Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • How do I backup a virtual machine? (So many questions. So little time. Part 42)

    Mike W asks:

    “When backing up a virtual machine, what files need to be backed up?”
    ”Do the virtual servers need to be down for the backup?”
    ”What considerations need to be made when doing a ‘Disaster Recovery’ of a host server?”

    It's always something...Well Mike, you sure do ask a lot of questions.  And I don’t think I can do this very big topic justice with just this one blog response.  So let me give you my thoughts, and hopefully weave in some links to good resources that you can use to learn more about virtual machine backup best practices.  (And I’m sure I’ll leave some awesome method or idea out of this.. so if you readers have other best-practices or helpful hints, please be sure to share them in the comments!)

    Good and Cheap – Just copy the virtual machine’s files to another location.  NOTE – in this case the virtual machines DO have to be stopped.  The .VHDs, snapshots, and the machine’s configuration all will need to be copied; and they might not all reside in the same place.  (Check your machine’s settings to find out where they are.) 

    The pros are that this doesn’t cost anything extra.  But the cons are that you have to do this manually (or scripted), and it’s usually ruled out anyway due to the necessity for the machine to be turned off at the time.

    An even better method here, as long as your machines are already turned off, is to script and launch an export of the virtual machines.  This will put all of the required files for each virtual machine into one easily restorable (importable) folder.  Ben “Virtual PC Guy” Armstrong describes this process on his blog in two parts: Part 1, and Part 2.

    Better (and still Cheap) – Use Windows Server Backup.  This is good because in some cases you can take advantage of Volume Shadow Services and actually back-up a running virtual machine.  (NOTE: You have to register the Microsoft Hyper-V VSS writer with Windows Server Backup.  See this KB article for a description on how to do it.)  Pro: It’s available for no additional cost.  Con: It still may require your machines to be turned off if they’re older non-VSS-aware operating systems.  Note that there are additional requirements, such as the Integration Services being installed and with the backup integration service not disabled, the virtual hard disks be NTFS-formatted basic (not dynamic) disks, and more. 

    Here’s a good blog post on the Microsoft Virtualization Team Blog that discusses the backing up of hyper-v virtual machines.

    Best (and it will cost you something) – Use System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager, or some other product that specializes in virtualization backup (such as Veeam’s excellent products). 


    What are the rest of you using to back up your Hyper-V based virtual machines? 

  • When is NIC Teaming Useful? (So many questions. So little time. Part 41)

    At a TechNet Event a couple of months ago, Ken W. asked :

    Server 2012 RC “If I'm running many guest VMs, do you recommend NIC teaming additional NICs for guest traffic?  Or just adding them and keeping them separate and control per guest settings?”

    For those of you not familiar with the idea, NIC Teaming is a capability of making many physical Network Interface Cards (NICs – not always a card these days, but still representing physical plugs or paths for network traffic) as if they are one.  Prior to Windows Server 2012, NIC teaming in Windows was the job of the NIC vendors to provide.  However, in the next version of the server, NIC teaming is also a capability that Windows Server provides.

    NIC Teaming provides two main benefits:

    1. Bandwidth aggregation, and
    2. Traffic Failover

    So, you have the opportunity to get better throughput, and also maintain connectivity in the event that one of the network paths fail.

    You can team NICs on the physical AND the virtual machines; provided you’re running Windows Server 2012, of course.  In a virtual machine you could define virtual NICs that connect to different physical NICs (or even teams that are presented as physical NICs) in order to create a team.  (You could also connect a virtual machines virtual NICs all to the same virtual switch and then create a team, but you wouldn’t gain anything by doing that.  It makes for a good demonstration, but nothing more.)

    On your physical server running Windows Server 2012, it’s really up to you how you want to divide the workload and traffic among your guests, plus other important network traffic types as needed:

    • Server Management (the physical server’s connection to the LAN)
    • Cluster Heartbeat for failover cluster nodes, and
    • Live MigrationSmile  For the dedicated transfer of memory for running virtual machines as they’re moving between Hyper-V cluster nodes.

