Computer tip: Disk cleanup in Windows Server 2008 & Server 2008 R2

By default Disk Cleanup [and the option in a drive’s general properties] is missing in Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2. This is “by design’ as it is part of the “Desktop Experience” feature. You can, however, make it available [but still not available in the drive’s general properties] by copying the files needed.

The 2 files needed [cleanmgr.exe and cleanmgr.exe.mui] are located at:

Operating System File Location
Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_none_c9392808773cd7da\cleanmgr.exe
Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_en-us_b9cb6194b257cc63\cleanmgr.exe.mui
Windows Server 2008 64-bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_en-us_b9f50b71510436f2\cleanmgr.exe.mui
Windows Server 2008 64-bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_c962d1e515e94269\cleanmgr.exe.mui
Windows Server 2008 32-bit C:\Windows\winsxs\x86_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_en-us_5dd66fed98a6c5bc\cleanmgr.exe.mui
Windows Server 2008 32-bit C:\Windows\winsxs\x86_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_6d4436615d8bd133\cleanmgr.exe

Once you’ve located the files move them to the following locations:

  • Cleanmgr.exe should go in %systemroot%\System32.
  • Cleanmgr.exe.mui should go in %systemroot%\System32\en-US.

 

Doing some cleaning up

Note: This post is geared towards IT professionals.

When trying to see where your disk space has gone to on your system drive in Windows Vista or later [and the server equivalent], you may want to look at the following locations:

  • C:\Users\accountname\
  • C:\Users\Administrator\
  • C:\Users\accountname\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\
  • C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\

Where accountname is your account [as Administrator] or maybe others.

Note: You must unprotect the system files that are hidden in the folder to see them.

For the first two, you may see a lot of the following:

  • NTUSER.DAT{randomness}.TMContainer’0000 randomness’.regtrans-ms
  • NTUSER.DAT{randomness}.TM.blf

For the last two, you will see something like:

  • UsrClass.dat{randomness}.TMContainer’0000 randomness’.regtrans-ms
  • UsrClass.dat{randomness}.TM.blf

Analyzing them. Once done, any of these .blf or .regtrans-ms files that were created prior to the last system boot can probably be safely deleted. There’s no way they will be written to the registry, so they’re junk.

If you see many files ending with the .DAT extension. If so, check the event logs to see if anything out of the ordinary is going on. If so, investigate. If not, you can probably safely delete anything prior to the last reboot.

Note: Prior to doing any deleting, you should do a proper backup – just in case.

When a roll-up is not a service pack

Microsoft had some issues with updates this past month. Among them is a security update to fix Schannel issues.

Note: Schannel, [or Secure Channel] is a security support provider [SSP] that contains a set of security protocols that provide identity authentication and secure, private communication through encryption.

Initially [I suspect] Microsoft decided to include some enhancements to Schannel. Enhancements are generally included in a separate non-security update. This seemed to backfire as the original update was replaced on November 18th for servers only.

At the same time, Microsoft released KB3000850 for Windows 8.1 [and Windows Server 2012 R2] which included an update of just over 700MB [64-bit version] – 60 updates in the package. An update for Schannel is included.

If you think about it, the 64-bit update is larger than the original Windows XP [or Windows Server 2003] installation as well as bigger than any of the service packs for Windows Vista or Windows 7 [or their server counterparts].

Wow!

And Microsoft still classifies this as a “roll-up”. [Actually, since it doesn't include all updates since Windows 8.1 Update, I guess that would be the reason.]

Welcome to the scamming season

Yes. It is that time of the year. Time to be extra vigilant with your personal information. There are a bunch of ways where your information can get into the wrong hands.

  • Phishing scams through email top the list with emails disguised as invoices or shipping notifications that are related to the season [i.e. you “bought” some items online]. Consumers are more likely to click on fraudulent links or open attachments during periods of high shopping activity.
  • So-called charities that are using the season to their advantage as people tend to give more at the time of the year. In particular, watch for slightly different spelling or maybe reworded different. An example would be “United Ways” instead of “United Way”. Any site can include a phony charity registration number.
  • Look out for Emails with unbelievable prices on items. For example Canada Goose Jackets for under $100 or even a license to Microsoft Office Professional for $75. [For a long time fake Canada Goose web sites were popping up in ads and then stopped last spring. They returned recently. Wonder why.] Both are way higher than that.
  • Watch for suspicious contests in social media sites especially when they ask for information they don’t need.
  • Using an ATM machine? Aside from hiding your PIN, make sure the machine looks real and has no attachments [or something that is out of place].
  • Received a call from someone claiming to be from your bank [or credit card] and there is a “problem” with your account? Ask for details only they would know if they are legitimate. For example, ask them for your birthday, your credit card number, etc. [Or just hang up and call you bank.]
  • Mobile applications are popular, but if the application requires too much access [don’t they all already?], be suspicious.
  • Fake travel deals are common enough. If you find the deal too good to be true, maybe it isn’t true.
  • Watch out for emails that include a link or attachments to “digital e-cards”. Consider it very suspicious if they don’t tell you who it is from before clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
  • Travel a lot? Considering encrypting your devices [which also means adding a password]. If you have a laptop, considering to make it only bootable from the hard disk and setting an administrator password in addition to encrypting the hard disk. [That way you can only boot off the hard disk (they can’t use the laptop with their own hard disk) and the data on the disk is encrypted.]
  • If you work at a large company, watch out for USB flash drives lying around before you enter the premises. Hackers do this so that if you insert the drive, malware could be installed which will have access to company data. Other times, it is just malware.

