Category Archives: 208

WHS & SBS: Approved for Backups

For more than a year I have been promoting the use of Windows Home Server as a local backup solution in a Small Business Server (SBS2003/SBS2008) environment (per these two blogs: blog1blog2). I already have WHS installed at most of my SBS customer sites.

It now seems as if Microsoft is now willing to say “Yes” — that using WHS to backup your workstations and servers is a viable and supported scenario!  Read more on Microsoft’s Technet site.

SBS without Exchange?

I hear it all the time … my customer wants an SBS server, but they don’t want to use Exchange. I don’t know about you, but the only reason I can think of why either the customer or the IT consultant would suggest not using Exchange is because they’ve never used it themselves, and therefore are scared that it’s too difficult to install or manage. I have installed SBS servers for almost 9 years. I barely know how to spell Exchange, yet I find Exchange very easy to manage.

But, if you still need convincing, here is a short list of 8 reasons why you should consider using Exchange features with your SBS server.

  1. Group calendering
  2. Shared public folders
  3. Centralized storage and management of all emails
  4. Easy recovery of deleted emails
  5. Email archiving
  6. Centralized scanning of email for spam/viruses BEFORE they reach the user’s inbox
  7. Access to email remotely via OWA
  8. Access to email via ActiveSync for cellphones and PDA’s

Remember, if each user is using a POP3 account via Outlook, then those emails are generally only being stored on the user’s computer, and therefore they are probably NOT being backed up. With Exchange, the emails are being stored on the server as well as being cached onto the user’s workstation. Sbs and Exchange make a great team!

Cheers!

Free Utility for Exchange Custom Filter

I’ve blogged previously about Exchange 2003 IMF (Intelligent Message Filter). One of the somewhat hidden features of Exchange 2003 and IMF is the ability to implement a custom weighting feature via an XML file. This feature first came out in IMF v2. MsExchange.org has a good article on how to implement the custom weighting feature of IMF.

However, there has always been a small issue with using the custom weighting feature — the custom XML file that you create has to be put inside a specific subfolder. The problem is that when Microsoft releases an update to IMF, the installation process creates a new sub folder automatically. However, the XML file is NOT autoimatically copied to the new folder.

What to do? Until recently, one had to remember to manually copy your XML file from the old folder to the new folder.

But now, Oliver Sommer (SBS/EBS MVP from Germany) has developed a free utility (Exchange Custom Weighting Feature XML Updater) that installs on your your server (works great with SBS 2003) and automatically copies your custom XML file to the new folder whenever a new IMF update has been installed. I’ve been personally running various beta and early versions of this utility successfully for more than a year.

Give it a try.

And if you like it, even though Oliver is offering the utiity for free, you may want to give him a small donation via PayPal. And while you are at his site, check out his Wake on Lan for SBS 2003 RWW utility!

Cheers!

SBS, WHS and Backup Software

One of my mottos has always been: “You cannot have enough backup!”. So, I am always investigating and testing backup software. When Microsoft first releasd Windows Home Server (WHS), I knew that this was a product I would be testing. Well, tonight, it saved my bacon!

My own SBS 2003 server that has been running for years experienced a serious hard drive failure. Fortunately I do use Raid-5 disk configuration. So I shut down the server, replaced the drive, fired up the server to rebuild the Raid, and then rebooted. But apparently something else was amiss, as Windows would not boot up properly, reporting a failure or corruption with Active Directory. After trying a couple of other options unsuccessfully, I decided to see if WHS would get me back online.

Yes, I use WHS as my backup software of choice for backing up my SBS 2003 server! (P.S. The WHS Team has an informative article here).

So, I pulled out my WHS Restore CD and booted my server off the CD. However, it did not load a driver for my NIC card. No problem, as I knew the drill: go to another workstation, fire up the WHS Console, view the backup directory for the computer in question (my SBS server), and copy the contents of the WHS Drivers for Recovery folder to a USB thumb drive, and rename the folder to DRIVERS. I then took the thumb drive back to the server, where the WHS restore screen has a convenient button to install additional drivers. An hour later my server was back online and operational!

Lessons learned? There are lots of vendors offering backup software solutions for the Windows marketplace. I have used Acronis, ShadowProtect, and others. These are all good products. But WHS is a real winner for me, and for many of my small business customers. I have WHS installed and backing up both SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 servers, plus serveral peer-to-peer networks. It just works! It has even recovered a Windows 7 Beta laptop for me!

Now, someone may say that offsite (or remote online) backups are required, and I would not argue that point at all. Remember: I believe in multiple levels of backup solutions. But for the small business and home environments, WHS is an excellent backup software solution.

Cheers!

 

Windows Mobile and DST

I can’t believe it’s 2009 and we still have issues with DST and calendar items! Several of us just discovered (here on Feb-10-2009) that an event we are entering for August 2009 in Outlook 2007 is showing up an hour earlier on our WM6.1 phones. I’ve downloaded the latest WM/DST patch and installed it on my WM6.1 phone, but appointments are still showing up an hour earlier. I tried rebooting the phone, but no change. AFAIK, Outlook and my Exchange/SBS 2003 box are up to snuff with patches.

Very frustrating …

Calyptix and SBS

I’ve been install Calyptix AccessEnforcer units recently in several SBS shops, both SBS 2003 and SBS 2008. The AE is a fully featured network security appliance, and comes in various models to fit different size organizations. What I like about Calyptix is its single price — no extra costs for end user licenses or to enable various features. It interfaces nicely with Active Directory for user level filtering and email quarantine. I plan to do more posts in the future on implementing SBS and Calyptix together.

ThirdTier Press Release

Two great friends and fellow MVP’s – Amy Babinchak and Eriq Neale – have combined forces to start ThirdTier, a new business venture providing support to the IT professionals in the SMB marketplace. Here is their press release:

Eriq Neale and I have launched a new company today. It’s called Third Tier. The company formalizes the remote support services that we have both been offering from some time. We will be adding subject matter experts to cover a wide variety of software in use today at the SMB.  

 

ThirdTier.net

Support Services for IT Professionals

 

Press Release

Contact: Amy Babinchak

Phone: (248) 890-1794

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 3, 2008

IT Support Services for Professionals

Royal Oak, MI, October 3, 2008:  Amy Babinchak and Eriq Neale, MS MVP’s, Authors and Speakers,  have teamed up in a new business venture to provide remote support services to IT professionals. By formalizing and centralizing the remote support services of highly skilled professionals across a wide range of products ThirdTier.net will be the place where IT professionals turn to when they need assistance to resolve that tough problem for their client. Third Tier will also offer SMB focused vendors the solution to the difficult problem of supporting a wide variety of skill sets in the SMB market space, thus making it easier for them to offer their products to small business customers.

·         Central location for IT Professionals to contract experts on a wide variety of technologies to remotely assist in problem resolution.

·         Experts providing vendors the solution to product support in the SMB market space.