May 31, 2009

Fix: Use ScanPst.exe of ScanOst.exe to Fix Damaged Outlook Personal Folder Data Files

The Data Files
Microsoft Outlook uses two types of data files as storage:
  1. *.PST : Used as a local Personal Folders or Archive Folders.
  2. *.OST: Used as a local cache of an Exchange Mailbox.
The default location of the files are:
In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

In Windows Vista:

A data file usually gets damaged due to crashing of Outlook or exceeding the logical size limit of the file format. PST files that were created on Outlook versions 2000-2002 are limited to 2GB of size. Still, it usually gets crappy after 1.5GB. Later versions of Outlook can created upto 20GB of PST without (theoretically...) get stuck.

The Symptoms/Error Messages:
When the file gets damaged, you get several error while trying to run Outlook:

The Tools
We use two tools provided by Microsoft to deal with PST/OST problems:
SCANPST: used for the error scanning and fixing of PST and OST on some cases.
SCANOST: used for scanning and fixing of OST while connecting to the Exchange server.
the tools are located in the following path, depanding on your Office version:
Office 2002-2003 

C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MSMAPI\1033 
* the number in the end can vary according to your Office setup localization.

Office 2007
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12

After running the tool, you need to select the data file for scanning. You can use the Browse button for easy navigation. the first scan might take some time to complete. the tool might seem as "not responding". I suggest you leave it running until it finishes without interapting (it's not the most stable tool I've used). after the scan finishes it suggest you to backup the file and then fix the problem. you can skip the backup if you wish, it usually don't make any additional problems.

When the scan finishes you can try running Outlook and see if it opens normally.
On some cases I needed to re-run the scan&fix process a couple of times and every time it found some more problems. 

You can watch a video demo from MS on using the tool: Watch Demo

If you're having any other problem or have any questions, post it on the comments.

May 26, 2009

Download Windows Vista SP2 / Server 2008 SP2

Microsoft finally released the final (RTM) bits of its second Service Pack for Vista/2008.
The client and server operating systems are based on the same kernel, and therefore use the same update package.

The SP2 update will be publicly available through Automatic Updates from 30th of June 2009.
But if you want, you can download and install it yourself:

At the moment, only 5 Languages are available: English, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish

Important Release Notes From Microsoft:


If you have any beta versions of SP2 installed, they must be un-installed prior to installing

  • Use the Control Panel applet “Programs and Features” and select “View installed updates” from the top left of the task pane, under Windows, look for KB94846

You must have a genuine copy of Windows Server 2008 with SP1 or Windows Vista with SP1 installed on the computer prior to installing SP2

  • Windows Server 2008 released with the Service Pack 1 code included
  • SP2 is the first post-release Service Pack for Windows Server 2008


If “vLite” was used to customize your Windows Vista installation, you may have removed required system components which prevent Service Pack 2 from installing. See KB 968279 for additional details before installing Service Pack 2.

Beta versions of Windows Server 2008 SP2/Windows Vista SP2 are time-limited software that will operate until June 1st, 2010. If you installed any beta versions of Windows Server 2008 SP2/Windows Vista SP2 it is highly recommended that you uninstall them before June 1st, 2010

May 21, 2009

Tools: View Passwords, Serials, Product Keys and AutoComplete Data

Here's a list of some useful tools I'm using the backup your private data:

View Hidden or Saved Passwords:
Mail Account Passwords - Mailpv , Outlook Personal Folder Passwords
Dialup & VPN Passwords - Dialupass
Wireless Network Passwords- WirelessKeyView
Browser Passwords - Internet Explorer, Firefox , Chrome , NetScape, IE Content Advisor
Messenger & ICQ- mspass
Network Passwords - netpass
Licenses, Product Keys & Serials: ProduKey, KeyFinder153, KeyFinder2, LicenseCrawler
Asterisks (***) hidden passwords: Asterisk Logger, AsterWin, ShowPwd, UnMask, Revealer, Asterisk Key, Password Unleasher, KernelPasswordUnmask
Browser (IE) hidden passwords: AsterWinIE, IEpassview , IEAstRecover
Windows Mobile Hidden passwords: PocketAsterisk
Application specific passwords: VNC, PCanywhere, Win95-98, Remote Desktop, MS-Access, SQL Enterprise Manager , AspNetUserPass

You can also use my self-assembled script to auto-save your data: SaveMyData2

Many thanks and credit goes to the lovely site NirSoft.Net

Fix: Network, Internet, Winsock, TCP/IP Connectivity issues in Windows XP & Vista

Network connectivity issues can be complex to troubleshoot.
I will try to list my troubleshoot guide for basic connectivity issues:

1. Physical Connectivity:

Although it is obvious, on most times people only check it last...
go through all your networking gear: from the jack on the wall to the Network RJ45 on your PC.
- Release & reconnect all the cables from the all to the network equipment and your computer.
- if connected to ADSL, make sure you have a Phone-Filter on all your phone-jacks using the same line.
- if you use a modem, check it is Sync'ed (ADSL/Cable Link LED is On & Steady)
- try restarting your Router, Hub/Switch. sometimes there's more then one device forming the network. for
   example, a router & a modem on one floor and another switch & Wireless AP on a second floor.
- check to see if you have LED lights on the Network-Card on your PC and on the Network device.
- make sure the network cables are firmly attached and have their safety-latch intact.