    “But what do you recommend?”

    I have to say it really all depends on how you want to manage it.  If you want to do all of your teaming on the physical host, and present teams as individual NICs to your VMs, then that’s great.  And even your guest operating systems that don’t otherwise support NIC teaming can use a single NIC that in reality is a high-performing, reliable team.  But if you have some reason to do the teaming of NICs within your Server 2012 VM, then you can do that, too.  Consider the role your physical server plays (cluster node?), the roles your machines play, and the kind of performance and/or reliability you need them to have.  Also consider carefully your network definitions and assigned NICs when configuring nodes in a cluster.  The machines need to see the same-named virtual switches when they move between cluster nodes.

    NOTE: There may be other considerations having to do with the new Network Virtualization capabilities with Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012.  I haven’t looked into it enough yet to know what impact that will have (if any) in making these choices.

    Here are some more useful resources about NIC Teaming:

    and I really enjoyed David Ziembicki’s blog post about it:


    Is this one of your coworkers?


    Are you excited about native, build-in, easy-to-use NIC teaming in Windows Server 2012?  Give us your feedback in the comments.

  • TechEd Memories – My Bottle Collection

    Okay.. this is purely for fun, but I thought it was time to share my collection of some of my Microsoft TechEd doo-dads with all of you.  (We are celebrating 20 years of TechEd, this year, are we not?)    TechEd is and has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year.  I have been attending nearly every year since 1994; only missing 1996 and 1997 when my boss wouldn’t let me go.  Sad smile  In addition to some of the TechEd Bags, and the cheap plastic wristwatch from 1994, I have collected and saved little tidbits of TechEd history.

    Water Bottles from TechEd North America


    So here are my bottles.  Click on each for a better look.

    1999 – Dallas, Texas

    1999 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    I thought it was geeky enough for Microsoft to create more than one design for the water bottles they gave us, that I took two of them home with me.  That’s what got me hooked.


    2000 – Orlando, Florida

    2000 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Because I was attending my 5th TechEd, I was admitted into their exclusive “Star Club” area.  And they had their own exclusive water bottles.  The theme for the year was “It’s time to build the business Internet.”  I think we’ve succeeded.


    2001 - Atlanta, Georgia

    2001 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    The theme was “Feeding time for your brain.”  I went to this one with a coworker named Greg.  I remember the Jam Sessions (sponsored by NetIQ, several nights of them) being particularly good.  This was also one of the few years that we had a keynote delivered by Bill Gates himself.  And at the party we celebrated 10 years of Visual Basic with Tower of Power and Paul Rogers as the main entertainment.


    2002 - New Orleans, Louisiana

    2002 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    This was my fourth TechEd in New Orleans, which is really my favorite TechEd location.  The water bottles that year were sponsored by Intel.

    2003 - Dallas, Texas

    2003 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    KVS sponsored the water this year.  The MCP party was at some raceway park.  Lots of rain.  At the all-attendee party we were entertained by Smashmouth and The Wallflowers.  This would be my last TechEd as simply an attendee, and not a Microsoft employee.


    2004 - San Diego, California

    2004 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Water sponsored by Quest Software.  This was my first TechEd as an employee, representing and working at the Microsoft TechNet booth.  The MCP/MCT party we handed out these really sweet flowered “IT Hero” Hawaiian shirts.  I try to wear it again at least once a year at TechEd.  

    2005 - Orlando, Florida

    2005 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    AMD were the sponsors of our water.  The theme of the year was “Learn.  Solve.  Grow.” 

    2006 - Boston, Massachusetts

    2006 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    IMG_4704This was the one and only TechEd North America held in Boston.  I remember that it was good, but we all spent way too much time in shuttle busses.  I did happen upon and get to share a beer with the one-and-only Mary Jo Foley.   The all-attendee party was at Fenway Park, where we were entertained by Train and Jet.

    2007 - Orlando, Florida

    2007 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    The bottle says “VoIP AS YOU ARE”, so I’m guessing the OCS product team were the water providers that year. 

