Saturday, December 28, 2013

How to Enable USB ports on Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 and USB device
I had encountered a situation where we need to move some data into a USB external drive from a 2008 Server box but the USB drive was not recognized by the server when plugged into the server port. The USB ports were disabled by default group policy. Here is the steps that you can follow if you such situation and need to make changes to the server machine so you can use an external USB drive to transfer data.

Even if it is a matter of changing or altering Group Policy it is always good to check other aspects like BIOS and Device Driver settings during the troubleshooting process. I have listed the troubleshooting steps for your convenience in order.


  • Check whether or not USB ports are enabled in the BIOS. If not then enable the ports and reboot the machine. Windows will automatically detect and install drivers for your usb device.
  • Check the device is shown in Device Manager and see what is the status of the device. If it is disabled in Device Manager, then enable it.
  • If the first two steps didn't resolve your problem then it is the time to check GPO settings. It should just be a matter of changing a setting from Disable to Enable.  Open your GPO mmc and navigate to the following settings
In GPO: Computer Configuration -----> Administrative Template  ------> System -----> Removable Storage Access 

If that setting is "not configured" or disabled then you have to enable it. 
Another way to play with GPO settings are to use RSOP.msc tool. See what settings are applied on the server machine in terms of GPOs. Execute gpresult /r from a command line to find which policies specifically have been applied via GPO. 

Warning:- If the USB ports have been disabled by your senior administrator or any other team member then there should be a reason behind doing that. It would be better to communicate with your admin groups to understand the reason and to make sure the alteration of the policy wouldn't affect your role badly. 

Another important thing you have to keep in mind while troubleshooting USB issues is the compatibility of the devices. If the drive you are trying to use is USB 3.0 and the server box only have USB1/1.1 ports, it probably will not recognize the device. Sometimes even a USB 2.0 port will also face problems with a USB 3.0 device connectivity, but that is not so common.

IPhone not Receiving Exchange Server Emails from Home Network

Here is problem faced by one of my reader, he is not able to receive his company emails (MS Exchange Server emails) into both his IPhone and IPad when he is out of office. He receives emails only at office but not from his home.
Hi Sinan,

I can receive e-mails into my IPhone and IPad through both WiFi and Ethernet from within the company, but when I go outside of the company premises..lets say, when I am at my home network, not able to download e-mails. However my Gmail accounts are configured correctly and able to receive with no issues. Could you please suggest me a workaround?

Well, there can be existing a few reasons for not downloading his company emails. In order to check this he must have the help from an exchange admin. 

The possible reasons can be following...
  1. iPhone and iPad have been configured with the internal name of the Exchange server (for example, mail.yourcompanyname.local). There should be a server name such as or that you can use to get emails from outside.
  2. Firewall is not allowing access to Exchange from the outside world. If that is the case you wouldn't be able to connect to your corporate Exchange using a web browser (OWA)
  3. Need to make sure that the device is configured to connect to the exchange server not through a POP account or an IMAP, instead configured with ActiveSync.
  4. If the SSL certificate has expired, that could cause the problem
  5. If port 443 is blocked on the firewall, or is not routed to the Exchange server, that too could cause the problem. 
Here, my reader problem is solved when he removed the selection for SSL encryption for the incoming server because the requirement for SSL was not set at his Exchange server.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How to Remove CryptoLocker Virus and Decrypt Personal Data Files

CryptoLocker Virus

Last night I received a phone call from my friend, He was asking help from me to remove that little nasty ransom-ware virus called CryptoLocker from his laptop. I went to his home and spent some hours together to clean his machine. We were able to remove the Trojan successfully, but not able to decrypt the data for at least at this time of writing. My friend really is fortunate enough to have the backup of all his important documents. If that is not your case then my question to you is How much is the data worth to you?  If you don't have a back up the only option at this point is to pay the ransom. Maybe there will be a fix soon but at this time there is no way to decrypt the data.:(

Meanwhile, The FBI is looking into it and is asking victims to file a report with them.

In this post I am trying to show the steps that I had taken to remove the virus and I will update this post once I found the solution to decrypt or recover the affected data.

What is CryptoLocker? How it Makes Money?

CryptoLocker has first seen on the web during the early days of September. It is a ransomware, that make people scare enough to send ransom either by denying access to data on their computer or threatening to shut down access in a number of days. 

