Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Windows Server Solutions Best Practice Analyzer (BPA)

Wow, the new Best Practice analyzer is up and ready for download! This new BPA can be installed on the following products and will show you best practices for each one!

  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials
  • Windows Multipoint Server 2011
  • Windows Storage Server 2010 R2 Essentials

So if you’re unsure if you’re doing something right, or want to make sure you’re following best practices, get the BPA installed!

UPDATE: As called out in the comments, you'll also need the Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0 before installing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 has RTM’d!!!

I’ve mentioned Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 on this blog before, like how well it works with Windows Small Business Server 2011, or how it fits into your small business, and how you can leverage it to simplify your client story.  Or if you were at SMBNation Fall 2010 in Las Vegas, or attended the VICE(?) UG talk on SBS 2011 you had ability to actually hear me talk to you about it.

You’ve been patient, you’ve been waiting.  And now the wait is over.  Windows MultiPoint 2011 Server has RTM’d!!

Product Unit Manager of MultiPoint, Dean Paron, and Director of Marketing Sandrine Skinner announced today that MultiPoint is available (get the eval at the download center)!  MSDN and Technet subscribers are expected to receive it in the next week.  With the release of RTM, the hand off to the OEM partners happened earlier this month.

Dean Paron, Product Unit Manager, demos Windows MultiPoint Server 2011, source Brandon LeBlanc on the Windows Blog

More Details on the WMS Blog and SBS blog, but here is a snippit of that:

Volume License(VL) customers will be able to download and purchase Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 on March 1, 2011. Broader, public availability through partners will start mid-April 2011.

And by the way the evaluation version available on the Download Center today can be turned into a full production version when you purchase your VL license of Windows MultiPoint Server 2011- so there is no need for re-installation.

We also would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our beta testers for providing feedback and helping us refine and enhance the experience for this new product release.

There has been a lot of discussions around Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 over the last few weeks: it started at the BETT show, the largest tradeshow of Education technology, that took place in London early January where we first had the opportunity to showcase face to face Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 to customers and partners from around the world.

In our previous blogs around the Beta , we mentioned what’s new in Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 versus the previous release of Windows MultiPoint Server (WMS 2010) in terms of features and functionality.

We would like to also mention what’s new in terms of channel availability and SKU availability for Windows MultiPoint Server 2011:





VL Open Commercial

OEM (pre-install and ROK)

OEM Academic

VL Open Commercial

VL Academic

Number of simultaneous connected sessions you can run



Domain Join capability

Not supported


Hyper-V capability

Not supported

1+1 licensing model

*Actual number of connected sessions is based on host computer hardware capacity (CPU, memory, etc.), station hardware configuration (RemoteFX, PCI-E or USB) and usage workloads

As you can see in the table above, we now have 2 editions, Standard and Premium which have the same features and functionality except for the ability to join a domain, and ability to run as Hyper-V host or guest, which are only available in the Premium edition. Also the Premium edition is broadly available to customers and resellers through OEM and OEM Academic as well as through Volume Licensing Open Commercial and Academic.

Again VL customers will have access to Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 on the VL download site on March 1, 2011.

Also worth mentioning, we even had our own famous internal Windows 7 blogger, we’re sure you know him already, Brandon LeBlanc, who’s blogging about his experience with Windows MultiPoint Server 2011: check it out here at this link:

We’re so excited about this release as in the WMS team we’re super passionate about delivering technology to help our Teachers and Students thrive and providing them with a Windows 7 experience, even as their school’s or campus’ IT budgets have been slashed.

Here’s the link to the Download Center for your convenience- Happy Windows MultiPoint Server 2011!!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How to Enable TimeMachine Backup for your MAC to your Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials or Windows Home Server 2011

Well, I don’t often dabble around with a MAC, I just can’t get used to the single mouse button and pressing a key on the keyboard for a simple context menu.  I’ve quite possibly been assimilated to Windows.  However,  protecting your data is important, even if you are on a right-click less product.

