Vol. 21, #46 - November 14, 2016 - Issue #1106
Waiting for Godot 2016
- Editor's Corner
- Ask Our Readers - Updating BIOS configurations on new and existing systems
- Ask Our Readers - DIY or vendor network storage?
- Ask Our Readers - Win10 resetting file associations
- From the Mailbag
- More reader feedback on Windows 7 updating problems
- More reader feedback on Windows 10 annoyances
- Waiting for Godot 2016
- Send us your feedback
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Factoid of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- This Week's Tips
- OneDrive for Business - Limitations of
- Active Directory - Domain join using PowerShell
- Microsoft Exchange - Searching the GAL
- Events Calendar
- North America
- Add Your Event
- New on TechGenix.com
- Recommended articles from TechGenix.com
- Tech Briefing
- Exchange Server
- Small business IT
- Windows Server
- Other Articles of Interest
- IBM's cloud strategy advances, but more work remains
- Businesses eye VDI security to fight cyberattacks
- Deploy Docker Swarm and other containers with OpenStack Magnum
- Household names share their secrets to DevOps training
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- About Squares
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- SQL Server 101 – What is SQL Server and how does it work?
- SQL Server 101 – What is SQL Server and how does it work?
- 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!
This week's newsletter is all about the long wait for Windows Server 2016 which is finally over. Windows Server 2016 reached its GA (general availability) milestone a few weeks ago on October 12. Should we leap for joy or yawn? I'll express my own thoughts on this and then our readers can weigh in with their own opinions which we'll publish in an upcoming issue. And of course we have some links to tools, tutorials and tech news, some tips, and some fun stuff. We also have several Ask Our Readers questions that we'd appreciate if you'd read them and share your insights with us if you have any--thanks!
So anyways, I searched the Dilbert comic strip archives for something funny about "GA" but came up empty, but then I lucked out searching for "GAH" which ties in quite nicely to our loooong wait for Windows Server 2016 GA:
Amazing what you can find if you use your left brain a bit.
Ask Our Readers - Updating BIOS configurations on new and existing systems
Julian from Tennessee, USA sent the following question to us which we're redirecting to our readers:
"Hello WServerNews! I'm a relatively new admin and will soon have responsibility for a network of about 50 (mostly HP but some "whitebox") PCs at the company I've begun working for. The previous admin used Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) for building Win7 "gold" images and MDT plus Windows Deployment Services (WDS) for deploying the images to hardware. We don't currently have a systems management product in place. We're going to be purchasing some additional PCs from Dell so our PC hardware is going to become more "mixed" soon. What tools/processes do readers use for deploying BIOS configurations when performing new PC deployments, and for updating BIOS on already deployed PCs? Would appreciate any suggestions/tips/tools you can offer. Thanks!"
Can any of our readers describe what tools or procedures they use for updating BIOS configurations on their new and existing Windows PCs? Email us at [email protected]
Ask Our Readers - DIY or vendor network storage?
Alex from the UK asked us this:
We do not want to use cloud storage for our small business data storage needs; we'd prefer to use some form of local storage device. Should I just purchase a bit of "off the shelf" technology from Synology, QNAP, or some other company? Or should I try a "do it yourself" approach by throwing some HDDs and SSDs into one of our decommissioned servers and installing Windows Server? Do any readers of WServerNews use the DIY approach for network storage? I'd be fascinated to hear about the reasons...thanks.
Email your NAS stories and preference (vendor or DIY) to us at [email protected]
Ask Our Readers - Win10 resetting file associations
A reader named Roy has been experiencing the following annoyance with Windows 10:
I sub-titled the subject line "Beyond Annoyance" because this is "Big Brother" at its worst. Windows 10 continually resets file associations to its own programs no matter how many times I set them back to my original settings. For example I have PDF files associated with Adobe Acrobat but Windows 10 keeps resetting the file association to the Edge Browser! This is but one example. There are many other file types that Windows 10 keeps forcibly resetting to its own programs. I need a way to stop this heavy-handed approach that MS has instituted to forcibly point file associations to their software.
P.S. I googled the problem and tried the registry changes mentioned, but MS still changes my file associations. Does anyone have a real fix for this MS insanity?