    2008 - Orlando, Florida

    2008 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Second year in a row in Orlando.  I prefer when they mix it up a bit more.  This year TechEd made the move to a more earth-friendly approach by giving us each one refillable bottle; sponsored by NetApp in this case.  The party was at Universal Studios.  I remember spending much of that show in a little Plexiglas-enclosed room doing TechEd video interviews.

    2009 - Los Angeles, California

    2009 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    EMC were the providers of the bottle this year.  Los Angeles’ TechEd was earlier in the year (Mid May) than most others (early-to-mid June).

    2010 - New Orleans, Louisiana

    2010 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Ahh!  Back to my favorite TechEd location!  EMC provided the bottles. 
    Hmm.. did Microsoft steal the metro-esque icon idea from this design? 

    2011 - Atlanta, Georgia

    2011 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Atlanta is really a pretty great place to hold TechEd.  EMC once again provided the bottles.  The party was on the grounds and in the facilities of the Georgia Aquarium and the World Of Pepsi Coke museum.

    2012 - Orlando, Florida (*the new one!*)


    My memories of TechEd 2012 here in Orlando are still being written.  Stay tuned!


    Is this the most geeky thing you’ve ever seen?  Let me know in the comments!  Smile

  • Lest we forget: Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 RC also released!

    I feel bad that I didn’t include this yesterday – because it’s hugely important: Alongside of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 release candidates, Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server 2012 release candidate was also made publically available for download.

    “What’s so cool about that, Kevin?”

    Hyper-V Server 2012 RC DownloadFor those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Hyper-V Server is the free


    Yes, free operating system that.. well, I hesitate to call an operating system.  It is Hyper-V in its purest form.. just the “micro-kernalized hypervisor” that you can run for virtualization hosts.

    “Ah.. so it’s free, which means it’s a slim subset of capabilities of the Hyper-V that’s in Windows Server, right?”

    Wrong.  It's every top-notch feature that exists even in Hyper-V in Windows Server Datacenter edition.  Full failover cluster support.  Full support of Live Migrations.  And now in Hyper-V 2012 there are even more amazing features for high availability, disaster recovery (Replication, anyone?), network virtualization, and scale scale scale.

    “What kind of scale?  And how does it compare to VMware?”

    Read this excellent blog post by Thomas Maurer, where he compares the Release Candidate version of Hyper-V to previous releases, as well as to current releases of VMware products.

    Can you say “64 virtual procs in a VM”?  I knew you could.

  • Windows Server 2012 Jump Start Recordings released!

    Corey and Rick

    Just last week, Corey Hynes and Rick Claus delivered a 2-day deep-dive into the details of the next version of Windows Server coming out later this year: Windows Server 2012.  I was privileged to be able to help with Q&A during the first day, also.

    “Yeah, I missed that.  I sure would have liked to have attended.”

    See the videos hereWell, you’re in luck!  The high-quality recordings of their two-day drill-down are now available!  Here is the list of topics, with links:

    Also, Rick and Corey promised to get you an extra link to the videos which weren’t working correctly during the live demo session.
    Here you go:

  • Why Metro on a Server Product? (So many questions. So little time. Part 40)

    Adam asked this question at a recent TechNet Event

    Download the RC

    Well, Adam, you’re asking me to share my opinion.  At this stage of the release cycle, I’m not sure that I’m allowed to share my own opinion.  Surprised smile  And of course I want to point you to the blogs that hold the official company stance on these kinds of topics: 

    “Okay.. So what’s YOUR opinion?”

    Honestly, I believe it simply has to do with sharing a common experience.  Just like an older laptop or desktop that doesn’t have a touchscreen, you’ll still find the start screen useful as if it were just a big colorful start menu.  You’ll have the same capability to run “Metro Apps” on Windows 8, Windows 8 RT / ARM-based tablets, and Windows Server 2012.  But ultimately the way you’re going to be using Windows Server 2012 is through remote management.  We’ve made it so much easier to use Server Manager to connect to many servers and fully manage them remotely, that most of your work will be done from your Windows 8 Desktop and using the RSAT tools. 

