IT Expert Top Tips
Live Sysinternals tools
If Autoruns, Processor Explorer, FileMon, RegMon and the other SysInternals tools aren't already in your arsenal, then you need to take a look at the instructions for these invaluable free utilities on the Sysinternals site. If you already know, love and tote them around on a USB stick, memorise http://live.sysinternals.com instead; this hosts the full set of tools as EXEs files, complete with help files, so you can run them from any machine you need to work on without needing to install them or even unpack a ZIP file.
advisorGot a client who wants to make their own Blu-ray discs and needs to know which office PCs they can check them on? (or is honest enough to say they want to watch movies on a plane?) Check what discs they can watch and whether advanced features will work with this Cyberlink utility.
What should you be worrying about?None of your customers are complaining about viruses, their network being slow or strange things happening on their new PDAs and laptops; is it time to take the afternoon off? Maybe, but before you do, make sure things will look as good next week by making sure you know what you’re defending against. Microsoft has a set of resources at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/cc514043.aspx covering the current threat landscape and showing ways to help protect your clients and their customers, including analyses of data collected from millions of users, strategies, mitigations and countermeasures.
Join a user groupThere are plenty of technical discussion sites on the Web, but if you're looking for a community where you have a chance to meet other experts and network in person, check out the list of UK technical user groups at http://www.ukusergroups.co.uk/. The new Active Directory User Group (http://adug.co.uk/) is kicking off with a meeting at Microsoft's London office in October, the Windows Server Team (http://winserverteam.org.uk/Default.aspx) is planning meetings in January and Vista Squad
(http://vistasquad.co.uk/), the Microsoft Messaging and Mobility Group (http://www.mmmug.co.uk) and Windows Management User Group (http://wmug.co.uk) are running regular meetings too.
IE 7 known issuesFrustrated by Internet Explorer 7? http://www.ie-vista.com/known_issues.html has some good tips on using the no add-on mode to find out what third-party tools interfere with it and other common problems.
The economics of Microsoft hostingAre Microsoft hosted solutions actually good for your business? SBS Guy Dave Overton thinks so and he explains why at http://uksbsguy.com/blogs/doverton/archive/2008/07/19/why-microsoft-partners-should-embrace-s-s-and-still-deliver-on-premise-solutions.aspx. Generally, Dave's blog at http://uksbsguy.com/blogs/doverton/archive/tags/Hosted/default.aspx is a great resource for supporting small business clients on Microsoft platforms - if you're wondering how Office Live compares to SBS or how to make money out of SQL Data Services, he has some interesting - through obviously Microsoft-centric-ideas.
Mac repair and installation instructionsNeed to fit more memory, a new hard drive or a replacement optical drive to a Mac? Even if you're experienced with Macs it can be tricky to deal with the range of cases and connectors used in different models, and if you only deal with a handful of Macs across all your clients it’s hard to stay up to date. This site has installation videos going back to the G4 PowerBook and G3 blue&white desktop Mac.
What's in which edition of Windows Server 2008?Microsoft is prone to push features as 'in Windows Server' when they're restricted to a specific edition; find out exactly what's in which edition and what's new as opposed to just updated in this short and clear list. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/compare-features.aspx
How to reset Windows Mobile phonesNeed to reset a Windows Mobile handset? This list covers about a dozen phones; if yours isn't here, try holding different combinations of buttons as you restart or power up.
Vmworld sessions and labsYou don't have to go to the conference to see the vmworld sessions; many of them are available free on the Web. Virtualising Exchange (http://www.vmworld.com/vmworld/static/sessions/2008/europe/AP03.html) and VMware Site Recovery manager (http://www.vmworld.com/vmworld/static/sessions/2008/europe/BC01.html) are well worth a look. The Expert Sessions at http://www.vmworld.com/vmworld/community/experts?src=NEWS_08Q3_VMW_OTHER_VMWORLDCOMNEWS_EXPERTS cover third-party tools for VMware.
