Fun with Storage Spaces Part 2

What we are trying to achieve:

Setup a low cost enterprise solution
Create a storage environment with redundancy but provides decent throughput
Use home equipment to accomplish this (PC box, not Server class hardware)
Verify pros and cons of 3d party solutions (FreeNAS, ZFS, unRAID) compared to Storage Spaces

No added software or hardware needed if you use storage space
You can get support from Microsoft – not freeware with limited support
If you need to upgrade the OS it can be much easier to do the upgrade

Presence of Storage Spaces can be picked up by OS (Windows 8 picked up the storage space and imported it during one of our tests)

Basically: Is using Storage Spaces a viable alternative to other redundancy solutions.       .                           Cost and efficacy will be the primary factors examined


Computer Specs:

CPU: I7-3770
Mobo: Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H
RAM:  32GB Ram (4x8GB Ram chips of G.Skill Ripjaws 1866mhz)
HDD:  5x HDD 4TB     (Seagate ST4000VN000)
4x HDD 2TB     (Seagate ST2000DL003)
2x SSD 120GB (Kingston SH103S3/120G)
1x SSD 256GB (Samsung 840 Pro SSD)
NIC:    1x Dual Port Gigabit Ethernet PCI-E Card
SATA Port Extender: 2x SATA PCI Express Card (SI-PEX40064) (4hdds are                                         plugged into this
PSU:  1x EVGA 1300Watt PSU
Video Card: 1x MSI 7950 Twin Frozr III

Benchmark tools to be used

Crystal Disk Mark
Atto Bench32
IO Meter

Backing up WIndows 8 Part 2- File History

Here is another post as I delve into Windows 8 backups.  There is a great feature called “File History”.  As you will know from my previous post I am looking into using “Previous Versions”.  I still have not gotten to any conclusions about that but did run across this gem in the process.  This is another built in backup system for Windows 8.  All you need is an external source to store the historical data.  It can be stored on a direct attached device like an external hard drive or a USB key or it can be saved to a network location like a file server or a NAS. Once you give it a location, Windows 8 will do all the dirty work for you: it will copy all your files over to the storage location.
To turn on “File History” you will need to go to:
Control Panel (small icons)->File History or
Control Panel (Category)-> System and security-> File History

To turn “File History” on you will need to give it a location to which you wish to save your file history.  Once you pick the location and give it enough time to start storing your file history you will see a list of options

file history

This is one place you can do a restore.  The other – and much more convenient location – is on the file explorer ribbon.  This does imply, of course, that you have the ribbon showing on your file explorer- if not just click the down arrow in the top right corner to see the ribbon.  And there, in the middle of the ribbon, in the “Open” tab you will see that the “History” icon is now available for use once you select a file or a folder.

file explorer ribbon 2


Backing up WIndows 8 Part 1 – System backups

How do I backup my PC?  Seems a bit like the answer should be obvious, right… Well, it is not all that obvious as it turns out.  I started to write this post with the intention of talking about the “Previous Versions” feature of Windows 8 but hit a stumbling block: before doing any testing I always try to run a backup.  So I went to the Modern interface and using the awesome “type anywhere” feature I just started typing “backup”.  I reported back twice for file history but there was nothing for backups per se.  Odd… Microsoft would not have overlooked such a core items as backing up would they!?

Thankfully the answer is no- it has not been overlooked.  If you open control panel there are 2 ways to find the backup:

1) if you are using the large/small icons then look all the way down at the bottom of the list and you will see “Windows 7 File Recovery” – No, that was not a typo it is actually called “Windows 7 File Recovery”
2) If you are using the category view you have to navigate to “system and security” then “file history” and look down in the bottom left corner there you will see “Windows 7 File Recovery” – hidden but still working just like expected

Stay tuned for the “previous versions blog entry 🙂

Fun with Storage Spaces (Part 1 – Intro)

As I have said before: I need help.  Once again my addiction has gotten the better of me and I have decided to take on another interesting project.  However, this time I am not alone.  During this journey I will be working with 2 of my closest colleagues: Andre Potel and Jamie Belair.

This mission is quite interesting: with the price of storage dropping and their storage capacity increasing one new tool to Windows 8 (and Server 2012) seems to get more and more interesting: Storage Spaces.  Tape drives are expensive.  NAS boxes are expensive.  Why spend money if you don’t have to? (You can always buy different toys with your savings J ) Up until recently tapes and NAS devices were the best way to store data but is that still the case?

So here is the initial idea: Is it feasible to start using Storage Spaces as a backup system?  Over the next few articles we will look at speed of storage and the cost of storage, take these factors, and weight them against more traditional storage options like tape drives, NAS boxes and RAID systems.

If you have never heard of Storage Spaces below you will find some interesting links to get you started.  Over the next few weeks I will post a series of articles detailing this work. The next article will most likely focus on the hardware we are going to use.  Subsequent articles will follow detailing speed and functionality testing.

  1. Technet article on “Storage Spaces Overview”7
  2. Technet article ”Deploy Storage Spaces on a Stand-Alone Server”


Unable to PING XP desktop


Here is a problem we ran into recently.

Trying to setup RDP to an XP machine and it failed every time we tried.  Anti-virus was turned off.  Network connections were checked.  We had run through most of the list when we came upon this little message:

Windows Firewall error message

Gotta love specific error messages :/

As it turns out there are a few issues first off:
Open Command Prompt and run:
Rundll32 setupapi,InstallHinfSection Ndi-Steelhead 132 %windir%\inf\netrass.inf

This will register the DLL.  Then:

Reboot the computer
Open Command Prompt and run:
Netsh firewall reset
Open Services.msc
Start the “Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)” service

The full credit for this pearl of knowledge goes out to the team at Cistel Technologies Inc – Jamie and Mits were the go-to guys for this and they got ‘er done like always 🙂

Recovering from a corrupt profile


During the course of routine operations in any IT organization (and most businesses) changes are made to end-use PCs quite often.  Problems arise at times that can impact user productivity. One of our challenges as IT Pros is getting the user back up and being productive as quickly as possible.  Here is a quick fix for a fairly common problem: the dreaded “You have been logged on with a temporary profile”.  This problem occurs when the user’s profile becomes corrupted.  Any data saved in this temporary profile will be deleted upon the next reboot.  There are many ways to solve this problem but the quickest (and relatively easiest) is as follows:

1)  Logon to the PC using the temporary profile
2) Launch regedit (start – run – regedit)
3) BACKUP THE REGISTRY – although not required for the fix to work it is always a good idea: in the REGEDIT window click file and export.  Save the export – this is your backup copy.  Should things go sideways you can just import the file and your registry will be restored to it’s previous state
4) navigate to: Hive Key Local Machine – Software – Microsoft – Windows NT – Current version – Profile list
5)  This is where the fix happens!  You will see 2 entries with the same GUIDs (that weird sequence of numbers (focus just on the long ones – the short sequence is something different.  In that long sequence there will be two entries that are the same except one will end in “.bak”.
6) Rename the one WITHOUT “.bak” (just change the last digit) and THEN delete the one with “.bak”
7) reboot and login!
Now you can relax and put your feet up 🙂