Vol. 24, #3 - January 21, 2019 - Issue #1215

WServerNews: Pricing privacy 

Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance 


SolarWinds® Exchange Monitor is a free tool that allows users to monitor Microsoft® Exchange™ Server 2013 and 2016. Get basic information about the server’s metrics, services, and database availability group (DAG) status. Add as many Exchange Servers as you wish. Simply click the “Add Server” button and fill IP address/domain name and credentials.

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Editor's Corner

This week's newsletter asks: How much would you be willing to pay for privacy? We also have various thoughts on sundry other subjects which we hope will illuminate and amuse you including a link to a new hardware review, a tip from one of our readers about how you can open a password-protected Excel file, a new Ask Our Readers question which we hope some of you may be able to help us out with, and some other stuff. Enjoy!


More feathered stuff

My thoughts on DuckDuckGo in last week's newsletter generated some feedback from our readers, see the Mailbag section below for this. But something else has happened since then on the quacking front, namely that DuckDuckGo has been accused in a tech forum as having violated their privacy values by using browser fingerprinting to obtain info from users using their site:


The media of course was quickly all over this hot subject, but DuckDuckGo quickly responded with a denial as reported here on BetaNews:


Well that's all very interesting. So do we believe DuckDuckGo? Someone who goes by the handle of "darkfeline" made the following comment on a tech forum called SoylentNews:

"Do you guys even know who the founder of DDG is? Gabriel Weinberg. You know what his previous startup was? The Names Database. This was a website that aimed to connect people who had lost contact by gathering lots and lots of e-mail addresses. Getting access could be done by either paying money, or submitting lots of e-mail addresses of other people. Gabriel later sold the startup with all of the data for pure profit… Did you seriously trust this guy to protect your privacy?"

Sounds like maybe a charter member of the tinfoil hat crowd, but it does raise a serious question for which I have no good answer: Who watches the watchers?

See here for the full thread of the SoylentNews discussion:


Do any of our readers want to express more thoughts on this subject? Email us at [email protected]

Review of Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router

Justin Vendette reviewed the Synology DS1618+ NAS a while back on our TechGenix site:

Product Review: Synology DS1618+: A Server Without a Rack


Justin recently reviewed another Synology product, their new MR2200ac Mesh Router, and he's posted his review here for all who are interested:


Take a look when you have time and check out his other hardware reviews there as well.


Paying top dollar for dumb devices

Finally all this talk about DuckDuckGo and privacy got me thinking yesterday evening as we were watching a Blu Ray disk movie on our old Samsung plasma display TV. I like our plasma TV and hope it never dies on us, because the newest slate of "smart TVs" scare me a bit with their wireless Internet capability and built-in cameras and microphone and other supposedly exciting must-have features. My concern of course is this: What about my privacy?

Then I stumbled across the following article on The Verge where they interview Bill Baxter the chief technology officer of Vizio about what their company thinks about TV vendors adding support for Apple's AirPlay 2 and other technologies to their latest TVs. 

Taking the smarts out of smart TVs would make them more expensive


Now the point is, I really don't want my TV to have a microphone or camera in it. And I don't want or need to have it connected to the Internet as I don't use Netflix or similar services, I'm old-school and I like to collect and own stuff, and I've built up a nice collection of DVDs and Blu Ray disks over the years of our favorite movies which we like to watch again and again and which Netflix is likely either to not even have in their catalog or pull without warning. 

So my question to myself is this: Would I be willing to pay *more* for a new TV that has *fewer* features?

Yes I would. How about you?

In fact as a business user who travels sometimes and who values his privacy and security, I'd probably also be willing to pay a bit more at least for a laptop that doesn't have a built-in microphone but simply a jack where I could plug an external mic in when I need one. (The built-in camera of course is no problem as I can simply tape over it.)

I would probably also be willing to pay more for a smartphone that has a removable battery I can swap out when needed or when I don't want to be tracked. (More convenient than wrapping my phone in tinfoil.)

OK I'm exaggerating a bit as I'm really not paranoid -- at least not *that* paranoid -- but I'm sure at least that I would be willing to pay an extra hundred dollars or so for a TV that's just plain dumb, not smart.

What about you? Email me at [email protected]



Tip of the Week

Got any IT pro tips you'd like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

How to open a password-protected Excel file

In the Admin Toolbox of last week's newsletter we included the following item:

Use this Excel Unlocker Software that securely performs to recover lost and forgotten Excel file password and also unlock Excel file:


Unfortunately when you click the link it appears that the tool has been removed from the TechNet Gallery. Wayne Hanks an IT Coordinator in Belmond, Washington USA wrote to us to let us know about this, and he also offered an alternative:

Looks like the Excel Unlocker has already been taken down. However I found another work around that seems to work ok:


However the solution is not the one that is marked. Further down the thread is a step by step process, involving changing the spreadsheet to a .zip and editing one or more of the .xml files.

Thanks for the tip!


Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without 

GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

Veeam is happy to provide you with a study guide for Microsoft Certification Exam 74-409. The guide will take you through the exam objectives, helping you to prepare for and pass the examination.


If native Office 365 reports are not sufficient for you and if you need more details on your email traffic such as the sender, recipient and email subject, try PROMODAG Reports for free now!


