Free File Sync Utilities

In my never ending quest to find low-cost (OK … free) utilities, I recently needed to find a file-syncing utility for several small clients. Specifically we were looking for a utility to sync one or more folders from a computer to an external USB hard drive. Suprisingly, Microsoft had three of the four utilities I tested. Each utility has there merits and places. Perhaps on a future post I will list the Pros and Cons of each.


  • Robocopy – Microsoft’s long time command line utility since the NT days
  • FolderShare – Microsoft’s very network-friendly utility to sync files & folders
  • SyncToy – Microsoft’s latest sync utility for XP and Vista
  • Allway Sync – A highly recommended third party sync utility, with both free and paid versions

RoboCopy


Those who have used this utility in the past know that this is an invaluable tool in the IT/Tech toolbox. It simply works and works well. The current version is part of Microsoft’s 2003 Resource Kit Tools. Don’t be fooled … although it says 2003, these tools work equally will on XP and Vista (but NOT support 645 bit OS). There is also a Robocopy GUI add-on, but I have not used it.


FolderShare


When I first heard about FolderShare from a Microsoft employee. I could not believe that Microsoft had been keeping this utility a secret. Not only does it allow you to keep files synced betweek your devices, you can also share files with friends and remotely download files from any web browser. And did I say that it’s free? Consider it a poor man’s Groove or Sharepoint.


Sync Toy


The third free utility from Microsoft is SyncToy (version 1.4). There’s also SyncToy 2.0 Beta available that’s 64-bit compatible. It’s labeled beta, but has been tested even more than the 1.4 version. I was very impressed with how easy this was to set up and use.


Allway Sync


The last utility I looked at, Allway Sync is a product of USOV Lab in Virginia, and is the only non-Microsoft free solution. They offer both a free version for private use, and an inexpensive ($19.95) pro version for commercial and business purposes. You not only can sink to other computers or USB devices, but for they also have a portable U3 version as well.

Use WHS to back up SBS

Why not?


Simply install the WHS Connector CD from the SBS console, run the setup.exe program, enter your WHS server’s password, and let it configure itself, and you’re done.


One piece of advice: I would suggest scheduling the SBS Backup utility (commonly called NTBackup) to make a backup of the Exchange store and have that complete prior to the WHS backup kicking off. The SBS backup utility is “Exchange aware” and will make sure that your Exchange log files are flushed.


Similarly, you could also schedule stsadm to do a backup of youre Companyweb/Sharepoint database. Instructions for doing this can be found in the Microsoft’s Backing Up and Restoring SBS white paper or on the SBS Diva blog site.


-kw

Event 1011: SP1 for .Net 2.0 / 3.0

I installed SP1 for .Net 2.0 and .Net 3.0 on my test SBS server. Upon rebooting, I was getting a lot of Event Id 1101 .NET Runtime Optimization Error messages.


Event Type: Error
Event Source: .NET Runtime Optimization Service
Event Category: None
Event ID: 1101
Date:  1/24/2008
Time:  2:00:48 AM
User:  N/A
Computer: SBS1
Description:
.NET Runtime Optimization Service (clr_optimization_v2.0.50727_32) – Failed to compile: Microsoft.ReportingServices.QueryDesigners, Version=9.0.242.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=89845dcd8080cc91 . Error code = 0x80070002


If the errors doesn’t go away, go into Add/Remove Programs and run a repair on Microsoft Report Viewer Redistributable 2005. This has helped in some cases in clearing the problem.


 

NOLA Conference and Cheap Fares

Jeff Middleton’s 3-day NOLA conference and optional 5-day Cruise is fast approaching. The dates are May 9-11 for the conference, and May 12-17 for the cruise.


This conference title: IT Pro Conference 2008, “Transition Strategies: Migrations, Upgrades, and Services” says it all!


In booking my flights, I discovered that Southwest Airlines flies into New Orleans and has some inexpensive pricing. They have some web specials once you go online. Obviously, prices will change and vary, but at the time of writing this post … here are some one way prices I saw on their site:


Tampa to New Orleans – $69 one way
Chicago to New Orleans – $129 one way
Dallas to  New Orleans – $65 one way


See you in ‘Nawlins!


-kw


 

PST on a Network Folder – Not!

We’ve had some recent posts in one of the SBS listserves asking how to manage Outlook archived PST files for users, and it was asked if the PST files could be stored on the server.


Microsoft’s KB 297019 specifically says that .pst, .ost, and .pab files are not designed to be stored on a network server and such a configuration is NOT supported. Additionally the Microsoft Exchange team has a blog post titled “Why Network stored PST files are a bad idea”.


Saying all that, some people are doing just that … placing the .pst files on a network shared folder. If this works for you, fine. But remember that your remote laptop users will not be able to access their networked .pst files, even if they connect via VPN.


You could look into offline synchronization to allow PST files to sync. But by default, .pst files are excluded from doing that. However, Microsoft KB article (KB 252509) documents a registry edit to change the default exclusion list if you wish to allow PST files to be sync’d (Thanks to Travis Creighton for pointing out this KB article!).


Finally, there is a Microsoft tool for Backing up Outlook Personal folders. The documentation for this tool says that it supports Outlook 2002 and 2003. I also found an additional article (KB 886589) that indicates that it should also work with Outlook 2007.


What’s your experience with all of this?


