HP PC Hardware Diagnostics 3-in-1 USB Key
article #1014, updated 3 days ago

Some great info and tools at the page below, and scroll down to the bottom for the jackpot:

http://www8.hp.com/us/en/campaigns/hpsupportassistant/pc-diags.html

It may ask for a CSO Number and an Agent ID. Use “1234” (no quotes) for both.

Categories:   Tools   

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New web browser: Vivaldi
article #943, updated 11 days ago

Vivaldi is looking very good so far, Windows Mac and Linux:

http://vivaldi.com

It is possibly the only browser for 32-bit Linux which will do Netflix and other DRM’d video. To do this, you need the ffmpeg codecs package and also widevine. For Netflix, you also need to start it like this (use vivaldi-snapshot if that’s what you have):

vivaldi-stable --user-agent='Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2704.79 Safari/537.36'

Vivaldi does not yet have built-in synchronization of bookmarks et cetera, but one can use the excellent EverSync to take good care of this, it also works amongst Firefox, Chrome, IE, Android, iOS, and even Windows phones.

Categories:   Web Methods   

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Enable CLEANMGR.EXE on Server 2008R1/2 and 2012
article #1006, updated 23 days ago

Very useful procedure, does not need a role/feature install. Slightly different on each. Note the locale suffix which will have to be changed. Does not work on 2012R2, from that point we have to enable the desktop experience, which can be done in Powershell using Install-WindowsFeature Desktop-Experience.

Server 2012R1:

copy C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.9200.16384_none_c60dddc5e750072a\cleanmgr.exe%systemroot%\System32
copy C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.9200.16384_en-us_b6a01752226afbb3\cleanmgr.exe.mui %systemroot%\System32\en-US

Server 2008R2:

copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_none_c9392808773cd7da\cleanmgr.exe%systemroot%\System32
copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_en-us_b9cb6194b257cc63\cleanmgr.exe.mui %systemroot%\System32\en-US

Server 2008 64-bit:

copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_c962d1e515e94269\cleanmgr.exe %systemroot%\System32
copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_en-us_b9f50b71510436f2\cleanmgr.exe.mui %systemroot%\System32\en-US

Server 2008 32-bit:

copy C:\Windows\winsxs\x86_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_6d4436615d8bd133\cleanmgr.exe %systemroot%\System32
copy C:\Windows\winsxs\x86_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_en-us_5dd66fed98a6c5bc\cleanmgr.exe.mui %systemroot%\System32\en-US

Categories:   Windows OS-Level Issues   Cleanup

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Boot CD/Medium for PC Repair and Hardware Testing
article #1013, updated 23 days ago

Recently I needed a bootable medium to test a hard drive on a newer PC. I was appalled to find the old friends Hiren’s and UBCD4Win no longer in development, and much more appalled to find no clear replacement. Seagate’s SeaTools for DOS was tried first, but FreeDOS won’t support the controller. This worked well:

http://paul.is-a-geek.org/aio-srt/

www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/all_in_one_–_system_rescue_toolkit.html

I booted it (its basis is 64-bit Ubuntu), opened Disks, found the test suite by clicking the round icon at the upper-right corner, and it appears to have the same functionality as SeaTools.

Categories:   Hardware   Tools

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Time synchronization (NTP, SNTP) setup
article #37, updated 30 days ago

In Windows Server 2012 R1/2, 2008 R1/2, 7, Vista, and 2003 SP2 and later, it’s good to run the following two commands in an administrative command prompt (an ordinary command prompt for 2003):

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:pool.ntp.org,0.pool.ntp.org,1.pool.ntp.org,2.pool.ntp.org /syncfromflags:MANUAL /reliable:YES /update
w32tm /resync

In Server 2003 SP1 and before, and XP, we use this, because /reliable doesn’t exist:

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:pool.ntp.org,0.pool.ntp.org,1.pool.ntp.org,2.pool.ntp.org /syncfromflags:MANUAL /update
w32tm /resync

Sometimes w32tm doesn’t exist as a service, and has to be registered:

w32tm /register

Under Windows 2000, we need to go a bit more archaic:

net time /setsntp:pool.ntp.org
net time /querysntp

If you are using Windows DHCP services, the above is best for the server, but for all of the workstations under its control, place the server’s IP in the Time Server option. This is probably best for a domain. When you have standalone or mobile-capable machines, best to just use the w32tm configuration above.

