ReFS – Data Protection – Windows 8.1 and Server 2012

NTFS.  You’ve worked with it for years.  Microsoft’s NTFS is not being replaced by ReFS.   ReFS is available for Windows 8.1 and Server 2012.  What if you have extra drives and need the data protection?  ReFS may be for you. (or Storage Spaces ~See upcoming article)

ReFS is the Resilient File System that makes disk more reliable and works like this.

  • Uses checksums to detect if your data is changed
  • Able to detect and recover from corruption
  • Data is written to a new part of the disk if the above is the case
  • Recovers without limiting availability of the disk
  • Integrity data streams can also be enabled
  • File system metadata is protected
  • No chkdsk
  • Handles 1 Yottabyte ( 1 quadrillion GBs?)

While the boot volume should still be in NTFS, this file system is ideal for servers and workstations that need extra data protection.  The other drives can ideally be made ReFS.

More information from Microsoft

Windows Storage Spaces and ReFS – Is it time to ditch raid for good? via Betanews

 

 

Microsoft Surface Pro-ready for manufacturing, business and industry

The Microsoft Surface Pro has proven to be versatile in the workplace.  Mr. Arnold our Industrial Maintenance instructor uses the Microsoft Surface Pro to connect to nearly a hundred PLCs, motors, robots and other industrial components.

So why is this tablet perfect for business and industries?

100_3087

External DVD Attached through USB port

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USB EasyLINK to transfer files from one computer to another

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The Windows below shows the USB EasyLINK software (loaded on the USB device)

100_3090100_3093

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Many industrial components require a floppy disk drive – (Above and Below)

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What if you need to expand your USB with a USB hub or two?

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IT personnel can attach a Wireless Spectrum Analyzer or multiple wireless cards for site surveys or other wireless needs.

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100_3103100_3101   100_3100100_3102

Four Wi-Fi Nic cards shown above

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Multitasking (above)

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Joining a domain (above)

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Connect an external drive, card reader or multiple USB drives at the same time.

Use all of your Windows based software…now why was the Surface a bad idea?  It’s not…

Installing Linux Lite – A mini review

Home users that ONLY check email and use very few other programs may consider replacing their OS.   Linux has made an exceptional gain over the past several years with a Programs (Add/Remove) component and with hardware drivers.

To see just how Linux Lite stacked up other OSs, I decided to load it in Oracle’s VirtualBox.  The little over 600+mb download is comparable in size to Windows XP.  The ISO can be burned with an image burner to make a bootable CD/DVD.  Before you decide to switch, remember there are limitations to Windows software even with Wine.  Wine is a software application that allows you to run Windows programs.  Hunting around the internet you’ll find hundreds of Linux programs comparable to Windows programs.  You don’t have to look far considering the Linux repository has hundreds of programs.

After loading Oracle’s VirtualBox, simply walk through the New OS wizard, select Linux, allocate 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of HDD space if you can.  Once you have completed this step, click on Settings and select bridge on the Network Card and load the ISO under storage.

Once you complete that step, start the OS and follow the on screen prompts.

1

(Above) – initial load screen.

2

Loading the OS into RAM

3

Load time of around two minutes for the initial screen to appear.

4

Select your language.

5

The above screen is checks to insure hardware and internet connectivity is ok.

6

Erase the hard drive.

7

Below – set your location for the time.

8

Select the keyboard layout.

9

Setup an initial user and password.

10

Copying files

11

After the installation, Restart your computer (VirtualBox)

12

Booting up from the hard disk drive.

13

Login and options.

14

The initial desktop is clean.  Don’t let this fool you.  The amount of programs and options for an internet user is excellent.

15

 

17 updates

 

Checking for updates is easy.  Simply click on the menu and select update.  Provide your login password and Linux Lite does the rest.

Printer setup

If you have a printer that supports IPP Protocol, login to the printer’s web address and Enable IPP.   The printer in our home is the Samsung SCX-3400 wireless.  An inexpensive laser printer that provides for thousands of pages with Samsung’s toner cartridge.  The printer provides hundreds of options for Windows, Apple, Linus or mobile devices.

printer

 

What programs come with Linux Lite?  Hundreds of items.  Here’s the main categories.

