Archive for the ‘hardware’ Category

Install OSX media to a flash disk or other device.

April 4, 2014

Had a friend of an old colleague drop his mac and damage the HD. I managed to recover most of the data using Spinrite but of course needed to get a new drive in there.

I downloaded Mavericks from the app store on my mac and then plugged in a spare drive and started down the road of installing mavericks on that drive. Well it then said, Oh yeah I’m going to reboot your mac and start installing Mavericks to that drive. My initial thought was, woa woa woa, hold on there. Why do you need to do that when it’s an external drive and I’m not going to take the risk it’s going to mess with my current drive on my machine!

So I found a command line that does it for you 🙂 Here’s the link I found –

and here’s the script; (make sure you change /Volumes/untitled to the correct name of the drive you want to install to)

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ –volume /Volumes/untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ –nointeraction

PERC 6 – New Virtual Disk initilization

March 22, 2014

Created a new RAID Volume and part of that process had me jump into the BIOS app for the PERC controller.
It was as simple setup – RAID5 with a hotspare but each disk was 1TB and so the volume ended up being, well, rather large (approx 2TB).
That was fine. However I had to initialize the volume and that was taking 1.5minutes for each 1% tick. So again, approximately 2.5 hours!
Well being the fairly impatient person I can be when it comes to computers, I decided to not believe that I was being told and researched the issue.
I found that you can indeed reboot eh machine, mid-initialize! In fact Dell apparently “recommend” that you wait perhaps 2-30 minutes before you write data to it!

In other words, go right ahead and reboot that server even if the initialization is only a few percentage point complete because the PERC controller will simply pick up where it left off after it is loaded up again.

Just remember to give it a little bit of time before you dump vast quantities of data at it.

Happy days.

Fixing Invalid Disk error

January 8, 2013

I found this so useful (and it worked for me) that I just had to re-post!

Awesome tool HxD – free hex editor from here –

  • Download that and run it as administrator.
  • Plug in the drive that has the Invalid Disk error.
  • From HxD app, open Extras. then choose Open Disk.
  • Be EXTREMELY CAREFUL here – if you edit the wrong disk or cell you could very well kill the drive – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!
  • Make sure you choose the right disk – Windows Disk Management starts disk numbers from 0, but the HxD app starts from 1. So select the right disk and make sure you uncheck the read only option at the bottom.
  • Then Navigate to ROW 1C0 and COLUMN 02. If it’s a dynamic disk it should read 42. Change that to 07 to make it basic. Save and power cycle the disk.
  • You should now have all your data recovered!


TOTAL props go to this website where I found it;

As I have said before, I use this blog to help me recall some bits of work I did but don’t do it often enough to remember. So thanks Mike!

Virtual machine start failure

August 28, 2011

On a Windows 2008 standard edition server base server, with a Windows 2008 virtual server that had Exchange 2007 installed, we installed some routine Microsoft security updates on both the base system and the virtual machine. After rebooting the base system the virtual machine would not start. We just kept getting event ID 3030 and 3040 and it would not even attempt to start the VM. We uninstalled all the updates, but that had no effect. Finally, we deleted an old snapshot of the VM, one that was 5 months old. It was the only snapshot on the server. As soon as we did that the VM started right up as if there was never a problem. There is almost no information on the Internet on Event ID 3030. I opened a case with Microsoft and even they could not explain what happened.

VPN Router connection issue resolved

July 2, 2011

I was trying to get the VPN server working on a Windows 2008 R2 server and was stumped as to why it would not work from outside the LAN. It was working inside the LAN but not from outside. I had opened the correct ports on the router but it still was not working. It was a Comcast modem/router I was working with and it turned out to be that the Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) protocol was not enabled on the router. Once I had enabled that everything started working. For VPN the protocol number is 47. On this router there was not way to specify the protocol number. It was just GRE is enabled or not.

What do other ppl use for emergency pc repair?

March 31, 2011

I found this while stumbling and thought it was so useful that I simply had to post it here;


So, here is my list:

Note: feel free to add your tools to my list. If it’s an alternative, please don’t replace mine, add a sub-list started by “alt:” and say why do you prefer this one.

