Vol. 23, #33 - August 20, 2018 - Issue #1195

WServerNews Spotlight: Azure

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 we turn our spotlight on Microsoft Azure to see what's new, interesting, and useful. If you haven't tried Azure yet you can start your free trial today and receive $200 in Azure credits to run virtual machines, store data, develop apps, and do lots of other stuff:


One tip though: if you do take advantage of this free trial offer then be sure to read this article:

Avoid getting charged for your Azure free account (Microsoft docs)



 Azure IaaSOpsGuide updated

The Azure IaaS Operations Guidance is a collection of Azure Infrastructure installation and operational guidance resources found on the Allergic To Code blog. It's updated frequently to highlight core installation and operational procedures for an Azure IaaS deployment which predominantly will consist of Compute, Network and Storage resources.



Azure Active Directory Resources

Another helpful resource is the following list of Microsoft resources on Azure Active Directory from Matt Soseman:


Extending on-premises identity infrastructure from Windows Server's Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) to the cloud-based Azure Active Directory service is a hot trend nowadays in the IT world. Matt's resource page is a good place to start if you're thinking of moving your company's infrastructure in that direction and you want to learn more.


Azure Log Analytics

Azure Log Analytics is a service in Azure that helps you collect and analyze operational data generated by resources in your cloud and on-premises infrastructure. For a quick overview see here:


Kevin Justin's System Center Blog recently started a series of posts explaining how to get this set up:

Azure Log Analytics Service Map Planning and Pre-reqs


Installing and configuring the MMA agent


Install Azure Log Analytics Service Map Dependency Agent


Additional posts will appear soon here:



Azure Security Centre Alerts

Yuri Diogenes recently posted an article explaining how you can configure the Azure Security Center to provide a security contact that will receive email notifications for Security Alerts:


Azure Security Center provides unified security management and advanced threat protection across hybrid cloud workloads. For an overview of this service see here:



Preventing a data breach

If you're organization is using a cloud service like Microsoft Azure, you need to take steps to guard against a data breach happening. For a good introduction on how to accomplish this see this post from Matt Soseman's blog:



Azure Essentials

Finally, a quick and fun way to learn more about Microsoft Azure is to watch, learn, and try it out with Microsoft Azure Essentials:




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]

Start several VMs with a script

This PowerShell code snippet from Kontext can be used to start multiple VMs through vmplayer.exe:




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]

Need to migrate tons of emails to a new email server? Then give MailStore Server a try with the 30 days free trial. It also grants you full control over your business emails.


Do you protect your Hyper-V & VMware VMs against data loss? Altaro VM Backup is a hassle-free and affordably priced virtual machine backup solution. Don’t miss out - grab your FOREVER FREE copy now


Free learning courses: learn Microsoft SQL Server 2016 from first time configuration to PowerShell scripts for automation.


BPCheck checks SQL Server in scope for some of most common skewed Best Practices and performance issues:


PAL reads a perfmon counter log and analyzes it using different thresholds:


Sysinternals Sysmon now includes the ability to tag rules so that event log entries include the rule tag that generated them:




Last week in Issue #1194 What has happened to tech support? I mentioned how I'm becoming more and more concerned about the quality and direction that helpdesk support is taking with many software and hardware vendors. Doug, a Systems Administrator, wrote to send us a comment about another frustrating issue with tech support that I haven't personally experienced yet:

To me a major problem in recent years has been back ground noise in support calls. It is why I prefer online chat or emails when they can handle the problem. We all deal with accents on the phone, but it gets dramatically more challenging when there is so much noise. Several conversations going on in the background that are louder than the one I am having. Recently when I called HP I swear I was in the middle of a party or parade. Maybe the help desk staff are now answering their cell phones while out on the town. I couldn't hear what they were trying to say (but I would have been really interested in having a video chat so I could see what was going on). It was late Friday and not time critical, so in frustration I asked them to call me back next week. That call never happened. 

Have any other readers experienced this kind of thing happening when they call helpdesk at some vendor? Email me at [email protected]

And a few weeks back in the Factoid section of Issue #1193 Making money supporting small businesses I showed how three online translators (Google, Microsoft, Deepl) translated the first verse of Schiller's Ode to Joy from German into English and I concluded that Deepl did the best job translating the poem. A reader named Greg agreed with my assessment as follows:

Hi Mitch, Es freut' mich Ihre Anfrage zu lesen! Eine Gelegenheit mien Deutsch zu euben! I don't know if it was my email reader (Thunderbird via Gmail) mangled it, but your "original" German text for the poem was a bit, well, "original." I could only make out parts of it. However, after consulting the Google and finding the German text, I would agree that of the three translations you proffered, the Deepl one was the best. It even caught the grammatically correct translation of "funken" as "sparks" in the plural, even though it doesn't agree with the singular "Joy" ("Freude") that begins the sentence. I could quibble about "Zauber" being rendered as "spells" instead of the literal "magic" but it does work in translation that Deepl offers. My only real objection is to "... what strictly divides fashion ..." It's pretty clear in the original German that "die Mode" is the subject of that clause, not the object, so it should be "what fashion strictly divides ..." so I think Google Translate wins a point for getting this bit correct. Also, I'd prefer "convention" rather than "fashion" for "die Mode," as I think that's the sense that's being invoked here. Thanks for this fun chance to exercise my German!

Gern geschehen!


Ask Our Readers - Need good PDF compression software (another suggestion)

A few weeks ago we shared this email we received from a systems administrator named Susan in Minnesota, USA: 

Due to process changes in the company, we now have a lot of users scanning and saving PDF documents, and as you can imagine, they're chewing up space at a fast rate. I've been looking into options, but thought another tech might know of a good PDF compression software we could use. Something that could run as a scheduled task that I wouldn't have to babysit would be awesome. Looking for opinions and options.