  • Office
  • Games  (Such as steam and others)
  • Graphics  (Gimp and more)
  • Accessories
  • Internet (email and browsers)
  • Multimedia
  • System (dozens of tools)
  • Settings

accessories Games Graphics Internet Multimedia Office settings Sharing System

 

If you ONLY use the internet and want to look into an alternate operating system.  Linux Lite may be for you.  It is easy to use, install and offers hundreds of programs.

ASUS RT-AC66U Dual Band 3.3 802.11AC Router

The Asus RT-AC66U Router continues to lead the pack with firmware downloads with improvements through enhanced features and security.   Last night Jay messaged me with details on one of their features that provides a dual WAN option with fail-over features.  Here’s a couple of screenshots that shows the dual WAN features.

Router

http://www.asus.com/us/Networking/RTAC66U/        (Information)

http://www.asus.com/Networking/RTAC66U/specifications/  (Specifications)

Asus’s latest firmware 3.0.0.4.374_4561 is just one of many firmware updates that proves this router is valuable to homes and businesses.

 

Credit: Jay Matlock

 

ASUS MAP    bandwidth  tRAFFIC     wan oNE Wan Setup     WAN TWO wired

AlphiMAX PTP Estimator provides an excellent way to align your wireless antennas

Need an excellent program to estimate your wireless bridges from building to building?  AlphiMAX provides an excellent online program to estimate your wireless links.

Sign up is easy and fast.  The PTP Estimator requires that you have the Latitude and Longitude of both buildings.  You can get an estimated Lat. and Long. from Google maps.  Find your location on Google maps (you should use a GPS) and right click on the location you want then select “What’s here?” .    This will provide the numbers you need.  Remember, it is best to use a GPS on each site where you intend to erect an antenna.

PTP Estimator

You can also search for a location by name by clicking the area in the center of the online application.  icon

Once you have the Lat. and Long., enter the numbers at the top of the online application.  Click Estimate.

Entering LatandLong

The interface will show you the terrain, Antenna height, compass information, Fresnel Zone Clearance, approximate altitude,  along with product information they provide.

Aligned

 

The estimator also offers a 3D view of your project if you have an active subscription.

AlphiMAX Company Overview
AlphiMAX provides products to help you with your wireless needs.

Need a small wireless access point or wireless router?

Here’s one of the smallest, feature packed and powerful routers for under $30.  The NetShair Nano by iogear offers some of the most features money can buy.  Here’s how it works (interactive).   (Thanks Jeremy for bringing it in!)

  • Compact design USB powered ultra-portable Wi-Fi router with USB pass-through
  • Converts any wired Internet connection to Wi-Fi
  • Perfect accessory for Ultrabooks, MacBook Air and other devices without Ethernet ports
  • Serves as a DHCP Router or Access Point
  • Plugs into any USB port or USB charger for power
  • USB pass-though (no loss of USB port when connected)
  • Free apps for iPod®/iPhone®/iPad® and Android operating systems
  • IEEE 802.11b/g/n compliant 150Mbps speed
  • Supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 64/128 bit security
  • VPN
  • Firewall
  • more
Warranty:   1-YEAR
photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 5

What about the  Zyxel Routers / APs we featured in late 2013? Here are some pics from an earlier  our blog post earlier..  With a router/ap switch on the side and the ability to act as a router, ap or bridge, the routers came with two power supplies each, a CAT5 cable and a very powerful wireless signal.

IMG_3105

IMG_7049

tiny

As we go through the CWTS curriculum, students are exposed to many different types of routers.  The Zyxel MWR102 is a tiny router (only 2.9″ x 2.3″ x .6″) that you can use when in a pinch or even in a small apartment.

Zyxel

This tiny router packs a ton of features.  Under $20, the router’s specs prove it gives a full size router a run for the money.

