I have been testing out Solarwinds MSP backup, and one of the features this has is that you can restore the backup to a virtual disk, which is in VMware vmdk format.
I have tended to use Oracle VirtualBox locally for my virtual machines since it is compatible with a lot of appliance templates and vhd images you can download online and is free and has a small footprint. Although Windows 10 now does include a cut down version of hyper-v allowing you to run virtual machines, you do need the PRO version of Windows, which I did not have at the time of writing this, I was running Windows home edition.
While the vmdk file does work with VirtualBox natively, I discovered that it does require some work to get it to boot and you cannot do much else with it, which includes shrinking it. This is one thing I needed to do in order to reduce the amount of space used by my restored virtual disk image.
Firstly in order to get the vmdk to boot I had to enable EFI mode in virtualbox settings.
I then had to run bootrec/rebuildbcd
To compact the disk, I discovered I have to convert the vmdk to a VDI file. thankfully this turned out to be quite simple.
If you will not be using a dynamic disk, and do not need to shrink it, then you can skip these first 3 steps obviously.
1. Delete Unnecessary Files from the VM
- The best way to do this is to run the Windows disk cleanup tool, including the option to “clean up system files”
2. Defragment the Disk
- If you want to also shrink the disk, then Using the Windows defrag tool will help with the shrink process.
3. Clean any free disk space
After the disk has been defragmented, the virtual Windows drive will still have unused space containing garbage bits and bytes. These garbage bits and bytes are from the contents of files that used to occupy that space but that are no longer there.
The most effective way to clean free disk space on a Windows drive is to overwrite the unused space with a bitstream of zeros or to zero-fill any free space.
Windows does not come with a native utility to zero-fill unused space but you can find the excellent SDelete tool at Microsoft’s TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897443.aspx
4. Convert the disk
If your vmdk image file is already connected to a guest VM, then you need to remove it, otherwise, the process will not work.
- shutdown the VM
- go into the virtual media manager and remove the vmdk file from the guest VM
Open CMD prompt, and navigate to your VirtualBox folder, from here you will execute VBoxManage, using the coneMEdium command to clone the VHD and convert to VDI.
c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox> VBoxManage clonemedium disk --format VDI [drive]:[\path_to_file\sourceFile.vmdk] [drive]:[\path-to\destinationFile.vdi]
Obviously, replace the [drive]:[\path_to_file\myserver.vmdk] with your source and destination paths.
This conversion process will actually shrink down the VHD by default if you are using a dynamic disk, and should get it down the minimum required. If it hasn’t sufficiently reduced it, then you can try to run this command.
VBoxManage modifyhd --compact "[drive]:\[path_to_image_file]\[name_of_image_file].vdi"
I have been having some WIFI problems the last couple of months where devices would randomly lose access to the internet, some devices couldn’t even connect to the WIFI access point, others could connect but were just slow as hell. Even wired devices seemed to be having problems. After trying everything possible, I finally thought that maybe something on the network was sucking all the bandwidth, as some devices did still have a connection.
So I logged into my router and checked the connected devices bandwidth usage and saw that PC which was showing high usage. Lo and behold windows update was running, which was sucking all the bandwidth and killing the network for everyone else.
After further investigation, I discovered that one of the new features introduced in windows 10 is the ability to get updates through P2P (like how torrents work) to improve download speed. This can be a major network bottleneck due to the number of p2p connections that get opened up. So disabling this was the first step.
go to Windows Update -> Advanced Options -> Choose how updates are delivered
PCs on my local network, this will still allow you to get updates from other computers in your local network only, and not external computers, which will save your available bandwidth.
Although making this change while updates are already downloading doesn’t seem to have any effect, so you would have to stop the downloads for the setting to take effect. This also did not solve the issue by itself, it improved things, but everything was still slow.
My next step was to go into my router admin and set some throttling so that individual computers had a limit on how much bandwidth they could consume. Although if you have a basic/cheap router from your ISP then you may not have such an option available. In which case you can try setting thr throttle on the individual pc’s using BITS.
The updates happen through 2 main windows components: WUDO and BITS.
WUDO is the Windows Update Delivery Optimization is part of the Windows Update for Business and is used for the P2P installation that I disabled already.
The Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) is commonly used by Windows to download updates, so this can also be tweaked using group policy.