I haven't experienced this particular annoyance with our Win10 systems, but perhaps some of our readers have and may have discovered a solution. Email us at [email protected] if you can help Roy with his problem.
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]
From the Mailbag
In Issue #1104 Revisiting Win7 updating, Win10 annoyances, and DDoS mitigation we looked back at a couple topics we covered in previous issues including Windows 7 updating problems and Windows 10 annoyances. Readers continue to share their thoughts and stories on these matters and we're including some of their recent comments to us here. For simplicity we've made separate sections for these two topics below.
More reader feedback on Windows 7 updating problems
Joanne, the Director of IT for a Canadian government agency, send us the following note:
@SwiftonSecurity maintains the DecentSecurity.com website, which includes (under Enterprise) a page on how to best update Win7 patches. It includes additional steps for enterprises that do images but otherwise looks pretty much like what people posted in Issue 1104, see:
A reader named Amaziah recommended the following resource:
The folks at How-to-Geek have a useful article on Updating Windows 7 (and 8 and 10) at:
The step-by-step procedure worked efficiently on a Windows 7 Pro laptop previously frozen on Windows Update. I'm a fan of How-to-Geek articles and tips. Their information has been useful and reliable.
John, a Systems Specialist working for a high school district in Illinois, USA sent us some comments concerning a procedure that one of our readers suggested in a previous issue of WServerNews:
You posted the following from Robin regarding slow Win 7 updates:
Robin, who works for an Information, Communications and Technology service provider based in the UK, recommended the following procedure for resolving Windows 7 updating issues:
Having just had the "pleasure" of deploying 12 laptops for a client I found the following procedure worked to speed up updating. Download the following KB updates:
1. Disconnect the PC from the internet & reboot to ensure all internal update processes are terminated
2. Install the 1st KB in the list & reboot
3. Install the 2nd KB in the list & reboot
4. Install the 3rd KB in the list & reboot (even though it won't ask you to)
5. Install the 4th KB in the list & reboot
6. Connect to the internet & reboot
7. Run Windows Update from Control Panel -- updates should list in 20 -- 30 minutes
I'm very happy to tell you that it worked perfectly and my list of updates appeared in under 10 minutes! Thanks again.
Finally, Don a Senior Security Specialist for a Cyber Incident Response & Intelligence company based in Ontario, Canada sent us the following insightful comment:
Hi Mitch, I enjoy your newsletter, and appreciate the effort yourself and Ingrid put into the publication. I gather a few nuggets of valuable information from each edition.
In response to your reader's frustration with Win 7 and 10, discussed in the past few many issues, I have to say that I am very appreciative of all the unique and recurring annoyances Microsoft delivered to us throughout the years. 'Uncle' Billy Gates has circuitously provided me an exciting, challenging and financially rewarding career.
More reader feedback on Windows 10 annoyances
Mark from the UK discovered the source of the sleep problems his Win10 laptop was experiencing:
I was having the Windows 10 sleep/unresponsive problems on a new Dell laptop and discovered it was HyperV connected to a physical network via a USB-C cable and docking port. I think that when the cable was removed HyperV hung because it no longer had a network card to talk to. Setting HyperV to use an internal virtual network adapter not directly linked to a removable physical one, solved my problem with sleep and resume.
A reader named Jim found a workaround for the annoying low memory notifications his Win10 system has been throwing up:
I've been seeing this as well, I went so far as a memory upgrade to 24GB. This band-aid fix has worked so far. The issue seems to be related to Windows Explorer high memory usage. I've seen Windows Explorer using as high as 3GB in Task Manager/Processes.
Another band-aid has been to kill Windows Explorer and relaunch from Task manager File/Run New Task
Another reader named Wayne from Arizona, USA solved his low memory problem in a different way:
I used to get a similar low memory message, I fixed the problem by allowing Windows 10 automatically adjust the paging file. Manually adjusting the paging file size in Win XP and 7 supposedly resulted in better performance but it seems Win 10 likes the automatic setting.