    BTW – You can get the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 8 HERE.


    Wow.. the “big four – O” in this series.  Recently I’ve had some very nice feedback from some of you – appreciating this series.  And you folks sure do ask a lot of great questions. 

    “How many more of these do you have waiting for an answer, Kevin?”

    I haven’t counted.. but probably enough to at least hit the “big one – O – O” eventually. 


    What do you think?   Is it really that big of a deal that the Metro Start Screen is in full installations of Windows Server?  Let’s talk about it in the comments.

  • How are you booting into the VHD? (So many questions. So little time. Part 43)

    The following question was asked by Joobly-Goop (not his real name) at a recent TechNet Event, in the context of our doing a Boot-From-VHD configuration and then dual-booting into the Operating System that was in the Virtual Hard Disk (.VHD) file…

    Server 2012 RC

    I certainly understand your confusion, J.G. (May I call you J.G.?)   If I’m running an operating system from within a VHD file, which is the file representing hard disks used in Hyper-V based virtual machines, then it might make sense to assume that Hyper-V is involved in some way.  But actually, it’s not. 

    VHD files are really just a standard file format that represent a container of sorts.  It represents a disk.  And if that “disk” is formatted and populated, it contains a file system. 

    “You mean.. like a hard disk can contain a file system?”

    Bingo.  So if I can boot and run an operating system from my mounted (and that’s the important part) hard disk, which is a container for files of an operating system, then maybe I could also mount (see?) a VHD file in such a way that the computer sees it as a hard disk containing a file system and a bootable, runnable operating system.  That’s why we talked about the requirement of having the proper “boot loader” available to you.  Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and newer operating systems boot and run from a boot loader that supports treating a VHD file as a mountable disk with a runnable operating system, so that you can run that operating system right on the physical hardware.

    “Why would you want to do that, Kevin?”

    Think about the flexibility this provides.  I can modify the boot loader (or let the operating system installation do that modification for me) to add another boot option that is really just a file (.VHD) on my hard disk.  I can use it on my physical machine.  And when I’m done, I just remove that entry from the boot-loader; all without disturbing any other operating system install (physical or .VHD based).

    And what about using this capability to support quick deployments?  If I can deploy an operating system to a bare-metal machine that doesn’t yet have an operating system simply by scripting the configuring a boot loader and copying a .VHD file to it.. that’s a pretty quick deployment.  And that is exactly what Virtual Machine Manager in System Center 2012 is doing when it supports deploying .VHD files containing Microsoft Hyper-V Server for you when you take advantage of bare-metal deployment for new virtualization hosts.

    Fun Fact: This capability was originally created to support the quick deployment of operating systems and virtualization onto the millions of physical servers that support Windows Azure.

    So to summarize my answer to your question J.G…

    Required: A Boot-loader that supports it

    Required: VHD file that has a bootable operating system inside of it

    NOT Required: Hyper-V.

    For those of you interested in learning more about Boot-From-VHD, how it works and how to configure it, check out these further resources:

    Understanding Virtual Hard Disks with Native Boot

    “How to Boot from a VHD” TechNet Wiki Article

    “Windows 7 Boot From VHD”


  • TechNet Subscription Discount Code? (So many questions. So little time. Part 44)

    Jeff asked me for this at a recent TechNet Event

    TechNet Subscriptions

    That’s a fair question, Jeff.  For several years, I have been promoting TechNet Subscriptions in pretty much every way available to me.  It is a great resource that, even if I weren’t a Microsoft Employee, I would yearly purchase for myself. 

    The answer to your question, unfortunately, is: I don’t know.  I can speculate that perhaps this year** they wanted to take a break from always providing a discount.  (I mean, if it’s always on sale, then why not just make that the ordinary sale price?)  And I do think that so many people have already subscribed that there aren’t that many left who aren’t already taking advantage of the yearly renewal price; which is and has always been cheaper than our new-subscription promotion price.