Categories:   Internet Networking   LAN Networking

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Windows Performance through VSS Cleanup and Preassociation
article #1004, updated 37 days ago

These steps can improve Windows performance a whole lot. It works because a vast array of different applications and services in Windows utilize VSS on their backends. Start an administrative CMD, and then…

Step 1:

First we run the following in an administrative CMD:

vssadmin Delete Shadows /All

If there are orphan shadows, you will be asked whether you want to delete them. If there are and you delete them, you will see immediate performance benefit. Reportedly, Windows autodeletes them only after there are 64 per volume. We prefer to see zero!

Step 2:

We now improve any existing preassociation of disk space for VSS. On some machines, this will increase performance very impressively, immediately. In general it keeps them smooth and stable and prevents hesitations. This does not reserve or take up the space, it just “associates” it, makes it ready for use, so that whenever Windows wants to do any of the bajillions of things it does with VSS, things ranging from tiny to enormous, it can skip that step.

It is worthwhile to know that C: on all workstation installs and many server installs, has a minimal preassocation already set up. So this first step is to resize the existing association.

Do the below in administrative CMD:

vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=20%

Do repeat for any other active hard drive partitions, D:, E:, et cetera. Don’t worry if you get an error, the next step covers it.

Step 3:

It may well throw an error, saying there is no such association. If this is a workstation OS, vssadmin lacks two commands on workstation OSes which we need to improve further, so in that case we are done. But on any Windows Server OS from 2003, if the error was thrown, we do an Add for every RAID volume:

vssadmin Add ShadowStorage /For=E: /On=E: /MaxSize=20%

Step 4:

And finally (server only), one more thing which can help if, for instance, C: is almost full but E: has plenty of space:

vssadmin Delete ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C:
vssadmin Add ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=E: /MaxSize=20%

This maximizes overall performance, and also prevents possible backup failures and other issues due to insufficient disk space on C:.

References are here:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc788050.aspx

https://www.storagecraft.com/support/kb/article/289

http://backupchain.com/i/how-to-delete-all-vss-shadows-and-orphaned-shadows

http://www.tech-no.org/?p=898

Categories:   VSS   Performance

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Microsoft Office Configuration Analyzer Tool 2.2
article #1012, updated 39 days ago

Something very like a best practices analyzer / BPA for Office, 32-bit and 64-bit, versions 2007 and newer, both MSI and click-to-run:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36852

Categories:   Microsoft Office   Office 365

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Wifi booster and site analyzer for Windows and Mac
article #1011, updated 46 days ago

Something new:

https://www.netspotapp.com/netspot-windows.html

Categories:   Wifi   

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Clean up all system and user profile temp folders, and other temp folders
article #484, updated 47 days ago

For quite a while I had been curious as to why a simple method to do this was not available. CCLEANER and others do not reach into all profiles, and there are other lacks. Well, the following .VBS originated with the excellent David Barrett (http://www.cedit.biz) and has been rewritten a lot by yours truly (JEB of Ponderworthy). One thing discovered along the way, is even in XP there is a user profile called the “System Profile” — XP has it in C:\WINDOWS\System32\config\systemprofile — and malware often dumps junk into it, and sometimes many gigs of unwanted files can be found in its temporary storage. The below cleans all user profiles including those, as well as the Windows Error Reporting cache, and the .NET caches, and the system TEMP folders.

If you’re running it on Vista/2008 or above, do use an administrative CMD or equivalent, or most of the deletions won’t happen.

The full text can be downloaded here in a zip file.

Categories:   Cleanup   

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Hardware performance info from Microsoft
article #1010, updated 47 days ago

Some very interesting data:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-docs/networking/technologies/network-subsystem/net-sub-performance-tuning-nics

Categories:   Performance   Hardware