I asked him isn't automatic pagefile size the default setting in Win10 and he replied:
I did the Win 7 to 10 upgrade, eons ago I must have manually set the page file size. The upgrade to 10 preserved the Win 7 settings.
Which maybe just goes to show that it's best to leave default settings at their defaults so you don't end up snarling an upgrade later on down the line.
Next we have Les, the Global IT Coordinator for an organization based in England has some ideas about why Automatic Updates kills some Win10 systems but not others:
Recently I had two machines completely killed by Automatic updates on Windows 10. After the update both machines went automatically into the automatic fix routine. On one after spending 4+ days on the disc fix nothing was fixed and there was no way to boot the machine.
On the other machine again the machine would not boot after a windows 10 update. After trying several things and getting into the Rescue utility I finally tried the windows 10 option to go back to a previous build. Failed and another dead machine.
I suspect that there may be an issue that machines that were upgraded successfully from W7 or W8.1 and can be killed by future windows 10 updates which you can not stop.
A reader named Christopher has been unable to find a solution so far to his RAID problem with Windows 10:
The update to 1607 trashed my nVidia RAID setup making it unbootable, as in boot device not accessible and it took quite a while to discover that the culprit was Microsoft. Thank goodness for imaging. I did manage to get signed drivers and a certificate from "Fernando's Win-RAID Forum" that were Microsoft proof but it appears they're so resistant that 1607 will not install. Might be a happy day. I'm still pondering.
Have any readers experienced something similar and/or found a solution? Email us at [email protected]
Finally, a reader named Bob has reported that since he installed the Anniversary Update the performance of his Windows 10 machine has taken a nosedive:
The biggest problem that I have noted is this Windows update is slower than the previous version. Aren't we supposed to be getting better? Admittedly, some of the slowness was my anti-virus trying to make heads or tails of this new update. That was solved by an update from the anti-virus provider, Symantec. Another system killer was/is Malwarebytes. It eats disk utilization for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had to turn it off, only running it occasionally to see if something has "sneaked in." I advised many customers to do the same, at least for now. For the record, anyone that I know who visits potential problem sites, I told them to leave it on. Now, another gremlin is in the works of "Anniversary Edition": Something called Windows presentation font handler is eating memory as a snack, pushing disk utilization way up. That was two days ago. Now, with no apparent update, it has calmed down. Nothing in the processes now running that has that name. What else is running "under the hood" to grab us users?
I am running Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, Version 1607, 10.0.14393 N/A Build 14393.321. As mentioned above, I just installed a new, faster 1 TB hard drive. 6 GB RAM. The new hard drive is a hybrid – using some SSD and hard disk technology. Everything is working and the speed seems to be increasing. Maybe it was just breaking in the new hard drive, but I think not.
Did anyone else note this behavior?
Has anyone else noticed their Windows 10 PCs run slower after Anniversary Update is installed? Any thoughts why or how to fix? Email us your comments at [email protected]
Now let's move on to the main topic of this issue...
Waiting for Godot 2016
For those who aren't familiar with what "Waiting for Godot" means, here's a brief excerpt from Wikipedia:
Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot.
Waiting endlessly is exactly what it's felt like for many of us when it comes to Windows Server 2016. I mean, five "technical previews" were released. That's right--five. Remember how Windows Server used to go through Beta 1, then Beta 2, then the Release Candidate? Occasionally there were two release candidates (RC1 and RC2). But now we have Technical Previews (TPs) and after five of them one wonders if Windows Server 2016 is finally fit and polished, or will it simply be like Windows 10 which continues to receive fit and polishing as each new "update" of the operating system is released?
So now that Windows Server 2016 has finally reached the finish line--for now, anyways--what should be our response? Should we break out the booze or go take a snooze? <grin>
My own opinion for the moment is this. If you're a cloud service provider building out your datacenter, then go for it. With the new Nano Server deployment option and support for containers, Windows Server 2016 seems to be ideally positioned to take over the datacenter, at least as far as cloud hosting providers are concerned (provided the licensing options look good from your standpoint). But if you're almost any other type of customer (e.g. large enterprise, mid-sized company, small business) then I personally haven't yet seen any compelling reason to upgrade your infrastructure to Windows Server 2016. Provided you're already on Windows Server 2012 of course, because if you're still on Windows Server 2008 then you're facing EOL pretty soon:
Unless of course you're a very large enterprise that's still running Windows Server 2003. In which case you're either finally getting serious about upgrading your infrastructure or you're moving most of it into the cloud.
