World Backup Day

I just found out that March 31st has been designated as World Backup Day!

Click on the image below to go to the World Backup Day website, and take the pledge to backup your data. And, if you need help doing so, let me know!

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Reset WHS Backup Database

I still have several Microsoft Windows Home Servers (WHS) running in some customer offices. Had an issue where the backup database got corrupted, not allowing me to retrieve any backups. I tried many solutions, but none fixed the problem.

So, how do you wipe out the WHS backup database to essentially start clean?

What you will have found out is that there’s not an option for doing this from the WHS console. Yes, you “clean” the database, but that only removes backups older than your declared backup settings. And a “repair” does not do the trick.

So, I dusted off an old post (kudos to Jim Clarke) that will do exactly what we need – reset the current WHS backup database, and free up all the disk space previously used.

  • Use mstsc to login to the WHS Server
  • Open a command prompt (Start –> Run –> cmd)
    Type: net stop PDL
    Type: net stop whsbackup
  • Leave the command window open, as we will need it in a minute
  • Meanwhile, open up Windows Explorer and locate:
    D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4}
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  • Delete the contents of that folder – but DO NOT delete the folder itself!
  • Now go back to the command prompt window
    Type: net start whsbackup
    Type net start PDL
  • Jim notes that after doing this you will need to go to each workstation and either reinstall the WHS Connector software or run the Discover.exe program.

And, in case you are wondering, PDL is Microsoft’s Persistent Drive Letter service!

Watch Out for Malicious Flashlight Apps

Who would have thought that the flashlight app on your smartphone could be malicious?

According to this cyber-security company, SnoopWall, there are at least ten flashlight apps that are malicious, and can steal and send personal data. They published a threat assessment report back in October, 2014.

If your phone has one of these listed apps, the recommendation is to backup your contacts and personal files from your phone, and then do a factory reset your phone. Deleting the app is not enough, as these apps are storing malicious information  in hidden places on your phone.

Here is a 6 minute video from Fox News interviewing SnoopWall’s CEO, Gary Miliefsky, on this subject.

The shared protection point operation failed with error 0x81000101

This is the first time that I’ve seen this error on any Windows server I manage. This is an SBS 2008 server that has been in production for 6 years. The error was associated with a failed Windows backup of this server last night.

Full error message: Creation of the shared protection point timed out. Detailed Error: The shared protection point operation failed with error 0x81000101.

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A quick web search led me to this blog post by David J Steele who encountered the same issue. The solution changes the default timeout from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

Although his process is correct, there is one error in the information he posted. The value for the registry key should be 1200000 (5 zeroes) and not 12000000 (6 zeroes).

Here are the correct instructions:

  • Run regedit.exe on the server
  • Navigate to HKLM –> Software –> Microsoft –> windows NT –> CurrentVersion –> SPP
  • Create a new registry key (type DWORD) with the name “CreateTimeout”
  • Modify the value of the key to decimal 1200000. Be sure to click the radio box for Decimal before entering the value.

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Why you will love Windows 10

I am still amazed at the number of people, both consumers as well as I.T. professionals, that simply do not like Windows 8.1. Many managed service professionals (MSP) that I know are still installing Windows 7 in their customer base, avoiding windows 8.1 altogether. I’m fine with that, as that’s their choice.

Personally, I like Windows 8.1 (for the most part). And those sites where I have installed 8.1, the reaction of the users quickly go from “Dislike” to “It’s OK”, and in some cases, they move to “I like it!”.

I came across this article from CNN Money website that gives a very nice overview of why people will want to upgrade to Windows 10.

CNN: You’ll love Windows 10

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Trade your old Surface RT/Pro to Surface Pro 3

Microsoft has a trade-in program for any existing model of Microsoft Surface devices – from the original Surface RT,  to the Surface 2 RT  / Surface 2 Pro, and to the current Surface Pro 3. The trade-in value will vary depending on the model of the Surface device.

Note: This offer is only good from February 15, 2015 to March 8, 2015.

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BOA Dropping Windows Mobile Phone App

wp_ss_20150219_0002I am not a happy camper with both Bank of America (BOA) and Microsoft.

Earlier this month I started to receive the following message whenever I logged onto my BOA phone app from my Nokia Lumia 920 –>

So, what’s their definition of “soon”?

You have to go to the Windows Phone App store to find that in “early March 2015” they will stop supporting this app on the Windows Phone platform!

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I utilize the electronic check deposit feature of their phone l the time.

Their suggestion that I do my mobile checking through the browser is a farce, since their web site does not provide the capability of electronic check deposit.

Why am I upset with Microsoft? Because it appears that BOA is waling away from the Windows Phone platform, and I’m not hearing anything from Microsoft on this situation. If BOA walks, whose next? And what does that say about the future of the Windows Phone platform?

P.S. Now it looks like both BOA and Chase are moving away from the Windows Phone platform! click here

GodMode in Windows 7/8/10

Haven’t heard about GodMode? No, this is not a joke. There is a hidden method for getting access to virtually all of the Windows control panel apps and system functions – all on a single screen. Best of all, it works on Windows 7 / 8 /8.1 / 10 as well as Windows Server 2011/2012!

Warning: this does not work with prior versions of Windows. You risk locking up the Windows Explorer window if you try to do so.

It’s called God Mode.

Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Create a new folder on your desktop
    (Right click on your desktop, then click New –> Folder)
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  2. Name the new folder: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}  
    I advise copying and pasting the bold faced text to get it exactly right (including the period and braces)
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  3. Double click on the new folder, and voila … God Mode at your disposal!
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Bing Rewards and 100GB of OneDrive Storage

Thanks to David Nickason, my MVP buddy from New York, who informed me of a way to get 100GB of OneDrive storage. Microsoft s offering Bing Rewards, to earn credits when you search on Bing or MSN.

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As part of this promotion, you can get 100GB of OneDrive storage for free for two years! Please note that this offer is only available until February 28, 2015.

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What are you waiting for? Go to Bing Reward and request your storage!

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Connecting Windows 8.1 to a Shared Printer

With every iteration of Windows, it seems that connecting up printers gets easier and easier. Generally speaking, that is.

I was at a client site installing a new Windows 8.1 workstation. They had a printer directly connected to a Windows 7 workstation, and it was configured as a shared printer. In fact, all of the other workstations were setup to access this printer.

But I was unable to add this shared printer to this new Windows 8.1 workstation. The shared printer was not showing up when I selected Add a Printer. I tried to add it manually (using \\computername\printername). It kept giving me either a Connect to Printer error, or the network could not find a driver. And that’s with me downloading the correct Windows 8.1 driver for this printer.

I then discovered a blog post from Brian Hitney that addressed this very issue. His blog post includes great screen shots and step-by-step directions. So, I will not repeat them in detail here. I’ll simply summarize the steps required:

  • Go to Control Panel –> Hardware –> Devices and Printers, and select Add a Printer
  • Select The printer that I want isn’t listed
  • Select Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings
  • Select Create a new port, and then set the type of port to Local Port
  • In the dialog box that displays, enter the UNC of the shared printer (\\computername\printername)
  • Next, you can choose the driver to use. I would suggest that you first click on the Windows Update button, and download the latest selection of printers and drivers.
  • You can now search for and select your desired printer driver.

A big “Wahoo” to Brian for this information!