Zyxel Specs- USB Powered 150Mbps Wireless-N Fast Ethernet Travel Router

Features:

  • Pocket-sized router/AP for internet access on-the-go
  • 3-in-1 Functionality – Router, Access Point, and Client Bridge
  • Wirelessly share a wired Internet connection with multiple friends, colleagues, or devices.
  • 802.11n wireless connectivity for data transfer rates of up to 150 Mbps
  • USB or AC power provide flexibility for any situation
  • Hardware Specifications:
  • Ports:
  • Two (2) 10/100 Mbps (1x WAN, 1x LAN)
  • One (1) MiniUSB (For Power)Power:
  • 5V DC USB
  • System Specifications:
  • Wireless Standard:
  • IEEE802.3, IEEE 802.3u
  • IEEE802.11n auto rate up to 150Mbps
  • IEEE802.11b/g compatible auto rate up to 54Mbps
  • IEEE802.1x MDI/MDI-X adaptive flow-control
  • IEEE802.1p
  • IEEE802.3x
  • IEEE802.3az
  • Operating Modes:
  • Router
  • Access Point
  • WiFi Client Bridge   Yep, even a wireless bridge…Wireless Security:
  • WEP, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK
  • Security:
  • 64/128-bit WPA/WPA2
  • SPI Firewall
  • WPS Setup
  • Routing and IP Management:
  • Static IP
  • DHCP
  • PPPoE
  • NATUnit Dimensions:
  • 0.61 x 2.93 x 2.32-inches (H x W x D)   Is anything smaller?

Where can you buy it?

What should you do with an old computer? Create a home router/firewall!

ITX-motherboards can often be found in older computers from garage sales or thrift stores.  What is the practical use for these motherboards or older computers?

Here’s a small project that involves protecting your home.

After finding an ITX motherboard and gathering extra parts from broken laptops and computers, this project will put the software SMOOTHWALL Express onto the computer to make a mini firewall.  Total cost?

  • $22 250watt power supply
  • $5 Gearhead mini keyboard

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Base processor
Athlon 64 X2 (B) 5400+ 2.8 GHz (65W)
800 MHz front side bus
Socket AM2

Chipset
GeForce 9100

Motherboard

  • Manufacturer: Pegatron
  • Motherboard Name: APX78-BN
  • HP/Compaq motherboard name: Nutmeg-GL6E

Power supply
250W

Memory
240 Pin DDR2 PC2-6400 MB/sec
4GB
Hard drive
120 GB SATA 6G (6.0 Gb/sec)
7200 rpm

Video Graphics

Integrated on motherboard (NVidia 9100)

Sound/Audio
High Definition 6-channel audio
ALC 888S chipset

Network (LAN)
Integrated 10/100 Base-T networking interface
Added Broadcom wireless to create a wireless router

External I/O ports connections – 6  USB

Expansion slots

PCI Express mini card socket – added Broadcom Wireless
PCI Express x16
PCI Express x1

Additions-

  • 2″ Fan for Chipset

In the video below, HAK5 shows just how to make a motherboard like this into a nice home router/Firewall.

Thrift stores -an Internet and computer goldmine

Thrift stores and yard/garage sales can become a goldmine for computer geeks.  You have to know your technology and how to upgrade the device – and you have to truly know the value of a device/computer you stumble on.  Here’s an example -

The D-Link Dir-601 is a home router that lacks many features of other Wireless N routers.   This $60 router lacks MIMO antennas and has a throughput of about 65 -150 mbps.  However, the router can be upgraded to DD-WRT and dozens of features are added to this little router including power settings, virtual wireless, IPv6, QoS and more.

Dir-601

Amanda picked one up for the class for $1.99.   A real bargain for anyone.  So what can you get for $20 ?

D-Link, Belkin, Hawking, Linksys (WRT-54g), Cisco 150  - Most of which can take alternate firmware.

2310 Belkin Hawking wrt54g WRT120N

How about a cool project with a Pegatron motherboard so you can make a hardware firewall (Picked up for $0) -it included a quad core AMD processor and fan and 2 Gb of Ram.  Add a laptop hard drive, a 220 watt power supply and Smoothwall firewall to create a tiny firewall that protect you from malicious activity.   Total investment – $22.  I have a hard drive from Amanda’s old computer and ordered the power supply from Amazon.

Motherboard

Speaking of Firewalls – How about a Netgear FVS328 VPN firewall for the home.  Although it has reached EOL, $1.99 and uploading the latest firmware will still add extra protection to your home.

prosafe

Sometimes you travel the world to get to where you are going…

Jay, one of our students,  was using a visual trace route on his iPad to see how many hops it took to go from Shelbyville, Tn.  to a business in Ohio.

