Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Here’s a VERY generous offer from the people at StorageCraft in the USA – FREE IT Edition for the next two weeks specifically to help people in the hurricane Sandy affected areas. Well done StorageCraft for the community spirit here!
Hurricane Sandy Help
In light of the severe damage many people are facing as a result of Hurricane Sandy, StorageCraft wants to help partners and IT Administrators as much as possible. For the next two weeks, StorageCraft is offering free downloads of the three-day version of StorageCraft® ShadowProtect® IT Edition. This will help MSPs, VARs and network administrators recover an unlimited number of servers, desktops and laptops. If you’re affected by the storm, please let StorageCraft know if there is another way that we can help you and your customers get business backup up and running.
Please visit http://www.storagecraft.com/sandy/ to download now.
For more information please contact your StorageCraft represenatative. We will be posting more information on the StorageCraft Recovery Zone in the future.
Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Been doing a bit of work recently for a customer in migrating their physical environment into a virtual test environment. We’ve used ShadowProtect IT Edition as part of that solution. On some of the servers, we’ve received one of two errors.
Info: The boot selection failed because a required device is inaccessible.
Info: the selected entry could not be loaded because the application is missing or corrupt.
To resolve both of these is quite simple. Inside ShadowProtect, from the Tools menu, select Boot Configuration Utility. You will get the screen below. Initially the status of our servers was Broken, but you can select the Auto Repair button and it will resolve the boot problems for you.
Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Today we were doing a Disaster Recovery for a client. Well not so much as a Disaster Recovery, but a recovery of old data from an old tape. The tape was from April 2011. The data we wanted to recover was from an NTBACKUP of Exchange 2003. We needed to recover the CEOs Mailbox as he’d “lost” certain emails that were now considered important.
Anyway – we had a server similar to the original server and we commenced the rebuild of the server from tape. The engineer I had working on it restored the entire C: drive as well as the other volumes needed. Upon reboot we were faced with an error below.
Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of the following error: Directory Service cannot start. Error Status 0xc000000f.
Ok – we checked the C:\Windows\NTDS folder and found that it was empty. Which is to be expected as we’d not done a system state restore. So we rebooted into DSRM mode and commenced a System State restore. All looked good and we rebooted…. sadly we got this error message.
Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of the following error: Directory Service cannot start. Error Status 0xc00002e1.
A little investigation revealed this Microsoft KB article. Unfortunately we got to step 9 in the procedure and ntdsutil files integrity command reported that the database was in fact corrupt. Hmm we thought – let’s try an older tape, so we did another system state restore, which unfortunately failed with the same result.
Ok – so at this point I took a few steps back… I tried a few things that I probably should not have all of which did not work. Then it dawned on me… tombstones… the backup we were restoring was nearly 9 months old. The default tombstone period is 60 days… I’d never tried to restore such an old backup before and I wondered if the problem might in fact be the date now being 9 months later.
The easy way to verify this was to jump into the BIOS and we set the date to 1 month AFTER the original backup. We then rebooted into DSRM mode once more and did another system state restore. Rebooted and crossed our fingers. Yippee – it came up without an issue. That must have been it.
So the take away from this is that when you are restoring older tapes, consider the date that the backup was done as well as the date that the machine has set in the BIOS. This is one I won’t forget for a while now
Thursday, December 15th, 2011
Veeam is a product that I’ve been meaning to look at for some time now since a good friend of mine introduced me to them a while back. One of the things that has stopped me however is that I’m a user of Hyper-V and not VMWare. Their latest version v6 supports Hyper-V now so it’s time to check it out.
I’ve just been alerted to a free NFR offer that they have for anyone who is a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP).
They are offering a 12 month free license for testing use to MCPs. You can register for your free license here
Check it out – I’ll be playing with this some more over the coming holiday season.
Monday, November 28th, 2011
Recently I had some confusion with a client over what tape should be inserted into which tape drive and their capacity. The colour of the tape however is what was easily determined and helped resolve the issue quickly. I figured I’d post this for others in case they need it. This table is accurate for HP LTO tapes – but other vendors use different colours.
|1||100GB / 200GB||Blue|
|2||200GB / 400GB||Dark Red|
|3||400GB / 800GB||Yellow|
|4||800GB / 1600GB||Green|
|5||1600GB / 3200GB||Light Blue|
Wikipedia has a table which has other manufacturers LTO tape cartridges and their colours here
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
One of the things you should do before migration is to ensure that you set your DSRM password to something that you know. The quickest way to do this is to use NTDSUtil to synchronise it with the current SBS 2008 or SBS 2011 Network Administrators password.
To do this is easy – use the following procedure.
You can see below where I’ve configured my SBS 2008 server to sync with the account SBSADMIN
Of course, the next thing before you need to use it in a DR scenario is to test it of course!
Friday, October 28th, 2011
When you restore a ShadowProtect image to a new computer, there is often confusion about the right settings to chose for the boot partition. Jack Alsop from StorageCraft here in Australia recommends the following options.
Restore MBR is needed – and Jack recommends you restore an Original Windows MBR unless the disk subsystems is 100% identical to avoid issues.
Restore Disk Signature is needed for a few reasons… the primary one being that if you want the ShadowProtect jobs to continue to run without needing to do a new base image then you want to ensure that you Restore Disk Signature. In addition to that some software uses the disk signature for copy protection and it might need to be reactivated.
