Thursday, October 17, 2013

Internet Explorer has stopped working after closing tab or window and how to open IE maximized

Recently, I worked on the following two problems on a Vista machine with a recently updated Internet Explorer browser (from 8 to 9) that had two problems. One, when closing a tab or the Internet Explorer 9 window I would get the following popup message: Internet Explorer has stopped working. That wasn't an intermittent problem. It happened every single time a tab or the window closed. I couldn't blame the user for being annoyed by this. The other problem was when he clicked on the IE shortcut in the taskbar or on the desktop, IE would open in a tiny rectangle box instead of opening maximized.

First, how to fix the "internet explorer has stopped working" error.

Open Internet Explorer. Then click on the gear icon in the top right window to make the Tools menu appear. Then click on internet options to bring up the internet options menu. Click on the advanced tab and check the box under "accelerated graphics" called "use software rendering…" Make sure that is checked then click OK and reboot. After the reboot Internet Explorer worked correctly.

While the above solution worked for my situation, it doesn't fix every situation. You may have an IE startup process that is causing the problem too. In the past I've used autoruns, a handy tool, to find those nasty processes in IE startup and delete them, fixing not only the error after closing IE but also improving overall IE performance. Installing toolbars, addons, etc. often cripples your web browser's performance and can cause weird problems like the error message we focused on in this post. 

Now about the "maximize when opened" solution. There are different solutions for this problem. What worked for this situation I'll offer then I'll follow that with some other possible solutions. Open Internet Explorer and size the window to your liking. Then hold down the ctrl key while clicking the red “x” to close the program. This will set the IE window to open at this setting every time. To makes sure other links and such open the same way dick on the gear icon like you did earlier, click internet options,click "tabs", then select "always open pop-ups in a new tab." Click OK once then one more time in the previous window. I will also say this worked on a Vista machine. I don't know if that makes a difference or not. I do know this next method worked on Windows 7 machines but didn't work on this Vista machine. It's very simple. Open Internet Explorer then click and drag the window to the top of the monitor. It will be maximized. Close it then reopen it and the window should open maximized. That solution worked on a few Windows 7 machines in the past.

There's one more I'll detail below. Go the the desktop and right click on the desktop, click new, then shortcut. Create a short cut to "Program Files/Internet Explorer/iexplore.exe" Right click on the short cut and then select Properties. Click on the tab "Shortcut" and then change the value in the run command to "maximized". Click apply then OK. Now Internet Explorer will open in the maximized state when you click on any short cut to iexplore.exe.

So there you have it! If you have any questions comment below.

Friday, October 11, 2013

How to restore Windows 7 default "desktop" folder

Here is a quick tip on fixing the path for your desktop folder when the easy method of right-click > Properties > Location doesn't work.

Go into the Registry Editor (Start > search > regedit). When Registry Editor opens go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

Over on the right you should see "Desktop." Double-click the "Desktop" entry. A window will open displaying the value "Desktop" and "Value Data" (the path to the desktop folder). Now, if you want to put in the correct path (C:\Users\Username\Desktop) for your desktop folder or your desired path this is where you would input it then log out and log back in for the setting to take effect.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Keep IT simple - Use RDWeb instead of Site-to-Site VPN

So you have a couple of users moving from the main office to a new office (say they're moving to the public works garage) that is located miles away from the main office. These users need to still be able to use the business application but don't need anything else from the business network and security isn't a high concern. At the remote office the two users will need basic internet, ability to print, and have access to the business application; nothing else is needed. What do you do? Do you buy an expensive firewall to build a site-to-site vpn connection to the main office? Or, since you already have RDWeb implemented for remote use of applications, do you use RDWeb? The cheapest and most efficient solution would be to go with RDWeb. If you're not familiar with RDWeb, I suggest you do some reading on it, but for now know that RDWeb is a feature of Windows Server that builds a portal to essential applications and remote desktop access your employees need either remotely or locally.

Why do I say use RDWeb instead of the VPN connection? Well because RDWeb is simpler. What you can do is give the two users computers with encrypted hard drives, a solid anti-malware solution (I suggest malwarebytes PRO along with Microsoft Security Essentials\Defender and then have OpenDNS at the border), and decent internet bandwidth to give them a great working environment. RDWeb will provide access (securely) to the work application(s) and they can use it almost 99% the way they used it before at the main office. For situations like this, RDWeb trumps the other method of site-to-site VPN because it requires less setup, equipment, and time.

