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Archive | May, 2004

Exchange 2003 Recovery Storage Groups

I attended the MS Technet Briefing yesterday that covered both Virtual PC 2004, which I have already started using myself, and Exchange 2003 disaster recovery, which I have experience with in prior versions, but not so much in 2003. I was blown away by the new Recovery Storage Group feature. The presenter demonstrated both a recovery of deleted items from a single user’s mailbox, and he showed what was called a dial-tone recovery of an Exchange Information Store.

For anyone that hasn’t done an Exchange disaster recovery, this may not be that impressive, but here are the steps for a single-server disaster recovery of a crashed Exchange Private Information Store (not a crashed Windows server). This outline assumes a good backup from the previous night.

  1. Information Store crashes, and the administrator is notified.
  2. Administrator stops the Exchange services and moves the corrupt copies of the priv1.edb and priv1.stm files to another location for possible recovery at a later time.
  3. Administrator restarts the information store service and the IS fails to mount. Administrator mounts the IS and is informed that this will result in the creation of a blank database. Administrator accepts the warning. USERS ARE NOW ABLE TO SEND AND RECEIVE EMAIL. Total elapsed time to this point should be less than 10 minutes.
  4. Administrator creates a recovery storage group in the Exchange System Manager disaster recovery section.
  5. Administrator begins a restore of the Exchange database to the RSG. (This will happen automatically, since the mounted blank database that is currently in use is protected from overwrite by the restore process, and the RSG database is automatically configured to allow an overwrite by a restore. The administrator does not have to tell the backup to do anything other than restore the IS backup.)
  6. At this point, Administrator has a choice to either begin an Exmerge of the data from the restored database into the newly created blank copy, which could take a significant period of time, or to swap the recovered database with the live blank one and then import only the new items from the mostly blank database.

As anyone who has ever done an alternate server recovery with Exchange can attest, this process is incredibly simple and fast!!!! Way to go, MS. This feature, alone, is almost worth the cost of an upgrade to Exchange 2003.

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Browser hijackers can be more dangerous than some people think

One of the biggest problems I have seen recently, both in corporate and home environments, is the unwitting hijacking of users’ computers by various malicious software, some of the most common of which are browser hijackers. This is an article at Wired magazine that should give you pause. You have to be EXTREMELY careful when you go to any website that you don’t know. The next time someone forwards you that funny game that is out there on the Internet, give it a little thought before you actually go get it.

Here is a list of resources that I use to combat spyware and malware on users’ computers:

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Hybrid car technology – is it as good as they say?

Wow is all I can say. I read this article at Wired magazine, and then I went to Pete Blackshaw’s blog about his real-world experience with his Civic hybrid, and I have to admit that it may have changed my mind about buying a hybrid as my next car. I am a little concerned, and I hope by the time I am actually ready to buy one that they will have improved the technology to actually achieve their mileage estimates in the real world. Only time will tell.

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Sasser worm author confesses

Here is a slew of links to the coverage of the apprehension of the Sasser worm author:

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Iomega Rev35 Drive

This article at PC Magazine is a review of the new Iomega Rev35 drive, which stores 35GB of uncompressed data on a removable disk. The drive attaches via USB 2.0 to any PC with a USB port (it is backward compatible with USB 1.1, though the speed would probably preclude use on a non-USB2 machine). There are plans for a Firewire version that will support Mac OSX, but that is not yet shipping. The drive has some pretty impressive statistics, and according to the Iomega site, it is qualified to work with many of the major backup software platforms, such as Veritas Backup Exec 9.1, Dantz Retrospect, and CA Brightstore. The only real down side I see at this point is the cost of the media, coming in at around $50 per cartrdige. Anyone who needs more capacity and better reliability than a DDS 4 tape solution, though, would do well to consider this.

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Microsoft Security Summit – Philadelphia

I am sitting in the Microsoft security summit in Philadelphia, and I wanted to provide some thoughts on what has happened so far. The keynote address was given by Bret Arsenault, Microsoft’s Strategic Security Advisor Team Lead. During his presentation, he showed one slide with resources for security information. The last item on the list was, “Security Blogs”. The image on the screen was of an ASP powered blog with the Syndication and orange XML icons visible – neither was mentioned. In fact, Arsenault’s quote was, “and lastly, Security Blogs – I’ll leave it at that. I hate the term blogs.” That was it. That was all he had to say about the benefits of weblogs related to security for the attendees. What a collosal lost opportunity. I hope Robert Scoble reads this and gives Bret a hard time when he is back in Redmond next week.

I would have loved to see Bret mention the syndication capabilities of RSS/XML on weblogs that allow people to follow developments, like security issues. I would have loved for him to mention that there were blogs being written by many of the teams at Microsoft that write the programs we all use every day. I would have liked for him to mention that many webloggers are among the most well informed on the Internet regarding any number of issues, including security issues relating to specific applications.

What this type of thing shows us in the community is that we have a LONG way to go in evangelizing the usefullness and applicability of weblogs, even to the IT industry.

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