[Guest Post] Restoring a Windows System Image from a backup on a network location

This post will explain to you how to perform a full system restore from a backup made with Windows Server Backup (WSB) on Windows 2012R2/2016. The only two things you will need are a backup made with Windows Server Backup and an ISO file of the corresponding Windows version that you want to restore.


Packaging non-executable files as VMWare ThinApps

We are running a VMware Horizon/vSphere environment with a number of virtual desktops. And because I do not want to have all software available on all desktop pools nor do I want to maintain a stupid amount of golden images I was looking into how to create virtual applications using VMWare ThinApp and linking these to specific desktop pools.

And since Murphy likes to make my day miserable I obviously started with the worst application of them all.


Office 2016 toast notifications after upgrading to Windows 10 1709

After the upgrade of 70 computers from Windows 10 1607 to Windows 10 1709 discussed in the previous post people started complaining about a lack of toast notifications coming from Outlook 2016.

And indeed. When checking the Settings app under "System -> Notifications & Actions" there were entries for all kinds of applications but no trace of Outlook 2016 anywhere. And checking a Windows 10 1607 machine showed that it had been there before the upgrade. So something broke with the upgrade to 1709, again ...


Upgrading Windows 10 Enterprise 1607 to 1709 - And why useful error messages are important

As mentioned in previous posts we have about 3500 client computers and at this point somewhere around 600 of them are running Windows 10 Enterprise 1607 (the Anniversary Edition). Updates are handled through SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) and so are the Windows 10 feature upgrades (going to be).

We had already run some test with the Creators Update 1703 but only rolled that out to a handful of machines, mostly internally in the IT department. So last Friday it was finally time to test the deployment of the Fall Creators Update 1709 to about 70 clients all at the same time. We wanted to see what kind of impact this would have on the network. The 70 machines were located on two different floors and supplied by two different switches. I will not go into detail about the numbers here but one switch showed a throughput of about 500Mbit/s for around 20 minutes supplying 40 or so machines. (Later I did another upgrade and 1 machine caused a peak network usage of 180Mbit/s for about 2 minutes.) But this is not the point of this post.


[BUG] Windows 10 default user profile oddity - Free folders for everyone

Remember my post from July 2017 about how the default user profile under Windows 10 was writeable by any user (no admin rights required) if you had 1607 installed at any point in time?
Well, here we are again with a new oddity.


[Powershell] Installing fonts - the hard way

This post is more of a guide than me finding weird bugs and the documention of my adventures trying to figure out what is actually going on. But even then I came across something new that kind of tripped me up.

A number of departments in the company I work for use various special fonts, which are part of the "Corporate Identity". Whenever a machine in one of those departments gets replaced we needed to install these special fonts on the new machine. And since we have been replacing a couple hundred machines over the last half year and will continue to replace a couple hundred machines every year on a regular basis from now on I decided to take a look at how to automate the deployment of fonts.

As I have mentioned in previous posts we are using Microsoft's SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) for Windows/Office update and general software deployment. So the tool of choice for the task was of course that. All I needed now was a script that could properly install the fonts and hand that script over to the guy in charge of the SCCM server so he could deploy it to the machines in question.


Windows folder redirection not working - The Reckoning

As already written in the "Windows folder redirection not working ... sometimes" article we are making use of the Windows folder redirection group policies to redirect folders like "Documents", "Desktop" and "Favorites" to a server share in order to save space on the local harddisks/SSDs and of course make that data available to the user no matter what workstations he logs onto. For the redirection we use the environment variable %HOMESHARE% which basically contains the value of the AD field "HomeDirectory".

Until now the folder structure we were using for the home directories was a little odd. The home directories resided in "\\server\users\home\<department>\<accountname>" which means that whenever a user changes department his/her entire home directory had to be moved to a new location.

The server department started moving the first departments' users' home directories to a new structure (and updated the "homedirectory" value in the AD for the affected users accordingly). The new locations for the home directories are five DFSs under "\\server\users\home0[1-5]\<accountname>" hosted on a NetApp server. The split into "home01" to "home05" is done so that they do not have to restore a giant 10TB share and instead only have to deal with smaller 2TB portions when things go south.

And even though the people in charge claimed that they tested everything thoroughly things did go south when they migrated the home directories of the first hundred or so users ...