Windows XP and 2000 Tips & Tricks UPDATE, June 30, 2003, —brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network and the Windows 2000 FAQ site
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- Q. How can I start a new Windows Explorer instance that displays My Computer?
- Q. What's ERD Commander 2003?
- Q. What's the Windows Server 2003 Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)?
- Q. How can I enable Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots in Windows Server 2003?
- Q. How can I install the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software to view Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots?
- Q. Why can't I access previous Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots from the Windows Server 2003 server that hosts the Shadow Copied share?
- Q. How can I manually trigger Windows Server 2003 to take a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshot?
- Q. How can I modify the Server Message Block (SMB) connection failure time under Windows NT 4.0?
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by John Savill, FAQ Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, I describe how to start a new Windows Explorer instance that displays My Computer and Winternals Software's ERD Commander 2003. I also discuss the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), explain how to enable VSS snapshots (aka Shadow Copies), and tell you how to install the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software. I also describe why you can't access previous snapshots from the Windows Server 2003 server that hosts the Shadow Copied share, how to manually trigger Windows 2003 to take a Shadow Copy snapshot, and how to modify the Server Message Block (SMB) connection failure time under Windows NT 4.0.
Around the industry this week, Microsoft released Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4) at the Microsoft Web site. Stay tuned for more details about this service pack in a future Windows XP and 2000 Tips & Tricks UPDATE.
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Q. How can I start a new Windows Explorer instance that displays My Computer?
A. You can create a shortcut for Windows Explorer that will display My Computer. When you create the shortcut, you can include the command path
to display My Computer with the various drives visible. Alternatively, you can include the command path
to display just the root of My Computer. To display My Network Places, include the command path
If you want to start Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) but don't want to type "iexplorer.exe," you can include the command path
Q. What's ERD Commander 2003?
A. In the early days of Windows NT, the OS let you create an Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) to store copies of crucial registry files and startup parameters. Microsoft has since replaced this functionality with new features and options, such as Automated System Recovery (ASR) and the Recovery Console (RC). ERD Commander 2003 is an ERD-creation tool from Winternals Software and might be the best tool for creating an ERD.
Upon start-up, ERD Commander scans the computer. If it detects multiple OS installations (i.e., a multiboot machine), it lets you select which Windows installation you want to work on. After you select an installation, the software performs some initial tests and fixes any problems that it modifies (e.g., a corrupted registry or other problems that might affect the installation).
ERD Commander then presents a Windows XP-like environment with a Start menu and some desktop icons. The Start menu contains links to
- Administration Tools (System Information, Service and Driver Manager, Locksmith, Event Log Viewer, Disk Management, TCP/IP Configuration, File Sharing, System Compare, System Restore)
- Registry Editor
The Locksmith tool lets you change the password for any account on the machine. Service and Driver Manager is great for stopping any services that might be preventing your machine from booting. The Explorer tool lets you access all disks and can map drives to remote shares if your machine has IP connectivity. FileRestore lets you restore deleted files from systems. New functionality in ERD Commander 2003 includes built-in support for .zip and .cab files and the ability to partition and format disks.
ERD Commander also lets you apply XP System Restore points on unbootable systems and compare an unbootable machine's systems files, services, and drivers to those on a working machine to ascertain the cause of the problem.
Q. What's the Windows Server 2003 Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)?
A. Windows 2003 includes several new file system features, such as enhanced DFS closest-site selection, the Virtual Disk Service, and Automated System Recovery (ASR). The most useful new feature is VSS.
Local Windows file systems include the Recycle Bin on the desktop, from which you can recover a deleted file. However, you can't recover deleted files on network shares unless you install third-party software. One thing VSS does is replicate the Recycle Bin for the network.
At configurable intervals, VSS takes a snapshot (aka Shadow Copy) of the state of content stored on selected volume shares. VSS stores only the changes for the shares, not the entire share content. For example, if you make a small change to a 5GB file, VSS stores only information about the change. The service stores as many as 64 versions of a share, depending on disk space. When the service creates the 65th Shadow Copy (or if you've used all the disk space allotted for Shadow Copies), the service deletes the oldest snapshot to make space for the newest snapshot. You can enable Shadow Copies only on NTFS volumes; you can't enable them for FAT volumes.
To enable Shadow Copies, clients install a software component that adds a Previous Versions tab to the Properties dialog box for the shares you want to Shadow Copy. Uses can select this tab to obtain a point-in-time view of the share and access its content. This functionality is great for users and administrators. If a user deletes a file or a file becomes corrupted, the user can simply view a version of the share that precedes the deletion or corruption and recover the file without troubling the administrator.
VSS doesn't replace backups because the service stores only file changes--if you lose your file systems, the Shadow Copy information would be of no use. Microsoft has also stated that during times of exceptionally high I/O, Shadow Copies might be lost, so you shouldn't rely on VSS during crucial-use times.
