Vol. 19, #25 - June 23, 2014 - Issue #985
SSDs in Servers
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- SSDs in Servers
- Tip of the Week: Disallowed Characters for Filenames
- 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 Webinar: What Exchange Administrators Need to Know about Hybrid Deployments
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Windows Server
- Windows Client
- System Center
- SharePoint, Exchange, and Office
- Windows Server News
- Top cloud providers out-foxed by specialized services
- How desktop shadowing helps IT help users
- Maintenance for your virtual environment that we all forget
- Using the Rufus USB tool to build bootable USB flash drives
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- Tesla's Magnetic Wall: Teleportation Tutorial
- Arduino Controlled Nerf Turret
- How to stop cats pissing on your car, The best cat video ever!
- DIY Cat Fence
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Try Backup Exec 2014 today -- backup anywhere, recover anything.
- 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 using solid state drives (SSDs) as local or direct-attached storage for Windows servers. If there is one thing you can do to boost the performance of your servers, it's replacing their hard disk drives (HDDs) with SSDs. If you don't believe this, collect some performance data before and after you upgrade your server storage and compare the results. Of course, as this Dilbert comic points out, you first have to be able to trust your performance data:
From the Mailbag
In Issue #982 Evaluating IT Hires we included a tip on deleting temporary files from Windows computers where we pointed out that Disk Cleanup does not remove temporary files found in system folders like C:\Temp or C:\Windows\Temp. We then said "whether it's safe to mass delete everything in your C:\Windows\Temp folder is another question" and promised a follow-up. One reader named Todd responded with the following comment:
You wrote in the June 2nd Wservernews newsletter Tip of the Week that you were not sure whether it was safe to delete all the data from the \temp and/or windows\temp folders. The answer is that you can't give a definitive answer because any given organization may store non-volatile data there. I don't believe that it is a good idea, but I have seen organizations that routinely install software and updates by first dropping msi files into folders under windows\temp, then executing them. If the folders ever get deleted, future updates or changes to the installed software will fail. Personally, I believe that if it's labeled "temp" then it should be temporary and safe to delete at the end of a session, but not every admin has that same philosophy. And thanks for all the good work on the newsletter. I look forward to receiving it.
Yes I've heard about that practice before but had forgotten about it. However, I did manage to connect with some experts inside Microsoft concerning whether it's safe or not to delete the contents of C:\Temp and they said "it depends" and that it isn't safe for any files in those folders that are currently in the process of being used by Windows or some application running on Windows. I responded by wondering one could use Process Monitor from Windows Sysinternals to find which files in C:\Temp are open, and their response again was "it depends" since just because a file isn't currently in use doesn't being it's not going to be used. So the final word on the matter seems to be that you can only delete files in temporary folders if you KNOW they won't ever be used again.
In Issue #984 Tips and Tools for Bootable USB Drives we innocently asked if anyone knew who first used the word bootstrapping or booting with reference to electronic computers. Naturally a lot of our readers responded! Here are a few of the more interesting responses we've received:
The earliest computers commercially available existed before we had RAM or ROM memory available. They commonly used "magnetic core" memory for storage of programs and data. You can look up magnetic core to see what it looks like, but basically it was an array or tiny magnets that represented the individual data bits. Without power, the core lost all information. When such a computer was turned on, the core was completely empty without any operating system or any other program that told it how to load the program you wanted to run. In order to get started, the system software had to be loaded into the computer. Early computers had a "Load" button that basically started a punch card reader or magnetic tape reader and had every bit on those punch cards loaded into memory. Those first cards had the bit image (object code) of this basic program. Once that program was loaded and started, it was able to start and would complete the process of loading the entire operating system from disk. Once the OS program was loaded into memory it would run and would delete the initial boot program from memory, since that program only needed once at power on. That process was called "booting". Actually, the more formal name, from IBM manuals, was "Initial