IT compliance for small
businessesGovernance, risk and compliance aren't just for big business, and they're not just a burden of red tape. The better the governance, risk and compliance policies of a company, the better it does at business. This guidance from the IT Policy Compliance Group is specifically written for small business; take a look to see what you should be recommending strategically. http://www.itpolicycompliance.com/guidance/smb_special_interests/
DavCopyNeed to script file uploads to a SharePoint site? DavCopy is a command-line tool with a rich set of options including whether files get overwritten, whether they trigger the New file notification in SharePoint and what user credentials to upload them with. http://www.bluedoglimited.com/Downloads/default.aspx
Track VMs free with V-ScoutIt's easy to duplicate and transfer VMs, and hard to track how many you have and what you’re using them for at different client sites. If that spreadsheet is getting difficult to work with, try this free new tool; a cut-down version of V-Commander it's currently only for VMware Virtual Center, it will get support for Hyper-V this year and Citrix Xen next year.http://www.embotics.com/solutions/v-scout
Exchange tips when new users start and old ones
leaveWhen you add a new user and their email address doesn't show up in the Global Address List, work through the tips and suggestions in the ever-useful Exchangepedia Blog: http://exchangepedia.com/blog/2005/11/new-user-does-not-show-up-in-gal.html
Bulk-add new users with the script here (http://www.exchangepedia.com/blog/2006/11/exchange-server-2007-bulk-creation-of.html) or give existing users mail access (http://exchangepedia.com/blog/2006/12/bulk-mailbox-enabling-users-exchange-shell.html - this also has details for adding multiple meeting rooms as resources). And when an employee gets replaced, the steps at http://exchangepedia.com/blog/2006/03/how-to-reconnect-mailbox-to-another.html make it easy to connect the previous user's mailbox to the new user account so that mail for that job role keeps going to the right place.
Reject spam with a custom messageJust in case the message you're rejecting comes from a real person, you can have Exchange send a less cryptic message that the default error; it will make your customers look more professional. This blog post http://mostlyexchange.blogspot.com/2006/12/exchange-2003-sp2-imf-tuning.html
explains how - but make sure to keep the 550 error code at the beginning.
Map an FTP connection in ExplorerIf you're supporting en users who need to transfer files by FTP occasionally, explaining how to use FTP every time can get frustrating. Map an FTP site as a custom network location and they can do it through the familiar Explorer window. If you only have a couple of machines you can choose Tools >Map Network Drive… in Explorer and click the link 'Connect to a Web site that you can use to store your documents and pictures' to open a wizard that creates a network location. Select 'Choose a custom network location', type in the FTP address and fill in the user name and password. You can also create mapped drives and network places on the Environment tab of the user's Active Directory object - but if you have a lot of users to set up, put it in the logon script for the user profile under Active Directory Users and Computers.
If you're running into problems with Group Policy Objects, check this handy summary of the rules at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555991/en-us.
What's the time?You want the PCs you support to have the right time for more reasons than keeping the users happy; for one thing, if every PC has a slightly different time, finding which version of a file was updated most recently gets much more complicated. Get your head around the Windows Time Service at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc773013.aspx, get the commands for making a PC get its time from the domain at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc758905.aspx and if you want a an alternative time server use uk.pool.ntp.org to get the time from a random time server in the NTP Pool Project (read about the project at http://www.pool.ntp.org/use.html)
toolsIf you're trying to solve connectivity problems at a customer site, you can ask a colleague back at your office to use ping and traceroute to see how the network appears to the outside world; or you can use the tools at http://www.heise-online.co.uk/networks/nettools/ to do it yourself. There are tools for looking up Mac addresses and calculating subnet masks too. If you need a more detailed trace, http://w3dt.net/tools/pathping has a pathping tool.
Administrative Templates for Windows Server
2008Download the Windows Server 2008 Administrative templates from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=927fc7e3-853c-410a-acb5-9062c76142fa&displaylang=en&tm to get Group Policy setting information for the items under Administrative Templates.
In Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Administrative template files can be either ADMX (language-neutral) files, stored by default in the %Systemroot%\PolicyDefinitions folder or ADML (language-specific) files stored in a language-specific folder within that.