Amazingly he went from - 

Shelbyville, TN
Murfreesboro, TN
Nashville, TN        x3
Los Angeles, Ca    x2
New Orleans, LA
Atlanta, GA
ST. Louis, MO
Atlanta, GA
Los Angeles, CA
Broomfield, IL
Newark, NJ
Munchen, Germany – That’s right Germany…
Detroit, MI
Arrived in Ohio at the Business

21 Hops - How long does it take to go this distance?  About a second.

The internet finds the fastest route.  This doesn’t always mean the shortest.   Which as you can see doesn’t mean the shortest.

tracert

 

System Mechanic – An excellent PC repair and optimization tool

“The Internet is full of all-in-one repair tools that make many promises about repairing and speeding up your computer. Many of these tools have bad reputations because they often can cause more problems than they repair.

Over the years I have seen ads for System Mechanic by Iolo Technologies, but never downloaded and tried its software. After being contacted by an Iolo representative, I decided to give the software a try on an older Windows 7 computer to see if the software performed as advertised. The company has a patent for its ActiveCare technology, used in maintaining and repairing computers.

For this review, I elected to use two systems. The first system was a Dell Inspiron 5520 laptop with an i3 2.4 GHz CPU, 6 GB ram, 500 GB hard drive running 64bit Windows 7 Professional. My second test system was a Toshiba Satellite laptop with an Intel Core Duo- 2.0 GHz, 3 GB ram, 320 GB hard drive running 32bit Windows 7 Professional.”   Read more

 

Iolo

 

 

Resizing your HDD partition to improve performance

Gamers and IT professionals along with home users that are power users can significantly improve HDD performance by shrinking the partitions on their HDDs.

By using the Disk Management utility in Windows you can shrink large HDDs as needed to increase performance.

How does this work?

For optimal system performance on an IIS server, you should install Windows and IIS on one drive and data on another drive.  When you install Windows, you can partition the entire drive with the full amount and use disk management to shrink the drive later OR you can give yourself enough space +30% for temp files (etc.).  By shrinking the drive, this optimizes the drive by not only placing files where they should go but allows the drive to become efficient by having only a certain amount to index and read.

The same should be done for the data drive.  You can extend the partition as data grows and space is needed.

Hopefully my math is right on the percentages…

Windows IIS Partition (Before and After)

Western Digital Black Edition WDC2002FAEX 2TB

HD Tune 5.0 (read test)      FULL 2 TB partition        Shrank to 1 TB     Increase or Decrease
Average transfer rate

80.1 MBps

119.9 MBps

34.2%

Minimum transfer rate

42.2 MBps

50.0 MBps

16.00%

Maximum transfer rate

123.4 MBps

143.1 MBps

14.8%

Burst rate

184.6 MBps

197.3 MBps

6.50%

Access time*

13.2 ms

10.1 ms

24.00%

Data Drive (Before and After)

HD Tune 5.0 (read test)      FULL 2 TB partition        Shrank to 1 TB     Increase or Decrease
Average transfer rate

94.1 MBps

113.9 MBps

17.4%

Minimum transfer rate

48.7 MBps

69.3 MBps

29.8%

Maximum transfer rate

131.4 MBps

143.3 MBps

8.3%

Burst rate

189.8 MBps

190.7 MBps

.50%

Access time*

11.2 ms

9.6 ms

14.3%

IIS using HD Tune 2.55

IIS

Data Drive using HD Tune 2.55

Data

Test your HDD Software (Freeware)

Notes:

Partitioning SSD drives will show a gain, but because of the economics behind SSDs at this time, it may not be economically feasible.  SSD drives can be optimized in other ways.

Linux and Apple drives can be optimized by partitioning.

Golden Rule – Do not use the unallocated amount.  Save it for growth or files that are not accessed often.

How to Shrink or Extend a partition

150 Best Windows Software

As we move into our seventh year, we have found Rick over at What’s On My PC and the articles he finds on the web to be some of the most useful resources.   Rick once again has found an excellent article on AddictiveTips giving 150 of the Best Windows Software of the Year 2013.

For one of the best resources on the web (770 sites), visit Rick’s other site Bookmarks4Techs.

Thanks Rick!