Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fix SYSVOL replication problems

I have four domain controllers, three of which were working fine. The fourth, which happened to be the master of practically everything active directory, wouldn't replicate correctly to the other DCs. The main error I found in the event log was a JRNL_WRAP_ERROR, with some information regarding changing a registry key and performing a non-authoratative restore in order to get replication going again. Well, some further reading suggested against using the registry hack provided in the actual event record citing potential problems, and instead pointed me in the direction of a different registry hack involving a BurFlags registry key entry. Needless to say, I went ahead and used this second suggestion and now all my DCs are replicating correctly again.

You want to make sure you're using this registry hack only on the DC(s) that is reporting replication trouble. You don't need to use it on any other than the problem DC. Also, this will move everything in that DC's local copy of the SYSVOL volume to an Ntfrs_preexisting folder within the SYSVOL share on that machine since this method will repopulate the SYSVOL share from a second DC. Otherwise you would lose anything in the SYSVOL on the problematic DC, which may or may not be a problem. In my case I would've lost the changes I had made to group policy, which was led me to realizing the AD replication was screwed up.

Ok, here's how to fix your SYSVOL replication problem:

1. Log in to the domain controller that is having the replication problem
2. Open the command prompt and type net stop ntfrs, then press Enter. This will stop the file replication service
3. Now open the registry editor (Start->Run, then type regedit and click Ok)
4. Navigate to the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE->SYSTEM->CurrentControlSet->Services->NtFrs->Parameters->Backup/Restore->Process at Startup
5. In the "Process at Startup" section, you should see an entry for "BurFlags". Open the BurFlags setting and change the value to D2. If BurFlags is not there, you can add it (It's just a DWORD value) and set the value
6. Close the Registry Editor and go back to the command prompt
7. Use the command net start ntfrs and press Enter. This will start the file replication service and start the non-authoratative restore of your SYSVOL folder

After step 7 you can check your event log to make sure that there's an entry saying that the DC you're working on was added to the replication set. You should also be able to notice your SYSVOL share having replicated with a copy from one of the other DCs in your domain relatively shortly after restarting FRS.

The initial post that led me down the correct path can be found here. If you want more detailed info, check out MS KB 290762. There you'll find more information regarding verifying that this actually worked, and also they have steps for a full authoratative restore, along with other help for replication issues.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Using Ctrl Alt Del in a Remote Desktop session

I'm sure anyone who has used Microsoft's remote desktop at one time or another wishes they could use the Ctrl+Alt+Del command on the remote computer. Well, what most might not know is that you can. Ctrl+Alt+Del will always affect the local Windows machine. However, Ctrl+Alt+End will provide the same functionality within a remote desktop sessions, allowing you to bring up the task manager or access the panel that shows up when Ctrl+Alt+Del is normally pressed. You could bring up the task manager by right-clicking the taskbar too, but if the machine you're logged into is having problems with the explorer.exe process (which one of mine is doing right now), the Ctrl+Alt+End command is just the thing you've been looking for.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Remove or find iPhone backup information

If you want to get rid of the backup information for an iPhone it's pretty simple. Open iTunes, then go to Edit->Preferences..., then click on the Devices tab. There you should see all devices you have synchronized with iTunes, along with the date of the most recent backup. To remove a backed up device, simply click on it to select it and then click on the Delete Backup button.

If you're curious where iTunes stores the backup files, I have the location of those as well. You have to unhide hidden files and folders in order to get there though. Go to My Computer->Tools->Folder Options, and then go to View and select Show hidden files and folders. Now, the location depends on your OS.

Windows XP
C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

Windows Vista

You will see a folder that looks like a bunch of random characters or a GUID. That refers to your iPhone.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Reset iPhone using Recovery Mode

If you run into problems with your iPhone not working with iTunes, you still may be able to reset your phone and get it working again. First off, this was written for Windows users. Recovery mode should work on Macs as well, but some of the other information listed will not be relevant. This process will only work if your computer still recognizes the phone when you plug it in. If not, then your issue needs to be addresses by Apple iPhone support. If you have pictures on your phone that you don't want to lose, you should be able to pull them off prior to resetting the phone. Look in My Computer and you should see an icon for your iPhone. Open it and navigate the folder structure to get to the pictures, then drag them to a folder somewhere on your computer and wait for them to finish copying before continuing.

To start your iPhone in recovery mode

1. Turn the iPhone off and make sure it is not plugged in to your computer
2. Hold down the Home button, which is the button on the front of the phone below the screen
3. Continue holding the Home button and plug the iPhone into your computer
4. Still continue holding the Home button down until iTunes says that it has found an iPhone in recovery mode. At this point you can release the Home button. You may have to manually open iTunes for it to tell you it found the phone
5. You should be able to click on Restore within iTunes, then follow the prompts to reset your iPhone to factory defaults and reinstall the iPhone OS

Be aware that this will delete anything on your phone. If you have it backed up, restoring that backup may just bring your original problem back, so I'd suggest starting the restored phone as a new phone in your iTunes account. If recovery mode is not enough, you could try using DFU mode, which would be the next step. I did have success in DFU mode that recovery mode did not fix. You can find out more about that by checking my other post.

I still wish there was a way to do a factory reset right on the phone without the need for a computer or iTunes. After installing the iPhone OS 3.0 on a few phones, I've noticed that a couple of them have had issues with iTunes, and one even required a complete replacement. Most showed no problems, but for the ones that did, not being able to work in iTunes really limited the amount of troubleshooting a person can try.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2GB worth of online backup space for FREE!

Dropbox is a relatively new application that you can get from It is free to download and use for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but you may want to make sure your flavor of Linux is supported before assuming it is. The software itself provides automatic synchronization of a folder on your computer with the online server. You can install Dropbox on multiple computers, which then allows you to share those files between the machines and also maintain multiple backup sources for those files.

Some of the key features of Dropbox are:

You can also manage your files online through Dropbox's web interface
Photo galleries are created automatically, and can be shared with a simple URL string
Synchronization is automatic and fairly quick from my experiences
Easy to install and use

You get 2GB of storage free, and then have the option to pay for more if you'd like or try to refer friends for additional space (250MB per referral, to a maximum of 3GB for free). The cost is relatively inexpensive though, with 50GB of space costing $10/month.

My cousin had been using Dropbox on a Mac to transfer files back and forth to a Windows machine, and suggested the program to me because he really likes it. After looking into it and using it for a while, it's definitely a nice tool, and for most people the 2GB limit will probably be more than enough for your important files. Feel free to give it a try and let me know how it goes!

If you're just looking to send someone files that are too big to email, check out my other post about a free service called Sendspace.