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RDS Graphics Performance in Windows Server 2016

With increasing internet speeds and more organisation moving their entire operating environment to the cloud, the demand to deliver solutions for graphics intensive applications on a remote desktop has never been higher.

RemoteFX

Microsoft has made some significant improvements and enhancements in this area. Firstly, using RemoteFX, RDS 2016 offers support for OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1, required by modern graphics and 3D applications. Previously, RemoteFx only supported DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 1.1

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Exchange 2013 – Reseed a corrupt search catalogue

Issue

Microsoft Exchange search services are not functioning, and search results are not being displayed. On further investigation you see the following event being logged on the Exchange Server.

Event ID: 123
Level: Error
Source: ExchangeStoreDB

 

At <timestamp> the Microsoft Exchange Information Store Database <identity> copy on this server experienced a corrupted search catalog. Consult the event log on the server for other "ExchangeStoreDb" and "MSExchange Search Indexer" events for more specific information about the failure. Reseeding the catalog is recommended via the ‘Update-MailboxDatabaseCopy’ task.

The error suggests that there is a corrupt Exchange Search Catalogue.

Running the “ContentIndex State” and/or Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus may also highlight issues if it returns a result of anything other than “Healthy”…. such as “failed” or “unkown”

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The business case for Hosted Exchange

A large amount of organizations have been moving to hosted email solutions. Hosted exchange can be considered a relatively tried and tested way to push services to the cloud, and this, as well as the complexities and costs of managing email systems internally has contributed to the popularity of this cloud service. There are many paths one can take to move to a hosted exchange platform; Microsoft Office 365, Google, your service provider, ISP solutions and cloud service providers all offer varying hosted email services.

Hosted Exchange is a remotely managed 3rd party vendor provided solution to a business’s email needs charged on a monthly per mailbox / user fee. It negates the need to have your own exchange server and the maintenance that goes with it. Different offerings will have different feature sets such as mailbox size, archiving option, additional storage, and discovery and management tools. It is important to note that we are not looking at POP style email solutions which is limited in the way of collaboration and security, and generally stores mail to your local workstation; which is not adequate for any business that relies on email as a key part of communication.
Because of licensing costs, and the fact that managing an exchange server for a small organization can take as much time (or even more) than a larger organization, smaller organization will see most cost benefit from their existing solutions. However, large enterprises, who often have to manage multiple exchange servers, with the added overhead of clustering and redundancy resulting in addition hardware and expert staff have also been migrating to hosted exchange platforms, completely reducing complexities while maintaining redundancy and increasing uptime and potentially security.

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What’s new in Windows Server 2016

 

With Windows Server 2016 set for release this year, we take a look at some of the exciting features that have been included in technical previews so far.

Nano Server

Possibly the most interesting feature is the introduction of Nano Server. Nano Server is a purpose built operating system, scaled down to act as a platform of containers (more information below). Reducing the server footprint, Nano Server will require fewer patches and updates, improved resource utilization, less OS components and features as well as tightened security.

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Windows 10 – Start menu is not working after upgrade

Issue

You have upgrade to windows and log in with your user account. When you click start you see the following error “This menu isn’t working. We’ll try to fix it next time you sign in"

Logging in however does not resolve the problem and you are limited in the tools you can access and navigation.

Resolution

You create a new user account via a command prompt which can still be accessed through Windows Explorer
Right click c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe, select "run as administrator" to open an elevated command prompt.

Type: Net user newusername password
Log off and back on with the newly created user. You should now be able to backup your existing profile and restore required contents to a new user account.

Configure Default Computers and User OU’s in Active Directory

 

By default, machines joined to a new domain are added to the Computers OU. For any managed network, it is important to ensure machines are placed in a production OU as soon as they are joined to the domain, to ensure the correct polices are applied and applications are deployed.

You can automate this administrative step so newly machines added to the domain will be placed a pre-determined OU, negating the need for an administrator to go into the server to make the change.

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AcroRd32.exe causes high CPU usage and hangs when closing Adobe Reader on RDS

 

Issue

Adobe Reader hangs in the background after being closed and AcroRd32.exe process continue to use high CPU usage.

Cause

The issue is a result of Adobe Reader Messages. Messages are presented at the bottom of the main pop-up such as shown below (Add Notes to a PDF File). When disabled, I found the executable to close and release CPU and memory usage, therefore not hang.

clip_image001

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Windows Provisioning and BYOD

What is it?

Provisioning packages can be created and deployed to windows 10 devices by using Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer (IDC). IDC creates provisioning packages which can be deployed to Windows 10 devices, including home devices which are not added to a domain. It allows quick configuration of a device without having to re-image. A provisioning packages is a set of rules that can be applied to both domain and non-domain (home) workstations / laptops and home devices, opening the door for a simplified approach to the complexities of managing a BYOD solution in the enterprise.

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AcroRD32.exe high CPU usage on Remote Desktop Server

 

Issue

On a Windows 2012 R2 configured as a remote desktop server Adobe Reader process AcroRD32.exe is using a high amount of resources, with the process open multiple times for a single user. On testing and replicating, it was found that the process continues to run when Adobe Reader X(I) is closed.

Cause

The high CPU is caused by the Adobe messages that are presented at the initial splash screen when launching Adobe Reader. The screen shot below shows an example of this. The messages can cause adobe to crash on exit and increases the CPU usage.

clip_image002

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Configuring the Juniper SRX to handle Brute Force attacks

 

The Juniper SRX firewall is very feature rich. License the product with Intrusion Detection or IDP and you have a super smart device capable of detecting the latest shell code exploits and configurable in a granular way to tailor your security response to just about any way you want. A quick word about performance however, while providing IT Support in the field I have noticed that the device performance is consideration once you start playing with these CPU intensive features. For sites with more than 10-15 users make sure the business has an SRX210 and above if you plan on rolling out the UTM, IDP feature sets. Its not mandatory, and it will certainly function but its best practice, at least in my opinion.

Ok so back to how to handle brute force detection. Juniper SRX has the ability to detect consecutive login attempts and then perform an action, like blocking the offending IP for a period of time. This is a great technique to thwart brute force attempts on networks where two factor authentication is not present.

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