Mark Minasi's Windows Networking Tech Page
Issue #66 January 2008

Document copyright 2008 Mark Minasi; please see below for info on subscribing, unsubscribing or copying portions of this text.

What's Inside

  • News
    • New Installing, Managing and Troubleshooting Windows Server 2008 seminar is coming to DC, Chicago and Dallas in March
    • The scoop on the three upcoming Mastering Windows Server 2008 books
  • Tech Section
    • CompletePC Backup:  the final chapter
    • Okay, Vista is incompatible in a few ways
    • How do you know if you're using DFS (the old one) or DFS Namespaces (the new one)?  The quickest way to know
  • Conferences
  • Bring a Seminar to Your Site
  • To Subscribe, Unsubscribe, Read Old Newsletters or Change Your Email Address

News

Hi all —

I know, I know... "Minasi, where have you been?"  Underwater trying to get my three — yes, three! — volumes of Mastering Windows Server 2008 books done.  But I had a few tidbits that I thought you'd like, hence this newsletter.  First, you'll see how to use CompletePC (which we've covered in the past) to upgrade your Vista hard disk, step by step. (The 200 GB 7200 RPM drives are out for notebooks, you know!) Then Mark talks about two surprising Vista incompatibilities, and finally, our Diva of Deployment, Rhonda Layfield shows you how to crack a DFS mystery.  But first, a word from our sponsor...

New Installing, Managing and Troubleshooting Windows Server 2008 seminar is coming to DC, Chicago and Dallas in March

After a five year wait, Microsoft ships Windows Server 2008 on 27 February 2008.  It's the biggest version of Server ever (which, I realize, is pretty much "by definition" for any new version of Server, granted) and it brings lots of changes... so it's time to learn about it!   Whether you intend to roll out Server 2008 immediately or in three years, you need to know exactly what benefits, challenges, and opportunities this latest version of Server offers.  You could download a small mountain of white papers (mostly written based on Beta 3 and thus are only partially correct), and spend a few weeks testing it to discover the hundreds of changes that 2008 brings... or you could come spend a couple of days with me.  I'll tell you and show you what's changed from Server 2003 to Server 2008 — the good, the bad, the wonderful and the awful ... with a chuckle or two thrown in.  I'll be in Dallas (well, Plano, actually) on March 6 and 7, the Washington, DC area March 11 and 12, and Chicago (near O'Hare) March 27 and 28.  You can get all the scoop at http://www.minasi.com/2008class/.   I hope to see some of you there!

The Scoop on the Three Upcoming Mastering Windows Server 2008 books

Many of you have asked me about what's going on with my Mastering Windows Server 2008 books — and yes, it's "books," three of them.  They're coming, I promise, and you can read more about them at www.minasi.com/2008class/2008books.htm.  

Tech Section

This month, I've got a few short pieces that I've been meaning to put online, and I think you'll find them useful.

CompletePC Backup:  Transplanting a Vista installation from one drive to another

I know I've covered CompletePC Backup in two previous newsletters, but I have since used it for a real-world backup and restore and in the process discovered a couple of undocumented things that might be useful.  ("Undocumented" because I've spent a lot of time with the Server 2008 version of CompletePC Backup and noticed a few useful options to the wbadmin command that Microsoft's documentation clearly stated only worked with 2008 and not Vista.  You won't be surprised to hear that they did work in Vista, after all.)

Quick review:  CompletePC Backup is a new technology built into Vista and Server 2008 that backs up entire drive letters (or groups of drive letters), storing them in the VHD format that Microsoft normally uses to store its virtual machines for Virtual Server, Virtual PC or the upcoming Hyper-V server.  The VHD format understands the notion of snapshots and so a given VHD can store many versions of a given drive's backup, and does it fairly efficiently as the snapshots store just the differences from one backup to another.  These backups can then be restored to do a complete system restore, allowing you to do a CompletePC Backup of a system and then restore that to a system with somewhat different hardware.  (Different drive architectures seem not to always work — transplanting a backup taken from an IDE hard disk doesn't seem to be possible on a SATA hard disk, for example, although I HAVE transplanted a SCSI backup onto an IDE drive.)  Thus, CompletePC Backup allows for so-called "bare metal" restores.  Again, it cannot just back up a single file or folder — just an entire drive.

Anyway, here's the story.  7200 RPM laptop hard disks now come in a 200 GB size.  (I'm staying with 7200 RPM because Vista is a lot happier with 7200s.  Previously 160 GB was the largest 7200 RPM laptop-sized drive.)  In addition to being larger, the drive (the Hitachi Travelstar 7K200) has a 16 MB cache, rather than the 8 MB cache found in the other laptop hard disks that I've used... so I had to have it. 