    Plus, really.. for what you get, it’s definitely worth the price.  (My opinion again, I know.  But it’s my blog.  I am allowed.)

    **Microsoft’s Fiscal Year runs from July 1st to June 30th.


    Give us your reasons/complaints/loves/hates/fears/hopes/dreams in the comments.

  • Dear TechEd Diary – June 10, 2012


    I’ve arrived! 

    The early morning flight went great, and I got lucky with my ride to the hotel.  Not long before I landed, my friend Dan Stolts had e-mailed the team and asked if anyone needed a ride in his car.  My text to him reached him as he was just 10 minutes away from the hotel, but he turned around and picked me up anyway.  What a hero!

    My room wasn’t ready (it was just a little after noon), so I had the hotel hold my bags, and we went over to register. 


    I had time to see the cool Custom Channel 9 Mustang,

    IMG_2365  IMG_2366

    And then killed a little time by doing a Windows Azure Hands-on Lab.


    “Where are you now, Kevin?”

    I’m glad you asked.  I decided to head back to the hotel, just in case the room was ready.

    “Is it?”

    No.  So I’m sitting in the lobby.  Official “check-in” time is soon, so I’m just hanging out.   Hopefully I’ll have time to take a nap by the pool before the Krewe of TechEd meet-n-greet later tonight. 

  • Dear TechEd Diary – June 11, 2012

    Great day #1 of TechEd 2012!

    Last night’s Krewe of TechEd party at Howl at the Moon was a lot of fun.  Thanks to all of the sponsors that made it possible. 


    This morning I started the day very early.  The “Twitter Army” held a 7:30am “briefing”, which I attended.  Got to have a little breakfast, got a nice Twitter Army pin, and got my marching orders. 


    Today’s opening keynote by Satya Nadella, the president of the Server and Tools Division at Microsoft was very good, but as usual the crowd control left something to be desired.  (Thousands of people just don’t move quickly through the channeled walkways.)

    The “Foundational” session I chose to attend was entitled “Modernizing your Datacenter”, which turned out to be a very good introduction to Windows Server 2012

    After lunch with Brian Lewis, Harold Wong, Yung Chou, and Bob Hunt, I attended a VDI “lessons learned” session, and part 1 of Jeff Woolsey’s excellent Introductions to Hyper-V.

    “What are you doing now, Kevin?”

    Brian and I checked out the Allumni Lounge before heading back to the room.  I wanted to dump off my bag and pick up my cameras and other things I’ll need for tonight’s Tech Expo opening night reception.  I hope to hand out a bunch of my “Full of I.T.” buttons tonight.  Smile

    “Aren’t you taking video of TechEd also, Kevin?”

    Yes, I am.. but there just isn’t enough time to put together video diary entries and ALSO attend and get the most out of TechEd.  It involves creating, editing, rendering, posting, and embedding.  I’ll post some videos soon – along with some “Full of I.T.” testimonials, perhaps later this week.

  • Dear TechEd Diary – June 13, 2012

    B.B. King's Blues Club - OrlandoHave you ever attended the TechEd Jam Session?  If not – you’re really missing out.  Last night we were at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Pointe Orlando.  Thanks to CommVault for sponsoring it this year!

    Rather than try to describe it, here’s a quick video diary for you…

    “Did you get to sing, Kevin?”

    Nope.  Line of performers waiting to go on stage was long, and supposedly there was a signup sheet that I never got close to.   But I won an XBOX 360.

    “Huh?!  You did?!  You can’t do that.  Isn’t that a conflict if you work for Microsoft and win a prize at TechEd?”

    Don’t worry – I didn’t keep it.  But the lucky guy I was chatting with (sorry, friend, I’ve forgotten your name) standing next to me in line for the stage at the time sure seemed pleased when I quickly handed him the winning ticket and said “You won!  Get up there!”  Smile



  • As I’m off to yet another VMUG…

    “Seriously, Kevin?  Are you going to VMware User Groups now?”