Program Load" or IPL. Some manufacturers tried to make the process easier. For example, in my first computing job we used a computer that had a series of about 100 or so DIP switches that when set in the correct configuration had a real basic "boot" program. Pressing the "Load" button would load the 1/0 values from those switches to memory and that was a very basic program that then would load the actual operating system from a disk. Depending on the size and complexity of the first and subsequent boot program, some bootloaders went through several stages of programs before the full OS was loaded. Similarly, the first microcomputers such as the Altair 8800 had no ROM, so when powered on, all RAM was at 0s. The user had a series of front-panel toggle switches that were used to program in the initial program one bit at a time (usually that program simply loaded something from a paper tape reader). Doing so would take quite a long time, and any error would mean needing to start the process again. Once EPROMs were introduced, computers (starting with the Apple I) started including their boot programs on ROM, and the boot process faded, but the name remains. - Alan, an IT Manager in New Jersey, USA
Bootstrapping conjures up the vision of an early operator taking off his boot to whack the machine. It was used by Robert Heinlein in some of his books. Yes we did use Cobol in 1975 as well as Fortran. Assembler was still common add needed by the operators to boot the computer to read the first card in the reader which loaded the register to give instructions to load the required program from the 2400 bpi tape drive. Some programs were only a few cards but the one for student records and report cards was a six inch pile of cards. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 lines of code. - Bruce
A very long time ago, long before PC's, when men on the moon was still a new thing, we used the term bootstrapping in electronics. The term referred to a circuit, usually an oscillator, starting itself when powered on. It's not inconceivable that the term carried over to the computer world since most computer designers were electronics engineers. - Ken
Also in Issue #984 was the following comment I made in my editorial:
It's pretty amazing how the USB flash drive has displaced the floppy disk for such things as storing files, flashing system BIOS, and installing Windows from portable media.
A reader named Jeff who is an MDHA Systems Administrator in the USA responded with this feedback:
You said, "…It's pretty amazing how the USB flash drive has displaced the floppy" but you may be missing the bigger issue: USB/flash technology is rapidly replacing not just floppies, but DVDs and DVD drives and traditional hard drives as well.
At the rate things are progressing, I see a time when vendors, just like with floppies, will no longer make DVD drives; especially with the advent of USB 3, which is incredibly fast. There needs to be some improvements made, though, with better form factors, for example, USB sticks need to be smaller in length, so they do not project out as far from the computer. And keep in mind that SSD technology itself actually was born from USB/flash technology. Back in 1985, I drew a co-worker a diagram of a "non-moving-parts-hard-drive" (aka "SSD") and of how it would work -- and now SSDs are standard fare, less than 50 cents per GB. I just bought a PNY 240GB SATA 3 SSD for $90 (after $20 rebate). Even Enterprise/Server SSD drives now are available in SAS specs. In addition to thumb drives replacing floppies, CDs, and DVDs, I also see SSDs eventually making traditional magneto-optical platter-based hard drives obsolete.
I rarely use a DVD drive any more, not even for software installs, nor for watching movies. I've copied all my movies to external USB drives, so that I no longer need to do the "DVD shuffle." Additionally, with today's home routers, plugging an external USB drive to your router makes for a centrally-available "instant NAS" drive that can be used for backups, streaming media to the household, etc.
For software installs, I simply copy the software packages to a thumb drive and this allows me to no longer have to deal with "easy-to-scratch" DVDs. In addition, performing software installations using even USB 2.0 thumb drives, generally, is an order of magnitude faster than installing from DVD; and thumb drives have no real movable/mechanical parts to break, no read-head to get dirty, no DVD to get scratched, no mechanical tray to break. Additionally, if one USB port were to get damaged, most computers have at least 6 USB ports; so, that is another advantage over using a DVD drive.
Anyway, thanks for the outstanding articles!
And now on to the main topic of this issue...
SSDs in Servers
The World Cup is currently happening and I want to see today's game so I'll cheat a bit on the editorial for this week's issue by excerpting from an upcoming WindowsNetworking.com article by me titled Storage Planning for Hyper-V Hosts where I talk about using SSDs for one specific Windows Server scenario, namely as local storage or DAS for Hyper-V hosts.
