Saturday, January 31, 2009

How to add a Swap Partition

These steps will create an additional swap partition on your system.

1. Create swap partition (This example uses IDE 2nd drive (/dev/hdb), 2nd partition). Use n command and make partition. Change ID to 82 by using t command.At a command prompt type

fdisk /dev/hdb


2. Make swap space using mkswap. At a command prompt type

mkswap -c /dev/hdb2


3. Enable swap space. At a command prompt type

swapon /dev/hdb2


Check swap space using free or top command



4. Edit /etc/fstab to enable next boot

...
/dev/hdb2 swap swap default 0 0


Also See: How to View Swap Info on Linux

Friday, January 30, 2009

ItFixed it for me - How to change Arcserve's caroot password.

This mini how to may be helpful for someone. I came across another Arcserve Backup 11.5 server that for some reason lost its caroot password. I needed to reset it to something the backup server administrator could remember.

Here are the steps to reset the password for caroot.

From the folder where Arcserve is installed run from a command prompt the following:

authsetup /p "passwordhere"


This should talk about a minute and come back with a message that said successfull.

If the above didnt work the first time try the following: ( this will restart the CA services). You could also reboot the machine.

cstop

cstart


Then try the authsetup command again.

ItFixed it for me so I hope it helps someone else.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How to FTP files automatically.

The below script may come in handy for someone that needs to pull files for whatever reason to a separate location for processing. I realize that this is not the only method to do this but this has been working for me for years.

I use the script to pull IIS log files from an IIS server and then run the logs through AWSTATS to generate website traffic stats daily.





I have this script running on a linux server that does the AWSTATS processing once per day using cron. Although I pull http logs files you can use it to pull other types of files such as mail server logs, samba logs, ftp logs, really any file accessible by ftp.

If you save the script as an .sh file remember to make it executable.

If possible please post a comment letting me know you are using the script. I am just curious to see how many this might help.


#!/bin/sh

# This script will ftp a file from yesterday from a server to the local machine then run a command on it


# The lines below are some variables that I defined for various dates. The log file variables can be adjusted to form a filename that has a date in it
todaysdate=`date +%y%m%d`
todayslog=ex`date +%y%m%d`.log

yesterdaysdate=`date --date=yesterday +%y%m%d`
yesterdayslog=ex`date --date=yesterday +%y%m%d`.log

tomorrowdate=`date --date=tomorrow +%y%m%d`
tomorrowslog=ex`date --date=tomorrow +%y%m%d`.log


# The below line just echos info to the screen to show progress
echo Trying to get yesterdays logfile $yesterdayslog


# The below lines will run an FTP script that uses variables from above to get specific files
ftp -n -v ww.xx.yy.zz << EOF
user usernamehere passwordhere
lcd /some/folder/path
get $yesterdayslog
get $todayslog
get $tomorrowslog
quit
EOF

# The below line can be a script or other command
/path/to/script/anyscript.sh

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to export or move FireFox bookmarks

This is a quick "How to:" article on How to move firefox bookmarks from one pc to another.
Coincidently I have been asked this several times over the last few weeks so I figured I would document it. The procedure is really very simple.

First open up Firefox if it is not already open.
Second, click on the Bookmarks menu option


Once the menu opens up select the "Organize Bookmarks" option.

Highlight the "All bookmarks" item on the left hand pane.

Then Select the "Import and Backup" button at the top.

Choose "Export to HTML". This will create an HTML page that you can move to a new pc by email, USB Key, network transfer, etc...
This can also be used as a backup file that you can import back to the same computer if you have many bookmarks like I do.

Hope this helps someone... or at least prevents me from having to explain it again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How I increased my Blog Traffic by almost 300% in one month

As a relatively new blogger I have been searching for ways to increase my blog traffic. From the many searches I have done that turned up literally thousands of tips and suggestions, I have put together a small list of what I have done to increase my blog traffic. I must say that I am not sure which one of these methods generated the most traffic but they do seem to be working for me.

Write a blog post about "How to increase blog traffic"
This may be a bit humorous but I am giving it a shot with this article. I can not count how many articles I read to put together my own list. If my list is working for me it stands to reason that it may work for someone else.

Join StumbleUpon
Its free to join. You can download the Stumble Upon tool bar for your web browser. Once installed you can "Stumble" upon sites in a certain niche. You can also add/tag pages that you like. I will say that I have used this on another site I run and it worked wonders for traffic.