Of course if you follow the standard practices [don’t open Emails not addressed to you personally, place your mouse pointer over a link, bad styling or spelling in the email, etc.], then you should have little to worry about.

When supports ends prematurely

Over the past little while, I’ve been having problems with my AMD/ATI GPU on my home computer. At one point I tried to update to the latest drivers.

As it is a major version upgrade, it was suggested to uninstall the drivers completely and then install the latest.

So I followed what they recommended.

Well, let’s just say I never installed the latest drivers.

In fact, even the original drivers are a bit unstable. Seems that something went wrong and every once in a while, if I use Internet Explorer, it craps out because it is accessing an AMD/ATI DLL it doesn’t like – for whatever reason. The version and dating of the file is fine [compared to the other GPU related DLLs].

On top of that, every once in a while, after a normal shutdown, the next time I boot up I end up in VGA mode and the device manager tells me there is an issue with the drivers. Only thing I found to fix that is using a restore point.

If I try installing the latest drivers after removing the old ones, it doesn’t detect my GPU card at all.

I went to the AMD forums and basically got nowhere. Someone has a similar issue with a different GPU.

A couple of days ago, I went to AMD’s support and had a chat. The guy was a bit helpful but not too much. Seemed to avoid some questions. In the end suggested reseat the card. Usually a long shot.

But the guy also told me that they only support the drivers listed on the company’s website [which was Catalyst 13.152 or something like that] instead of the latest which is 14.9.

Hmmm. That isn’t good.

I guess they’re trying to reduce support costs by not supporting anything more recent. I’m sure if I had an issue with the latest drivers, they wouldn’t support me. The GPU came out maybe a year ago.

Patch Tuesday not a good thing?

Funny how things go full circle. Somewhere around 15 years ago, Microsoft decided [after enough complaining by organizations] that it was time to change the way security updates are released.

Prior to this decision, security updates were released as they became available. While you could call it a bit proactive, on the other side, your company had to figure on its own when to have a cutoff point so that the updates could be installed and yet not to interfere with the company’s day to day operations. After all, you don’t want to reboot potentially hundreds of servers every second or third day.

So Microsoft decided to release updates every second Tuesday of the month. This would give everyone a regular routine and I guess nobody wants to worry about updates on a Monday [things over the weekend have to be fixed first] or many holidays are on Mondays.

Hence, “Patch Tuesday” was born.

Of course, any out of band update could still happen, but Microsoft would decide whether or not this is critical to release or wait until the next Patch Tuesday.

Recently, I received an Email from a security organization that publishes a Email newsletter twice a week with the latest in malware issues, security breaches and all that fun stuff.

After a news story related to Microsoft security updates, one of the commentators wondered [in this day and age] why this policy is still used, calling it outdated but offered no explanation why.

I’m wondering why myself. After all, we know that updates are coming and Microsoft provides some advance notification on what to expect – barring a last minute change.

In addition, other companies such as Adobe and Oracle have followed the same strategy and releases their own updates [excluding out of band updates] on the same day, so that not only Microsoft updates can be applied but Adobe and Oracle updates can also be applied at the same time – if the company allows that.

IT professionals know that in a large company, updates may not get applied immediately to all computers [some are offline or not connected to the network for whatever reason] and of course the odd issue with some updates to try and fix.

So I can’t figure out why the commentator wasn’t so happy.

Tough two years in the US coming

Seems that after the mid-term elections, President Obama will have his hands full.

The Republicans took control of both chambers in Congress for the first time in 8 years.

The GOP did not get the two-thirds congressional majority – so they can’t override a presidential veto. So now the GOP must come out with new laws that can work their way and be left enough so that Obama will pass.

Surely anything related to the “Obamacare” would be vetoed by Obama. In addition some GOPs have said that Obamacare seems to be working for the voters now. The GOP do want to cut down on some over-regulation such as the Environmental Protection Agency as well as budget cuts. On the other hand, the Keystone XL pipeline with oil coming from Canada could be finally approved.

However there are plenty of hard-line GOPs [let alone Tea Party followers] who could cause some problems. They could try and push for congressional investigations for everything that happened in the last 6 years [of course it could backfire as well]. They also will probably push for tax reform – particularly after Burger king’s headquarters moved to Canada in a merger with Canada’s Tim Hortons to reduce the number of taxes the company pays [but Burger King probably denies].

With a GOP majority, It also holds great power to approve or reject the judges, cabinet members, political staff, and diplomats that the White House appoints.

Many Supreme Court justices aren’t too far from retirement. Obama may decide to not fill in the seats if there is a retirement [or death] until the 2016 elections.

Even in the Gubernatorial races, the GOP picked up a few states.

If you think things got crazy, how is this one: A Republican, running for a House seat, from New York who faces 20 criminal charges, was heard on camera threatening to throw a guy off a balcony and was shunned by his own party during the campaign, won his seat.

On the other hand, most Presidents lose seats in midterm elections…. Although maybe not this badly.

Why the loses [aside from the history comment above]? Obama is stuck at around 40% approval but lower in swing states [those that bounce between GOP and Democrats during elections] and rural states where GOP is generally king. In a non-presidential election year, the electorate are older, whiter, and more conservative. In a presidential election, there are many younger, non-whites and more liberal voters.

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