WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter of March 2012 Sponsored by: ManageEngine

Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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1. Windows Server 8 Data Deduplication

There has been a ton of talk in the tech press about the Windows 8 consumer preview that was released February 29, but for network admins, the real news is the Windows Server 8 beta that came out the next day. One of the core improvements you’ll find with the upcoming Windows Server 8 operating system is in the area of storage. There are a number of improvements in the areas of storage system support, file system, and file system access protocols.

One of my favorites is the new data deduplication feature. Let’s face it - we've all been saving files for the last two decades and we’re not quite as tidy as we used to be when it comes to "disk hygiene". Maybe it’s because hard disk space has gotten so cheap - well under $100 per terabyte - but whatever the reason, many of us now create files and download files with great abandon and toss them onto our storage devices, where they remain into perpetuity.

Eventually, though, those disks do get full. Thanks to the low prices, you can add more physical disks, but then they get hard to manage and they take power and require cooling support as well. In a data-intensive business, the number of files generated in the regular course of business can be almost overwhelming.

Windows Server 8 gives you a better way to get control over your data explosion, using data deduplication. What does that mean? It's about ferreting out duplicated data chunks and removing the duplicates, so you don’t have a bunch of redundant copies - without affecting the integrity of the data. The chunks of data get organized into container files, which are then compressed. These are referred to as optimized files. Not all files are optimized (for example, system files, encrypted files, etc. are skipped).

High end storage devices have provided this capability for years. The problem is that those solutions are very expensive. With Windows Server 8 you’re going to get disk deduplication right out of the box!

Some things to know about the Windows Server 8 disk deduplication:

  • You'll see file compression rates of 2:1 for regular files and up to 20:1 for virtualization data (wow!).
  • You can control which data the dedupe process will be applied to, and you can designate what time of day the deduping will take place.
  • You can use data dedupe together with BranchCache and dedupe the BranchCache data as well.

I think you'll really like the data dedupe feature in Windows Server 8. Make sure to install this feature when you set up your Test Lab and give it a try!

For more information about Windows Server 8 data deduplication, check out Data Deduplication overview.

See you next month! - Deb

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP
dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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Quote of the Month - In trying to make something new, half the undertaking lies in discovering whether it can be done. Once it has been established that it can, duplication is inevitable. - Helen Gahagen
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3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest

4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month

How to Wipe a Drive Using Diskpart and Format

There are various tools out there that you can buy or download for erasing the contents of hard drives, but you don’t need to spend money on them. It's easy to do this using the built-in Windows commands Diskpart and Format. Just take the drive you want to wipe out of the computer and insert it into another computer, then open a command prompt window on the second computer and type the following commands:

Diskpart
Select Disk N

In the above command N should be the disk number of the disk you are going to wipe.

Clean
Create Partition Primary
Assign
Exit

Now type the following command where X is the drive letter assigned to the new partition using the Assign command above:

Format X: /p:1 /v:CleanDisk /y

By scripting the above series of commands you can easily wipe all data from the drive in a single pass.

For more administrator tips, go to WindowsNetworking.com/WindowsTips

5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month

While PadPCs (a.k.a. tablets) are getting very popular and driving the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon (a.k.a. the consumerization of IT), the Holy Grail for network admins is a highly manageable system that can be predictably secured. The problem with BYOD is that users will connect to corporate assets with the same device that they use to connect to unsecure public networks or their own unsecure home networks - not a great idea from a security perspective. But one answer to this dangerous BYOD phenomenon is Windows 8's "Windows to Go" feature. With Windows to Go, organizations can give their users a USB key that contains their Windows 8 "work computer". This is a great mobility solution and you can learn more about it here.

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6. Windows Networking Links of the Month

7. Ask Sgt. Deb

QUESTION:

Hey Deb,

I’m a network admin but at home, I’m a big fan of Windows Media Center and I want to connect all 3 of my televisions throughout the house to a Windows Media Center PC using Windows 7. The problem I'm running into is that I don't have cable drops to all the locations where I want to put the Windows Media Center computers. And even if I have the cable drop, I want to be able to get HD programming for more than just the clear QAM stations. I don't want to pay for a cable box for every room. Is there a solution for that?

Thanks! - Jack.

ANSWER:

Hi Jack,

Great question! I've got some very good news for you - not only do you not need to rent a cable box for every room; you don't even have to buy a tuner card for each of your WMC PCs. Instead, you can use a network tuner, which works sort of like a network printer in that all your PCs can share it across the LAN. The one we use at my house is called the HD Homerun Prime. With this little box, you can rent a single CableCard from your cable company and put it into the device, and then you get access to three network tuners from any of the Windows 7 systems on your network after you install the HD Homerun software on them. This allows you to watch and record the HD cable content on any Windows Media Center PC in the same way you can when there is a cable box connected directly to a tuner card installed in the computer. You set up the HD Homerun Prime box and then install the network tuner drivers on the PC. You also have to configure Media Center to enable digital cable on your TV. It takes a few minutes per computer, but once it's done, you're connected to high res programming. Check it out.

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