January 19, 2013
Windows SBS 2011 Move Data Wizard has stopped working – movedata.exe crash
Recently, we were asked by a new client to move their Exchange 2010 Data to a new array on their Windows SBS 2011 server.
On Small Business Server 2011, we usually carry out this procedure through the SBS 2011 Console:
- Select Backup and Server Storage Tab
- Select Server Settings
- Select Move Exchange Server Data
However, when we tried launching the “Move Exchange Server Data” option – the SBS 2011 Console would crash, saying “Windows SBS 2011 Move Data Wizard has stopped working“. On further inspection, the crash was related to movedata.exe
We knew from previous experience that Windows recommends you backup your server before performing this task – oddly enough, this message did not appear before the crash.
We checked around the console and noticed that the Windows SBS 2011 backup wizard had been configured BUT had been failing for the last two weeks.
We fixed the backup issue by adding a new external 2TB hard disk, performed a full server backup and then proceeded to move the Exchange Server Data again.
When we launched the “Move Exchange Server Data” task, it completed successfully with no issues / crashes.
Moral of the story – always check your backups before performing these tasks !
Needless to say, we have another happy client. 🙂
If you’re experiencing issues with moving your Exchange 2010 Data to a new location, feel free to call Planit Computing on 01 485 2222 for a free, no quibble IT consultation.
October 24, 2013
Windows “Whistler” XP – August 2001 – April 2014
Still running Microsoft Windows XP in your business? In April 2014, Microsoft is switching support for XP OFF.
This is no joke: Microsoft is putting XP to the grave. There will be no more security updates or patches. If you’re still using it and a weakness or exploit is found, tough luck: there will be no fix nor protection from Microsoft anymore. Your computer security WILL be at risk.
From experience, this is not a small or minute problem. Over 35% of all office PCs in Ireland are still running Windows XP. The public sector – including schools, hospitals, government departments, authorities and other institutions – also use the 12-year-old operating system in large numbers. From April 2014, these departments will be at risk, FACT.
Depending on the size of your business and the amount of devices in use, if you haven’t already started transferring over to Windows 8 or even Windows 7, it’s probably too late to make it in time for April 2014. Microsoft calculates that it takes at least a year for most companies to fully ‘migrate’ from XP to a newer operating system. ( this figure varies, obviously)
Why such a lengthy delay? Proprietary / custom software – specific software programs that are designed to work with Windows XP and Windows XP only, usually in 32bit architecture. 64 bit what?
So, upgrading from XP to Windows 8 or Windows 7 could mean a much larger, costly overhaul with significant logistics involved.
But don’t try pleading that when you’re calling on Microsoft for help – the company’s Irish executives have made it quite clear that such excuses will fall on deaf ears. They have advertised the switch off for years. The company has been warning about this for at least two years. They have sent emails, put out leaflets, blogged, phoned up key customers etc. Microsoft even deferred the shut-off date on a previous occasion due to customer inaction on the matter. But not this time – no more shut-off’s. From April 2014, Microsoft has firmly stated that you’re on your own with XP.
When the first serious exploit and virus attack aimed at XP occurs in April 2014, Microsoft are adamant that they won’t answer your calls on it.
“Microsoft Windows XP is no longer safe enough to defend against the onslaught of modern threats that organisations face on a daily basis,” warns an official Microsoft document given out to multiple Irish business customers.
“Businesses that still run Windows XP will become even more vulnerable to malware and attacks after April 2014. The most significant risk is that PCs, and the data they contain, could be hacked and compromised. Today, Windows XP is 21 times more likely to be infected by malware than Windows 8.”
Thinking of upgrading your office systems from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8? Call us today for a free, no quibble quotation.August 7, 2013
Why chose Planit Computing for IT Support?
Planit Computing are a leading Irish IT Support company, based in Dublin 2. Offering a full range of standard and bespoke business IT Support packages tailored to suit your business needs. It’s always difficult to cater for everybody but over the years, Planit Computing have have developed one of the best and simplest methods of supporting IT infrastructure in both Dublin and nationwide based companies. From servers, desktops, laptops and mac support to online cloud solutions.
We are committed to providing a single source solution for you for all you IT requirements.
Call us now on 014852222 to discuss your IT requirements and mention our blog to receive a 10% discount!!January 24, 2014
VPN – a brief summary on Virtual Private Networks
What is a VPN?
Put simply, a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a group of computers (or discrete networks) networked together over a public network—namely, the internet. Businesses use VPNs to connect remote datacenters, and individuals can use VPNs to get access to network resources when they’re not physically on the same LAN (local area network), or as a method for securing and encrypting their communications when they’re using an untrusted public network.