To open the Local Group Policy Editor from the command line:
- Click Start , type
gpedit.msc in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
To set a bandwidth rule on the BITS:
- Navigate to
Administrative Templates ->
Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)
Limit the maximum network bandwidth for BITS background transfers
- Set it to
- Set the time range and maximum transfer rate
I have recently been setting up MSP Control (formerly WebsitePanel) on my new CFML Developer server. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support MariaDB out of the box and so won’t detect if you have it installed. Fortunately, this is an easy hack.
- Open up your MSPControl database in SSMS, and open the providers table.
- Now find the MySQL providerID that matches your MariaDB install
i.e. MySQL 5.7 for MariaDB 10.1
- Now add a new entry into the SERVICES table, using the providerID you got from the last step and the appropriate serverID for the server you want to add it to. You get he ServerID from the servers table, or just edit the server in the control panel and get it from the URL.
- Now just edit this server in MSP Control, and you should see MySQL listed, just edit and setup as you would MySQL.
- Now you just enable MySQL on your hosting plans.
Windows Phone has received a lot of bad publicity, and the main complaint you see from ignorant reviewers is that there is a lack of apps for windows Phones (WP). While there may be many legitimate reasons to not like WP, lack of apps is not one of them, there are currently over 500,000 apps in the WP store, and there were 300k even when I got my phone, so I would hardly call this a lack of apps. Sure there are some apps you may want that do not exist because most vendors do not bother with WP due to the small user base, but in most cases someone else has created a good alternative and I have found the quality of most WP apps to be high. I have only found a very small handful of apps I wanted which were not available at all or were so bad I could not use them, LastPass and Kayako are 2, both of which I needed and both of which are dire on Windows as the developers have put barely any effort into them and they lack the functionality of their Android counterparts.
The biggest cock up that Microsoft did make was not releasing Windows Phone 10 at the same time as Windows 10, and I think this killed it for them, aside from being too late to the phone party in general. And then they have taken forever to roll out the upgrade to Windows phone 8 users, and many phones will not even keep the upgrade as promised as their phones do not meet minimum memory requirements.
I have a Nokia Lumia 930, running WP 8.1, which I purchased after getting fed up with Android updates making my Galaxy note unusable, killing my battery life etc. It turns out I much preferred Windows Phone, it was faster, more responsive, more reliable, and I simply preferred the more grown up and business like UI. The requirements for WP are also a lot lower and thus the phones are lower spec and cheaper as a result. Certainly there were some areas of functionality lacking, and I got fed up waiting for WP10 to be released for my phone, and so I installed the insider preview instead. Sadly it has been riddled with bugs, with each update seeming to break something new, and then it seems the last update I did must have resulted in the battery being drained super fast, as it was only lasting half a day with no use whatsoever and suddenly became unusable.
At the time I thought it was a problem with the phone/battery itself, so decided to bite the bullet and get an upgrade from O2, and decided to try the much applauded Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (which I will be reviewing). While I like the look of the new Lumia 950 XL, my experience with WP10 insider preview has given me a bad impression that if I bought a new WP10 phone, I would have same issues, and as much as I like Windows Phone, unless Microsoft pulls a rabbit out of the hat, its days are certainly numbers, unless the rumored surface phone saves the day.
Now annoyingly after I got my new Galaxy S7, my son asked if he could have my Lumia 930, so I did a factory reset on it, and installed latest updates, and guess what, the battery is now fine GRRR!!
So I then decided to find out if WP10 was officially available yet, and it was, although this information was not made easily available by Microsoft, you have to install the upgrade adviser first to find out if your phone supports WP10, and then you have to enable the upgrade. So I would imagine that most WP8 users are never going to find this out. You can find upgrade instructions HERE.
So I now have an upgrade that I didn’t really need and I am tempted to just send it back and carry on using my Lumia. But I first decided to see if there was a way to make Android UI more like Windows Phone, so then maybe I could have UI I wanted, but keep the other advantages this phone offered, and it turns out there is a way.
A number of developers have created Windows Phone style launchers for Android that emulate the WP8 or WP10 UI and layout. The best one I have found so far is “Launcher 8 WP style” which has managed to emulate the WP tiles interface so perfectly that you think you have a Windows Phone. The only thing that seems to be lacking is live tiles, as I so far have not seen any of the tiles updating. Most of the others I have tried have not got it right, and just look like cheap knockoffs as they have no got the tiles right. This app also includes themes so you can change the look further.
So if you are a fan of the Windows Phone UI and tiles, but find the Windows Phones lacking and cannot give up your Android phone, give this a try instead.