Netsmith Networks

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computer, PC and server support and installation spyware removal

Windows 7 or 8?

I'm often asked which OS should I go with.  Windows 7, or Windows 8?

As an enterprise, the operating system of choice is clear: Windows 7. 

As of right now, the lack of apps made specifically for Windows 8 undermines the usefulness of the changes, and the state of many companies' hardware – laptops and desktops without touchscreens and sporting older internals – makes Windows 7 the obvious option.

Home PC? The choice is not so clear.

If you prefer to keep your software up to date then upgrading to Windows 8 may be the next logical step, as everything moving forward will become exclusively compatible with Windows 8. If you've already invested in the Windows ecosystem – through Windows Phone, for example – then Windows 8 will make a lot of sense, both aesthetically and functionally, as the two sync well and the user experience is almost identical, bar desktop apps. 

The end of Windows XP


Windows XP support has ended

Windows XP is 12 years old—that’s pretty old for an operating system.

In the past 12 years you’ve probably gotten a new phone, maybe a new TV, and possibly even a new car. Maybe it’s time for a new PC too, so you can make sure you have more memory and storage, faster processing speeds, and a higher-quality display (some even come with touch). And they’re less expensive than you might think.

We support our older operating systems much longer than most other businesses in this industry, but we can’t keep supporting old operating systems and still move forward creating new and better products. We’ve been supporting Windows XP for the past 12 years—that's longer than we've supported any other operating system in our history and already two years longer than the standard ten years of support we normally provide. It’s time for us to look ahead so we can create better products and services for you and all our customers.

What are my options?

We encourage you to learn more here about what end of support means, but in the end you have two options:

Option 1: Keep using Windows XP—unprotected

While it's true that you can keep using your PC with Windows XP after support ends, we don’t recommend it. For starters, it’ll become five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses, which means you could get hacked and have your personal information stolen. Also, companies that make devices like digital cameras, Internet-ready TVs, and printers won’t provide drivers that work with Windows XP, so if you get new devices, they won’t work with your current PC. And over time, the security and performance of your PC will just continue to degrade so things will only get worse.

Windows Internet Explorer 8 is also no longer supported, so if you use it (or any other browser) to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats. Microsoft has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP. To find out what this means, see "Will I still be protected if I use Microsoft Security Essentials?" later on this page.

Option 2: Start using Windows 8.1

If you don’t like the idea of your data and personal information being hacked, or your PC's just not working like it used to, consider moving to Windows 8.1.

First, see if you can upgrade your current PC

PCs that are still running Windows XP have been around for many years, but there’s still a slim chance some of them might meet the system requirements for Windows 8.1. To find out, try the Upgrade Advisor—it’s free, and it’ll tell you if you can run Windows 8.1 on your current PC.

If your PC is good to go, you can review and print the Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows Vista or Windows XP tutorial. It’ll walk you through all of the steps.

If you can’t upgrade, it might be time to consider a new PC

You'll be amazed at what a computer can do today.

Disaster Recovery Restore

XYZ Disaster Recovery Restore

On April 26, 2012 Joe and I, did a full virtualization of XYZ's Production Servers.  We ran all three servers on one old server using Microsoft Virtual Machine, Hyper-V.

A virtual machine (VM) is a software implementation of a machine (i.e. a computer or server) that executes programs like a physical machine.

The Hyper V server used was a Dell 2900 with 2 Dual Core 1333mHz Processors, 12 GB RAM and 10 142 GB 15,000 RPM SCSI drives  - RAID 5 = 1 TB

Current Network

Server 1

1.       Domain Controller

2.       DNS Server

3.       Intranet

4.       User Folders/Files

5.       Public Folders Files

6.       GFI Fax Server

Server 2

1.       Domain Controller

2.       DNS Server

3.       Exchange Mail Server

4.       Trend Micro AntiVirus Server

Server 3

1.       SQL Server

2.       SIRE (Document Imaging) Server

3.       ITC Claims.Net

4.       ITC WOW system


·         On April 19, 2012 I set up a raid 5 array on 10 SCSI disks and initialized.

·         Rebooted w/ Windows Server 2008 R2 64bit disk

·         INSTALL    FULL    NEW   DISK 0 1225.1 GB

·         Installed Hyper V Role and a few reboots and numerous Microsoft updates

On April 25, 2012 Joe connected remotely and start the procedure for Virtualization from the BDR.

On April 26, 2012 We brought up the three production servers on the old server. I plugged in a switch so that the server would be on a separate network.  I connected with an extra PC and after a few configuration changes we were connected and I began testing the applications

Server 1

1.       Domain Controller - test OK

2.       DNS Server - test OK

3.       Intranet - test OK

4.       User Folders/Files - test OK

5.       Public Folders Files - test OK


Server 2

5.       Domain Controller - test OK

6.       DNS Server - test OK

7.       Exchange Mail Server - test OK


Server 3

5.       SQL Server - test OK

6.       SIRE Server - test OK

7.       ITC Claims.Net - test OK

8.       ITC WOW system - test OK



 by Shawn Burrell

The test was successful.  We were able bring up all three servers on a separate network and connect with an existing PC that had previously been used on our production network.  All of the applications on the PC worked with the servers except for the Anti Virus.  *The Anti Virus could easily be fixed if this were a real emergency just by going online.

By conducting this test we proved that if any one of Sutter's servers crashed they could be back online in a few hours.  If all three crashed they could be back online in less than 12 hours.  This however would be less than ideal as the server we were using Hyper-V on is 5 years old and was slow running three virtual servers.  It would be good enough to allow them to conduct their business while the production server was repaired or replaced.

If there were a disaster where they lost all servers and workstations we would need to have a BDR sent overnight from DATTO backup, which we could run virtually or copy images to new servers to run virtually or restore to completely to new servers.  Software would need to be installed on new workstations to access the new servers.

Microsoft Exchange Best Practices Analyzer 2.8

The Microsoft Exchange Best Practices Analyzer is designed for administrators who want to determine the overall health of their Exchange servers and topology. The tool scans Exchange servers and identifies items that do not conform to Microsoft best practices.

The Exchange Best Practices Analyzer programmatically collects settings and values from data repositories such as Active Directory, registry, metabase and performance monitor. Once collected, a set of comprehensive ‘best practice’ rules are applied to the topology. 
Administrators running this tool will get a detailed report listing the recommendations that can be made to the environment to achieve greater performance, scalability and uptime. 

Note Exchange Best Practices Analyzer v2.8 should not be used to scan Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2010. In Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2010, the Best Practices Analyzer is installed during Exchange Setup and can be run from the Exchange Management Console Toolbox. 

Get it here.

Netsmith Networks