Vol. 24, #8 - February 25, 2019 - Issue #1220

WServerNews: The Cable Guy

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

Editor's Corner

Not everything is all about cloud nowadays. Many of us who work in the IT profession still have to manage on-premise infrastructures ranging from large datacenters to server rooms to that PC under the desk in your home office. A big part of managing anything on-premise is cable wrangling, so this week in WServerNews we're sharing some tips from our contributors and readers on this messy topic. Because while I enjoy spaghetti as a meal, spaghetti is the bane of IT when it comes to troubleshooting networking problems. And since cables also need to run somewhere and be attached somewhere, we're also going to offer you some tips about racks, cabinets, tools and similar kinds of stuff.Let's begin with some tips on administering Office 365. 

We also have a request from one of our readers about how one should approach learning more about networking technologies, and we're hoping that a few of our readers can offer suggestions on this matter. Please check out the Ask Our Readers item in this week's newsletter.

And for those of you who like expanding your expertise by listing to podcasts, be sure to check out our TechGenix channel on SoundCloud where you can find a variety of podcasts on different technology topics. Just go here:


Enjoy this week's newsletter!

Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor

Cable management tips for IT pros

Last summer one of our longtime newsletter readers named Wayne Hanks who resides in Perth, Australia shared his thoughts with us on why working helpdesk often becomes helldesk:

Go to helldesk! Yes, you can make your helpdesk assignment less of a nightmare (Techgenix.com)


In commenting on an article recently published on our TechGenix site, Wayne also offered a bunch of helpful tips on the management of cables, racks, and such:

  1. Try to ensure that you have adequate cable management. Allow for at least 1RU cable management between patch panels and 2RU above your switch. Don't forget cable management for the rear of your cabinet if needed.
  2. Try to get your Ethernet patch leads in appropriate lengths to minimise the excess you need to hide.
  3. Many server vendors provide telescoping arms for their servers that allow the server to be removed from the rack whilst still cabled. Make sure that your cabling is long enough for your server to be removed from the rack without having to unplug cabling.
  4. If you can, resist the temptation to sit smaller kit (modems, telco gear) on top of your servers at the rear. This makes tracking down that faulty gear really difficult and removing servers impossible. Get separate shelves for this gear.
  5. Make sure that if you have rack mounted UPS in your rack, that they go in the bottom. However make sure that you leave sufficient space in the bottom of the rack for extra cables to be drawn. I've seen a few techs over the years try to kill themselves lifting UPS up higher than they need to be.
  6. On UPS, always get help putting these in the rack. It is very easy to injure yourself trying to wrangle these on your own.
  7. If you can afford it, self tracing cabling is the bees knees. This has a fibre cable moulded in each RJ45 termination of the cable, that allows for a light sender unit to make tracing cables simple. However this cabling can often be 3 to 4 times the cost of standard patch cables. 
  8. Resist the urge to make your own cables, it is much simpler and more efficient to purchase ready made patch cables, in a variety of lengths and colours to allow for colour-coding. These cables are certified, making tracing faults much easier.
  9. Try to minimise the cabling between cabinets. Try to concentrate all the components that may inter-connect in one cabinet if possible. If this is not possible, make sure that you allow sufficient length in your inter-connects to allow for adjustment, i.e. assume that you are going from the bottom of one rack, up through the top, across a cable tray and down into the bottom of the other rack. The excess can be coiled on top of the cable tray.
  10. Velcro and cable ties- Cable ties are used for fixed cabling (i.e. desk reticulation cables back to patch panels) that is not going to be moved once it is in place. Use Velcro for any other cables (or gardening twist tie wire if you are really cheap, but this is not recommended) to allow for addition/removal of cabling without losing your tidy cabling. Only ever use velcro on Fibre optic cables, to avoid kinks or sharp edges.
  11. Tools - cage nut tools are invaluable and very cheap. I always have one in my toolkit. Also cordless drill and long driver bits. This saves on the RSI from trying to do up multiple screws. Make sure that the driver bit is magnetised, or failing that place a blob of Blu-tac on the tip to hold screws while you do them up. 
  12. However... resist the urge to torque screws so tight that you need a rattle gun to get them out. The screws are there simply to hold things in place and not holding on a wheel. 
  13. Labelling - label things as you go, preferably with a specialised labeling machine. Label both ends of cables if you do not have self tracing cables.

The article Wayne was commenting on was by Ken Chase, the founder of Heavy Computing Inc. in Toronto, Canada. Ken shared his hard-earned expertise about working with cables, racks and cabinets in two articles we recently published on our TechGenix site:

Good Housekeeping For Messy Server Rooms And Datacenters (TechGenix.com)


Avoiding Future Shock: Care And Feeding Of Racks And Cabinets (TechGenix.com)


In response to Wayne's comments to his second article, Ken also added a bunch more tips himself in this comment:

One of the major wins not mentioned was the new thinner ethernet cables (around 12-14ga). Some may decry them mainly because they come very close or exceed the noise standards when extended to ethernet's max 100m lengths. But you're using 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, etc ft cables in a rack, way below max length. I've never had a problem with them.

