Fixed – “an error has occurred while sending this report” when sending reports in SBS2011

One of the things we now do as part of an SBS2011 or SBS2008 migration is to add a report in the console purely for backup purposes. This gives us the ability to check the backups are running every day and can also be sent to the clients IT technical contact for reassurance. If you log on as the administrator and try to run a report to email, the server fails with “An error has occurred while sending this report. As a result, some of the recipients will not receive this report in email.”

The solution is simple. Log off from the administrator account and use the one that was setup for the migration – this seems to do the trick. The only thing left (for me) is to work out how to modify the report to send me the last 24 hours of backups – not just the last and the next backup job.  We backup 3 times a day but only find out the status of the last job with the existing reports.

Fixed – “The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect" when you add a hard drive to Windows 2008 R2 backup

Apparently, according to Microsoft KB Article 2009365 this issue occurs when a previously hard drive (or the only previously defined) hard drive has been removed from the server and a new drive is being attached. This is typically the case when setting up a new server and preconfiguring the backups to go to the second identical usb drive. Most people are just going to unplug the drive leaving the old power supply and usb cable attached to the server and power and plug in the new drive and then attempt to add it to the backup schedule. At this point the backup program will give the error “The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect” as the old drive is no longer attached. Microsoft have a couple of solutions, including adding the first drive back to the server, or removing the first drive. Neither of which are very helpful if you are just swapping the external drive itself. The final solution is to add the drives from an elevated command line using the following.

  1. Run the following command from an elevated command prompt to determine the Disk Identifier of the new disk:
    wbadmin get disks
  2. Based on the output, locate the disk that will be added to the scheduled backup. Make a note of the Disk Identifier. The output will resemble the following:
    Disk name: xxxxxxxxxxx
    Disk number: x
    Disk identifier: {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}
    Total space: xxx.xx GB
    Used space : xxx.xx GB
  3. Run the following command to add the new disk to the Scheduled backup. Use the Disk Identifier from the previous step as the "AddTarget" parameter.
    WBADMIN ENABLE BACKUP -addtarget:{xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}
  4. When you receive the following prompt, type Y for Yes.

"Do you want to enable scheduled backups with the above settings?"

5. You may be prompted to format the drive if it was previously used in another server or for another purpose.

The screenshot below shows the addition of a USB drive to my virtualised SBS server.


SBS server migration has to be run within 21 days from the day you initially run the wizard

I always knew you had 21 days to finish a migration for an SBS installation, but I always thought the countdown was triggered when you ran dcpromo on the second server, breaking the original license agreement by having two SBS servers on the network that both want to have all the roles. (On a side note it is interesting that Microsoft provide a tool to get around Windows licensing but if you attempt to run other third party applications to do the same thing it gets flagged as a virus or you fall foul of Windows Genuine Advantage)…

Apparently, running the initial SBS pre migration assistant starts the 21 day timer even if you don’t continue with the rest of the installation. Attempting to install SBS after 21 days will provide an error message stating “Source Server does not meet minimum requirements for migration” as per the screenshot below.


If this screen appears, pressing Shift F10 will open a command prompt, at which point the sbssetup log file can be read with

notepad "C:\Program Files\Windows Small Business Server\Logs\SBSSetup.log"

Towards the end of the log file will be the reason the migration stopped. In this case it was to do with the HKLM\ Software\ Microsoft\ SmallBusinessServer\ Migration\ MigrationReady containing an old date and LastCheckTime (value of 1) being set to a long time ago.

I’m not sure whether hacking these values out would allow you to continue on with the install but I’m going to rerun the migration wizard again. Unfortunately this requires another (pointless) reboot of the source server – something I am trying to avoid when setting this up in a parallel installation.

Exchange 2007 services fail to start on DC (SBS server)

I’ve had an issue with a new SBS2008 server, running Exchange service pack3 rollup 2 where the information store service does not start after a reboot, especially annoying after the server is rebooting with a scheduled maintenance task. Apparently this issue was fixed in service pack 1, roll up 5 but I’m still getting it 2 service packs and 2 rollups later.

Microsoft have a “fast publish” knowledge base article 940845  and the first solution is to start the services manually – really helpful!  Thankfully there are other solutions that involve changing the dependencies of the services to ensure Exchange does not try to start before AD has finished.

One word of warning – using the Microsoft KB to determine the latest service pack or rollup for Exchange 2007 returns Service Pack 3, rollup 1 from However Rollup 2 has been available since Dec 14th 2010. I’ve put a note on the original kb article but the better way to determine the latest rollup is probably to search for Exchange 2007 service pack 3 rollup

Update Knowledge base 940845 now has a fixit file you can download that will change the dependencies for you along with instructions on how to fix it manually. The article no longer has references to this issue being fixed in previous rollups – probably because this was obviously not the case.

Quickly download the SBS 2011 training from Microsoft.

