Vol. 17, #11 - March 12, 2012 - Issue #870

Data Recovery Options

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Short Personal Note
    • From the Mailbag
    • Data Recovery Options
    • Tip of the Week
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Quotes of the Week
    • Coming up Next Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. Webinars & Seminars
    • ManageEngine User Conference and Training
    • Conferences, Expos and Other Events  
    • Upcoming Microsoft Webcasts
    • Upcoming VMware Webcasts
    • Upcoming O'Reilly Webcasts
    • Cisco Events
    • Oracle Events
  4. Tech Briefing
    • Windows 7, Solid State Drives and Why A WinSAT Score Matters
    • From the Directory Services Mail Sack
    • OneNote Mobile is here
    • Use PowerShell to Find Last Logon Times for Virtual Workstations
  5. Windows Server News
    • Overcoming data migration issues with cloud-based data warehousing
    • How virtual security appliances and tools protect a data center
    • Desktop virtualization, step one: Know your goals
    • Secure Windows Server in the cloud via Active Directory Group Policy 
  6. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff.
  7. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • rDirectory Group Management - Secure delegation lets users and Help Desk share the work!

 

Directory Group Management ? Secure delegation lets users and Help Desk share the work!

Last month, we talked about the importance of secure provisioning for new Active Directory user accounts. Today, let?s discuss one of the most time-consuming tasks for those new users - Group Management. Managing group memberships manually is expensive and tedious.  rDirectory lets you securely delegate this task to the Help Desk and group managers, allowing them to add and remove users from groups. Take it a step further and allow users to self-subscribe (and unsubscribe) from groups and query-based distribution lists. rDirectory helps take a load off IT, increase productivity and save money.

http://www.namescape.com/Products/rDirectory/Products/rDirectory/Features/GroupManagement.aspx?src=sbelt120312

 

Editor's Corner

Short Personal Note

My latest book Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010 Users is now available:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331288433745

The book targets information workers (end-users) and uses scenario-based walkthroughs to illustrate how they can use the security and privacy features of Office 2010 and to a lesser extent of Office 365. The book is currently available in print form from Microsoft Press through O'Reilly Media and is also available in ebook form as a free download. Enjoy!

Also, the next issue of WServerNews will be published on Friday, March 16 instead of the usual Monday.

Save this newsletter so you can refer back to itand find helpful tips, tools and other resources that can help you when you face some planning decision, management task or troubleshooting headache!

From the Mailbag

The February 27 issue Seriously SSD seemed to have struck a chord with many readers. Here's a short selection from the feedback we received from several of them:

Excellent article on SSDs. I have 2 Intel 510 SSDs in RAID0 in my Lenovo W520 laptop (+desktop replacement) and love it. PCMarkVantage benchmark doubled (from 9,800 with HDD to 19,400). PCMark 7 is 4,500. I chose Intel for reliability and had no problems with them in the last 10 months.

I haven't migrated yet for production, but the first tests with an OCZ Vertex 3 SSD on my WHS2003 server brought boot time from 2 minutes to 2 to 3 seconds (from the moment the OS starts loading). Unbelievable performance! I just need some time to properly seat the device in my server and copy all partitions over with respect of the 4K alignment.

VMware VIEW linked clones. Since these are almost totally read only (when virtual desktops boot up, and run any software) this is an ideal use of the SSD technology. We are getting very good performance. We had been advised that disk IOs were going to be our bottleneck, and since we were buying a new SAN anyway (for the VIEW setup) the cost of getting 3 RAID5 SSDs was not that high. Since they are only holding the linked clone, i.e. only perhaps 3 or 4 different images for our setup, and of course read only, you don't need a lot of space. The delta disks are on standard 600GB 15K 6Gb SAS disks, RAID5. We didn't do a lot of 'Proof of Concept' or testing different systems--but are very pleased with the performance we're getting. No facts or figures though I'm afraid, just very pleased users (which for most of us is top priority!!).

Sheldon from Canada also offered this interesting take on SSDs, Macs and defragging:

After a dozen years using Thinkpad T-series laptops I upgraded my main laptop to a MacBook Pro 15" (MBP) with a 512GB SSD in March 2011. It wasn't my first Mac but I'd mostly used my older 13" black macbook for a RedHat Linux machine. The experience of carrying the 13" Macbook and a Thinkpad T60p for 3 years convinced me to make the big move to Apple when it was time to replace the Thinkpad. I've never looked back. I really love the MBP and have since added two MacMini servers and a 13" MacBook Air.

