the level of attack your company's network will likely experience.
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter...
Power plan considerations
Starting in Windows 7 (well perhaps in Windows Vista but I digress), Windows shipped with a default power plan of "Balanced". Whilst many accept this for a default setting and move on with their lives, some of us spend time optimizing for performance. There is a philosophical difference at play here I think.
On one hand, one could observe Windows ships at Balanced and say "Microsoft knows best, they wrote Windows after all" and leave it at that. But as an astute purveyor of critical crisis situations in OS land might opine, Windows unconfigured for its workload is misconfigured--though in my opinion this becomes less true as you venture into the more recent Operating System releases.
What sort of performance gain can we really observe in Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2? Or newer OSes for that matter? It can be significant. I've seen 10-20% performance gains by modifying the power plan to High Performance from Balanced. Particularly on CPU intensive hosts. The guides for Performance Tuning dance around the subject somewhat in my opinion. They are located here and are worth looking at:
Balanced vs high performance
If we look at the base differences of the power plans "Balanced" and "High performance" in the GUI however of Windows 7 SP1 for example, we don't see much difference. So what's the big deal? Because the UI isn't telling you everything, that's why.
PCI Express "Link State Power Management" is either OFF (in the case of High Performance) or "Moderate power savings" (in the case of Balanced). What does this setting mean? It means if storage isn't busy, Windows uses a power conservation scheme to reduce power draw on the system bus.
But is this really all that the change does? Nope! If we do a powercfg -Q at an elevated command prompt, new differences appear. Particularly Subgroup GUID 5433251-82be-4824-96c1-47b60b740d00 (Processor power management) and its Min and Max processor power states. Compare what you see below for the "Balanced" plan:
Figure 1: Some output from powercfg -Q for a Balanced power plan.
with the same settings for the "High performance" plan as shown here:
Figure 2: Some output from powercfg -Q for a High Performance power plan.
Note the difference for Minimum processor state: for AC Power, the value is 5/64 on Balanced vs 64/64 on High.
Does this matter? Well, ask yourself: Does transitioning from one C-State to another matter in performance? Over and over? Absolutely it does. When we enter a C-State other than C0, we're disabling parts of the core to conserve power. We reduce performance at the gain of power efficiency.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for Earth Day and all that. But at some point, the time spent doing work to save power is more valuable than the power saved. Where is that event horizon? It depends on your industry and workload in my opinion.
So if we switch to High Performance instead of Balanced, we're always running the CPU at maximum power (while on AC power). If we are busy working, it may very well make sense to have High Performance enabled. In fact, I'd go a step further and say during normal business hours, it'd make sense to apply a power plan that is performant and during idle times apply a power plan that is very power friendly but is still awake enough to be patched, unless your patching infrastructure is developed enough to apply patches after Magic Packet or WoL is sent.
There are some other considerations too. Heat generation is surely one that should be tested to validate the machine is being adequately cooled. In today's price friendly SSD world, one of the main generators of heat should be going the way of the dodo: the spindle hard drive. With an SSD, power consumption and heat generation are both reduced greatly. In addition productivity boost from moving from HDD to SSD is so great (faster boot times, application launching, and so on) that if you haven't made the move yet to SSDs for your enterprise, you should strongly consider it.
If you cast your mind back several years you might remember "ThrottleGate" where an OEM designed a laptop that under normal or power user usage would overheat. The result was a reduction in CPU from 2.2Ghz to (in some cases) 100Mhz. A firmware update pushed out resolved this issue by throttling the HDD rotational rate. So while the laptop might now take several more minutes to boot, at least the CPU wouldn't overheat and start shutting down in alarm over the heat from the HDD.
HDParm is a tool one can use to look into this and force HDDs to perform at a full performance/reduced acoustic dampening level:
Acoustic dampening was conjured up to make HDDs generate less noise pollution at the expense of performance.
Some Intel and AMD chips also need BIOS and firmware tweaked to maximize performance (or avoid CPU errata re: bugs) that were not addressable via a microcode update. Citrix perhaps has one of the best articles on the subject, using real world examples: Hosts Become Unresponsive with XenServer on Nehalem and Westmere CPUs:
Network can also play a role here, particularly in the form ofiInterrupt modulation and power conservation settings in the NIC. Again, depending on business need, these should be modified or at least examined and due diligence exercised.
If you are trying to manage this, it makes sense to use a GPO unless you are talking about systems that are not domain-joined. Even then however by using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager you might be able to swing some stunts on such systems. For domain-joined systems however, the GPO in question is "Select an Active Power Plan":
One simply enables the setting and chooses a power plan from the active power plan list.
