Authors

Mitchell Grande

Mitchell Grande

Systems Engineer
Contributions by Mitchell Grande

Windows Server 2019

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the next version of Windows Server in the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC): Windows Server 2019.  Keeping in mind that the LTSC server releases are similar to traditional server versions, this represents the next major release for Windows Server.  This release will include the full Desktop Experience and has 10 years of support.  This is in contrast to the Semi-Annual Channel which only comes in Server Core and gets 18 months of support.  Let's take a look at some of the new features of Windows Server 2019.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Policy Analyzer

Policy Analyzer is a tool released a couple of years ago that allows an administrator to easily compare two or more GPOs to find the differences between them.  It's a little clunky to use for quick troubleshooting, but for in-depth GPO work, this is a great tool for helping review and organize GPOs.  Here, we'll walk through how to get started and interpret the results.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

PowerShell Quick Tips

When diagnosing issues, it's good to be as quick and efficient as possible.  The faster you can diagnose an issue, the faster you can resolve it and restore regular operations.  This is a place where PowerShell shines.  If you have the right command, it can be much quicker to run it than to click through the GUI to collect data.  Here, we'll look at some short PowerShell snippets to use while troubleshooting issues.  All of these are easy commands that you can begin using yourself!

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Crash Dump Analysis

Extracting information from a memory dump after a server crash is an important part of root cause analysis.  Although this is an advanced topic, and debugging crash dumps is often a very complex task, here we will look at the basics.  This information is enough to get started and debug a simple crash that has a clear cause.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Active Directory Health

When dealing with any Active Directory related issue, checking the health of the domain is a common first step.  AD domain health can be broken down into two main parts - the status of the individual DCs and the stability of the replication.  Here, we'll cover how to check each of these.
 

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

PowerShell Event Log Collection

Recently while troubleshooting an issue, it was necessary to search for specific event IDs on 6 different servers.  We knew there was a sporadic issue on all of these different servers, but we didn't know if it was happening simultaneously on them or if the timings were scattered.  Although we could have manually logged into each server, exported the event logs, and then searched them in Excel, it was quick and easy to use PowerShell to do the data collection.
 

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

PowerShell DSC

While configuration management software such as Ansible, Puppet, or Salt has become very popular for use in Linux environments, Windows hasn't had a similar push until relatively recently.  PowerShell Desired State Configuration (usually shortened to DSC) is a configuration management platform that is native to Windows and programmed using familiar PowerShell syntax.  Here, we'll cover the benefits of using configuration management, example use cases, and a technical overview.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Meltdown & Spectre

The big news in the past week is two new vulnerabilities that affect nearly all computers - Meltdown and Spectre.  Here we'll cover what they are, how they work, and how to protect against them.  Since these are complicated exploits, this email will not go into great technical depth.

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Netsh Packet Captures

A common troubleshooting step is collecting a packet capture to see what's happening at the network level.  Perhaps you're trying to track down a port blocked by a firewall or a connection that just isn't working right.  For this, many people would install Wireshark, Microsoft Network Monitoring (netmon), or Microsoft Message Analyzer.  However, Server 2008 R2 and newer includes the ability to collect packet captures using the native netsh tool without any additional installations.  With many environments under strict change control, this is a quick and easy way to get what you need.  Here, we'll cover the process for collecting and analyzing a packet capture with netsh.
 

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande

Windows Server Versioning

With the release of Windows Server 2016 version 1709, Microsoft has changed the way the server operating system is versioned and upgraded.  Similar to Windows 10, there are now multiple, distinct servicing channels available for Windows Server.  The two options, the long-term servicing channel and the semi-annual channel, are explained below.
 

Mitchell Grande by Mitchell Grande