Backing up your Testlab with Altaro Backup

To be a good engineer, you need a Testlab. End of sentence.

You need it so you can peruse flights of fancy, like making some web services, trying out that new language and other endeavors perhaps not specifically related to your day to day work.

It HAS to be your own too!  You can’t just use the one at your work.  If things go awry between you and your company, you definitely don’t want to lose your livelihood AND your hard-earned testlab in the same stroke!  This is also why you don’t want to have your life insurance purchased through your work too (or if you do, make sure you don’t get fired and die in the same day).

In consulting, I would get assigned to a project and have a month or so to come up to speed on new technologies. I found that when I had a testlab, it was so much quicker to get working, just make a new VM, domain join it and have SQL installed and ready for a new SCCM, Scorch, Air-Watch, whatever. In fact, the periods when I did the best engineering work over my career closely line up to the times that I had a working testlab available to model my customer’s environments and make mistakes on my own time, not theirs.

If you have read this and are convinced that you too need a testlab, and don’t yet have one, you can click here to read my guide here on setting up a Domain Controller with one-click!

The one-click domain controller UI in action

And what should we do with things that are important? We protect them. In this post I’ll walk you through some of the options available to protect and backup your testlab.

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Building Better PowerShell Dashboards

First off, YUUGE props to Flynn Bundy for shining lights on the possibility with his post Making DSC Beautiful and @Neeco of HTML5Up.com for these gorgeous HTML5 and CSS templates.

If you check out HTML5up.com, there are a ton of absolutely beautiful templates, for free! (Well, you have to leave a link to the site, unless you pay $20, then you can edit it to your heart’s content).

templates

Some of them REALLY lend themselves well to a dashboard system for consumption of data.

…you know, PowerShell makes an excellent data collection and processing system.

It even has  native HTML capabilities, as we’ve covered previously in our post: Using ConvertTo-HTML and CSS to create useful web reports from PowerShell.  If you’re lost and don’t even know where to start, begin here.  I’ll bet we could make some REALLY cool looking dashboards using PowerShell and Neeco’s templates!

Let’s make a cool PowerShell Dashboard

So, I’ll start by finding a template that I like.  I choose the gorgeous Phantom, which is also the top one from the list.  Now, you might be asking yourself “FoxDeploy, did you even look at all of the templates first?” to which I would respond: SURE.

Let’s take a look at Phantom.   It’s got a nice set of fonts and a good layout, with a big title glob of text, then a smaller description below it.  It’s followed by a big element or DIV called Tiles, with colored squares inside of it, called articles.

PhantomBreakdown.png
Breaking down the Phantom Template

Let’s take a look into the code and see how this is represented.

PhantomBreakdownCode

A few things jump out at me here.  Looking back at the image of the template itself, I see the first three squares/cards/cubes are red, blue and green. Continue reading

Fix Hyper-V ‘Account does not have permission’ error

Today, I woke up to a nasty error in the FoxDeploy Hyper-V lab.  All of my VMs were stopped, and wouldn’t start!  When I tried to start one, I’d see this error:

01

An error occurred while attempting to start the selected virtual machines: General Access Denied Error…

VMName: Account does not have permission to open attachment <PathToVHD>

In my case, this happened because I have a Raid of SSDs for maximum IOPs for my VMs (can’t stand something being slow!) and I lost a drive.  Somehow in rebuilding the volume, permissions were lost for some items on the drive, in addition to corrupting my Recycle Bin.

Symptom

Can’t start any pre-existing VMs but are able to make a new one.

Cause

Something is wrong with permissions (namely, the VM doesn’t have Full Control rights to it’s VHD anymore. In this image below, you can see a new and working VM on the left, and a broken VM on the right.  Note the missing VMid entry. Continue reading

Recovering your Dedeuped Files on Windows 10

Were you one of those who installed the server 2012 binaries into your Windows 8.1 to enable Disk Deduplication? Did you turn on dedupe on all of your drives, saving hundreds of gigs of storage space, then upgrade to Windows 10?

Upon boot, were you greeted with frequent ‘the machine cannot access the file’ errors? If so, then this is the guide for you!

This fixes the error 0x80070780: The file cannot be accessed by the system

What happened to my stuff? Did I lose it all?

NO!  You did not lose your files.  What happened when you ran deduplication on your files, is that Windows gradually scrubbed all of the common elements out of many files in order to compress them, much like what happens when you put files into a .zip or .rar archive.
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Moving your VM Storage the Smart way

Hi all,

Don’t be a dummy, use the fantastic tools built-in to Hyper-V 2012 to make it easy to migrate your VMs onto new storage or over to a new host.  Never mess with copying .vhdx or configuration files again.

I rebuilt my storage in my test lab, making use of Storage Tiering in Storage Spaces to pool two 64 GB SSDs and one 1.5 TB HDD to get the best of both high-speed read and writes and bulk storage without needing to move my files around manually.  The tiering aspect of Storage Spaces will detect which files are most used and then automatically merge them into the faster speed SSD from bulk, how cool is that!

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