Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--August 5, 2003

This Issue Sponsored By

Argent Software

HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show


1. Commentary: Solving the Small Business Storage Dilemma

2. Hot Off the Press
- UPDATE: Microsoft Patches Leave Systems Insecure and Break Services

3. Keeping Up with Win2K and NT
- Troubleshooting and Correcting File Replication Sharing Violations
- Expired Credentials Bug Fix
- SCSI Slowdown Fix
- Hot-Swap Disk Problem
- Low Memory System Hang

4. Announcements
- Need Help Managing Your Storage Investment?
- Windows & .NET Magazine Connections Launches Exchange Event

5. Instant Poll
- Results of Previous Poll: Power Management Devices
- New Instant Poll: Storage Capacity

6. Resources
- Featured Thread: Event ID 1090
- Tip: What Alternatives Do I Have to Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services?

7. Events
- New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show! 8. New and Improved
- Keep Standard Configuration Settings
- Copy Complete Hard Disks
- Submit Top Product Ideas

9. Contact Us
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. Commentary: Solving the Small Business Storage Dilemma ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

For large enterprises looking to bolster their storage capacities, an overabundance of Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) solutions threatens to turn storage into a commodity market. No wonder storage giants such as EMC are racing to strengthen their storage management software because the software, not the physical storage setup, will likely differentiate storage companies from one another going forward. Low-end storage--primarily through low-cost IDE hard disks--is also being turned into a commodity--the amount of storage capacity you can purchase for next to nothing is sinful.

What about the small business that lies between the highly managed world of enterprise storage and the "Backup? What backup?" world of individual users. For the ever-growing small-business market, high-end storage solutions or cheap IDE hard disks haven't solved the storage dilemma. So who serves the small-business market?

Increasingly, support for the small-business market is coming directly from Microsoft in the form of Windows-based technology. As one might expect, the software giant is always looking for ways to grow, and the small-business market is growing 8 percent to 10 percent annually in a time when most markets that invest in IT are stagnating. I first discussed Microsoft's small business offering, Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2003, about a month ago (see "Well Timed Follow-Ups, Part 1: Windows SBS 2003" at ). Like all Windows Server 2003 software versions, SBS 2003 offers a variety of storage-related improvements over previous Windows Server versions. These changes can help small businesses take better advantage of those small, inexpensive hard disks that individuals are snatching up every weekend at Best Buy. Here are some SBS 2003 features that dramatically improve the storage picture:

- Improved backup. Although Microsoft dramatically improved the underlying backup technologies in Windows 2003, only SBS 2003 includes a backup tool that fully exploits those capabilities and provides the "computer guy" (i.e., the employee who knows the most about computers) or service provider with a friendly way to set up a backup schedule and determine which files get backed up. You can configure the backup tool to email notifications to select users when certain events occur. For example, you might want to receive an email message whenever a backup succeeds or fails or when disk capacity is getting low.

- Automated System Recovery (ASR). All Windows Server versions support ASR, which helps restore the OS, applications, hardware configuration, and system state to a known state in the event of a catastrophic failure.

- Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). All Windows Server versions support VSS's ability to make snapshot backups of key data files. This feature can help you recover an accidentally deleted or modified file by using a simple shell extension.

- Microsoft Dfs. Windows 2003 lets you use one Dfs namespace to easily unify storage from multiple drives and systems. In doing so, you can seamlessly add storage to a system and not affect the underlying drive letter structure.

But what options are available to small businesses that aren't using a Windows Server infrastructure? Many hardware makers, including Snap Appliance, sell a range of NAS devices that work in mixed OS environments, in small workgroups of Windows computers, in large domain-oriented networks, or in any configuration you can think of. Snap Appliance, in particular, creates products that work in large and small businesses. Recently, I evaluated one of the company's low-end workgroup servers to determine how it compared with a roll-your-own solution using off-the-shelf parts.

Snap Appliance's workgroup products are simple to set up and consist of a black box that contains the drive and associated electronics, a power cord, and an Ethernet cable. When you add a Snap Server to your network, it appears as a network share that you can access from virtually any environment. I tested the server against Windows 2003 and SBS 2003, Windows XP and Windows 2000 clients, Linux, and Mac OS X. The device has an embedded version of Linux that provides a simple Web-management front end and Windows-compatible sharing capabilities. The Snap server also includes PowerQuest's DataKeeper for Windows client backup software and other useful tools.

