Posts Tagged ‘problems’

Deploying Remote Assistance

April 11th, 2013 4 comments

When I come to customers I most of the time see some third party management tools installed on client workstations (for example VNC). These tools are used by administrators to manage workstations remotely. They are able to see user’s desktop and solve a problem. Administrators thinks the only tool to manage user’s desktop is to connect to workstation with RDP. Problem with RDP is that user and admin cannot see same screen and just one ot them can work on actual desktop.

Microsoft implemented Remote Assistance feature to Windows since Windows XP. It’s technology based on shadowing technology used in Terminal Services/RDS on server based OS. It is great tool to implement (or just configure) in corporate environment. It can be also used in home environment. There are two modes how to make connection:

  • Initiated by person which needs help (home/corporate use)
  • Initiated by helping person (mostly by professional use) – called Easy Connect

When person which needs help wants to send request for help to helping person, he can do it using following ways:

  • Using Microsoft Messenger
  • Creating special kind of file
  • Sending mail

I will not describe how to use Remote Assistance in home environment. I will focus on corporate use. Most of the time you have some administrators for workstations and, of course, workstation users. Workstation users always have a problems they cannot handle and we, as a admins, need to see a problem which user sees and need to solve a problem. Let’s work with environment where Active Directory domain is implemented. We will implement two methods of providing help to users.

You can configure Remote Asistance on computers in domain using GPO. Configure if you users can send invitations for Remote Assitance (called Solicited Remote Assistance) (Computer Configuration — Policies — Administrative Templates — System — Remote Assistance — Solicited Remote Assistance):

Solicited Remote Assistance

and also if someone can offer help to users (Computer Configuration — Policies — Administrative Templates — System — Remote Assistance — Offer Remote Assistance):

Offer Remote Assistance

Don’t forget to specify users/groups which can send you offer for Remote Assistance by clickin on button “Show…” in this GPO settings:

RA Offer Group

You can configure more options in GPO:

  • Allow only Vista or later connections – this feature enables improved encryption of invitations
  • Turn on session logging – enables logging of Remote Assistance sessions. Log files are located under user’s Documents folder under Remote Assistance
  • Turn on bandwidth optimization – you can set optimization of sessions
  • Customize Warning Messages – you can custom warning messages before connecting and before sharing control

When you apply GPO you can use Remote Assistance.

Workstation users can ask for help by running Windows Remote Assistance (msra.exe):


Run Windows Remote Assistance


Click “Invite someone you trust to help you”:


RA Invitate


And you can choose method how you want invite helper:

  • Save this invitation as file – This will save your invitation information into file and you can distribute this file to your administrator. There can be some file share or you can send it as attachement to your administrator.
  • Use e-mail to send an invitation – This option is enabled when you have mail client installed (Outlook). It will open up New message in mail client and fill required fields. It will also attach generated invitation file to mail message.
  • Use Easy Connect – This option helps users to select from available helpers. This options is nice, but it depends on IPv6 tunneling interface Teredo. You need to have IPv6 enabled on computers, Teredo interface has to be in Enterprise mode and service Peer Name Resolution Protocol.

Use Easy Connect

Just some remarks to setup of Teredo interface:

  • You can check the status of Teredo interface by running command netsh int teredo show state. If you see Type set to “Client” then Easy Connect won’t work. You should change it to type “Enterprise Client”. You can do it in two ways. One is by running command netsh int teredo set state type=enterpriseclient and other is by GPO (Computer Configuration — Policies — Administrative Templates — Network — TCPIP Settings — IPv6 Transition Technologies — Teredo State set toEnterprise Client).
  • You can check if Peer Name Resolution Protocol works correctly by running command netsh p2p pnrp cloud show list. You should see status Active (rather  than Virtual and Alone) in line named Global_.
  • Your router should support UPnP technology if you are going to support machines behind NAT.

If you are admin and you want to provide help to user, the easiest way is to run msra.exe /offerra:


Offer Remote Assistance


type IP address/name of computer which needs help and you can manage it. When you offer assistance, user is asked to approve your assistance:


Input assistance


This opens Read-only view of desktop. If administrator wants to get full control of desktop, he needs to request for it by clicking button “Request Control” in his Remote Assistance window (just for Robert Švec – upper left corner 🙂 ):


Request control


From now this is very intuitive to use. This feature is nice to use and you don’t have to install any 3rd party solutions.