Not much to add on the enterprise integration side other than I've never had a problem using or integrating the MBP on any client site where I've worked. Part of the reason is probably because I run a Windows XP system in a VM created by VMware's Fusion product. It's actually a virtualization of my old Thinkpad T60p. I also run a RedHat Desktop linux VM. The MBA has 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD and it has the horsepower to comfortably run both VMs plus OSX at the same time. The SSD is a real treat. The system reboots in under 10 seconds and Lion restores all of the running applications. Many things on the Mac really do "just work" and I've gotten used to painless upgrades and backups that just happen in the background with Time Machine.

I was worried about what to do about disk defragmentation of the NTFS volume running in the VM on a SSD on the host machine. I had a conversation with Diskeeper Corporation and confirmed I was following best practice. I create a Fusion VM SnapShot periodically to minimize changes to the OSX host HFS file system and I run automated TimeMachine backups every hour. I've disabled Diskeeper automatic defragmentation in the VM and do periodic manual defrags every week or so on the WindowsXP virtual disk. I don't want to unnecessarily modify the contents of the SSD to both (a) extend the life of the SSD and (b) minimize the size of the incremental TimeMachine backups. I enable Diskeeper IntelliWrite on the virtual NTFS volume.

David from North Carolina pointed out the following:

There has been some recent information floating around the Internet to the effect that as SSDs become more dense (ie, the NAND memory cells are smaller), that the access times are getting slower, which may present a problem for SSDs as manufacturers try to cram more storage into the same space, see:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331288873753

I searched around a bit and found the following discussion on Slashdot relating to this topic, which may be of interest to any "early adopters" among you:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331288909289

By the way, be sure to check out the Tech Briefing section of this newsletter for an important tip concerning SSD drives on Windows 7. Finally, I'll be sharing some additional reader feedback concerning SSDs in a future article on WindowsNetworking.com and will let you know when it's posted.

Data Recovery Options

If the hard drive on your computer dies you basically have three options:

Which option you choose will probably depend on your testosterone level and appetite for risk, but it should really depend on how much you value your data. For example, if the drive has business-critical data from your server, then you'll probably NOT want to try putting the drive in a ziplock bag and leaving it in your deep freezer for a few hours...

But before we continue, I tried to find a funny XKCD comic related to the topic of data loss and instead discovered this interesting post on the XKCD "blag":
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331289076927

The DIY Approach

Yes it's apparently true--if your hard drive goes flakey you might be able to recover your data from it by enclosing the drive in an airtight bag and leaving it in the freezer overnight because doing this shrinks the parts slightly which lets the bearings turn more freely (assuming that frozen bearings are the problem). Then in the morning when you take the drive out and plug it into an external hard drive enclosure connected to another computer, you may be able to copy some or all of your data off of the drive before it warms up to room temperature again. Or you could run your hard drive while it's still in your freezer as this Hack N Mod post suggests:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331289277509

But first let's back off a bit. So the hard drive in your computer has failed--what should you do first? The First Rule of Data Recovery is to immediately stop trying to use the computer as any additional disk activity may make it harder to recover data from the drive. The approach you choose to follow next for attempting to recover the data from your failed hard drive (assuming you can afford to lose your data if your efforts fail) depends on the type of failure being experienced. For example, let's say your PC won't boot, so you take the drive out and add it as a second drive in a different PC but the other PC won't even see the drive in the BIOS. Let's say also that you noticed that when you tried booting the original PC from the failed drive you could hear the drive platters spinning and the heads seeking (clicking). That means the data might still be there on the drive and the drive's controller may simply have gone kaput (perhaps it got fried by a power surge). If you have another identical drive to one that failed (or if you can get a used one on eBay) you could try swapping the controller boards on the two drives if you're geeky enough to do this (it sometimes just involves removing four screws though they may be torx bits but other times it may involve some finicky soldering or fiddling around with cabling). There are some hazards however with following this approach as the following articles indicate:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331289314157

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331289338223

If your drive is still being detected in the BIOS of your PC but Windows is unable to read it, you could try booting from a Debian/Ubuntu CD and running gddrescue (gddrescue can sometimes read data from drives that Windows won't let you read from because it works at the block level and tries to force a read on failing disk sectors). You can then dump the image to a new drive (make sure it's larger than the original), mount the image, and extract the files you want to recover from it. And if you are unable to mount image, you can try using PhotoRec to extract your data:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331289349239

Another approach is to get hold of a good data recovery utility and use it. Some of these are free while some others are expensive. Some of the ones that have been recommended to me by other IT pros include the following:

Recommended Data Recovery Agencies

I've talked with lots of people who have used various data recovery agencies, and while I can't personally vouch for any of the ones I've listed below I nevertheless offer them to you "as is" as recommendations from others in the IT pro community. Before you contact any of them however, make sure you set a budget for how much recovering your data is worth to you and also set your expectations with regard to turnaround time.

Share your expertise!

