Managed vs. Direct Windows Updates

by Anton 27. July 2012 18:30

We are using root servers provided by webtropia. They seem to have problems with their WSUS-Server, since we get the following error, when we try to check for updates “Managed by your system administrator”:

update-error

The solution to this error code is – according to the internet – that the WSUS-Server needs an update. Until webtropia fixes it, we just switch to the alternative way of receiving updates “Check online for updates from Microsoft Update”.

Greetings, Anton.

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Lost your performance counters?

by Anton 5. July 2012 11:25

The setup

We use the build in Performance Monitor on our Windows Servers to chart the data. That way we can see in how much load running the web application Camping.Info results. We usually monitor “% Processor Time”, “Commited Bytes”, “Requests/Sec”, “Requests Current” and “Request Execution Time”.

The loss

The latter three did not show up after I repaired the mirror on the server. I could not add them back via Properties –> Data –> Add. The whole category ASP.NET v4.0.30319 was missing.

The solution

After trying a few things and googling, I finally found the answer on serverfault: http://serverfault.com/questions/25842/performance-monitor-cant-add-counters-from-net-data-providers (second answer).

All I had to do was to delete  the entry “Disable Performance Counters" in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\ASP.NET_4.0.30319\Performance. Then I restarted the Performance Monitor and everything was fine. A was able to see the missing category again.

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Keeping your server disks and volumes healthy

by Anton 3. July 2012 20:00

We had problems with one of our servers. The mirror was broken. I am talking about the Windows Server Software-RAID (it is a RAID 1, by the way). We had problems restarting the server – it just did not come up again. We had to boot from a “secondary plex”, which usually involved setting up a Lara Console for that server. (Yes, you can adjust in the msconfig which mirror the booting should use.)

I was afraid to do anything with the disks and volume, because I have never done something like that, and I thought I might do something which would crash the server, and leave the hard disks inaccessible. Finally I tackled the problem, and it was quite easy. First off, of course I backed up all the vital data to another server.

At Microsoft TechNet I found a good page describing what I had to do. We had the problem of “Failed Redundancy”. All I had to do was: In the properties-dialog of the volume click “Reactivate Volume”. It then took some time until the disks were synced, but eventually everything was in order again.

The first restart of the server did not work out properly. I do not know why. From the second on, everything was fine.

Hoping that your Disk Management always looks like this:

2012-07-03_19h39_08

Cheers, Anton.

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How we found a new server provider

by Anton 1. July 2012 17:32

Reasons for a new provider

The web application we are working on – Camping.Info – needed new server power. The site visits grow by about 70% each year, and there is much traffic especially in the summer months.

Our three “old” servers are at Hetzner. So, the easiest thing would be to rent another one there. But we had some not so good experiences with Hetzner. Yes, they are cheap and their service is ok. But we wanted better reliabality. One of our servers at Hetzner is restarting without any apparent reason (about twice a week).

Finding the right provider

So I took on the task of finding a new server hoster. Not quite easy, since the market is filled with many providers. We defined some requirements:

  • data center must be in Germany, since our main traffic comes from Germany
  • should have Intel processors, because they usually perform better
  • should have at least 8 processors
  • should not have setup costs, because we may not need the server after the summer
  • should come with Windows Web Server 2008 R2
  • should have sufficient bandwidth and high enough traffic limit

First I made a list of potential hosters: I looked in the iX magazine, and searched online. I also looked for websites which compare providers, but they were sparse, had limited information and few search options. After that I just brute force went to all the websites of (nearly) all the hosters and aggregated the information in this Google Spreadsheet.

Our choice

We then ended up renting a server at webtropia. I know, a slightly strange name for a serious business. All in all we are satisfied with our choice. The price is low, the server was shortly available, and we always have a separate connection to our servers (without RDP). A few drawbacks are worth to mention, though: The image of the Windows Web Server 2008 R2 had not the SP1 upfront, so we had to go through a lengthy update process. When we wanted to rent a second server, their purchase process failed to recognize us as a existing customer, so they had to put our servers together afterwards.

I think, after the summer we will probably rather discontinue one or two of the Hetzner servers, since they are older, have worse performance, and are not as reliable as the new ones from webtropia.

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