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February 27, 2003--In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY - Searching for Information About Attached Storage Devices in XP

2. NEWS & VIEWS - Microsoft Eases XP Deployment

3. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Our Active Directory Web Seminar Is in Just 3 Weeks! - Try Windows & .NET Magazine!

4. RESOURCES - Tip: Configure XP to Automatically Open Windows Explorer Windows at Logon - Featured Thread: Workstations with Different Subnet Masks

5. NEW AND IMPROVED - Recover Data from Unreadable Discs - Back Up to Bootable, Removable Hard Disk - Submit Top Product Ideas

6. CONTACT US - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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1.

COMMENTARY

(David Chernicoff, david@winnetmag.com)

* SEARCHING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT ATTACHED STORAGE DEVICES IN XP

My tip in last week's Windows Client UPDATE, "When Systems Boot Unexpectedly from Storage Devices," described how one of my computers was attempting to boot from a USB device. That story generated reader questions about what kind of device I was using, why I use USB storage devices, and how the OS handles these devices.

A Windows XP computer equipped with USB 2.0 is a versatile machine. The options for connecting to the USB 2.0 ports are varied; I use USB connections primarily for some permutation of storage, although I also use or have used everything from USB-connected 802.11x and Bluetooth devices to scanners and printers. In this column, I want to discuss storage devices and try to explain the somewhat confusing way that XP displays information about these physical devices.

To test how XP displays this information, I attached two Belkin USB 2.0 drive enclosures, each with a Western Digital 120GB hard disk, directly to two of the four USB ports on the back of my Intel white-box computer. I also attached a Belkin 4-port USB 2.0 hub, and to that hub I attached an Iomega HipZip Digital Audio Player with a 40MB PocketZip (formerly marketed as Clik!) disk and an SIIG CompactFlash Card Reader with a Lexar Media 32MB USB-ready Compact Flash (CF) card. The computer already has a SCSI controller with the boot drive, a Promise Technology Ultra100-TX ATA controller card, and two 60GB hard disks.

Where do you look for information about these storage devices? The first place is the system tray. Clicking the Safely Remove Hardware icon brings up the window that lets you stop and start removable hardware. In the default display, all I see are four entries labeled USB Mass Storage Device. Obviously, this display isn't very useful if I want to use this control to stop a device before I remove it. Fortunately, selecting the "Display device components" check box brings up a dialog box that shows enough information to identify each attached device; however, I still need to know what I have installed before I can make sense of this information. Right-clicking the device information in this dialog box displays device properties that provide detailed information about each device. However, my CF card displays as a generic hard disk, so no further information for it is available.

The next place to look for information about attached devices is in Device Manager. Now the situation gets really confusing: Where do you look for information? Under the USB Serial Bus controller entry on my machine, 13 separate subentries are listed: 1 Generic USB Hub entry, 4 entries identifying the host controller, 4 USB mass storage device entries, and 4 USB Root Hub entries.

When I check under the Storage Volumes entry, I find two subentries: One identifies the Iomega music player, and the other identifies a generic volume on a generic device, which I know from the process of elimination is the CF card. I still don't have a lot of information.

Next, I look under the Disk Drives entry and become further confused because the entry shows a lot of SCSI drives, and I know I have only one. But I also know that the drives attached to the ATA controller card will be shown as SCSI attached, so I don't get sidetracked.

I still haven't found detailed information about any of my storage devices, nor have I discovered where the information could be hidden. Well, it turns out to be hidden in plain sight, sort of. When I added the removable media devices, they turned up in the Disk Management application. The Iomega player displays with a volume name of PocketZip40, which clearly states what the device is, and the CF card displays with a volume name of Lexar Media, Disks 5 and 6, respectively, and the device is tagged as removable. Curiously, the hard disks in the enclosures show up as normal disks and aren't marked as removable.

My research shows that there is no single location that can report comprehensively about devices I attach to the USB bus. This shortcoming is bound to present a diagnostic problem as more and more users make use of the USB interface's flexibility.

2.

