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Month: April 2005

The joys of OEM junk . . .

Ok – so I got a phone call from a family friend here a little over a week ago requesting some tech support.  I stop by to take a look at the PC, and it’s in a state that’s not worth fixing.  It’s an older Gateway PC running Win98, and it won’t boot to Windows – just sticks at the Gateway GoBack screen.

So, I convince the friend that it’s time for a new PC, and proceed to order the parts & pieces to build them a nice new Athlon64 / Windows XP Pro / Office 2003 PC.

So, I’m installing the new PC tonight – and slave the old HD into the new PC to pull across what data I can.  I boot into Windows XP, and discover that I can’t access the drive.  Mind you, it shows up in Disk Management, but it won’t let me assign a drive letter, or do anything besides format – which I obviously don’t want to do.

So, I throw a question out to the gang (the SBS MVPs are the best tech support resource a guy could have – primarily because we’re all scarred & jaded after countless ‘Been There, Done That – what a pain in the neck!’ experiences.  Well, Handy Andy comes to the rescue and confirms my suspicions that it has something to do with GoBack.  Basically, GoBack changes the partition type to it’s own type 44 – which Windows doesn’t recognize and thus won’t access.  Andy suggested booting to the old drive, pressing the Space Bar when prompted to access GoBack and disable it.  Then boot into Windows on the old drive & uninstall GoBack.  That’s fine & dandy – but if you remember correctly, I can’t get past the GoBack screen on the old HD – I can’t even get into the GoBack menu to disable it, let alone boot to Windows 98 & uninstall.  So now what?

Ah ha – Google to the rescue  :^)

You can fix this without having to boot to the old drive.  What you need to do is to get yourself a partition editor uitlity.  Luckily, PowerQuest had their PTEdit utility.  Now, Symantec recently purchased PowerQuest, but I was surprised to find out that you can still download PowerQuest’s free utilities from this Symantec FTP site:


So, I downloaded the ptedit.zip, extracted it an ran it.  I selected the drive I wanted, then clicked ‘Change Type’ button to change the partition type from the GoBack type 44 to Fat32 (type 0B).  I saved the changes to disk, rebooted and Voila! I have full access to the old drive. 

From the mailbag: SBS, Print Servers and Error 61

So I get an email this afternoon from Mitch regarding a problem he’s been fighting:

“I have a HP laserjet setup on the network. It is using a castele print
server. It has an IP address and all the workstations have no problem
printing to it. Added to each workstation as a local printer using the
ip address. (added using generic card and ip address)

SBS Server refuses to print to this printer. I can ping it, It will let
me add the printer, and when i try to print to it it shows up in the
print queue, but then times out with the stupid error 61 I have been
reading about.“

Well, I personally haven’t seen this issue before.  As a pure shot in the dark, I suggested Mitch try disabling SMB Signing and see if that helped.  Well, I happened to get lucky as Mitch confirmed that disabling SMB Signing resolved the issue.  (And yes, that means that I have used my luck quota for this decade . . . so much for winning the lottery any time soon!)   So if you see this – you should try disabling SMB Signing on your SBS and see if that helps.  You can get step by step instructions from the M&M’s site:

But Mitch’s email raises another question:  When you run across a problem that just has to stumped, where do you go for help?  Blogs can contain several tech tidbits – but really aren’t a good source of tech support . . . and as much as I enjoy helping SBSers, I really don’t do email support.  Well, OK – I do . . . for my own customers with service agreements . . . so if you want email support – just ping me and I’ll fax over a contract for you to sign, and we can get started right after the check clears the bank  . . .  ;^)

But seriously – where do you find support for those tough, and downright weird issues?  Well, in SBS land you have a plethora of choices . . .   For community resources, you have:

Microsoft Public Newsgroups:  microsoft.public.windows.server.sbs

Grey’s SBS2k Yahoo! Group:

Mariette & Marina’s Smallbizserver.net forms:  (Registraiton required to access forums)

Nick’s SBS forum at Mark Minasi’s site:

And don’t forget that you always have official Microsoft support:

For Microsoft Partners – visit the Partner Managed newsgroups for free Microsoft PSS support:
Also – partners . . .  you are aware of Business Critical Phone Support, correct?  As a partner, you get a set number of Business Critical support incidents per year.  You have to sign in to the partner site and register with Business Critical support – but then you’re good to go.  So if you have a client that has a problem that is impairing their ability to work (server down, etc.) – you can call for Business Critical phone support – which is FREE . . . (but you have to be registered :^)

If you find a Microsoft Knowledgebase article that indicates you need to contact PSS to obtain the hotfix, know that HOTFIXES are FREE . . .  yep – they won’t even ask you for payment info.  Just follow the prompts when you call and one of your options will be ‘…to obtain a hotfix’

If you have a problem as a result of applying a Service Pack – contact PSS.  Just like hotfixes, SERVICE PACK support is FREE . . .  yep – free.  Just indicate when you call in that you are having a problem with Service Pack <whatever> and you’ll be good to go.

And finally – if you’ve exhausted all other avenues and are still having problems, call PSS for paid support.  A lot of small businesses look at the $245 price tag  and grumble – but I’ve got to tell you, that is one of the most undervalued bargins around.  What does that $245 get you?  A solution – and nothing less.  No matter how many phone calls or emails it takes, no matter how many PSS engineers get involved, it doesn’t matter – you *will* get the problem resolved. 

