Fixing Windows Server 2008 R2 Boot Problem

I was playing around with a couple of Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machines today, and accidentally messed up the boot records somehow. After playing around with a number of partition and disk recovery tools. I finally ran across this post called Windows Server 2008 R2 always boots into recovery console that had a solution that worked for me even though my problem was different. I wanted to record the steps I used so that I could find them later.

I used their Method 2 which worked for me. here are the steps:

  1. Put the Windows Server 2008 R2 installation disc in the disc drive, and then start the computer.
  2. Press any key when the message indicating “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD …”. appears.
  3. Select a language, time, currency, and a keyboard or another input method. Then click Next.
  4. Click Repair your computer.
  5. Click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
  6. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Command Prompt.
  7. Type bootrec /RebuildBcd, and then press ENTER

Update – April 10, 2017
Last night we had a similar problem, but unfortunately the above steps did not correct the problem. After doing bootrec command it found the boot records, but still didn’t work we then tried running x:\sources\recovery\StartRep.exe which finally resolved our problem.

They also offered up another method to try, but I didn’t need to go that far but here is as well for future reference.

  1. Put the Windows Server 2008 R2 installation disc into the disc drive, and then start the computer.
  2. Press a key when the message indicating “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD …”. appears.
  3. Select a language, a time, a currency, and a keyboard or another input method, and then click Next.
  4. Click Repair your computer.
  5. Click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
  6. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Command Prompt.
  7. Type BOOTREC /FIXMBR, and then press ENTER.
  8. Type BOOTREC /FIXBOOT, and then press ENTER.
  9. Type Drive:\boot\Bootsect.exe /NT60 All, and then press ENTER.

They also note that the Drive in step 9 is the drive where the Windows Server 2008 R2 installation media is located.

Hopefully I’ll never need to use this again, but if I do now it is documented. Also there is KB article #927392 on Microsoft’s site called How to use the Bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment to troubleshoot and repair startup issues in Windows that details the different options as well.

Review: SB EventLog Monitor

SB EventLog MonitorI have only one thing to say about this product, “How did I ever live without it”. If you manage more than one Microsoft Windows Server then you definitely need to be using SB EventLog Monitor.

So what does SB EventLog Monitor do that is so great, it collects, collates, and reports via a web interface upon Microsoft Event Log data. The UNIX world has had syslog forever and a ton of tools to help you manage the logging data generated by servers. I’ve even tried to shoehorn Microsoft Event Log data into some of those products, but it was never a good fit. SB EventLog Monitor allows you to quickly and easily manage and analysis what is going on across all of your servers. It allows you to quickly and easily view and filter error messages from different servers and identify patterns. This is particularly useful with dealing with multiple servers across slow WAN links.

It collects the Event Log data either via a Microsoft VB script that use WMI to collect only the new events or via an agent that you can install on your servers. The other requirements are MySQL, PHP (5.0+), and a web server (apache, IIS). While the install is geared towards running everything on a Microsoft server it is possible to run the database and web server on Linux. In fact that is what I did. The install is really pretty easy, so if you are looking for a relatively simple way to increase the manageability of your servers, then I strongly recommend that you take the time to install the open source SB EventLog Monitor.

Review: Script Your Documentation Instantly

If you are anything like me you probably have little to no documentation on your servers. Probably it is because you don’t have the time or the personal to perform the tedious (and boring) work required; you know it is important, but other things seem to take priority. Well, you no longer have any excuse for not getting it done.

SYDI (Script Your Documentation Instantly) is an open source solution that will document your Windows Servers, MS SQL Servers, and Exchange Organizations. It is a fantastically easy product to use. In its simplest form, it will query an individual server and produce a Microsoft Word document detailing the hardware, software, networking, user accounts and storage settings with a table of contents and loads of other useful information. With a little extra work, you can have it query all of your servers and produce a set of XML files that can be converted in to HTML documents (using an included script) that makes publishing a breeze.

Using SYDI is really simple; it is just a VBS script that is launched from a command prompt. You do need to have Microsoft Word installed on the workstation if you want it to produce the documentation in that format. The software is written by an IT Consultant named Patrick Ogenstad. He has posted some really good how-to guides on his site.

I highly recommend that you take a look at SYDI and use it to help jump start you server documentation project. I did and in about 30 minutes I had published our server configs on our Network Management server.

Microsoft Tries to Persuade Linux Users

In an interesting move Microsoft recently flew out some leading anti-Microsoft people to a press briefing at their headquarters for an in depth look at their new Vista operating system. Check out the following articles for their reaction and reviews:

Windows Time Service on PDC

Whenever you are moving the PDC emulator role to another computer on a Windows Server 2003 network you need to make the following changes to the time service on both the new machine and the old.

Configure the Windows Time Service on the new PDC emulator

  1. Open a Command Prompt.
    Type the following command to display the time difference between the local computer and a target computer, and then press ENTER:

    w32tm /stripchart /computer:target /samples:n /dataonly

    target – Specifies the DNS name or IP address of the NTP server that you are comparing the local computer’s time against, such as time.windows.com.

    n – Specifies the number of time samples that will be returned from the target computer to test basic NTP communication.

  2. Open UDP port 123 for outgoing traffic if needed.
  3. Open UDP port 123 (or a different port you have selected) for incoming NTP traffic.
  4. Type the following command to configure the PDC emulator and then press ENTER:

    w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:peers /syncfromflags:manual /reliable:yes /update

    where peers specifies the list of DNS names and/or IP addresses of the NTP time source that the PDC emulator synchronizes from. For example, you can specify time.windows.com. When specifying multiple peers, use a space as the delimiter and enclose them in quotation marks.

Change the Windows Time Service configuration on the old PDC emulator

  1. Open a Command Prompt.
  2. Type the following command and then press ENTER:

    w32tm /config /syncfromflags:domhier /reliable:no /update

  3. Type the following command and then press ENTER:

    net stop w32time

  4. Type the following command and then press ENTER:

    net start w32time

Presentation Zen, Gates vs. Jobs

Presentation Zen has two great articles that contrast the presentation styles (and implicitly the effectiveness) of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. The first article is titled Bill Gates and visual complexity and that was followed by Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic. Garr Reynolds, the author of the site, lays out in a very concise manner, what drives the Steve Jobs mystique and what leads to the Cult of Mac of mentality of its users.

One of his memorable quotes is “Design matters, visuals matter…it ALL matters!” When giving a presentation it really does make a difference. Steve Jobs has an open manner with simple, almost spartan slides that highlight his points. Gates (and many others) use the “Microsoft Method” otherwise known as the Really Bad PowerPoint when the presentation is stilted and the meaning gets lost.