As you probably know by now, the Release Candidate of both Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Windows Home Server 2011 is now live. Which means you can download and install them!!  You should take a moment and do that now.  I’ll wait.

Once you have these installed, you can easily add your Windows based PC to the server and to the PC backup by simply going to http://server/connect on your client PC.  Click the install for Windows PC button and follow the instructions.  Windows PC’s are automatically added to the backup which takes place in a round robin style nightly.  When you’re on a Mac, it’s the same thing, but you click “Install for Mac”, you end up with a launch pad and access to the server, but no default backup.

It has to be possible right? I mean everyone knows that a MAC is really a *nix box with a really fancy UI (and no right-click).

Poking around on the Internet, you can find some steps, like how to get unsupported volumes to appear to the TimeMachine engine, with the help of a friend (thanks Fabian & Craig) we’ve managed to put together these steps, which work for both Home Server 2011, and SBS 2011 Essentials:

  1. First, create an SMB share on your server using the share permissions wizard, let’s call it Mac Backups.  Make sure the users who are on a Mac have Read/Write access.
  2. Change the Mac TimeMachine to show unsupported Network Volumes by going to Finder, then Applications, Utilities, Terminal.
  3. Inside the Terminal, type this command defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1.  This sets the showing of unsupported network volumes to TRUE.

 Showing Unsupported Network Volumes

  1. Obtain the MAC’s MAC Address. A MAC Address is the hardware address of the local network card.  It’s important to choose the MAC address of the built in wired connection.  To obtain this, you can run the command from the terminal: ifconfig | grep en0.

 Finding the MAC Address

  1. Next (and this is the confusing part, so bare with me) we need to create a sparse file on the MAC and copy the server share.  A sparse file is a file that you define a CAP size, but it will probably take up much less (we’ll define it as 200GB in this example).  This file creation process is a little tricky.  To do this, type in to the same terminal above: command ‘hdiutil create –size 200g –fs HFS+J –volname “<CLIENT_NAME> Backup” <CLIENT_NAME>_<MAC_ADDRESS>.sparsebundle’ Where the MAC client is called <CLIENT_NAME> and the MAC Address on the primary wired connection to the MAC is <MAC_ADDRESS>.  This means if you’re client name was OSX, and your MAC address is 00:00:1F:12:82:92, then your command would be: command ‘hdiutil create –size 200g –fs HFS+J –volname “OSX Backup”  OSD_00001F128292.sparsebundle’  .  Here is what it looks like this client is called “macmini2” and has a MAC address of 34:15:9E:09:00:94

Sparse File Created

  1. Copy this file to “\\SERVER\Mac Backups\” that you created earlier on the server. As you probably know if you are a MAC user, you have to mount the volume:

 Mount the Server Share on the MAC

  1. Load up the Time Machine settings from within System Preferences, and the sparse file you created above should be in the list.  Select this as the target for your backups.  This will have every TimeMachine backup backup directly to a share on the server:

 Configuring TimeMachine to use the sparse file

  1. Repeat for all your Mac computers on your network.

Once you have completed these steps, your MAC will start using the Windows Home Server 2011 or Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials as the backup TARGET.  This means it will back up over the network using the built in timeline functionality, on the schedule you define inside timeline.

What is also cool, is while the MAC won’t show a percentage complete like the PC does when performing the client backup, it will tell you the status right in the console, which of course falls through to the alerts.

Mac Backup Successful:

Mac Backup Successful

Mac Backup Unsuccessful:

Mac Backup Unsuccessful

So there you have it, How to backup a MAC to a Windows Home Server 2011 (aka Vail) or Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (aka Aurora) Server.

For reference, here is the team reference for WHS v1

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Why I plan on using the new Windows Home Server 2011

I’m sure you have heard by now, that the Release Candidate of the new Windows Home Server 2011 is available for download. It’s a huge milestone, and I’m excited for the final RTM sometime the first half of this year!

