Welcome to my IT Blog…

This blog is going to be a dedicated repository linked to pages, posts, documentation, links, and information that I find during my troubleshooting processes within the IT world. Some posts will contain code snippets that you can use with your own work if needed. Feel free to comment and get this thing rolling!

I now have contributors! Please welcome their input as valued colleagues in the IT Industry! Be on the lookout for their blog posts and please comment!

LDLNET LLC – Your source for Professional IT Services

How to Stop and Start All SharePoint 2013 Farm Services using PowerShell

How to Stop and Start All SharePoint 2013 Farm Services using PowerShell? 

Prior to SharePoint patching, its a best practice to Stop all SharePoint 2013 and its related services and then start once patching is completed. If you don’t do this, your service pack or patch installation will take longer than its expected.

So what are all the services to be stopped?

SharePoint 2013 Search Service (OSearch15 – OSearch16 in SharePoint 2016)

SharePoint 2013 Timer Job (SPTimerV4) • SharePoint 2013 Administration (SPAdminV4)

SharePoint 2013 Tracing (SPTraceV4)

SharePoint 2013 VSS Writer (SPWriterV4)

SharePoint 2013 User Code Host (SPUserCodeV4)

• SharePoint Search Host Controller (SPSearchHostController)

• Forefront Sync Service (FIMSynchronizationService)

Forefront Service (FIMService)

World Wide Web Publishing Service (W3SVC)

Internet Information Services (IIS)

Don’t forget to do it in all your SharePoint Servers of the farm!

Lets use PowerShell to stop and start all SharePoint services:

Stop all SharePoint 2013 Services, Lets use PowerShell to stop and start all SharePoint services:

Start all SharePoint 2013 Services: After the patching, Use the below script to start all SharePoint services. 

Completely Stop or Start SharePoint Farm Services on All Servers: Lets put everything together and make a reusable PowerShell function, which stops or starts all SharePoint related services in all servers of the farm.

Installing an ‘IP-less’ Exchange Server 2019 Database Availability Group

Yesterday, I posted on how Exchange now uses the Resilient File System (ReFS) to optimize and protect Exchange critical files. Another layer of protection is using a database availability group (DAG) for redundancy and is a necessary factor when designing an Exchange Enterprise Environment.
In this example, I will walk you through the installation of an Exchange Server 2019 DAG as I configured in my environment. This DAG will contain two Exchange Servers in the same site with a third Windows Server 2019 server being the File Share Witness (FSW).

Two Server Exchange DAG Configuration

For my configuration, I configured two identical Windows Server 2019 VMs (same procs, RAM, vhdx drives, partitions, etc…). I configured the Exchange Data Volume using ReFS and mounted them to the same folder on the C: Drive on each server. This is very important for replication to take place successfully when the databases are added to the DAG.


I next went to the Admin server where the FSW would be hosted and added the Exchange Trusted Subsystem Account to the local Administrators group on that server:

IMPORTANT!
Add the Exchange Trusted Subsystem Account to the Local Administrators Group on the FSW.

NOTE: The reason that this is an ‘IP-less’ DAG is that I’m creating a DAG with no cluster administrative access point (CAAP). The DAG has no IP address of its own, and no computer object in Active Directory. The main implication of this is that backup software that relies on the CAAP or backup operations won’t work. This option of an ‘IP-less’ DAG was first introduced in Exchange Server 2013 SP1/CU4, so by now any decent backup products should support this configuration. But you should always verify this with your backup vendor of choice. Also be aware that this is only supported for DAGs that are running on Windows Server 2012 R2 (or later).

Next, we create the DAG from Exchange PowerShell using the New-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup cmdlet. Now remember that since you are using the ReFS system for your database volumes, you will need to specify the -FileSystem parameter within the cmdlet to assure proper setup and replication of the data files.

Next, we add the Exchange Servers that hold the databases that will be replicated within the DAG:

The DAG will now show the two servers as Operational Member Servers:

The FSW Directory was created on the admin01 server when the DAG was created. We can verify that with the following cmdlet:

Next, we add the databases that we want replicated to the DAG as replicated databases. I want all my Databases on EX01 to replicate to EX02 and vice versa for the EX02 Databases. I want the activation preference to remain on the server that the databases were originally created on so I will use the -ActivationPreference parameter to accomplish that. I will go into more detail on Activation Preference in another post.

Now we verify that the Database Copies are healthy on each replication member using the Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus cmdlet. You will see a Healthy Status on the replicated copies:

POSITIVE ENERGY!
KILL NARCISSISM!
HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!

REFERENCES:
Installing an Exchange Server 2016 Database Availability Group

Using the Resilient File System for Exchange Server

In my ongoing effort for becoming more knowledgeable on Exchange Server, I found that the preferred new file system for Exchange Databases and Log files is the ReFS.
ReFS is not that new. Microsoft’s Resilient File System (ReFS) was introduced with Windows Server 2012. ReFS is not a direct replacement for NTFS, and is missing some underlying NTFS features, but is designed to be (as the name suggests) a more resilient file system for extremely large amounts of data.

Support for ReFS with Exchange Server

From Exchange Server 2013 and upwards (which includes Exchange Server 2019 today) Microsoft supports the use of ReFS for Exchange servers, and in fact they now recommend it as the preferred file system for Exchange Server 2019, within the following guidelines.