Luckily, I haven’t had to contact PSS but 3 times in 4 years . . . the first was a bug with the SBS2000 Technology Guarantee media where setup didn’t like the CD Key.  Took two days and several dozen regenerated CD Keys before we found one it liked.  But that’s what I get for being on the bleeding edge and moving from SBS4.5 to SBS2k the day after I got the media :^)    Second call was a Service Pack issue . . . applying SQL SP3a to an SBS2k box we acquired that was still at SQL GOLD . . .   MDAC upgrade blew up (we later determined) and was causing all sorts of issues.  Spent six hours with PSS on a Tuesday night working through that one.  Last call was just a few months ago.  Clean install of SBS2k3 that I was building in our shop.  Finished the install and was patching the box.  Applied the OWA gzip patch and Exchange SP1 and rebooted – and the box fell over – took an hour an a half to boot.  Discovered that booting into safe mode and disabling Exchange services let it boot normally.  That was another 6hr PSS call – working with two engineers no less . . .  :^)

The point is that Microsoft PSS ROCKS!  They are by and far the best vendor support I have ever experienced – and IMHO they set the standard for what Product Support should be.  There’s a lot of companies out there who charge less for support – but don’t provide anywhere near the level of support that Microsoft does.

Sharepoint permissions on SBS

Ok – I’ve gotten this question enough that it is definitely time to blog it:

On SBS 2003, you grant your users specifc permissions within your companyweb site (let’s say with Reader level access) – but you find that those users can still do anything they want with the site – add / edit / delete / design.


This is somewhat hidden – but by default, SBS adds the Domain PowerUsers security group as a member of the SharePoint Administrators security group – so if you used the Power User template when creating your users, they will automatically be Sharepoint admins regardless of the explicit permissions you grant within the companyweb site itself.  In order to correct this, open Active Directory Users & Computers, expand <your_domain> | My Business | Security Groups and open the Properties pages for the Sharepoint Administrators group.  On the Members tab, remove Domain Power Users and you should be good to go.  Note that none of your users will be able to access your companyweb site until you grant them permissions within the site.

Using Windows Sharepoint Services as an Extranet

Ok – so recently I’ve been asked several times about using Sharepoint Services as an extranet to securely exchange documents with customers and business partners.  The short answer is that this is very possible with Windows Sharepoint Services.  However, you must be familiar with the licensing considerations, and how those apply to vanilla Windows Server compared to Small Business Server . . .

First, Windows Sharepoint Services is a free add-on to Windows Server 2003 – and as such, access to WSS is bound by Windows Server licensing for the product it is installed on.  With vanilla Windows Server, we have two licensing modes – Per Server and Per User / Device.  It is also important to note that while you can enable anonymous access to WSS sites and bypass licensing considerations, for the purposes of enabling a secure extranet, we’re assuming that anonymous access will not be enabled.

With Per Server mode, you are using a concurrent licensing model – so you can have an unlimited number of users accessing the server (and thus any WSS sites) just as long as the maximum number of concurrent connections does not exceed the number of installed CALs.

With Per User / Per Device mode (formerly Per Seat mode), you must have a User or Device CAL for each unique User or Device that connects to the server.  Therefore, if you wanted 100 separate users to access the server (and thus any WSS sites), you would need 100 User CALs. 

Now, for vanilla Windows Server, you can also purchase an External Connector – which allows for an unlimited number of external users to connect to your server (and thus any WSS sites).  Note that an external user is defined as “a person who is not an employee, or similar personnel of the company or its affiliates, and is not someone to whom you provide hosted services using the server software” – so you would still require the necessary CALs for internal users.

So – to use Windows Sharepoint Services as an extranet solution on vanilla Windows Server, the licensing structure that works best is dependant on the number of concurrent external connections that you are anticipating, as well as the licensing mode you’re using for any other Windows servers in your domain.  For a stand-alone server, you would probably be best served with a Per Server licensing mode and a smaller number of CALs – as you would only need to license the maximum number of concurrent connections (whether internal or external users).  For a domain member server where the rest of the domain is using a Per User / Per Device mode, it makes sense to use the same Per User / Per Device mode on the WSS server, since your users / devices are already licensed.  In this scenario, you would then need to purchase User CALs for each named external User.  Once an organization is looking at more than 40 external users, then the External Connector makes sense (as Windows CALs are ~ $50 each, and the External Connector is ~ $2k).  Again, the External Connector only licenses external users – so you would need CALs for internal users.

Now, things get a little less flexible when we start to talk about Small Business Server.  First, remember that WSS is bound to the licensing mode / restrictions of the OS it’s installed on.  Second – we all know that SBS is always in Per User / Per Device licensing mode – we can’t do Per Server licensing with SBS.  As a result, we have to provide a CAL for each named User or Device that is going to be accessing (authenticating with) our SBS domain (we can’t use a concurrent connections model).  Third – there is no External Connector for SBS.  So what does this mean?  In simple terms, this means that if you want to use WSS on SBS as a secure extranet, you need an SBS CAL for each external user.  And since SBS is limited to 75 CALs total – you’re limited as to the number of external users who can access your WSS extranet (internal users + external users <= 75).

Does this suck for SBSers?  Yeah – kinda.  Although it is important to note that this wasn’t an intentional restriction.  Microsoft is aware of this restriction, and members of the SBS team have publicly stated* that they are going to correct this in future versions.  While they haven’t provided specifics on how they are going to correct this – I’m guessing we’ll either have an updated EULA that explicitly allows external authenticated connections to WSS sites, or the addition of an SBS External Connector sku.

* Guy Haycock stated this during the Microsoft Partner Tour stop here in Omaha on 3/28