Make the System State Your Friend

Professionals: Take two minutes to backup the System State before installing a new application.

Amateurs: Just install the application or hotfix without taking precautions.

by Chris Porosky

Think before you install a new application, driver or hotfix, what you should be thinking of is best practice for a fall back position if the server crashes.

The System State is your friend and protector.  Which ever backup software you use, put a tick in the System State check box.  These are the components that the System State controls:

  • Active Directory – NTDS.DIT and Logs
  • Boot Files – Including Boot.ini
  • Certificate Server
  • Registry
  • SysVol – Group Policies and Logon Scripts

How do you get to the System State?  Start (menu), Run,  NTBackup; alternatively, All Programs (Menu), Accessories, System Tools, Backup.

Last Known Good by Chris Porosky

Chris has a second part to this Litmus test, once you have taken a backup of the System State you will almost certainly need a reboot.

Professionals: Wait to see if there are any error messages before they logon after installing new drivers.

Amateurs: Logon quickly and so lose the chance of using the Last Known Good.

Since NT 3.51 days, the Windows Registry, keeps a spare configuration.  So if you make a terrible configuration mistake, you can go back by using the Last Known Good, however once you logon the boot is deemed to be good and you over write the previous Last Known Good.

Armed with knowledge that the Last Known Good exists, wait a minute or two to check that there no messages ‘One or more drivers failed to start’.  If you press F8 you can select Last Known Good and so save yourself a problem.

Whilst XP has the System Restore Point feature, this is not available on Server 2003, so master the System State and Last Known Good.  See more on system state.

Kiwe CatTools - Free downloadGuy’s Challenge – Download this free device backup utility


Kiwi CatTools is a free program for backing up configuration settings on hardware devices.  Here is Guy’s challenge.  If you download CatTools, then it will not only take care of backups, but also it will show you something new about the hardware on you network. I could give you a money back guarantee – but CatTools is already free!  Thus, I just make a techie to techie challenge, you will learn more about your network if you:

Download your free Kiwi CatTools configuration backup tools

Download my Jumbo Litmus Test eBook $5.95

Litmus TestsOver 40 of Guy’s litmus tests.  Have fun while you learn about aspects of computing.  Stacks of ideas to check your servers, networks and security.

Your eBook has printer friendly pages and lots more screen shots.


Litmus Tests

Guy’s Litmus test is a concept that you can apply anywhere.  Each test gives you an instant answer to the simple question:-  ‘Are you dealing with a professional, or are they an amateur?   Is this the real deal, or is it a turkey?’   The Litmus Test concept is rather like Best Practice, but it reduces a 27 page report to one sentence.