Other than that, I'm just not sure I see much reason for upgrading to Windows Server 2016 from your existing version of Windows Server. But I would love to hear what some of you readers think about this based on the perspective of your own organization's infrastructure. Is there some compelling feature that's making you learn towards deploying or upgrading to Windows Server 2016 on premises? Email me at [email protected] with your stories and comments.
In the meantime, if you haven't kept up to date on the new capabilities of Windows Server 2016, here's a list of my top blogs to follow to learn more about Windows Server 2016:
Window Server Blog
Aidan Finn's blog
Nano Server Blog
As far as specific blog posts go, the Microsoft Hybrid Cloud blog has a good introduction to RDS in Windows Server 2016:
And the Microsoft Update Product Team Blog has a post describing patching in Windows Server 2016:
Be sure also to check out the Windows Server Channel on Microsoft Channel 9:
And finally, for a quick high-level summary, see this post by Casper Manes on the GFI blog where he describes the most important new features in Windows Server 2016:
Got more blogs or other resources about Windows Server 2016 to suggest? Email us at [email protected]
Send us your feedback
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]
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Factoid of the Week
Last week's factoid and question was this:
11 of the 12 men to have walked on the Moon were in the Boy Scouts. Who was the guy who wasn't a Boy Scout? And more importantly, why didn't he join the Scouts?
Susan from Minnesota, USA was the first to send us the correct answer:
Well, the who was an easy google search. James Irwin. The why I haven't found…so would love to hear that bit.
I don't know either why Irwin didn't become a boy scout, but a reader named Wayne did speculate upon a possible explanation:
As a Scout Leader in Australia, I'm proud of the fact that the Scouting organisation was able to produce self motivated team players who were not afraid to push their limits and had the emotional stability to handle the voyage into the unknown. As for the reason that James Irwin was not involved with Scouts, I can only speculate. However it is well known that many Scout units in the USA are associated with churches and having grown up in Salt Lake City, I would assume most of the units around him would have been based at Mormon churches. I noticed that one of the links that came up when I searched for James Irwin was related to creationism and his grandparents were of Scottish and Irish extraction so I am guessing that he was not Mormon and therefore did not feel comfortable being involved with a Scout unit that was sponsored by a Mormon church.
Now let's move on to this week's factoid:
Fact: In 1552, Henry Pert died after shooting himself in the face with his own bow and arrow.
Question: Are there any crazier accounts from history of unintentional self-inflicted fatal wounds like this?
Email us your answer: [email protected]
Until next week,
GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
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SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor provides a simplified user experience for monitoring key aspects of Active Directory’s health and performance. Try Server & Application Monitor Free!
WifiHistoryView is a simple tool that displays the history of connections to wireless networks on your computer:
Test a website's performance using WebPageTest:
Apps4.Pro Tasks is an add-in that helps you view and manage Microsoft Planner, SharePoint, Project, Outlook and Trello tasks from a single window:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
OneDrive for Business - Limitations of
TechNet's Tip of the Day blog has an article on why OneDrive for Business may have problems syncing certain files:
Active Directory - Domain join using PowerShell
The Lazy Admin describes how he recreated the blob file for performing an Offline Domain Join by using PowerShell:
Microsoft Exchange - Searching the GAL
The Electric Wand blog has a tip about how you can search the global address list more effectively:
Microsoft Ignite Australia on February 14-17, 2017 at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, Broadbeach, QLD
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) on July 9-13. 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Add Your Event
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 100,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
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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]
Instead of our usual Flixxy videos, this week we have a game called Game About Squares. It's a one-player game created by Andrey Shevchuk, a 28 year old Russian game designer, and it challenges your spatial and logical thinking abilities--and is also very addictive! See how many levels you can manage without using either the Reset or Undo features:http://www.wservernews.com/go/a0aw5unm/
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 7www.mtit.com.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
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.