I know, you're saying, "Minasi's going to transplant his Vista system from one drive to another for a measly 40 more gigs?"  Yup; that measly 40 gigs, my friends, is equivalent to space for four more virtual machines, or a couple more virtual machines and space for a bunch more photos.  (If you've not been to www.minasi.com/photos, then you're missing out on the gray fox and dolphin pictures.) But how to move from the 160 to the 200 easily and cheaply?  With CompletePC Backup.  I've covered CompletePC Backup before, but now that I've used it to do a "no muss, no fuss, no greasy aftertaste" drive upgrade, I wanted to cover the steps in detail to (1) document some extra CompletePC syntax that I found in the process of doing the drive transplant and (2) save someone having to do this the trouble of looking all of this vaguely-documented stuff up.  I have already covered much of this in Newsletters #63 and #64, but, again, when I actually bet my laptop's drive on it, I found having step-by-steps useful, as I'd sat down beforehand and laid out a procedure — and I'm hoping you'll find it useful also.

Backing Up the Drive

As I've discussed in previous newsletters, we're going to back up the existing drives on the laptop to either an external drive (like a USB-connected drive) or a network share, using the wbadmin.exe command-line tool shipped with Vista but which is, sadly, a mite underdocumented.

First, open an elevated command prompt (one where you right-clicked the "Command Prompt" icon, chose "Run as administrator" and clicked "Continue" at the User Account Control prompt).

Then type "wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:wheretobackupto -allcritical -quiet" where wheretobackupto is either an UNC path or a drive letter.  Remember from previous newsletters that you cannot specify a drive letter that is actually a mapped drive (and you may recall that the GUI is completely network-deaf for some reason) and if you specify a drive letter that is a hard drive letter, then ensure that you specify only the drive letter -- you cannot include a path within that drive letter.

The "-allcritical" is an option that I discovered shortly after writing the last newsletter wherein I covered wbadmin.  It appears nowhere in Vista documentation, but it appears in Server 2008 documentation with the specific warning that the "-allcritical" option only works on Server, and not Vista.  (So much for documentation.)

Here are a couple of working examples:

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:h: -allcritical -quiet

This is the simplest example, which instructs wbadmin to back up everything on the PC except drive h:, and to put the backup on h:.  (CompletePC cannot back itself up to a drive that it is backing up for some reason.  You'd think it'd be smart enough to be able to handle it, y'know?)  The trick is the "-allcritical" switch; otherwise, we'd have to name every drive to get those drives backed up.  The documentation says that "-allcritical" only backs up the drives that are essential to making the OS work, but my older laptop image had a superfluous drive D: that was 1.5 GB in size and did nothing of any value, but -allcritical backed it up, all the same.  To reiterate an important point, this would not work:

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:h:\pcbackups -allcritical -quiet

I have no idea why, but wbadmin doesn't let you specify a full drive and path, just a drive; it then puts it in a folder on that drive called WindowsImageBackup.

(Interesting note:  I'm not sure why, but when I restored the backup to the new drive, it rearranged my volumes -- I had three, only two of which were important — so that the essential ones were restored first, and the superfluous one later.  I don't know if this is a behavior that'll happen every time, as I've only tried it once, but it was wonderful, as it let me delete the useless volume and then use its 1.5 GB in combination with the newly-acquired 40 GB as one new volume.  Very nice!)

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:\\myserver\myshare\pcbackupsdir -allcritical -quiet

Here, we're doing the same thing, but to a share.  Notice the next wbadmin oddity — specifying an UNC path lets you specify a folder within it.  What backing up to H: could do, backing up to \\myserver could.  Go figure.

Expect the backup to take a fair amount of time.  On my system, backing up the roughly 152 GB of data on my hard disk took about eight hours.

Restoring to the new drive

Now that my original 160 GB drive was backed up, it was time to perform some open-PC surgery and swap the drive.  I opened up the PC, removed the 160 GB drive, and replaced it with the empty 200 GB drive.  (Of course, the nice part about this is that if the restore fails, I could have always fallen back to the 160 GB drive.)  After securing the new drive, I popped the Vista installation DVD and booted from it.  When I got to the "Install Now" screen, I opted instead to click "Repair your computer."  That in turn led to a screen that offered me several options, two of which were "CompletePC Restore" and "Command Prompt."  You'll use one or another of those two options, depending on where you put the backup.

If you backed up your old drive onto an external USB drive, then plug it in (if it's not plugged in yet) and choose "System Restore."  Then just run the GUI — it'll look around, find a CompletePC backup on the USB drive, and offer to restore it to your 200 GB drive.  It will warn you that it's going to blow away anything currently on the hard disk (it has to repartition the drive to match the backed-up partitions), and in a short time, much less time than the backup took, you'll have a working system.