When you connect to a VPN, you usually launch a VPN client on your computer (or click a link on a special website), log in with your credentials, and your computer exchanges trusted keys with a far away server. Once both computers have verified each other as authentic, all of your internet communication is encrypted and secured from eavesdropping.
The most important thing you need to know about a VPN: It secures your computer’s internet connection to guarantee that all of the data you’re sending and receiving is encrypted and secured from prying eyes.
Benefits of using a VPN
The downloader. Whether they’re downloading legally or illegally, this person doesn’t want on some company’s witch-hunt list just because they have a torrenting app installed on their computer. VPNs are the only way to stay safe when using something like BitTorrent—everything else is just a false sense of security. Better safe than trying to defend yourself in court or paying a massive fine for something you may or may not have even done, right?
The privacy minded and security advocate. Whether they’re a in a strictly monitored environment or a completely free and open one, this person uses VPN services to keep their communications secure and encrypted and away from prying eyes whether they’re at home or abroad. To them, unsecured connections mean someone’s reading what you say.
The globetrotter. This person wants to watch the Olympics live as they happen, without dealing with their crummy local networks. They want to check out their favorite TV shows as they air instead of waiting for translations or re-broadcasts (or watch the versions aired in other countries,) listen to location-restricted streaming internet radio, or want to use a new web service or application that looks great but for some reason is limited to a specific country or region.
Even if none of the above really sound right to you, you can still benefit from using a VPN. You should definitely use one when you travel or work on an untrusted network (read: a network you don’t own, manage, or trust who manages.) That means opening your laptop at the coffee shop and logging in to Facebook or using your phone’s Wi-Fi to check your email at the airport can all potentially put you at risk.
The best VPNs offer a solid balance of features, server location, connectivity protocols, and price. Some are great for occasional use, others are geared towards getting around the location restrictions companies put on their apps and services, and others are targeted at people who do heavy downloading and want a little privacy while they do it.
What makes a good VPN?
Logging: When you connect to a VPN, you’re trusting the VPN service provider with your data. Your communications may be secure from eavesdropping, but other systems on the same VPN—especially the operator—can log your data if they choose. If this bothers you (e.g., you’re the privacy/security advocate or the downloader), make absolutely sure you know your provider’s logging policies before signing up.
This applies to location as well—if your company doesn’t keep logs, it may not matter as much where it’s located. (There’s a popular rumor that US-based VPN providers are required to log, in case the government wants them. This isn’t true, but the government can always request whatever data they have if they do log.)
Anti-Malware/Anti-Spyware Features: Using a VPN doesn’t mean you’re invulnerable. You should still make sure you’re using HTTPS whenever possible, and you should still be careful about what you download. Some VPN service providers—especially mobile ones—bundle their clients with anti-malware scanners to make sure you’re not downloading viruses or trojans. When you’re shopping, see if the providers you’re interested in offer anti-malware protection while you’re connected. For example, previously mentioned Hotspot Shield offers malware protection to its premium users. It may not be a dealbreaker for you, but it’s always good to have someone watching your back.
Free VPN Providers are more likely to log your activities and serve contextual ads while you’re connected. They’re also more likely to use your usage habits to tailor future ads to you, have fewer exit locations, and weak commitments to privacy. They may offer great features, but if logging and privacy are important to you, you may want to avoid them. However, if you just need quick, painless security while traveling on a budget, they’re a great option.
Subscription VPN Providers usually take your privacy a bit more seriously, since you’re paying for the service. It’s unusual for them to show ads, although whether they do logging or store data about your usage varies from company to company. They usually offer free trials so you can give the service a shot first, but remember: just because you’re paying for a service doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework.
Contact PlanIT Computing today on 014852222 for a breakdown of options available for your VPN requirements.April 16, 2013
VMWare Player. Failed to lock the file error. ( error loading VMware system )
While testing Windows Server 2012 in our IT test lab – we shut down a virtual machine forcefully using VMware Player.
After we shut the Virtual Machine down, we tried to start it up again – which we received the following error message: “VMware player cannot open disk … Failed to lock the file” error message.
We checked the directory where the Virtual Machine was stored and noticed, along with the VMX and VMDK files, there were several LCK files – these are lock files used by VMware to lock the virtual disks.
We removed each of the folders ( each containing one 1kb LCK file ) and started the Virtual Machine again – this time the Virtual Machine loaded up fine.
If you’re experiencing issues with your VMware or Virtual Environment and the above does not resolve your issue – feel free to contact us now on 01 485 2222.October 17, 2012
VMWare Player Error message: “The MSI failed”
One of our test beds was experiencing an issue upgrading the VMWare Player from version 3 to version 5.