Do you have any tips or tricks of your own for recovering data from failed hard drives? Or any data recovery agencies you can recommend? Contact me at [email protected]

Tip of the Week

Sometimes updates downloaded and installed from Windows Update require a reboot of the system in order for installation of the updates to complete properly. This can be annoying however if you have programs running on your system and you are away from the system (and hopefully asleep at 3 am when updates are normally installed). When the reboot occurs, Windows will forcibly shut down any running programs after waiting a period of time for the user to respond. As an example of the type of frustration that can result, let's say that you have Outlook running with a very large PST file. In this case it's possible that forcible shutdown of Outlook may corrupt the PST file. Then when you log on to the system in the morning and start Outlook, it may take some time for Outlook to scan and repair the PST file before you can access your email.

If you have Windows Update configured to download and install updates automatically on a standalone Windows 7 system, you can follow these steps to ensure that the system waits for you to respond before it reboots:

  1. Type gpedit.msc in the Start menu search box and open Group Policy editor on your system.
  2. Enable the "No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installations" policy setting found under Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update

If this problem happens on domain-joined systems, the domain admin can use Group Policy to configure the above policy setting on targeted computers.

Recommended for Learning

Two books from Microsoft Press reviewed this week:

Windows Sysinternals Administrator's Reference from Microsoft Press is a comprehensive reference for IT pros who use Mark Russinovich's tools for managing and troubleshooting Windows computers.  I feel that while this book is essential for every IT pro to have on their shelf, by itself the book is not enough to learn how to properly use these tools as what's missing from the book are step-by-step examples of putting them to work. Fortunately, you can find just these kinds of examples on Mark's blog which is found here:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290037700

So putting these two things together--Mark's blog posts and this book--gives you all you need to really become an expert in using these tools. You can get the book here:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290065271

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Pocket Consultant from Microsoft Press is another concise reference book written by prolific IT author William Stanek (he's written over 100 books, yikes!) and I recommend it for any of you who need to administer SQL Server 2012 in your environment. The great thing about these Pocket Consultant titles is how they're organized--you just look up the task you need to perform and it tells you how to do it using SQL Server Management Studio or using T-SQL statements.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290078098

Quotes of the Week

The quotations I choose for inclusion in these newsletters are all based on my own current reading which tends to be pretty wide ranging. I believe strongly that one can learn a lot from almost any successful person in any field and then apply it to one's own situation to improve oneself and become more successful in work and life. These days I'm reading a lot of bodybuilding and fitness stuff, so here are three quotes from a recent issue of Muscular Development magazine that have inspired me:

"Constantly research and always keep an open mind, brother! This is key. It's the guys who think they know everything who never make any progress." --Jason "Huge" Huh

"I live by this saying: If it isn't about food, shelter or clothing, it isn't that serious. This alone allows you less stress in your life and keeps you positive minded." --IFBB pro Fakhri Mubarak

"Extreme actions will lead to extreme outcomes, and you don't want to lose anything you've worked so hard to gain." --Seth "Ferocious" Feroce

Speaking of bodybuilders, until recently I used to be your stereotypical middle-aged "fat IT pro" with aching knees, high blood pressure and always out of breath. Then about a year and a half ago I decided to finally make losing weight and getting into shape a priority. Since then I've lost about 50 lbs of fat and gained around 20 lbs of muscle through a combination of resistance training, cardio and clean eating. The result is that I now feel 20 years younger, have more energy, get my work done more easily, and enjoy life a whole lot more. You can do it too! So if you're currently a "fat IT pro" like I used to be, check out my Facebook page where I regularly post stories about my fitness journey and tips concerning exercises, diet and supplements:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290206945

Coming up Next Week

Since the public beta release of Windows Server "8" is now available for download, we're going to devote the next issue of this newsletter to our impressions of the product, tips for working with it, and additional resources where you can learn more about it. The next newsletter will be published on Friday, March 16 rather than the usual Monday. So stay tuned!

Contact the Editor

Save this newsletter so you can refer back to it later for tips, tools and other resources you might need to do your job or troubleshoot some problem you're dealing with!