Windows Home Server 2011

There has been a lot of negativity around upgrading to the Windows Home Server (version 1) product, to the Windows Home Server 2011 or even using it at all, all due to the Drive Extender removal. I do understand the pain. I do. But I don’t understand why people instantly now hate WHS????

Looking back, we remember that Drive Extender had some initial problems after the v1 release. Some corner case of editing large files that lived on the server, in some rare cases, these large files were corrupt, people wanted to turn Drive Extender off, it scared them. After Power Pack 1 came in to save the day, only then did people start to trust Drive Extender, and yes, they immediately fell in love with it. Easy drive extension with a side benefit of duplicating files on multiple hard drives (“dup ‘em if you got ‘em!”).

Removing DE was a very tough decision, but I ultimately agree with the decision given what I know.

But without drive extender, is the product not awesome? is your data not safe? This blog post is intended to tell you why I think WHS 2011 is still awesome, and still keeps my data safe. I am a new father (she’s 8 months old at the time of writing this) and I’m a hobbyist photographer. My photos are probably the most important digital thing to me, then my countless hours of work I’ve spent on my documents, then my e-mail, then all that other stuff, like ripped CDs and DVDs, and some HD DVDs.

Let’s start with the “Just Awesome” stuff… most of this bucket falls into the Remote Web Access site, so from the outside in we go!

Remote Access is just Awesome!

For one, right from the get-go you can customize the RWA about as much as you want:

Customized Logon Page

(This picture can be found on my photoblog here)

Remember, you also still get that free 3rd level web domain and matching trusted web certificate (from on the home domain name. Did I mention free security?

You get remote access to computers behind your network, but this time it’s powered by TS Gateway for Server 2008 R2! Yes, that means you can get dual monitor support, and you can take advantage of better optimization for remote access to your PC and better security using that same web certificate for encryption! Thus no longer using security protocols from 8 years ago.

Remote Silverlight Video Streaming

Yes, no more TwonkyMedia chewing up your processor, a built-in, secure, streaming engine based on Silverlight, with (if you put in a fast enough processor) media transcoding:

Silverlight Streaming

I also just *love* the photo slide shows. Sending access to the folks and letting them just watch 1000s of photos via a slide show, priceless:

Home Server Picture Slideshow

A Silverlight Music Player that you can make, save and use playlists on. which you can quickly switch music around in. I even use this player in my living room when I have get a get together. People just understand how to use it:

Silverlight Music Player

The ability to download or the ability to move files around without having to download. Yes, that’s right, delete, copy, cut and paste things all over the shared folders without actually having to download it.

Organize your Folders Remotely

That’s a pretty powerful remote access story, one you won’t find with add-ins that run this flawlessly on the WHS v1 product… oh wait, I’m not finished, check out my iPhone formatted remote access webpage:

iPhone Logon

iPhone Folder and File View

And it looks just as good on an Android and Windows Phone 7!

While we’re talking about media, let’s focus on the internal network. With an implementation of DLNA 1.5 open standard for compatible streaming, you can stream to your XBOX 360, Playstation 3, DLNA capable TV, iPad (with application), Windows 7 PC (or slate!) or any other DLNA compliant device. You can also configure which folders participate in the streaming, simply by adding them to the set of defaults.

Media Streaming Settings

If we’re going to talk about handy apps, do you remember that awesome Vista Gadget for WHS v1 by It was called ShareMaster. Well, now included in WHS 2011, is the Launchpad, which enables you to easily backup your PC, access your Remote Web Access site (without having to know the URL, even if it changes!), Shared folders, and if you’re an admin, the Dashboard. It’s also completely extensible by the SDK, so developers can kick it up a notch and add more functionality:

Client side Launchpad

That’s a whole lot of awesome packed into one box! I want to switch gears now and talk about how WHS 2011 protects my data, and why I think it’s safe. To me, the leading cause of data loss is usually hardware failure, most often then not, it’s a harddrive failure. Although there is the rare instance it can be a natural disaster, which happened to my uncle about this time last year.

