Say you've got a nice new machine, with a 100gb hard disk, efficiently running Windows XP, but what if, for one reason or another, you want to split that hard disk into multiple partitions. What are some of the reasons you would want to create multiple partitions? Well, how about a separate drive for your paging file, to aid system performance, a separate drive for all your media / photo's / movies, or, a separate drive, to run another operating system, in a dual boot environment. Sound good? How can you do it in XP? Well, it's not the easiest thing to do...
Well, looking at the first one - it's abit of a hassle, and what if you already have alot of work on there? You will need to back it all up etc, taking valuable time and effort. This is obviously assuming that you have the DVD of XP. The second method would provide you with a feature-rich application, but, it's not free, and if you are only to use it once or twice, maybe the cost isn't quite justified.
So, how does this all change with Vista?
Well, although not as full featured as some third party partition management applications, in the Disk-Management snap-in, pictured below, users can shrink, extend, create, and format partitions. The new resizing features will allow users to shrink a single partition with unused space, and then create a new partition in the resulting free space, as well as extending a current partition if there is available free space after it.
Compare this with the options you have in XP:
And you can see the number of features has increased a great deal.
So, you've installed Vista, on your single-partition, but you've decided that you'd like to create another couple of partitions, one for your media, and one for your other data, keeping just your system files on the current partition. All you have to do is click Shrink Volume, enter the details...
and your unallocated space is created, where you can subsequently create your new volume with the New Volume Wizard, allocating size and choosing drive letter, or, you can extend an already existing volume. You can split this space again, and again, to create your required partitions.
I think you'll agree, with the new enhancements to Windows Vista Disk Management, the wizard-driven shrinking and extending partitions is now easily accomplished. As always, when making changing to the partition structure, users should ensure that all important files and data are backed up.
Can you beat this? An index score of 4.2 on a laptop!!! Do you to know which laptop I used to achieve this score? Well, here you are...
Say hello to the Alienware Aurora m9700 - quoted as being the Ultimate Gaming Notebook, with 1gb of graphics, and it is the first SLI notebook, and to top it off, it has a 17" screen! A beauty right? Well, I firstly have to thank the guys from Alienware for providing me with this amazing piece of technology, yet I also have to thank James, my partner in crime and fellow VistaBoy, who managed to get his hands on these sexy pieces of kit! Nice one James!
So, what does this all mean? Why does Windows Vista give you this Experience Index?
Well, in a nutshell, the Windows Experience Index measures the capability of your computer's hardware and software configuration and expresses this measurement as a number called a base score. A higher base score generally means that your computer will perform better and faster than a computer with a lower base score, especially when performing more advanced and resource-intensive tasks.
Each hardware component receives an individual subscore. Your computer's base score is determined by the lowest subscore. For example, if the lowest subscore of an individual hardware component is 2.6, then the base score is 2.6. The base score is not an average of the combined subscores.
You can use the base score to confidently buy programs and other software that are matched to your computer's base score. For example, if your computer has a base score of 3.3, then you can confidently purchase any software designed for this version of Windows that requires a computer with a base score of 3 or lower.
Basically, the better your machine is graphically, the more memory it has, the faster the memory, the faster the hard disk, the greater the size of the hard disk, and the faster the processor speed, means the greater the base score! Simple!
What's your score? Bring on the challenge - desktop's need not apply!
Here at Microsoft, there are regular questions flying around about the settings needed to run Virtual Server on Vista. Many people think they have set it up correctly, only to be presented with problems such as not being able to load the admin page etc. Well, here is the definitive guide, and it comes in the form of an image, and textual information. A huge thanks to Jeff Woolsey for producing this information.
So, if you’re trying to run Virtual Server on Vista, you need to do two things.
Step 1 - Enable IIS and the correct settings. To do this, go to Control Panel and under the Programs category click on Windows Features to Turn Windows features on and off. Here you will see a long list of features that can be enabled/disabled in Vista. For this discussion were specifically interested in enabling features under Internet Information Services (IIS). I’ve typed out what needs to be enabled below and included a screenshot which you can maximise by clicking the image.
Step 2 - Run IE using elevated privileges. To do this, right click on IE and select Run as Administrator.
You must do both.