[Edited to include information on the tool for backing up personal Outlook folders]

Permission to Distribute Adobe Reader

A recent post in the newsgroup reminded me that we should all be more diligent in obtaining permission to use and distribute third party software. Case in point is with Adobe’s PDF Reader. Do you download the installation .exe file, store it on your server,  and then copy and install it on every new workstation? Or do you create CD’s for sales/demos, and include a copy of Adobe Reader on it?


Yes, Adobe’s Reader is free. And for personal / individual use, no request is necessary. But for business purposes, you should ask and obtain permission from Adobe to distribute the program. And it’s easy to do. Here’s the link:


http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/distribute.html


In addition, Adobe provides tools to customize the installation process (such as ‘silent install’) as well as the ability to distribute and install Adobe Reader via Group Policy. Read more here:


http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/solutions/it/deployment.html


-kw

Modifying SBS Backup

There’s always a fine line between tweaking to make something work, and tweaking just because you can. I’m not sure what camp this post belongs in.


BKRunner.exe is the SBS program that wraps around the NTBackup utility. BKRunner generates the email report at the completion of the backup, and is what forces a verify to be performed.


Chris Knight has posted on his blog how to tweak the BKRunner.exe in order to gain some performance improvements when  doing backups, as well as how to disable the automatic verify.


 

When to install Service Packs on SBS

Our SBS MVP Google-King, Merv Porter, has some good advice as to when to install service packs/security patches while installing SBS.


Service Packs are cumulative (see ‘Road Map’ link below).  So, you can substitute Windows 2003 SP2 for SP1 during the install procedure for SBS
2003 SP1 (see below).  You can also substitute Exchange 2003 SP2 for SP1 in that procedure.  Generally, it is not recommended to allow servers to be
updated “automatically” from Windows Update.  Also, when installing SBS from scratch, it’s recommended to install the base OS (CD1), then complete the
SBS component setup (Contrinue Setup icon on the desktop), then do the Service Pack installs and Windows updates.

Windows Service Pack Road Map

How to install Service Pack 1 for SBS 2003

After you’ve installed SBS 2003, download and run the SBS 2003 BPA to see if it can find any problems with your installation or configuration.

Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices Analyzer

How to Use the Windows SBS 2003 BPA

SBS BPA Known Issues/Common Questions


Accessing WHS remotely

After getting WHS up and running, I wanted to see what it would take to access WHS remotely. Because my router already forwards such ports as 443, 3389 and 4125 to my SBS Premium server, I was stepping into fairly unknown waters for me. As I tell people, I barely can spell “ISA”.


Assumptions / Prerequisites:
1. I was hoping to take an approach that would NOT mess with how I currently access my SBS server via RWW, OWA, RDP. And I almost succeeded. Unfortuantely port 4125 (RWW) can be changed on the SBS server, but it is hard coded for WHS. I will address the 4125 issue in a followup post.


2. For this first attempt, I knew that I would NOT be using the WHS generated domain name (*.homeserver.com), since I would have conflicts with the SSL on my SBS box and SSL on my WHS box. So, my plan was to use my public URL and the SBS self-signed cert that I use to access my SBS server.


I use TZO since my SBS server is on a dynamic IP. So I have a TZO URL (xxx.tzo.com) pointing to the public IP address of my SBS server. Since https://xxx.tzo.com/remote is routed to my SBS box, my goal is to configure ISA so that https://xxx.txo.com/whsremote takes me directly to my WHS box.


3. Because I would not be using the WHS SSL cert, I would be using https to get to my SBS box, but then http to forward requests to my WHS box. 


Setup:
I have a fairly standard 2-nic SBS Premium network setup. The Verizon FIOS modem is attached to a Linksys DSL/cable router box, which is connect to NIC-1 on my SBS server. NIC-2 is attached to a switch where all my other workstations and WHS server are connected.


SBS Server Changes:


ISA Rules:
For this first attempt, I used the SBS Web Listener already in place rather than creating an additional new web listener in ISA. So all I had to do was to create a new Web Publishing rule in ISA (right click on Firewall Policy, New > Web Server Publishing Rule), with the following details:


Name of rule: WHS
Action: Allow
From: Anywhere
To: KWHOME (this is the computer name of my WHS server)
Do not enable forward original host headers
Select ‘Requests appear to come from the ISA server’
Listener: SBS Web Listener
Public Name: all requests
Paths:
External: /whsremote/*   Internal: /home/*
External: <same as internel name> Internal: /remote/*
Bridging: Enable ‘Redirect requests to HTTP port 80′, Disable ‘Redirect requests to SSL port’
Users: ALL


Edit Hosts file:
On my SBS server I edited the HOSTS file (located at c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc) using Notepad, and included the following line:
10.0.0.22 kwhome.homeserver.com


WHS Server Changes: 


Disable WHS requirement for SSL:
Go to IIS on the WHS box and disable the SSL requirement for the WHS default web site.


Access the WHS Windows desktop, and click on Start > All Programs > IIS
Drill down Web Sites > Default Web Site > Remote
Right click on Remote and click Properties
Click on the Directory Security tab
Click Edit
Uncheck ‘Require secure channel (SSL)’


RegEdits:
I applied the following regedits to the WHS server to address RSS/TCPChimney issues. It may not be necessary for all cases:


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters]
“EnableTCPChimney”=dword:00000000
“EnableTCPA”=dword:00000000
“EnableRSS”=dword:00000000


With these changes, from any remote computer I can go to https://xxx.tzo.com/whsremote and login to my WHS server. I can also browse shared folders, and upload/download files. But I cannot remotely access the WHS console or workstations via RWW on the WHS server, as I need to tweak 4125. That’s for a later blog.