Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Just in case you're wondering...

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Friday, July 20, 2007

WinDirStat Disk Utilization Program

I discovered a (free) disk utilization program called WinDirStat that can replace or supplement TreeSize Professional (not free). WinDirStat produces a graphical representation of a drive or folder, showing all the types of files.

The utility can be downloaded from Here's how to use it:
  • Login to the machine you want to run it on with an Admin account. You can login locally or via RDP.
  • Run WinDirStat
  • Select the drive or folder you want to scan and click OK
  • WinDirStat will begin scanning the drive and display cute little PacMan style icons showing it's working:
  • It may take a while to complete (280GB took about 32 minutes). Running it locally has very little impact on performance, but it does increase disk utilization a bit, but users will probably not notice it (similar to TreeSize).
  • Once the scan is complete, you will see a graphical representation of the data on the drive(s) or folder selected (called a Treemap):

  • To use this tool, you can do any of the following:

    • Click a large colored area to find out what file(s) are represented (for example, click the large purple areas reveals the files are .TXT files)
    • Click an extension in the upper right area will highlight all the files of that type in the Treemap
    • Drill down through the folders and files on the upper left area will highlight the folders or files selected in the Treemap
    • Double-click part of the map or a file in the upper left area will open the selected file
    • You can zoom in and zoom out of the Treemap
    • You can delete files directly from WinDirStat
    • You can select a file and click Report > Send Mail to Owner to send an email to the owner of the file asking them to clean it up. Note that this requires a working email profile and Outlook on the machine you are running it from.
Unlike TreeSize, you cannot save reports and email them to others. This makes WinDirStat an ad-hoc utility for working on a file server immediately when a free space problem arises. Use TreeSize when you need to create reports or want to save the results for historical reasons.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to Shadow the Console Session with Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services

While I'm on the subject of Remote Desktop Connections, Microsoft has a good article that describes how to shadow the console session. Read it at;en-us;278845.

When you use Terminal Services in Windows Server 2003, you can connect to the console session (session 0), and at the same time, open a shadow session to it (as long as you connect from a session other than the console). The console session can be shadowed so that the remote user and the local user at the physical console can see and interact with the same session.

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How to tell if your Remote Desktop Connection is from the Console

I do a lot of work using Remote Desktop Connections. Sure beats the old "sneaker net" days where you had to physically log into each server you needed to manage.

I'm sure you know that you can
connect to the console session using MSTSC /CONSOLE from the command line. This is helpful when you need to establish a third RDP session because the other two are in use, or when you need to install software that can only be done from the console.

One of the questions I'm asked is how to tell if you're connected via RDP to the console from the RDP session. To do this, simply open a command prompt and enter QWINSTA. You will see output similar to the screen above.

Take a look at the session ID in the example above. When you're in an RDP session to the console, the session ID will always be 0 (zero). That's all there is to it!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Grand Vacation

Well, we just got back from a HOT vacation in Arizona. Did I mention it was hot? It was 117F when we left. Who's idea was it to go camping over the 4th of July week in a desert anyway?

The family and I went camping in Williams, AZ, home to one of the last stretches of Route 66. This quaint little town is home to the Grand Canyon Railway which winds its way to a depot outside Bright Angel Lodge on the south rim. We went back to the Canyon the following day by car, but this time later to beat some of the heat. We were all treated to a wonderful sunset from Hopi Point. By the time we left at 9:00pm the temperature was a much more tolerable 84F.

Our next vacation is only a short few weeks away to our family's favorite place in the world -- Huntington Lake in the Sierra Nevadas. Can't wait!!!