Last but not least, is something you can’t see, that excites me the most. The Windows Home Server 2011 SDK (still in beta) is HUGE compared to the v1 product. Moreover, it’s SHARED with both Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. What does that mean? it means that things designed for business, can easily be used in the home (and vice versa). That means lots and lots of add-ins! and high quality ones at that. Nothing like developing for 3 platforms, instead of just one.

Data Protection, Why My Data is Safe on WHS 2011!

Data protection is all about having data on multiple drives. Take a look at RAID configurations. RAID5 is one of the most popular RAID configurations in the small and medium businesses, it’s probably sufficient for a home too, but sometimes it can be challenging to set up. RAID5 is a drive configuration that wastes up to 1 of a set of 3 or more drives to maintain “parity” bits. These parity bits are used to rebuild data on a drive if it’s lost. The system can run in limited capacity as soon as this drive dies without the end user knowing it. All in all, it’s a sweet system, but loose that 2nd drive before you can rebuild the array, and your data is toast!

What does Windows Home Server 2011 do? It keeps the data you choose on a second hard drive. Yep, the data on all your client computers is automatically backed up nightly to the Home Server. That’s up to 10 PCs safely backed up, every night. So now the data on your clients, is also on your server, two hard drives. There is a delay of 24 hours, but it’s there. Even if you get a Facebook Virus, you can roll back to the day before. This is exactly the same functionality as WHS v1, except it’s faster, and more robust.

What about the data on the server? Server’s hold data, isn’t that data safe? Yes of course it is. You can backup that data to an internal, or better yet, external hard drive! Unlike WHS v1, this has HUGE improvements. First, the backup is automated. Automated backups take the human error factor out, and the backup uses snapshots, so even open files are captured. I think I remembered to backup my WHS v1 about once/month. Now I’m getting 2x/day! And you know what, I choose the defaults because the server on my data doesn’t change that often. You can bump this up to as often as every 30 minutes. That’s your data, on another hard drive, 30 minute window of possible loss, but if I can’t trust a hard drive for 30 minutes, I’ve got problems with all the data that DOES change on my client computers, because that backs up every 24 hours! [And you can’t tell me that the purchase of an external hard drive isn’t worth your data backup, especially you, Mr. 22TB WHS v1! With or Without Drive Extender]

And…. if you want to do RAID, you can do RAID, you can do RAID1, RAID5, or even RAID10! If you want to do cloud backup (which I do because I’m too lazy to take the backup hard drive out of my house), you can do that, as a few providers are building add-ins.

So what did I really loose with Drive Extender being gone?

  • In the event of a hard drive failure, all my data isn’t still available until I put in a new hard drive and restore that drive back to its original state, if I didn’t configure RAID.
  • I can’t easily extend my storage when I have a disk that’s running out of space.
  • I can’t grow my share sizes past the size of all the hard drives in the system
  • My server storage responds faster because I’m not using DEMigrate.exe all the time

None of the above actually pertains to data loss. It’s all convenience. It was definitely nice to have in WHS v1, but I don’t think it’s absolutely needed in a server in the home.

Massive Data Collections

Let’s talk about Massive Data Collections quickly. Because WHS v1 made it so easy to grow your data collections, far beyond the size of one disk, without having to worry, “have I locked myself in to only X amount of data?”.

Let’s talk about my photo collection. It’s 80GB right now. That’s still not 1TB. I’m an amateur photographer, one that shoots a lot of photos, with a Canon 5D Mark II (a 21mp camera). I still have tones of space on a single 2TB drive to grow. What if I’m a professional photographer? Well, professional photographers don’t use Windows Home Server, at least I haven’t come across one. A good friend of mine has been interviewing professional photographers for some time, and they work with such large photos, they keep them locally, then archive them, usually via USB. Then if they want to work on them, they just plug them into the computer they are on, and it’s a local picture again. \

Video collections. My Canon 5D Mark II takes 1080p video. I use it a lot, that’s probably what jumped my photo collection from 60-80G in a year… but I’m still within reason. My video collection, is a rip of all my DVDs, and some HD-DVDs, and it’s still only 130GB, that’s still less than 1TB, and I still have all the DVDs in the closet, my music collection is 40GB… still have all the CDs. But I agree these data collections can get quite huge. This is probably the one place folks will actually miss Drive Extender. I couldn’t agree more.

