Vol. 20, #11 - March 16, 2015 - Issue #1021
Reader Feedback: PC failure rate
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- Reader Feedback: PC failure rate
- Security and privacy main obstacle to EU embracing government cloud
- Google Apps Admin security hole plugged
- Smartphone comes with malware preinstalled
- Hacked by a fridge!!
- Send us your feedback
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- This Week's Tips
- Exporting Exchange message tracking, Swedish version
- Risk of delegating Active Directory Recycle Bin
- Summary of WinPE versions
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- WindowsNetworking.com Webinar: How to Take Control of Social Media in 2015
- MSExchange.org Office 365 Online Conference
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Cloud computing
- Enterprise IT
- Security and Privacy
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- Cloud governance key to bypass a breach
- Bigger isn’t always better: Start your VMs small
- VDI disaster recovery options
- Tighten Windows 8.1 security in five simple steps
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- Super Low Pass - Maho Beach - St Maarten
- Mind Blowing Trick Of The Day
- How Many Balloons Does It Take To Stop A Bullet
- The Most Amazing Circus Act - Sokolov Teeterboard Moscow
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
One of our items in last week's newsletter was "Ask Our Readers: PC failure rate" where a reader named Tom told us that he was interested in knowing what other readers of our newsletter have to say concerning the failure rate of desktop and laptop computers. We received a bunch of feedback on this issue so we decided to lead off this week by sharing some of the most interesting and informative reader comments. But there's lots more in this week's issue especially on the topic of cloud security--plus some great tips--so be sure to read it all. And please tell your IT colleagues and friends that they can subscribe to WServerNews by going here:
Speaking of failure rate, it's not only PCs that fail--business plans can fail too. Because of this possibility, Dilbert--who as an engineer always likes to have a backup plan--asks an interesting question: Should you have a plan for what to do if your business plan fails? Read the response from the Pointy-Haired Boss here:
Maybe Dilbert should have planned better how to respond to that response.
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! - Are you in the Netherlands?Kom ook naar Nederlands grootste Microsoft-evenement voor IT-professionals en developers! TechDays 2015 vindt plaats in het World Forum in Den Haag 28 & 29 mei! See the Events Calendar section of this issue of WServerNews for more info!
From the Mailbag
Last week in Issue #1020 Worse than Superfish? I said "What is this???" when I tried binging something and received an "Are you a bot?" reply from Microsoft Bing. I asked if any readers had experienced something similar, and we received a number of replies in response:
I gave up on Bing several months ago because I got that annoyance every time I tried to search for something. Strangely, my wife, who shares the same public IP, never got it. However, she, too, has given up on Bing because recently their search results seem to have become irrelevant. What is happening over there? --Allen from Rome, NY USA
Google Scholar does the same thing if you repeatedly do searches, which some of our research staff do. --Erik from Manhattan, NY USA
The same thing occurred to us with certain sites after we changed a bandwidth provider and we speculated that there was some stale DNS still out there. It worked differently between browsers and seemed to cure itself. --Gordon
I and other techs in our work get these prompts from Google from time to time. From what I know it's due to bad, as in associated with spamming of some type, IP addresses. --Matt
And now on to the main topic of this week's issue...
Reader Feedback: PC failure rate
We'll lead off with this email we received from Mark Douglas, Operations Manager for Creston Valley Computer Services based in Creston, BC Canada.
Lots of variables affecting failure rate. In my experience I have found that "consumer" grade equipment, cheap, low end systems, both desktop and laptop have a significantly failure rate. But where do you start?
Most systems have a hardware failure rate of 0.5%~3% DOA (dead on arrival). The less expensive systems having the higher rate, higher quality/price systems the lower failure rates.
Once a system gets past 30 days (which is including the DOA category) most will get to 1 year with a hardware failure rate of around 2%~5%.
The less expensive systems having the higher failure rate, higher quality/price systems the lower failure rates.
Past one year service however, I find dramatic differences. Expensive, higher end systems seem to have a hardware failure rate hovering around 5%~8% in the second year. Our favourite "El cheapo" systems however start dropping like flies once they reach 18 months in service. 40%~50 of "cheap systems" fail in the second year of use. A cynical person would think the manufacturers are designing cheap systems to fail once they get past the warranty period. Of course all manufacturers have their clients best interests at heart and design all systems for long life! (Sarcasm off)
Cheap systems usually do not get past 4 years service unless they are rarely used, powered down most of the time. High end systems easily reach 6 or more years service with one caveat, hard drives. Hard drives start failing after 2 years and increasing the failure rate for each year after 2 years. I recommend to all business clients change your hard drives after 3 years.
