Category Guest Bloggers

SQL Transaction Log for Database is Full Due to Log Backup

For this post we have a guest contributor with some SQL goodness. This will definitely come in handy for us System Center folks as all of the System Center components use SQL. This guest post was written by: Andrew Jackson a SQL expert in the SQL community check him out on the following sites: LinkedIn , google+, his blog. Here is the actual blog post:

Overview

In SQL Server, Every database file is associated with a transaction log that contains all the records of transactions and modifications made by each transaction. The log file plays a very important part as it helps in disaster recovery. The transaction log should be truncated or cleared regularly to keep the size of log file from filling up. One of the common error encountered by the users of the SQL Server is when the transaction log is full, which is possible by various reasons. This blog will be discussing about the Transaction Log Full due to Log Backup.

Problem Statement

The following error message will be displayed like this “The transaction log for database is full due to Log Backup.” It happens when the user is unable to make data entry due to insufficient space. The transaction log file grows very large and consumes too much space over server restricting addition of any data into SQL Tables. The error message is not because of log backup but it actually means the virtual files with the transaction log could not be reused, as it requires log backup. User need to make sure that Log file growth is unrestricted, Storage of log file should have enough space, and regular log backups should be taken.

Possible Solution

There may be several solutions for the situation when the Transaction log file is full such as creating backup or truncate the transaction logs, making the log space available, moving file to another disk drive, increase the log file size or add another log file on different disk.

Since we are talking about the Transaction Log Full Due to Log Backup, we will be performing truncate operation on the transaction log file. Steps that need to be followed to sort the issue are:

  • Open Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio in order to connect to the desired SQL server database.
  • Select the database, which transaction file needs to be truncated
  • Type the T-SQL script below

USE db_name

GO

ALTER DATABASE db_name SET RECOVERY SIMPLE

GO

DBCC SHRINKFILE (db_name_log,5)

GO

ALTER DATABASE db_name SET RECOVERY FULL

GO

 

  • Click on Execute button and run these commands

Another solution is to stop the SQL Server Service and find the location of the transaction file to rename it. When the SQL Service is re-started and logged in to the database, a new log file will be created. If the new log file is not created still and displays the same error user can follow these steps:

  • Go to SQL Server Management Studio to connect to the database
  • Right-click on the desired database, Go to Tasksà Detachà Browse the location of the file
  • Cut the ...

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Surviving the Future of IT as an IT Pro

At MMS 2015 we had some interesting discussions in the Ask the Data center experts session. One of the discussions was centered around how IT is changing and how to adapt. For a while there has been a paradigm shift happening in IT. It is hard hitting for those on the front line especially IT Pro’s.

With the advent of many technologies moving to XaaS (x as a Service) based and the challenges for IT pro’s to move from strictly the ops side of IT to more of a DevOps model as well as becoming an internal technology consultant to the business IT Pros can feel lost in the paradigm shift.

The goal of this blog post is twofold. 1. I want to expand on this discussion with my opinion of how an IT Pro can remain relevant in the future of IT. 2. My friends over at Savision asked me to write a blog post and I thought this would be a great topic for it because they have some tools that can help with this transition.

Here are key points and additionally skills/mindset needed as an IT Pro moving into the future of IT:

  • Accepting Shadow IT….. Ability to manage anyway.

Shadow IT is the practice of business units spinning up their own IT solutions without organizational approval. With the expansion of cloud Shadow IT is becoming easier for business units to undertake.

  • Technology Budgets are no longer 100% controlled within IT anymore. Many departments own their own technology budget.
  • For so long IT has had the reputation of being “No People” and a dinosaur that takes forever to get things done. Embracing Shadow IT is about enabling the business, moving faster from conception to solution. Embracing Shadow IT will also change the reputation IT to “Yes People”.
  • This will cause the business to come back to IT first as internal SME’s to help them select the right outside solutions bringing internal IT Pros back into the loop.
  • Instead of focusing on how to stop business units for spinning up the technology solutions they need, help them. At the same time look for solutions that can help put governance and management around Shadow IT. A good example of this are three solutions from Microsoft such as Cloud App discovery (Discovery of cloud applications used in an organization), Azure Active Directory (Single Sign On, Centralized log on to cloud based applications and much more), and OMS (Management of cross platform clouds i.e. Amazon, Azure, Rackspace etc.).

  • Embrace and accept heterogeneous environments….. IT is a diverse world of technologies
    • IT Consumers will more and more dictate the platforms they use. Just think about mobile devices IOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry (fading I know). End users want to use the devices and platforms they want vs being locked in. This will only continue to grow.
    • End users are now more advanced and will continue to advance (BYOD, setting up their own VPN’s, demanding more cloud applications, and self-service.)
    • When Shadow IT occurs you have no idea what platform a business unit will chose...
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Introduction to Storage Servers

With the introduction of big data, companies are challenged with finding ways to store data for analysis purposes. As storage becomes a larger concern, businesses have focused on storage strategies and initiatives regarding storage. Businesses must manage and simplify the storage infrastructure, monitor the information lifecycle and ensure business continuity. Storage server solutions must be efficient, accessible and well-planned for easy retrieval. Let’s take a look at the options available for storage and how each solution can help companies meet the goals outlined.

