Windows Update freezes / gets stuck while searching for updates, in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2
article #1000, updated 3 days ago

This has been happening on long-installed machines for quite a while. But in the last week, four different sets of Windows 7 64-bit install media, over seven different reloads, have had Windows Update get stuck, or freeze, while searching for Windows updates, eating 100% of one CPU core. Several changes in reload pattern were attempted, some of which included WSUSoffline, without success. Profoundly expert help provided the following. Before deliberately attempting Windows Update, we are to install these, in this order:

  1. Servicing stack update for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1: September 20, 2016:
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3177467
  1. July 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1:
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3172605
  1. September 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1:
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3185278

Windows Update may get stuck again, searching for new updates, the first time any of the above is attempted. If this occurs, each time, we do this:

  1. In TASKMGR, terminate process wusa.exe
  2. Restart service wuauserv
  3. Try the install again.

The second time we do each install (after the termination and service restart), the popup for searching for Windows updates comes up for 3-10 seconds, and then we are asked whether we want to install. We then say yes, and it installs. Then we move to the next one of the three!

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Free Public DNS Servers
article #883, updated 8 days ago

Google is a good place to start:

8.8.8.8
8.8.4.4

OpenDNS is often good too:

208.67.220.220
208.67.222.222
208.67.220.222
208.67.222.220

And one new to us, is Level 3. Level 3 provides DNS to most ISPs in the U.S.A., and does provide geo-routing for speed and compatibility.

209.244.0.3
209.244.0.4

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Installing nslookup on Linux
article #1008, updated 8 days ago

Increasingly, nslookup is not installed by default in major Linux distros. On Arch-based and Debian-based distros, it’s in package dnsutils,

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NIC Performance Settings
article #1007, updated 11 days ago

Here are settings useful to maximize performance of a hardware network interface. Virtual guests benefit by these being applied to their virtual host, only. Not all of these exist on every NIC. There are also many settings which should not be touched, or should be touched only when the toucher knows what they are doing! The below have always helped when this writer has found them available to try. Do be warned, the NIC will go offline for 2-10 seconds after you Apply most of these.

  1. Install the most current drivers for NICs and also motherboard chipset. In at least one case, the server vendor had only an outdated and unreliable driver available for download, the one which worked well for years came from Intel’s web site.
  2. “DMA Coalescing” on.
  3. “Enable PME” off.
  4. “Energy Efficient Ethernet” off.
  5. “Green Ethernet” off.
  6. “Gigabit Lite” off.
  7. “Adaptive Inter-Frame Spacing” on.
  8. All offloading on.
  9. “Interrupt Moderation” on.
  10. “Interrupt Moderation Rate” should be “Adaptive”.
  11. “Scaling”, should be “on” or “Enabled”.
  12. “Receive Side Scaling” on.
  13. “Receive Side Scaling Queues” to maximum.
  14. There are cache settings on all server-class NICs, separate for send and receive. They are usually called “Receive Buffers” and “Transmit Buffers”, or “Receive Descriptors” and “Transmit Descriptors”. Set them to the maximum. For current Intel server NICs the defaults are usually 256 or 512, and the maximums are 2048; for a few other kinds, one or the other is 5000 or more; for others it is much less. Each descriptor takes 2K of RAM, which in today’s multigigabyte world is well worthwhile. Some older Broadcom gigabit NICs will yellow-flag if they are set to 2048; for these, set receive to 750, transmit to 1500.
  15. In the NIC’s “Power Management” tab, turn everything off. This may have to be abridged if Wake-On-LAN is used. Some NICs, notably some Realtek, will automatically turn power management back on at boot; this needs to be fixed through group policy.
  16. In SBS 2008, only one NIC (or one NIC team) is permitted to represent the server on the network. If there are two active NICs, you will have to turn one off, or crashes and unpredictable behavior will result sooner or later.

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Thorough Cleanup of VSS
article #1004, updated 16 days ago

Cleaning up VSS, can improve server performance a whole lot. Start an administrative CMD, and then…

Step 1:

vssadmin delete shadows /all

If there are orphan shadows, you will be asked whether you want to delete them. If there are and you delete them, you will see immediate performance benefit. Reportedly, Windows autodeletes them only after there are 64 per volume. We prefer to see zero!

Step 2:

vssadmin Add ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=20%

Do the above for C: and any other drives local to the server, provided you have the disk space (30% free or more probably). If you don’t have the disk space on one volume, you can use the /On parameter to place the preallocated space for that one, on another volume. This does not reserve the space, it just preallocates it, makes it ready for use, so that whenever Windows wants to do any of the bajillions of things it does with VSS, things ranging from tiny to enormous, it can skip that step. On some servers, this will increase performance very impressively, immediately. In general it keeps them smooth and stable and prevents hesitations.

More info here:

http://backupchain.com/i/how-to-delete-all-vss-shadows-and-orphaned-shadows

http://www.tech-no.org/?p=898

https://www.storagecraft.com/support/kb/article/289

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Enable CLEANMGR.EXE on Server 2008 and 2008R2
article #1006, updated 17 days ago

Very useful procedure, does not need a role/feature install:

https://support.appliedi.net/kb/a110/how-to-enable-the-disk-cleanup-tool-on-windows-server-2008-r2.aspx

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When OWA is slow or doesn't work well, including failure of attachment capability
article #1005, updated 18 days ago

When this happens to OWA, do this in Exchange PowerShell:

Remove-OwaVirtualDirectory "EXCHANGESERVERNAME\owa (default web site)"
New-OwaVirtualDirectory

This came from here:

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/exchange/en-US/f9c0ca61-2e64-4a75-81ae-5c7c119a96fb/owa-2010-users-cant-attach-files?forum=exchange2010

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Portable VirtualBox on Windows
article #1003, updated 19 days ago

VirtualBox, portable, on Windows. Amazing.

http://www.vbox.me/

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Script for Flash Player on Linux, Especially 32-bit
article #1002, updated 22 days ago

Adobe is supporting Flash less and less on Linux. Google Chrome was the way to do it for a while, but then Google abandoned 32-bit platforms, and there are a lot of 32-bit users who want full Flash web-site compatibility. There still is 32-bit Flash code out there, but making it work can still be very confusing on many Linux platforms. Happily, as is the wonderful modus operandi in the Linux world, an enquiring mind figured it out, and gave us a way. It’s here:

https://gist.github.com/ruario/215c365facfe8d3c5071

A quick way to apply it, is to run these commands in order:

cd ~
wget https://gist.github.com/ruario/215c365facfe8d3c5071/raw/1d7e5838b14df0da694638ba59b1c97232b01bb8/latest-pepper-flash.sh
chmod +x latest-pepper-flash.sh
./latest-pepper-flash.sh

Flash does not show up as an Extension, but it appears to work very well, you can verify it on Adobe’s check page.

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Enterprise-wide Automatic Signatures in Office 365
article #1001, updated 25 days ago

As of “Wave 15” of Office 365, there is enterprise-wide, a.k.a. global, automatic signature capability. It’s in Exchange -> mail flow -> rules, and it involves setting a disclaimer message, but there is extensive user-data variable substitution. A full description is here:

http://365command.com/justins-tech-tip-of-the-week-global-email-signatures-for-office-365/

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