Compared with the Best Buy hard disk special, Snap Servers appear to be relatively expensive. For example, a Snap Server 1100 with an 80GB hard disk costs about $550 through direct mail companies, whereas an off-the-shelf disk would cost less than $100. But this comparison is a bit unfair; Snap Appliance can justify the cost differential in a variety of ways. First, its storage solutions are Plug and Play (PnP) devices that require just minutes to configure. Second, the devices are instantly accessible over the network, and you don't need any networking knowledge to share them with other users. Finally, you don't need to take down the server to add storage: You can add Snap Servers or similar devices to your network whenever you need additional storage.

Snap Servers make sense in many small-business environments, especially environments that fall into two categories. The first category includes environments in which systems management tasks are offloaded to a full-time employee who is unlucky enough to know something about computers and thus becomes the de facto computer guy; Here, a Snap Server or similar device is immediately beneficial because you don't need to open up the server and the management tools are straightforward. In the second category, administrative duties are offloaded to a services company that remotely administers the small business network. Because these workgroup-oriented appliances include a remote-accessible Web management interface, the installation and configuration can be transparent to the customer. These services companies are, not coincidentally, one of the primary ways Microsoft plans to deploy SBS 2003.

Ultimately, adding storage in a small-business environment comes down to convenience and cost. If you have technically competent staff and the downtime won't be a problem, a simple hard disk upgrade can solve many problems, especially if you have an OS that can use advanced storage capabilities. But increasingly, even the smallest businesses can't afford any downtime. For these companies and companies with no formal technical staff, NAS devices such as those that Snap Appliance provides are filling a void.

I'm curious whether you have any small-business-related storage requirements, needs, or solutions. Please drop me a line and let me know what you think about storage and small businesses.


Sponsor: HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show ====
Missed the Network Storage Solutions Road Show?
If you couldn't make the HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show, you missed Mark Smith talking about Windows-Powered NAS, file server consolidation, and more. The good news is that you can now view the Webcast event in its entirety at:


==== 2. Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

UPDATE: Microsoft Patches Leave Systems Insecure and Break Services
Users are reporting problems with two of Microsoft's recent security hotfixes, which patch problems with remote procedure call (RPC) and Windows file management functions. On July 16, the company released Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-026 (Buffer Overrun In RPC Interface Could Allow Code Execution), along with an associated patch for all Windows OSs except Windows 9x. The vulnerability is severe because it could let intruders execute code of their choice on an unprotected system; the problem could also let intruders obtain a remote command shell.
Research groups have released demonstration code on the Internet, which increases the risk that someone might launch a wide-scale attack, possibly by using worm technology. However, users who block access to ports 445, 139, 137, and 135, and who disable DCOM by using dcomcnfg.exe are better protected against attacks. However, a user reported on the Focus-MS mailing list that "any IIS box with COM Internet Services installed is exploitable over 80/443 ... and any machine that \[allows\] RPC over HTTP is exploitable on 593 tcp/udp as well." Obviously, installing the patch might not be enough. For more information, read the complete story at

==== 3. Keeping Up with Win2K and NT ====
by Paula Sharick, [email protected]

Troubleshooting and Correcting File Replication Sharing Violations
The File Replication Service (FRS) can't propagate files that are open while the propagation code is running. If you notice that files in the SYSVOL directory, or files you host with DFS, aren't being replicated, a user or an application such as a virus scanner, a disk optimization tool, or a user profile likely has the files open for use. When the system encounters sharing violations in either of these situations, it doesn't post an error message in the FRS event log stating that the file or files to be replicated were open and couldn't be propagated, so you have no information about what went wrong. For more information about this problem, see the Microsoft article "File Replication Service Does Not Log Errors on Sharing Violations" ( ).
Troubleshooting such replication problems can be tedious; you need to identify the problem file and determine which user or application has the file open. The new "Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit" Sonar utility (which you can download at ) can help you troubleshoot file-sharing violations and other replication problems. Sonar is a command-line tool that monitors key replication statistics, including traffic levels, backlogs, and free space and provides feedback about what's not working. You can install and run Sonar on any Win2K server that's a member of the replication infrastructure. You can also install Sonar on a Win2K Professional system, but it requires two steps: First copy the ntfrsapi.dll Win2K server file to the Win2K Pro system, then install the Sonar tool. Sonar documentation states that when the utility detects a sharing violation during replication, it reports the violation in the Server column as a nonzero entry. For more information about this bug and the solution, visit the following URL:

WEB-EXCLUSIVE ARTICLES: The following items are posted on the Windows & .NET Magazine Web site. For the complete story, use the following link and scroll to the appropriate article.

