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ISA Server 2004: Friend or Foe?
In Need to Know: "Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004" (October 2004, InstantDoc ID 43919), Paul Thurrott got it right when he said, "ISA Server 2004 is a huge improvement over its predecessor, but it does have several downsides." We've recently migrated to ISA Server 2004, and for the first 3 weeks, we had one headache after another. For example, we had to make client-side application changes because the applications weren't allowed Internet access to obtain their updates, legitimate email was denied even when the SMTP filter was disabled, and the connection limit feature brought my entire network to a screeching halt.
Without help from Microsoft tech support and developers, I would have reverted back to ISA Server 2000. But in fairness, now that I have ISA Server 2004 working correctly, I'm much more comfortable with the ease of creating policies and the added security the product brought with it.
About Changing Passwords ...
In the September issue, you include a "Did You Know" statistic that says "Only 14% of respondents in a recent Windows IT Pro instant poll require users to change their passwords every 30 days," implying that the stat is a low number. In my environment, where I enforce strong passwords, if I required password changes every 30 days, all of the following would happen: I'd have a revolt on my hands because complex passwords are tougher to remember; more passwords would be written down on Post-it Notes and kept on users' desks; and some users would start to enumerate (e.g., Oregon1, Oregon2, Oregon3) their "strong" passwords. Rotating passwords is indeed a good thing, but if you reset passwords too often, you might find security getting worse, not better.
Another Favorite Scripting Editor
Michael Otey's Top 10: "Just Say No to Notepad" (September 2004, InstantDoc ID 43573) left out my favorite scripting editor, Crimson Editor (http://www.crimsoneditor.com). I use the editor extensively with Perl and VBScript, the two scripting languages I turn to most for Win32 administration tasks. I love the product's syntax highlighting, auto-numbering of code lines, and very simple interface. Did I mention that the entire software can fit on a floppy disk? Best of all, Crimson Editor is freeware!
I recently read Market Watch: "Server Defragmentation Utilities" (October 2002, InstantDoc ID 26350). Although the article is 2 years old, I still benefited from the information it provided. I have a comment and a question about the article. First, thank you for the hard work in pulling the article together. The information can help a lot of people. And second, now 2 years later, what utility would you recommend?
We'll add a comparative review of defragmentation utilities to our list of future articles. In the meantime, you might check out what readers said about the products they selected as Best Defragmentation Utility in our 2004 Readers' Choice issue (September 15, 2004, InstantDoc ID 43742).
WSS and SQL Server
Karen Foster's reply in Letters: "Does WSS Require SQL Server?" (October 2004) needs clarification. She's correct in saying that you don't have to use SQL Server 2000 with Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and that instead you can use MSDE, but downloading the standard version of MSDE 2.0 isn't the answer.
In its default installation, WSS includes the installation of a special version of MSDE called Windows MSDE (WMSDE), which is only available for WSS content and must be installed on the same server as WSS. WMSDE has neither the 2GB size restriction nor the performance throttling that are features of the standard version of MSDE 2.0. In most scenarios, you'll find that using WMSDE (which requires no separate download) is preferable to standard MSDE 2.0.