For those of you who don't want to look at the screenshot, here are the details:
IIS Features that need to be enabled for Virtual Server to function properly
1. Under Web Management Tools enable IIS Management Console.2. Under IIS 6 Management Compatibility enable IIS Metabase and IIS6 configuration compatibility.3. Under Application Development Features enable CGI.4. Under Common Http Features enable Default Document, Directory Browsing, HTTP Errors, Static Content5. Under Health and Diagnostics enable HTTP Logging, Request Monitor6. Under Performance Features enable Static Content Compression7. Under Security enable Windows Authentication
For those of you who haven't heard of ReadyBoost, where have you been? Only kidding, it's not the most common term, so I'll explain. Essentially, without going too deep and technical, ReadyBoost is a technology in Windows Vista that boosts the performance of your system using inexpensive flash memory. Yes, the flash memory found in USB Keys, SD cards and so on. So, if you've bought a USB key in the last couple of months, or even earlier, it's definitely worth testing it in Vista to see if it is ready for ReadyBoost, as your system will benefit from that little extra oomph under the hood. You will see the biggest difference in performance if you have less physical memory to start with, say, 512mb for example, and you buy, for around $20 (or £10 here in the UK), a 2GB USB key, and use ReadyBoost. If you already have 2GB physical RAM, and you utilise the 2GB USB key for ReadyBoost, you will see some benefit, but not as much as the other scenario.
Anyway, the point of the post - I'm using ReadyBoost, but how can I actually measure what is going on? Well, today is your lucky day...
The various counters that you selected will now be seen in the Performance Monitor. As time goes on you will see the activity occurring in real time for each of these counters. Descriptions of the counters can be found below:
The total amount of uncompressed data currently stored in the cache. If there is data being stored then you know ReadyBoost is being used by Vista.
The number of times Vista reads from the cache per second. If you see a lot of cache reads per second then you know Vista ReadyBoost is working. If this occurs often when using your computer it is advised you invest in more physical memory to further increase performance.
The actual size of the data in the cache divided by the uncompressed size of the data in the cache.(actual size of the data in the cache) / (uncompressed size of the data in the cache)
Hit read bytes/sec
The number of bytes read from the cache per second. This is a further indication that the ReadyBoost cache is being used by Vista. If a lot of bytes are being read per second you also know that you need more physical memory to truly increase your performance.
Invalidated update buffer blocks/sec
The number of blocks in update buffers invalidated per second.
Invalidated update buffer bytes/sec
The number of bytes invalidated in update buffers per second.
Writes rescheduled due to the lack of regions per second.
Writes rescheduled due to the lack of update buffers per second.
Read-Size-Max IOs bailed/sec
The number of I/Os not serviced by the cache because the size is bigger than the maximum read size per second.
Sequential IOs bailed/sec
The number of I/Os not serviced by the cache due to sequentiality per second.
Total read bytes/sec
The number of bytes read from the volume per second.
Total write bytes/sec
The number of bytes written to the volume per second.
Updated buffer read bytes/sec
The number of read bytes services from the update buffers per second.
So, you've just heard that Internet Explorer 7 is available for a free download, right here, right now.
But then what? What else can you do with it, apart from the cool stuff that you get right out of the box? Well, check out this little goldmine, over at http://www.ieaddons.com/.
That's right, this site is dedicated to providing Add-Ons for Internet Explorer, and there are already a load to choose from...
The site really does make it easy to find Add-Ons that are relevant to what you want, and provides an excellent glossary for terms that people may not understand, such as Spoofing or Pharming. You can search for Add-Ons:
and the results that are presented are easily 'sortable' - blimey, you can even rate and read reviews of the Add-Ons!
Does it stop there? Oh no.
Are you a developer? Well, now you too can get in on the 'Add-On Act' and make and submit your own IE Add-Ons - We've also partnered with CNET and Download.com to collect, evaluate and host add-ons for this site. Take advantage of this opportunity. Submit your add-on for review today.
Right, final piece of information - you can subscribe the RSS feeds from the site, so you stay up to date with th Add-Ons!
That's all folks!
Do you rebuild your machine regularly? Well, you shouldn't need to, becuase Vista looks after itself, however, when the need does arise, it's a bit of a pain. Not the actual Vista install process, oh no, the pain in the backside arises once you've finished installing it.
For me, with my Sony Vaio, once Vista is installed, I then have to pull down all the latest updates from Windows Update, which will result in 1 reboot, maybe 2. I then have to install the other device drivers that aren't on Windows Update yet (There are only 3 for my machine, so not too bad) and then the Vaio Utilities. These Vaio utilities are obviously still in their infancy, as the first 4 you install need a reboot straight after each one. Potentially I'm up to 5 or 6 reboots already. Once my OS and hardware are working nicely, it's then the turn of installing all my applications that I regularly use. Office 2007 being one, but also the others such as FoxIT PDF Reader, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Messenger and so on. Again, some of these may require a reboot, but regardless of this, the time taken to install all of these, one by one, can be quite long.
So, I go through the whole process. My machine is up to date and running well, my applications are installed, along with my machine utilities. All is good. And relax.
