Thursday, October 07, 2010

Customizing what is an e-mail alert on Aurora and Vail

[This post comes courtesy of Adrian Maziak, our System Health PM]

Windows Server “Aurora” is currently in Beta (You can download it from Connect, or read about the beta announcement). You’ve had it for a few months, and have probably run out of things to try on this beta. Well, I wanted to get you back involved with some customization goodies for the health and monitoring alerts that are built both into the Aurora and the Vail products that will carry into the final release.

In previous versions of Home Server, Monitoring could only be done without an add-in in the local console, or from the system tray icon on a local client. You needed something like @WHSTweet to get the alerts off the box (which by the way was a wicked application, I use it for my V1), or perhaps another add-in that I’m not aware of. Also, in previous versions of Small Business Server, there was an Exchange mail server locally to send the alert. But in Aurora there is no exchange server, that’s saved for SBS7.

With Aurora or Vail we provide the ability to insert a “SmartHost” email server that you can send mail through. This can be an email server that lives out on the Internet that you have access to, or the one at your ISP that you simply have access to simply by being part of their network.

Set up email notification for alerts

However, not all alerts will generate e-mail. The health team took a hard look at all the alerts and have made a call on which ones might be critical for the admin to know immediately, and which ones that can wait until the admin is on the network. But while we optimize this for certain scenarios, we may have missed yours. This is where customization comes in.

Each health alert is defined in a health definition file. These definition files are stored in C:\Program Files\Windows Server\Bin\FeatureDefinitions\Microsoft Base\definition.xml.config.

For example, if you were to scroll down in this file to the “AutoStartServicesVistaWin7Client” for the alert about auto started services on clients that aren’t running. This doesn’t alert by default via email, but if you wanted it to, you can add a line to the XML file <Escalate>true</Escalate>.

<HealthDefinitionConfiguration Name="AutoStartServicesVistaWin7Client">
<Argument Name="Description">don’t touch this stuff</Argument>

Likewise, if you are getting an alert via email that you really don’t care about, then simply open up the definition xml file and remove the <Escalate> line.

Important Tip: Make sure you back-up the definition.xml.config file before you change it. You never know when you’re going to need to revert back to the default version!

Some Known SmartHosts

SMTP Server SSL? Auth? Port Logon Information Yes Yes 587 Full LiveID username & Password Yes No 587 Must be in Comcast’s Network Yes Yes 587 Full GMail username & password No Yes 25 Email Name and password

*Subject to change without notice

SMTP Settings

Example using the Live Smart Host


Alex Kuretz said...

Thanks for showing us how to customize the alerts in Vail and Aurora, I'm glad there is some flexibility built in.

For users wanting email notifications in WHS V1, my Remote Notification Add-In has been available for over 3 years now and forwards all health notifications to an email address.


Jim Hendry said...

Sorry to de-zombie an old post, but I've been searching all day regarding my issue and your post is the best lead I've had for even hoping I will find an answer.

I have a NAS (WD Sentinel dx4000) powered by Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. Everything is working fine, except the emails generated on the alerts. They are getting sent, but there's some "unusuallness" let's say in the HTML formatting causing the attached PNG images not to present correctly that I haven't been able to resolve.

Two options I at least wanted to attempt to pursue were:

1) Any change these messages are generated using some kind of a template that could be modified?

2) Is there a hidden flag anywhere that would cause these email messages to be generated using plain text instead of HTML?

I got kind of excited when I stumpled upon this article and thought maybe there was some common code in there...

Sean Daniel said...

Hi Jim,

Unfortunately there is no hidden tag. The emails are generated via a template that is not changeable. However, This is a directory you can play in on your server to hopefully fix what you need:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Server\Data\Health

the images that are in the email are in that directory. Please note that c:\programdata is a hidden directory.

Hope that helps.