For Exchange Server 2013:

  • ReFS is supported for volumes containing Exchange database files, log files, and content index files.
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing Exchange binaries (the program files).
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing the system partition.
  • ReFS data integrity features must be disabled for the database (.edb) files or the entire volume that hosts database files.
  • Hotfix KB2853418 must be installed.
  • For Windows 2012, the following hotfixes must be installed:

This means that you should continue to use NTFS for your operating system and Exchange Server 2013 installation volume, but you can consider using ReFS for the volumes hosting Exchange databases, log files, and index files.

For Exchange Server 2016:

  • ReFS is supported for volumes containing Exchange database files, log files, and content index files.
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing Exchange binaries (the program files).
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing the system partition.
  • ReFS data integrity features are recommended to be disabled.
  • For Windows 2012, the following hotfixes must be installed:

This means that you should continue to use NTFS for your operating system and Exchange Server 2016 installation volume, and it is recommended ReFS for the volumes hosting Exchange databases, log files, and index files.

For Exchange Server 2019:

  • ReFS is supported for volumes containing Exchange database files, log files, and content index files.
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing Exchange binaries (the program files).
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing the system partition.
  • ReFS data integrity features are recommended to be disabled.

This means that you should continue to use NTFS for your operating system and Exchange Server 2019 installation volume, and it is recommended ReFS for the volumes hosting Exchange databases, log files, and index files.

Creating an ReFS Formatted Volume

In Windows Server during the New Volume Wizard when you get to the step for configuring File System Settings change the file system from NTFS to ReFS.

exchange-server-refs

NOTE: Using the New Volume Wizard does not give you the option to disable data integrity at the volume level. To set it at the volume level itself use PowerShell when configuring new volumes. I found this out the hard way and am now re-configuring my volumes to disable the Integrity Streams.

I needed to create the mount point to mount the volume to:

I then got a list of my available disks:

In my case, disk 2 was the one I needed to format and change. I had to create a new partition and then format it:

Once formatted, I mount the volume to the Directory created earlier:

NOTE: Partition 1 on a disk is always reserved for system files on the drive volume. So the active partitions will always start at 2.

Lastly, verify that the partition is online and that the Integrity Streams are turned off:

Additional Considerations

When you are deploying an Exchange 2016 or 2019 DAG and using Autoreseed, the disk reclaimer needs to know which file system to use when formatting spare disks. So when, creating a DAG in Exchange PowerShell, make sure to set the -FileSystem parameter. For Exchange Server 2013 DAGs, manually format the spare volumes with ReFS.

More coming soon. I will post how I setup the “IP-less” DAG for my environment and got replication functional for my Exchange Databases.

REFERENCES:
Exchange 2013 storage configuration options
Exchange 2016 Preferred Architecture
Exchange Storage for Insiders: It’s ESE (Ignite video)
ReFS Exchange Server Volumes
Preparing ReFS Volumes for Exchange

Hyper-V General Access Denied error when trying to load a Virtual Hard Drive and start a VM

I was working on setting up a VM for my server farm and mis-configured one of the vhdx drives. I ended up having to delete that drive and recreate it in Hyper-V manager. When I did though, I received an error stating that I could not start the virtual machine:

An error occurred while attempting to start the selected virtual machine(s).
‘VMName’ failed to start. (Virtual machine ID ‘SomeID’)
‘VMName’ Microsoft Emulated IDE Controller (Instance ID ‘SomeID’): Failed to Power on with Error ‘General access denied error’ (0x80070005). (Virtual machine ID ‘SomeID’)
‘VMName’: IDE/ATAPI Account does not have sufficient privilege to open attachment ‘C:\Users\Public\Documents\Hyper-V\Virtual hard disks\DiskName.vhdx’. Error: ‘General access denied error’ (0x80070005). (Virtual machine ID ‘SomeID’)
‘VMName’:  Account does not have sufficient privilege to open attachment ‘V:\Hyper-V\Virtual hard disks\DiskName.vhdx’. Error: ‘General access denied error’ (0x80070005). (Virtual machine ID ‘SomeID’)

Causes

Each virtual machine is started using a virtual machine account. The virtual machine account needs read and write access to the .vhd/.vhdx file, but if the file has just been copied from somewhere then it most likely lacks the necessary file permissions.
That happened in my case because I had just created the vhdx drive and did not create it from the VM itself. I just attached it to the VM. So, when I booted the VM, it gave the error.