Join Technorati
This is another free site to join. It will list popular blogs and in there terms "Blogs that are percolating now".

Add a link or some method for users to share your page with socical bookmark sites
Im sure that every major blogging sofware has this option, however it was not on by default. For this blog I have to manually add some code to the template. It really wasnt hard and it has generated some additional traffic.

Update blog frequently
When I first started I will admit that I got discouraged when I did not get any traffic. After taking a break for a while my interest in posting came back. I started to post an article about 4 or 5 times a week. From the research that I have read it seems that most blogs need alot of good content to start out with for users to read. After while you can then slowly increase the time in between posts.

Vary the type of blog posts
It sounds overly simple but I have found that if I vary the topics slightly (while staying within my niche) I seem to get more traffic. For example I have article about product reviews, and other article about top (enter number here) lists. I also have sprinkled in many articles about various commands and utils to use for windows and linux.

Tag blog posts
Make sure you tag the blogs posts accurately. This seems to help in visitors staying on your site to find more information.

I realize that not everyone will have the same results that I am getting. If you have other good ideas that work and would care to comment I would be more that happy to hear some more ideas.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Defraggler - Product Review

I have come across another good application for pc repair. This one is called Defraggler available from http://www.defraggler.com. This free application is used to de-fragment your hard drive. The version I tested was Defraggler v1.05.111.



As pcs get older and files are created, deleted, moved, and copied the data that makes up those files may not be in one contiguous space on the disk. This will eventually cause the pc to take longer and longer to access the file. What a defragmentation program does is re-arrange the files on the disk so that all of the files pieces are contiguous. This usually results in faster disk performance.



The program has a very simple interface. It shows a list of local hard drives. If you select a drive and click analyze it will show you a graph of the drive with color coded squares indicating file fragments, free space and contiguous files. If the graph is mostly red it most likely needs to be defragmented. This is done with a simple click of the "Defrag" button and some time (possibly a lot of time). Depending on the size of the drive and the amount of fragmentation it could take hours to finish. For example I tested the software on an older laptop with a 20 GB drive and it ran in about 1.5 hours. For those of you that have much larger drives you may want to run this one over night. As always BACKUP your data just in case. (for backup tips see my 7 Ways to Backup Your Data post).

Please post a comment if you have any other good Disk Defragment programs I can test.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

7 Ways to Backup Your Data

I have been asked many times by friend, coworker, employees and class students "What is the best way to back up my data?" There really is no correct answer that would fit everyone's situation so I figured I would put together a small list of the more common backup methods. It really doesn't matter what option you pick as long as you pick one (or more if you feel the need). It is not a question of if a hard drive will fail it is a question of when it will fail. Some drives will last for 10 years but I have also seen brand new drives fail after only a few weeks. It is always better to have some kind of backup available rather than loose possibly priceless data.



USB Flash Drive
This is by far the easiest way to backup your data as long as you have less than 2GB or 8GB of data to backup. USB flash drives are getting bigger and cheaper so these numbers will always grow. But right now the flash drives between 2GB and 8GB are relativly cheap. The USB flash drive (or usb key as some call it) simply plugs into any open USB port on your pc and the drive will appear as a new drive letter in Windows Explorer. You simply copy the data you want to back up to the drive. You can then store the USB key in safe place for when its needed again to backup new files or restore something you lost.

External USB Hard Drive
This is another relativly easy option. External USB drives are also getting bigger and cheaper by the day. For example I just picked up a 500GB drive for $89. Most current home pcs dont have drives that large so a 500GB drive is more than enough to backup data. These drives also plug into any open USB port on your pc and appear as a new drive letter in Windows Explorer. This type of drive also has the benefit of automatic backups. Depending on the type of drive you purchase, many come with software that will automatically schedule and run backups so there is no user interaction. Many also come with a "One Touch" button that will back up everything on your pc with a single button press.

Install second internal hard drive in pc.
This option is a bit more advanced and requires you to open up your pc case and install a second internal hard drive. While this usually results in the fastest backups (time wise) it does not give you the benefit of easily removing the drive and storing it away from your pc in case of flood, fire or other damage to your pc. These drives are also relativly cheap and very fast but for the average home user I generally dont recommend this option.

Burn to CD/DVD
Most (if not all) new pcs and laptop now adays come with some type of disc writer, usually a DVD writer but occassionly I see CD burners. A CD will hold about 700MB and DVD around six times a much at 4.7GB. If your pc came with a CD or DVD writer then most likley it will have some software that will actually burn your data to disc. If it doesn't then Windows has a built in program that works but it lacks many of the advanced feature of other programs. There are also free download available that work very well for burning disks. InfraRecorder comes to mind. See my other posts about best free software for more details on programs.

