Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Windows 7 Static IP conflicts and Duplicate APIPA

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

This is an interesting one. I purchased a new laptop for work last week with Windows 7 Professional 64 bit edition installed on it. Pretty routine I thought.

Well, I plugged the laptop into our network (Yes, plugged in, we don’t have a WLAN) and assigned the laptop a static IP address on our network. Since we don’t use DHCP this is fairly routine and I have a comprehensive database of what IP Addresses are assigned already.

The problem is that instantly I got an IP address conflict. I thought that was odd but proceeded to assign a different IP address but I got the same error. At this point I thought it was unlikely that my database was that incomplete, so I simply attempted to ping that IP address from a known working PC on the Network…. No replies.

The next step… Run IPCONFIG /all under command prompt and at this point I felt it got weird. Both my static address and the autoconfiguration IPv4 address showed (duplicate) after them. I then checked the event log and found the MAC address (in every IP conflict case) that the laptop was conflicting with. It was the same MAC in every case. I figured it had to be a local adapter on the computer, but to be sure I ran Wireshark and Colasoft MAC Scanner but failed to return that MAC address.

Since I had a little time on my hands, I was curious if doing a fresh install would fix the issue, so that’s what I did next. Unfortunately, no, when the newly installed OS came up I had the same issue.

I still thought this was coming from an internal adapter but couldn’t find the MAC internally. So, I decided to go into Device Manager and Show hidden devices.  Here I saw Microsoft’s ISATAP adapter which is responsible for running IPv6 over an IPv4 infrastructure. You can read more about it on http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932520.

The above link does not address my issue it simply illustrates the purpose of the adapter at the bottom of the article. For my issue, I really couldn’t see why this adapter would cause an issue, but for the heck of it I decided to disable it anyway. Miraculously once I did so I had access to my network and the internet!

Since we are not going to IPv6 in our local infrastructure anytime soon I figured I would leave it disabled for now. It’s not a fix but it is a temporary work around for an interesting problem.

**UPDATE**

So, I just couldn’t let this issue go. I ended up running Wireshark again and this time I found the device transmitting DCHP Discover requests. The Device talks IPv4 and IPv6 and for whatever reason the DHCP Discover broadcasts from this device kept causing issues with my static IPv4 Clients until the IPv6 adapters were turned off. I’m still unsure as to why this is the case but at least I have found the MAC address.

Upon further investigation I found the device with the MAC address in question was also sending ARP requests to an outside source. After speaking with one of our network contractors I found out that the device attached to our network is something they put in that communicates with an internet service specific for an upcoming project. At this time I had to turn DHCP on for one of our Routers to allow this device to work (Although I only turned it on for 1 address at the moment).

Cannot connect to the configuration database

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

If you are running Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 like I am, then you may have seen the error above. This error can sometimes occur when you are attempting to go into the central administration tool for Sharepoint Services.

Some of the suggested fixes for this include reinstalling WSS 3.0 or reinstalling Windows Internal Database Services. Both of which will work but can require a bit of effort. I propose simply trying to restart the Windows Internal Database Server  to see if the administration tool comes up after that.

I’m not saying it will always work, but it’s a simple troubleshooting technique you can try before reinstalling services. To do this you can go to you RUN prompt “Windows Key + R” and type services.msc then hit enter. From here find the Windows Internal Database Service, right click and choose Restart.

A different “Slow Performance” issue

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Yesterday I had a user that was experiencing degraded system performance. I started out by looking at the Temp files, running a a disk defrag and then I made the mistake of running a chkdsk. The chkdsk was run outside of the windows environment and started out fine, until it hit step 4!

Step 4 took the remainder of the day to scan, luckily this client was using a spare computer set up for them in the meantime. Today I started the machine up and it took a good 3 minutes to get past the Windows XP splash screen. I finally wised up and looked at the event log.

The system event log was full of ATAPI and Disk errors (Event ID 7, 9, 11 and 51). After checking out Microsoft knowledge base for suggestions, I determined that  the safest step to take first would be to uninstall the disk controllersthrough device manager. Once I did this, I restarted the PC and everything worked beautifully after that.

I suppose the moral of this story is to check the Event logs first.


Website and ad filtering

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Let me first start out by saying that if you are looking for a good freeware Web filter for parental controls then I highly suggest checking out Best free Parental Filters. However, if you are looking to do some simple webpage and ad blocking yourself, then read on.

 

If you are running Windows 2000 and higher, navigate to your windows directory. From there go to System32\Drivers\ETC. This is the location of a file called hosts. The hosts file can be opened using Notepad.

 

So, what is the Hosts file anyway? The hosts file is first file by default that your computer looks to for name resolution. Name resolution is what tells us that Xtremediy.net belongs to a certain IP address. For example, lets say Xtremediy.net has an address of 192.168.153.229. Name resolution basically translates the 192.168.153.229 to Xtremediy.net so that we don’t have to remember that number to type into the web address.

