Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE--March 15, 2004

Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE, March 15, 2004, —brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network and the Windows 2000 FAQ site

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  • Q. What are the Windows Server 2003 forest modes?
  • Q. How can I remove the M drive from Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server?
  • Q. Where is the M drive in Microsoft Exchange Server 2003?
  • Q. Why can't I search for files in the System32 or SysWow64 folders of the 64-bit version of Windows XP?
  • Q. Why can't I create groups in Windows 2000 and later using Windows NT 4.0-compatible names?

by John Savill, FAQ Editor, [email protected]

This week, I describe the Windows Server 2003 forest modes, how to remove the M drive from Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, and why the M drive doesn't appear in Exchange Server 2003. I also tell you how to search for files in systems folders in the 64-bit version of Windows XP and why you might not be able to use Windows NT 4.0-compatible names to create groups in Windows 2000 or later.

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Q. What are the Windows Server 2003 forest modes?

A. Windows 2003 introduced a second incarnation of Active Directory (AD) that supports several forest modes, just as Windows 2000 supports several domain modes. To take advantage of some of these forest enhancements, your domains and domain controllers (DCs) must be running Windows 2003. The following forest modes are available:

  • Windows 2000--In this mode, which is the default mode, a forest can have Windows NT DCs as well as Win2K and later DCs.
  • Windows Server 2003 interim--In this mode, a forest can support only Windows 2003 and NT DCs. This mode provides additional functionality over the Windows 2000 mode, including linked value replication (LVR) support for more than 5000 users in a group; improved support for Inter-Site Topology Generator (ISTG), an automatically assigned DC responsible for creating the replication topology between locations; and support for additional Global Catalog (GC) attributes. You set this mode when you use Dcpromo to upgrade from NT 4.0 to Windows 2003.
  • Windows Server 2003--In this mode, a forest can have only Windows 2003 DCs. This mode provides additional functionality over the Windows Server 2003 interim mode, including support for dynamically linked auxiliary classes for creating objects with an associated Time To Live (TTL) value and automatically removing those objects after the time has expired, the ability to convert User objects to inetOrgPerson (and vice versa), schema deactivation and reactivation, domain renaming, establishing forest trusts, basic- and query-based groups, and 15-second intra-site replication frequency. You must manually switch modes to upgrade to Windows Server 2003 mode.

To change the Windows 2003's forest mode, you must be an Enterprise Administrator. Migrating Win2K groups with more than 5000 users can often cause problems. If you're upgrading from NT 4.0 and you can't migrate to Windows Server 2003 interim mode during the upgrade (e.g., if you know you'll have Win2K DCs), you should divide groups that have more than 5000 users into multiple smaller groups (e.g., groupa-m and groupn-z) before you upgrade to Windows 2003. Also, before you upgrade the forest to Windows 2003, ensure that all domains are in at least Win2K native mode and contain only Windows 2003 DCs. Then, when you upgrade the forest to Windows 2003 forest level, all domains will automatically upgrade to Windows 2003 domain level.

Q. How can I remove the M drive from Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server?

A. The M drive is part of the representation of the Installable File System that provides access to Exchange information through the Win32 file system APIs. This representation has caused several problems, especially with antivirus and backup tools. Microsoft now recommends disabling the M drive and has created a script to remove it. The script is available at

Q. Where is the M drive in Microsoft Exchange Server 2003?

A. Microsoft has removed the M drive by default in Exchange 2003 because of problems related to backup and antivirus software running against the M drive. However, you can still use the \\.\BackOfficeStorage\ namespace to access the Exchange information through file APIs.

If you require the M drive (e.g., you have programs that use the M drive to map the Installable File System, you use Microsoft FrontPage Extensions and the Microsoft Web Storage System--WSS), you can enable the drive by performing the following steps (but do so at your own risk):

  1. Log on to the Exchange server as an administrator.
  2. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
  3. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\EXIFS\Parameters registry subkey.
  4. From the Edit menu, select New, String Value.
  5. Enter the name DriveLetter, then press Enter.
  6. Double-click the new value, set it to M, then click OK.
  7. Close the registry editor.
  8. Restart the Exchange server (or restart the Information Store service) for the changes to take effect.

Q. Why can't I search for files in the System32 or SysWow64 folders of the 64-bit version of Windows XP?

A. By default, the 64-bit version of XP excludes system folders from searches. To search within these folders, open Windows Explorer, select Search, select "More advanced options," and select the "Search system folders" check box. Also, from the Tools menu in Windows Explorer, select Folder Options, select the View tab, and enable "Show hidden files and folders." Then, do your search.

Q. Why can't I create groups in Windows 2000 and later using Windows NT 4.0-compatible names?

A. Windows has always prevented users from adding the following characters to group names:

" / \ \[ \] : ; | = , + * ? 

A bug in NT 4.0, however, lets you use these characters. Microsoft fixed the bug in Win2K, which is why you can no longer use these characters in group names. When you upgrade from NT 4.0 to Win2K, Windows doesn't alter group names that contain these characters. However, I strongly recommend that you rename these groups to prevent possible future problems.

Local group names can be up to 256 characters long. Domain local group, global group, and universal group names can be up to 64 characters in length (but Windows uses only the first 20 characters for the NT 4.0 global-group-compatible name).

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