TestDisk can help you recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again:


SQL Recovery Software allows to repairing SQL Database in safe and non-destructive way:


HDD Raw Copy Tool is a utility for low-level, sector-by-sector hard disk duplication and image creation:




In last week's newsletter I shared my own thoughts and current practices concerning web browsers (I like Brave) and search engines (I use DuckDuckGo). This generated a bit of buzz from our readers. Earl, a Computer Systems Specialist working for a company in Florida, USA responded by saying:

I have been a Quacker for over a year now here at work and at home having moved completely away for google and bing (I am not very keen on seeing browsing history pop up in ads alongside of the pages I am browsing. I find it very good at getting options on searches without the usual ad fluff found in the others. Couple that with Brave, which I have been using for almost a month even though my understanding is that it has Chrome underpinnings (I really try to avoid the google data mining nation as much as possible) and I don't get any of the fluff. So Brave has been a good companion for DuckDuckGo so far.

Great minds think alike :-)

Another user named Don responded like this:

Because I'm also fairly paranoid about privacy I've been using DDG for a couple of years now. While I do love the concept I have found it occasionally lacking in the strength of relevant links vs The Big G, unfortunately. So I find myself, maybe 10% of the time having to copy and paste the same search into G.

Likewise though I probably only descend into the gooey morass for about 2% of my searches currently…

Finally Amy who is President of a computer services company based in Michigan, USA expressed the following concerns about DuckDuckGo:

Is there any information available on how duckduckgo provides search results? In your article you mention that it provides you with more of what you are expecting to find. That sounds like it has learned your behaviors much like Google does. You also mentioned that having been away from Google for 2 years that you tried it again. You were looking at the untrained Google by then. The raw and random internet is not a pretty place.

I don't know actually. Do any of our readers have more insight into how DuckDuckGo generates its search results? Email me at [email protected]

Interesting point though about how search engines today are trained to customize the results they provide to users. This suggests some interesting experiments I might try if I ever find the time.



Ask Our Readers - Customizing password expiry in Active Directory (new question)

Ron from Georgia, USA sent us the following question:

Hi Mitch, tough nut to crack;- we need a way to customize how domain passwords expire in our environ ie., we don't want certain users' passwords to expire on weekends. Is there any simple way of doing this? 

Do any readers with expertise in Active Directory have any ideas how this can be done? Email us at [email protected]


Factoid - Public transport take two

Last week's factoid and question  was this:

Fact: Legendary PDA pioneer Palm is back as a zombie brand, and it's launching a tiny smartphone.

Question: Who here used to own a Palm Pilot?

No responses to that one. I'm kinda not surprised though.

We did however receive a couple more responses to this factoid that was in our end of 2018 issue:

Fact: Luxembourg is set to become first country to make all public transport free in order to prioritize environment and end some of world's worst traffic congestion.

Question: When was the last time you took public transport instead of driving, cycling or walking somewhere? What's it like to use public transport in your city or country, and would you use it more often if it was free?

First here's a short comment plus a photo sent to us my Shawn who is a Product/IT Manager in Colorado, USA:

I don't really recall ever seeing much traffic in Luxembourg; here's a photo I snapped of some of the public transportation available in Luxembourg City from a trip I took there in 2002:



Ha! That's cool, thanks! BTW it's kinda fun when readers like yourselves sent us humorous photos like this, so feel free to send them to us along with a comment even if they're a bit off topic as they help lighten the burden of our workday as stressed-out IT professionals. Email us at [email protected] with your photos and captions, must be your own photos though and stated as such, not just copy/pasted from online somewhere without the original owner's permission. 

A somewhat more thoughtful response on this subject was sent to us by Antonio from Sydney, Australia:

Hi Mitch,

I believe that the success of public transport depends on the frequent and cost of the it. If it is free, I definitely will be using public transport as often as I can. Unfortunately public transport is expensive here in Sydney.

To go to work on bus, it costs me $3.60 a trip over the 5km journey, which is about $7 a day but only $1 on petrol. Some people argue that I don't put on the cost of the car itself, services, rego and insurance into the equation. Well I don't. I did not buy the car for solely going to work. The car is here no matter I use it or not. That money is spent irrespective of the mode of transportation.

If I have to go to the CBD on Saturday on my own, I drive to the station and catch the train which costs me about $10 return off-peak. But if I am going with my family of 5 together on public transport, it would cost me $22 for bus return, and another $50 for train. That is lots more than driving my car, even including the toll and parking. Not to mention the bus service to me home stops around 5:30pm on Saturday.

Even worst is Sydney Train has a tendency to perform track works over the weekend, so you might have to spend at least extra 30mins when they replace trains with buses.

The way bus operators manage their business is interesting too. When I caught bus around 7:50am to work, there were always less than 5 people on board. There were times that I was the only passenger. However the bus operator responds by cutting the services and raise the fees instead of adding and reducing, forcing more and more potential customers to give up on them. It is not uncommon that there is only 1 service every one or two hours during the off-peak which is totally inconvenience to me if I have to rely on them.

Sounds like I'll be renting a car the next time I'm in Sydney!

Let's continue on this topic of public transport for a while longer by posing the following factoid:

Fact: Most cities now have websites for their public transport that do stuff like list timetables, show when busses will be arriving at certain stops, allow accessible transport vehicles to be booked, and so on.

Source: No source needed, I've just observed this from personal experience as I've traveled around.

Question: What's this online service like in your city?

Email your answer to [email protected]


Conference calendar

>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite 2019

Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida



Microsoft Ignite -- The Tour

Register for your city's Tour event here:



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Need help from the IT pro community?

WServerNews goes out each week to more than 500,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? Ask Our Readers by emailing your problems and/or questions to us at [email protected] 


Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]


WServerNews - Product of the Week

Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance 


SolarWinds® Exchange Monitor is a free tool that allows users to monitor Microsoft® Exchange™ Server 2013 and 2016. Get basic information about the server’s metrics, services, and database availability group (DAG) status. Add as many Exchange Servers as you wish. Simply click the “Add Server” button and fill IP address/domain name and credentials.

Download Free Tool

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.