Best Practice Ezine #28

Best Practice Ezine.  Computer Performance. Advertise

Guy’s Best Practice & Litmus Tests Ezine #28 –
8 tools on Windows 2003 (XP)

When I am training Windows 2003, I often assess my audience by asking them ‘How many of these utilities do you know?’  Then I reel off a list of 5 or 6 executables.  The delegate’s response helps me to judge their previous knowledge, which in turn, enables me to adjust the pace and depth of my delivery. 

Well, I cannot judge your experience, but if you truly know more than 3 of these tools, then I declare that you are a genius!  My goal is to help you discover what utilities Windows 2003 has hidden away at the command line.   These are executables which will assist you if ever you need to script tasks like defrag or backup.  As for the more obscure executables, they will help you should you ever take any MCP exams.

Contents for Ezine #28


At the risk of teaching grandmother’s and grandfather’s to suck eggs, all these commands run in the ‘Dos box’, cmd.exe and benefit from the /? to check their zillions of switches.

Defrag (Made for Scripting) 

Scenario: You like to speed up your disks with defrag, but you want the defrag process to happen quietly in the middle of the night, rather than in your face when you are working during the day.  So, you add the defrag command to a script or batch file, which you then schedule.  This roundabout procedure is all because the GUI version of defrag does not allow scheduling.  It seems that Windows 2003 comes with Diskkeeper ‘lite’, to get the full version which allows scheduling and selecting multiple drives, you need to pay extra at the Diskkeeper website.

Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT) IP Tracker

Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets.  IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:

For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges. 

For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker

Diskpart (Guy does a U-turn)

I have featured diskpart before, if fact I was dismissive about this utility.  But all that changed when I.S. kindly wrote in and opened my eyes to the potential of diskpart, namely to create the desired disk structures on new servers.  Of all the scripts in all of the world, be particularly careful with diskpart, as you could accidentally format drives on your own machine, when all you wanted to do was test your script!  If you are game to try diskpart scripting, then carefully add all your instructions to a text file, then execute diskpart /s textfile.txt. 

Should you just wish to try diskpart at the command line, the first verb to master is, ‘Select’, for example, SELECT disk 0 (note the spacing between disk and zero).  The second instruction that I would experiment with is List, it responds rather like DIR in Dos, for example, LIST volume.  Now that you get the idea you can try other verbs like DETAIL volume, or even CREATE volume.  Tune in to how diskpart’s mind work, first get ‘Focus’, then issue the command you are interested in.

FSUTIL (Bizarre)

I intended to be very rude about FSUTIL, but then I started playing with it and I became moderately impressed.  Scenario you want to script free diskspace, try this command:  FSUTIL volume diskfree c:

Why I labelled this utility bizarre was because I first saw FSUTIL, it was in conjunction with ‘sparse’ and ‘reparsepoint’ on a SQL server database.  When I research these switches, help said ‘ For support staff, used by system drivers ‘, so I put reparsepoint in the pigeon-hole: not needed by ordinary mortals.

Dcgpofix (Get out of jail card) 

Scenario: You get into deep trouble with Security Policies, you wish, ‘If only I could get back to how it was when I began’.  Well dcgpofix will reset your domain and domain controller group policy to how they were when you installed Active Directory.

Nltest (Examiner’s favourite)

The exam question asks you to find out which domain an XP machine has joined, the commands are tricky for example, NLTest /server:xpmachine /trusted_domain.  (I say tricky because of unforgiving syntax of server:name and the underscore between trusted and domain).  Ah well such is life with command line utilities.

Incidentally, if you are looking for test questions for the Microsoft 70-290 exam.  I have an ebook that you can have for a special price of $4.95.

Have a look at Exam 290 Questions

Logman (No-one ever uses?)

Scenario: You wish to start or stop a log from the command line, alternatively, you may wish to repeat a log that you ran yesterday, by running it again tomorrow.   Fat chance.  Guy would always use the Performance logs and Alert instead of Logman.

Relog (Once in a blue moon)

Scenario: You have a performance log which you want to adjust, for example change the start point. perflog.blg –> guylog.csv  -b start time.

Takeown (Not impressed

The best thing I can say about Takeown is that its name tells you what the utility does.   I put Takeown in that pigeon-hole of, ‘Yes I know what it does,  allows an administrator to take ownership, but no I do not need it.’ Do write in if you have a ‘killer’ use for this or any of the other utilities.

However, it always happens when I’m rude about a program, a reader kindly puts me straight:

In the process of taking the ownership of several files in the Windows GUI, I stumbled across the error "Access Denied." It made no sense why an Administrator was receiving the message, but it turns out that it sometimes happens when taking ownership of previous operating system files. Since the GUI failed to help even in Safe Mode, running the command did exactly what the GUI wouldn’t do. That’s about it, though, it may not be killer to anyone else.


Tim Garrett

Lots of useful computer tools

Windows 8 App Store   • How to Shut Down Win8   •Metro UI   • Win8 Sleep  • Ezines

E 173 Handy Utilities  •E 146 Tips  •E 95 Tips   • E 87 Tips  •E 86 Tips  •E 48 Cost Nothing  •E 41 Tips

E 30 General Tips   • E 28 Tools  • E 14 Reskit  • E 11 Utilities  • Kiwi Syslog Server  • IP Tracker