Saturday, November 26, 2005

ASR Backup with USB Hard Drives

Well what do you do when you need to resize partitions or change perhaps from a volume to RAID status or rebuild a RAID array? How do you get that SBS box up and running again? Many use some great disk cloning or imaging solutions out there. I've heard great things about Aconis True Image Server or Paragon Drive Backup.

In the past I've used products like this with great success. However now Windows Server 2003 and thus SBS 2003 come with some great backup items out of the box to get you going again. And perhaps you don't want to pay the $899 and $399 respectively for the products above.

How about using the ASR backup with ntbackup included with SBS? Microsoft has an SBS backup/restore whitepaper out there but it doesn't mention ASR. It's more from the standpoint of what if the server croaked. Well in this situation we're preparing for a change. The reason that the ASR backup is nice and I like it is that you don't have to entirely load SBS/Windows Server and then do a restore. The ASR restore process just loads what it needs. However that's where some problems may present themselves.

Doing an ASR backup of course is easy from the console of ntbackup where you just choose the ASR Wizard from the backup tab selection. It prompts for a diskette to store the partition info, etc after your backup runs and now you're set. However a couple of things to keep in mind:
1. The ASR just does the system partition and not your data. So make sure and get that backup ready to go for your data (or perhaps a D: or E: drive if you're so inclined.)
2. Are you backing up to USB drives? As HDD get cheaper this is getting to be a preferred method of backup for many. We do it you might too. However ASR will not see your backup on the USB Drive. What can you do? Well after the ASR restore (insert SBS CD1 and choose F2 after reboot when prompted on boot up for the ASR restore) character installation is done and it boots into Windows Server 2003 with the familiar setup process, you can actually stop the installation here and turn off your server. Everything will still be there and once you boot from the HDD again it will start the ASR restore again. However put in your favorite boot CD. I use Bart PE and boot from that. Now you'll see all your formatted drives ready to roll along with your USB drives. Now just copy the ASR backup from the external USB Drive to the data partition on your server. Restart the machine and boot from the HDD to get the ASR restore rolling again. Now when ASR complains that it can't see the ASR backup file just manually run the ASR wizard (it'll let you) and choose the file from the Data partition. Now you're good to go!

Remember that imaging software is NOT supported by Microsoft. So if you use the products mentioned above and your server dies you can just install SBS again and restore because a call to Microsoft will get you no where.

Hey you're a small business and you have to choose which is right for you. At times spending $899 is not a problem and the wisest thing to do, some months however the budget won't allow for it! :) The above is an alternative however if you choose to accept it.

Exchange SP2 and SBS

Just finished up my first production upgrade to Service Pack 2 of Exchange 2003 on an SBS 2003 Premium box. Remember as many others have mentioned to uninstall IMF first if you installed it. On this first box IMF was not listed in the Add/Remove programs. How do you manually install? Beats me! :) Just install IMF v1 again and the program should present itself in the Add/Remove programs. Now you can uninstall IMF and install SP2 for Exchange.

Vlad has a nice write up on his blog of the SP2 install.

Remember 2 things for us SBS'ers.
1. You have to manually get IMF going again. From the Exchange System Manager, expand your server, then expand Protocols and SMTP. Right-click on the Default SMTP Virtual Server and select Properties. On the General tab click the Advanced button next to the IP Address drop-down. From the Advanced dialog box, highlight the appropropriate IP address and click Edit. On the resultant Identification dialog box, check the Apply Intelligent Message Filter check-box.
2. The default limit of the Exchange box doesn't just jump to 75 gig. You have to up the reg key. By default it does now jump from 16GB to 18GB. Here's how to change it:
a. Open a registry editor, such as Regedit.exe or Regedt32.exe.
b. Navigate to: HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeIS\Server-Name\Private-GUID
c. Change the "Database Size Limit in Gb" value (DWORD value if it's not there) to anything from 1 to 75. Remember to check your disk space available. You don't want the db to crash your server if it grows too high.
d. Close the registry editor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Longhorn SBS exclusively 64 bit

According to the Press Release from IT Forum 2005 in Barcelona, Spain, the new longhorn edition of SBS will be exclusively built for 64 bit hardware and only come in a 64 bit edition.

How will this affect you and your SBS installation? Well if you want to upgrade to Longhorn SBS in the 2007 time frame then you'll most definitely probably need a server upgrade as well.

For the IT consultant community out there that should really lead to a rise in consultant revenues and bottom lines for those that deploy SBS or resell the software or servers.

I better start looking at what's out there now and giving my clients some alternatives.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Remote HTTP Administration on SBS?

Boy has it been that long since I posted? Sorry to those of you that graciously have subscribed to my feed. It's been a hectic month. Totally swamped here at work and in the process we decided to move to a new house. Anyone like to help with a few hundred boxes to unpack? Or perhaps a piano to be moved?

OK OK enough of the chatter. I was enjoying the article over at the new on Using the Terminal Services through Internet Information Server and suddenly realized that in SBS 2003 I had never really used this option. The remote web workplace is great but sometimes when you're working down and dirty with a server you might want to quickly get to it and the extra steps of RWW are a little tedious for the Engineer type but great for the small business owner.

Well why did I never use it before? It's not included with SBS 2003. In Windows Server 2003 the option is under the WWW options of IIS. It's named Remote Administration (HTTP). SBS doesn't include the option thus forcing you to use RWW or a terminal services (remote desktop) client.

I'll have to ping the author of the above article to let him know of this.