… But maybe it’s time to take a hard look at what data you’re hording on your server. Do you really need to be a digital hoarder and save everything? I mean even Mozy can’t deal with you, as they announced they are killing their unlimited data plan. People save a lot, and it costs money, but do you really need it all? The guys at TechCrunch say “I assure you that you will never print those 10,000 pictures you have stored in iPhoto. Never. Ever.”.

If you absolutely *must* keep all that data, you should have a plan for it anyways. It’s not like if you store magazines for comic books, you don’t put aside space in a closet for them. With a plan, you can easily map out your storage needs, and growth. In fact, a few people even have growth charts of their storage growth from WHS v1, so you *know* the storage you’re going to need! I also suggest turning on File System Resource Manager and cataloging exactly which data is being used. I bet after a year, you use less than 30% of it.

So bottom line, I stay trim with my data (rule #1 of becoming a better photographer is forcing yourself to throw away 70% of your photos), I feel like Windows Home Server 2011 is the right product for me, for simplified access to my data. Simplified Management of my network, and extremely safe data protection plans. Moreover, because it’s Windows, it just works with other things in my house.

I liked Drive Extender too, but the product isn’t dead, in fact, it’s still awesome!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 and Interaction with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

I know I have talked before about Windows MultiPoint Server 2011, and how it can help your Small Business with thin clients, old clients, seasonal employees and even reducing the number of machines in the office by getting one nice one.

I wanted to touch on this again, now that the Release Candidate of Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials is available. With this release of SBS 2011 Essentials, a new level of integration between MultiPoint 2011 Premium and SBS 2011 Essentials is here. MultiPoint has some features that just work well with SBS, and vice versa. Let’s take a look at those so you know what to expect. You are required to get MultiPoint 2011 Premium for these features to work as that's the version that allows domain join.

1. MultiPoint Server Premium can Join the SBS 2011 Essentials Server

That’s right, MultiPoint can go straight to http://server/connect and join just as if it was a client computer. As the MultiPoint administrator on one of the local sessions, simply browse to the server /connect page and click the Join this Windows PC. The join is pretty seamless, which then brings us to the next point…

2. Domain users can log into the MultiPoint 2011 Premium Server

Once domain joined, the MultiPoint server allows all domain users to log in as standard users to the server. This includes local sessions or remote TS sessions. This can essentially render the Users tab of MultiPoint useless to you, but now you can manage your users from inside the Small Business Server 2011 dashboard.

3. MultiPoint Server shows up in the SBS 2011 Essentials Server Dashboard

Yep, you can see your MultiPoint server in the dashboard, just along with your other clients, it appears online or offline depending on the state of the server.

MultiPoint Server in the SBS 2011 Console

This now brings me to my next point, because you probably saw that the backup status of this MultiPoint server is Successful

4. MultiPoint 2011 is backed up by SBS 2011 Essentials

Yep, as if it’s a client computer, the MultiPoint 2011 Server is backed up as if it’s a client computer. In fact, it’s the *only* server operating system that can be backed up by the SBS 2011 Essentials backup engine.

MultiPoint backup

5. MultiPoint appears in the Remote Web Access of SBS 2011 Essentials

Last but not least, the MultiPoint 2011 server automatically appears in the Remote Web Access for SBS 2011 Essentials, and users can connect directly to this server remotely.