Forward this newsletter to a friend or colleague who might find the tips and tools in it helpful for performing their job!
Send me feedback if you have comments or suggestions concerning anything in this newsletter: [email protected] 

Cheers, Mitch Tulloch 
Twitter: @mitchtulloch 
Facebook: mitchtulloch
Website: mtit.com

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

mPowerTools - an AD admin essential! 200+ reports, bulk import/export, scheduling, and GPO/File Share Reports. Eliminate scripting! ONLY $1,499!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331296556821

New Top 10 free tools for IT pros. Audit changes in AD, servers, mailboxes; manage passwords and event log; monitor disc space usage; secure end-points, etc.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331296624176

ManageEngine OpManager -  an end-to-end network monitoring software that offers advanced fault and performance management functionality across critical IT resources. Free version also available.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331301500338

GRC's SpinRite can often bring hard drives back from the dead:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290537254

Use MiniTtool Power Data Recovery to recover files from your failed hard drive:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290565099

 

Webinars & Seminars

ManageEngine User Conference & Training

March 27 - 28, 2012 - ManageEngine is hosting its first User Conferenece in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. Learn, discuss, and exchange your experiences with other attendees, ManageEngine Executives and Partners. Win complimentary gifts.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331297971740

Conferences, Expos and Other Events

March 26 - 29, 2012 - SQL Server 2012 Launch Conference and Expo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290612407

April 16-20, 2012 - Microsoft Management Summit 2012 is where skilled IT professionals can meet to increase their technical expertise through hands-on training, breakout sessions and interacting with industry leaders in desktop and device management, datacenter, and cloud technologies:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290636054

Upcoming Microsoft Events and Webcasts

Sign up for these and other Microsoft events and webcasts at:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290745763 

Upcoming VMware Webcasts

Sign up these and other VMware webcasts at:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290785842

Upcoming O'Reilly Webcasts

Sign up for these and other O'Reilly webcasts at:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290809250

Upcoming Cisco Events

Browse the Cisco Corporate Events Calendar to find Cisco at events, trade shows and conferences around the world:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290827811

Upcoming Oracle Events

Browse the Oracle Events page to find in-person events and live webcasts for your location:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290845755

Would you like to list your IT event, webcast, or seminar in this section? Contact Michael Vella, the WSN Account Manager at [email protected]

 

Tech Briefing

Windows 7, Solid State Drives and Why A WinSAT Score Matters

A tip about not disabling WinSAT from the blog of Mark Morowczynski, a premier field engineer at Microsoft:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331290990342

From the Directory Services Mail Sack

Some questions and some answers from the Directory Services team at Microsoft:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291020078

OneNote Mobile is here

Windows Phone has it, and now it's available for Android, Symbian, iPad and iPhone:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291032696

Use PowerShell to Find Last Logon Times for Virtual Workstations

A helpful post from The Scripting Guy for keeping a closer eye on your users:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291045907

 

Windows Server News

Overcoming data migration issues with cloud-based data warehousing

Cloud computing and data warehousing are a logical pair. Cloud storage is scalable on-demand, allowing a cloud to host a large number of servers dedicated to a specific task. Data warehousing is limited by compute and storage resources as well as by the designer?s ability to think of new data sources to integrate. Moving a data warehouse and its data analytics tools from dedicated servers within the data center to cloud-based file systems and databases can solve this problem -- if you can overcome some data migration challenges.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291865276

How virtual security appliances and tools protect a data center

Virtual security appliances and tools keep the bad guys out. But vendors approach virtual security differently and not every tool may suit your needs. Access this buyer?s guide to ensure you are choosing the best technologies for your data center.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291896568

Desktop virtualization, step one: Know your goals

Before you jump into desktop virtualization, consider your end game. Why do you need desktop virtualization in the first place? Once you establish what you are trying to get from the technology, you can choose the best tools and options for your situation.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291911977

Secure Windows Server in the cloud via Active Directory Group Policy

With cloud technologies and server virtualization becoming a huge presence within the data center, many administrators are tasked with utilizing existing Server 2008 R2 installations to secure these new environments. Learn how Active Group policy can help in this expert tip.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291924067

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

The advanced features of the forthcoming Photoshop CS-6 demonstrated by Adobe's Senior Product Manager:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291957439

The most breathtaking landscapes and authentic experiences across Alberta, Canada:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291968792

Animated illustration of a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291979957

Champion driver Vaughn Gittin in his 2011 Ford Mustang drift car chases Remote Controlled Ford Mustang drift car.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331291990923 

The 'Pale Blue Dot' - a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from a distance of about 3.7 billion miles:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1331292008485

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Directory Group Management ? Secure delegation lets users and Help Desk share the work!

Last month, we talked about the importance of secure provisioning for new Active Directory user accounts. Today, let?s discuss one of the most time-consuming tasks for those new users - Group Management. Managing group memberships manually is expensive and tedious.  rDirectory lets you securely delegate this task to the Help Desk and group managers, allowing them to add and remove users from groups. Take it a step further and allow users to self-subscribe (and unsubscribe) from groups and query-based distribution lists. rDirectory helps take a load off IT, increase productivity and save money.

http://www.namescape.com/Products/rDirectory/Products/rDirectory/Features/GroupManagement.aspx?src=sbelt120312

 

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 from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros.  Mitch is also a seven-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 Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.