Windows Tips &amp Tricks UPDATE, March 22, 2004, —brought to you by the Windows &amp .NET Magazine Network and the Windows 2000 FAQ site
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FAQs

  • Q. How can I assign a static IP address in Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 if I've selected the "Shared Networking (NAT)" networking option?
  • Q. How can I configure Windows NT 4.0 emulation on my Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) domain controllers (DCs)?
  • Q. If I have a Windows XP machine that has lots of memory, can I improve performance by removing the pagefile?
  • Q. After I use the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Recovery Storage Group, do I need to delete its contents?
  • Q. Can I move Microsoft Exchange Server systems between administrative groups?
  • Q. Why don't I see the boot.ini file when I run the Msconfig utility?

Commentary
by John Savill, FAQ Editor, jsavill@winnetmag.com

This week, I tell you how to assign a static IP address in Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 if you've selected the "Shared Networking (NAT)" networking option and how to configure Windows NT 4.0 emulation on Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) domain controllers (DCs). I also explain why you won't detect any performance gain after you remove the Windows XP pagefile and discuss whether you need to delete the contents of the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Recovery Storage Group after you're finished using it, whether you can move Exchange servers between administrative groups, and what to do if you don't see the boot.ini file when you run the Msconfig utility.


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FAQs

Q. How can I assign a static IP address in Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 if I've selected the "Shared Networking (NAT)" networking option?

A. When you select the "Shared Networking (NAT)" option, Virtual PC 2004 clients by default obtains an IP address (in the 192.168.131.0/24 subnet) from the DHCP server that Virtual PC 2004 emulates. If you want to create a static IP address, you must use the following details:

IP address range: 192.168.131.175 - 192.168.131.200
Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0
Gateway: 192.168.131.254

After you configure these networking settings, Virtual PC 2004 will have full Network Address Translation (NAT) access. If you encounter problems, try setting the TCP/IP properties to DHCP to ensure that the networking settings work as a DHCP client.

Q. How can I configure Windows NT 4.0 emulation on my Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) domain controllers (DCs)?

A. Windows XP and Win2K clients always prefer to authenticate against an Active Directory (AD) DC. After these clients discover such a DC, they won't use other available NT 4.0 DCs for authentication. The clients establish this preference by setting a flag in their local security database. For example, if you plan to upgrade only your PDC to Windows 2003 and you have several NT 4.0 BDCs, the Windows 2003 DC will authenticate all XP and Win2K clients, which could cause performance problems. To help ensure that you don't overload the Windows 2003 DC, you can configure it to emulate an NT 4.0 DC by performing the following steps:

  1. Log on to the NT 4.0 PDC before you upgrade it.
  2. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
  3. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Netlogon\Parameters registry subkey.
  4. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
  5. Enter the name NT4Emulator, then press Enter.
  6. Double-click the new value, set it to 1, then click OK.

For subsequent BDC upgrades, you can perform the same registry update. However, before you do, you need to neutralize the Windows 2003 DC's NT 4.0 emulation; otherwise, you won't be able to use Dcpromo to upgrade other servers to DCs because Dcpromo will see only an NT 4.0 DC in the domain. To prepare to upgrade other BDCs to Windows 2003,in addition to adding the above registry entry on each BDC, you need to navigate to the registry subkey in Step 3 and add the registry entry NeutralizeNT4Emulator (of type REG_DWORD) with a value of 1. You should also set the NeutralizeNT4Emulator value on any XP and Win2K clients on which you want to use the administration tools to manage the AD domain.

After all the DCs are running Windows 2003 or you have enough to handle the XP and Win2K client traffic, you can remove the NT4Emulator registry entry and restart the DCs. While the DCs are running in NT4Emulator mode, clients won't download or implement any Group Policy Objects (GPOs) unless the clients have the NeutralizeNT4Emulator registry entry set.

Q. If I have a Windows XP machine that has lots of memory, can I improve performance by removing the pagefile?

A. Any program that runs on an Intel 386 or later system can access up to 4GB of RAM, which is typically far more memory than is physically available on a machine. To make up for the missing physical memory, the OS creates a virtual address space, known as virtual memory, in which programs can see their own 4GB memory space. (This virtual address space consists of two 2GB portions--one for the program and one for the OS.) The OS is responsible for allocating and mapping to physical RAM those parts of the program or memory that are currently active.

