Saturday, August 02, 2014

Notes and Observations around the church-house

Lavie has been hard at work on her ongoing project to rebuild/re-imagine the church website.

As such, last weekend we dropped by while it was unoccupied and I shot close to 8 GB of RAW format photos for her to use on the site and in outreach materials.  It was a lot of fun.

Once that was done I set to work on their receptionist PC to start trying to understand the cause of the daily issues reported.

(see this post: grand stream dreams: Rough IT notes for those who are left to clean up…)

Turns out there was a lot going on, and over the course of about three days (popping in after work and between services) we got a lot accomplished.

It is an older Dell Vostro system but does run a quad-core CPU so it should have muscle for most standard office admin tasks and programs. But it didn’t.

The hard-drive is a 250 Gigger but had just 16 GB of free space left.  When I ran SpaceSniffer on it, it only found about 40 GB of files in use. That was odd.

My bad, I then logged out and on the system with an admin-level account. There we go.

Turns out there was a 152.4 GB single file on the drive. It looks like someone took an "image" of the PC in the past (Feb 2014) and I'm not sure why, but this one file was taking up over 1/2 of the entire drive. I also saw there were weekly backup job tasks scheduled for every Sunday. Those jobs seem to take up about 2.2 GB of space and there about 4-6 of them. They seem OK.

The image file could only be seen under an admin account and is located as follows;

"C:\Users\<userid>\windowsimagebackup\<pc-name>\Backup-<long string filename>.vhd"

No one I asked could tell me why or who captured a VHD backup image of the system, so it got deleted and the system could breath again.

Using the Win 7 Resource Monitor tool, it was using over 90% of the 2 GB system RAM constantly. I’m betting there was a lot of disk caching activity as well. This system can only support up to four 1 GB PC2 DDR sticks so a request was made to order a new set of RAM to max it out.

Something on the WSUS service is broken (updates are apparently managed via GP settings) as it said it had no updates available, but when I re-checked manually from Microsoft, it had over 150 updates waiting, back from a year ago to present.  That alone took an overnight, then two more multi-hour sessions to bring it up to a fully-patched security level. Sheesh.

IT also has a dual-video output card in it but the ladies are only using a single monitor. I’ve asked to see if we can’t dig up a second one for them. Fingers crossed! That should help with their productivity. Lavie says she hasn’t ever used a dual-monitor setup in any of her office admin jobs. Her first experience with that configuration was here at the house when I set her laptop up with a 2nd monitor for her to use when she was taking her Dreamweaver online course. She loved it and I hope she finds benefit in the workplace once deployed.

Oh, I quarantined their wireless mouse. It was in death-throes causing the system to lock up. I put a wired mouse on it for now and that alone fixed many of the apparent lockup issues they were having with their HID usage.

It’s not everything that still needs to be done, but it’s a start. One partially down, and about another 15 systems to go.

I was finally able to take an introductory look at the domain with AD Explorer and found a lot of “abandoned” accounts and systems. Need to load up the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 and Windows Servers ( so we can get cracking at disabling those accounts and systems for now and start to clean house.


Claus V.

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