Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apparently I'm Published at CTR

Not my best writing, but you all know how on-the-job technical writing goes.  Information gets stripped, vocabulary cut down, etc.  :)

It was posted on Computer Technology Review.  You can check it out here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Parts on order!

Finally buckled and decided a new computer is for me.  After a ton of research, my build is as follows.  This isn't meant to be the biggest beast on the block, but price for power, it seems to be the best bargain.

I went mostly with because I just like the service I've gotten from them in the past.

AMD Phenom II X4 940 Deneb 3.0GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Black Edition Processor on a Foxconn A79A-S AM2+/AM2 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard.  This was a combo from NewEgg and seemed to be the best deal.  I originally was only looking at Intel processors, but after reviewing numerous benchmarks, I couldn't beat the power for the price.

HIS Hightech H487F1GP Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video.  Though the GPU is slightly under the next bump up, the price price jumped significantly.

Corsair ddr2-1066 pc2-8500 4gb.  I would have gone with the cheaper Patriot, but Fry's was out, and I missed the deals on NewEgg.  I'd probably save the $40 and go with Patriot if I had it to do over again.  Corsair's warranty is better though, so that is a plus.

1.5 TB SATA drive from Dell.  Can't beat ~$100 + shipping.  Coworker hooked me up with a coupon.  Now I just need to figure out how I'm going to fill 1.5TB..images perhaps..

750w Corsair PSU.  I am no expert on power, nor do I claim to be.  That being said, it was a good price and single 12V rail with good reviews.  I was looking at the ThermalTake with it's 4x 12V rails, but from what I've read it really doesn't matter how many rails it has as long as the single has decent components (which mine should).  The split rails can help with power management, but a single rail also helps make to ensure that core components have the power they need without being limited.  (4 rails could mean 13A, 16A, 18A, 8A which can just get confusing).  If I'm way off base here, feel free to leave me a comment and contradict me. :)

I went with the Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120mm "Core Contact Freezer" for cooling.  From what I can tell, the ThermalRight 120 Ultra Black Edition seemed like the best choice, but at half the price, the SunBeam was more appealing to me.  All reviews point toward it being quite comparable.  Tomshardware and Frostytech both show the "Core Contact Freezer" as being near the top of the charts.  Can't beat $30 from NewEgg for a quality product.

I'll be using Arctic Silver for the thermal compound as well.  We'll see how it goes.  Should be here in a few days..  Hopefully everything fits in the case and on the motherboard without covering RAM slots..

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks

Here is a good little list of tips and tricks for Windows 7.  The problem steps recorder looks cool among other things.  Also has the fix for mp3 corruption with WM12.–_every_secret_uncovered_date?page=0,0

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Creating a Custom Volume in DPM


Custom Volumes are good when you’d like to offload a backup of something to a specific place rather than using the disk pools.    My example was that the current backup location was on the same filer as my source data.  I wanted to offload this single application’s backups to a separate SAN than the source data in order to have the ability to recovery from a hardware failure.  There may be reasons to use this for Exchange, but I would avoid as disk pools are more seamless.  The planning for a deployment of Exchange should account for this.  My example is backing up archives.


The prerequisites are that you have available storage, the DPM agent installed on the target, and the needed VSS hotfix on the target.



1.      Create storage

a.      Carve out a volume/lun (or use DAS)

b.      Attach that storage to the machine via iSCSI, a VHD hard drive if virtual, or whatever other means.

2.      Figure out how much space you need for your volumes.

a.      You can follow the MS guidelines using the calculator:


b.      OR you can just use DPM to pull what you’ll need.  This only applies to backing up current data, with however many recovery points you need.  You will want to tack some extra on for growth.

                                                              i.      Create a new protection group.

                                                            ii.      Choose the data you want to protect 

                                                          iii.      Choose your retention 

                                                          iv.      Click modify 

                                                            v.      These are the values for today, so leave some overhead.


3.      Carve out your two volumes; one for replica, one for recovery point.

a.      Right click the unallocated space, and choose New volume.. 

b.      Choose Simple (other options may not be grayed out) 

c.       Choose the Size – I had 200gb to play with, so I allocated 160 to replica and 40 to recovery point. 

d.      Rinse repeat for the other.  This does not have to be on the same disk.


4.      Create the Custom Volume and Protection Group

a.      Go back to DPM and create the Protection Group as we outlined before.

b.      Pull down the menu for storage, and choose custom volume 

c.       Assign the replica volume and recovery point volume to their respective places.  Leave it at no formatting. 

d.      Choose manually as it is your only option. 

e.      Click create group (ignore the values in the box..) 

f.        Once this is all done, you must just manually create the new replica (Perform consistency check), and you’re set! 


In order to expand storage with this configuration, you cannot use DPM, but rather you must use standard windows disk management.  I realize there are no screenshots, but it was a disaster with the formatting  on this blogger.  I will make them available upon request.