Remediation

There are a few ways that you could remediate the issue. The simplest way, if it is a new VM, is to remove the drive in the VM settings and then re-create it from scratch. That is what fixed it for me.
Another way is to add the VM GUID to the permissions so that it can access the vhdx file properly:

  • If you don’t already have the Hyper-V Manager error dialog open (“An error occurred while attempting to start the selected virtual machine(s) …”) then try to start the virtual machine now. You need the error open.
  • Click “See details”. This will show additional details, and will look something like:

‘PC-Name’ failed to start. (Virtual machine ID B9C4F7D4-0009-4BE2-90FB-9D60B1A06BDD) ‘PC-Name’ Microsoft Emulated IDE Controller (Instance ID XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX): Failed to Power on with Error ‘General access denied error’ (0x80070005). (Virtual machine ID B9C4F7D4-0009-4BE2-90FB-9D60B1A06BDD)
‘PC-Name’: IDE/ATAPI Account does not have sufficient privilege to open attachment ‘E:\Hyper-V\PC-Name\Virtual Hard Disks\MyVHD.vhdx’.
Error: ‘General access denied error’ (0x80070005). (Virtual machine ID B9C4F7D4-0009-4BE2-90FB-9D60B1A06BDD)
‘PC-Name’: Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management service Account does not have sufficient privolege to open attachment ‘E:\Hyper-V\PC-Name\Virtual Hard Disks\MyVHD.vhdx’.
Error: ‘General access denied error’ (0x80070005). (Virtual machine ID B9C4F7D4-0009-4BE2-90FB-9D60B1A06BDD)
Where PC-Name will be the name of your virtual PC. The long sequence of letters and numbers (in my case above “B9C4F7D4-0009-4BE2-90FB-9D60B1A06BDD”) is the Virtual Machine ID. This number is significant and you need it to fix the problem.

  • On the host server open an elevated command prompt.
  • Enter the following:

You will need to substitute the path to the vhd/vhdx file – you can obtain this from the original error message, and the Virtual-Machine-ID that you obtained from the “See details” part of the error.

So the line for me was:

NOTE: If you get the message “Failed processing 1 files” then check the virtual machine ID.

  • Now try to start the virtual machine. The error should no longer be present.

There is also a PowerShell Gallery script that is supposed to remediate this issue:

http://www.ntsystems.it/page/PS-Restore-VMPermissionps1.aspx

I haven’t tried it but it looks as it would work. Please review and leave a comment should you have issues with the script.

HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!
PLEASE COMMENT!
POSITIVE ENERGY!

REFERENCES:
Resolved: Hyper-V General access denied error when trying to load a Virtual Hard Drive
Restore-VMPermission
Virtual machine fails to start with General access denied error / Account does not have sufficient privilege to open attachment

Microsoft 365 Tenant-Level Services Licensing Guide

I was going through my LinkedIn feed as I do daily and found a post with the following document. Great post and document. I wanted to add this here to my blog for reference and to share with all of you!

The document includes the following topics:

Overview
Azure Active Directory Identity Protection
Azure Advanced Threat Protection
Azure Information Protection
Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
Office 365 Cloud App Security
Microsoft Cloud App Security
Office 365 Advanced Data Governance
Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery
Office 365 Customer Key
Office 365 Customer Lockbox
Privileged Access Management in Office 365
Data Loss Prevention for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business
Data Loss Prevention for Teams chat and channel conversations
Information barriers
Advanced Message Encryption

Download your copy of this document as reference:

POSITIVE ENERGY SUCCEEDS!
PLEASE COMMENT!

Error 801c0003 when joining computer to Azure AD

I just received my new laptop for my current project and was setting up Windows 10 to join the company Azure AD domain. When I got to the part where you join, I received the following error:

Error Joining Computer to Azure AD

Turns out that my account is unable to domain join a device to the tenant. This is easily solved though. You have your tenant admin perform the following:

Go to Azure Active Directory -> Devices
Check the device settings, in particular the options:

Users may join devices
Maximal number of devices

Azure AD Settings Page

Now, in my case, I did not have access as I am NOT a tenant admin:

So, I am currently waiting for my IT department to resolve the access issue and grant me access to join the device to the domain. Just be sure to look at this if you’re having issues setting up your Windows 10 device to join your Azure tenant!

HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!
POSITIVE ENERGY!

References:
Issue Joining A Device To An Azure AD Tenant Domain

Importing User Photos to Office 365 in bulk for your company.

In a previous post, I showed how you could update one user’s photo for their Outlook and AD profiles via PowerShell. In this post, we will explore how to do this for your entire organization via PowerShell to Office365.

NOTE: I have not tested the scripts as I do not have enough mailboxes in my O365 tenant along with not using a ‘.’ in my alias. If the scripts are incorrect, please inform me with the correction and I will update accordingly.

Please make sure that your photos are reviewed before posting, and try to keep the file size of the photos to a minimum. In Office 365, there exists a limitation for the user photo not to be more than 10 KB in size, but I will show you how to get around that limitation.

Having a user photo for each of your users is very beneficial as it personalizes each account to a face in the company. The user photos can be viewed in below locations:

  • Outlook Web Access
  • Contact Card
  • Thumbnail in emails
  • Outlook Client
  • Yammer
  • Lync Client
  • SharePoint (People Search / Newsfeed)

Steps to take:

  1. Remove the 10KB photo size limitation in Exchange Online
  2. Prepare a folder with all users photos
  3. Update the profile photos via a PowerShell cmdlet.

Connect to Exchange Online with the RPS Proxy Method to remove the 10K size limitation

NOTE: In the PowerShell cmdlet above, we connected using a different proxy method. This was to overwrite the limitation of uploading the images with size more than 10KB. Using the different proxy method (/?proxyMethod=RPS ) to connect to Office 365 in the above cmdlet accomplishes this.