Systems I sell have a zero % DOA failure rate. Why you wonder? Because I burn-in all systems for a minimum 1 week before delivery. The client never sees the failures I do because I replace failed components systems (laptops, etc.) before delivery. I average less than 1% DOA component failures, but I only purchase quality components. I gave up selling "bargain" systems more than 15 years ago. I don't sell very many systems as you can well imagine. I'm too expensive in the minds of far too many people.
People do not remember the cheap price they paid, they only remember "You sold me this piece of c^#p, it's all your fault!" The few clients I sell systems to are frequently bragging to their friends about how reliable their computers are. Of course they cost significantly more than bargain systems.
The preceding opinions are mostly anecdotal, although I have found various studies that concur with my figures, especially for hard drives.
SSD's haven't been in widespread use long enough for the stats to reach critical mass. In my opinion, they appear to live longer than regular hard drives when used and configured properly. Any systems I build with an SSD also has regular hard drives installed.
I configure the system to have all log files, programdata and user folders residing on the regular hard drive (D:). This type of configuration is not supported by Microsoft. Why? The SSD is strictly for the OS and program installs. I configure the OS temporary file locations, browser cache and other such temporary files to be directed to a RAM drive. This is possible because the minimum RAM size I install on desktops is 32 Gigabytes. I reserve 12 Gb for the RAMdisk drive. Works for all of my clients. This configuration boosts performance and reduces load on hard drives leading to a side benefit of increased life, both SSD and spinning hard drives.
My preferred configuration uses RAID1 for spinning hard drives with quality RAID cards by Adaptec or Promise Technologies. Yes there are other manufacturers with good RAID cards. BUT...I have been able to get replacement RAID cards from Adaptec and Promise 5 years after being in service and failing. No luck doing this with other RAID card manufacturers. Being as all of the systems I assemble and sell are for business clients my focus is on reliable operation.
Operating System and Application software failures are entirely a result of user misconfiguration, visiting internet sites they are best advised to stay away from, having children using the computers and using garbage software. "Garbage" software includes using "free" or "cheap" AV, Spyware and Malware software. There is no possible way to rate OS and software "failures" as most of the failures are entirely out of the control of manufacturers.
I have been playing with computers since the 1970's. They have been my exclusive source of income since 1995. Having said that, I do NOT trust computers. I've seen countless changes over this period, not all good. I am seeing the complexity of computer "whatever" increasing complexity without a corresponding increase in benefits. Some might even say there is an inverse relationship between complexity and benefits, but what would I know?
Been a very long term reader, very few comments though. Keep up the good work!
I agree with most of what Mark says here, especially the comment concerning his suspicions that PC hardware manufacturers might be intentionally designing cheaper hardware to fail once it reaches out of warranty. The idea of "planned obsolescence" (PO) actually dates back almost a hundred years to the time of Alfred P. Sloan Jr. heading up General Motors. And while one might think that the goal of PO is simply to force consumers to buy more often to increase business profits, it's interesting that some socialist economists like Bernard London in the 30s even proposed that PO could stimulate the economy and help end the Great Depression! For more on the subject of PO the Wikipedia article is a good starting point:
I disagree however with Mark's suggestion of putting user folders and ProgramData on D drive instead of the usual C drive, though he does point out that this configuration is not supported by Microsoft. Beginning with Windows Vista, the official word from Microsoft has been as follows:
By changing the default location of the user profile directories or program data folders to a volume other than the System volume, you will not be able to service your Windows installation. Any updates, fixes, or service packs will fail to be applied to the installation. Microsoft does not recommend that you change the location of the user profile directories or program data folders.
There is a "supported" way of putting the user profile folders on a different volume and that's by doing it at install time by using some answer file settings. But as KB 929831 points out even this approach has certain hazards associated with it:
And as Ed Bott has demonstrated, if you have your user profile on a different volume and try to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, the upgrade will fail:
I've been told that this upgrade problem will also apply going forward with later versions of Windows, so it's best if you just keep your user profiles and program data folders on C: your system drive.
Another reader named David chimed in with some insightful observations on this subject:
Failure rate also depends a lot on the components themselves. About 15 years ago there was a big problem with capacitors having bad mixtures, which caused air. 50% of the desktops in 2004 had to be replaced due to sudden failure from these capacitors.
Then we have SSD. Most SSD that we had used from 2010~2011 have already died. SSD now are more stable, but all but 1 SSD from them died completely . Only SSD that did not die was an Intel that cost almost 3 of the OCZ and Crucial we were getting.