Online backup solutions
Another option to backup your files and data is to have an online company store your files. There are several advantages and disadvantages to this type of backup. Many online backup companies offer some type of free plan that will give you 2-5GB of storage space. This may be ok if you are only storing word processing or spreadsheets with not many pics or videos. I usually find that videos and pictures take up a large majority of disk space on many of my clients home pcs. Even my wife has stored over 200GB of pics and videos. The online backup companies usually have service plans that will allow for more data but you will have to pay a monthy/yearly cost. This sometime turns people away from this option. For more info search google for "online storage".



Copy to another machine on your home network
Many families with kids these days have more than one computer. In most cases these computers are set up to all connect to the internet through a router (Linksys, Dlink, Netgear etc...). These pcs are connected to your home network. In the event that you have multiple pcs you can set up folder sharing on each pc and then copy files from PC 1 to PC 2 and vice versa. This option will not give you the ability to remove your data and store it but at least your data will be stored off of the machine in case of drive failure. If the pcs are far enough apart in your home then you can still get the protection from a flood, fire or other type of disaster. This type of backup job can also be automated if required. I will not go into the details on how to set up folder sharing as it is out of the scope of this article but if you would like more info please post a comment.

Tape drive
This one may be hardest of the backup methods as it requires you to have a tape drive connected or installed in your machine. As most pcs do not come with tape drive (or the software that backs up the data), this option is for more advanced pc users. Windows does have a small program called Windows Backup that will create a backup file and write to either a tape or folder location but there are far better programs for backup.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"ItFixed" it for me! - Windows NFS Server wont start.

Here is another post in my "Itfixed" it for me! series.

I have a server that basically used for storage space. It is attached to the network with about 2TB of disk space that is used for system backups and Oracle database backups. As my Oracle machines are Linux based I installed the Windows Services for Unix on my server. On this server I run Arcserve Backup 11.5. It backups up all of my data to tape and then the tapes are moved off site.

My issued occurred when my server was rebooted. After reboot I got the dreaded "A windows service failed to start ... " message. Upon tracking it down I found that the "User Name Mapping" service and "Server for NFS" service would not start. If I try to start them manually I would get an error about a failed dependency. These services did not have any dependencies so I was left scratching my head. Using another one of my favorite trouble shooting sites (www.eventid.net) with the event id I found in the Windows event log I tracked it back to an RPC server issue. Anyway the problem was that Arcserve installed an update that appartently installed its own "CA Remote Procedure Call Server). Evidently this was conflicting with the Windows RPC server. The CA RPC server is supposed to detect if the port is in use and then start on a different port. For whatever reason this did not work.

My fix was to set the CA RPC Server to manual and add a registry entry to have the CA RPC server wait 4 minutes after the machine starts to register itself.

The registry entry I added is below.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\ComputerAssociates\BrightStor ARCserve Backup\Base\Portmap

Create the DWORD DelayedRegistration.

Assign a decimal value for this key indicating the number of minutes to wait before initializing portmapper registration. Example DelayedRegistration=4


I was then able to restart the NFS services.

This may not be the only method to fix this problem but Itfixed it for me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to rebuld a pc using only Free Apps

Well...disaster struck my own personal laptop and killed my hard drive. Fortunately I had backed up everything important. After replacing the hard drive I have to rebuild my pc from scratch.
With the exception of the operating system (windows xp pro with SP3) everything on the laptop is a free app that you can download. Using all of the free apps I can do almost everything I need to do on a day to day basis.

Here is a list of the free apps I installed ( in no particular order) and a brief description of each.
Many of these program are on my Top 10 Most useful free progams list as well.