Cables2Go and other vendors have been selling these for years, and I've been using them for years. Being able to bundle 20 ethernet cables around 14ga thickness instead of just 6 at 4ga or so is a huge win for rack cleanliness and airflow.

I also stand by using random ethernet cable colours (I've never seen bi-colour ethernet but wish I had). Random may not look pretty but it removes bias: you aren't assuming the cable is specifically connected to something/for a purpose so wont make a mistake. Code the colour into the switch config -- when you go to move/unplug the cable you check the switch. If the colour doesnt match, trace it.

Beware labels: the glue cooks off. I've seen a client with 100s of pretty little white labels littering the cables at the bottom of the rack where it's cooler. Also, cables often get reused without labels replaced (and many leave their glue on the cable, creating a nice black dust-collection spot on the cable, ready to get on your hands). I just don't use labels and refer to single-point-of-authority for all my configuration details, on electronics (the switch) which can be backed up nightly and versioned into git &c.

Your boss may not like it if it's not pretty but she's not the one running the rack and risking job security. I havent found a server that cares how pretty its rack is to determine its uptime yet either.

There's a veritable goldmine of useful information in the above comments and the referenced articles. And if you have additional cable/rack management tips you'd like to share with our readers, please email me at [email protected]

And finally, if any readers need to run cabling outdoors for some reason, this article I wrote two years ago may help:

Inside Advice For Outside: Tips On Running Lan Cabling Outdoors (TechGenix)




This week in other news

A security professional recently forwarded me a link to the following blog post by Julia Reda a member of the European Parliament who represents the European Pirate Party (PPEU):

The text of Article 13 and the EU Copyright Directive has just been finalized (Julia Reda)


The post focuses on Articles 11 and 13 of the upcoming EU Copyright Directive and how they may impact the future evolution of the internet. I'd be interested in hearing from any of our readers who may have thoughts on how this Directive, if passed, might impact their own jobs as IT professionals. 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 clear out the contents on Window's Credential Manager

Rhoderick Milne of Microsoft shared a script you can use to clean Credman in this post on the 250 Hello blog:


This script can be helpful in certain scenarios where you're doing demonstrations for customers.


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]

Read a guide to learn about your data management ROI. In this book, we look at 3 data protection languages to help you communicate and collaborate with various teams within your organization. 


This function is a piece of PSWindowsUpdate module to manage Windows Update on a computer system running Windows:


Wunderlist helps you organize your Outlook inbox and save emails as tasks where you can track & organize them:


This PowerShell script audits and monitors Logon/Logoff user on servers:




We're still getting some feedback from readers about which web browser is best to use nowadays. Charles who lives in Tallahassee, Florida USA says:

Mitch, I've used Firefox for many years now. I gave MS Edge a good, honest 3-week try...forget it! 

In my opinion, the same people that still whine about The Ribbon are the same people that whine about Firefox Quantum. Below are two links that should help you form your own opinion--and perhaps you should:

Why Firefox Had to Kill Your Favorite Extension (How-To Geek)


Latest Firefox Quantum release available with faster, always-on privacy with opt-in Tracking Protection and new features (The Mozilla Blog)


Thanks for sharing this info with us.


Ask Our Readers - How to learn more about networking (new question)

Saverino from South Africa sent us the following request:

Dear Mitch,

First of all I want to say thank you for giving me the links to your sites such as http://techgenix.com (Love this site) http://www.wservernews.com and http://www.fititpronews.com and I've subscribed to them getting all the latest on IT all the way here in South Africa. As you know that I am a big fan of your work and articles and you have inspired me in so many ways. Why I am writing you this email is to ask for advice. I work for an IT support company as a technician on the road as well as Network and server support. I have a huge passion for networking and mainly work with Microsoft and want to learn more. I've done my A+, N+ in 2001 then server +. I want to know as much as I can and please advise me on what to study further regards to networking. I have downloaded a CCNA ebook and really like it. Anyways thank you for your time reading my mail and hope to hear from you soon.

Have a nice day and regards from here all the way in South Africa.

Can any readers offer suggestions on what path he should follow to achieve his goal? Email us at [email protected]

Factoid - Smartphones are becoming increasingly minimalist

Last week's factoid and question  was this:

Fact: Pogonotrophy is the act of cultivating, or growing and grooming, a mustache, beard, sideburns or other facial hair.

Question: How many of our IT pro readers are trying to grow a beard? And why? Think it'll make you look less like a nerd?

