Category Archives: System Administration

Securely “Wiping” Hard Drives

Being a tech person I know that just deleting a file from within Windows or Linux doesn’t assure that the data isn’t recoverable. Most files when removed using normal operating system delete functions can still be recovered with a variety of fairly easy-to-use utilities.

Because of this, I historically have pulled hard drives from systems before donating, recycling, or disposing of them. Also, whenever I upgrade hard drives (which is more frequently than perhaps I should admit) I clone the old drive to the new one and put the old drive in my “drive pile”. Because of this practice, I find myself with a huge pile of hard drives.

Today I’ve decided to get rid of the pile. I’m not just going to throw out the drives though – both for security reasons and also because the drives work fine, and in some cases are really nice drives (but perhaps I went for a newer/faster/bigger model).

What’s the solution that can assure that your personal data isn’t going to be handed over to some nefarious soul who will start recovering files for fun (or unethical purposes)? Securely wipe the hard drives first. Read more »

Convert a Folder to an Application on a Remote IIS Host

The topic recently came up of the best way to convert a folder to an application on remote shared hosting server. Some hosts may have this built-in to their control panel. I know many (like Cytanium) have options in the control panel to create Virtual Directories, but sometimes an application specifically needs its folder to be marked as a literal “application” within IIS. Read more »

Adding a Second Disk Live in VMware Workstation

MeInRedJacketI was installing Visual Studio 2013 today in my development environment – which I run inside of VMware Workstation – and it warned me that I didn’t have enough free disk space. No problem – that’s one of the wonderful things about running this in VMware, I can just add another disk on-the-fly with minimal effort.

I added the additional disk and opened Server Manager to initialize and format it but I got an error message of “The disk is offline because of policy set by an administrator“. That was a new one for me. Google lead me to a few different Microsoft articles that weren’t helpful at all. After a few tries I was able to find a VMware KB article that describes the exact steps to get past this error so that I could start using the new disk.

Here’s the post: Unable to initialize a second virtual disk within Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2

If you follow the steps exactly as described (there aren’t many and it isn’t hard) you’ll then be able to initialize and format your disk for use. I did this and then adjusted the install path for VS2013 to point to the newly added disk. Problem solved – it proceeded without error.

I hope this helps someone else and saves you time searching online for an answer! :)

I Doubled My Wifi Range This Weekend

I bought a WiFi range extender back in 2009 but had some initial problems getting it to work properly with the WiFi router that I had at the time. Being someone who tends to hold on to things – especially technology toys – I stuffed it into a closet and forgot about it.

Well, I got it back out recently and finally configured it over the weekend. The specific device I have is the Hawking HWREN1 Hi-Gain Wireless-300N Range Extender (only $72.99 at Amazon). I don’t remember the problems I had back in ’09 but setting it up yesterday really wasn’t that bad. I plugged it into the local network (hardwired connection), ran through the setup wizard, unplugged it, rebooted, and connected.

What this does is connect to your existing WiFi network and then rebroadcast. So you configure the extender and locate it just within range (perhaps 2 bars rather than 5). It grabs that network and then from the physical location of the extender, you have almost the same range again as from the base. This means that you can almost twice the WiFi coverage.

I use it specifically like this: My base WiFi router is sitting in a closet downstairs. I get pretty good WiFi downstairs (excluding a small area in the farthest other side of the house) but upstairs has a few dead spots. [Thankfully my house is hardwired so my PC, printer, AppleTV, etc. don’t have to worry about WiFi.] But of course I have an iPhone, and iPad, and occasionally use the laptop upstairs – all of which want a wireless connection. Anyway, I configured the HWREN1 and located it upstairs in a place that has two bars from the base WiFi router. Now I get strong coverage throughout the entire upstairs.

Yesterday I used the new network to stream the Redskins game to my iPad (NFL Sunday Ticket app) upstairs and had a much better experience than in the past – very few pauses or quality degradation (which I blame to an extent on DirecTV or the NFL).

If you have some dead spot areas that you’d like to kill (pun intended :>) you might consider grabbing one of these. For $73 it isn’t much of an investment and it can save quite a bit of frustration trying to get online within weak WiFi range areas of your house (or place of business).

OrcsWeb Adds VMware VCP to Long Certifications List

At OrcsWeb we have a large investment in VMware. We love the stability, performance, enterprise features, and fairly regular release of improvements and new options. We also now have several team members who are VMware certified professionals.

You may not know, but every person on our support staff is a Microsoft Certified Professional. Some are MCPs and others are MCSA, MCSE, MSDBA – or another advanced certification. We now also have multiple people who have taken, and passed, the VMware VCP-CLOUD and VCP-DCV certifications.

I’ve always felt that experience was more important than certifications – and in the past you could just read a book and pass many industry standard tests. In recent years though certification tests from all major vendors have gotten more challenging and are a better representation of action knowledge rather than memorizing.

So when someone already has the experience, like our support and architecture teams here at OrcsWeb, its a nice “add-on” to go ahead with the certification so that there is something official to share that confirms the knowledge and experience.