Thursday, March 29, 2012

Disable Windows 7 Backup Monitoring via the Action Center using Group Policy

Windows 7 has a pretty well done Backup and Restore feature that allows users to backup their data manually or on a set schedule. This feature and it's status feed back into the Action Center which will prompt you to do your backups if they haven't been setup or performed in some time. While I agree with the sentiment a large majority of users I support do not use the feature and instead prefer simple intermittent copying and pasting onto an external drive or cloud backups via Dropbox.

The Action Center caused a good amount of support calls as its repeated messages that "something was wrong" made users think that something needed to be fixed. Something did need to be fixed: we needed to turn off monitoring of of Backup and Restore on every users machine. Thank goodness for Group Policy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

General Network/Internet Connection Troubleshooting

Network and internet connectivity is a reoccurring problem that comes into our Helpdesk. It quickly become apparent that our techs needed a quick checklist of things they can try to restore connectivity. This list is kind of a shotgun approach to troubleshooting the issue but when time is of the essence compromises must be made. The user doesn't necessarily care why they lost connectivity; they just want it fixed - so be prepared to leave your detective skills unused in these scenarios.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Powershell Script: Currently locked out accounts

The Microsoft certification training I'm doing now is just scratching the surface of what is possible with powershell but it was so intriguing I couldn't not do more research into what's possible with it. Even for those of us that don't have the time to essentially learn a whole new programming language can get quick benefits from learning a small amount.

Locked out active directory accounts are a constant problem (that I will discuss in a later post) where I work. But from a users  perspective they could be having a problem with "getting to the internet", "wifi", "email", or even "printing". All these services we provide hinge on their active directory account being in good working order.

So instead of manually searching for a users account these days I just use a powershell script to check if ANY accounts on the domain are locked out. At this point I just keep a powershell window open and hit Up Arrow and Enter to execute the script again.

Open up notepad or your text editor of choice and type the following:

Search-ADAccount -LockedOut | FT Name, ObjectClass, UserPrincipalName

Save this text file as lockedout.ps1

Now just open powershell and run your script!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Quick Tip: Offer Remote Assistance on a network with ease

Everyone frequently has users that are difficult to walk through procedures over the phone or email. Remote Desktop is great for fixing a problem on your own and if the issue isn't profile specific but it won't let you screen share with the user. There are a bunch of 3rd party apps you can purchase for the purpose of remote assistance but i find Microsoft's Remote Assistance tool works just fine. Unfortunately, just launching the application from your start menu doesn't give you any kind of enterprise friendly options. All I want is offer remote assistance to a user on the network with minimal user interaction. There's no need to further complicate a less technical users problems with troubleshooting the remote assistance!

Luckily, Microsoft has some command line switches for Remote Assistance and in this case you can use the string below. I personally just create a new shortcut so there's no need to type it in anymore.

%windir%\system32\msra.exe /offerRA

This will bring up a new window where you can just enter the users computer name or IP address. All the user will have to do will be click Yes on two different pop-ups on their screen and you're good to go!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Automate Windows Vista/7/8 Wifi Profile Importing using NETSH

If you work in an enterprise environment that provides wireless you may find it necessary to constantly be configuring WiFi profiles for your users as they aren't able to do it themselves. With more advanced security features you can  implement with 802.1x for instance you may find that simply trying to connect to the WiFi network and entering in your credentials won't work - you need more manual configuration.

Well screw that! Let's make a batch file and do this in 2 clicks!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AutoHotKey is your Friend: Auto Insert your Signature Anywhere

At my current place of employment we have a wonderful ticket system that we can't seem to get away from that really doesn't ever work the way we want. For every new feature they add something else breaks. Though, I've never had the pleasure of working with a ticketing system I did like. At any rate, we respond to users through the ticketing system which sends them a horribly formatted email and sends it from the default Helpdesk account.

So great, now people don't even know its me writing back to them. I like to have the personal touch even when I claim misanthropy constantly to coworkers.

At any rate, AutoHotKey to the rescue! If i can't send from my own email address I can at least sign my name auto-magically.

Grab AutoHotKey and just edit in some code into the default script:

::sig::Yourname {enter} Your Title {enter} Phone{enter}etc
Make sure this is all one one line.

Walla! Never type your signature again. Honestly, I even use this in Outlook now for regular emails.

AHK can, as you might expect, do a heck of a lot more. Check out for some more ideas.



Welcome to my little corner of the internet. I will mostly be using this blog a place to share tips and tricks I've learned or used regarding Windows server and desktop administration as well as general Helpdesk tools and processes that I utilize.

Check back soon as content should be coming shortly.