The responses to this question have been growing on me slowly (like my beard). For example a reader named Jim says:

I've had to have a beard almost my entire married life. Because of my baby face, my wife hates it that my clean shaved face makes me look younger than her. Of course, she's trying to hide the fact that I AM younger than her. :)

Well most geeks are baby-faced, aren't they? ;-)

Another reader named Anthony who hails from the UK says:

I never really had to try and grow a beard I just never got the hang of shaving. So after over 40 years of not shaving and just hacking the beard back whenever it gets in the way I reckon I have saved about 2 months shaving time, all spent being a nerd.

What did you do with those extra 2 months of your life? ;-)

Finally and perhaps most tellingly, a Canadian reader named Joanne says:


A female reader of WServerNews.

Yay! Speak up, girls!! :-)

Now let's move on to this week's factoid:

Fact: Smartphones are becoming increasingly minimalist to the point where they don't have a headphone jack, charging port, SIM card slot, speaker grill, or buttons. Just a couple of pinholes.


Question: What's next? Get rid of the screen? 

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:


More Microsoft conferences

IoT in Action - Feb 26-27 in Nuremburg, Germany


Microsoft Business Applications Summit - June 10-11 in Atlanta, Georgia


Microsoft DevDays - June 17-21 in Redmond, Washington USA


Microsoft Inspire - July 14-18 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA


Infosec conferences

RSA Conference - March 4-8 in San Francisco, California USA


Black Hat Asia - March 26-29 in Singapore


Cyber Security Summit - April 4 in Denver, Colorado USA


Cyber Security Summit - April 25 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA


European Identity & Cloud Conference - May 14-17 in Munich, Germany


Cyber Security Summit - May 15 in Dallas, Texas USA


Infosecurity Europe - June 4-6 in London, England


Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit - June 17-20 in National Harbor, Maryland USA


Cyber Security Summit - June 27 in Washington D.C. USA


Other conferences

SQLBits: The SQL Server Conference - Feb 27 to Mar 2 in Manchester, England


Technology and Solutions Summit 2019 - March 11-15 in Paris, France


IT Nation Connect - March 25-27 in Gold Coast, Australia


Dell Technologies World - April 29 to May 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA


SharePoint Fest - April 29 to May 3 in Washington D.C. USA


VeeamON (Veeam) - May 20-22 in Miami, Florida USA


Citrix Synergy - May 21-23 in Atlanta, Georgia USA


SharePoint Conference - May 21-23 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA


Computex - May 28 to June 1 in Taipei, Taiwan


Microsoft Azure + AI Conference - ;June 10-13 in Atlanta, Georgia


Cloud & DevOps World - June 12-13 in London, England



New on TechGenix.com

Riding the Windows lifecycle without falling off: Are you supported?

Having released a surfeit of Windows 10 versions, Microsoft has left us confused about which are supported. Let's untangle the messy Windows lifecycle.


Three tips for securing your AWS EC2 instances

Servers running in the AWS cloud need to be secured as well as or better than servers in your datacenter. Here are some tips to secure your EC2 instances.


Best measures to protect yourself against data breaches

Your data is precious. You have spent time and money collecting it. But your treasure is a hacker's prize. Here's how to avoid data breaches.


Cisco CloudCenter Suite provides improved cloud-management features

Work in a multicloud environment? The new Cisco CloudCenter Suite may be for you. It is an integrated set of software modules meant to simplify management.


A sneak peek into the near future of mobile app development

In a world that is embracing mobility at breakneck speed, it's no surprise that mobile app development is also moving fast. What's next? Find out here.




Fun videos from Flixxy

What This Guy Does With A R/C Helicopter Is Incredible

Alan Szabo is one of the best R/C helicopter pilots in the world:


Shin Lim Performs Epic Magic

Shin Lim blows minds yet again with his incredible card tricks on America's Got Talent 2019: The Champions:


The 8th Wonder Of The World

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May are in China exploring what is soon to become 'The 8th Wonder Of The World.'


Andy Kaufman Does Elvis Presley (1979)

Andy Kaufman does an Elvis Presley impersonation at the Johnny Cash Christmas Special in 1979:



 More articles of Interest

Full virtualization vs. paravirtualization: What are the key differences?

Although full virtualization and paravirtualization both enable hardware resource abstraction, the two technologies differ when it comes to isolation levels. Learn more here.


How to set up a Windows Autopilot deployment

IT can set profiles for its devices running Windows 10 and enroll them in Active Directory with the Windows Autopilot tool, but Autopilot does not cover many settings. Find out more now. 


Client and server-based virtual application delivery methods

IT pros can deliver virtual apps to users with a client-based or server-based approach. The main difference is where the data lives. Read more here. 


Google's proposed Chrome extension API changes have developers riled up

Under the guise of improving UX and privacy, Google's proposed API changes could break ad blockers and other Chrome extensions. Keep reading here.



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.