Easiest way to rename a Windows domain client PC

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*This process requires the Netdom utility
Download as part of the XP resource tool kit:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=49AE8576-9BB9-4126-9761-BA8011FABF38&displaylang=en
Or download just the netdom utility (scroll 1/2 way down the page)
http://www.petri.co.il/download_free_reskit_tools.htm

Here is the easiest way to rename a computer. This must be done from the server itself….

1. Click Start -> Run
2. Paste in this command – “Netdom RenameComputer OLD /NewName:NEW /UserD:domain\username  /PasswordD:password  /Force /ReBoot”. Be sure to change the text for OLD and NEW. OLD should be the current computer name and NEW should be the desired name.
3. Click OK

The computer will now automatically restart in 10 seconds with a new name.

Thanks to the original author

Save login credentials for mapped drives/RPC Outlook

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This article will help you with saving passwords in Windows in order to eliminate being prompted over and over for your login information when attempting to access mapped drives, file shares, or your Hosted Exchange account. *Note that NTLM Auth is required for the RPC connection. Also, this WILL NOT WORK in Windows Home Editions.

->Using the Run command, type in “control keymgr.dll” without the quotes.

In this area you are able to add/save usernames and passwords for any domain/workgroup including using the mail server for your Hosted Exchange account.

Example when adding a credential:
-server.domain.local or server or hostname.domain.com (If all else fails, use *.domain.com or *.domain.local then login, click Save Password one more time and it will work!)
-domain\username or email address
-password

Hope this helps.

Tips for spyware and adware prevention

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*This is a work in progress

1. Use a better browser. Ask just about any IT person who either supports computers or designs websites and they will tell you they do NOT use Internet Explorer. I believe that Internet Explorer 8 is better than ever, but there are alternatives with features you won’t find in IE. I personally use Google Chrome. It is VERY fast, has all of the features I require (like tabbed browsing) and displays 99% of the pages I visit properly. I previously used Firefox for years for the same reasons I use Chrome now. The reason I switched was simply for speed and performance (Firefox uses quite a bit of memory and is slower to start up). I have all of the same options and extensions in both of these great browsers.

The best part about these browsers, for purposes of this article, are the extensions/add-ons. There are endless amounts of them. I have found that AdBlock (Available for Chrome and Firefox) helps prevent spyware by simply not displaying the ads that contain harmful links. The added bonus is more real estate and less flashy junk adds in your way when you are surfing. There are thousands of other addons that can make life easier. Chances are if you can think of a feature you want in your browser, someone has already created a way to do it.

2. We recommend the following programs for prevention and cleanup of malicious programs:
A good Antivirus like: NOD32, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira or  Comodo Internet Security. All of these are even free for home use with the exception of NOD32.

MalwareBytes: Free program that will scan your computer for “malware”. The paid version runs in the background alongside your antivirus and prevents intrusions before they happen.

ComboFix: A free tool, mainly used by techs like us, that will simply scan your computer, kill and remove hundreds of the latest spyware apps, then reboot and show you a log of what it found. This is THE #1 tool in removing those hard to get spyware apps off of your computer. NOTE: Be sure to download the latest version each tiem you use it. Only use the links from bleepingcomputer.com to download this program, otherwise you may be installing more spyware!

System Restore: This feature is included in Windows XP and later. We have found that restoring a computer back a day or two before malicious spyware was installed will allow us to use other tools above to completely cleanup a computer. This tool can be run in Safe Mode, as well. Look under Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore. Choose a date to restore your computer to and let it happen. This basically restores your Windows registry, effectively removing any programs that you had installed since the checkpoint, but leaving ALL of your documents and data intact.

Quickbooks crashes upon opening

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Of course it does. Check Google, support forums, Intuit KB, no mention. I would answer a few forum threads if it wasn’t so difficult to do on the Intuit site. I found this issue at a client in Quickbooks Enterprise 9 and 10. Awesome.

Faulting application: qbwin32.exe
Faulting module ntdll.dll

Anyway, just delete the 1KB (possibly hidden) “Company Name.ND” file located alongside the .QBW company file you use. Quickbooks opens just fine again.

I made the mistake of uninstalling Quickbooks, removing .NET and reinstalling the whole deal. Don’t bother.

Note to Intuit: Don’t let your crappy program crash so often. An error stating “the .ND file is corrupt or unreadable. Please remove it and try opening Quickbooks again.” would be nice.

You can also try running the “reboot.bat” file located in the Quickbooks program directory. It re-registers several DLLs among other things.

Slow Access of Additional Exchange Mailboxes

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This is an issue that I run into daily and had a couple of Exchange hosting customers complain about. When you add an additional (or shared) mailbox to your Exchange account in Outlook, it does NOT cache any of the data like it does with your primary mailbox. It does case non-mail items, but switching back and forth between mailboxes can be very slow. Here is how to fix it…

This pertains to any Exchange version (as far as I know) and Outlook 2007 with SP2 or newer. If you have an older version of Outlook…upgrade! The instant search is worth it.

  1. Close Outlook.
  2. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. Locate and then right-click the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook
  4. Point to New, and then click Key.
  5. Type Cached Mode, and then press ENTER.
  6. Right-click Cached Mode, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  7. Type CacheOthersMail, and then press ENTER.
  8. Right-click CacheOthersMail, and then click Modify.
  9. In the Value data box, type 1 (decimal format), and then click OK.
  10. Open Outlook and watch as it begins to download and cache all of the additional mailbox data. Notice how the connection status now shows “Connected” rather than “Online” when viewing the other mailbox(es).
  11. Enjoy much quicker access between your mail folders!

