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Reader to Reader - February 1997


\[Editor's Note: Share your NT discoveries, comments, problems, and solutions and reach out to other Windows NT Magazine readers (including Microsoft). Email your contributions (under 400 words) to Karen Forster at [email protected] Please include your phone number. We will edit submissions for style, grammar, and length. If we print your letter, you'll receive $100.\]

In "Tricks and Traps" on page 183 of your October issue, a reader asked about a problem with a 3Com card. I encountered the same problem, but the solution was in the BIOS.

Here's how I fixed it. In an Award BIOS, go to PCI and Onboard I/O Setup. Disable pnp bios auto config, first IRQ 9, second IRQ 11, third IRQ 10, fourth IRQ 12. This solution fixed the problem of no soft reset and let me keep the bus mastering.

Automated Clean-Up
Recently, I have added more than 1400 users to my network. This number is not a lot for a large network, but most of these accounts are mobile: The users don't sit at the same workstation all the time. Under Windows NT Workstation 4.0, I store the roaming user profiles on the server as a file and several directories that migrate down to the local workstation when the user logs on. The user profiles contain from 1.2MB to 4MB of data. When you're dealing with multiple users, over time, this data can affect space on the drives. Also, the systems suffer from memory leaks that only a reboot can cure.

Because I have been plagued by such problems, I created a simple Perl script (available for download at to locate systems (which I list in a text file called syslist.txt), reboot them, delete profiles from the local directory, and clean up the temp directory. To use this script, you need Perl 5.0 for Windows NT, shutdown.exe from the Microsoft Windows NT Resource Kit for NT 3.51, cacls.exe to set file rights, and full understanding of the AT command.

Follow these steps when setting up this utility:

1. Install Perl 5.0 for NT.

2. Create a directory, adminlog, for the log file off the root drive of the managing system.

3. Create a command file if you want to use the AT command scheduler to automate the script. Make sure you put this file in the \winnt\system32 directory. (AT has a hard time finding things anywhere else.) The contents of the command file are as follows:


echo * cleaning system

4. Create a syslist.txt file with the machine names of systems you want to clean up. Make sure the last name has an additional space because Perl's CHOP command deletes the last character from the line. Also, place this file into the root. Example:





5. Place the contents of the script in a file called

6. Use Explorer, View, Options, File Types to associate .PL extensions with perl.exe.

7. Enter the following command at a command prompt:

AT 02:00am /every:m,t,w,th,f,s,su clean

This command will run the clean.bat or clean.cmd every night at 2:00 am. Every morning, you will find a log file labeled with the day of the year and the year; for example, 343_96.log. I hope this script helps you as much as it has helped me.

Choosing an NT Server
The toughest thing I have to do is buy a Windows NT server that runs out of the box and costs $4000 to $7000. I bought an HP NetServer. A second CPU came half a year later, and I had trouble finding someone who knew how to reconfigure the system. I then bought a Micron server, but the BusLogic adapter wouldn't work with NT 3.51. Micron gave terrible technical support: I spent an hour on hold several times and got lots of bad advice.

Then for my NT 4.0 system, I figured I had to spec every piece of equipment. I called Intel and got a motherboard, the VS440FX. Creative Labs said its 8X CD-ROM kit would work with NT 4.0. I chose Olicom for the Token-Ring NIC and Adaptec for the hard drive. The system came and everything worked, but NT 4.0 wouldn't install from the Creative Labs 8X CD-ROM. Creative Labs insisted the problem was with the motherboard BIOS and NT 4.0's lack of support for Plug and Play. After recommending the board, Intel wouldn't even talk to me unless I paid, and then the company was hard to reach.

I talked to three tech support people, and they all gave me bad advice. One wanted to tear the system down to find the offending part. He considered everything but the motherboard a problem. Another technician refused to talk to me because I was a pre-sales call. Another had me download and install an IDE update file, but on my next call, I found it worked only in Win95.

I made an expensive call to Microsoft, and the support people pointed fingers at Creative Labs. I gave up and bought a SCSI CD-ROM.

The problem is that the vendors recommend and sell parts that aren't on Microsoft's Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). The HCL is never up to date and is limited to complete systems testing. Everyone wants me to buy products, but when the configuration fails because of a vendor's recommendations, I'm supposed to pay to find and fix their incompatibilities. I was particularly angry at Intel for trying to charge me for poor support and at Creative Labs for saying, "Yes, we do," and finding out no, they don't.

The first page of any computer magazine that makes recommendations should have some type of industry tech-support rating from great to rotten. Thanks for letting me vent.

Would You Believe?
Imagine Maxwell Smart looking your way with his head cocked, lips pursed, and eyes narrow inquisitive slits, sizing up the situation. Finally, he says, "Would you believe...?"

That scene came to mind when I discovered that, in a multiple-boot environment, Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 can benefit from each other's uniqueness and utilities--yes, utilities. Hold on to your socks folks.

First, I'm sure many NT users have been frustrated by the lack of a reliable defragmenter for either the FAT or NTFS partition. Would you believe that Windows 95's packaged defragger works great on an NT FAT partition? Yup! But don't let that little bit of information lead you astray, because at the end of that road is a big sign that says, "Norton Alert!" Norton's Speed Disk for Windows 95 (even 2.0, the latest version), will trash many of the long filenames in the NT 4.0 Media folder. So, keep Norton away from NT partitions, FAT or non-FAT.

Also, if you are fortunate enough to have a 9GB disk, only to discover that DOS or Win95 will see only 8.4GB of it, fret not! After you install NT, you can FAT partition that 650MB of extra space with Disk Administrator, and Win95 will see and use it. In fact, would you believe that Win95's scandisk and defrag will like it just fine? The only PC operating systems that can't subsequently use the extra space are DOS, and of course, Windows 3.x. And again, keep Norton away from it! Norton's Disk Doctor for Windows 95, regardless of version, will say that the partition has a problem (when it doesn't really, unless you try to write to it in DOS) and ask whether to correct it. Let's just say, "Hey, Norton! If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Let Scandisk, in either Win95 or NT check it, instead.

All That Jaz
I recently purchased a Jaz drive from Iomega to use with Windows NT 4.0. The hardware is fast and well built, but the software is anything but well built.

I installed Jaz Tools 1.40 under NT 4.0 only to find that every program caused an NT kernel trap. After several reboots, I downloaded Jaz Tools 1.41 from the Iomega Web site. The tools were more stable under NT 4.0, but still caused kernel traps.

I then installed NT 3.51. The tools were stable with this version, but I found some new problems.

At fall '96 Comdex, I specifically asked about functionality with NT. I wanted to know whether I could back up my NTFS file systems to a Jaz disk and preserve the security, auditing, and compression attributes of the files. The representatives assured me that all the necessary tools came with the latest Jaz drives.

Iomega provides two backup tools with the Jaz drive: CopyMachine and 1-Step Backup. CopyMachine copies files from disk to disk and lets you span disks. When you run this utility with an NTFS formatted Jaz disk, the default permissions of the Jaz disk are written to each file as CopyMachine executes. The original file attributes are lost.

The Iomega 1-Step Backup (which does not even come with version 1.41) is a typical backup program. It doesn't preserve the security, auditing, or compression attributes of the files.

I bought the Jaz drive as a removable disk drive and to perform backups, but I can't perform them properly. Iomega provides several automated support mechanisms, but does not provide answers to questions. I called Iomega's VISA support line and described my problems. The person on the other end of the phone was unable to answer my questions, and the only information he could provide was a snail mail address for the customer relations department. I could not just fire off a quick email to get answers.

The complete source and executable code is available for downloading from Windows NT Magazine's Web site at

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