Alternative to windirstat?

We’ve used windirstat for a long time when investigating why server or desktop hard drives suddenly fill up. It’s a very quick way of finding out who has just synched their ipod to the server network share.  Earlier this week though we found that it was reporting a drive had 40gb used out of 115gb yet the OS was showing 2gb free. Obviously this is a rather large discrepency and was the second time we’d had windirstat not match the information that Windows was reporting.  After a bit of digging around, I checked the volume shadow copy settings, set it back to a more reasonable 10gb instead of 99.2% of the disk and our free space went back to about 70gb in windows – now matching what windirstat was reporting.

So it looks like windirstat does not take into account files such as the VSS cache location.

So we’re looking around for an alternative – I’d really like it to be a standalone application – if you know of anything then please add something in the comments and I’ll add a new post with my preferred solution.

TechEd online training

There are some really good (technical) webcasts from TechEd Europe online and I’ve just watched The case of the Unexplained – a very interestng and useful presentation by Mark Russinovich of Microsoft/Sysinternals on analyzing dump files, processes and hanging systems. I’m sure this will come in very handy. One of the tips I learnt was that you can actually use process explorer as a taskmgr replacement by going to options/replace task manager (or restore if you want to put it back again)
A highly recommended presentation if you do any troubleshooting of user desktops (or servers). Note it is pretty long – 74 minutes, and as it is in silverlight I don’t think it’s possible to download for offline viewing and the navigation to skip to a certain part of the clip sucks big time. There is no slider so you have to click randomly in a grey bar (that obscures part of the screen) to guess where you will end up.

Live Mesh Update

I have been using Live Mesh on the home computer and work computer for a couple of weeks and the synching of data between the two computers has been very useful.  The synch process works the same that foldershare does and copies files between the machines (and the web site) well. The only issue I have had so far is if I move the location of the data files by hand. The default location for a new Live Mesh folder is on the Desktop. As I don’t want this location I used explorer to cut and paste the folder from the desktop and put it in a different location such as c:\andy\livemesh.  However, going to My Computer/Live Mesh folders then shows the folder as not synched on this computer and in the original location.  By double clicking on the folder a browse dialog box appears and the new folder location can be selected. If the new folder is the new location a merge data prompt will be given.  Selecting yes will then set the folder up to be synchronised again.

Quickly enable or disable external monitor on laptop

I often have to quickly move my laptop from the office and go to a meeting or client site where I do not have the luxury of plugging in an external monitor. Unfortunately the laptop doesn’t know this and will continue to send applications to the previous screen it was in. As I typically have Lotus Notes running on the external monitor (as it has a higher resolution) this means I have to manually go in and disable the external display. This is annoying and a little time consuming so I went hunting for an application that would automatically do this.  I had thought of using sendkeys to do it myself but I didn’t really want the dialog boxes to appear on the screen.

Over at donation coder, a post in the forums came up with tv_out by nod5  Download this application, extract to a directory and then double click tv_out. This will then create a shortcut on your desk that you can use to toggle the external display on and off. By editing the ini file you can change the location for the shortcut. As I don’t really want to display the desktop and then toggle the display I have actually changed my location to be in the quick links toolbar that is always displayed.

Another application I have downloaded from donation coder is the excellent screenshot captor. This does really nice screenshots and has some nice tools for creating borders, highlights and annotating the captured image. The only drawback is that I often find it crashes the first time I use it, but after I reopen it, it seems stable.  (Note that I was running an old version (now corrected) so this may be fixed in the new version)

Update I forgot to mention that this application is directly compatible with Live Mesh as LM creates a virtual screen so my extended desktop becomes display 3 but tv_out only toggles display 2.  There are some instructions to change this – that is a future project for me….

Sysinternals made easy.

You can now access sysinternals tools direct from the command line (great for scripts) by accessing \\live.sysinternals.com\tools\toolname.exe for example \\live.sysinternals.com\tools\autoruns.exe This is great for running the command directly from a dos prompt or in a script or even just copying the file(s) directly to a server automatically without having to download each file from a web browser. Thanks to Ed Bott for the tip off and extra thanks to sysinternals for doing this
You can also download most of the tools in one go with tips on creating start menu icons for all the files in the zip file
Alternatively you can just “copy \\live.sysinternals.com\tools\*.exe .” to copy them to your drive.

My thoughts and experiences with Live Installer

I downloaded the new Windows Live Installer program yesterday which provides the ability to install Messenger, writer, mail and photo gallery from one “easy to use integrated installer”. There are two downsides to this – one is that the installer is really a stub that doesn’t contain the full product – this is normally fairly annoying as it means that you can’t download the full install copy for offline (or multiple) installs – instead you have to be connected to the network each time the software is installed.

The other downside is that in my case, the installation of Photo Gallery (the only piece of software that I actually wanted from this bundle as I already have the rest) doesn’t work. Instead I get the error message “Install failed with error code 0x80240022” – a google search yesterday only came up with details for Windows Defender which didn’t help me much.  Also, for those of you who are not aware, you need to hover the mouse over the error message in order for the full message to be displayed on screen in a tool tip. This means that there is no copy/paste functionality of the error message into google – instead you have to type it in manually. The link to “More about this error” only goes to a generic web page which tells you about the mouse tip.


The software also keeps checking the toolbar each time it is run – even though I don’t want it to be installed but oddly enough doesn’t check the Family Safety checkbox. It should be consistent to check both or leave both unchecked.

Universal Extractor.

I could have done with this on Friday when trying to extract an inf file from an exe file for a printer driver – Universal Extractor extracts files from any archive – a great tool to have in the toolkit. This site also has links to peid, a utility which detects packers, cryptors and compilers (600 of them!) and ussf.exe which determines which switches can be used with a setup file. I really need to start keeping an eye on msfn more.

Albert’s scripting telnet tool

Ages ago, back in Sept 2003 I was looking for a scripting telnet program, something along the lines of expect. I was able to find some software from WorldsEnd, but at the time the one that kept coming up in google was by Albert Yale but his software wasn’t actually available anywhere. However, yesterday I got a tipoff that you can download Albert’s software from Gerald Bonne and this software was also mentioned in the latest In The Trenches – whilst listening I thought to myself – I’ve covered that before. I didn’t realise how long ago it was.
On another ITT know – Microsoft have purchased Wininternals – the company that produces the excellent sysinternals “free” software and the no-so-free administrators pak.