Restore Disk Hidden Track is also recommended as again some software stores information on this track for copy protection. Without restoring this you might run into issues with activation of third party software.
Hope this helps.
Saturday, September 10th, 2011
Yesterday, Microsoft suffered a global outage of not only Office 365, but also other services such as Hotmail and SkyDrive. This outage went on for around 3 hours during which users with their applications and data stored in the cloud could not access it at all. During the outage, Microsoft continued to relay information via their Office365 twitter account and seemed to suggest that the issue was linked to DNS problems. The resolved the issue and it then took time for things to sort themselves out as many DNS servers cache the records for varying periods of time (despite the fact that they are supposed to listen to the values the record holder puts in place).
What is concerning to me is that so far, I’ve not seen any further official explanation of how the problem occurred, and what they are doing to prevent it happening again. It makes me a wonder why there is no official statement from them as yet. Were they hacked? Were they the victim of a Denial of Service attack? Was it some user error that took them off the air for so long? Why is there nothing forthcoming from Microsoft on the topic?
Make no mistake, the cloud is here to stay, but that does not mean we should all move to the cloud without due diligence and without questioning if it’s right for your business. An outage like yesterdays could cause a massive loss in productivity for any business – the fact that it occurred mostly outside business hours in the USA was likely a blessing for Microsoft. The only problem was that it was still business hours in other parts of the world and people were inconvenienced. As we look to move our business more to the cloud, we want to know that we won’t be without access to our data and applications for long periods of time. In committing to the cloud, we are also committing to putting our data and applications in the hands of someone we don’t have a direct relationship with. We know that in the small business space, having a direct relationship with the customer is paramount.
Having said all this – had an issue such as this (whatever the cause) happened to a smaller cloud provider, would the resolution be so swift or would it take longer? If it was in fact some DOS or hack of the DNS around Microsoft’s assets, then the other side of the coin is that is it safer to be with a smaller cloud provider that is not as high profile and therefore hackers are not so likely to try to take them down? Many questions for sure – and all points to be considered in your search for a cloud solutions for your business.
I believe Microsoft owe their users and resellers a clear explanation of what went wrong and what they are doing to ensure it won’t happen again. They need to be transparent to their users to ensure that the users confidence is maintained.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
No – this is not a test to see how fast a Toshiba can reboot vs a Porsche 911, but a story from Jeff Wilson from VelocIT Business Systems and a member of the SMB IT Professionals organisation in Australia. Jeff tells the story of an urgent call he had from a customer over a weekend where the customer needed him to look at something urgently – ie before Monday. Being a customer focused professional, of course Jeff went to help out. When he got there he found that the client has “accidentally” run his Porsche 911 over the laptop… see the pictures below!
The screen still opened up
And of course – compare the good with the bad.
What is interesting from this is that the hard drive on these is stored under the keyboard palm rest area and it appears that this was not harmed – therefore the users data was still safe. The laptop though was of course totally dead. Jeff moved the hard drive over to the spare that the customer had and got them running quickly.
Now – aside from being some funny pictures of a laptop accident – it brings a few other thoughts to mind.
What are you doing for backups of your users mobile devices? Are you backing up the entire laptop and if so, how often and using what software?
Personally I’m using Trend Micro SafeSync on my laptop to sync all the user changed data – word documents, Excel, PowerPoint and the like up to the cloud and then from the cloud, down to my desktop PC in the office. This ensures that my user data is safe and sound.
In terms of the laptops operating system and applications, I’m using ShadowProtect to backup to a USB hard drive while I travel, or to my NAS in the office. I’m also using the Client PC Backup technology from Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials to do a backup of the laptops while in the office as a 2nd approach.
What do you do?
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
There’s a lot of news in the media at the moment about massive system hacks by a number of rogue hacker groups. One of the local ones recently has been domain registrar DistributeIT based here in Australia. Their systems were not only hacked, but totally and utterly destroyed by the hackers. The most recent news article on this has DistributeIT talking about how even there backups were erased. And based on that we can assume a few things.
No don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying they got what they deserved. No one deserves to have their business decimated in the way that I’m sure DistributeIT is right now. But they did not fully consider the potential ramifications that could happen should a deep compromise of their systems occur.
Now personally I’ve used image based backup products like StorageCraft for quite some time and I love them. I also use products that work specifically with tape such as BackupAssist as well. However if you are to use an image based product alone here, then you need to consider what would happen in the event that your backups are erased. How can you prevent that from occurring? If you have some form of replication to replicate the data offsite, then that replication is also potentially likely to replicate the deletion (depending on how you have it configured). Particular attention needs to be paid here and this is where some form off offline backup comes into play. Be it tapes or offline hard drives, you need to ensure that you have a way that will prevent hackers from getting in overnight and killing your business.
Why tapes I hear you ask? How’s this for a few reasons to start with…
If you were to change your offline media on a daily basis then you limit what they can do to your business? What are you doing to prevent this for yourself and customers?
So – I ask you – is Tape really dead? If you are thinking more about this then check out BackupAssist as an option as they can support tape on versions of Windows that don’t have native tape support which is basically everything from Windows Server 2008 or SBS 2008 onwards.
Nope – for me – I’m seriously revisiting how my backup strategies are maintained and am looking to develop some new ideas and practices around this.