Vol. 19, #32 - August 11, 2014 - Issue #992
- Editor's Corner
- Ask our Readers - Help for Windows 8.1 noobs
- Ask our Readers - Vipre firewall and 3CX Phone System
- Troubleshooting strategies
- Tip of the Week - Converting VMware-speak to Hyper-V speak and vice versa
- 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 Ask the Expert Webinar: MS Office 365, Azure, and More
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Windows Server
- Windows PowerShell
- Windows Client
- System Center
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- Rackspace leads the way with managed cloud
- Plan for zero client firmware updates
- Newest RHEV update paints a picture for the future
- Configuring a VMware virtual appliance
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- When Engineers Have Nothing To Do
- Magic Motorcycle Repair - The World's Greatest Cabaret
- When The Song Becomes Bigger Than The Singer - Patrick Bru
- Celtic Woman - Orinoco Flow - Live at Slane Castle Ireland
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V - Free tool for real-time Hyper-V performance monitoring
- 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 strategies for troubleshooting problems with PCs and servers running Windows. Remember the days when computers were simple enough that you could use a flowchart for troubleshooting when a problem occurred? The webcomic xkcd suggests that this approach can still work:
Ask Our Readers - Help for Windows 8.1 noobsIn Issue #990 The Importance of Roadmapswe included the following request from a reader named Marguerite:
Is there a newsletter for non-server ordinary win8.1 users?
In the issue that followed we indicated that several readers recommended the website Windows Secrets as a good source of info on all versions of Microsoft Windows. Since then several readers have also suggested another website worth checking out, it's called 7Tutorials and while the site was originally created to focus on Windows 7 a reader named Vlade indicates that it is now mainly for Windows 8 users:
Ask our Readers - Vipre firewall and 3CX Phone SystemThis reader question is very specific so we'll see whether any of you are able to help. A reader named Paul asks:
Does any reader use the 3CX Phone System? I have been unable to configure the Vipre firewall to allow 3CX software for UDP/TCP port forwarding. If anybody has succeeded doing this, I would appreciate some help.
Can anyone offer tips or suggestions? Or if anyone would like to contact Paul directly to assist him with this problem, email me at [email protected] and I'll put you in touch with him.
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has 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]
And now on to the main topic of this issue...
Troubleshooting strategiesThe other day a friend of mine phoned saying he had a weird problem with his Windows 7 PC which he had purchased just over a year ago. I knew he wasn't very computer literate so I had previously had him install TeamViewer on his PC in case I needed to remote in to assist him should a problem occur.
By the way, we previously talked about TeamViewer and some other remote login solutions in several issues of this newsletter:
- Issue #964 Remote Login to Desktop PCs
- Issue #965 More Remote Login Solutions
- Issue #966 Getting Management Buy-In for Information Security (in the Mailbag section)
Check back with those issues if you're unfamiliar with TeamViewer and similar solutions.
Anyways, my friend described his problem saying that the previous day when he was browsing the web his computer totally froze and pushing the power button wouldn't shut it down so he had to pull the plug on the machine to reboot it. Since that time, whenever he tries to open the Google home page in his Chrome web browser, he gets a message about a certificate error. He also said there is now a funny little flag on an icon in the bottom right corner of his screen.
I asked him to start TeamViewer and tell me his TeamViewer password so I could try to remotely take control of his computer for troubleshooting his problem. I then launched TeamViewer on my own computer, entered my friend's TeamViewer password and was able to remote into my friend's PC and take over his desktop. At least his network connection to the Internet still worked, thank goodness.
First troubleshooting strategy: Have a remote login solution in place so you can take control of the problem computer. I generally use TeamViewer.
I began by launching Internet Explorer on his PC and tried opening Google's home page. Sure enough, I got a certificate error. Why didn't I launch Chrome instead? Because I'm not familiar with Chrome and I thought if it works with IE then the problem must be with Chrome and that might take some additional research to figure out.
Second troubleshooting strategy: Start with what you know. I know IE but I don't know Chrome.