Types of Storage Server Designs

Storage Area Network (SAN)

Storage area networks are the leading storage solution in the market. When optimized for performance and scalability, SANs are recommended for heavy storage traffic and for situations in which data access is critical. To increase system uptime, SAN includes fault tolerance and failover features. Because SANs’ excess capacity can be pooled together, a high utilization of resources is possible. SANs are also used to manage multiple tape devices and disks from a single point of control. Server and local area network (LAN) utilization can be reduced with specialized backup facilities.

This type of storage server operates from a dedicated network that provides block level data storage access. SANs make disk arrays, optical jukeboxes and tape libraries accessible to servers. The devices appear as if they are locally attached to the operating system with this solution.

Though SANs are an array of disparate storage devices operating in concert, the devices appear as a single unit to the end user. SAN also incorporates the use of storage devices that are not accessible by local area networks (LAN).

SAN uses both Fibre Channel (FC) SAN and Internet SCSI (iSCSI) SAN. FC SAN uses optical fiber, twisted pair copper and coaxial copper. When requests are made for the blocks of data on the storage devices, the requests are sent via one of these mechanisms for fast and accurate delivery. FC SAN has a dedicated set of fibre channel switches to connect to a larger business network.

iSCSI SAN is not as expensive as a SAN solution, but will still cost at least $15,000. This type of storage server uses gigabit Ethernet to transfer data between the SAN and the server nodes. iSCSI SAN protocol uses SCSI commands to control the storage device array at the most basic level. Network interface controllers (NICs) and switches are most often used at this level.

Special cabling is not required for iSCSI. Only standard Ethernet is required. Small and medium businesses may use Ethernet knowledge to implement iSCSI SAN instead of implementing a Fibre Channel SAN for storage and an Ethernet LAN for user communication.

Fibre Channel SANs can cost companies $25,000 or more and is considered the premium SAN solution. The latest Fibre Channel SANs can achieve speeds of four gigabytes per second and eight gigabytes per second.

In general, iSCSI SANs are more flexible to configure than Fibre Channel SANs because the server nodes do not have to be in the same basic location. iSCSI should be operated on a dedicated network separate from LAN traffic for optimal performance. Performance can be improved by purchasing better server nodes with the money saved with an iSCSI solution. This solution is recommended for those that do not have high disk throughput requirements but have high availability.

With SANs, data is not stored directly on any of the network servers. This configuration allows server power to be used for business applications. The end user then has control over network capacity.

SANs are recommended for mission-critical applications after the company has experienced significant growth and data has increased in complexity. SANs have a higher degree of sophistication with the level of complex commands it can handle.

SAN can move large block of data in a quick and efficient manner. The server workload is reduced while data transfer speeds increase. Numerous users can access data simultaneously without creating a “traffic jam” or “bottleneck” on the server or local area network (LAN). The process is much more efficient than DAS or NAS.

Logical Unit Number (LUNs) are comprised of a RAID array. RAID-1, RAID-5 and RAID-10 are the most common selection for LUNs. Sequentially written data corresponds to RAID-1 arrays and randomly-accessed data are comprised of RAID-5 or RAID-10 arrays. Applications run with SAN will impact the creation of LUNs. LUNs are typically described by the way server node views logical disk partitions.

Locally Attached Storage

Locally attached storage is recommended for servers that do not have high availability requirements. This type of server storage typically costs $1000 or more. Locally attached storage is typically connected to the server with a SCSI cable, or it can be installed directly in the server. Locally attached storage commonly uses RAID-5 array storage for data and RAID-1 array for OS partition. RAID-1 uses multiple drives that mirror each other. An incoming block of data may be stored on one drive and a mirror image of the data may be stored on a second drive with RAID-1 configuration.

RAID-5 includes ...

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How to set up a backup plan for your Windows Server

One of the most important tasks for a systems admin is that of backing up data to protect against loss. A well thought out backup plan can help ensure that all eventualities are covered and that your company can continue operating no matter what kind of disaster may occur. There are several aspects you should incorporate into your backup plan. This article should help guide you on how it’s done, regardless of what software or hardware solution you use.

  • Identify what to back up

If you want to back up everything then you are going to need plenty of tapes, or perhaps a disk backup system, and much more time than you’re likely to afford. Focus instead on the critical data that cannot be recreated and that the business cannot do without. Rank it by priority so that if you need to restore, you would know what to restore first. Create a spreadsheet or a table and review it with the business stakeholders and data owners to ensure that everyone agrees with what is being backed up and in what order it should be restored.

  • Identify when to back it up

Backups take time, consume bandwidth and may have problems with open files. Businesses with large databases, or whose operations run around the clock, may not be able to complete a full backup given an entire weekend. Set up multiple schedules based on the business schedule. Plan database backups around other activities like indexing, and ensure that maintenance windows work around the backup schedule.