Giles who works in IT Support for a municipality in Alberta, Canada wrote in to offer a suggestion:

In response to yesterday's newsletter query concerning PDF compression software, have you received any reference to Free PDF Compressor?


I've used this small application for a few years now and it seems to do the job nicely. It's a basic application, both in features and ease of use. Select an input PDF file, your desired level of compression, and click 'Compress'. No batch processing, but also no fuss. Our users have no problem with operation, and are generally happy with the output and file size savings.

FWIW, I was a little dubious of 'Free PDF Compressor' but Virus Total reports no trouble:


Hope this helps!

Any other suggestions from our readers? Email us at [email protected]



Ask Our Readers - Are there any risks to using 2FA? (new question)

Way back in April in Issue #1177 Ask Our Readers - Third-party RDP apps we indicated that several of our readers expressed that Devolutions Remote Desktop Manager was "the best RDP app hands down":


Albert from Ontario, Canada wrote to us this week with a question about using two-factor authentication (2FA) with cloud services:

Hi Mitch, I read with interest a while back about RDP managers. Seems like the Devolutions product is the most popular. We have been toying with the idea of using 2FA to our most sensitive servers (maybe all of them) and am wondering if others have used this feature and if it works well. Also, what happens in the case of various failures if things are locked down with 2FA - if this is done via the cloud, what happens if the internet is down at a site? Also, has anyone else used something different for 2FA to their servers?

What do other readers think about this? Email your thoughts and suggestions to us at [email protected]


Factoid - Best sushi experience?

Last week's factoid and questionwas unfortunately bungled and Your Editor failed to notice, so let's move on to this week's factoid:

Fact: Tuna House does the best sushi this side of the Sea of Japan.

Source: Some years ago when I was visiting the Microsoft campus in Redmond on a project relating to the Internet Information Services (IIS) role of Windows Server, I went out for dinner to the Tuna House with another Microsoft MVP and we ordered omakase. If you aren't familiar with this term, it means informing the sushi chef that you'll leave it up to him what to serve you for dinner. This is usually an excuse for the chef to go all out in preparing some unique sushi creations from the freshest ingredients available to him that day.

Needless to say, the other MVP and I were not disappointed -- it was the best sushi by far that I've ever experienced -- and expensive too!

I haven't been to the Tuna House recently as I don't have much occasion to go to Redmond these days, but the reviews on TripAdvisor suggest that the standards there are still high despite the fact that the restaurant has moved from the tiny dingy strip mall it used to be located in that gave it a particular charm back then:


Question: The obvious question for me to ask of course is this: what's the best sushi place you've ever had occasion to dine in? Email your mouth-watering answers to [email protected]


Conference calendar

North America

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

VMworld -- Aug 26-30 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA


Microsoft Ignite -- September 24-28, 2018 in Orlando, Florida USA


IT/Dev Connections -- Oct 15-18 in Dallas, Texas USA




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

VMworld Europe -- Nov 5-8 in Barcelona, Spain


Cybersecurity Leadership Summit -- Nov 12-14 in Berlin, Germany


European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference -- Nov 26-29 in Copenhagen, Denmark




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

No conferences listed at present.


New on TechGenix.com

Automating application packaging with PowerShell

Packaging software applications for deployment can often be a headache. Let's see how one admin made application packaging easy with PowerShell.


World gone wrong: Using event logs to troubleshoot Hyper-V

When something goes wrong with Windows Server Hyper-V, the event logs are a good place to look for answers. But navigating them can be a problem.


Free Microsoft Teams version now available for small businesses

Good news for small businesses on a tight budget: A free Microsoft Teams version is available. Here's what it does and here's how you qualify.


'Bye-bye passwords: Switching to phone sign-in for Microsoft authentication

Microsoft is rolling out "phone sign-in," an easier and more secure way to access your accounts without having to use passwords.


Microsoft unveils Azure Virtual WAN and Azure Firewall

Azure Virtual WAN and Azure Firewall, two new offerings from Microsoft, can help your organization with both connectivity and security.



Fun videos from Flixxy

Real Life Trick Shots - Part 2 - Dude Perfect

The guys from Dude Perfect, a Texas-based trick shot group, are back with another impressive round of trick shots involving household objects and everyday tasks:


Mid-Air Airplane Repair (1924)

'Gladys Ingle of the '13 Black Cats' changes planes and fixes new landing gear on disabled plane in mid-air:


Let's see Tom Cruise try doing that!

Burj Khalifa - Platform Inspection At 2,717 ft (828 m)

Engineer Andy Veall – who admits being uncomfortable with heights - inspects the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure ever built at 2,717 ft (828 m):


Can Tom Cruise top that?

NASA Live: Official Stream of NASA TV

Watch NASA TV live streaming here to get the latest from our exploration of our planet and the universe. Note: To watch a different segment, click on the red timeline:



 More articles of Interest

AWS low-code strategy hones in on back-end services

AWS has yet to unveil a native and general-purpose low-code platform, but some of its services, such as Lex and Sumerian, seem to endorse that model.


Enterprises wrestle with OpenStack backup, DR challenges

To work around the manual and often tedious processes associated with OpenStack DR and backup, some enterprises have turned to third-party tools. Find out which ones here.


Modern deployment models put a new spin on componentization

Developers can use containers, serverless and microservices to strengthen app composability, but there are tradeoffs to consider. Discover the brave new world of componentization.


A QA team finds continuous testing benefits worth the effort

QA teams can gain a lot from continuous testing. While successful continuous testing requires all of an organization to get on board, the results are worth it.



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.