    VMware User GroupYes, I am.  As an IT Professional, and as one who does his best to represent the IT Professional Community as a whole, I think it’s useful to keep in touch with as many technologies and as many other IT Pros as possible.  And sure, it’s also useful for me personally and professionally to keep up with what Microsoft’s competitors are doing.  So, yes, I attend VMUGs whenever I get a chance.  (This afternoon you’ll find me at the VMUG in St. Cloud, MN)

    “Are you going there to stir things up, or just spy on the competition?”

    I don’t stir things up**.  In fact, sometimes it’s hard to just sit on your hands when there is misleading (or sometimes blatantly false) information comparing ESX or vSphere or vCenter to Microsoft’s Hyper-V and System Center 2012.  But I’m quiet, polite, and not a spy.  It’s all public information, is it not?  I’m really just there to learn.

    In fact, if anyone wants a really solid introduction to Hyper-V and System Center 2012 and how they compare to VMware solutions, I have created two easy-to-remember links to Matt McSpirit’s awesome recordings from TechEd North America 2012, which was held just a couple of weeks ago: - Compete to Win, Part 1: Comparing Private Cloud Capabilities - Compete to Win, Part 2: Comparing Private Cloud Capabilities

    These sessions do an excellent job of contrasting our solutions.  After watching these, I think that even the most diehard VMware fan will have to admit that Microsoft is a solid virtualization and private cloud platform choice.


    **At least I haven’t, yet.  But if you ask me a direct question about Microsoft during one of these meetings or during the breaks, I’ll be happy to answer your questions. Winking smile

    "Clouds aren't bad.  But they're a fad!"  -Tad

  • Dear TechEd Diary (Video) – June 10, 2012

    I’m finally getting a chance to compile some of my video footage from TechEd North America 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  This one here was taken using my still camera (not too bad, actually), and just shows a quick glimpse of my day on Sunday, June 10.


    Sunday, June 10, 2012–TechEd North America
  • Dear TechEd Diary (Video) – June 11, 2012

    Monday at TechEd North America 2012, pretty much as I described it in my previous diary entry; but now in video form!



    PS – You’ll see me in this video, near the end.  You have been warned.

  • Dear TechEd Diary – June 8, 2012

    TechEd twitter armySunday is the day!  My flight leaves MSP in the morning, and by mid-afternoon I hope to be lounging by my hotel pool.  That evening I’ll be attending the Krewe of TechEd opening part / Meet-n-Greet.

    It’s been fun watching Twitter (#msteched) and the traffic of people who are also excited.  In fact, this year I plan on joining “the Twitter Army at TechEd 2012”.  You should, too.

    I’ve also been seeing many posts and pointers to posts containing tips for first-time TechEd attendees.  Here are a few of them I’ve found:

    TechEd 2012

    And don’t forget the myTechEd Windows Phone App.

    “Do you have any tips, Kevin?”

    Actually.. I got this tip from my friend Harold Wong (who is also attending TechEd).  Whenever he goes to a conference like this, he packs old conference and vendor t-shirts that he is going to get rid of.  He assumes that his supply will be replenished at the show, so he wears old shirts and then throws them away to make room in his bag for the new ones.  I might do that with a few old shirts of my own.

    “What else are you going to be doing at TechEd?”

    I’m glad you asked.  I’ll be helping man a table at the Community Party.  I’ll also be hanging out in and might do some staff duty at the “Geek Lounge” (though they didn’t put me on the schedule, which I suppose means that my travel expenses are coming out of my own budget once again. Sad smile  Oh well.. I get to attend more breakouts!  Smile).  I’ll be sharing some more of these TechEd Diaries and TechEd Video Diaries

    And I’m also going to be looking for people who are full of I.T. like me.


    I’ve created 100 buttons that I’m going to hand out to people who are willing to talk to me on camera and share any and all reasons why they are “full of I.T.” 

    Are you more full of I.T. than me?

    I’ll post those videos here as well.  So.. find me at TechEd.  Tell me why you’re full of I.T.  Wear your button proudly.  Be FULL OF I.T.

    “Will you be wearing that red ‘the Blog!’ t-shirt?”

    I might…