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Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE--November 1, 2004

Windows Tips &amp Tricks UPDATE, November 1, 2004, —brought to you by the Windows IT Pro Network and the Windows 2000 FAQ site

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  • Q. Does Microsoft provide a tool to help you determine the meanings of error codes?
  • Q. What are the Dfs target-selection methods in Windows Server 2003?
  • Q. How do I enable the Dfs restricted same-site target selection option?
  • Q. What's the maximum size of a Dfs namespace?
  • Q. How can I check the size of a Dfs namespace?
  • Q. What's the difference between the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 editions?

by John Savill, FAQ Editor, [email protected]

This week, I tell you about the err.exe tool, which can help you identify error codes, explain the Dfs target-selection methods in Windows Server 2003, and explain how to enable the Dfs restricted same-site target selection option. I also tell you the maximum size of a Dfs namespace, explain how to check the size of a Dfs namespace, and discuss the differences between the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 editions.

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Q. Does Microsoft provide a tool to help you determine the meanings of error codes?

A. Microsoft provides a useful command-line tool called err.exe that can help you find the meanings of error codes. When you run err.exe and specify an error code, the program searches all the error-code definitions from the various header files that Windows uses to generate a list of possible error meanings. You can download err.exe at (Although the Web page is called "Exchange Server Error Code Look-up," err.exe actually handles Windows OS error codes.)

You can use err.exe in several ways. Entering the command


with no parameters returns a list of all the header files that the command checks. If you run err.exe and specify an error code--for example,

err 1645

the output looks like this:

# for decimal 1645 / hex 0x66d :
# The Windows Installer does not permit installation from a
# Remote Desktop Connection.
# for hex 0x1645 / decimal 5701 :
NELOG_NetlogonFailedToUpdateTrustList lmerrlog.h
SQL_5701_severity_10 sql_err
# Changed database context to '%.*ls'.
# 3 matches found for "1645"

Notice that err.exe searches for the value you entered in both its hexadecimal and decimal forms.

Q. What are the Dfs target-selection methods in Windows Server 2003?

A. Windows 2003 provides three options for directing Dfs clients to targets for a link:

  • Default target selection: This is the default method, which randomly selects a Dfs target in the requesting computer's local site from the available Dfs targets for the link. If no local targets exist in the requesting site, the target-selection process randomly chooses a target from any site in the forest, regardless of its physical proximity to the requesting computer.

    The Windows 2003 site-identification process offers improvements over Windows 2000 Server Dfs site identification. In Win2K Server Dfs, the target-selection process obtains the link-target site by querying the link-target server. However, older OSs such as Windows NT Server 4.0 don't know this information, so the target-selection process in Win2K Server can't identify a site if it includes targets that are NT 4.0 or earlier systems. In Windows 2003, the Dfs server uses the IP address of the target links to determine their location relative to the requesting client, then points the client to a local link target. This method lets the target-selection process recognize older systems (by their IP address) and include them as potential link targets.

  • Restricted same-site target selection: This option, which also exists in Win2K Server, lets an administrator set Dfs so that clients are never directed to a Dfs target outside of their local site. This restriction solves the problem of clients being directed to targets that are physically far from the client, which would require large amounts of bandwidth, but also means that if the target-selection process can't find a local target for a link, the client can't access the data.
  • Least-expensive target selection: This is a new method in Windows 2003. You can enable this method as long as the domain controller (DC) that's acting as the Intersite Topology Generator (ISTG) for each site containing Dfs servers is running Windows 2003. When no link targets are available in the local site, this method finds link targets that are "closest" in terms of site costs (i.e., the most efficient path to a target) instead of randomly choosing a target from anywhere in the enterprise. This method is far more bandwidth-efficient than the Default Target Selection method.

Q. How do I enable the Dfs restricted same-site target selection option?

A. To enable the restricted same-site target selection option, you need to use the Dfsutil tool on each root server. First, run dfsutil.exe to obtain a list of roots in the domain. For example, to obtain a list of the roots in the domain demo.test, you'd enter the command

dfsutil /domain:demo.test /view

After you've determined the root name, you enable same-site Dfs target selection by running the Dfsutil command with the /insite switch. The command you use should look similar to this:

dfsutil /root:\\demo.test\shared /insite /enable

Here, the Dfs root is \\demo.test\shared. To check whether same-site Dfs target selection was enabled successfully, run the Dfsutil command again:

dfsutil /root:\\demo.test\shared /insite /display

This command should display the message "Insite Referrals ENABLED."

To disable same-site Dfs target selection, run the second command again, but use the /disable switch instead of the /enable switch. You must restart the Dfs service on each Dfs root server to effect this change. Be aware that for links that point to another Dfs domain-based namespace, the Dfsutil command ignores the /insite setting so that clients can access links outside of their local site.

Q. What's the maximum size of a Dfs namespace?

A. An Active Directory (AD)-integrated Dfs namespace has a maximum size of 5MB, which is space enough for approximately 5000 links. A standalone Dfs namespace has a supported limit of 50,000 links.

Q. How can I check the size of a Dfs namespace?

A. You use the Dfsutil command and specify the /view switch to display the current size of a Dfs namespace, for example

dfsutil /root:\\demo.test\shared /view

where \\demo.test\shared is the root name. After you execute the command, you'll see messages on screen similar to these:

Domain Root with 2 Links
\[Blob Size: 922 bytes\]

You can estimate the size of a Dfs namespace by using the following values as guides:

  • Root: approximately 300 bytes
  • Each root target: approximately 150 bytes
  • Each link in the root: approximately 320 bytes
  • Each link target: approximately 120 bytes

Of course, comments will increase Dfs namespace size, so if disk space is a problem, try to keep comments as short as possible.

Q. What's the difference between the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 editions?

A. Virtual Server 2005 comes in two editions: Standard and Enterprise. Both versions have the same functionality but support different numbers of processors. Standard Edition supports up to four processors, and Enterprise Edition supports up to 32 processors.

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