If, on the other hand, you backed up to a network share, then you need to do three things:

  • Connect to the network
  • Get the internal "version number" of the backup, even if it's the only one
  • Run a recovery from the GUI or the command line

Getting on the network is easy:

  • At the dialog box/window where you didn't choose "CompletePC Restore," choose "Command Prompt."
  • In the command prompt, type "startnet" and press Enter.
  • Check that you've got network connectivity with "ipconfig" and, if you don't, then look at newsletter #59 for some tips on how to get that network connectivity going.

Next, find out the version of your backup by typing

wbadmin get versions -backuptarget:\\myserver\myshare\pcbackupsdir

(Of course, your share won't have that exact name; substitute whatever you've used.)  You'll get a "version name" back that looks like “08/16/2007-14:17” and you will then plug that date into a command that looks like

wbadmin start sysrecovery –backuptarget:\\uncpath -version:versionnumber -recreatedisks -quiet

So, for example, in my case I'd type

wbadmin start sysrecovery –backuptarget:\\myserver\myshare\pcbackupsdir 
-version:08/16/2007-23:47 -recreatedisks -quiet

That should be typed on just one line — I broke that to make it a bit more readable.  Again, the system will run for a while and you'll have your OS on the new drive, good as new.  Just remember from Newsletter #63 that the target drive must be the same size or larger than the old drive, or it won't work.  Good luck upsizing!

Okay, Vista is incompatible in a few ways

You've probably heard all of the gloom and doom that journalists have been reporting about Vista — no one's using it, everyone's "downgrading" to XP, Vista will spell the end of Microsoft and so on. Now, I don't actually care if anyone upgrades to Vista, but I hate journalists with short memories and so I've found myself in the position in the past year of pointing out that yes, Vista is slower than XP, takes more memory and doesn't have the driver support that XP has, but the same things were true of XP when it first shipped in late 2001, and when Windows 7 ships in 2013 or whatever, those current Vista-haters will be clutching their copies of Vista and declaring that they'll never upgrade to Windows 7 because it's so slow, needs so much RAM and lacks driver support.  That has, I admit, caused me to dismiss some of the out-of-hand pronouncements of some that tons of significant apps can't run on Vista.  (That hadn't been my experience, and I've run Vista 64 since it shipped.)

So I was intrigued when, in the space of one week, I ran into not one but two surprising Vista incompatibilities.

First, I tried to look up a VBScript function using the .chm ("compiled HTML") Help file that used to be the main documentation for VBScript.  Double-clicking the VBSCRIP5.CHM file, I found that the file opened, but I couldn't navigate to all of the pages, getting the equivalent of a "404" error from the Help system.  A bit of experimentation with some old circa-Windows 95 Help files also failed.  A bit of searching turned up the fact that the new Help engine in Vista and 2008 just plain doesn't like some of the old-time Help files.  Odd, no?  Whatever happened to backward compatibility -- was supporting CHM all that hard?

The second truly strange incompatibility came, believe it or not, from a 2007 product — Microsoft Office LiveMeeting 2007.  I recorded a short LiveMeeting in preparation for one I was going to give.  I tried to play it back, but all I got was audio -- no picture.  Windows Media Player reported that I didn't have a necessary codec, the "MSA1" codec.  "How strange," I thought -- I'm running Office 2007, have installed the LiveMeeting 2007 client; I'm running Vista... there must be a mistake.  No, no mistake, as it turns out — there are no 64-bit Windows codecs of any kind for MSA1.  Bizarre.

How do you know if you're using DFS (the old one) or DFS Namespaces (the new one) -- the quickest way to know!

Here's a tip from our DFS expert, Rhonda Layfield.  Rhonda got a really interesting question recently and I thought someone might benefit from it.

If you've ever worked with Windows-based file shares, then you probably know of the Distributed File System (DFS).  It debuted in 2000 Server after some spotty testing in NT 4.0 Server and has been with us since.  It's got a useful built-in replication system powered by the File Replication Service (FRS... yuck!) which works, um, most of the time.  Server 2003 R2, however, introduced an improvement to DFS called DFS Namespaces.  It's got a bunch of advantages that we covered in great detail in the Server 2003 R2/SP1 Upgrade Book, and one of the advantages is that it's got a new-and-improved replication engine called DFS-R.

Unfortunately, it's possible to build a DFS-N system that replicates with that old hamster-in-a-cage engine, FRS, rather than DFS-R.  So here's the question:  you've just been handed an existing DFS-N system, and, well, you're not so sure about the guy set it up.  So you wonder:  is this DFS-N system running atop FRS, or DFS-R?  

I'm going to show you how to find which replication engine is replicating your DFSN on a 2003 R2 Server. You'll need to open the DFS Management snap-in by clicking Start / Administrative Tools / DFS Management as shown in the figure below.