Prepare a folder locally and place all the photos in that folder

Create a folder named C:/UserPics and make the filename of each photo be the username of that particular user. (i.e. llingerfelt.png)
The below script should be able account for aliases that have a ‘.’ in the id as well. (i.e. lance.lingerfelt)

NOTE: From my research, there is no set photo type that is required for the photo. My suggestion would be to keep the photos .png for size constraints while maintaining picture clarity.

Update the profile pictures via PowerShell

Create the following script and name it Photos-Update.ps1

Run Photos-Update.ps1 and the script should upload the photos to Office 365 and apply each photo to the corresponding user.

NOTE: If you’re still having some issues with the alias having a ‘.’ in the name, you can also configure the Photos-Update.ps1 script in this manner to get that working properly:

HAPPY SCRIPTING!
PLEASE COMMENT!

store.ldlnet.net
LDLNET LLC! Your Source for Pofessional IT Services!
www.servermonkey.com
Contact ServerMonkey.com for your IT Hardware Needs!

REFERENCES:
How to import Office365 User photos over 10KB & without CSV in bulk

Issue with NAT on Cisco ASA

I was working on upgrading my ASA firewall and was running into an issue with internet working on my device, but none of my server services were responding to requests:

Result:
input-interface: outside
input-status: up
input-line-status: up
output-interface: inside
output-status: up
output-line-status: up
Action: drop
Drop-reason: (no-adjacency) No valid adjacency

I had configured 1-to-1 Object Based NAT translations for my servers for this purpose as had been configured on my prior ASA device. I had just copied the NAT rules to the new device thinking that it should just work. Needless to say, I had to call Cisco TAC and open a case. This seemed to be an issue for them as well. We kept getting the same error as above with another error listed during the NAT translation of the packets:

ifc selected is not same as preferred ifc
Doing route lookup again on ifc inside

We could ping internally to the server successfully from the ASA through the inside port:

LDLNET-FW01(config)# ping LDLNET-LAN 192.168.100.x
Type escape sequence to abort.
Sending 5, 100-byte ICMP Echos to 192.168.100.x, timeout is 2 seconds:
!!!!!
Success rate is 100 percent (5/5), round-trip min/avg/max = 1/1/1 ms

Packet Capture:

4 packets captured
1: 01:01:21.086894 192.168.100.2 > 192.168.100.x: icmp: echo request
2: 01:01:21.087153 192.168.100.x > 192.168.100.2: icmp: echo reply
3: 01:01:21.087886 192.168.100.2 > 192.168.100.x: icmp: echo request
4: 01:01:21.088069 192.168.100.x > 192.168.100.2: icmp: echo reply

Again, I had created Object based NAT translations that should have worked for all the inside ports and allowed the packet traffic through properly:

object network Exchange_Server
nat (any,any) static ExchOut net-to-net

Not having knowledge what the net-to-net statement within the NAT Rule stood for, we ended up scrapping all of the Object based NAT rules and created a new rule using a static route:

nat (LDLNET-LAN,outside) source static Exchange_Server ExchOut description Exchange NAT Both Directions

Doing this worked for us and allowed traffic that was NOT translating correctly to be translated and flowing correctly through the ASA.

Phase: 17
Type: FLOW-CREATION
Subtype:
Result: ALLOW
Config:
Additional Information:
New flow created with id 12345, packet dispatched to next module
Module information for forward flow …
snp_fp_tracer_drop
snp_fp_inspect_ip_options
snp_fp_tcp_normalizer
snp_fp_translate
snp_fp_adjacency
snp_fp_fragment
snp_ifc_stat

Module information for reverse flow …
snp_fp_tracer_drop
snp_fp_inspect_ip_options
snp_fp_translate
snp_fp_tcp_normalizer
snp_fp_adjacency
snp_fp_fragment
snp_ifc_stat

Result:
input-interface: outside
input-status: up
input-line-status: up
output-interface: LDLNET-LAN
output-status: up
output-line-status: up
Action: allow

Great! This is working now! The only issue is that I had to create static rules that go through the single interface on the ASA. What if I need to connect other devices to the ASA on different interface ports? Well, I will have to create the static NAT rules for those ports as well. If the current interface fails, I will have to recreate the static NAT Rules for the interface port that I change to. Secure in a way, but not how I think it should be designed.

If anyone has any suggestions for the configuration of this, why I was getting the error, or a way to get the Object Based NAT rules working properly, PLEASE COMMENT!

I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE BEST SOLUTION!
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS!

LDLNET LLC (844) 884-7838
Contact sales@ldlnet.net for more information!

Set the profile pic for a single Exchange user via PowerShell

I wanted to update my picture within my Outlook profile and AD account really quickly without having to go through OWA to do so. I found this cmdlet that will allow for that picture to be changed very quickly via Exchange PowerShell.

NOTE: This can be done with On-Premises Exchange and Exchange Online PowerShell

Old picture within my account

First, download the picture you want to use to the computer that you want to run the cmdlet from. Also, make sure the picture is cropped and centered prior to running the cmdlet. I saved the pic to C:\temp for my scenario. The best format to use would be jpg. I named the file User1_Profile.jpg

Next, open Exchange PowerShell on the computer you saved the pic to and run the following cmdlet to change the photo:

Once completed, the Outlook client should be closed and reopen so that the new picture is visible in the profile.