Something interesting though, is also the miss diagnostic of failure rate. For example, in desktops the report says Motherboards and Hard drives, but I am doing an educated guess that more than half of those motherboard could actually be power supplies. A bad (cheap) power supply will kill other components on the computer, but might not kill the PSU itself. Case in point, I had several Dell computers where the motherboard were replaced several times by Dell, but when I decided to start changing the PSU the motherboards "stopped" dying. Which makes me wonder, how many replacements were unnecessary. To this case in point, one XPS system had 3 motherboard replacements because it had an Nvidia 680L chipset (famous for having a high failure rate). On the fourth fail, I told the technician to replace the PSU, which he refused, so I frankestained the system with a PSU outside the system (XPS has a proprietary format). This specific system has been running 4 years with said "bad" motherboard and a new PSU. (since then I have replaced the case so I could fit everything inside the case).
My own personal computer also had a fried motherboard, RAM and SSD, but this was due to a bad 12 volt rail. I got all components replaced under warranty. In this case though the PSU was neither cheap nor underpowered, the rail just went bad, so Antec even covered the SSD which was not under warranty anymore.
Power Supply is where I see most vendors cutting corners, and this causes most of the problems. Toms hardware did a report on the manufacturing process of PSU, and what causes "cheap" PSU to fail more. A PSU is like the tire/brakes in the car. If you have cheap one, don't be surprised when the car does not stop on time.
The other thing that gets me wondering from the report is to separate failure rate from user failure rate. Meaning, crack screen are usually not a failure on the component, unless a notebook has flawed design that put pressure on it. I own a surface 3, and it has a Yellow tint on the side. That is for me a failure on the component (because it is decaying, with normal use), but if I dropped the tablet, and broke the screen I would not consider it a failure. Sure, we would like better design to avoid crack screens from a drop, but that is an inherent problem with portable devices.
I think that's a terrific observation concerning power supplies. Some of my colleagues who are system builders and PC hobbyists have also told me never to skimp on buying a good power supply when you're building a system.
Here's a bit more reader feedback we've received on this topic:
- I've been using DELL PC's for the past 10 years and I would say my failure rate for the last 3 years is averaging 5-10 percent per year on 75 computers. Before that it was close to zero. Failures are mostly bad hard drives (I have a bunch of Optiplex 990's that fail repeatedly), otherwise it is all dead power supplies and cooling fans. --Erik, Information Technology Manager in Manhattan, NY USA.
- From my experience: Desktops – 5-8 years, although usually around 5 year point the desktop is too slow for newer versions of software. Laptops – when used as a desktop replacement, 3-4 years. When used by mobile users, usually 2-3 years under normal wear and tear. Of course, this can depend on brands. These are mainly for Dell and HP computers. --Tom
If any of you have more you'd like to share on the topic of PC failure rate and hardware reliability, feel free to email us at [email protected]
Now on to a few other interesting news items, mostly about security...
Security and privacy main obstacle to EU embracing government cloud
Nations around the world have made varying progress (if you can call it that) towards moving all of their government services into the cloud. A new report by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) however says that EU countries shouldn't move wholesale in this direction until the numerous security and privacy issues involved have been addressed. This article on Out-Law.com is well worth reading if you're a government official anywhere who is thinking of embracing the cloud delivery model:
Google Apps Admin security hole plugged
IT Governance Blog reports that some researchers found a new vulnerability in the Admin console for Google Apps that can lead to email spoofing attacks.
SecurityWeek reports that Google has plugged this hole and paid the researchers $500 for their efforts in discovering it:
I wonder if it's possible to make a decent living by finding bugs and getting rewarded for reporting them? Seriously though, this is just one more bit of evidence that cloud providers are rushing out their services to customers without adequately testing them to ensure they're secure and protect customer privacy.
Smartphone comes with malware preinstalled
Security Affairs reports that security firm Bluebox has discovered that the Xiaomi Mi 4 smartphone comes with preinstalled malware including a trojan:
I wonder, when the Internet of Things (IoT) takes off, will we need to start worrying about refrigerators coming with trojans preinstalled?
Hacked by a fridge!!
Speaking of refrigerators, Proofpoint has uncovered a cyberattack involving the sending of malicious emails from over 100,000 consumer gadgets that included home routers, multimedia centers, televisions--and even a fridge!
I can just imagine it now: I reach into the fridge on a Friday evening to grab a piece of cold pizza and the door slams shut, breaking my arm--yikes!
Send us your feedback
Got feedback about anything in this newsletter? Let us know at [email protected]
Recommended for Learning - Windows Server 2012 R2 Training Guide
Here are a couple of new titles recently published by Microsoft Press that you might want to check out:
Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure (free ebook!)