I wondered if the problem might be with Google's website. Could Google have allowed the certificate for their website to expire? Or could it be some more fundamental problem with web browsing on my friend's computer? I tried opening the Bing home page, and it displayed without problems. At least web browsing works on the computer.
Third troubleshooting strategy: Test for similarities and differences. The certificate error was displayed when I opened Google but not when I opened Bing.
Next I examined the notification area on the taskbar and saw a flag on the Action Center icon. When I clicked on this icon a popup notification indicated that "Windows could not check for updates automatically (Important)". Did this mean Windows couldn't connect to the Windows Update website? Why not? It might be a networking problem, but I can remote in to my friend's PC so it's probably not a networking problem. Or maybe it's a temporary problem with the Windows Update website itself. Anyways, I decided to dig deeper so I opened up Event Viewer and started to examine recent critical and error events on my friend's PC.
Fourth troubleshooting strategy: Dig deeper. The event logs are a good place to start.
The only critical event was one that indicated that the system had been shut down unexpectedly. That was probably when my friend had pulled the plug on his machine. The few error events didn't seem to suggest anything significant. So I selected the System log in Event Viewer to allow me to browse through all recent events on the computer.
I immediately noticed something: all events recorded since the previous day were dated 9 November 2004 in the System event log including the Critical error described above. However, events prior to the Critical error were dated correctly.
Aha! The CMOS battery has probably died, and when my friend unplugged his PC to reboot it the BIOS clock reset itself to the last BIOS update which must have been 9 November 2004. I realized I should have thought of that immediately since the Google weirdness and Action Center flags had appeared after my friend unplugged his PC.
Fifth troubleshooting strategy: Think sequentially. For example, ask yourself what happened just before the problem occurred. (This should have been my first troubleshooting strategy, but hey, I'm a human being not a flowchart.)
To test my hypothesis, I reset the Windows clock to the correct date and time, and immediately the flag disappeared from Action Center and I was able to open the Google home page successfully, yay.
I then told my friend he had two solutions to choose from. He could replace the CMOS battery in his PC to fix the problem, and I emailed him a link to a YouTube video where someone explained how to do this on a similar system. Or he could make sure he never unplugs his computer, and if he does have to unplug it (or his neighborhood experiences a power outage) he could reset the Windows clock to the correct date and time as a workaround if he didn't feel confident opening up his PC to replace the battery on the motherboard.
Sixth troubleshooting strategy: Try to offer both a fix and a workaround whenever possible. Not every fix is practical in a given situation.
My friend thanked me and I hung up and reflected on what I had learned from helping him. My main takeaway was that I needed to remember that troubleshooting is a sequential process and that it's important to consider the sequence of events that led up to the problem. Upon reflecting I realized that I should have guessed immediately that it was the CMOS battery that had failed in my friend's computer. Silly me.
Seventh troubleshooting strategy: Take time to reflect on what you've learned so you can grow more proficient in troubleshooting. In other words, focus on building your skills.
What additional strategies and tips do you readers have for troubleshooting problems with PCs and servers running Windows? Share them with us so we can pass your wisdom on to 100,000 other IT pros around the world by emailing us at [email protected]
Tip of the Week - Converting VMware-speak to Hyper-V speak and vice versa
Are you an IT pro who is familiar with VMware but not with Hyper-V and you want to learn more about Hyper-V? Here's a table that converts VMware jargon into Hyper-V lingo so you can more easily understand documentation, whitepapers and other collateral about Hyper-V:
Windows Server Backup (WSB)
P2V / V2V
Distributed Power Management
Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)
Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO)
Hot Add Disks
Hot Add Disks
Raw Device Mapping
Quick Storage Migration
Virtual Machine Servicing Tool (VSMT)
System Center Virtual Machine Manager
VM IDE boot
VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk)
VHD (Virtual Hard Disk)
CSV (Clustered Shared Volumes)
VMware HA (High Availability)
Self Service Portal
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
Windows 7 Resource Kit
Windows 7 Inside Out, Deluxe Edition
Windows 7 Administrator's Pocket Consultant
Optimizing Windows 7 Pocket Consultant
Microsoft Windows 7 Administration Instant Reference
Microsoft Windows 7 Administrator's Reference: Upgrading, Deploying, Managing, and Securing Windows
Microsoft Virtual AcademyQuick announcement from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Aug 14: Migrating Legacy Windows Server to 2012 R2 & Microsoft Azure
What’s the best way for IT Professionals to prepare for the upcoming Windows 2003 end of support? On August 14 get help directly from Microsoft experts! Help ensure a seamless transition to Windows Server 2012 R2 during the rebroadcast of “Migrating Legacy Windows Server to 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure,” See lots of demos, and explore on-premises and hybrid environments. Register today:
Quote of the Week
"And tell of time, what gifts for thee he bears. What griefs and laughter through the wandering years." --Euripides, Bacchae
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.