 

I’m not going any further in depth with name resolution at this time. Lets focus on the Hosts file now. The hosts file can do name resolution for you as stated above. You can put in some of your favorite sites, and allow them to come up slightly faster because they don’t have to query internet resolution servers. Of course if the website ever has a change in IP address, you won’t be able to access it.

 

So what does a host file entry look like? Well, lets go back to my example of the Xtremediy.net IP address. If I put that address into the hosts file, then it wouldn’t have to query the internet DNS servers to find Xtremediy.net. Please note, that the IP address used in these examples is not the actual address to Xtremediy.net.

Below is the entry example:

192.168.153.229     xtremediy.net

 

That’s it! Enter the web address, press spacebar or tab, enter in the website name then press enter. On the next line you can continue with another address if you want.

 

So how can I use this to block websites and ads? The answer is already stated above. If the incorrect IP is entered for a site you will not get to that site. You will be directed to a different site. That information is more for a practical joke I suppose. So what about just blocking sites and ads? Well, you do this by using the IP address of 127.0.0.1, also known as the loopback address. This address points right back to your computer, so any sites you have pointing to the loopback won’t go anywhere.

 

The downside to the hosts file blocking method is that it does not allow wildcards.

 For example:

If I want to block my child from going to www.myspace.com I would enter the following into my hosts file.

127.0.0.1     www.myspace.com

 

If my child went to profile.myspace.com then they could bypass the filter.

 

If you intend to block sites from your children, I really suggest checking out the link at the beginning of the article. For more information about the hosts file, check out http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm.

Optimizing your system’s Registry

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Think of the Registry as a database that Windows refers to for just about everything. The Registry is constantly growing to keep up to date all your preferences, software installations and more. As with any database, the larger it is, the longer it takes to query the database. So, the conclusion here is that a registry filled with old information that is no longer relevant, decreases the performance of your computer.

So, how do we purge the Registry of outdated records? Well, you could go in manually using regedit or regedt32 from the run command. I have a feeling that most people won’t know what to look for once inside the Registry Editor though. Even the experienced user wouldn’t spend countless hours going through entries to clean up junk. So, we use Registry Cleaner Programs. These programs automate the cleanup process and can search through the records far faster than a human can.

The one downside to a Registry cleaner is that on rare occasions you may get something deleted in the registry that should not have been deleted.  I recommend you perform a system back up or create a backup of your registry before using a Registry cleaner. Just in case.

So, as with many of the programs I run on my computers, I don’t often buy software when there are so many open source programs or free programs that are in most cases just as good if not better.  So, I have a few links to Registry Cleaners that you can try.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/dr/best-free-registry-cleaner.htm

I have used Easy Cleaner and have not yet had any complaints.  Another Registry Cleaner I used is http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/RegSeeker/1035382760/1 which I find to run just as well for me as Easy Cleaner honestly.

One item that is not often discussed about the Registry is Defragmenting the Registry.  It only stands to reason that file defragmentation improves performance on your computer, so Registry Defragmentation should help as well.  The following link is a free program that defrags the registry and gives a brief description on how the program works.  http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/registry-defrag. This is program combined with one of the Registry cleaners are run once a week on my own computers. So far, I have no complaints about the speed of my computers.

Keep an eye out for future articles on performance optimization.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Blank Device Manager

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I had a client yesterday that was trying to install SP3 but was unsuccessful. So, I spent some time on it. I had run UBCD4Win to check for malware but nothing was found. I had forced Windows XP to boot into a  clean boot mode. Which gave me a the same access denied error as running the SP3 update. In the end, the problem ended up being Webroot Spy Sweeper. I uninstalled it and the Update worked perfectly.

Here is where things got interesting… Apparently the client said that they could not connect online, so after some quick over the phone help I told them to go into device manager and….It was blank!  I found a great list of common fixes for this issue at http://www.annoyances.org/exec/forum/winxp/1134095035. I talked the user through most of these but once I hit the Apropos Rootkit solution on the list I told the user to bring the computer back…. They live 2 houses down, so it’s not too much of an inconveinance for free IT work.

I ran the aproposfix tool in safe mode and removed some more entries in the registry associated with contextplus but that was of no help. Upon searching for the fix online, I ran across this arcticle on MS knowledgbase. After running fixccs.exe in safemode everything worked fine.

The MS article suggests the following “This problem may occur when an antivirus application is running during the installation of Windows XP SP3.” Well, this user didn’t have an AV client installed (I told them to try Avira Antivir, my personal favorite.) My theroy about this is that the Rootkit may have interferred during the SP3 update.

Hopefully this post will be useful to anyone else running into a simialr issue.

Microsoft exam 71-652: Virtualization

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Virtualization is becoming a topic of increasingly popular discussion. This is because the technology offers great potential for cost savings. My blog today is about Virtualization (obviously). More to the point, I am going to be discussing my experience with beta testing the New Virtualization exam by Microsoft. First, a quick introduction to Virtualization for those who know nothing about it.
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