Microsoft Office for iPad Step by Step
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Some announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
SharePoint Online Development for Office 365 - March 24, 2015 9am–5pm PDT
If you're a Developer moving from on-premises to the cloud (or even just thinking about it), and you want some practical guidance, check out these instructor-led labs on Office 365 development. Get an in-depth look at the new SharePoint app model, focus on Office 365 APIs and authentication, connect to SharePoint OneDrive for Business, and more.
Data on Azure: A Technology Overview - March 24, 2015 9am–10am PDT
Learn from independent expert David Chappell about the amazing things that businesses are doing with Microsoft Azure data offerings. Check out running an ordinary DBMS in an Azure Virtual Machine, using the managed relational service provided by SQL Database, working with various NoSQL services, and more.
Quote of the Week
"Someone said that a neighbor of his grandmother complained, 'I don't understand why people in foreign countries bother to learn a second language. Why don't they just talk normal?'." --Raymond Chen on his timeless blog The Old New Thing:
Until next week,
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.
Read this free eBook and find out how to calculate the true return on investment (ROI) involved in maintaining traditional storage solutions for email archiving and Exchange management.
TeraCopy lets you copy and move files at the maximum possible speed.
HVRemote simplifies manual configuration of Hyper-V Remote Management and can help diagnose common configuration errors.
The Windows USB/DVD Download tool allows you to create a copy of your Windows 7/8 ISO file on a USB flash drive or a DVD.
This week we have tips on using PowerShell to export message tracking results on Exchange 2007, why you shouldn't delegate the ability to use the undelete objects from Active Directory, and which version of WinPE can be used for deploying each Windows operating system.
Exporting Exchange message tracking, Swedish version
This blog post back in 2008 on the Microsoft Exchange blog demonstrates how you can use Windows PowerShell to export the contents of the Message Tracking Results screen in the Exchange 2007 Management Console:
But what if your Exchange server has the Swedish language pack installed? In that case simply doing this won't work:
The problem is that the exported output will be missing the three extra characters that the Swedish language uses, namely å ä and ö.
The way to fix this is to include the -Encoding parameter with the Export-CSV cmdlet like this:
Get-MessageTrackingLog| Export-CSV-encoding Unicode
As an added tip, you can sort your exported results by TimeStamp like this:
Get-MessageTrackingLog| Sort-Object TimeStamp | Export-CSV-encoding Unicode
Risk of delegating Active Directory Recycle Bin
Delegating certain Active Directory administration tasks to users who are not full Administrators can have certain hazards. One scenario I've heard about is when an admin delegates to a standard user who is the manager of an OU the ability to use Active Directory Recycle Bin to recover objects that were accidentally deleted from their OU in Active Directory. I mean, what could go wrong by simply restoring a deleted object?
My colleague who works in Active Directory administration says don't do this. You might end up with duplicate SPNs, duplicate UPNs, duplicate emails, and so on. So be careful what AD administration tasks you delegate to users who are not members of the Domain Admins group. Here's an old article from TechNet Magazine that explains how to use delegation properly and not cause problems:
If you've delegated permissions but now want to view or remove them, this article on WindowsITPro explains how you can now use Windows PowerShell to do this:
Summary of WinPE versions
The following little reference table for the Windows Preinstallation Environment might be useful when you're performing deployments in an environment that involves several different versions of Windows:
Windows AIK/ADK version
Windows 7 SP1
WinPE 3.1 or newer
Windows 7 AIK
WinPE 4.0 or newer
Windows 8 ADK
WinPE 5.0 or newer
Windows 8.1 ADK
Windows 8.1 Update 1
Windows 8.1 Update ADK
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
Microsoft Build on April 29 - May 1 in San Francisco, California USA
Microsoft Ignite on May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois USA
NEW! - Microsoft TechDays 2015 on May 28-29 in the Hague, Netherlands
Add Your Event
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WindowsNetworking.com Webinar: How to Take Control of Social Media in 2015
Live Webinar: Wednesday, March 18, NOON EDT | 11 AM CDT | 9 AM PDT | 4 PM GMT
Social media has grown from being a curiosity to a mission-critical business application in a very short time. Unfortunately, the increased use of social media and corporate reliance on it is not always accompanied by sufficient IT oversight, sound policy management, or content control – putting companies at enormous risk.
Organizations using multiple social platforms must gain control of compliance, eDiscovery, security, and brand risks before they encounter a serious problem and make headlines in a bad way.
Join Michael Osterman, President of Osterman Research, and Hudson Casson, Product Marketing Manager for Metalogix, for an educational and interactive webinar that will shine a light on the different challenges you may face with social media, highlight key missteps to avoid, and offer some quick wins for IT and the rest of the organization. Discover:
- What are the key legal and compliance risks of social media and what types of organizations are most affected?
