Archive for Tools – Page 2

Defrag QuickBooks Company File to Improve Performance

One of my customers is running QuickBooks in a manufacturing environment. Their QB company file had grown to over 900MB in size! Many of their regular reports were taking over 5 minutes to load, and one large transaction report was taking 15-20 minutes to load.

We switched the QB company file to single user mode. We then ran Microsoft’s SysInternal Contig utility on it (using the –a option for analysis only) and found that the company file was heavily fragmented — 6,678 fragments to be exact!


After making a backup of the company file, we then ran the Contig utility and it reduced the number of fragments from 6,678 to 1,555. It took the utility about ten minutes to complete. A second pass of Contig then took it down to 1 fragment!


The result?

According to the customer, the 15-20 minute transaction report ran in 4-5 minutes. and the regular 5 minute reports completed almost instantly.

Ransomware Prevention Kit Now Available

Back HomeThirdTier has announced the availability of their Ransomware Prevention Kit.

This is an update over their 2013 kit. This is a “build your own” solution kit. They offer many different things so that you, as an I.T. professional, can put together what your client or company needs. It also includes some educational material.

There’s no cost to the kit, itself. But they are using this as a fundraiser to support females that want to enter the field of Information Technology. Way to go, Amy Babinchak and Susan Bradley!

The kit includes:

  • Group Policies
  • New WMI Filters
  • Software Restriction Policy instructions
  • TOR, Flash, Zip blocking
  • Firewall settings
  • PC and User settings
  • Securing backup
  • Application Whitelisting
  • Recovery Keys
  • Deployment Script
  • Powerpoint Presentation Slides
  • Blog post listing
  • Other Resources
  • File Server Resource Manager
  • and new content added from time to time

Review Microsoft License Terms

If you did not know, Microsoft provides a handy web page to view the licensing terms for all of its current products:

Drop downs allow you to select the product, the version and the language.


Cannot open Settings app after Windows 10 upgrade

I have done several in-place upgrades from Windows 7/Win 8.1 to Windows 10 without any real issue. But yesterday I unboxed a new Lenovo computer that came pre-installed with Windows 7 Pro, and I used the same Windows 10 USB stick that I have been using to upgrade this computer.

All seemed to go fine with the upgrade, and I was able to login successfully, including using IE and Edge to access the Internet. image

But, when I tried to click on Settings, I  would see a quick flash on the screen, but nothing else.
I tried rebooting several times with no improvement. –>

I checked the event log and found a  pair of events (Id 59 and 5973) that indicates an issue with Immersive Control Panel.


Doing a web search indicated that this issue has been encountered since the initial release of Windows 10 back in July 2015, but also, similar errors with Windows 8.1.

I finally found a Microsoft Answer post (click here) that pointed me in the right direction for a solution. Microsoft pushed out an emergency troubleshooter utility that you can download directly from the Microsoft web site:




Download, open and run this troubleshooting utility. It should identify the issue and fix it. No rebooting is required. It fixed my issue with opening the Settings app immediately.

Hope this helps!

New Ransomware Prevention Kit Coming Soon

Back HomeAmy Babinchak, President of Third Tier, has announced that they will be releasing an updated version of their Ransomware Prevention Kit next week. 

Two years ago (October 2013), Amy and her team led the way in providing a solution to help block the CryptoLocker attacks that were causing havoc worldwide (see blog post).

A lot has changed in the past two years, and such threats can still do great harm and damage for both individuals and businesses. Thanks to Third Tier, I sleep better knowing that my systems are protected.

Finally, Third Tier wants to reach out and encourage more women to get certified and work in the I.T. field, and is using this new Prevention Kit to raise money for this effort!

Outlook Crashing after Latest Updates–KB3097877

I am seeing many reports today of Outlook crashing after the recent set of Office 2010 updates, as well as getting a blank screen after pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL for the login screen.

It appears that KB 3097877 may be the cause. If so you can try uninstalling that KB patch.

There is also a suggestion to clear the Java cache. Instructions can be found here:

MaxFocus RMM Dashboard SHA-2 Security Update Affects XP and Windows 2003 Servers

MaxFocus (formerly GFI) has announced that they will be upgrading all of their SHA-1 SSL certificates to SHA-2. This change may impact XP devices and Windows 2003 servers from connecting to the RMM dashboard, if they are not properly upgraded.