Picture change completed

I will post how to perform this for multiple users for Exchange and Office365 in a later post.

REFERENCES:
Set User Photo with Exchange PowerShell

Purging Soft Deleted mailboxes from Exchange Server

If you’re a seasoned administrator, you have knowledge that in Exchange, the database settings will allow you to set the deleted mailbox retention. The default is 30 days, but sometimes you need to purge all those deleted mailboxes to do some ‘spring cleaning’ as it were. Note that doing these cmdlets does not change the ‘Whitespace’ of the database or the size. In my case, I had to purge everything of a toxic individual that was tainting my network much to my disappointment and did the following to complete that task.

The following cmdlet will seek all Soft Deleted mailboxes within the database you select and manually purge them from Exchange.

Now, should you only want to remove one mailbox, you will need to get the GUID of that Soft Deleted mailbox first so that you can enter it for the identity parameter.

You can also preform a similar task for a disabled mailbox:

You can perform the task on all disabled mailboxes for that database as well:

NOTE: I would be very careful when performing either of these cmdlets as they will completely purge the mailboxes from the schema. If these cmdlets assist you with your ‘spring cleaning’, I will have been happy to assist.

HAPPY PURGING!
PLEASE COMMENT!
IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS!

References:
Purging Deleted Mailboxes on Exchange 2013

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HTTP to HTTPS redirect for websites in IIS

I’ve been building this blog along with my consulting business and needed to secure my websites with SSL for BBB accreditation. That accreditation is still pending at this time, but I want to show good faith in business practices to attain that accreditation.

So, I purchased my certificate and preformed the following to assure that all traffic to my websites are SSL secured. There are a number of ways to do it, and even do it for Exchange, (which I will cover in another post), but I found a great article that is simple and will work for most standard web sites. The link will be at the bottom in the references section. 🙂

Redirect all HTTP traffic for your website to HTTPS

  • You will need to download the URL Rewrite Tool: Instructions HERE
  • Ensure that the IIS site you are using is configured for the proper port 80 binding. In this case we are listening for all traffic on port 80. But you could restrict this based on host header as needed
  • Next, once URL Rewrite is installed, create a new URL Rewrite Rule on the website that you want to make the change on:
Steps to create a new URL Rewrite Rule
  • Use the following steps exactly to create the redirection properly for your website:
  • Match URL Setting:
    • Name your rule (i.e. ‘http to https’)
    • Requested URL: ‘Matches the Pattern’
    • Using: ‘Wildcards’
    • Pattern: ‘*’
    • Ignore Case: ‘Checked’
  • Conditions Setting:
    • Click Add
    • Condition Input: ‘{HTTPS}’
    • Check if input string: ‘Matches the pattern’
    • Pattern: ‘off’
    • Ignore Case: ‘Checked’
  • Server Variables Setting:
    • No Settings Changed or Added
  • Action Setting:
    • Action Type: ‘Redirect’
    • Action Properties
      • Redirect URL: ‘https://{HTTP_HOST}{REQUEST_URI}’
      • Append Query String: ‘Checked’
      • Redirect Type: Found (302)

Note: In this example {HTTPS}, {HTTP_HOST}, and {REQUEST_URI} are all URL parts that can be accessed using the URL Rewrite module. More information on URL parts can be found here.

  • Apply the rule so that it is saved to IIS
  • Perform an IISRESET from an Administrative PowerShell Session or Command Prompt to Enable all the settings properly

Changes Made

The URL rewrite rules get written to the web.config file for the site you are working in. For example, the above configuration should result in this addition to the web.config file:

That should take of it all for you and now when users connect to your website via http, they will be automatically redirected to https SSL.

HAPPY CONFIGURING!
PLEASE COMMENT!

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LDLNET LLC – Life In Action! Your Source for Professional IT Services!

References:
Creating Rewrite Rules for the URL Rewrite Module
URL Rewrite for IIS7 http to https redirection
URL Component Reference
Redirect from HTTP to HTTPS using the IIS URL Rewrite module

Customize your Outlook Web App Logon Page

As many of you are aware, Microsoft provides a default logon page for OWA, the Outlook Web App. Most companies, like myself want to be able to customize that page so that it suites your organization. Here is what my company OWA page looks like:

Customized OWA Logon Page

I have changed the color on the left to match my scheme, replaced the Outlook Logo with my company logo, and added a disclaimer to notify users. Below is the process to do that effectively for your organization.

NOTE: Every time you install an Exchange Cumulative Update (CU) or new version of Exchange Server these modified files will be replaced. Remember to backup your original and changed files to another folder so that you can replace them when you Update or Upgrade or if something goes wrong with the changes.

Customize the color of the Outlook on the web sign-in page

  • Use Notepad to open the file:

%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources\logon.css

  • In the logon.css file, replace the default blue hexidecimal color value #0072c6 with the HTML RGB value that you want to use. You can use the following LINK to choose the color you wish to use.
  • When you’re finished, save and close the file.