Choosing the right kind of SSD
A key consideration when contemplating the use of SSDs for Hyper-V hosts is what type of SSD you should use. The answer is to always use enterprise class SSDs, not consumer SSDs, for these kinds of scenarios. In particular you should use SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) SSDs rather than SATA (Serial ATA) SSDs in your hosts for the following reasons:
- Their controller is more powerful
- Their write latency is much smaller
- Their endurance cycle (number of writes before failure) is much longer
- Their reservation (free) space is much larger
- Their garbage collection algorithm as implemented in their firmware is more effective
SSDs may use either single-level cell (SLC) or multi-level cell (MLC) flash technologies, and enterprise SSDs generally use eMLC (enterprise MLC) which enhances MLC with wear-levelling, deduplication, redundancy and write optimization technologies. A good explanation of the differences between these various technologies can be found in the article MLC vs SLC: Which flash SSD is right for you? found at:
SAS SSDs are ideal for hosting operating system volumes as they can increase manageability by making operating systems faster and more responsive. SATA SSDs can still have a place however in your Hyper-V environment, particularly in scenarios where no writes are involved. For example, if you are going to use a parent virtual hard disk (VHD) to create differencing disks, you need to set the parent VHD as read-only to prevent it from being modified. You could therefore opt to use cheaper SATA SSDs for storing such parent VHDs.
Taking the long view
Using SSDs can drastically boost the performance of applications and services running in virtual machines on Hyper-V hosts. And the price of enterprise SSDs continues to drop as their capacity, reliability and write lifetime steadily increase. As a result you might opt to use SAS SSDs even for running your write-intensive applications such as SQL Server databases with the idea that although your SSDs might wear out in 18-24 months of almost continuous use, by the time you need to replace them the price of an equivalent SSD will likely have significantly dropped to the point that the long term amortization of the cost of running your database application makes SSDs more affordable than HDDs over the long term.
Want to read more?
Be sure to watch my column on WindowsNetworking.com for my upcoming series of articles on this and other topics relating to Hyper-V storage. You can find my column here:
As you can see from the following page, I've been writing for WindowsNetworking.com for quite some time!
There are lots of other great articles on WindowsNetworking.com written by other experts in the IT field. Be sure to check them out today by going here:
Tip of the Week: Disallowed Characters for Filenames
Here's an easy way to find out what characters are not allowed in Windows filenames:
- Click on any file in Explorer
- Press the F2 function key (or click again on the file)
- Press the backslash ("\") character (or any other disallowed character)
- A balloon popup will display a message listing disallowed characters for Windows filenames.
Unfortunately that's not the whole story. If you've got SharePoint deployed in your environment then there are some additional restrictions concerning characters you can't use in site names, folder names, and filenames:
And if you plan on syncing SharePoint libraries to your computer through OneDrive for Business, you also need to be aware of the following:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
This week we have some recommended books on Hyper-V:
Mastering Hyper-V 2012 R2 with System Center and Windows Azure
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Installation and Configuration Guide
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Deploying Hyper-V Enterprise Server Virtualization Platform
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Cookbook
Microsoft Virtual Academy
From the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
June 23 Live Event: to ASP.NET MVC
Are you looking to level up your web dev skills? Are you a front-end coder who wants to learn how to build data-driven, server-side web applications? Maybe you know some Web Forms and want to make the jump to ASP.NET MVC? This exciting new course focuses on the basics of this popular framework for building scalable, standards-based web applications using well-established design patterns, so you can ramp up quickly. Register here:
Quote of the Week
As long as people feel something, that's the great thing. It's when they're walking around not thinking and not feeling, that's tough, that's where all the dangerous stuff is, 'cause when you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of mob that Hitler had. We don't want that, we want people who'll turn around and say, "Hey wait a minute, you daren't do that to me, I'm gonna call Lord Grade about that." --Patrick McGoohanUntil 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.
Symantec Backup Exec 2014 delivers powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use backup and recovery to protect your entire infrastructure whether built upon virtual, physical, or a combination of both. Try it now.