2. Resetting your TCP/IP, WinSock & Network Card Settings
Windows uses protocols, drivers & software to operate the network magic. we need to make sure everything  is setup correctly and not broken.
- Reset the TCP/IP Protocol:  
     In Windows XP SP2 and above (Including Vista) we can use this command: netsh int ip reset log.txt
- Reset the WinSock:
     In Windows XP SP2 and above (Including Vista) we can use this command: netsh winsock reset
- Tools: On older versions of Windows we can use some tools to help us to the fix: WinsockFix , NetRepair

- Reset the Network Card:
  a. Make sure your TCP/IP settings are correct
      Control Panel>Network Connection>Local Area Connection>R-click and Properties>Internet
      Protocol TCP/IP Properties > make sure the IP address and DNS settings are set to Automatically or
      Manually according to your network setup. if you're not sure you can always write down the current
      setup, try the opposite and later undo the changes it's not working.

      While you're there, make sure you have all the networking component setup. for most Microsoft-Based
       Networks you should see (at least) 3 components:
       Client for Microsoft Networks, File and Printer Sharing Service, Internet Protocol TCP/IP

  b. Try repairing the connection by: Control Panel>Network Connection>Local Area Connection>r-click
      and choose Repair. the Repair process is equal to Releasing & Renewing the IP and clearing the DNS &
      ARP cache. you can also to it manually from the CMD is your wish to make it manually:
        CMD> ipconfig /release
        CMD> ipconfig /renew
        CMD> ipconfig /flushdns

  c. Try Uninstalling/Reinstalling the network device from Device Manager
       (r-click My Computer>Manage) the plug & play process makes it quick and easy and the result is a
       network card that resets to defaults settings.

If nothing works...
Try having another PC/Laptop connect to the same cable and see if it works
Try temporarily-disabling and Firewall, Antivirus, VPN/Proxy Software running.
Check your connectivity with different software (maybe the IE is broken but Skype works fine...)

Of course there are many more things to check but these are the most important basics you need to know.
I haven't even written about nothing regarding Ping, Tracert, localhost, host file and many other useful information, but these will probably come in a later post :)

May 17, 2009

Fix: "No Audio Device" Although Audio Driver is Installed Correctly in Windows XP

1. Device Manager shows the Audio Device in installed correctly without any errors.
2. Still, in the Audio/Sound Settings in Control Panel you see an error saying "No Audio Device".
3. Even if you try to install an alternate Sound Card, it doesn't help.
4. In the Device Manager, in the Audio Device Properties > Settings > you see an error message saying:
"Status: Driver is enabled but has not been started"

the system is missing one crutial component called: Plug and Play Software Enumerator

Re-Install this component by following this procedure:
1. copy machine.inf from %windir%\inf to a temp dir
2. remove line 20: ExcludeFromSelect=*
3. add new hardware  > have disk (select the temp dir with the modified machine.inf) and
    install the "plug and play software enumerator"
4. swenum.sys is found in system32\drivers
5. streamci.dll is found in system32
    or they can be found on your windows disk
It's been a long trip getting this done, I hope I could help someone out-there with this information.

May 8, 2009

Vista SP2 doesn't have the TCP/IP Half-Open Connection Limit!

After years of struggle with Tcp/Ip patches, Microsoft finally remove the half-open connection limit.
Since Windows XP SP2 Microsoft limited the maximum half-open connections to 10 only. this limitation have caused many file-sharing applications to slow-down their download rate, and Event-id 4226 has flooded the system event log.

In Vista SP2 this limitation is finally gone! you can read more about it in this KB969710 Article
If you still wish to keep the limitation running (for any reason I can't even think of..) then use this registry tweak:

  1. Locate and then double-click the following registry key:
  2. In the Value data box, type 1, and then click OK.
  3. Exit Registry Editor.
  4. Restart the computer.

Those of you who still works on older versions of Windows (Vista/SP1, XP-SP2/SP3) can use this Universal TCP/IP Patcher from Deepxw. Another fine patcher from Half-Open.com

UPDATE: The same as Vista SP2 update, so does Windows 7 not having the limit for the half-open connections.

May 6, 2009

Tool: Two Alternative User Account Manager for XP & Vista Home

Microsoft disabled the "Users And Groups" MMC snap-in in XP Home & Vista Home. The only interface left is the crippled "User Accounts" in Control Panel, that gives you much less functionality.

I offer you two cool alternatives...

1. Hidden User Account Manager UserPasswords2
Use this command in Start>Run: %windir%\system32\control.exe userpasswords2
it will show a hidden User Account Manager that will allow you to do more stuff such as  renaming your  
real user name (not the display-name) and change group membership.
To add this tool permanently to the Control Panel, use this tweak.

2. NT4 User Manager works in XP!

On Windows XP you can still use the old User Manager tool from NT4. Download and use this tool to have a complete control over User Accounts, Groups, Password Resets and more.