I would like to cite two KB articles that helped me figure this out; KB955572 & KB936247. The first pertains to a hotfix for post SP1 Outlook, but has the settings we need. The second Tells us how to create the registry key that the first one assumes is present…it’s not. Even with Office SP2, the Cached Mode key is simply missing, so I put the two together to get it working.The second article mentions another DWORD value called “DownloadSharedFolders”. I presume it is enabled by default so adding it does not seem to make a difference.

Unidentified Network & Local Access Only in Windows Vista & 7

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I have seen this several times in Vista, even in Windows 7. You try to connect to the LAN or Wifi and you are never prompted to choose a network location (Home, Work or Public). When this happens The Network and Sharing Center will X out the Internet icon and show Local Access Only. The problem is, there is no way to choose which location you want! Lame.

So, do this…

  1. In the Network & Sharing Center, click the “Change adapter settings” link at the left.
  2. Open the properties of the adapter in you are trying to use.
  3. Un-check the Link-Layer Topology Discovery items. There are two, Mapper and Responder.
  4. Click OK

From here, you should be connected automatically if not prompted for the Network Location. If no such luck, then you can also try disabling IPv6. I usually do anyway, so I don’t know for sure if it is necessary.

Another solution I have found that may work is to run the following from a command prompt: route delete 0.0.0.0. This seemed to work for me once, but it had no effect the last time I tried. The reason it may work is that Windows creates a primary default gateway of 0.0.0.0 to block internet access until you choose the Network Location. By removing that route and restoring the correct gateway, it may just get you surfing again.

Migrate existing Windows installation to new hardware

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*This is a work in progress. Please provide comments and updates to this guide. If you find something that was not covered or have a better way to perform a step, add it! Notice the notes and article links at the bottom…

Here is what we do:

  1. Boot to the source PC if possible. In Device Manager, change the IDE/SATA controller driver to a “Standard IDE Controller”. This only needs to be done for controllers that the boot drive is connected to. Additional RAID controllers can be ignored.
  2. If the source PC is an Intel based chipset, check to make sure there are no Intel services set to start automatically. Disable all Intel services or you will get a blue screen on the new machine.
  3. Clone the original drive to a new one. We prefer Ghost for simplicity. Acronis is good, too.
  4. Plug in the new drive to the destination PC and boot the machine. You should be able to go right into normal mode. If not, try safe mode and look for drivers or services that you can remove to get booted fully. If you cannot boot into either mode, a repair install is an option. This will take a bit more time, but will still save you from reinstalling all applications, etc.
  5. Installed the needed drivers for your new hardware and you are done. Often you will be required to Activate Windows.

This works about 80% of the time. One problem we haven’t been able to fix is with boards that already have a RAID array on-board and you want to move to a new system with a different RAID controller. It depends on the situation, but with a mirror (typically software), you can clone a single drive then recreate a mirror after the fact on the new system.

And lastly, before you spend 5 hours trying to get it to work, just reinstall Windows :)

*Check out this article for a thorough look at the process. There are several additional steps listed on how to modify the boot.ini with different HALs AND how to pre-install drivers for the new hardware.

*Here is a KB article I found at MS called: How to move a Windows installation to different hardware. It covers doing a backup of the source computer then a restore to new hardware AFTER a reinstall of Windows. More time consuming, but it may be worth a look.

Test SMTP Relay via Telnet

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Ever wanted to know the commands to just run a manual SMTP test and see the results? Here they are…

telnet hostname 25
helo asdf.com
mail from:bob@asdf.com
rcpt to:recipient@domain.com
data <Enter>
This is a test message <Enter>
. <Enter>

Remember that you can enable Telnet in Windows Vista and 7 under Programs and Features -> Turn Windows fatures on or off. Just check the “Telnet Client” box and hit OK.

Schedule a Defrag using Group Policy

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1. First, paste the below into a batch file. It will schedule a defrag on the C: drive every Sunday at 12:00 AM and run it under the SYSTEM account. Save it somewhere like “C:\defrag.bat”:
schtasks.exe /create /SC WEEKLY /D SUN /TN Weekly-Defrag /TR “defrag %systemdrive% -f” /ST 00:00:00 /RU SYSTEM

2. Open Server Management or use “gpedit.msc”. Expand the domain until you find the OU containing all client machines you want to include.

3. Right-click the OU and choose “Create and Link a GPO Here…”. Name it “Weekly Defrag”.

4. Right-click the new policy and Edit. Browse to Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Scripts -> Startup.

5. Double-click “Startup”. Click Add and browse to the location of your defrag.bat file. Leave Script Parameters blank and click OK.

6. Run a “gpupdate /force” on a client PC. Once it finishes, verify that there is a new Weekly Defrag Scheduled Task. You can even run the new task to make sure it is going to work.

All done! All machines in the above OU will run a scheduled weekly defrag. Give the machines up to an hour to update GPO automatically.

Essential Windows Utils

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I will start with the best one…I finally found a window resizing utility that matches the awesomeness of KDE and Gnome. Be sure to read the notes on how the author uses the program then get it here

Next up is a great addition that allows you to mouse-wheel without clicking on an active window – link

And a tasbkar button tabulator – link

(These all work in 64-bit Windows, too)

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