Rodney Buike - Founder and original lazy admin. MVP: System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management

Daniel Nerenberg - Lazy admin 2.0. MVP: Windows Expert - IT Pro


These postings are provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. You assume all risk for your use.

Backup Windows to Azure

One of the easiest access points to Azure is storage. It is ridiculously cheap, easy to leverage and a great way to get your feet wet with Azure. Azure Recovery Services allows you to backup Windows Server Backup or System Center DPM to Azure for roughly (at the time of this writing) $0.30/GB per month with the first 5GB free.  This also includes network traffic inbound as well as outbound (aka data restores).  To get started you’ll need the following:

  • Microsoft Azure Subscription
  • Management Certificates
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Azure Backup Agent

Setting up an Azure subscription is easy and once you have that the first step is to create a certificate.  You can create a self signed certificate easily using the MAKECERT tool.

makecert.exe -r -pe -n CN=AzureBackupCert -ss my -sr localmachine -eku -len 2048 -e 01/01/2018 AzureBackup.cer

With the CER file created the next step is to create the Backup Vault.  Log in to the

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Office 365 Email Migration - Need To Know

Office 365 offers some very compelling reasons to move your organization’s email to the cloud.  From easier management, lower costs to providing the latest and greatest experience to your end users it makes a lot of sense.  We are seeing more and more Office 365 adoption across the board from smaller organizations to large, global organizations.  Microsoft is also making it easy with training, deployment incentives and ever decreasing cost per mailbox.  Before you jump on board there are a few things you need to know…

  • Hybrid Deployments – Unless you are a very small organization moving everything to Office 365 (i.e. a SBS replacement) you will be deploying a hybrid solution with at minimum one Exchange 2010 SP3 or better server.  The Office 365 portal does not give you the full set of management features you are used to having with an on-premises Exchange server.  Some of the daily tasks

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  • Azure IaaS VM Billing

    A while back Microsoft made an announcement stating that you would only be billed for VMs that were running.  This was a big step as previous to this you paid for a VM whether it was running or not.  That said there seems to be some confusion around what “running” is in the Azure cloud.

    A VM can be in one of four different states:

    • Running (Provisioning) – when you first create a VM in Azure, as it is going through the deployment process it will be in this state.
    • Running – once deployed and started the VM will be in the running state.
    • Stopped – if you shut down a VM via an RDP session, or are rebooting, the VM will go into this state
    • Stopped (Deallocated) – if you shut down a VM via the Azure Management Portal or the API it will release all it’s resources and shutdown

    Now you might think that

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    Discover FSMO Roles with PowerShell

    With PowerShell the defacto standard for Windows management I’ve started digging into it a little more as I need to.  Recently I had to use PS to seize the FSMO roles from a failed DC.  Now in my lab I only had two DCs, DC01 and DC02.  DC01 was the first and therefore held the FSMO roles and I didn’t need to do anything to figure out where they were.

    But in a larger environment you may need to run the following commands to determine where the roles are held.  There are two commands we need to use, Get-ADForest for the Schema Master and Domain Naming Master roles and Get-ADDomain for the PDC Emulator, RID Master and Infrastructure Master roles.

    Now you could look the role holders up in your documentation (you have documented this right?) but it might be quicker to fire up PowerShell and run the following commands:

    Get-ADForest <domain_name> |

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    Managing FSMO Roles with PowerShell

    It seems like only yesterday that PowerShell was released.  Maybe because time flies when you are having fun or maybe because it is really picking up steam since Windows 2008 R2 was released.  Regardless with Windows Server 2012 now being adopted and Windows Server 2012 R2 almost shipping it is clear that PowerShell is the Windows management scripting language.

    “Anything you can do in the GUI you can do in PowerShell” – Brad Anderson at the Windows Server 2012 partner Airlift keynote

    Case in point, managing ADDS in Windows Server 2012.  Last week I had a drive fail in a demo server running Hyper-V 2012 with a System Center 2012 SP1 lab that includes two Windows Server 2012 DCs.  The drive that died held DC01 which was the first DC installed and contained all five of the FSMO roles.  Back in the old days it was an easy enough fix

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    Windows Server 2012 Licensing

    With Windows Server 2012 set to RTM in the next few weeks there are some changes to versions and licensing that you should be aware of.  For years Microsoft has been saying that licensing is getting easier and with WS2012 it really has with only two editions being released.

    • Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition
    • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition

    And with these two editions the features and functionality is identical.  Standard Edition has the same memory support (4TB) the same physical processor support (64 CPUs) and the same feature set including Failover Clustering.  When it comes time to load the OS on to a server you simply need to determine if the server will run a standalone workload or if it will be a virtualization host.

    Standalone workload = Standard Edition

    Virtualization host = Datacenter Edition


    Both are licensed per physical CPU (number of cores is irrelevant) now with the base license including support for 2

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    Export Windows Server 2012 Configuration

    So I have been playing with WS 2012 a bit lately and found this very interesting feature in the Add Roles and Features Wizard that allows you to export the current configuration to an XML file.  When you get to the end of the wizard click on Export Configuration Settings!

    Operations Manager 2012 Activation

    With the System Center 2012 suite now available in RTM format you maybe installing/upgrading to Operations Manager 2012.  One thing you may not notice is that there is no request for a product key when you install Operations Manager 2012.  And once the install is complete you will see the following…..


    Checking Help –> About will show that you are running an Evaluation copy.


    To register your product key with Operations Manager 2012 and move from the Evaluation edition to the Retail edition you will need to launch the Operations Management Shell and run the following PowerShell cmdlet.

    Set-SCOMLicense –ProductId YourProductKey

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    XenDesktop VDI and Dynamic Memory

    XenDesktop is one of the leading VDI solutions right now due to its ability to run on the three major virtualization platforms.  When running Windows 7 SP1 VDI desktops with XenDesktop you may want to take advantage of Dynamic Memory for the workloads to increase VM density.  Unfortunately this cannot be done within XenDesktop at the time but you can do so via PowerShell. 

    The following script created by Vlad Borodin and edited by my colleague Alex Khassanov will find all VMs on a Hyper-V host and enable Dynamic Memory on them.  You’ll need to know the Hyper-V host name, the prefix for the VDI VMs as well as the startup, maximum and buffer settings for Dynamic Memory. 

    # PowerShell Script for changing RAM settings for several machines

    # Vlad Borodin (

    # 05 Mar, 2011

    # Modified by AK, Jan-24-2012. Enable dynamic memory, set dynamic memory params


    Write-Host("This script

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    Windows 8 Add/Remove GUI

    Windows 2008 saw the introduction of Server Core which was a great idea but most people never implemented because they believed it to be overly complex having no GUI.  It really wasn’t but regardless it saw limited deployment.  In Windows Server 8 the GUI is a feature that can be added and removed as necessary.  This will allow you to install the full OS, configure it and then remove the GUI to lock down security.  When you install the Sever 8 OS you have the option of Server Core or Server with a GUI.  This is a major improvement in Windows Server 8 that hopefully leads to more deployments of the core OS version.

    Once the OS is installed and configured you can remove the feature through Remove Roles and

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