Free tool for real-time Hyper-V performance monitoring - Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V is a portable, standalone performance monitoring tool. Improve troubleshooting in your Hyper-V environment by seeing what Windows Task Manager doesn’t show you.
Tired of using numerous cables to connect your Hard Drive and Solid State Drive to your RAID card? Check out this Combo RAID Caddy:
Find out how to perform network traffic analysis with netflow and ntop:
Handsfree call and play solution for iPhone and Bluetooth-enabled smartphones from Griffin:
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
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MSExchange.org Ask the Expert Webinar: MS Office 365, Azure, and More
Join our expert panel of Exchange MVPs to benefit from their insights into Office 365, Azure and other top issues and questions facing Exchange Administrators, as obtained by a July 2014 survey of the TechGenix audience.
This live online event, sponsored by Kemp Technologies and hosted by MSExchange.org, takes place on Wednesday, August 20, 2014, at 12N EDT | 9AM PDT. You'll hear a wide range of topics discussed by this panel of experts which includes MS Exchange MVP Steve Goodman, MS Exchange MVP Michael Van Horenbeeck, and MVP and MCM Bhargav Shukla of KEMP Technologies.
Just a few examples include:
- How does federation work in a hybrid environment?
- How do you deploy a Site Failover in Windows Azure?
- When does Office 365 and Azure make financial sense?
- How useful is DLP in Office 365?
You'll also be able to get your live questions answered by the experts. Don't miss this unique opportunity.
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A Microsoft Cluster Troubleshooting Guide (Third Tier)
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Force User to Change Password a day before their password expires (Siva Mulpuru's Blog)
PowerShell Deployment Toolkit with a GUI (4sysops)
Windows ClientIE 11 Set Home Page via Group Policy Obscurity (Third Tier)
Download Windows 8.1 Product Guide (Microsoft Download Center)
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System CenterMultihomed migrations in Operations Manager: Lessons from the field (System Center Central)
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Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager - Clients for Additional Operating Systems (Microsoft Download Center)
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Plan for zero client firmware updates
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Newest RHEV update paints a picture for the future
In an effort to become a leading provider for OpenStack’s platform as a service cloud, Red Hat is rolling out brand-new features to RHEV 3.4, the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. Get an exclusive and detailed look at what these enhancements are and what they can soon offer you.
Configuring a VMware virtual appliance
Creating VMware OVF appliances can save vendors significant amounts of time and effort. Learn how to create and customize the OVF appliance in this informative tutorial. Learn what the appliance contains, how to create and deploy it, how to modify the OVF file, and more.
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]
When Engineers Have Nothing To Do
When engineers have nothing to do ... they create beautiful and awesome machines that are fascinating to watch:
Magic Motorcycle Repair - The World's Greatest Cabaret
A beautiful and impressive magic act with a motorcycle by Latko for the French television show 'The World's Greatest Cabaret' hosted by Patrick Sebastien:
When The Song Becomes Bigger Than The Singer - Patrick Bru
French singer Patrick Bruel allows the audience to take over when he starts singing 'J'te l'dis quand même' ('I'm still telling you'):
Celtic Woman - Orinoco Flow - Live at Slane Castle Ireland
Celtic Woman performing 'Orinoco Flow' live at the Slane Castle in Ireland:
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.