The amount of disk space required for Shadow Copies is based on the size and frequency of the file changes, which are driven by the applications used. For example, if an application writes only changes to a file when the file is modified, that application's changes will require far less Shadow Copy space than will an application that rewrites the entire file.
When you access a Shadow Copy, the file and folder ACLs still apply. Therefore, if you didn't have access to a particular file before, you won't have access to the file when you view the Shadow Copy. Windows 2003 stores information about the actual Shadow Copy file or folder in the System Volume Information of the volume that holds the Shadow Copy information, and this information isn't accessible.
Finally, although VSS protects the entire contents of a particular volume, you must use the share properties to view previous states of each volume share. Therefore, if you need to recover a file that isn't listed under a share, you must create a new share that contains the file, then connect to that share. (If you create a new share, you'll see a full history of the entire drive because VSS logs the entire file system, not just existing shares.)
Q. How can I enable Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots in Windows Server 2003?
A. To enable VSS snapshots (aka Shadow Copies) for a particular drive, perform the following steps:
- Open Windows Explorer or the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Disk Management snap-in, then right-click the drive.
- Select Properties from the context menu.
- Select the Shadow Copies tab.
- Under "Select a volume," select the volume for which you want to enable Shadow Copies.
- Click Settings to configure VSS. (If you don't configure the default settings, Windows 2003 will use a default configuration that creates a Shadow Copy on the selected drive at 07:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. every weekday).
- In the displayed dialog box, configure the settings to tell Windows 2003 where you want VSS to store the Shadow Copies (you can specify only the drive--you can't specify a folder) and the maximum amount of space to use for the Shadow Copies (at least 100MB), then click Schedule.
- From the drop-down list in the Schedule dialog box, select a time to make a scheduled Shadow Copy. After you select a time, you can use the options in the dialog box to specify when VSS runs (i.e., the date and time). You can also click New to create a new schedule. For example, you might want to schedule the system to make a Volume Copy on Saturday at 7:00 a.m. and on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. Click OK after you finish selecting the scheduling options.
- Click OK to exit the main Settings dialog box.
VSS will now be enabled (you don't need to click Enable). You can optionally click Create Now to create a starting snapshot.
Q. How can I install the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software to view Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots?
A. For a client to be able to view VSS snapshots (aka Shadow Copies) of a share and access previous states of the share, the client must be running the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software. The client must also be running Windows XP, Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3) or later, or Windows 98 (the client software doesn't support Windows Me or Windows NT 4.0).
The client software is located in the \%systemroot%\system32\clients\twclient folder on the Windows Server 2003 machine. The client software is available for the x86, IA64, and AMD64 platforms; each client version resides in its own folder. (Depending on which version of Windows 2003 you're running, you might not see all the clients.) You'll want to create a network share that contains the client software so that users can connect to the share and install the software on their machines. To install the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software on a client PC, perform the following steps:
- Connect to the network share that contains the client software.
- Navigate to the appropriate client software folder, then execute the twcli32.msi file.
- Depending on which OS the PC is running, the system might warn you that the client software could cause harm because you're running a program from a network share. Disregard this warning and click Open.
- The installation will run. After installation is complete, click Finish.
After you install the client software, if you right-click a connection to a Shadow Copy-enabled share or any folder that's under the connection to such a share, then select Properties, you'll see a Previous Versions tab that provides details about the various folder versions available.
If you click the View button, you'll see the folder in Windows Explorer as it existed at a previous point in time. You can copy files from the folder to another location or open them for viewing. The Copy button lets you copy the earlier version of the folder to a new location, and the Restore button restores the earlier version of the folder and its contents. The Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software is available at the Microsoft Web site.
Q. Why can't I access previous Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots from the Windows Server 2003 server that hosts the Shadow Copied share?
A. If you right-click the shared folder and select Properties, you won't see the Previous Versions tab associated with VSS. Instead, you must connect to the share to access the previous snapshots. For a quick solution, connect to \\localhost\
Q. How can I manually trigger Windows Server 2003 to take a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshot?
A. If you have Administrator privileges, you can manually create a new point-in-time view of a share in addition to the scheduled views. To manually trigger Windows 2003 to make a VSS snapshot (aka Shadow Copy), perform the following steps:
- From Windows Explorer, right-click the drive for which you want to enable VSS.
- From the context menu, select Properties.
- Select the Shadow Copies tab.
- Under "Select a volume," select the volume that you want a Shadow Copy of.
- Click Create Now to create the snapshot.
- Click OK to exit.
Q. How can I modify the Server Message Block (SMB) connection failure time under Windows NT 4.0?
A. If a server can't accept a new SMB session request from a client because of insufficient resources or server problems, the server will send a negative response to the client after 10 seconds. To modify this response time, perform the following steps on the server:
- Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
- Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Rdr\Parameters registry subkey.
- Double-click the FailedConnectTimeout value (of type DWORD), enter the number of seconds you want to use for the timeout period, then click OK.
- Restart the server.
For Windows 2000 and later, a hardcoded value of 10 seconds is used.
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