What happens next time? Next time I want to rebuild my machine? Do I have to do the whole process all over again? No, and there are a couple of ways to save yourself the time and effort for the future. One of these would be to perform a Complete PC Backup of your machine, as is, right now, and simply restore from that at the future date. Easy Peasy - but what about an image that you would like to distribute within your organisation, or your team at work. This was the problem our team faced. We all have Sony Vaio's, and I thought, why not save everyone time rebuilding their machines and create this golden image, that we, as a team can deploy quickly and be back up and running after a rebuild within an hour. Make sense? Here's how I did it.
Before I go on, it's important to talk about BDD, or Business Desktop Deployment. The workbench is a piece of software you can download free, and use to create these golden images. Once installed, along with the Windows Automated Installation Kit, it allows you to pull Vista WIM files from the original Vista DVD, add applications and installation commands, drivers, language packs, services packs, updates and so on, and then once your 'Distribution Share' is populated, create 'Builds' which you can subsequently deploy from DVD, USB, WDS Server etc. The BDD really is your one stop shop in terms of deployment, and it's free, so you can get going in no time. Get it here.
I however, chose to take the manual approach. :-) The BDD harnesses the same technology that I will detail - you just don't need to script anything!
So, what do you need before we start? Well, you need to get to your 'Golden State'. Install all your applications, drivers, updates and so on, so that you are happy with that masterpiece that you've just slaved over. Next, you'll need the Windows Automated Installation Kit, and the User Guide is always useful too. What is it? Well, it's "designed to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), system builders, and corporate IT professionals deploy Windows onto new hardware. The Windows AIK is a set of deployment tools supporting the latest release of Windows. This guide describes the methods, tools, and requirements for deploying Windows". Read more here.
The reason we need the WAIK is because it contains WinPE 2.0, or Windows Pre Installation Environment and a couple of other tools. This hasn't been free to download before, but with Vista, it is, and we need it. In fact, every single deployment of Vista uses WinPE in some shape or form. Yes, even the original DVD. Anyway, we need to boot into WinPE 2.0 in order to capture our masterpiece Golden Image. Before we do this however, we need to create our WinPE media.
Josh has got a great post on how to do this for a USB stick, here. It's important to note the key tool you need to copy across in 'Step 4' is ImageX. This is the tool that does the capturing magic. More on this later. James has also got a great post on customising WinPE and creating an ISO, if you'd prefer to go down the CD route, rather than USB. If you just want the instructions on creating a WinPE 2.0 CD, here they are:
So, for this scenario, say you've created the bootable WinPE 2.0 USB Stick. From within Windows, do a search from the start menu, for Sysprep. The result should be displayed in the Start Menu. Click on the folder and then, double click the 'sysprep' application.
Ensure that your dialog box looks like the one on the left before continuing. I've chosen shutdown, because it gives you that little bit more time to get ready before booting into WinPE - last thing you want is a reboot but forget to put your WinPE disc in!
So, when you are happy, click OK and wait for your system to shut down.
When it's all shut down, give yourself a pat on the back and get a cup of tea (brew). The next bit involves a tiny bit of scripting :-)
Make sure you have your WinPE media inserted, and that you know how to boot from that particular device. Switch on and boot into WinPE.
When you are at the X:\Windows\System32 in WinPE (or something like that, it's off the top of my head!), you need to change the drive letter to your WinPE Media. Once you are on the right drive, execute the following:
imagex.exe /flags “Ultimate” /compress fast /capture c: z:\MyGoldenImageName.wim "ULTIMATE Golden Image" /verify
Once it's all done, type exit and you'll need to boot back into Windows as normal, however, seeing as the machine has been sysprepped, you'll need to go through answering the questions about time zone, username etc.
So, you now have your Golden Image, in the shape of your WIM File. How do you deploy it? Well, one option is to use WDS, and deploy from a Windows Server, 2003 or 2008. You could make a bootable USB key, but mine wouldn't fit on the ones I have - I chose DVD.
So, once you are back into Vista, you need to do the following:
That's it! Process complete! You are now ready to deploy that image into your organisation. Now, my image has the Sony Vaio utilities within it, but, because the image was sysprepped, I could still deploy it onto a Toshiba machine, I'd just have to uninstall the utilities when it booted up! That is the beauty of the WIM format!
The installation from your custom DVD will take a little longer than the usual Vista install, but when all is complete, you are ready to go, with all your application sitting waiting for you. The great thing about this is, you can do it, with free tools available for download. Have a go and save yourself time in the future. Like I said at the top, you could use BDD to create your builds and deployment media, i.e. your ISO file - it's executing the same kind of commands that I wrote above, but in a more user friendly fashion. Using either method, you are definitely on to a winner.
Useful time saver? I'd say so. Enjoy.
OK, so maybe not that old....