There are several short videos available from Microsoft that cover the new features in SBS2011, but unfortunately Microsoft decided to make you download each one individually. However if you right click and download this
List of SBS 2011 Training videos file, you can use wget to download all of the files in a batch file.
Assuming you have wget installed on your machine and it is in the path (if not then why not? It is incredibly useful for downloading files from a command line – Get it from Sourceforge’s wget page), just run with the following in a command prompt window.

for /F %i in (sbstraining.txt) do wget %i

You should end up with 38 files totalling 241MB.
Update: See comments for assistance in downloading a copy of wget without needing all the extra gnu stuff

Small Business Specialist certification upgraded to 2008

I finally got around to taking 70-653 on Friday and passing it. It was an interesting experience as I had to take a survey before the exam that asked questions about my experience with the product and what I thought were my strengths and weaknesses. If I didn’t know the exams were downloaded overnight, it would make me very suspicious – if I answered that I didn’t know remote access very well, would I get lots of questions on vpn configuration or would Microsoft be kind and avoid that area? Although I passed it would have been nice to also get a comparison with my answers from the survey and my final test results. Funnily enough my weakest area was user management – I’m pretty sure that is because I’m so used to doing things in AD and I know to do things with the wizard but I don’t pay attention to EXACTLY what the wizard is called.
Now that I’ve passed I’ve got another Technical Specialist under my belt and this should also upgrade my SBSC to 2008 status (although the SBSC doesn’t appear on Microsoft transcripts as this certification is “awarded to companies rather than individuals” (which I think is a big mistake on Microsoft’s part))

Preparing Network Connections message at startup of SBS – solved.

Today of all days we’ve had two clients that have had their server reboot for a couple of valid reasons but after reboot the server just sat at “preparing network connections” screen and would not continue. We’re not sure right now what caused this issue but the solution was to reboot the server, press F8 and choose the Last Known Good to be able to get into the server.

Today has not been a good day for this to happen as some clients have been closed so they’ve not been around to let us in to look at the server on site but at the same time we don’t really want to wait until Monday to get access to the server, yet this is a holiday weekend.

For me, it’s been a long week . I’ve started work at 4am twice this week and was working at 1am until 2.30am last night so I doubt I’ll be staying up for NewYear – but I think I can make it until 7pm when I’ll be able to watch BigBen strike midnight.

Happy New Year everyone and I hope 2010 starts off better than 2009 finished!

SBS2008 loadfest in Springfield 2008.

I’ve never been to Springfield (any of them) before and tomorrow is the SBS2008 loadfest in Springfield, Ohio where people bring their machines to load SBS2008 on them and find out ways to automate the installation and demos and discussions about the new features in SBS2008.  I’m really looking forward to this as it will be some great training and also a chance to network with some peers. I’m curious to see how it all works as SBS insists it is the only DHCP server on the network when the connect to internet wizard is run so I’m not sure how it will like all the SBS machines being plugged into the Lan.

I must admit I cheated/was too impatient/needed to test the installation of SBS2008 on my hardware so I kicked off an install before work this morning ,answered the remaining questions at lunch time today and now have an installation on the hardware. I wanted to make sure that the installation would work with my hardware and my disk layout. Now that I know it works I will either reinstall over the top tomorrow or install it into a virtual environment under hyper-v. The latter will enable me to snapshot the machine when playing with various what-if configurations.

This is all really good timing as yesterday I received my “fee” exam voucher from Microsoft for SBS2008 – there was a typo in the subject of the email that gave me the free voucher code for the exam.  The only downside is that this will have to wait until I’ve passed at least one of my Windows2008 exams.

I had the beta of 2008 on my home training machine but it ran really slow as it was a virtual machine and the server didn’t have enough memory. Yesterday I purchased 4GB of ram for $70 (plus tax) and added that to the pc. I had an added bonus in that 1gb of ram had to be removed to make way for the 2gb sticks so I put these two sticks into my normal home pc.

I’m not sure if there are still spaces available – the click to register page still seems to work.

I won a prize in the SMB Nation survey!

A while ago I filled out a survey as a Certified Small Business Specialist and my thoughts on Vista. There were 75 prizes up for grabs so the odds were pretty good for winning. I had completely forgotten about it until a package arrived in the post this morning. I won a rechargable torch (flashlight for the US readers). Alas I didn’t win a Microsoft jacket but a torch is always handy – I have a small keychain LED light that I use way more than I thought, so this one will also be helpful to have in the office toolkit – beats having to work in the dark when the normal torch has run out of batteries. It’s pretty powerful and I now have green spots in front of my eyes as I looked at the LED’s to see how many were on.

How to determine if Transition pack is installed on SBS

As part of an assessment recently I needed to know if a client had the Transition Pack installed on their Small Business Server – this allows the client to have more than 75 users/devices connected to the server. They were not aware that they had purchased the transition pack (and as it’s expensive I would imagine they would know they have purchased it) yet it looked like they had more than 75 user/devices.
Looking online there didn’t seem to be any information on how to tell if the pack had been purchased and as it is not something you can download and try, it wasn’t possible to just see what happens if it was installed. I also didn’t want to suggest that they purchase the software if they already had and it was already installed.
I put a call into Microsoft to find out how to tell if the Transition Pack is installed and the answer is obvious if you think about it, but it doesn’t scream out “Transaction Pack”.
It would have been nice if it appeared in the Add/Remove Programs but it doesn’t. It can appear as a product id but the absence of the id doesn’t always imply that it hasn’t been installed.
Instead the way to tell is to go into Add/Remove Programs, Windows Components and then see if it is possible to change Terminal Services to application mode. SBS does not support this mode but Windows 2003 does. Obvious now you know the answer, but not an obvious solution if you didn’t know the answer.