Windows Server 2008 R2 DNS – Solved!

Something has been driving me absolutely INSANE – why does Windows Server 2008 DNS stop working intermittently and require either the service to be re-started or the whole server to be re-booted to get it working again?

After 2 years of this annoyance I decided to spend lots of time to get this working, and many phone calls and harrasment of various Microsoft Partner organisations and Microsoft Technical Support later… I think there is finally a
fix that works and stops it falling over!

The problem, according to Microsoft appears to be that Windows is more advanced than the rest of the Internet, and falls over occasionally when trying to deal with other non E-DNS aware servers (or something like that)

Open Command Prompt (with Run As Administrator)

Type dnscmd /config /EnableEDNSProbes 0

Close the Command Prompt

Open Services (Start, Run, Services.msc)

Right-click on the DNS Server item, Click on Tasks and choose ReStart

Working!

Folder called Reports requires extra username and password?

We have had a recurring, and very annoying problem on some of our live servers – when trying to access any folder in IIS called “reports” it was asking for additional login information, and not showing the actual content from the folder. A bit of digging revealed that the culprit was SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services.

Turning off Reporting Services didnt have any effect, we just got a 503 Error.

Resolution:

Click on Start

Type in Reporting Services Configuration Manager

Click on Report Manager URL on the left hand side of the Reporting Services Configuration Manager – by default it is set to “Reports”, as you can see here, we have already changed ours to “SQLReports”

Please leave a comment if this has helped you resolve the same problem we had!

Could Dropbox replace the Small Office Server?

It started as many IT Consultancy visits do – a “quick visit” to sort out a minor problem with sending an email at a small business (9 members of staff with a PC each), and then, out of nowhere comes the question that we dread when on a tight time-scale with the next month already booked up in advance… “we need an server to share files for all of us – could you set that up for us… we need it next week, will it cost much?” In default “IT Consultant Mode” I started explaining the costs of the physical hardware, the Windows Server licence, how long it would take to order, install and configure on each PC, and then, just as I was explaining the electricity cost, I stopped.. Thinking back I wonder if my customer thought I had lost it completely, as I stopped open-mouthed and went “AAAHHH” far too loud, and then I asked a question I have never uttered before..

“There might be a better way – have you heard of DropBox?”

She replied that she hadn’t, and enquired as to what it was. It was then that it struck me, on every previous occasion, what was it that always got added on the end of the shared files question… “can I access them at home?” and I started my explanation with a question: “Would you like to be able to access and update the shared documents from home?”. To say that the customer was shocked was an understatement as she struggled to contain her enthusiasm “you mean I could actually do that???” So I proceeded to explain over the course of about 10 minutes the two possible routes – the traditional route with the server, the new router, the VPN, the approximate cost of £2400 all in, and the new route – the brand new option – Dropbox, which is free for up to 2Gb of storage. I asked what was being stored in the file store, and emphasised the importance of not storing personal information in the new dropbox folder if we were to use it, and the answer “no, its just for a few policies and procedures” meant it was a perfect fit. So, 30 minutes after arriving on-site to fix email, all staff have dropbox installed on their PC with a nice DropBox shortcut on their desktop to the folder, the owner has had the dropbox guided tour and actually understands it all (and added Dropbox on her iPhone there an then), and wow – it works (and is still working) perfectly. One very, very happy customer, with a solution that when coupled in the near future with Office 365 will result in not needing any server for the office at all. Dropbox I salute you – a wonderful new technology that can be applied to revolutionise business file sharing.

The perils of dropbox when its not understood

It all started with a very panicked phone call, one of our customers was exceptionally worried – she had been deleting files from her computer and then realised that they were no longer available on her iPhone…. And it took me a while to register that last part… On her phone..? Oohhh and then it hit me – the company in question were using DropBox!

So, rewind several weeks, and a local company who have no IT experts amongst their staff needed a way to share their standard corporate documents with a new office in Belfast, budget was a real issue, and a VPN was out of the question, so I had recommended  that Dropbox would be a good solution. It was diligently installed on their server and done so well, that none of the staff noticed any changes (something that would turn out not to be a good thing) – they still accessed their documents through the mapped drive to “Shared staff documents” on their computers.

But things did not end there – unknown to us the company director and one member of staff didn’t quite understand the concept (fault of not explaining it properly entirely mine) and after I had left the site, they downloaded dropbox and put it on their own machines…. Which don’t have sufficient hard disk space to store the 30Gb+ of documents that were then synchronised across the network to their pcs. The first signs of concern was an email saying that the network was running very slowly, but a different local it person visited the site and rebooted the server, and suddenly all was well… (as it turns out, really not well – the dropbox service hadn’t started, so it appeared to have worked, but the moment anyone logged on to the server it started the service again…)

To resolve the mounting issue of lack of disk space the staff with locally installed started deleting documents from the new local dropbox folder…. And that is when the disaster started taking hold…. Nearly 3Gb of documents permanently deleted in moments… Everywhere, in every office… Gone.

Thankfully the panicked phone call stopped all that, and order is now restored (and all documents recovered – a wonderful dropbox feature!) with a big bit of learning – training, training, training – absolutely essential!

The wonder of Hyper-V

With Hyper-V, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of the cost savings of virtualization through Windows Server 2008 R2. Optimize your server hardware investments by consolidating multiple server roles as separate virtual machines
running on a single physical machine, efficiently run multiple different operating systems in parallel, on a single server, and fully leverage the power of x64 computing.

We have rolled out Hyper-V in our office and now have no physical Windows Servers that provide services. The only bare-metal servers run Hyper-V.

Storage is dealt with by an HP DL380 server set up as a SAN so that the Hyper-V front-end servers connect via iSCSI to the SAN.

Front-end servers are now:

HP DL160 G5, 2 x 2.0GHz Xeon Quad-core CPUs with 32Gb RAM

HP DL160 G6, 2 x 3.04GHz Xeon Quad-core CPUs with 64Gb RAM

Hp Server to the rescue

Our current virtual platform was beginning to creak around the edges so it was finally time to add to the server farm….

Today we rolled out live an addition to our current Hyper-V roll-out – a top of the range HP DL160 G6 server with two quad-core Intel Xeon CPU’s and 64Gb RAM.

Soon to be upgraded to 6 gigabit ethernet ports to ensure high-speed connectivity between the Hyper-V front end on the server and the iSCSI SAN and facilitate Live Migration and load-ballancing across the Hyper-V font-end servers.

Its running Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with Hyper-V Role and generates a significant amount of heat!

 

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 – DNS stops working

We have recently upgraded to Windows Server 2008 R2 and now, at random
intervals DNS stops working. After lots of trawling the web, it appears that the
problem is experienced by almost everyone – and is caused by Microsoft’s “E”
DNS. The only way to get DNS working again is then to re-start the DNS service –
something that is a complete pain, not to mention time-consuming!

Thankfully we have found a simple fix:

Open command prompt

Type: dnscmd /config /EnableEDNSProbes 0

press Enter.

 

Sorted.