It's an idea though! You have an old machine sat around, doing nothing, waiting to be retired, so why not make use of it? You could easily turn it into a Media Center, Windows based or otherwise, serving up content throughout the machines in your house, recording TV whilst you're away etc. Alternatively, you could pick up a copy of Windows Home Server, install it, and then you have an ideal platform for serving up your content, be it your digital memories, music, or your home movies, regardless of whether you are in the home or not! It also serves as a great platform to create and run cool applications on! What are you waiting for!
Rich sent me through a useful link to get you started down the Media Center path. He's got links to complete media solutions, but also to software for recording of TV, managing files, accessing your PC remotely and more. He's even provided links to support forums, so you shouldn't go wrong!
You can find the list here: http://www.virtualhosting.com/blog/2007/how-to-turn-your-old-computer-into-the-ultimate-media-center-100-resources-and-tools/
My favourite has to be #63 - How To Build the Ultimate Windows Media Center 2005 Machine on a Budget - how the author manages to get this quote in: ""One OS to rule them all... one OS to bind them."—adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings" I'll never know....
Vizioncore, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quest (the vWorkspace guys!), have released a free Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 which enables the monitoring of VMware virtual infrastructures. Now, before I get into the features and capabilities of what the MP gives you, it’s important to point out that this is the first free MP to deliver these capabilities, and may stir things up a little over at both Veeam and Bridgeways, who both have established MP’s for OpsMgr to enable monitoring of VMware environments. It’s important to say, both Veeam and Bridgeways offer trails of their solutions, so it would be important to compare the different MP’s for yourselves, however looking at a high level, one of the key elements that Veeam seems to have today, is that it’s PRO-enabled, thus provides more automated, dynamic and agile responses within the environment based on changing conditions. That’s not to say both Bridgeways and Vizioncore won’t evolve their technologies in the future, and bring in PRO capabilities, however today, you would have to classify it as a differentiator for Veeam. One you have to pay for however.
So, what are the key features of the Vizioncore MP?
There’s even more features here…
What’s nice from my perspective, is the growth of the ecosystem around the Microsoft virtualisation platform, from Partners that have, in the past, been quite VMware focused. That’s more Vizioncore than Quest, but still, it’s moving in the right direction.
If you’re interested, you can get all the info, and download the MP, from here.
Simon contacted me earlier this week with regards to a problem he encountered with migrating user profiles over to a Small Business Server 2003 Domain. The particular problem was around joining a Vista Business PC to an SBS domain - sounds straightforward on the surface, however, the Vista PC had some private user settings, which prevented migration:
"The following user settings are private:
Client Setup cannot migrate private settings. On computers running Windows XP Professional, you can make these settings public and migrate them as follows:
Log on using the username and password of the user whose settings you want to migrate. In the Documents and Settings folder, right-click the user's folder, click Sharing and Security, and clear the Make this folder private check box. Repeat this procedure for all subfolders that have this check box selected, and then click OK.
Click Start, click Run, and run the Small Business Server Network Configuration Wizard again by typing: http://servername/connectcomputer.
For computers running Windows 2000 Professional, or if the above steps do not resolve the issue, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=19069 for more information."
If you've encountered this error, and aren't sure where to look, you can view these 2 pieces of information, which helped to solve the problem:
Although the articles are aimed at XP and Windows 2000, you can still use the information to solve the problem. Thanks to Simon for giving me the info!
That’s an acronym-filled title!
Just a quick one – If you’re currently planning, or are underway with a deployment of Data Protection Manager 2010 (RC), and you plan to protect Hyper-V R2 VMs, on Cluster Shared Volumes, DPM will tell you to install a couple of patches on the Hyper-V R2 hosts in the cluster.
The first one, is KB975921, and is specifically aimed at solving the following: “You may be unable to perform certain disk-related operations after an exception when a hardware provider tries to create a snapshot in Windows Server 2008 R2 or in Windows 7”
The second (set) is KB975354, and has the more general title of “A Hyper-V update rollup package is available for a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2”, but when you drill into the details, you can see that many of the fixes are aimed at VSS, backup and the like. Now, when you request, download, and extract KB975354, you’ll notice there are actually 2 patches to install. One is Windows6.1-KB975354-x64, and the other is Windows6.1-KB975354-v2-x64. It’s important that you install Windows6.1-KB975354-x64 first, and Windows6.1-KB975354-v2-x64 second. If you don’t, you’ll find that when you come to install Windows6.1-KB975354-x64 (assuming you’ve already installed the v2 patch), you’ll get a pop up message stating that ‘the update is not applicable to your system’. If you’ve got that already, uninstall the v2 patch, and install the first one, first. All being well, you should have no problems from this point forward.
One key point to note though, After you install this hotfix on the Hyper-V server, you must update the Integration Components in the virtual machines. To do this, open the Virtual Machine Connection for the virtual machine in Hyper-V Manager, and then select the Insert Integration Services Setup Disk option on the Action menu.
Hope it doesn’t catch you out!