Configuration Manager can do this one better as documented here:
Another great blog post, perhaps more germane to folks without Configuration Manager, is this one:
Finally if you really want to dig into power usage and understand it, this excellent guide hosted at Intel should go a long way towards arming you:
About Jeff Stokes
Jeff Stokes runs WINPERF, a library of tidbits and useful Jeff has written since his departure from Microsoft this year:
He is enthusiastic about VDI, performance and reliability of Windows and also Microsoft Deployment Toolkit deployment methods. You can follow him on Twitter at @WindowsPerf:
Send us feedback
Got comments or questions about this week's newsletter? Let us know at [email protected]
Tip of the Week - Playing DVD movies on Windows 8 and later
Want to pop a DVD movie disk into your Windows 8 laptop and a movie when you're on the road? With Windows 7 and earlier you could use the built-in Windows Media Player to watch DVD movies, but beginning with Windows 8 this functionality has been removed from Windows Media Player. You now have two options:
Fork over a handful of cash to Microsoft so you can download and install Windows Media Center Pack by following these instructions:
Get a free media player that supports playing DVD movie disks. The one most of my geeky colleagues recommend is VLC media player from VideoLAN:
While you're at it, be sure to check our Quote of the Week for this issue.
"I'll be back."
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
If you have Microsoft SQL Server 2014 deployed or you're thinking of deploying it, you might want to get hold of a copy of the book Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Query Tuning & Optimization by Benjamin Nevarez (McGraw-Hill). I recently had opportunity to look through a copy and I found some helpful info about how to tune a workload using the plan cache that I could use in one environment. The book is well-written and concise with lots of examples that get picked apart in detail so you can understand them. I don't consider myself an SQL guru but over the years I've had to deal with issues like finding expensive queries and dealing with missing indexes, and I wish I'd had a book like this when I faced such issues. You can find the table of contents by clicking Look Inside on the book's cover image on its Amazon page here:
While we're on the topic of SQL Server, here are a few more new titles you can check out:
Mastering SQL Server 2014 Data Mining
SQL Server 2014 Development Essentials
Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Administration
Getting Started with SQL Server 2014 Administration
SQL Server 2014 Backup and Recovery
Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Business Intelligence Development Beginner's Guide
Microsoft Virtual Academy
One announcement this week from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
November 11: Implementing Tabular Data Models
MVA presents "Implementing Tabular Data Models," on November 11 -- an exploration of tabular data models, supported by SQL Server Analysis tools. If you have tons of data and want to build successful self-service analysis and corporate BI solutions, take a deep dive with the experts, including Julie Koesmarno, fresh from the SQL PASS Summit 2014, plus popular author Patrick LeBlanc. Register today!
Quote of the Week
"You should not drink and bake." --Arnold Schwarzenegger in Raw Deal
Until next week,
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Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington, USA
Convergence 2015 on March 16-19 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Microsoft will be hosting an inaugural, unified Microsoft commercial technology conference the week of May 4, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
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Deep Dive into Hyper-V Network Virtualization (Part 3) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Diagnosing Live Migration Failures (Part 3) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Dell Rolls Out Mid-Tier Storage Arrays, Accelerated Flash Appliances (Data Center Knowledge)
Hitachi Data Systems Adds Cloud Tiering To Storage Platform (Data Center Knowledge)
Windows Networking Tricks and Tips (WindowsNetworking.com)
Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure Overview (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Security and Privacy
Just Enough Administration, Step by Step (Building Clouds)
Advanced Persistent Threat Perception and Reaction (Part 1) (WindowSecurity.com)
SharePoint, Exchange and Office
Identity and Authentication in the cloud: Office 2013 and Office 365 (Poster) (Microsoft Download Center)
Product Review: QuadroTech PST FlightDeck (MSExchange.org)
Three things that will kill your cloud
Research suggests cloud projects are failing at alarming rates. So, why are there so many cloud disappointments? Learn about the three leading causes of cloud death in today’s organizations so you can be sure to avoid them in your cloud future.
How does Hyper-V differ from VMware ESXi?
There are several misconceptions about Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESXi – even though both are Type 1 hypervisors, they have very important architectural differences. Learn more about what sets these two apart and decide which one works better for your organization.
Can you trust your DaaS provider’s IT staff?
Cloud security is a top concern for companies considering DaaS, as you must trust your provider’s staff and back-end security measures without first-hand insight. Learn more about concerns that affect trust in DaaS providers, and determine whether or not the rewards are worth the risks.
Save time and effort with preventative troubleshooting
When confronting an IT disaster, there are several actions an administrator can take to reduce damage and keep other looming threats at bay. Learn what these four preventative steps are and how they can help you get through a major IT crisis as unscathed as possible.
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 Most Epic Airline Safety Video Ever Made
The most epic safety video ever made - starring Elijah Wood and Peter Jackson:
Magic At Cabaret Television Show In Istanbul Turkey
Amazing magic at the Turkish cabaret television show 'En Buyuk Show' in Istanbul:
Amazing Circle Illusion
You see the balls rotate in a circle, but if you focus on one ball at a time you will notice that each ball moves in a straight line:
How To Draw A Perfect Circle
Learn this simple technique to help you draw a near perfect circle freehand:
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 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 www.mtit.com.
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.