Great surge protectors, power conditioners, UPS
article #1039, updated 6 days ago

In my (J.E.B.) personal experiences, these are wonderful.

Power conditioner:
http://smartpowersystems.com/products/computer-grade-filters-tbf/pos-guardian/

UPS:
http://smartpowersystems.com/products/uninterruptible-power-supplies/

They can be a little tough to find, but persevere, it’s worth it. I learned about these seeing them protect registers at some large retail stores and other non-consumer situations where they really really don’t want things to get hit.

This is a personal recommendation by experience, I shall see no kickback for these words!

Categories:   UPS   Power Protection and UPS

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ISO to USB flash drive
article #1038, updated 21 days ago

Here is a very good tool for writing an ISO to USB flash drive in bootable mode, in Windows:

http://rufus.akeo.ie/

Categories:   Tools   

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Microsoft online services: FQDN firewall openings
article #947, updated 24 days ago

Some firewalls have FQDN capability (e.g., Watchguards), which makes careful rule creation practical for a behemoth like Microsoft Office 365 and all of its related services. The info below is condensed from here. I have omitted a very few items (e.g., ports 25, 465, and 993, and *.msn.com), for reasons which I hope are reasonably obvious.

Create one rule with these ports:

80, TCP
443, TCP
587, TCP
3478, UDP
5223, TCP
50000-59999, TCP and UDP

to the following list of locations, and it is done.

*.office365.com
*.office.com
*.office.net
*.microsoftonline.com
*.msocdn.com
*.microsoft.com
*.live.com
*.onmicrosoft.com
*.msedge.net
*.aadrm.com
*.azurerms.com
*.virtualearth.net
*.cloudapp.net
*.visualstudio.com
*.windowsazure.com
*.cloudappsecurity.com
*.microsoftonline-p.net
*.microsoftonline-p.com
*.msecnd.net
*.azure.com
*.msft.net
*.outlook.com
*.azurewebsites.net
*.lync.com
*.trafficmanager.net
*.skype.com
*.skypeforbusiness.com
*.sharepoint.com
*.sharepointonline.com
spoprod-a.akamaihd.net
*.aspnetcdn.com
*.onenote.com
*.onenote.net
*.yammer.com
*.yammerusercontent.com
ajax.googleapis.com
*.cloudfront.net
*.edgesuite.net
*.edgekey.net
*.sway.com
*.sway-cdn.com
*.sway-extensions.com
ms.tific.com
*.apple.com
auth.gfx.ms
view.atdmt.com
*.msecnd.net
m.webtrends.com
*.getmicrosoftkey.com

Categories:   Firewalls   Exchange and Exchange Online

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HP SoftPaq Download Manager for drivers and BIOS
article #1037, updated 25 days ago

On some HP desktop hardware, this is the only way to get drivers and BIOS:

http://ftp.hp.com/pub/caps-softpaq/cmit/HP_SDM.html

Categories:   Drivers   BIOS

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SPF and Email Flow Analysis Tools
article #998, updated 33 days ago

A very good SPF checker:

https://vamsoft.com/support/tools/spf-policy-tester

Here is possibly the original SPF checker:

http://www.kitterman.com/spf/validate.html

To do a deep study of a bounceback, the best tool this writer has ever seen is here:

https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com/

in the Message Analyzer tab. Just paste every header you have into there and submit, and then read. Lots and lots of excellent information comes up.

Categories:   Email   

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Upgrading Windows 10 Versions
article #1036, updated 33 days ago

When going to version 1607 of 10, it is reportedly supposed to be automatic:

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2016/08/02/how-to-get-the-windows-10-anniversary-update/

but can be done by ISO:

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wiki/windows_10-windows_install/how-to-upgrade-to-windows-10-anniversary-update/fab99802-4358-49d9-8278-e9664cd56311

Categories:   Windows OS-Level Issues   Windows Installer and Updates

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A Great Alternative to Visio
article #1035, updated 34 days ago

This one is very good:
http://lucidchart.com

Categories:   Applications   

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The System Update Readiness Tool for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems
article #1034, updated 35 days ago

A 539-megabyte monster! Appears to be designed to solve lots of problems.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20858

Categories:   Windows Installer and Updates   Windows OS-Level Issues

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Very interesting employment / jobs web site
article #1033, updated 38 days ago

Rather nicely set up:

http://glassdoor.com

Categories:   Web Sites   

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Windows Performance through VSS Cleanup and Preassociation
article #1004, updated 40 days ago

These steps can improve Windows performance a whole lot. It works because a vast array of different applications and services in Windows utilize VSS on their backends. Start an administrative CMD, and then…

Step 1:

First we run the following in an administrative CMD:

vssadmin Delete Shadows /All

If there are orphan shadows, you will be asked whether you want to delete them. If there are and you delete them, you will see immediate performance benefit. Reportedly, Windows autodeletes them only after there are 64 per volume. We prefer to see zero!

Step 2:

We now improve any existing preassociation of disk space for VSS. On some machines, this will increase performance very impressively, immediately. In general it keeps them smooth and stable and prevents hesitations. This does not reserve or take up the space, it just “associates” it, makes it ready for use, so that whenever Windows wants to do any of the bajillions of things it does with VSS, things ranging from tiny to enormous, it can skip that step.

It is worthwhile to know that C: on all workstation installs and many server installs, has a minimal preassociation already set up. So this first step is to resize the existing association.

Do the below in administrative CMD:

vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=20%

Do repeat for any other active hard drive partitions, D:, E:, et cetera. Don’t worry if you get an error, the next step covers it.

Step 3:

It may well throw an error, saying there is no such association. If this is a workstation OS, vssadmin lacks two commands on workstation OSes which we need to improve further, so in that case we are done. But on any Windows Server OS from 2003, if the error was thrown, we do an Add for every RAID volume:

vssadmin Add ShadowStorage /For=E: /On=E: /MaxSize=20%

Step 4:

And finally (server only), one more thing which can help if, for instance, C: is almost full but E: has plenty of space:

vssadmin Delete ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C:
vssadmin Add ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=E: /MaxSize=20%

This maximizes overall performance, and also prevents possible backup failures and other issues due to insufficient disk space on C:.

Note:

On some machines, the volumes do not have letters. For these you will need to use the volume GUID path. In vssadmin list shadowstorage, they look like this:

Shadow Copy Storage association
   For volume: (\\?\Volume{99ac05c7-c06b-11e0-b883-806e6f6e6963}\)\\?\Volume{99a
c05c7-c06b-11e0-b883-806e6f6e6963}\
   Shadow Copy Storage volume: (\\?\Volume{99ac05c7-c06b-11e0-b883-806e6f6e6963}
\)\\?\Volume{99ac05c7-c06b-11e0-b883-806e6f6e6963}\
   Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
   Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
   Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 32 MB (32%)

For such a situation, substitute \\?\Volume{99ac05c8-c06b-11e0-b883-806e6f6e6963} (the whole long string) for C: in the above command lines.

PowerShell will give GUI paths for all volumes thusly:

GWMI -namespace root\cimv2 -class win32_volume

References are here:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc788050.aspx

https://www.storagecraft.com/support/kb/article/289

http://backupchain.com/i/how-to-delete-all-vss-shadows-and-orphaned-shadows

http://www.tech-no.org/?p=898

Categories:   VSS   Performance