Here are the different graphics that can be changed on the OWA logon page and their associated files:

Outlook on the Web sign-in page with element call-outs
ImageFile nameLocationDimensions (width x height in pixels)Bit depth

favicon.ico 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
16 x 16 
32 

olk_logo_white.png 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
128 x 108 
32 

owa_text_blue.png 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
300 x 76 
32 

Sign_in_arrow.png (for left-to-right languages) 
Sign_in_arrow_rtl.png (for right-to-left languages) 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
22 x 22 
32 
  • Just resize your images to the given dimensions in the table, rename them to the file name, and replace the files in the directory.

Change the disclaimer text for your OWA logon page

Next, we want to add a disclaimer to our logon page. To do that, we need to modify the logon.aspx document in the following directory:

%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\logon.aspx

Open the file in Notepad or your favorite HTML editor and search for the text ‘hidden-submit’. When you find the text, you can add your disclaimer text under the div class=”disclaimer” tag as I did in the following example:

Save your logon.aspx file and give your OWA server an IISRESET for good measure. You should be good to logon with the new page from that point on.

HAPPY CONFIGURING!
PLEASE COMMENT!
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

References:
Customize the Outlook on the web sign-in, language selection, and error pages in Exchange Server
CUSTOMIZE EXCHANGE 2016 OUTLOOK ON THE WEB SIGN IN PAGE
Customizing Exchange 2016 OWA

Unable to open settings from the Settings App in Windows Server 2016/2019

In Windows Server 2016/2019 you have been upgraded to the Windows 10 Desktop Experience GUI. So, in the new versions, you are directed to use the Gear Box in Windows to get to your settings. What was happening within the Settings is that I would choose a setting that calls on the control.exe file to open a Control Panel app. I would get the following error when attempting to do that function:

Permission Denied to Open a CPL Applet through control.exe

I immediately think it is a permissions issue. So I go to try to validate the permissions so that I could change them. Turns out, that due to it being a Windows System directory, I couldn’t modify the permissions without compromising directory security with NTFS permissions:

The options are all greyed out for the directory on purpose

Now, if I open Control Panel, Network Sharing Center, etc…, I was able to access the applets with no issues. This was just happening in the Settings Gear Box Application. So, I started looking around and found that there is a registry key that needs to be modified so that your Administrator account can open these settings apps through the Settings Application:

1) Launch the Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
2) Navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

3) Change the value of FilterAdministratorToken (REG_DWORD) from 0 to 1 (If you don’t see that key, you can create it by right-clicking on any empty space from the right panel and select New > DWORD value, type the name and set the value to 1)
4) Reboot the computer and then it will be working fine.

I decided to create a Group Policy in AD to add this registry key so that it would propagate to all my 2016/2019 Servers:

1) Launch the Group Policy Manager
2) Create a new GPO and Link it to your Domain
3) Go to Computer Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Registry > New Registry Key (DWORD)
4) Set the Action to “Replace”
5) Set the path as:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
6) Set the Key as FilterAdministratorToken
7) Set the Value as 1 (Decimal Format) and Save
8) Run gpupdate /force on your servers.
9) Schedule a Reboot of those servers for the change to truly take effect.

GPO Settings

After the reboot of the server, all the apps launched correctly from the Settings Application within Windows. I am going to research a little more to see why this is like that. If you have a comment, or more information, please feel free to post!

HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!
PLEASE COMMENT!

Installation of Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server 2019

I have realized recently that I am an Exchange Messaging Professional, but yet, I have not posted the methodology of how I install an Exchange Server Mailbox Role. So here it is!

Install Windows Server 2019

Exchange Server 2019 requires Windows Server 2019 to run. For my environment, I haven’t necessarily need to follow all the enterprise level design aspects of database numbers to mailbox size ratios, number of servers, front/back end configurations, DAG Implementation, etc… If you want or need to delve into that realm, you can go here. I have need for a single server with only a few databases for a small number of mailboxes, so I am approaching it from that standpoint.

So first, in Hyper-V, I configured my VM with the following specifications:

Processors: 2 procs with 2 cores each – 4 Virtual Processors Total
RAM: 32GB with dynamic memory enabled optional
Drives: 2 .vhdx drives of 120GB each (OS / Exchange Data)
CD: Windows 2019 ISO
Default Settings for the rest of the VM Settings

Next I installed Windows Server 2019 Datacenter with the GUI! You can install it on Server Core if you wish. That information can be found in this link.

I ran through the setup of Windows and installed the OS on my first vhdx drive. I booted up, set the local admin password, and logged in. Once in Windows, I went to the Local Server Settings in Server Manager and configured the following settings:

Set the Date, Time, and Time Zone. (Once in the Domain, this would sync through Group Policy)
Set IE ESC to allow Administrators to have full IE access.
Set Remote Desktop Settings to gain RDP access. (This would be locked down with Group Policy as well once on the Domain)
Set the IP Settings to Static Settings. (DNS Servers, Gateway, WINS, etc…)
Join the server to the Active Directory Domain.
Reboot the VM Server.
Logon to your Domain.
Configure Windows Update Settings. (I have WSUS through Group Policy, this was configured automatically upon reboot)
Download and install all Windows Updates for the server. Then Reboot.
Open Disk Management and configure the secondary vhdx drive to be your Exchange Data Drive.
I configured the drive to be a mounted folder ‘C:\Exchange\Data’ rather than another drive letter as that seems to be the more accepted form of installation for the data drive these days. That is based on the multiple configurations that I have seen for Exchange through experience in Enterprise environments. Again, to each is own and depending on you design specifications, you might want to do that differently.