How to add Hibernate as a 4th option in XP’s Shut-Down Menu

You might have seen it before on someone else’s laptop, and wondered how you can get down with the hibernation game. Why doesn’t it show up by default on your shutdown screen?? Don’t have hibernation envy!
I’m referring to seeing 4 options to choose from on your Shut Down menu of Windows XP. After this hack the Hibernate option will stay there without the need to press the Shift key any more.
Well- let’s get to it:
The first thing to do is get a hold of Microsoft’s hotfix KB893056. You can use this link to request it immediately.
After we installed the hotfix, we need to make some small registry changes. Get it here
For those of you working in a Workgroup environment and using the friendly “Welcome Screen” you need to run the Reg-file called: “1 AddToShutdown”. If you use the classic logon screen you can also run the 2nd Reg-file to set Hibernate as the default action in the menu.
When you’re finished just restart the machine and check it out!
Needless to says that you must have the Hibernate feature on in your Control Panel’s Power Options. or else nothing would appear obviously.
Enjoy :-)

May 5, 2009

Fix: Error "Buffer Overrun Detected" on WINWORD.EXE in Office 2003

This error is specific to the Hebrew version of Office 2003 SP3 and also affect an Office 2003 SP3 with Hebrew Language-Pack installed. The error says:

Microsoft Visual C ++ Runtime library 
buffer overrun detected! Program: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Winword.exe 
A buffer overrun has been detected which has corrupted the program's internal state. 
the program cannot safely continue execution and must now be terminated.

The error occurs just after you open a document or start typing a message in Outlook. the cause of the problem is a known-bug in the spell-checking mechanism. to solve it you need to install a Hotfix and also delete the custom-dictionary file that was created by Word.
Download the Hotfix from Microsoft or from Here.
In my link I also added to the zip a batch file that helps deleting the custom-dictionary file.

There are 3 files to use:
1. MSSP3HE.msp (For Hebrew Localized Office): run it until the setup finishes successfully.
2. HBRMUI.msp (For Hebrew LangPack): run it- you'll probably get a message saying you don't need it.
3. Fix-Buffer-Overrun.bat = run it to delete the custom.dic file. alternativley, delete the file manually from this location: %userprofile%\application data\microsoft\proof\custom.dic

To test the hotfix you can just start Word and type gibberish until you get the red-line beneath the letters.

See Google's Services Health Status

After suffering some major issues in Gmail and some more popular services. Google created a dashboard like system that shows what's the status of each of their services.

See it here: Google Apps Status Dashboard

* now let's hope the dashboard won't fail :-)

May 4, 2009

Backup Settings & Data before formatting your system (Part 1-MS-Outlook)

In the following series of posts I will share some tips and information on how to backup your settings and user-data before formatting your hard-drive and re-installing Windows.
 Part1: Microsoft Outlook

Account Settings & Passwords:
Use one of the most helpful tools ever: Mailpw from Nirsoft. this tool will show you all the usernames, passwords & servers  that are used by Outlook on each profile available. this info can also be saved to a text file for later. Note that some Anti-Viruses treat this tool as a password-cracker and needs to be disabled temporarily.
** Note that specific advanced server settings are not shown using this tool, and you need to check them manually before your format operation. such settings are: Use SSL, custom server ports, server authentication method, leave mail on server and more..

Outlook Mailbox (Personal Folders *.PST):
in the top menu goto  File > Data File Management > it lists all the PST files used in the profile. you can choose each one and click Settings to see it's location path and file name. copy the files only when Outlook is closed.
The default locations are:
2000/XP: c:\documents and settings\username\local settings\application data\microsoft\outlook
Vista: C:\Users\Yaron\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

AutoComplete Addresses (*.NK2): 
by copying the .NK2 file you can transfer all those autocomplete addresses that are usually not saved in the Contact list. after backing up the file, just drop it back to the same location and rename it to the same Outlook Profile name in your new installation.

The default locations are:
2000/XP: c:\documents and settings\username\application data\microsoft\outlook
Vista: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
You can also use the NK2View tool to backup, restore, view and export all address to a text file.

Outlook Signatures (*.*):

The default locations are:
2000/XP: c:\documents and settings\username\application data\microsoft\Signatures
Vista: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures

Office Templates (*.*):

The default locations are:
2000/XP: c:\documents and settings\username\application data\microsoft\Templates
Vista: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates

Outlook Rules:
from inside outlook goto Tools menu > Rules and Alerts > Options > Export/Import Rules.
on Part2 I'll talk about some other Mail-Clients... stay tuned!

Helping a friend/customer setup a Wireless Router on the Phone

Any ITPro that had to guide a user on how to setup or troubleshoot a PC problem on the phone, knows the frustration of trying to explain the user where to click or understand from his description what he see on the screen.

In such cases I recommend on using the original manufacturer's user guide that is usually downloadable from the web. the user-guide usually contains screenshots of the menus and settings.
Check out: Edimax, Linksys, Belkin, LevelOne
TP-Link even created an online simulator for popular models: TL-WR541GTL-WR542G

Another helpful site is PortForwarding.com which gives instructions and screenshots of various routers on how to open specific ports for an application/service.