Make NTBackup Work
Bill Stewart's "Make NTBackup Work" (November 2004, InstantDoc ID 44114) couldn't have come at a better time! I was trying to get NTBackup to run at one of our remote sites, and I couldn't get the scheduling to work (I could manually start the backup). I tried many different things—a new tape driver, reinstalling the tape drive, different tapes, and so forth. The article solved the problem and also gave me a better understanding of NTBackup.
"Make NTBackup Work" presents good information about using NTBackup in production environments, but some important information about the Windows Server 2003 version of NTBackup is missing. Besides the interesting fact that Microsoft doesn't document the /UM parameter in its Knowledge Base article "HOW TO: Use Command Line Parameters with the Ntbackup Command in Windows Server 2003" (http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=814583), you need to be aware of other changes.
In Windows 2003, the Messenger and Alerter services are disabled by default, and NTBackup is not able to show messages during a scheduled backup. When a backup does not fit on one tape in a scheduled backup operation and the backup device is a single tape drive, NTBackup terminates and logs an error after the first tape is full. There's no way to change the tape and continue the scheduled backup job. Windows 2000's NTBackup waits and displays a message through the Windows Messenger service to load another tape.
My company opened a Microsoft Product Support Services call and received a hotfix corresponding to the Knowledge Base article "A scheduled backup task unexpectedly quits in Windows Server 2003 when the backup tape is full" (http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=839591). But installing this hotfix didn't make any difference. After a lot of email back and forth, Microsoft recommended we use hotfix 839591 in conjunction with the undocumented /UP switch. Now, Windows 2003 NTBackup waits for the second tape, and we have the same functionality that Windows 2000 NTBackup provides.
My article addressed only single-tape backup jobs, but your letter brings up a common scenario. Regarding the /UM command-line option, which isn't documented for Windows 2003, I used Mark Russinovich's strings.exe (which you can get at http://www.sysinternals.com) to examine the Unicode strings present in the ntbackup.exe file; that's how I knew that the /UM option is still available. The new (and currently undocumented) /UP option doesn't exist in the RTM version (5.2.3790.0) of ntbackup.exe. The developers must have added it in the hotfix you mention, which updates ntbackup.exe to version 5.2.3790.209.
Don't Forget These Hall-of-Famers!
Every time I see a computer Hall of Fame article in a magazine (e.g., Juliann Feuerbacher's "Windows IT Pro Hall of Fame," December 2004, InstantDoc ID 44448), I seem to find a glaring omission. I know many people have contributed to the industry, but two people who deserve to be mentioned are always overlooked. Ward Christensen and Randy Suess started us down the path to our current Internet when they launched the first dialup bulletin board system, the Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS). In addition, Ward developed the first widespread file transfer protocol, XMODEM, which allowed files to be transferred error-free between bulletin boards around the world.
Okay, so Gary Kildall (Digital Research) messed up big-time when Bill Gates sent IBM knocking on his door, and he's since become a "what's-his-name" in history. However, as the developer of CP/M, Kildall had a huge impact on the history of IT and personal computing. He definitely should be in your Hall of Fame.
As the first standard DOS for PCs, CP/M allowed for the proliferation of applications and file sharing between platforms. Many of CP/M's features (and limitations) were also the basis for PC-DOS/MS-DOS that Bill Gates created for IBM when Kildall was nonresponsive. The popularity of IBM's PC was due in large part to the fact that standardized applications (e.g., WordStar, dBase, VisiCalc) were brought over from CP/M. The PC would have been DOA if left to the lame, bug-ridden software originally available from IBM and Microsoft.
Deciding who to add to our first-ever Hall of Fame was difficult because of the many deserving candidates. We'll certainly add Christensen, Seuss, and Kildall to our list of potential inductees for our 2005 Hall of Fame. We appreciate your input because we want the Hall of Fame to reflect the industry pioneers who have been most influential in our readers' lives. Send other Hall of Fame suggestions to jfeuerbacher
Bring On the Sysinternals Tools
I want to really thank Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell on behalf of myself and the other techs that work for this company (as well as other geeks I hang out with) for the utilities that they provide at http://www.sysinternals.com. They've made our jobs about 150% easier since we stumbled on their site some time ago. I really can't tally up the amount of time that the utilities have saved me.
I picked up the November 2004 issue of Windows IT Pro to avoid jet lag in an airport, found it to be a great magazine, and was pleased to find Mark Russinovich's Windows Power Tools: "Autoruns" (InstantDoc ID 44089) in the issue. Can you tell me how many other Russinovich articles I've missed? I don't want to lose out on any chance to get information "straight from the horse's mouth."
In this issue, you'll find Windows Power Tools: "PsShutdown (page 65, InstantDoc ID 44973). In addition to the Autoruns article you mention, we've published two other columns, Windows Power Tools: "PsExec" (July 2004, InstantDoc ID 42919) and Windows Power Tools: "PsList and PsKill" (September 2004, InstantDoc ID 43569). Look for future articles from Mark bimonthly in the magazine.
MOM 2005 for Small Businesses
Karen Forster's Hey Microsoft! "Can MOM 2005 Help Small Businesses?" (December 2004, InstantDoc ID 44426) is very relevant for me because I'm looking at various monitoring applications. With 9 servers and about 90 nodes, MOM Workgroup Edition seems like a good fit. However, I'm disappointed in a couple of areas: I can't find an evaluation edition of MOM Workgroup Edition, and I'm concerned that there isn't any reporting in the product. I'd pay twice as much to get even very basic reports so that I could do some minimal trending. Microsoft could impose a limit on how much data you could collect and still use MSDE. Because of the above reasons, I'm going to take a hard look at other vendors before making a choice.
I contacted Michael Emanuel, director of product management in the Windows and Enterprise Management Group at Microsoft, regarding your concerns. Here's Michael's response:
"The experience managing up to 10 servers with MOM Workgroup Edition and the full edition of MOM is the same except for reporting and integration with other management systems. However, I think we are losing the simplicity argument by asking all customers to try the full version. I'll look into what we can do regarding evaluating MOM Workgroup Edition.
"Although the product doesn't ship with its own reporting service, it uses MSDE (or optionally, SQL Server) as a realtime database and makes performance data available via SQL Server views to any external ODBC-enabled application (e.g., Excel, Access, ODBC-based third-party report generators). Customers will also have the choice of connecting MOM Workgroup Edition with System Center Reporting Server when that product is released next year. Reporting Server will not only act as a very powerful reporting system for the MOM system (even Workgroup Edition), it will also let the customer correlate MOM-collected performance data and trends with software distribution status and asset information collected by SMS and Active Directory (assuming these are in use at the customer's site)."