Next, we need to install the prerequisites for the Exchange Mailbox Server. I have always used practical365.com to get the PowerShell script to install the prerequisites, but couldn’t find the article this time. Great site though! Instead, I got the information and ran the following from an elevated PowerShell Session locally on the server:

As part of the prerequisites you will need to install the following packages onto the server as well:

UCMA Runtime Install
Visual C++ Redistributable Packages for Visual Studio 2013

Once completed, you can begin the install of Exchange. If this is your first Exchange 2019 Server in your Organization, then you will need to run the following to update the Forest, Schema, and Domain so that Exchange will install properly:

NOTE: If you run into Prerequisite issues with the installation due to a “pending reboot”, check out my blog post for information on remediation of that issue.

Now that the environment is prepared for Exchange, you can actually begin the installation. I wanted to make my default database and logs folder to be on the Exchange Data volume that I created, so I included those settings in the setup command. Please look at the reference to the setup.exe switches for more information on that. Here is the command:

Setup should go through the installation via the PowerShell window and complete successfully. Reboot the Exchange Server, then you can then logon to the Exchange Admin Center and begin the process of configuration of how you need to integrate the Mailbox Server into your Server Farm. That configuration is for a later post.

PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES!
PLEASE COMMENT!

References:
UCMA Runtime Install
Visual C++ Redistributable Packages for Visual Studio 2013
Install Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server 2019 Core
Exchange Server Design Planning
Use unattended mode in Exchange Setup
Practical365 on Exchange 2019

Exchange Hybrid Configuration Wizard Link

Wanted to do a quick post as I was working on my Hybrid Exchange Environment. I was unable to get the HCW to download and start from the Exchange Control Panel with the link provided on the page. This has happened to me for a while, so I went online and found a link that would work that could be downloaded and reused to open the HCW:

Hybrid Configuration Wizard Link

HOPE THIS HELPS!
LET ME HAVE KNOWLEDGE SHOULD THE LINK CHANGE!

References:
HYBRID CONFIGURATION WIZARD WON’T START ON WINDOWS 2016

Hyper-V 2019 will NOT mount ISO from a network share.

Like most IT guys. They have a repository of their ISO images saved on a network share so that they can mount the ISO if needed on multiple machines. I recently switched to Hyper-V and have been having an issue with creating VMs and using my ISO from my network share to do so.
Hyper-V Manager available through RSAT doesn’t have an option to mount an ISO or capture a drive from a machine on which is running. Instead it gives you drives of the Hyper-V host, and that would of course require you to have an ISO or the disc itself present on the host. I didn’t want to do that. I would rather have my repository share available for that purpose to allow for all the drive space to be available on the Hyper-V host.

So, I would map a network drive with my ISOs. The mapping would succeed, but mapped drive (letter) will not be visible in Hyper-V manager when trying to mount an ISO. Okay, so next I tried mounting from UNC share directly, but that would also fail, with the message:
“‘VM’ failed to add device ‘Virtual CD/DVD Disk’” “User account does not have permission required to open attachment”.

hyperv1
Access Denied Error when trying to mount the ISO

It goes back to the constrained delegation requirement for the Hyper-V host accounts to be used to perform functions such as this. This has been a pain to say in the least, as I have also had issues with live migration with my machines not being clustered due to different hardware.

So, in researching, I found this blog post. It has helped me through this issue with mapping the shared folder with the ISOs.

The cause of the problem is that the Hyper-V is intended to run with VMM Library Server and to mount files from it, not any random share. To re-mediate this:

  • You need to assign full NTFS and share permissions to computer account of Hyper-V on a shared folder with ISO’s you want to mount.
  • In AD on the computer account of Hyper-V machine delegate specific service ‘cifs’ to the machine you want your ISO’s mounted from. Microsoft calls this constrained delegation.

Here is step by step procedure for the constrained delegation:

  1. Go to Active Directory Users and Computers
  2. Find the Hyper-V server computer account and open up its properties.
  3. Go to Delegation tab.
  4. Select Trust this computer for delegation to the specified services only radio button.
  5. Click the Add button.
  6. Click the Users or Computers… button.
  7. In the Add Services window, click Users or Computers and enter the computer account that will  act as a library server and click OK.
  8. Select the cifs Service Type and click OK.

The resulting setup should look something like this:

Constrained delegation
What the configuration should look like for constrained delegation

I added both the server that contained the ISO images and the server that I run my RSAT tools from just to be safe. I next rebooted the Hyper-V host (that is a requirement).
When the host rebooted, I was able to successfully create the VM.

Hopefully, this will also solve my issue with live migration between my hosts. I will have to test that again and will inform everyone here if that succeeds as well!

PLEASE COMMENT!
THANKS FOR READING!

References:
Hyper-V Server 2012 won’t mount ISO from a network share
Hyper-V authentication in Windows Server 2016 for managing remote Hyper-V servers through RSAT
Constrained Delegation

Exchange Setup Repeatedly Says ‘A Restart from a Previous Installation is Pending’

I have had this issue with EVERY upgrade that I have ever attempted for Exchange Server from 2013 through 2019 CU1. You go to run the setup program and during the prerequisite checks, setup stops. The error listed is:

A restart from a previous installation is pending. Please restart the system and rerun setup.