- Expired Credentials Bug Fix
- SCSI Slowdown Fix
- Hot-Swap Disk Problem
- Low Memory System Hang

==== 4. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Need Help Managing Your Storage Investment?
Planning and managing your storage deployment can be costly and complex. Check out Windows & .NET Magazine's Storage Administration Web site for the latest advice, news, and tips to help you make the most of your storage investment. You'll find problem-solving articles, eye-opening white papers, a technical forum, and much more!

Windows & .NET Magazine Connections Launches Exchange Event
Windows & .NET Magazine Connections will colocate with Exchange Connections 2003. Stay competitive and invest your time to keep pace with technology. Learn the latest tips and tricks from gurus like Mark Minasi, Mark Russinovich, Tony Redmond, and Sue Mosher. Register now and get both conferences for the price of one--plus lock in your $300 early bird discount. Go online or call 203-268-3204 or 800-505-1201 for details.

==== 5. Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll: Power Management Devices
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "How much responsibility do you have for recommending power management devices for your company?" Here are the results from the 63 votes:
- 21% Approve purchases
- 49% Recommend brands/vendors
- 8% Evaluate brands/vendors
- 22% No involvement

New Instant Poll: Storage Capacity
The next Instant Poll question is, "How much storage capacity does your enterprise have?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Less than 500GB, b) 500GB to less than 1TB, c) 1TB to 10TB, or d) More than 10TB.

==== 6. Resources ====

Featured Thread: Event ID 1090
Reader Sagelakos keeps seeing event ID 1090 in the application log of Windows XP Professional Edition with Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed. The source is Userenv and the User is System. If you can help, visit the following URL:

Tip: What Alternatives Do I Have to Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services?
by John Savill,

SourceForge has released Thinstation, a free Linux distribution that runs on any x86 box that has at least 16MB of RAM. Thinstation supports the following protocols:
- Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services (RDP)
- Citrix Systems' Citrix ICA
- X-Terminal (XDM)
- TightVNC
- Secure Shell (SSH)
- Telnet
- Tarantella

The software lets you run thin-client sessions on older systems, giving your users access to the latest applications and helping you get a few more years of service out of your machines. Additional information about Thinstation is available at

==== 7. Events ====
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show!
Learn more about the wireless and mobility solutions that are available today! Register now for this free event!

==== 8. New and Improved ====
by Carolyn Mader, [email protected]

Keep Standard Configuration Settings
Configuresoft announced Enterprise Configuration Manager (ECM) 4.5, software that prevents security vulnerabilities and downtime by rolling back crucial server and workstation configurations to preset standards when the configurations are inadvertently changed. ECM lets you compare one or more machines with a properly configured system so that you can correct settings. ECM also can enforce configuration policies. ECM 4.5 starts at $995 per server and $30 per workstation. Contact Configuresoft at 719-447-4600 or [email protected]

Copy Complete Hard Disks
NovaStor released InstantRecovery 4.0, disaster-recovery software that lets you copy complete hard disks or just selected partitions to any media type, including CD-ROM, tape, hard disk, and other removable media. You can create and access hard disk images over the network on a server or through a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. InstantRecovery is available in two different editions: InstantRecovery Personal Edition for $44.95, which works with directly attached storage devices and InstantRecovery Professional Edition for $99.95, which communicates with network storage such as servers and NAS devices. Contact NovaStor at 805-579-6700.

Submit Top Product Ideas
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected]

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==== 9. Contact Us ====

About the newsletter -- [email protected] About technical questions -- About product news -- [email protected] About your subscription -- [email protected] About sponsoring UPDATE -- [email protected]

This email newsletter is brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine, the leading publication for IT professionals deploying Windows and related technologies. Subscribe today.

Copyright 2003, Penton Media, Inc.

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