Boot-cd/usb key

Ubcd4win create a (custom) live cd that contains software used for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing almost any computer problem.
alt: Microsoft Emergency Repair Disk: a system rescue disk PE environment with advanced recovery tools like resetting passwords, hard drive repair, offline registry editing, file explorer, command prompt, etc. Only available to Software Assurance and MSDN subscribers, as part of the Desktop Optimization Pack. If you’re a student, may be available to you through MSDNAA.
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor reset windows password
alt: Ophcrack (sort-of) brute-force windows password (if they are EFS encrypted files)
CloneZilla disk imaging backup
GParted partition editor
Stresslinux minimal linux with tools to monitoring hardware health: stress, cpuburn, hddtemp, lm_sensors, memtest86+, …
alt: Memtest86+ RAM tester (don’t need command line)
Hard Drive Manufacturers diagnostic tools: fujitsu / hitachi / samsung / western digital / seagate (maxtor)
Spinrite low level hard disk recovery (89$)
alt: HDD Regenerator (40$)

Sysinternals suite (1=included in this suite) a great set of tools by Sysinternals (so great that MS bought them)
NirLauncher (2=included in this suite) another great set of tools by NirSoft integrated in a launcher (that could be used easily with sysinternals suite too)
GnuWin32 port of the most important GNU utilities to Windows (command-line)
Remote control

Teamviewer all-in-one solution for remote access and support over the Internet. Easy (don’t have to open ports on firewall/router), secure, and full featured.
alt: UltraVNC: less convenient but open source and free even in a professional environment

Avira (use rescue disk or the one included in ubcd4win) and/or Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool
alt: Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware / SpyBot – Search & Destroy / DrWeb Cure It / AVZ / a-Squared Emergency USB Stick
Microsoft Security Essentials or Avira (a little bit better but contains nag screen) -to install
alt: Avast / AVG
alt not freeware: Norton Internet Security (70$/year) / Kaspersky Internet Security (60$/year) / Eset Smart Security (48€/year) / PC Tools Internet Security (50€/year)
System Explorer lists processes, startups, services, drivers… Check them with it’s own database, VirusTotal or Jotti services. Snapshots before/after for registry/disk changes
RootkitRevealer(1) anti-rootkit
alt: Gmer more powerfull (but harder to use) anti-rootkit
Virus Effect Remover Repair/Fix damaged items like TaskManager, RegEditor, Folder Options, Windows AutoUpdate.
Startup Tools

Autoruns(1) the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor
alt: RunAlyzer edit an external registry hive (used easily from a boot cd)
Process Tools

Process Explorer(1) detailed process, handles & dll informations
Process Monitor(1) real-time file system, registry and process/thread activity
Svchost analyzer lists all svchost instances and checks the services they contain
Registry Tools

Registrar registry manager (lite) advanced registry manager
alt: Reg
Eusing free registry defrag
Backup Tools

DriveImage XML disk imaging (shadow copy)
Cobian Backup automated backup -to install
Toucan on-demand backup
ERUNT registry backup
Netprofiles save & restore network profiles
SoftKey Revealer licence keys backup
All Nirsoft password tools(2) passwords backup
File Tools

Everything quick searching
alt: AstroGrep for non-ntfs drive
Recuva recover delete files
RichCopy advanced copy tool
alt Unstoppable Copier copy files from broken hd
FileASSASSIN advanced delete (remove handle or delete at reboot)
alt: Delete Doctor delete with short DOS name or UNC name
alt: DelinvFiles same as delete doctor, but can scan the drive for invalid file names and from my experience it was successful where delete doctor wasn’t. But it’s a shareware: 26.95$
WinDirStat: graphical view of hardrive space usage
alt: SpaceSniffer nicer interface
alt: SequoiaView
WinMerge folders/files comparison
Hashcalc md5,sha,crc32 checksum
TrIDnet file identifier
Disk Tools