If you want to use Remote Assistance on Windows Server OS, you need to install feature:

Windows Server 2008 R2:

ServerManagerCmd.exe -install Remote-Assistance

Windows Server 2012:

Install-WindowsFeature Remote-Assistance


You also need to create some exceptions on firewall:

  • If you want to offer assistance, computers which need help have to have following exceptions:
    • Windows Vista and later
      • Port 135:TCP
    • Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
      • Port 135:TCP
    • Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
      • Port 135:TCP
        Allow Remote Desktop Exception
  • If you use Easy Connect, you need to enable PNRP port UDP 3540

You cannot manade Windows 7 computers from Windows XP computers. You can though oposite way (thanks to Roman Kučerák for remark).

From now I will try to convince administrators to use Remote Assistance in situations they will need it.

I hope I covered everything I wanted 🙂


What’s new in WSUS in Windows Server 2012

March 27th, 2013 No comments

Installation of WSUS on Windows Server 2012

I started to install WSUS service on Windows Server 2012. I selected to install Windows Internal Database as store of WSUS metadata.

WSUS installation

I selected to store updates on local C:\ drive (it’s just testing machine):

Store updates localy

After first run on Windows Server Update Services management tool WSUS asks again if I want to store updates locally or not:

WSUS complete installation

When I click Run, post-installation starts to run:


And I received Post-installation “notification” 🙂 in Microsoft word it means I have a problem (Failed to restart the current database. The currecnt database is switched to master):

Post-installation error

So if computer has problem with restarting database, let’s restart service. Didn’t help 🙂 Let’s restart whole computer. Didn’t help either. So the problem will be somewhere else.

I tried to install WSUS from scratch. I uninstalled WSUS and also Windows Internal Database feature. I also deleted data for Windows Internal Database from directory C:\Windows\WID. Then I installed WSUS with all dependecies – WID, IIS, …

Now I’m getting different error:

WSUS illegal character in path

Problem was backslash in input window for defining directory to store updates 😀 This path was predefined by wizard and it was wrong. This is really funny 🙂

So after reinstallation of WSUS and WID and defining “correct” path to update store directory (without backslash on the end 🙂 ) everything looks to be done correctly:

Post-installation done

Let click Close and look what’s new in WSUS. First we need to configure WSUS and I did it using WSUS Wizard. I don’t see any news in this Wizard compared to older one.

Exploring WSUS

I haven’t notice any news in WSUS mmc console. I always use client side group targeting. This feature allows you to create groups of computers in WSUS structure. It can be used to target updates specified for testing to just group of computers and so on. To make this working you need to set client side of group targeting by defining name of Group and also you need to create new Computer Group in WSUS structure. What I always forget it to create these Computer Groups in WSUS structure 🙂 I would love to see some option to allow WSUS to create these Computer Groups automatically. But this didn’t happend of this version of WSUS.

I think the most powerful thing Microsoft added into WSUS is support for Powershell cmd-lets. Most of the time WSUS settings about update Classifications and update Products are same from customer to cutosmer, so you can automate this settings using cmd-lets Get-WsusClassification, Set-WsusClassification, Get-WsusProduct and Set-WsusProduct.

To get some information about WSUS Server it selft you can use cmd-let Get-WsusServer:


There are more interesting cmd-lets. One is Get-WsusComputer which prints out some more information about computer reported into WSUS:


Get-WsusComputer has lot of ability to filter out computers on some conditions. Failed, Needed, …

To manage updates from powershell you can use cmd-lets Get-WsusUpdate, Approve-WsusUpdate and Deny-WsusUpdate. You can for example approve all updates that are Unapproved and FailedOrNeeded:

Get-WsusUpdate -Classification All -Approval Unapproved -Status FailedOrNeeded | Approve-WsusUpdate -Action Install -TargetGroupName “All Computers”

And the last cmd-let I really love, because I can make scheduled task to run Clean-up Wizard. Cmd-let is Invoke-WsusServerCleanup. You can do every cleanup task you can make from GUI.


I don’t think there is too much to improve on WSUS, but little powershell support for WSUS is handy.

Quickie: Reliability Monitor

August 8th, 2012 No comments

Sometimes you need to have a overview what happened on OS couple days/weeks/monts ago. Before I knew there is some utility I would look into events and look for some problem ones.

Now I know there is a utility in Windows Vista and higher which is called Reliability Monitor which records all major changes/errors on OS. You can run it from Start Menu typying “Reliabi..” and you will find:


Reliability Monitor

Reliability Monitor


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