Filestore Best Practices #2: Consider turning OFF offline files on Desktop Machines

In the CAMPUS domain offline files are turned on by default; the majority of users will have seen the now familiar ‘Synchronising’ dialogue message window which appears when they log off a PC.

However, Offline files can cause warning and error messages being displayed to users – this has been seen by the ISS Helpdesk on a daily basis, and is becoming a problem: The two main issues appear to be the default excluded files extensions, or insufficient disk space on the PC to allow the caching of offline files.

So why are offline files sometimes unnecessary? In Microsoft’s own words “Offline Files: You can use this feature on a portable computer, or on a desktop computer that occasionally connects to your workplace network.”

Approximately 90% of the machines on Campus are Desktop machines which will never leave the confines of their office environment. These machines will still have offline files enabled. There is the argument that should a server fail, offline files will allow you to continue working merrily away, without any knowledge that a problem actually exists. But in reality how often does a server issue occur? And those which do are publicised well in advanced during an ‘At-risk’ period. Given the problems that offline files can cause it’s worth considering if such machines really need offline files enabled.

ISS Provides a Group Policy to switch off offline files on Windows XP machines The name of this policy is: ‘2 Campus Windows XP Turn Offline Files Off.’ And as an added benefit to your users they will see that their log off speed has dramatically increased too.

The Offline files system in Windows Vista is vastly improved and not activated by default but you should still consider it’s use carefuly.

SUMMARY: Assess the pros and cons of offline files on Desktop machines in your OU. If they are not benefitting you or your end users then please consider switching them off.

TechNet Conference goes virtual (19 June 2009)

From Microsoft:

We’re pleased to announce the launch of the very first TechNet Virtual Conference taking place on 19 June 2009.

You told us that time and budget pressures make attending in person events difficult – so to help both you and the environment we decided to take the TechNet Conference virtual. Now you and your colleagues can join us to get a flavour of some key Microsoft technologies from the comfort of your own desks.

  • Windows 7 – Deployment and Management
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 – 10 things to make life easier for IT Pros
  • An overview of Office Communications Server R2 and voice capabilities
  • The trials and tribulations of SharePoint implementation

We are also really pleased to announce an exclusive Keynote featuring Mark Russinovich, Microsoft Technical Fellow specialising in the Windows platform.

And that’s not the only difference this year. In addition to Microsoft technology news and product overviews from the experts, the TechNet Virtual Conference will also feature a second auditorium focused on IT Management, including:

  • How IT will change over the next 10 years and why you should care – an exclusive session delivered at TechEd EMEA
  • Growing the Business and Managing Costs at Microsoft – An Insider’s View, presented by Asif Jinnah, IT Manager, Microsoft UK

Click here to see the full agenda.

Free events on campus in May

As I previously posted, Thursday 14th May sees Eileen Brown from Microsoft come up to the campus to talk about Unified Messaging. This should be a really interesting presentation, especially as WIT are looking to expand our Exchange systems into the UM area. Unfortunately, it’s possibly the last time we’ll get to see Eileen presenting in the North East as a member of the TechNet team, since she blogged yesterday that her current role is being impacted by the recently announced layoffs at Microsoft.

Sign up for your free place at the VBUG site (membership is not required).

Since the last Monday of May is a bank holiday, the SuperMondays event this month is being held on a Tuesday, but don’t let that put you off because the line-up is one of the best yet. The event is being held on the 26th May in the University’s Culture Lab and will feature some of the really interesting work being done there and more.

See for more details and sign up at Eventbrite.

OU Admin Day 2009: Slides and Handouts

After a slight delay here are downloadable Slides and Handouts from OU Admin Day 2009.

The files are all included in a single ZIP file.

The Sixth Annual “OU Admin Day” took place this year on 8th April 2009

Programme of talks

  • 09:30 – Registration and coffee
  • 10:00 – Introduction to the day
  • 10:05 – ISS Strategy
  • 10:30 – Green Computing and Procurement Guidelines
  • 11:00 – Coffee Break
  • 11:15 – Hosted Infrastructure and Research Storage
  • 12:00 – Lunch
  • 13:00 – ISS Services Roadmap
  • 14:00 – Coffee Break
  • 14:15 – ISS Desktop Roadmap
  • 14:45 – ISS Demonstrations
  • 15:15 – Questions to ISS
  • 16:30 – Close of Day

Thanks to all who attended.

Generate a list of Windows startup programs using the command line

One of the first ports of call (at least for me) when troubleshooting performance issues on standalone PC’s is to have a look at the start-up programs using ‘msconfig.exe.’ While msconfig.exe is fine for IT Pros it’s not the most friendly of things for the average end user.

I was recently helping out a friend over IM and explaining the concepts and working out which entries to remove was taking a long time. I did some research and found this handy command.

wmic startup get caption,command,description > outputfile

Simply get the person at the other end to run this command and then they can send you the full list for you to inspect.