Five Routine’s That Sums Up Desktop Management

IT departments play a major role in systems maintenance and it takes some effort for a system administrator to keep servers and end user workstations up and running for stability and productivity reasons. Lets take a look at system administrator’s daily routine and the importance of it.

1. Downloading and Deploying patches to user computers

System administrator has to identify required patches (3rd party) on systems, download them from the vendor websites and deploy them to end user computers. Managing these patches on a one of basis seems straightforward but it becomes cumbersome on a routine basis and especially when there are many systems to patch. Using a Patch Management solution, these routine tasks can be automated and scheduled to lessen the cumbersome workload on system administrators.

2. Installing software to user computers

Manually installing software on remote computers can be a daunting task and is challenging. A Software Management solution can resolve this complication by allowing a system administrator to deploy software from any location, handle tickets with ease and assist users demands in software installation with simplicity.

3.Troubleshooting remote computers

Troubleshooting servers and workstations for Operating System issues, software installations, security patches, system crashes can be remedied much easily with software management solutions, especially with remote capabilities and centralized management interface.

4. Managing IT assets in your network

Asset tracking for hardware and software in your organization is highly important and can be done with ease with the use of an asset management software. Apart from tracking the hardware and software in the organization, software license management, hardware warranty management, and identifying the usage of software particularly for licensing, restricting unwanted software in your network is important as well. An asset management solution provides a systems administrator the tools needed to effectively gather and manage this data.

5. Deploying configurations and managing mobile devices

Managing and configuring devices such as computers, tablets, phones, and peripherals in a growing organization with rapid demands for technology can be a challenging task for system administrators. MDM and desktop management solutions provide much flexibility and the tools needed to handle these technology challenges in the enterprise.

ManageEngine Desktop Central is one such ideal solution for desktop management, with its bundle of features and pricing compared to some known industry solutions. Desktop Central offers Patch management, Software management, Asset management, Remote support, Mobile device management, Failover Service, and Auditing capabilities. Desktop Central supports heterogeneous platform in 16 different languages. Finally, Desktop Central offers a fully functioning edition to manage 50 endpoints completely free with no hidden cost.

Download Desktop Central now and experience simplified IT management.

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ADMX Template For Windows 10 Creators Update (1703) Now Available

To coincide with the release of Windows 10 Creators Update (1703), the following tools to support this latest release has been made available, which includes Windows 10 Administrative Templates (.ADMX) and Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) as previously mentioned in this blog post. The previous Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) works just fine with Windows 10 Creators Update.

Windows 10 Administrative Template (.ADMX)

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 (RSAT)

Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK)

Microsoft Office 2016 Administrative Templates and Office Customization Tool is also available for download.

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Review – Microsoft Systems Center Endpoint Protection Cookbook

System endpoint security is a critical aspect of modern day computing and we all have had our fair share in dealing with malware infections, and in some cases ransomware and cryptolocker attacks in our organizations. Microsoft has made great efforts in mitigating these security risks by providing a superior product called System Center Endpoint Protection (SCEP) for enterprises and Windows Defender which by default is included with Windows 10.

A System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr or SCCM) or a Microsoft Intune administrator is familiar with SCEP as it is the way to administer and manage SCEP in the enterprise. However, there are many aspects and intricacies of SCEP one is not aware of and has not fully utilized, and should. While I was dealing with some SCEP updates and anti-malware policies in my organization, I came across this awesome book written by Nicolai Henriksen, a Microsoft MVP in Enterprise Mobility. I decided to write a non-biased review of this book and credit the wonderful information contained within it.

Nicolai’s SCEP cookbook is well written and vetted by another well respected Microsoft MVP in Enterprise Mobility, Ronni Pedersen, who I often interact with on social media on all things ConfigMgr. This book is shy of 200 pages and is laid out in eight easily digestible chapters and covers everything you need to know about SCEP from soup to nuts. You’ll learn how to plan and get started with SCEP, configuration, operations and maintenance, updates, security and privacy, configure advance protection, troubleshooting, and malware handling to name a few. It’s an information filled book with great tips and how to’s, and I particularly enjoyed how Nicolai included little segments throughout the book with tidbits such as “Getting ready….”, “How it works….”, and “How to do it….” which was perfect for my learning and understanding of the various concepts presented.

The Table of Contents of this book:

As a ConfigMgr admin who has been working with the product for a number of years including working with System Center Endpoint Protection, I have learned things that I didn’t know, picked up some tips and tricks, have a better insight and understanding of SCEP, and I have gained a great reference for the product. I highly recommend this book to all ConfigMgr and Intune admins. This book is available for purchase in Kindle and Paperback format on Amazon. If you would like to connect with Nicolai and have some feedback or suggestions, you’ll find him on Twitter as @nicolaitwitt.