- What are the risks you face from doing nothing to address the unfettered use of social media in your organization?
- Do the current policies, data management processes, and technologies apply to social media?
- What are the implications of employee, personal use of social media and unique risks to the organization?
- What are some key steps you can take to protect your social media data and your organization?
- What should you look for in a solution to gain control of social media, and what are some of the key benefits of solutions in cloud?
MSExchange.org Office 365 Conference
This information-packed event is presented by MSExchange.org and is designed for busy IT Professionals within the global Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 Communities, as a convenient and cost-effective opportunity to get the latest information on important Office 365 and Exchange topics from leading experts and vendors.
The online conference takes place on Thursday, March 19, 2015, starting at 10am EDT / 9am CDT / 7am PDT / 2pm GMT.
Join Microsoft MVP J. Peter Bruzesse, who will kick-off the conference with a keynote presentation on What IT Professionals Need to Know about Office 365 Exchange.
Following the Keynote presentation, you can choose from multiple breakout focus sessions featuring experts addressing topics of interest to the Office 365 and Exchange communities. Presentation topics include:
- Best Practices for Migrating to Office 365
- Adopt Office 365 Now, But Address Security Concerns First!
- Third Party Solutions for Managing Exchange on Office 365
- Monitoring and Reporting in Hybrid Environments
- Tips for Overcoming Common Challenges in Cloud & Hybrid Environments
Participation is limited to the first 1,000 registrants, so reserve your spot today!
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
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Compliance and the Cloud: Making a Structurally Dysfunctional Marriage Work (CloudComputingAdmin.com)
TMG VPN: The Cloud Alternative (Part 2) (ISAserver.org)
Discovering AD Trust Topology (Tim Springston)
Microsoft Reinvents Datacenter Power Backup with New Open Compute Project Specification (Microsoft Datacenters Blog)
Troubleshooting Hyper-V Network Virtualization (Part 3) (WindowsNetworking.com)
Step-By-Step: Creating a Windows 10 To Go Key Inside a Hyper-V VM (CanITPro)
Work Folders for iOS – iPad App Release (File Cabinet Blog)
Remote Desktop for iOS v8.1.6 is now available on the Apple App Store (Remote Desktop Services Blog)
Security and Privacy
Trimming Down the Certificate Trust List (Tim Springston)
Golden Ticket! You lose! Good day, sir! (Tim Springston)
Cloud Prospects for 2015
AWS Identity and Access Management (Part 1)
Network Printer Tips and Tricks
Installing and Configuring Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 (Part 2)
Ways to Grant Elevated Privileges In Windows
Cloud governance key to bypass a breach
Security breaches are becoming increasingly commonplace no matter the industry or company. When this occurs, the blame is often put on the cloud, but, with a strong and modernized cloud governance and security strategy in place, you can sleep better at night. Learn how to keep hackers at bay with modern cloud governance and security strategies, and bypass a potential security breach.
Bigger isn’t always better: Start your VMs small
While it is easy to fall into the trap of overprovisioning your virtual machines, when it comes to VMs, going bigger is not always the better solution since it's easy to add resources if the workload demands more. Learn more about VM size and why you should start your VMs small and grow as needed.
VDI disaster recovery options
Having a disaster recovery plan in place is vitally important, especially if you host virtual desktops, but how to go about planning for VDI disaster recovery isn’t always clear. Fortunately, there are four options for VDI disaster recovery that you can utilize. Discover these options and set a successful DR plan in place today.
Tighten Windows 8.1 security in five simple steps
While Microsoft’s Windows 8 and 8.1 are the most secure OS versions to date, no OS is completely free of vulnerabilities. Fortunately, there are some basic settings you can use to further protect your Windows 8.x systems from potential security risks. Learn how to tighten your Windows 8.1 security in just 5 easy steps today.
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]
Super Low Pass - Maho Beach - St Maarten
An incoming passenger jet makes an extremely low pass over the infamous Maho Beach at the Caribbean Island of St Maarten:
Mind Blowing Trick Of The Day
Norberto Jansenson 'Azulejos' illusion makes tiles appear and disappear before your eyes. How does he do it?
How Many Balloons Does It Take To Stop A Bullet
National Geographics does an experiment to find out how many water-filled balloons it takes to stop a bullet. The result may surprise you!
The Most Amazing Circus Act - Sokolov Teeterboard Moscow
The Sokolov Troupe from Moscow is defying gravity with their most amazing teeterboard act:
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.