  • Create a service account

Windows includes a special group called Backup Operators, which bypasses file system security so it can back up all data. Some software requires that the backup service account belongs to the domain admins group. Check your documentation and create a service account with the appropriate group memberships as well as a strong password that doesn’t expire. Run all your backups using this account. Do not use your user account for this.

  • Select your backup methodology

With limited time to complete backups, select a mix of full and either incremental or differential backups...

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Step-by step guide on how to protect your network from spam

Intro

Spam, or more accurately Unsolicited Commercial Email, is still on the rise, with some estimates measuring it at 90% of all email traffic. It’s a nuisance for users, a storage nightmare for admins, and often a vector for phishing attacks and malware. Using a defense in depth approach, this article provides steps an email administrator can take to protect their network from spam.

Step one-user training

Users should be educated on how their actions can lead to or reduce the amount of spam destined for their inbox. Using corporate email for personal use, subscribing to mailing lists, registering their email address for promotions and giveaways, and forwarding chain mails are all vectors that can lead to spam. Consider disabling html support to prevent downloads that can confirm an address is valid, as well as to reduce the risk of email based malware.

Step two-web content

Spammers frequently scan websites looking for embedded email addresses in contact information. Raise awareness with your web developers and establish a policy that all email addresses in web pages should be masked using JavaScript or other encoding that allows a person to click or read the address, but makes it more difficult for a spider to harvest it. Use contact forms when possible instead of displaying email addresses.

Step three-tighten up your SMTP gateway

Disabling the verify command (VRFY) on your SMTP gateway makes it that much harder for spammers to check for valid email addresses. If supported, implement a delay before your server responds to a request with its banner. Legitimate email servers will wait for the 220 response before trying to send email, while many programs/scripts used by spammers will not. Your server can then drop email from this misbehaving sender. If your SMTP gateway supports Quit detection, configure it to drop email that it receives from a host that don’t close the session properly. Legitimate email servers end a session with the QUIT command, but many programs/scripts used by spammers don’t.

 

Step four-Check for MX and SPF records

Email servers that can receive mail should all have valid MX records in DNS. Those that send email should also have SPF records. Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records are txt records in a DNS zone that list servers authorized to send email on behalf of a domain. Configure your SMTP gateway to check for MX and SPF records when accepting an email to verify the sending domain of the from address matches what is in DNS. You may have to soft fail some messages until SPF gains in popularity, but this can help later lines of defense to identify spam.

Step five-Configure limits on your incoming SMTP gateway

Configure your email se...

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5 Threats of Endpoint devices

Decades ago, discussions about securing the enterprise were limited to the almost benign topics of virus tainted email attachments and the benefits of power-on passwords. Today, the landscape has morphed into a virtual minefield of potential vulnerabilities, thanks in part to the endpoint devices that connect organizations to the Internet.

Endpoint devices include everything from computers and servers to routers and switches – each an attractive gateway for possible intruders.

Let’s examine the top endpoint threats:

  1. Non-compliant endpoints – Policies have been written. Tools procured and installed. Yet for a myriad of reasons, Microsoft or other system software service packs and hotfixes haven’t been applied. Known vulnerabilities are exploited, intruders gain access.
  2. Antivirus Issues – Antivirus software vendors update signatures, often daily, yet users or admins may have disabled the software. In addition, updated software versions may not have been applied and scheduled scans, if not forced, can be stopped, delaying virus identification and eradication.
  3. 3rd party agents – Many organizations are forced to use mul...
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Outlook 2003 Auto-Complete Cache (History List)

One of the most frustrating issues to deal with in Outlook is having an email history file that is either too large, or full of incomplete/incorrect email addresses (specially with lifetouch employees). When you begin to type an email address in the TO: field, Outlook looks into the history cache and creates a dropdown list of email addresses, contacts or exchange names to match. It holds the last 1000 used addresses. New names are not added until the current outlook session ends and outlook is restarted.

How to Delete the Entire History List File

If you find too many of the addresses in the history are malformed or you wish to move a history list from one computer to another, you can find the file in the following location: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\<profile_name>.NK2
You will have to have hidden files and folders disabled in folder options to see the application data folder.

How to Remove Individual Names from History List

  1. Begin typing the name of the name you wish to remove in the Outlook TO: Field in a new message.
  2. Use the arrow key (not the mouse) to select the incorrect name.
  3. Hit the De...
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How to Configure a Shared Printer as LPT1/LPT2 in DOS

DOS and Windows allocate resources and use printers differently, so having a shared printer on LPT1/LPT2 in Windows may not work as LPT1/LPT2 in DOS.

  1. Click “Start”, then “Run”, and type: cmd
  2. Press OK.
  3. At the command prompt type:

net use LPT# \\COMPNAME\PRINTER\ /persistent:yes

Where # is 1 or 2, COMPNAME is the name of the computer the printer is connected to, and PRINTER is the shared name of the printer (Pre-Windows 2000 name).

Example:

net use LPT1 \\Cesar-Serv\HP2009 /persistent:yes

To delete the printer type:

net use LPT# /delete
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