Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Mr. Indestructable does Windows 2000

Filed under: Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Personal,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:07 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Yeah, I know Win2k.

And, today, I know it better than I’d like. This weekend I spent 21 hours moving a Windows 2000 file server/domain controller/IIS server/proxy to a new hard drive. At least I’ll get paid by the hour.
Okay, so you regular readers (you know who you are) know that I’m mainly a Netware/Linux guy. So, what am I doing working on Win2K? Well, times are tough, so Uncle Jim has to work at two jobs. The second job is a realtively small company that I consult for on a strictly after-hours, part-time basis. Most of the time, I don’t put in more than five or six hours a month, which makes it a nice supplement to my primary income. And, frankly, I took the job because I needed the extra experience on Windows 2000 Server and consulting. So, for months they’ve had a 16 Gig drive that has been on the edge of full and last month they finally got a new 70+ Gig drive in. Great, right? Not so much. See, I tried to use Ghost to get it moved over, but Ghost kept failing. It took me a month and about 20 hours to finally figure out that the drive was just way, way, way too fragmented for Ghost to deal with. That meant one thing: the old backup-and-restore method. Ugh.
Okay, so I’m figuring it’s going to be a four or five hour thing, right? Nope. The tape drive isn’t working for some reason and it takes me at least four hours to get that worked out. Then another hour or two for a full backup. Then, an hour or more to get Windows 2000 installed on the new drive and the backup software installed. Another hour to get the tape merged and a restore launched. So, then I reboot and ….. Blam! Error!!
Can you say “Security Account Manager initialization failed”? Does that seem like a problem? You bet it is! The error told me to restart in “Directory Services Restore Mode” to try and fix the problem. Sounds good. But, when I restart, it asks me for the Admin password before repairing and proceeds to tell me that I’m putting in the wrong password. Okay, so I start all over again. Guess what? Same problem.
So, since I still have the old hard drive in original condition, I hook it back up and go searching for an answer. I finally find that I have to do a special backup of the System State with a Microsoft tool, not my backup software (which claimed it was doing a System State backup), boot the new drive into “Directory Services Restore Mode” and do an Authoritative Restore to get the old Active Directory information onto the new Domain Controller. About this time it’s 10:00pm or so and I have hours of work to do. But, since I am, of course, Mr. Indestructable, who’s motto is “I only have so many hours on this planet and a lot to do. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead”, I push on. Better, I figure, to push and get it done than have to come back and waste a second day in this office.
Hours, and several redundant restore jobs, later, I get almost everything back up and running. At this point it’s around 3:00AM and I’ve already changed my watch. What else did I have to do while I was waiting for the restore jobs to finish? Now, as you might imagine, I’m a little fuzzy, so it takes me about another two hours to get all the Internet settings right again and confirm that all the required services are started and will restart at reboot. Finally, I decide I can head for home.
The ride home was, er, interesting. I don’t remember large sections of it and it’s about a 30-40 mintue ride with no traffic. There was only one drunk on the road at 6:00AM, but there was fog and mysterious “things” in the corner of my vision. In other words, I’m too old for this stuff. I was freaking seeing things from the fatigue!
Still, when I got home, I tested the remote connectivity and sent an e-mail off to the developer or their custom database application so that he can verify that everything is running okay. Then, it was off to bed for a couple of hours until the Sun just wouldn’t let me sleep anymore. And, I’ll be back to bed soon.

So, what did I learn from all this? First, always backup your Active Directory with the stupid Windows 2000, built-in backup tool and keep a copy around. Shoot, throw it on tape, too, while you’re at it! Second, if you must have a Domain Controller, have two. They like company. Third, do NOT believe the backup software vendors when they tell you that their product will backup the System State or Active Directory! They’re LYING to you!!
Fourth, I am way too old to play Mr. Indestructable anymore. If these people weren’t so dependant on me to keep them going, I never would have done a 21 hour stint at an office. The kicker is, now, I’m getting resistance to my charges! Yeah, isn’t that something? I bust my ass to save their’s and now they’re not real excited about paying me. Damn this is a thankless business. Of course, I have, as they say in the “family”, made my bones on Windows 2000 and Active Directory. Hell, I have a friend who used to be on the a Lead on the Microsoft Corporate Support team that didn’t think I could pull it off! He was shocked that I managed it at all, much less in 21 hours.

So, once again, we the unwilling, lead by the unknowing, have done the impossible, for the ungrateful.
Crap. I’m going to bed.


  1. Glad to know I wasn’t alone this weekend, but that (the unwillingness to pay legitimate, often already pared down bills) was the reason I had to leave the consulting thing. If the customers couldn’t respect my time, the likelihood they were going to respect the instructions to change out the backup tape each day was that much less.

    Comment by Bowulf — 4/5/2004 @ 9:37 am

  2. Yeah, well, that’s my next challenge: Getting them to rotate the backup tape. The backup software’s not recognizing the autochanger, so… Well, I’ll get that worked out. It’ll take some time, but, what the heck. I can do most of that from home via the remote connection.

    Thanks for your support.

    Comment by RyuMaou — 4/5/2004 @ 10:37 am

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