Category Archives: Admin Tools & Tips

Getting a stubborn Exchange Rollup Patch to Install

Over the course of a couple of days I’ve struggled to get an Exchange Server to install an update.  What I stumbled upon was an idea I’ll share now.  After repeated failures pointing to insufficient privilege, I discovered that while I couldn’t run the .msp package “As Administrator”, instead I could run an elevated command prompt that way and launch the .msp from that context.  Well guess what?  It worked!

While this was for Exchange 2007, I believe the concept is universal with any stubborn updates for any Microsoft products.  This means you have to manually download the patch locally too of course.


Exchange 2010 SP2 Pickup Directory .txt –> .eml

I’m migrating a Web Application that is used as a custom ticketing system; the migration is from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 SP2 and have gone from an x86 OS to an x64.  The full scope of changes are complex but I wanted to document what was needed to set and then verify the Pickup Directory in Exchange 2010 SP2.  Also I wanted to document the simple batch script I wrote to check and rename .txt files in the Pickup Folder to .eml so that they are now processed.  Apparently .txt messages use to work but don’t any longer.

The basics of pickup folder messaging:

Exchange 2010 SP2 using Exchange PowerShell

*where Exchange01 is altered to match the Exchange Server name

To set the Pickup Directory to the default location (no set by default though and you cannot do this in the EMC)

Set-TransportServer Exchange01 -PickupDirectoryPath “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\TransportRoles\PickUp”

Validate the directory location

Get-TransportServer -Identity “Exchange01” | Fl *PickupDirectoryPath*

Batch Script Scheduled to Recur every 5 minutes that renames files from .txt to .eml

*create .bat file and copy below script in and save
*create schedule task to run the script every 5 minutes indefinitely

cd “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\TransportRoles\Pickup” | ren *.txt *.eml

the path the path the path

got an error setting up a vanilla Windows 2008 R2 server for RD Web Apps – IIS wouldn’t load any web pages and the error message was telling me exactly what the problem was.  Funny thing is I couldn’t see the needle in that haystack.  So Google is my friend and so is this guy at this blog – Thank Indian for your helpful comment.  Removed the extra \ in the ISAPI filter path and all was fixed!

SBS 2011 failed restore – KSOD black screen with cursor

Crisis compounded …a business is critically impacted and NOW like as in NOW need to use their Windows Backup to restore back to a known good point.  You go through the 1-2 hour process and when the server reboots you get …a Black Screen of Death (KSOD) aka black screen a cursor and an unhealthy server OS that you cannot access.

When I hit this issue I immediately called a colleague who laser beamed onto the source of this issue.  Even with that information of the general cause and fix in hand, I had a very difficult time finding the needed detailed information so I could apply it and quickly overcome the issue.  My client needed to get back up and in business – my ass was now on the line!

…So I’m rectifying this info sprawl disconnect and putting it all in one place  – here.

In the interest of helping other businesses get back up from this scenario as fast as possible, below is this assemblage blog post.  This assembled information resolved my issue and can resolve yours as well.  It really isn’t very complicated to execute and you will find yourself quickly de-stressed once you again see the Ctrl-Alt-Delete screen following the server’s startup.

This also can apply to SBS 2008 too; just remember to copy the directory mentioned below from an SBS 2008 source.

First – What, Why, When

  • The reason you aren’t fully booting into the OS GUI is due to a previously installed Microsoft tool that you will later want to remove. This tool is the NTbackup & Restore Tool.  It is installed as a individually downloadable KB (.msu) which means it doesn’t appear as a standalone Role, Feature, or Program.  Unlike those things which you are commonly used to manipulating this tool has to be removed via the “Installed Updates” list …more on that later.
  • This Microsoft Tool is interfering with a specific directory that is now incomplete and without it your recovery fails.  You end up at a KSOD (Black Screen of Death).

Second – Help!

  • The ‘kinda’ good news is that if you can get a copy of this directory from a known good installation of the same OS at another of your clients or from someone you trust to provide you the same …then you are ‘in like Flynn’

The reason for this is that a specific folder is omitted from the backups – c:\Windows\Registration – if this condition exists.

This condition is now noted in Update Rollup 3 for SBS 2011 –

The simple fix for this is as follows:

  1. Copy the contents of C:\Windows\Registration from a working SBS2011 server
  2. Boot into the Windows Repair/Recovery mode using SBS2011 Disc 1
  3. Open up a command prompt and browse to C:\Windows\Registration
  4. Copy the files (from a USB drive or something) over to the server

The server should now boot up

(see reference link to PowerBiz Solutions post by Boon Tee below)

Third – Cleanup

  • once the OS is back up and running you’ve got some critically important work to do
  • uninstall the NTbackup & Restore Tool by bringing up either Programs and Feature or the Widows Updates Windows and then selecting the ‘Installed Updates’ choice on the left column.  Within the list of updates find and remove
    “Update for Microsoft Windows Windows (KB974674)”
  • install, review, and take remediation steps from the Microsoft Windows Server Solutions BPA 1.3 – avoid aka ignore the direction to alter the webconfig as instructed with the EWS error (see references below for further information)
  • run a full image backup immediately


(click above to enlarge)


The Copier Man Rings Twice …and Then Some–A Tale of a Spanning Tree Loop (a Sequel Every Millisecond)

Have you ever wondered …what would happen if?  …if say …say

…if say you decide to plug that unknown loose wire into say …some open port on that switch that is conveniently close by? …well let’s just pretend even if you wouldn’t – I mean you are a mere copier printer tech guy …why should you be sloppy and leave loose wires sitting around unplugged? …you remembered unplugging it from the business machine you worked on moments ago and so you know it shouldn’t be loose …its like extra bolts when working on your engine – they gotta go somewhere – that machine is a network aware device and logic might dictate that a network cable should plug into the port on the side that magically happens to have a matching shape to that thing at the end of the loose cable …but that switch has lots of other wires in it – that looks like a better place …right?  I mean it does look inviting. [DOH!]

…so if you take a mini-switch that expands your limited one port wall plate in the corner to use a couple of printers, an IP phone, scanner …etc. you have a time-bomb waiting to detonate your network with ARP traffic.  Perhaps labeling the switch exactly as it is to be used would help to idiot proof it …or maybe taping over the unused ports.  The above fun was done at the expense of a real scenario but the names were changed to protect the guilty.   Unplugging all hosts from the main relay rack switches and adding them back one at a time was the methodology that first brought relief and ultimately led to the conclusion that a spanning tree loop condition existed somewhere out in the office.  The pain of seeing a network go berserk and not know why was unsettling for many hours of down-time until the client remembered that a copier/printer guy had done work the previous day.   It was a matter of minutes then to get things rectified.