To work around a machine's physical RAM limitations, a local file known as the pagefile stores pages (in 4KB increments) that aren't in use. (One installation can have multiple pagefiles.) When a program needs to access a page from the pagefile, the OS generates a page fault that instructs the system to read the page from the pagefile and store it in memory. Because disks are much slower than memory, excessive page faults eventually degrade performance. A computer's RAM consists of two sections. The first section, the non-paged area, stores core OS information that's never moved to the pagefile. The second section, the paged area, contains program code, data, and inactive file system cache information that the OS can write to the pagefile if needed.

Although the discussion so far might lead you to believe that Windows stores only active code and data (plus the core OS) in physical RAM, Windows actually attempts to use as much RAM as possible. Often, the OS uses RAM to cache recently run programs so that the OS can start these programs more quickly the next time you use them. If the amount of available free RAM on your computer is low and an application needs physical RAM, the OS can remove from RAM pages of memory used to cache recently run programs or move non-active data pages to the pagefile.

So, if you have a lot of RAM, you don't need a pagefile, right? Not necessarily. When certain applications start, they allocate a huge amount of memory (hundreds of megabytes typically set aside in virtual memory) even though they might not use it. If no pagefile (i.e., virtual memory) is present, a memory-hogging application can quickly use a large chunk of RAM. Even worse, just a few such programs can bring a machine loaded with memory to a halt. Some applications (e.g., Adobe Photoshop) will display warnings on startup if no pagefile is present.

My advice, therefore, is not to disable the pagefile, because Windows will move pages from RAM to the pagefile only when necessary. Furthermore, you gain no performance improvement by turning off the pagefile. To save disk space, you can set a small initial pagefile size (as little as 100MB) and set a high maximum size (e.g., 1GB) so that Windows can increase the size if needed. With 1GB of RAM under normal application loads, the pagefile would probably never need to grow.

If you want to prevent Windows from moving any core OS kernel or driver files to the pagefile, perform the following steps:

  1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
  2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management registry subkey.
  3. Set the DisablePagingExecutive registry entry to 1.

If you want to determine how much of the pagefile is actually being used, you can download Bill James' various pagefile utilities, which are available at this Web site. Among these tools is a WinXP-2K_Pagefile.vbs script that tells you the current and maximum pagefile usage.

Q. After I use the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Recovery Storage Group, do I need to delete its contents?

A. Yes, after you finish a recovery operation, you should delete all databases in the Recovery Storage Group and delete the group itself. If you fail to do so, you'll encounter problems when you try to perform a typical restore, because Exchange might still store the data in the Recovery Storage Group instead of placing it in the usual storage group location.

If you want to leave the Recovery Storage Group in place, you must tell the backup API to ignore the group by performing the following steps:

  1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
  2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeIS\ParametersSystem registry subkey.
  3. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
  4. Enter the name Recovery SG Override, double-click the new value, set it to 1, then click OK.

Be very careful when you perform these steps. If you later delete the Recovery Storage Group but you neglect to delete (or set to 0) the registry value that you created in Step 3 and another administrator later recreates the Recovery Storage Group for a restore operation, that restore operation will overwrite the original database rather than use the Recovery Storage Group database, which will result in serious production problems.

Q. Can I move Microsoft Exchange Server systems between administrative groups?

A. No, even in a native Exchange Server 2003 organization, you can't move servers between administrative groups. However, if you're running Exchange in native mode, you can move mailboxes between administrative groups. To work around the inability to move Exchange servers between administrative groups, you can delete the server and recreate it from scratch by performing the following steps:

  1. Remove all resources and mailboxes from the server you want to move (in native mode, you can move the mailboxes to another server temporarily or use Exmerge to export the mailboxes).
  2. Remove the server from the administrative group (i.e., uninstall Exchange).
  3. Rebuild the server and select the new administrative group.
  4. If Exchange is in native mode, move the mailboxes from the temporary Exchange server back to the original server. If you used Exmerge, import the mailboxes and re-link them to the Active Directory (AD) accounts.

Q. Why don't I see the boot.ini file when I run the Msconfig utility?

A. If you don't see the boot.ini file when you run Msconfig, the file might be missing from the system. To determine whether the boot.ini file is truly missing, go to the command prompt and, from the root directory, type

dir/ah boot.ini

When you run this command, the system will tell you whether the file exists. For example, the following information shows that the boot.ini file exists on my PC:

01/07/2004 12:07 AM 194 boot.ini
1 File(s) 194 bytes
0 Dir(s) 34,114,322,432 bytes free

If the boot.ini file doesn't exist, you need to restore or recreate the file from scratch. An example boot.ini file is shown below:

\[boot loader\]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
\[operating systems\]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

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