Each time we tried to install version 5, the installer would try to uninstall version 3 and fail with the following message:
The MSI Failed” or The MSI Fails”
Trying to uninstall Version 3 through add/remove programs provided the same error.
The “Program Install and Uninstall troubleshooter” from Microsoft didn’t fix the issue either.
The solution was to launch the vmware install file from a command line with the following /z “action”=”install”
ie VMware-player-5.0.0-812388.exe /z “action”=”install”
This provided the fix and allowed VMWare Player to upgrade successfully.
If the above solution does not resolve your problem, please feel free to contact us on 014852222.
June 6, 2012
Virtualizating your IT Infrastructure
What is Virtualization?
Virtualization allows your company to consolidate IT applications & databases onto a reduced number of servers by utilising all of the resources available on the equipment that traditionally wasn’t previously possible to achieve.
Why chose Virtualization?
Virtualization can offer your company better value for money on hardware investment, faster recovery time in the event of a critical failure.
Power consumption is also reduced as a there is a substantial reduction of equipment needed to manage your IT business applications.
Using email to it’s maximum potential via Microsoft Exchange
Are you embarrassed to email prospective clients because you conduct business from a Yahoo! address? Are you forever tied to a slow ISP because you don’t want to change your email address?
Does your computer download messages twice when you use your smartphone or iPad? Why is it so complicated to share a calendar with your manager? And where are your messages actually stored?
UPC Default Wireless Password Vulnerable to offline dictionary attack
Are you using UPC broadband in your home or business? Still using the default wifi password? Your business / home network is a potential target for hackers.
Back in November 2011, we blogged ( http://www.planitcomputing.ie/blog/?s=upc&submit=Search ) about the algorithm used by UPC and how it was particularly weak against an offline dictionary attack which could allow intruders onto your network if the wireless key was acquired.
We notified UPC about the problem in November 2011 yet UPC are still supplying customers with newer modems / horizon boxes that use this algorithm.
At the time, graphics cards were expensive and clustering several machines was not financially viable to the average hacker.
We recently purchased a used rig, comprising off:
- Windows 7
- I3 Processor
- 4GB RAM
- 2TB Drive
- Radeon HD 5850
For a tidy sum of: €185.00 🙂
We generated 26 dictionary files using “mask processor” by ATOM, piping each letter out to its own file, for example:
- A: ./mp32 A?u?u?u?u?u?u?u > A.TXT = AAAAAAAA – AZZZZZZZ
- B: ./mp32 B?u?u?u?u?u?u?u > B.TXT = BAAAAAAA – BZZZZZZZ
Each .txt file weighed in at around 60GB’s each. The 26 files took up about 1.6TB of storage.
We now had the complete key space, partitioned into 26 different files. This allowed us to distribute the brute force attack amongst multiple computers. There are other ways with ocl-hashcat but this was the simplest.
Using our Radeon HD5850 on standard settings, we were hitting 80,000 keys per second. Breakdown below:
- 26^8 = 208,827,064,576 ( 208 billion possible combinations )
- 26^8 / 80,000 keys per second = 2,610,338 seconds
- 2,610,338 / 60 seconds = 43,505 minutes
- 43,505 / 60 minutes = 725 hours
- 725 hours / 24 hours = 30 Days
For €185, we had built a computer that could crack the default UPC wireless password within 30 days. The WPA-PSK handshake we used started with the letter D and was cracked within 96 hours.
We ended up getting a second machine for the same price which resulted in our maximum cracking time being reduced to 15 days.
If you’re using the default password on your UPC broadband connection, we recommend changing it immediately to a more secure password, using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
If you have any queries or questions on the above, please feel free to leave a comment.
July 24, 2012
Understanding the importance of an IT Service Level Agreement
Any organisation should have a formal support agreement in place with their IT service provider. However, many organisations don’t have a formal agreement in place and often those that do don’t always take the time to read and understand it. Any support or service agreement should clearly state what is included (and excluded) in the service provided.
Key aspect of any support agreement
The most important aspect of the support agreement is the SLA or Service Level Agreement. This is a common understanding of the service provided including response times, guarantees and warranties associated with the support of your IT systems, services and applications.
Multiple SLA’s depending on the importance of the system or service.
For example, critical IT hardware could have a 0 – 4 hour response time, along with the engineering time to resolve the issue, time to liaise with the hardware manufacturer to avail of warranty, spare parts etc.
Critical hardware devices include servers, network switches, firewalls, phone systems and can be thought of as systems that impact the entire organisation in the event of failure.
Non critical hardware such as laptops, PC’s and Printers might have a next business day response time as failure would not impact the entire organisation.