MultiPoint in RWA

Using the SBS 2011 Essentials dashboard, you can control which users have access to this computer simply on their user properties object

User Properties

There you have it. As mentioned before, MultiPoint is a TS-in-App-Sharing server on steroids. You can use local settings via USB, or remote sessions using either thin clients, remote computers, or just local computers you don’t want to upgrade to Windows 7, but still have this experience. The more users you configure to connect, the better the hardware you should configure.

While this is all content that applies to RTM, currently SBS 2011 and MultiPoint 2011 are in Beta.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

How to set the Default Printer for All Users in your Small Business Server 2011 Standard or Essentials Network

One of the biggest pains in a small business is setting up the default printer that everyone needs to use.  With these high powered printers that can handle pages per second and are often shared between a very high number of small business employees, if not all, setting the default printer can be a tedious task.

Before you can start, you need to make sure that the clients understand the new policy.  Windows 7 and higher have the GPO extensions needed to understand this policy, but they will need to be installed on Windows XP or Windows Vista clients.  If you are running SBS 2011 Standard, you can create a "Feature Pack” inside WSUS server and deploy it to all your clients without visiting them.  If you’re running SBS 2011 Essentials, you’ll have to manually install it on each client computer.

Next, we should get the Group Policy in place.  The Group Policy will apply to all users as they log in to change the default printer, should we set it up correctly.  To do this we’ll first create a Group Policy Object to work with.  It’s always good practice to create a new Policy that you can enable/disable per item you wish (although keep in mind that the more policies you add, the slower it takes clients to apply them all).  Here is how to create the default policy:

  1. Click Start, Administrative Tools, and then Group Policy Management.
  2. Expand Forest: <domain.local>, then Domains, and then <domain>.local
  3. Right-click on domain.local and click Create a GPO in this domain and Link it here
  4. Give it a friendly name, I called mine Default Printer Policy, leave the starter GPO to (None)

Now we have a policy to work with.  Next up we have to make this policy do something.  Right now it doesn’t.  As a test, I like to make sure it works for one user first, so let’s find a guinea pig and go from there:

  1. With the new Default Printer Policy selected, remove Authenticated Users from the Security filtering and place in the guinea pig user. Select Authenticated Users, and click Remove.
  2. Click the Add… button, type in the user’s alias and click OK.

Default Printer Policy

This ensures that the policy only applies to the one user.  Now let’s set up that default printer within the GPO:

  1. Right-click on the Default Printer Policy GPO and chose Edit…
  2. The GP Management editor opens, expand User Configuration, Preferences, Control Panel Settings, and select Printers:Printer Policy
  3. Right click on Printers, and choose New… and then Shared Printer. New Shared Printer Properties
  4. Under the Action drop down, make sure it says Create
  5. Under the Share Path: put the path to the shared network printer
  6. If you want it to be the default printer, tick the Set this printer as the default printer.  In some cases, few people in the business have private/personal printers, you can exclude these if there is a local printer attached by checking the next box

This of course implies that the printer is installed on each client computer you want to use it on.  What I did was install the printer and share it off the server.  This had the x64 drivers on the server for handing out to the clients on the network.  So the MultiPoint 2011 server on my network automatically installed and configured the printer as the default one.  However, the 32 bit Windows 7 clients did not.  In order to do this, I had to add the x86 drivers to the printer.  Do do this:

  1. Right-Click on the printer that’s installed on the server and choose Printer PropertiesPrinter Properties
  2. On the Sharing tab, choose Change Sharing Options and then click Additional Drivers Sharing Properties
  3. Select the x86 check box and click OK..  To install these you’ll need both the 32-bit drivers for your printer (usually downloaded or on a DVD), and a 32-bit disk of the operating system.  (If you have any Itanium hardware, you’ll have to repeat for this as well)

Once this is finished, the clients both x64 and x86 will install the drivers straight from the server instead of Windows Update.  Which is much faster! 

There are additional steps you can take to make parts of your network choose different printers as their defaults etc.  For those I’m going to send you directly to my two sources of information

The Windows Server Administration blog provided most of the information, with their blog post available here.

The Group Policy Center blog provided some reference info, with their blog here.