Drive Manager
MyDefragPowerGUI featured (& free) defragmenter
Easeus Partition Master (home edition) partition manager
HDTune hd scan & S.M.A.R.T. info
alt: Active@ HD Monitor freeware more featured, but not portable
TestDisk designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again
ddrescue copies data from one file or block device (hard disc, cdrom, etc) to another, trying hard to rescue data in case of read errors.
Hardware Tools

IntelBurnTest test cpu
FurMark test gpu
Eizo Monitor Test fine-tune your monitor
Pixel Doctor locate and fix LCD screens dead pixels
Drivers Tools

DoubleDriver backup/restore drivers
DPC Latency Checker real-time drop-outs graph
DeviceRemover (very) advanced device manager
Cleaning Tools

RevoUninstaller uninstaller that help to remove leftovers (without the need of monitoring install)
CCleaner remove unused and temporary files
PC Decrapifier remove or uninstall a specific list of unwanted software
JavaRa removes old and redundant versions of the Java Runtime Environment
Network Tools

NetWorx bandwidth meter
alt: NetMeter the live graph looks better but is a little less featured and have some instabilities on w7
NetResView(2) lists all network resources (computers, disk shares, and printer shares) on your LAN
CurrPorts(2) lists all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports and the processes that opened them
AS3 Personal Firewall portable firewall
eToolz gui for NS-Lookup, Ping, TraceRoute and Whois
Performance Pinging graph ping
Wireshark network protocol analyzer
Secunia PSI vulnerability scanning
SG TCP Optimizer (XP) (re)set & optimize tcp parameters

System Info for Windows (aka SIW) gives a ton of information about the system, including installed software, hardware configuration, license keys, and network info. Free for non-commercial use; $70 for “technician’s license”.
SUMo software updater tool
BlueScreenView(2) crash dump analysis
ShellExView(2) shell extensions manager
Whyreboot lists reboot “pending file operations”
XP Quick Fix Plus 40 common Windows XP problems fixes
7 Quick Fix 21 common Windows 7 problems fixes fix tools: FixWin (50 common 7/vista annoyances), Fix IE (internet explorer), Fix MSE (ms security essential), Fix WU (windows update), Fix WMP (windows media player), File Association Fixer
GodMode creator (7/Vista) create easy shortcuts to almost every settings & informations (CLSID folders)
Print Service Manager easily kill stucked print jobs
Filmerit directshow filter manager
And some other essential tools, but not directly related, like notepad++, autohotkey, firefox (and its bookmarks)…

Most of these tools are portable and free (at least for personal use) and yes it’s only the essentials one 😉

And if you want more security related software: Gizmo’s Best Free Security List (by Antti Koponen)

Printer appears “offline” for a user.

September 3, 2010

This happens for no reason on network printer and often only effect a couple of people.

I’ve had this a lot and its easy to fix/sidestep (thou i dont know the underlying cause but i am happy to blame microsoft).

first you need to get to printer properties as a local admin
(you can hold shift and right-click on a printer to do this.)

Then you go to the ports tab and configure the port that’s in use.

You will find the “SNMP status enabled” is ticked. if you untick this and apply the printer will suddenly be ready and start printing


August 12, 2009

Probably not going to use this one again for a while….

Sysprep – Build a PC to the right specs, software, updates, etc and then want to make an image to install on multiple machines. This is the puppy to use.

I built a PC with Windows XP SP2 so I had to activate it to get it to SP3. I installed all the updates, Adobe, Java, blah, blah.

Installed Sysprep from (search for Windows XP SP3 deployment tools).

Once you’re ready drop to a DOS prompt and run this;

sysprep -activated -reseal

-activated wipes the activation so you can add a new key.

-reseal wipes eventlogs and runs the mini setup for Windows so you can add admin passwords and/or user accounts

Erase Unused Disk Space

August 4, 2009

Had a client laptop that needed to be donated. They wanted to give it to the family babysitter so it needed to be working. In other words I needed to securely delete the old user data and keep everything else intact.

I used this utility – Eraser – which is open source and wonderful for the job. Nice.

Please contribute if you use it.