I know for other situations where high-security is a primary concern, file shares are needed, printers are manged from the main network, etc. RDWeb may not be the ideal choice but for a situation like the one described above where the two users just need access to the business application(s) then RDWeb is the clear winner I think. It was the winner at work. The situation described above is a real-world scenario. My work will have a new public works garage and two of our users will be leaving the main office to work out at the new garage. We already have RDWeb in place for remote users so the two users will access the business application through our portal.

One of the things to keep in my mind with any project, especially IT projects, is to keep the solution simple.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Don't be scared of virtualization

Occasionally I talk with an IT guy who is scared to death of virtualization. Why the fear? Well the typical answer I get is that "it's complicated" or "expensive" or "I have no experience with it; going forward with it would be risky." If you're a virtualization tech of any stripe you'll know these worries can be easily erased. My own work experience with Hyper-V is a great answer to these techs who are scared (no offense) of virtualization. Why do I say don't be scared? I say don't be scared of virtualization because 1) you have no reason to be and 2) virtualization is super helpful for the most ordinary of IT projects.

At work we needed to implement Server 2008 R2's RDWeb services to enable our work application to be available to users who are away from our main office and for users who needed to access the application when they're sick, on vacation, etc. When the concern was approached to me, I immediately thought of R2's RDWeb services and pitched the idea to a group of people who were not interested in buying a new server. They assumed to use the RDWeb service we would need to purchase new hardware and that just wasn't going to happen (I work for local government and money is tight!). I told them they didn't have to worry about purchasing new hardware because of Hyper-V! We were limited to the 2008 version of Hyper-V, so we aren't able to use features like dynamic memory and bandwidth management but the point I made to them and want to make here is that even 2008's Hyper-V can make the simplest of IT projects, e.g. rolling out RDWeb, even simpler and much, much cheaper than going with new hardware. The only purchase made was five Remote Desktop Services CALs! The rest of the project requirements were already owned by us which was awesome. If we didn't go the virtualization route we would have made a lot of purchases in hardware. So I added the Hyper-V role to an existing Windows Server 2008 machine, configured the RDWeb virtual machine, installed a copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 on the VM, installed and configured RDWeb on the virtual machine, made the necessary configurations in our Sonicwall TZ210 and then we were all set. Virtualization made that project so much easier than the alternative which is to buy new hardware, make room for that hardware, oh and convince the treasurer and company to make those purchases. For us, the project only cost us a couple of hundred dollars and RDWeb has helped us out a lot. Virtualizaton was the obvious route to take.

Don't be scared of virtualization! Implementing Hyper-V, Citrix, or VMWare doesn't mean you have to setup live migrations, virtual storage, virtual networks, VDI, or whatever else is intimidating to you; all it can mean is that you're going to use a virtual machine instead of a physical machine for your project. Try it out, even if it's in a lab at first. You can download trial copies of Server 2012 and Windows 8 to tinker around with virtualization if you haven't yet. Keith Mayer has awesome lab exercises for you to try and I know from personal experience that his lab exercises are awesome because I've used them multiple times! Again, don't be scared of virtualization because the benefits and range of uses are too great for you to not use because you're a little intimidated. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just an Update

Hey all. This post isn't a troubleshooting, from-the-trenches post, it is just an update post due to the sad fact I haven't posted anything in more than a month. What am I doing? Well I'm still studying in my time from work for the MCSA: Server 2012 certification. I'm actually studying for all three exams before I take an exam; a studying tip from Ed Liberrman of Trainsignal. At first I wasn't sure about that method but now I completely understand his advocating that method. Studying for all three exams before taking the exams will give you a full understanding of Server 2012, which is what Ed suggested and I know this to be true now that I'm applying his method to my study time. Having studied Active Directory at the 70-411 and 70-412 levels has helped me to understand Active Directory better at level 70-410! It's just a great study method I think.

