Category: Windows

Windows 2012 Registry Problem

Windows 2012 ServerHere is something that I came upon recently in regards to Windows Server 2012 and performance issues. My home server runs Windows 2012 Server Essentials and the operating system is installed onto a Samsung 830 SSD. Performance was becoming a problem of lately. There were noticeable lag in opening up drives in Windows Explorer and other slight delays that I thought were related to the SSD drive. SSD drives can become slower as they near capacity. Even if you delete a lot of large files to free up space, the trim feature still needs time to run and free up space. This means that if you have an SSD at 85% capacity and you delete files to bring it down to 50%, the SSD still has 85% allocated until the trim feature has a few hours of uninterrupted time to run.

After further investigation, I found that trying to open Control Panel – Hardware – Devices and Printers would not even display at all. Next I looked at Device Manager to see if there were any issues there. I did not see any problems with items listed in Device Manager. However after clicking on View – Show Hidden Devices, I found thousands of entries for Storage Volume Shadow Copies and the same for Storage Volumes. There were also a large number of USB devices that I had used in the past. The Windows registry stores all these previous entries and over time, never removes them. I uninstalled the old USB devices, but for the shadow copies and storage volumes, I found that this problem is most likely due to normal usage of Remote Desktop and other Windows services. To remove them manually would take a very long time.

Microsoft has a utility for this issue. Microsoft DevNodeClean can be run on Windows Server 2003 and newer operating systems. In fact, you will need to most likely run this utility weekly if the issue persists. To run the command, use an elevated CMD Prompt and type:

devnodeclean /n

After restarting the server, this resolved the performance issues and I could open up Devices and Printers again.

Filed under: WindowsTagged with:

Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks SMB2 and Windows 2012 Essentials Server

Apple LogoApple has a long history with computer networking, from AppleTalk to today’s Internet connected world. However, it is Windows networking that still causes all kinds of headaches for Mac OS X users. It seems that with every release of Mac OS X, Apple seems to have recurring issues with Windows shares. Some of Apple’s defenders will state that Apple adopts industry standards as is, and it is Microsoft and others who publish specs, but don’t actually follow them, so when Apple does follow the specs, it seems to just end up breaking things. SMB is the networking protocol that Microsoft uses for Windows networking. It is what allows Windows network file shares to work across the network. With the latest versions of Mac OS X, Apple abandoned the open source SAMBA package that most Linux distros use to connect to Windows, and wrote their own SMB2 software. This makes Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks connect faster and better to Windows servers. Well that is when it works!

SMB Connections Fail

There is one Windows 2012 Essentials server with multiple shares. There are two Macs on the local network. One iMac is connected over Wireless N and one MacBook Pro is using a wired ethernet 1Gb connection. When using the Connect to Server… option the iMac connects fine and has no issues. The MacBook Pro opens the share and then never displays any files, it just spins in the lower left hand corner of the window that opens. Both computers are running Mac OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks.

Mac OS X SMB Connect to Server

Connecting via CIFS instead of SMB seems to work for the MacBook, but it is slower.

The Solution

The solution ended up modifying the Windows 2012 Essentials server. There are two registry keys that need to be added in order to fix the problem for the MacBook.

Under this Registry Key:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters

Add these DWORD values:

  • Smb2CreditsMin – make this 768
  • Smb2CreditsMax – make this 16384

Once you made the changes restart the Windows Server and then the Macintosh clients. It should now fix the problem.

Microsoft provides the following information on these registry keys:

The defaults are 512 and 8192, respectively. These parameters allow the server to throttle client operation concurrency dynamically within the specified boundaries. Some clients might achieve increased throughput with higher concurrency limits, for example, copying files over high-bandwidth, high-latency links.

Filed under: Apple, Mac OS X, Networking, Windows

The Fix My PC Dilemma

ToolsAfter working in Information Technology for several years, you come to a certain understanding about the balance between work and personal time. For many people starting out in IT, the temptation to dedicate yourself 24/7 to work is hard to resist. There always seems to be a pending disaster or a deadline that must be met. With some experience you eventually learn that the world is always coming to an end. It has been that way since the beginning of time itself. Dedicating yourself fully to work is not going to change that! Once you figure out for yourself, where and when to draw the line and give yourself some time back, you end up tackling another dilemma, which I call the “Fix My PC” dilemma. When you are computer proficient, it is not just work that wants your skills, it is also friends and family. You end up being asked many times to fix people’s laptops or desktops. Since you are a nice guy, you have a hard time turning these people down, especially when they are your friends and family. However, just like work, you need to set some limits, since this is still taking away from your personal time.

Rule 1: It’s Not Always Free

It is a bad idea to let people think your skills have no value. In my case, I charge a modest fee to look at people’s computer problems outside of work. My time is valuable to me, and so charging a fee makes me feel better and I can invest the money back into my technology interests. It always amazes me when people balk at me charging them. It must be that they do not recognize the value of my work or they simply want something for free.

Rule 2: I’m Doing You A Favor

If you agree to look at someone’s computer, make sure that they understand you are doing them a favor. They have to make it convenient for you. The last thing you want to do is agree to something and then find out you have to drive to someone’s house at an inconvenient time for you.

Rule 3: Identify and Diagnose Their Problem

There are very few times that I have been asked to look at Macintosh. Almost always the computer is a Windows machine. After spending years working with Windows, there are multiple tweaks, fixes, and customizations that can be done to make Windows machines work better. You could dedicate multiple days to just tweaking Windows. Remember, you do not have the time and energy to fix every problem, just concentrate on the problem that they asked you to look at. Most often people tend to not communicate well, and so I have had many people tell me that they wanted their computer to run faster and then find out that they really wanted something else entirely. Once you find out what it is they want you to fix, tell them how it can be fixed and let them decide what they want to do. Many times you find that there is a component failure and there really is nothing for you to fix; they will have to spend money on replacing the component or buying a new computer.

Rule 4: Know When To Walk Away

Do not spend you time installing Windows Updates, running malware or anti-virus checks! These chores are something the user needs to do. If you can avoid these time consuming tasks do so. Where ever possible configure these things to run on their own; Microsoft and other software vendors provide schedule features in most of their software. If you cannot schedule these tasks, educate the user to do them on their own.

Final Thoughts

These days I devote most of my time to building my own computers, instead of fixing other people’s stuff. Every now and then I will do someone a favor and fix their Windows problem, but I resign myself to not having to fix every problem. Life is too short to spend countless hours in front of a keyboard.

Filed under: Microsoft, Windows