Free Security Software
  1. AVG Antivirus - Free Antivirus Software
  2. Zone Alarm - Firewall software
  3. AdAware - Very Good Free Spam and Spyware removal software
  4. Spybot Search and Destroy - Very Good Free Spam and Spyware removal software
  5. Windows Defender - Windows Spam and Spyware removal software
  6. Malewarebytes - Very Good Free Spam and Spyware removal software
Free File Transfer Software
  1. WinSCP - Secure file transfer
  2. Filezilla - free FTP client

Free Remote PC Connection Software
  1. VNC - Control Remote PCs
  2. UltraVNC - Control Remote PCs
Free Virutal Computing Software
  1. Microsoft Virtual PC - Allows me to create and run virtual machine. Good for testing OSes
  2. VMWare Player - Allows me to run VMware Appliances
  3. Virtual Box - Allows me to create and run virtual machine. Good for testing OSes
Free WebBrowsers
  1. Firefox - Very good Web Browser
  2. Google Chrome - Very good web browser
Free Office Productivity Software
  1. Notepad ++ - very good notepad replacement with many more features
  2. Infra Recorder - free CD/DVD burning software
  3. Klok - Best personal time tracking software available
  4. Open Office 3 - MS Office replacement.
Free Image Tools/Software
  1. Picasa 3 - Photo editing and organization
  2. Gimp - free Photo Editing software
  3. Paint.Net - free photo editing software
Misc Software
  1. Adobe Acrobat Reader - need to open PDF files
  2. Adobe Flash Player - plugin for browsers to allow flash content
  3. Putty - free SSH client
  4. Izarc - free file compression software
  5. CCleaner - disk cleanup software
Please post a comment if you have other good ones not listed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gathering Linux DIsk I/O Stats

Here is a small Linux command that I have used frequently to look at disk performance on some of my Linux servers.

iostat -xdkt 30 360 >> iostat-results.txt
The above command will start a program called iostat and gather extended attributes for all disks on a machine every 30 seconds for 360 iterations and then write (append) the results to the iostat-results.txt file. That file can then be manipulated in your favorite text program and even imported to a spreadsheet for review.

I run this on Redhat and Centos servers but iostat can be installed on may other linux distributions.

Hope this helps.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Recuva - Product Review

I have come accross another decent free program for your pc repair bag of tricks.
This one is called Recuva ( I tested V1.22.384)



From the website
Recuva (pronounced "recover") helps recover files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer.This includes files emptied from the Recycle bin as well as images and other files that have been deleted by user error from digital camera memory cards or MP3 players.
This program can be downloaded from http://www.recuva.com . There is an installable version as well as a portable version that can run from a USB stick.

I tested this program out on a few types of files and it does what it says it is supposed to do.
I was successfully able to recover a deleted file even after removing it from the recycle bin.

It works as long as there hasn't been any new data written to the disk at the same location as the file you deleted.

This obviously wont be able to get files deleted long ago but it is definitely worth a try in one of those "Oh S$%^!" moments when you just realized you deleted a file you wanted to keep.
Please post a comment if you have had any luck (good or bad) with Recuva.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"ItFixed" it for me! - Windows 7 and Virtual Box NIC Issue

In testing out the new Windows 7 -beta in Virtual Box I came accross my first issue.

The default NIC driver that Virtual box adds to the guest VM was not working for me in Windows 7. During the install of Windows 7 I chose the option of "Windows Server 2008" as the OS Type.
Once installed I was able to get the network up and running by changing the Network Card to an Intel Pro 1000 MT Desktop adapter. Windows 7 then detected that card and installed the necessary drivers for it.

This may not be the only way to solve the network card issues but "Itfixed" it for me.

By the way, my first impression of Windows 7 is that it is very much like Windows Vista. I will have a more complete review upon further testing.

Top Free Software Download Sites

Here is a list of what I believe to the Best Free Software Download sites.

  1. www.download.com - One of the best I have found to get free software. Sorted by many categories and has lists for most popular and highest ranked.
  2. www.filehippo.com - Another of the best sites to get free software. Sorted by many categories and has lists for most popular and highest ranked.
  3. www.tucows.com - Rounding the top 3 sites to get free software. Sorted by many categories and has lists for most popular and highest ranked.
  4. www.portableapps.com - Many verr useful portable apps that do not leave any files or setting on your pc and can run directly from removable media such as CD-Rom or USB key.
  5. www.topdownloads.net - Another good site for free sofware sorted by many categories.
  6. www.microsoft.com - There are lots of good free utilities to download for many types of windows system issues.
  7. klok.mcgraphix.com - Download one of the highest rated Personal Time Tracking Software called KLOK. I know I am one of the owners but hey... it may drive some traffic to our software :)
I very rarely if ever pay for software if there is a free version of something that will fill my need. I must admit some of the download locations are sometimes comfusing at the above sites so be aware and do not accidently click on an Ad for some other software when you try to get the download you are looking for.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to move Email to a new PC

This one came up recently and I thought I would post a quick note about it.
I had a client that needed to move email from one PC to a new PC. This client had over 1GB of email in Outlook.