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Microsoft Security Updates Guide (Portal)

For the last 20 years, Microsoft has provided security bulletins as individual web pages which were available from the Microsoft Security Bulletin website, and January 10, 2017 was the last time this was made available. Going forward starting in February 2017, the new Security Update Guide portal will provide the security information via a dashboard. Knowledge Base (KB) number, CVE number, vulnerability, Windows version, or date of release can be searched on the online Security Update Guide (SUG) database.

According the the blogpost by the MSRC Team, using the new portal, you can:

  • Sort and filter security vulnerability and update content, for example, by CVE, KB number, product, or release date.
  • Filter out products that don’t apply to you, and drill down to more detailed security update information for products that do.
  • Leverage a new RESTful API to obtain Microsoft security update information. This eliminates the need for you to employ outdated methods like screen-scraping of security bulletin web pages to assemble working databases of necessary and actionable information.

If you have any feedback, you can send them to: portalfback@microsoft.com.

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How To Fix: Bitlocker Recovery Key Prompts On Every Reboot

windows-10-bitlocker-featured

There are few reports of users having Bitlocker issues following the October 2016 patches.

The issue: On every reboot, the Bitlocker recovery key is required which is quite disruptive and cumbersome. As a workaround in order to solve this issue, the following steps can be taken:

On the next reboot and once in Windows, reset Bitlocker by disabling and re-enabling it.
In administraive command prompt, do the following:
manage-bde -protectors c:-disable
then do this:
manage-bde -protectors c:-enable

At this time, I’m not certain on which patch is causing the issue but I wanted to share this info to help. You can also discuss in this TechNet post.

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Updated – Microsoft Update Catalog Site

new-ms-update-catalog

The Microsoft Windows team mentioned on August 15, 2016 that they were working on releasing an updated version of the Microsoft Update Catalog which would eliminate the need for ActiveX requirements in order for the site to work in any browser.

The Microsoft Update Catalog website is being updated to remove the ActiveX requirement so it can work with any browser. Currently, Microsoft Update Catalog still requires that you use Internet Explorer. We are working to remove the ActiveX control requirement, and expect to launch the updated site soon.

Good news! As of yesterday, the site has been updated and you can now access the Microsoft Update Catalog site using any browser including Edge, Google Chrome, and others with the following URL: http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com. Here’s the blog post by Michael Niehaus with the announcement.

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System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) Console Crash

scom-gsx-solutions

** UPDATE**
(October 19, 2016)
A fix for the SCOM console crash issue as previously blogged below has been released. See the following KB320006 article to obtain the hotfix.

***************************************************************************************************

**Posted on October 18, 2016**

There is a widespread report of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 R2 / 2016 console crashes due to some bugs in October 2016 Cummulative Updates, in particular with the following patches: KB3194798 / KB3192392 / KB3185330 / KB3185331.

The product team has acknowledged the issue on their blog post and is said to be working on releasing a fix soon. The current recommendation is to uninstall the problematic patches as a temporary workaround. According to the blog post, an announcement will be made on the SCOM Team blog when a fix has been made available. So, keep a close eye on it.

Links related to this post:

SCOM Product Team Console Issue Ackowledgement
TechNet Discussion
SCOM Product Team Blog
Microsoft Tech Community Discussion

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Fix Microsoft Windows Update Issues

fixitforme

Here’s a fix it tool to keep Windows up-to-date, fix errors, and other issues that crop up with Windows Update. You can fix the problem yourself or get help from the community. You can access the tool HERE!

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How To Reset WSUS Server

3d human try to press a button

Sometimes, for various reasons, one must perform a WSUS reset function to make the WSUS server happy again. The reset process forces a resync of each update in the WSUS server with Microsoft services. This task can take a long time to complete as each update will be re-evaluated and re-downloaded, so be patient.

Here’s the command to run from an administrator command prompt::
%SystemDrive%\Program Files\Update Services\Tools\WsusUtil.exe reset

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Repair Windows Update Agent

Windows-Update

Every now and then, you may discover a computer system that is unable to detect or install available software updates from Microsoft or from your internal Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) repository. You’ll find an error such as 8007000E generated and often times running the Windows Update Troubleshooter FixIt tool is sufficient to fix Windows Update errors, but sometimes a manual approach that requires the deletion of the SoftwareDistribution content and re-registering the Windows Update components is needed, and this can be a tedious task. By using a script, this repair task can be automated.

Here are some batch scripts to help  fix a broken Windows Update Agent on a computer system. The scripts can also be run on a remote system using the ‘psexec‘ tool, which is part of the Sysinternals Suite from Microsoft. Copy and paste the content of your desired batch file below into Notepad and save the file with the “.bat” file extension, for example: repair_wua.bat .

Version 1:

Version 2:

Here’s another Windows Update Agent Reset script available on Technet.
The Windows Update Troubleshooter is available here.

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