  • XP workstations must have Service Pack 3 installed
  • Windows 2003 Servers must have either KB 2868626 or KB 2918614 installed.

(Please note that Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP and for Server 2003. As such we are providing this update in an advisory capacity, but cannot offer support with any installation issues of the patches on these endpoint devices.)

Splashtop Business New Enhancements

Back in January 2015 I started testing and using Splashtop Business as a remote control/support replacement for LogMeIn, which was getting too expensive for me. Splashtop is not my primary remote control solution, but I needed an alternative to LogMeIn for specific on-demand situations.

For the most part, I have been very happy with Splashtop. It does what I need it to do —

  • Easy setup to remote control into a user’s computer
  • Provides built –in file transfer capabilities
  • Supports mutiple monitors (on remote side)


And with their Version 3.0 release which just came out, they now support multiple concurrent connections, and have redesigned the Splashtop Business window interface for easier use.

My only complaint with Splashtop had been some occasional slow performance when remoting into servers. We resolved that issue earlier this month (see blog post).

It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles with products like ScreenConnect, LogMeIn Central, and others – but the price is right ($60/year) for my needs!


Splashtop Slow Screen Refresh to Servers

I stopped using LogMeIn during the past year due to their huge price increases. I have access to Teamviewer through MaxFocus for my managed customers. But I still wanted a remote connection solution for my other customers.

imageI eventually selected Splashtop Business, both for its ease of use and low price. It works great for what I need to do – quick remote access to a computer, supports multiple monitors, and has a built in file transfer capability.

I very rarely use Splashtop on a server, but I had need to do so recently due to an issue while reinstalling Teamviewer on an SBS 2011 server.

I connected fine, but the refresh rate of the video screen was horrible, and almost totally useless. I dug around and discovered that Splashtop requires more video memory than what most servers provide, due to the way Splashtop does it’s video refresh.

The workaround solution is to disable hardware acceleration (see Splashtop support article).

  1. imageRight click on an empty part of the desktop, then click Screen Resolution
  2. Click the Advance settings link
  3. Click the Troubleshoot tab
  4. Click the Change settings button, then move the Hardware accelerator to None
  5. Click OK, and close windows.
  6. NOTE: No reboot of the server is required.

However, there’s one problem: if Splashtop is not refreshing your screen properly, how do you do the above steps?

What I found that worked is that as I did each of the above steps, I immediately closed my Splashtop connection, and then reopened it, and found that the screen was at the next step.

One final note: Splashtop now has a newer solution that does not require turning off hardware acceleration. that involves installing a mirror driver. But this solution also requires you to reboot the server. I will try this out at a later time.

Tool to Convert ISO file to Bootable USB

I’m always open to using a new tool for the right occasion. Burning a system image .iso disk file to a bootable USB flash drive is such an occasion.

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 both come with the ability to burn an .iso file to a CD/DVD. However, many computers no longer come with a CD/DVD drive, and so the need to create a bootable USB stick is very necessary. Plus the size of the system image .iso files keep getting large. Both the Windows 10 and Windows 2012 R2 .iso images are over 5GB in size, and won’t fit on a standard 4.7GB DVD disk.

A tool I recently found that worked extremely well is called Rufus. Not only is it a free, simple and straight-forward utility to use, what I also like is that it does not need to be installed — it is a portable program (single .exe file). At the time of this blog post, Rufus is at version 2.4.

There is a full description on using Rufus at this link. I am simply including the easy 1-2-3 steps necessary.

  1. imageDownload Rufus here. I recommend downloading the portable version.
  2. Double click the executable you downloaded to start running  it. Everything you need to do is on the single window that opens up. –>
  3. Plug in the USB flash drive you want to use. Remember that this device will be completely reformatted!
  4. From the Device drop down at the top, browse and select the USB device.
  5. You may need to change the file system from NTFS to FAT32. I normally use FAT32,
  6. At the Create a bootable disk using option, select ISO Image, then click on the icon next to it, then browse and select the .iso file that you wish to burn.
  7. If burning a Windows system image O/S, be sure to select Standard Windows installation
  8. Click Start.

That’s it. Enjoy!