As a geek, I have seen many of such ransomware in my life. But unlike others, CryptoLocker really becomes an evil when it encrypts the files. Whereas other ransomware viruses might fool you into send their payment by hiding your data files and if you're a tech savvy then it will be relevantly easy to find / recover them from the dark part of your hard disk. CryptoLocker encryption is really strong enough to almost impossible to break it at this moment. It uses strong third-party certified cryptography algorithm offered by Microsoft's CryptoAPI and it threaten you that they will destroy the decryption private key within 72 hours unless you pay the money they're asking.

How to Clean / Remove CryptoLocker?

Removal is easy enough with the right AV. We have used Kaspersky and I heard Vipre also do the job. Create a Kapersky bootable CD and run a scan from it to remove the active part. But the documents we recovered from backup as we couldn't get any other fix.

Having said that, apparently if you have Shadow copies running then you might be able to get out of the hell with a software called Shadow Explorer. Please be noted that I haven't tried this method and also this Panda software doesn't work without the key so its the comments further down you need to refer to

And no doubt, if you didn't have shadow copies enabled on your machine then this is irrelevant anyways..

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Three Blogging Secrets that Most New Bloggers Don't Know

Blogging Secrets
Blogging is a systematic process and most of the new bloggers don’t get it. They simply buy a domain, get hosting account, put in content with a few makeshift graphics and then expect the money to start pouring in. It doesn’t work that way.  Here are a few blogging tips that I’d like to share with you guys

Secret 1# Give your blog a professional start and do not monetize for the first six months

Do not monetize the blog with things like adsense scripts. If are a tossing a banner or two, it is fine but I won’t advise you to look for money at the initial stages. In fact, it is recommended that you don’t go commercial for at least one year. Or else your readers might think that you are in the business just for making money. Also, affiliate marketing and adsense ads can take the readers away from your blog even before they get to know your blog fully. You’d want your readers to be loyal and stay with your through thick and thin right?

Secret 2# Auto schedule the posts

Most bloggers write on the blog on the day that they want them to be published. If you write like this, then you will be under pressure to meet the blog schedule or else the blog might not get updated. I would recommend you to create some buffer by writing 2-3 months in advance and then scheduling the articles to come up on the designated date. This will give you ample time to think about the new posts that you want to write.

Secret 3# Targeted traffic means a lot

They say that the key to online success is traffic. But just any kind of traffic doesn’t work. For instance, for, I target both new and veteran bloggers who want to learn blogging basics, and folks who want to learn productivity tools that I use in my work life, those who are already geeks and just want to sharpen their skills. People who are looking for tips on buying clothes won’t be my targeted audience. I would advise you to focus on generating the targeted traffic. Spending your effort and time on it makes more sense.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to Close Apps in Windows 8

One question I'm frequently receiving from my friends who are new to Windows 8 is...Hey sinan, How do I close apps in windows 8? I can't find a close button..I don't want to have too many of them running in the background..could you please figure it out for me?

Well, I see people are getting frustrated trying to do the simplest of tasks. One of them being closing up any apps that might be running. You won't find a close button in the Windows 8 environment. So are there ways to close up the apps?

Running many applications in background not only make you tedious when trying to switch between apps, but also use up some of your system resources and thus to bring PC performance down.

In this Windows 8 tutorial, I am going to show you three different ways to close up your apps.

Currently In my computer I am running 3 apps in background, Desktop, Maps and Calculator. I opened these by clicking on the desktop tile from the start screen and hit Windows key to get back to the start screen then launched maps and then hit the Windows key again to open calculator. This is  the way how people would typically switch to another app in windows 8.

How to see currently Running apps in Windows 8?

To find out which applications are currently opened, move your mouse to the top left hand corner of the screen and you'll see a little pop up. As you move down the left hand side, you'll see thumbnails for each of the apps that are running. Now, If you don't need an application anymore running, right-click on the thumbnail of that software and choose close.

Now there is an easier way to close up apps if you happen to be working in them. If I am working on the calendar and I want to close it, all I have to do is press Alt+F4 on the keyboard.

Alt+F4 will close the current active window, that means the app that is currently opened in front of you.

Another way to close up an app is by using mouse, just move it towards the top of the screen. When you see the hand appear, click and drag downwards. Now you notice the application window shrinks down, and when you get down to the bottom of the screen and release, you've closed it up.

Everything I had running is now closed up. That's how you close apps in Windows 8.