Expand the Namespace node to view your DFS Namespaces, and expand the Replication node to view your replication groups. Replication groups would be created to group servers that participate in replicating one or more folders. As you can see in the figure below with both the Namespace and Replication node expanded — I have a DFS Namespace called test in the nuggetlab.com domain, but I don't have any replication groups. This would tell me that my current DFS-N is being replicated via FRS and not DFS-R.

It's as simple as that!

Conferences

I'm speaking at lots of conferences this spring and if you can't make to my March seminars, please join me at...

Windows Server Launch Event, Los Angeles 27 February 2008

Microsoft's doing a series of "launch events" to coincide with the releases of Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008.  The first one is in Los Angeles on 27 February and they've asked me to present the overview talk on Server 2008.  If you're thinking of attending the event, then please consider stopping by my session.  Info at www.heroshappenhere.com

The Minasi Forum Meet 2008 in Virginia Beach April 19-23

If you read this newsletter then you probably already know that I've run an online forum at www.minasi.com/forum for the past five and a half years, and if you ever hang around the forum then you know that there are a lot of friendly and helpful people there.  For the third time in as many years, we're all getting together to learn from each other, put faces to those online names and have another great time.  This year we've got some great guest speakers, including group policy guru Jeremy Moskowitz, PowerShell maven Don Jones, our own deployment diva Rhonda Layfield, Mr. Cisco himself (Todd Lammle), and a bunch of other great speakers covering a variety of topics that may surprise you.  Find out more at http://web2.minasi.com/forummeet2008/; I hope to see you there.

Directory Expert's Conference March 2-5, Chicago

Actually, I'm not talking at this conference — but Rhonda is. Server 2008 changes all the rules when it comes to Sysvol, and we've all got to become experts on the File Replication Service and DFS-R, FRS's replacement. Nobody knows Sysvol, FRS and DFS-R like Rhonda, so the DEC folks were kind enough to find room for her. In case you've never heard of DEC, it is the geeky event for Active Directory techies. They're holding it in Chicago the first week of March, and you can find out more at http://www.directoryexpertsconference.com/.

TechTarget Vista Road Shows in Chicago, Denver, Raleigh, DC and Minneapolis

TechTarget has been kind enough to ask me back for three more of the one-day Vista road shows that have packed 'em in since Spring 2007.  The next three cities are Chicago, Denver, Raleigh, DC and Minneapolis in March, April, May, August and September.  It's free so how can you go wrong ... unless you don't sign up before all of the seats are gone?  More info at http://events.techtarget.com/vista/.

TechMentor In San Francisco, Orlando, New York and Las Vegas

If you're looking for a Windows technical conference then you'll have plenty to choose from this year, as the TechMentor folks will be running four shows this year:  San Francisco on the week of March 30, Orlando on the week of May 12, New York (Brooklyn, actually) the week of 7 September, and Vegas on the week of 13 October.  I'm doing a bunch of new breakout sessions, some content on Server 2008 (of course) and more.  Info at www.techmentorevents.com

the Rio for their Fall show and I'm doing my general session on Server 2008 as well as my Vista Security Crash Course and more.  Info at http://events.techtarget.com/vista/

Windows Connections in Orlando the Week of 27 April

If it's spring, we must be in Orlando!  Once again, Penton -- the folks who put out the magazine that I write for -- has assembled their "mega-show" that co-locates their techie shows on Windows, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL, and all kinds of developer stuff, all in the same week.  The show is in the Hyatt Grand Cypress, the place they've run it the past few years and not a bad location.  I'll be keynoting and presenting technical sessions, including my new "What's IPv6 all about and why do you care?" talk.  Information at www.winconnections.com.

Bring Mark to your site to teach

I'm keeping busy doing Vista seminars and writing, but I've still got time to visit your firm.  In just two days, I'll make your current NT techies into 2008, Vista, security, XP, Active Directory or 2003 experts.  (And better yet they won't have to sit through any Redmondian propaganda.)  To join the large educational, pharmaceutical, agricultural, aerospace, utility, banking, government, telecommunication, law enforcement, publishing, transportation, military and other organizations that I've assisted, either take a peek at the course outlines at www.minasi.com/presentations.htm, mail our assistant Jean Snead at Assistant@Minasi.com, or call her at (757) 426-1431 (only between noon-5 Eastern time, weekdays, please).

Until Next Month...

Have a quiet and safe month. 

Please share this newsletter; I hope that it is a useful source of Windows technical information.  Please forward it to any associates who might find it helpful, and accept my thanks.  We are now at over 45,000 subscribers and I hope to use this to get information to every one of my readers. Many, many thanks to the readers who have mailed me to offer suggestions, errata, and those kind reviews.  As always, I'm at http://www.minasi.com/gethelp and please join us at the Forum with technical questions at www.minasi.com/forum.  Thanks for letting me visit with you, and take care. 

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All contents copyright 2008 Mark Minasi. You are encouraged to quote this material, SO LONG as you include this entire document; thanks.