Study Tools
I'm using the Server 2012 certification book from Sybex that is authored by William Panek (an excellent tech writer) for all three exams. I have and am also using the Exam-ref book for 70-410 from Microsoft Press and the 70-410 Training Guide from Microsoft Press by Mitch Tulloch (another excellent tech writer). An additional and amazing study tool I'm using is TrainSignal. I can't recommend their videos and practice exams enough. Their practice exam for the 70-410 exam let me know quickly that I wasn't ready to take that exam. Ed Libberman is a great teacher too. His personality is engaging and you can just tell he knows what he is talking about. What about the books? The questions at the end of each chapter in the Sybex book are great questions in that they are scenario based and make you actually think instead of just matching the correct definition with the term. Also in each chapter are exercises which is always nice. The Exam-Ref book is a good book for giving you information for exactly what Microsoft requires you to know on the 70-410 exam. The author doesn't go any further than that and he doesn't exactly go in the deep end either so I can't say that book alone will prepare you for the 70-410 exam. There are practice exercises peppered throughout each chapter which, again, is nice. The 'Training Guide' form Tulloch is a very nice tool. He goes deeper on the exam objectives and his practice exercises are fun, challenging and helpful. This guide is a nice companion to the Exam-Ref book.

Is this study method and are these tools a great approach to earning the MCSA? Well I guess I'll see when I go in and take the 70-410 exam. I can't see how my current study method with all the tools I'm using is setting me up for failure. If I fail it will be because of me.

For work, I'm currently doing the day-in and day-out stuff. I'm not doing anything special but my current job is what it is: entry-level. Hopefully after earning the MCSA, along with my continued experience will land me an exciting System Administrator job elsewhere.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Exchange 2010 451.4.4.0 Queue Problem

Sometimes weird stuff happens with technology. There's no philosophical inquiry needed because, in my experience, technology problems often don't have an answer as to *why* the problem happened; it just happened. Yeah, there are some reasons we can give to why it happened, sometimes, but like with this problem I'm about to describe, I can't give a reason why it happened. All I know is that it happened and I had to fix it.

A couple of the employees told me they weren't receiving emails from our employee self service application. Employees use this to view paystubs, events, and such so it is important that this application is working correctly. Employees register with whatever email address they want to use: professional or personal, we don't care.

When I dove into Exchange 2010, I noticed by looking at the logs and the queue viewer that the only domain generating an error was our professional domain. Google, Live, and yahoo domains were receiving email from our server, but not our domain. The error generated in the queue viewer was 451.4.4.0 DNS Query Failed. This was odd because I leave this server alone. The only changes made to the server are security updates. That's it. Regardless, this problem happened and I had to fix it.

How did I fix it? Well, obviously it was a DNS issue. I could tell by the error message. :p

So I checked out the external DNS lookups tab in the HUB transport server object properties. I had the top option "use network card dns settings" selected and that is how it has been running for over a year now. Anyway, since a problem had occurred I decided to select the other option "use these DNS servers" and put in the IPs of the servers we forward to. I then configured the SMTP send connector properties under the network tab (located by selecting hub transport under org. configuration) and checked the box "use the external DNS lookup settings on the transport server." Doing this cleared the queue and employees using their professional email addresses received (are are receiving) their email from "employee self service." Yeah, this is working, but I'm not sure why the problem occurred. I'm glad I was able to fix it in a timely manner. Obviously there was a problem with the DNS properties of the network card for the exchange server because changing the option to external lookups and using the DNS forwarders fixed the problem. I'll have to investigate further and will write here again if and when I figure that out.

Anyway, I hope this helps one of you having this strange problem.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to delete Exchange 2010 mailbox without removing user object

This is a question that pops up occasionally. If you want to remove a user mailbox, but keep the user account active because he will still be connecting to the network how do you do it? Right-clicking the user mailbox in Exchange 2010 displays options like 'remove' and 'disable.' Clearly I don't want to disable the mailbox because that will just disable the user mailbox instead of removing it right? Wrong. Disable is actually what you want to click to remove the mailbox while keeping the user account in Active Directory. Yes, the mailbox will be disabled for a while and not removed, but after a period of time (depending on your Exchange setup) the mailbox will be removed (deleted) from storage.

Yes, it's strange but clicking disable will remove exchange properties from the user account then the disconnected mailbox will be setup for deletion. Doesn't it seem like 'remove' should do this?