During the prerequisite checks, Exchange Setup looks in the registry at the following keys:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\UpdateExeVolatile
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\PendingFileRenameOperations

Nine times out of ten, a restart does NOT remediate this error. In order for setup to continue properly, you must do the following:

  • Open regedit: Start > Run > regedit.exe
  • Set the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\UpdateExeVolatile key value to 0 or delete it if present. <– This one is usually NOT present.
  • Delete the HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\PendingFileRenameOperations key.
  • Re-run Setup.

You should now be able to run setup and upgrade your Exchange Server.

PLEASE COMMENT!
HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!

References:
A Restart From Another Installation Is Pending
Exchange Setup Fails – A Restart From Another Installation Is Pending
Microsoft Document – A Restart From Another Installation Is Pending

Removing Hidden Devices in Device Manager

As you may have knowledge of, if you are reading my blog. I am currently migrating off of VMWare to Hyper-V. Now, as I convert my machines to Hyper-V, it uses a totally different driver for the Network Card. I am having to rebuild the NIC settings within windows to setup the NIC for the Hyper-V VM to get the machines on the network properly again. The VMWare NIC disables and hides the NIC from the VMWare driver in Device Manager.

What this does is make Windows think it has two active network cards, even though one is disabled and removed/hidden in device manager. So, to clean things within Windows, I have to perform the following procedure to remove the hidden device:

Open PowerShell as Administrator
Next, type the following cmdlet and press Enter:

Next, open Device Manager from the PowerShell Session:

When the Device Manager GUI opens, click the View menu
Click 
Show Hidden Devices
Go to the Device that is hidden, in my case the Network Adapter
Right-Click the Device and select Uninstall

Close the Device Manager GUI and PowerShell session

This cleaned the old hardware drivers off the system and allowed the current Hyper-V NIC to be the only one installed.

HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!
PLEASE COMMENT!

How to transfer FSMO Roles using PowerShell

A rare weekend post for me! HA! I am currently migrating my server environment from VMWare 6.7 to Server 2019 Hyper-V. I have a separate standalone box that I use for my VM backups and as a tertiary DC. Since I had to shut down my VMs in order to convert them, I needed to quickly move my FSMO roles from the DC Virtual Machine to the Standalone box so things would stay running.

I found this great article on how to do that quickly through PowerShell since it is a pain to go into ADUC, ADDT, and setup an MMC for the Schema snap-in.

When you create a domain, all FSMO roles assigned to the first domain controller in the forest by default. You can transfer FSMO roles from one DC to another both the Active Directory graphics snap-ins and the PowerShell command line. Moving FSMO roles using AD PowerShell has the following benefits:

  • You do not need to connect with a MMC snap-ins to the future role owner;
  • Transferring or seizing FSMO roles does not require a connection to the current or future role owner. You can run AD-PowerShell module cmdlets on a Windows Client or Server running RSAT Tools;
  • To seize the FSMO role (if the current owner is not available), it suffices to use an additional parameter -force.

Import the Active Directory Module Into PowerShell:

To get the current forest level FSMO role owners (Domain Naming Master and Schema Master roles) you can use the following PowerShell cmdlet:

To view domain-wide FSMO roles (Infrastructure Master, PDC Emulator and Relative Identifier Master roles):

Transfer FSMO Roles using PowerShell

To transfer FSMO roles between Active Directory domain controllers, we use the PowerShell cmdlet:
Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole

To use the Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole cmdlet, you must meet the following requirements:

  • There must be at least one DC with a version of Windows Server 2008 R2 or higher
  • PowerShell version 3.0 or newer
  • Active Directory module (2.0  or newer)

NOTE: Unlike the Ntdsutil.exe utility, the Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasteRole cmdlet can be performed from any domain computer to migrate the Operations Master roles if you have the appropriate rights (Domain admins and Enterprise Admins).

Import the AD Module:

I needed to move all the roles from one server to the other, so, I ran the following to do so:

NOTE: To simplify the command, you can replace the names of roles with numbers from 0 to 4. The correspondence of names and numbers is given in the table:

PDCEmulator0
RIDMaster1
InfrastructureMaster2
SchemaMaster3
DomainNamingMaster4

So, by having knowledge of these numbers, you can simplify your cmdlet:

NOTE: In the event that the current owner of one or all of the FSMO roles fails, the forced transfer of FSMO roles is performed by the same command, but with the -Force option. Also, after the FSMO roles have been seized, the domain controller from which the roles was seized should never be connected to the domain. You will need to preform a metadata cleanup of the Schema before even thinking about putting that failed server back into production.

Once completed, I ran the previous cmdlets of Get-ADForest and Get-ADDomain to verify that the FSMO roles moved to the destination server.

As of now, my conversion to Hyper-V is going smoothly, although it takes quite a bit of time to convert the hard disks. Thanks again!

HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING! KEEP SCRIPTING!
PLEASE COMMENT!

Reference:
How To Transfer FSMO Roles Using PowerShell