NEWS AND VIEWS

(contributed by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@winnetmag.com)

* MICROSOFT EASES XP DEPLOYMENT

On February 25, Microsoft released a set of updated tools and a new Web portal to help enterprise customers evaluate and deploy Windows XP Professional and Microsoft Office XP. A Microsoft representative told me that the company understands that enterprise customers often take months to evaluate and plan desktop deployments, so Microsoft designed these updated tools and the new portal to make that process as simple as possible. The company estimates that, by streamlining key processes such as application compatibility testing and security updates, the tools will help enterprise customers reduce deployment time by as much as 67 percent.


The new tools include the following:

Windows XP Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 2.6. Designed to prevent one of the top XP deployment blockers, ACT helps administrators inventory, evaluate, and test applications for compatibility and automatically make adjustments so that recalcitrant applications will run properly on XP.

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) 1.1. This tool scans individual systems and looks for missing security updates and identifies and reports on common security misconfigurations.

Desktop Deployment Portal. This revamped Web site ( http://www.microsoft.com/resources/desktop/default.asp ) contains a variety of documentation, tools, and other resources to help enterprises roll out Windows XP and Office XP. Users can also order a version of the portal on CD-ROM.

3.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

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4.

RESOURCES

* TIP: CONFIGURE XP TO AUTOMATICALLY OPEN WINDOWS EXPLORER WINDOWS AT LOGON (contributed by David Chernicoff, david@winnetmag.com)

A reader asked me whether a tool exists that will let him configure his Windows XP desktop to automatically open the same Windows Explorer windows when he logs on that were open when he last logged off his computer. Windows XP directly supports this functionality. To enable it, take the following steps:


1. Launch regedit.
2. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced.
3. In the right-hand pane, double-click the entry PersistBrowsers.
4. Change the data value to 1.
5. Exit the registry editor.

* FEATURED THREAD: WORKSTATIONS WITH DIFFERENT SUBNET MASKS

Forum member "vuk" would like help configuring two Windows NT 4.0 workstations to share printers and files. The workstations have different subnet masks and belong to different workgroups without DNS. Vuk would like to know whether using a NIC in each workstation is the best solution. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL: http://www.winnetmag.com/forums/rd.cfm?cid=38&tid=55081

5.

NEW AND IMPROVED

(contributed by Sue Cooper, products@winnetmag.com)

* RECOVER DATA FROM UNREADABLE DISCS

Arrowkey released CD/DVD Diagnostic, a data-recovery solution for CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, and DVD-RW discs. The software bypasses the Windows file system and original software to access lost or damaged data files. CD/DVD Diagnostic finds, retrieves, and repairs corrupt or damaged files and copies the repaired files to your hard disk. An interruptible readability test shows the extent of damage to a disc so that you can determine whether a CD device can read the damaged disc. Pricing is $69.99 per single-user license. Contact Arrowkey at 847-415-2377, 888-759-0600, or sales@arrowkey.com. http://www.arrowkey.com

* BACK UP TO BOOTABLE, REMOVABLE HARD DISK

CMS Peripherals announced ABSpro, a backup software application in the ABSplus automatic backup system line, software and hardware solutions that use a bootable, removable hard disk to back up, restore, and recover desktops and notebooks. ABSpro's bidirectional synchronization scans both the host computer's hard disk and the ABSplus hard disk and updates new or changed files on the ABSplus disk. ABSpro's versioning feature lets mobile users retrieve older volumes of files and folders. Contact CMS Peripherals at 800-327-5773, 714-424-5520, or sales@cmsproducts.com. http://www.cmsproducts.com

* SUBMIT TOP PRODUCT IDEAS

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to whatshot@winnetmag.com.

6.

CONTACT US

Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:

* ABOUT THE COMMENTARY -- david@winnetmag.com

* ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL -- drussell@winnetmag.com (please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)

* TECHNICAL QUESTIONS -- http://www.winnetmag.net/forums

* PRODUCT NEWS -- products@winnetmag.com

* QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR WINDOWS CLIENT UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION? Customer Support -- windowsclientupdate@winnetmag.com

* WANT TO SPONSOR WINDOWS CLIENT UPDATE? -- emedia_opps@winnetmag.com