I had the set up the users email account on the new pc using their correct username and login info. I then simply copied the pst files from the old PC to the new one using a 4GB USB flash drive.

The files were located in C:\documents and settings\\appdata\local\microsoft\outlook\*.pst (where is your windows login name)

The files can them be moved to the same location on the new PC.

Friday, January 9, 2009

How to Extract Service Pack Files

Here is one that I have used a few times and never remember so I alway have to search for it. The below steps will take a Microsoft Service Pack file and extract it into a folder in case only certain files are needed.


xpsp2.exe -x: c:\sp2
Press ENTER


This will extract the Service Pack files to a folder at the root of the c drive called "sp2".

I my example I used SP@ but you can use any service pack.

Hope it helps.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Windows 7 Beta - Release on Friday

For those in any type of IT related profession you have certainly come across the negative vibe that has attached itself to Windows Vista. Even though it had its share of driver problems and bugs when it first came out I believe it has grown into a fairly decent operating system. I run Windows Vista on my office desktop and have had pretty good luck with it. (Now I just jinxed myself Im sure).

Even though Vista seems better than it was I still believe that Windows XP Pro is a more stable operating system.

Enter Windows 7 beta. I realize Windows 7 is coming in a few days in beta form but I am eagerly and anxiously waiting it official release. I will be downloading and testing the new version as soon as my download finishes. I intend on testing on vmware and Microsoft Virtual machines as well as a physical machine or too. This new version is supposed to be faster, easier and more stable. I heard a rumor that it could take up to 2 years from the beta release to official release but most likely will be sooner than that.

As long it comes out of the box stable and problem free I dont mind waiting a few extra month for MS to get it right.

Stay tuned and I will post my results.

"ItFixed" it for me! - ntoskrnl.exe Error

Here is another article under my "ItFixed" it for Me series.
I had a user with a laptop come to me this morning complaining that her laptop would not start with the following error

Windows NT could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

Winnt_root\System32\Ntoskrnl.exe

Please re-install a copy of the above file.


Upon research I found a MS Article that references this error. In the article were several options to resolve the issue. After trying each one the last option was the one that worked for me

Start the computer by using the Recovery Console, and then run the "CHKDSK /r" command.


To start the Recovery Console boot off of the XP installation CD then wait for the option to "Press R for Recovery Console". Once in the console (note: you will need the administrator password for the machine) you can type the above command at the prompt. It took several hours to run on a 40GB drive so your time may vary.

This may not be the only way to deal with this error but "ItFixed" It for me!.

Super Anti Spyware Free Edition - Product Review

I have come across another free AntiSpyWare program that I thought I would post a quick review about. It is called Super Anti Spyware (I tested version 4.24.1004.

The program is available from http://www.superantispyware.com. There is a free version and a Professional version.



The main difference is you do not get real time protection or support with the free version.

The program has many configurable options including automatic starting with windows, scheduled scans, quarantining, and the option to exclude items.

I have testing the software on several PC and from what I have found so far is that the program is very thorough and does detect some infection that other anti spy and anti spam program miss.

On average it took about 45 mins for each of the pcs I tested but it really depends on the number of files and amount of data you are scanning.

For those in the IT support field this seems to be another good program to add to your bag of tricks. I also intend to tell my students about this one.

Please post a comment if you have anything to add about Super Anti Spyware

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Small Shell Script for Linux

Here is one shell script I used recently. Now I am not the most fluent in scripting languages so this is probably not the only way to do this but it may help someone else who is trying to do something similar in a shell script.

This was used for gzip'ing many .dmp files that were in a folder to save space. it compresses the files about 1/8th of the originaly size.

for i in *.dmp; do gzip $i; done


I ran this on one of our servers to save a large amount of disk space. I then moved all of the gzip files off to archive.

In my example I used the gzip command but you can put anything in its place.

Hope this helps someone

TCPView for Windows v2.53

Here is another good utility for troubleshooting network connections. It can also come in handy while fighting some spam and spyware infection.

TCPView for Windows v2.53 is a SysInternals tool now owned by Microsoft.
You can download the file from http://download.sysinternals.com/Files/TcpView.zip.

You can also run it directly from the website using this link http://live.sysinternals.com/Tcpview.exe.



This program shows you any networking connections in or outbound from your pc as well as what processes are attached to the connection.

It is another tool I have in my repair "bag of tricks"

Let post any comments on this or other similar programs.