Break through the barriers of Microsoft MMC tools and the complexity of PowerShell with the most powerful version yet of SystemTools Hyena - Download a free, fully functioning 30-day trial.
Rufus is a utility that helps format and create bootable USB flash drives, such as USB keys/pendrives, memory sticks, etc:
Group Policy Search is Azure based and is also available as a phone App:
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) on July 13-17, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
TechEd Europe on October 27-31, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
TechEd New Zealand on September 9-12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand
Add your event
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
MSExchange.org Webinar: What Exchange Admins Need to Know about Hybrid Deployments
A recent Osterman Research survey indicates that 54% of organizations will migrate to hybrid environment over the next few years. Join Microsoft Exchange MVP Michael Van Horenbeeck, on Wednesday, June 25 2014, at 2pm EDT | 7pm BST for an informative discussion on how to avoid pitfalls in a hybrid environment and how to keep your system tuned and running smoothly.
During this interactive webinar you'll learn:
- What issues will you likely encounter when transitioning to a hybrid environment?
- What steps must you take before you begin moving your users to the cloud?
- What are the most common reasons for outages?
- How can you ensure that our ADFS infrastructure is working correctly?
- What are the common problems with DIRsync?
- What's next for hybrid platforms and MS Office 365?
- And, have the chance to ask your top questions!
Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
How to configure Microsoft RDS Universal Printing (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Recommended hotfixes and updates for Windows Server 2012 R2-based failover clusters (Microsoft Support)
Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2012 R2 (Part 1) (WindowsNetworking.com)
Windows Application Compatibility List for IT Professionals (Microsoft Download Center)
Understanding the Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 Update and MDT 2013 (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Team Blog)
Another Windows 8.1 Update tip (Michael Niehaus' Windows and Office deployment ramblings)
System Center: Use the right tool for the right job (Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer)
Deploying Windows Azure Pack (Part 1) (WindowsNetworking.com)
Provisioning Virtual Machine Clouds with Windows Azure Pack (Part 1) (WindowsNetworking.com)
SharePoint, Exchange and Office
Exchange 2013 In-Place Hold and In-Place eDiscovery (Part 1) (MSExchange.org)
Planning and Migrating a Small Organization from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013 (Part 1) (MSExchange.org)
Product Review: SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (MSExchange.org)
Top cloud providers out-foxed by specialized services
When it comes to the cloud, sometimes less is more – just because Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers the widest variety of services, it is not necessarily the best option. Find out how specialized services from two new cloud developers could shift the focus away from the major cloud providers.
How desktop shadowing helps IT help users
Physical shadowing is a great way for IT pros to help users resolve tech issues, but doing so is not always an option. Fortunately, new desktop shadowing tools allow you to remotely access and view users’ screens. Read on for an in-depth look at these shadowing tools, and see how you can interact with users’ desktops to provide quick and easy problem resolution.
Maintenance for your virtual environment that we all forget
When it comes to virtual server maintenance, it can be easy to forget even the most basic tasks that keep virtualization hosts updated and your data center healthy. Ideally, systems would be able to stay on top of maintenance themselves, but since technology is not quite there yet, here are the top 3 most important steps for virtual environment maintenance you should be doing today.
Using the Rufus USB tool to build bootable USB flash drives
The Reliable USB Formatting Utility (RUFUS), a free, fast, and easy-to-use alternative to the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, allows users to create a USB flash drive bootable for operating system installations. To learn more about this stress-free alternative and how to get started with it, read this expert resource today.
WServerNews FAVE Links
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]
This week we have a few fun videos forwarded to me by some of my geek colleagues:
Tesla's Magnetic Wall: Teleportation Tutorial
Inspired by Nikola Telsa's theories, this tutorial demonstrates how to construct your own teleportation portal using a magnetic RF coil.
Arduino Controlled Nerf Turret
Final project in Mechatronics I, T-411-MECH at Reykjavik University, fall semester 2012:
How to stop cats pissing on your car, The best cat video ever!
If you liked this video be sure to check out Part 2!
DIY Cat Fence
How to cat proof your wooden fence. Quick and inexpensive. Easy to do.
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
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.