Azure IaaS Virtual Machines Temporary Drives

Microsoft
I’ve seen many posts on forums asking for more detail on the temporary disks assigned to Azure IaaS Windows and Linux VMs so here is a quick post explaining what they are. When you create a VM either in the portal or command line utilities (i.e. PowerShell) you automatically receive an additional drive or mount point which is available for you to use at no additional cost for storage or transactions.  The primarily use case is to provide faster storage (IOPS and Latency) but although this sounds great it isn’t to be used for any data that you wish to keep. You typically store temporary data on these drives like Windows page files and Linux Swap files or even SQL TempDBs.  As you can see from the images below it…
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Windows Server Technical Preview – Storage Replica

Microsoft
Storage Replica enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between clusters or servers for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster for high availability. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes ensuring zero data loss at the file system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss. To help you get familiar with Storage Replica, we have a downloadable guide to provide you with step-by-step instructions for evaluating the Stretch Cluster and the Server-to-Server scenarios. These are both designed for Disaster Recovery and provide “over the river” synchronous metro replication.
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HP iLO 4 Firmware Issues

Hardware, Microsoft, VMware
Recently there has been an issue raised with HP that in rare  instances,  on a ProLiant Gen8 series server with HP Integrated Lights-Out 4 (iLO 4) Firmware Versions 1.30, 1.32, 1.40 or 1.50, intermittent Non-Maskable Interrupt (NMI) events may occur. After rebooting the server, the operating system loads properly and no additional impact to system operation will occur. If this issue occurs, the operating system will indicate that an NMI has happened; however, the specific indication will vary by OS: VMware ESXi operating systems will experience a Purple Screen of Death (PSOD). Linux operating systems will display a message indicating that an NMI occurred. Windows will experience a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Upon investigation the Integrated Management Log (IML) will contain NO information about the NMI event.  This issue has…
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Windows 8.1 Bitlocker Drive Encryption

Microsoft
I have recently updated my laptop from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 8.1 Pro and previously used TrueCrypt to encrypt my laptop drive but on this occasion I thought I'd give Bitlocker a try instead as this is now available with the Windows 8.1 Pro version.  Normally you would use Bitlocker with TPM (Trusted Platform Module) but I didn't have TPM installed in my laptop but I still wanted to use it.  As I discovered there is a way around this by using either a PIN or USB drive as a pre-authentication method.  I also discovered that the default encryption algorithm used is AES 128-bit but wanted something stronger.  By searching through GPO I found I could enable Bitlocker without using TPM and that I could also change the default encryption algorithm to AES 256-bit…
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Microsoft Recommends NOT to Disable IPv6

Microsoft
You may always here from people in the industry that IPv6 "breaks things/stops things working" and that the recommendation is to disable it. If you where to speak to Microsoft or attend their seminars, you will always hear them say DON'T disable IPv6.  So who is correct!! The link below gives you an insight into IPv6. I've extracted  an example  Q and A from the list. IPv6 for Microsoft Windows http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/network/cc987595.aspx Q. What are Microsoft’s recommendations about disabling IPv6? A. It is unfortunate that some organizations disable IPv6 on their computers running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008, where it is installed and enabled by default. Many disable IPv6-based on the assumption that they are not running any applications or services that use it. Others might disable it because of…
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Issues with Ports on Windows Servers

Tools
I have come across a number of comments in forums about asking how to determine what software is using a particular port.  This query happens when you are trying to install software which fails due to a port being utilized already.  I came across the same query and remembered that I could do this using NETSTAT but couldn't remember the switches.  Well I found the information and thought I would share:- netstat -aon | findstr Eg: with port 443 If you kill the related process then the port will be become free. Note : Normally PID column will not be visible in task manager , but the same you can find in View -> Select columns
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Configuring Windows Time for Active Directory

Microsoft
Over recent years I have noticed that Windows time configuration is sometimes overlooked and misconfigured and at some point may cause you major hassles. For anyone not aware, all machines in an Active Directory environment automatically find a time server to sync time with. Workstations use their authenticating Domain Controller, and the DCs sync with the server holding the PDC Emulator FSMO role. In a multi-domain forest, the PDC Emulator in each child domain synchronises with a DC or the PDC Emulator in the forest root domain. To ensure the time remains reliable across the forest, only the PDC Emulator in the forest root domain should ever sync with an external time source – this leads to only one source of time being used across the forest. (more…)
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