Tricks & Traps: Ask Dr. Bob Your Windows NT Questions

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Bob Chronister

Windows NT Magazine, November 1999


On This Page

Norton Speed Disk for Windows NT
SCSI CD-ROM device availability
Networking on Windows NT 4.0 SP4
Automatic Windows NT backup
Renaming a PDC to an existing domain name
Removing the arrow from shortcut icons

Norton Speed Disk for Windows NT

Norton Speed Disk for Windows NT

Many users seem to think that NTFS doesn't fragment. In truth, NTFS fragments worse than FAT does, especially when disk occupancy approaches about 70 percent. Executive Software and the Norton group at Symantec have documented such fragmentation.

Several years ago, I visited the Symantec group to discuss NTFS and pagefile defragmentation. The engineers were debating the possibility of accomplishing all this defragmentation in a single pass. Norton Speed Disk for Windows NT is the result of this debate.

Speed Disk is a powerful disk defragmenter and optimizer. You can move specific files to the beginning of a disk to improve file-access speed. Also, you can control CPU utilization.


Screen 1 shows the file structure of a fragmented disk that Speed Disk hasn't optimized.


Screen 2 shows the file structure of a defragmented and optimized disk.

As you might expect, Speed Disk takes a long time to finish its first run. However, after this initial run, the software's run times are reasonable. Check out Speed Disk at

SCSI CD-ROM device availability

Q:I installed an Adaptec SlimSCSI APA-1460 card on my notebook. Are SCSI CD-ROM drives still available?

A: Considering the availability of SCSI PC Cards and CardBus cards, I would assume that SCSI CD-ROM drives should also be widely available. However, if you carefully search the Internet, you'll find only a few SCSI CD-ROM drives available. I'm willing to bet that CD-ROM drives will soon use Universal Serial Bus (USB). Keep your card, though. Who knows what might develop?

Networking on Windows NT 4.0 SP4

Q: I just added networking to a Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4 (SP4) workstation. When I rebooted, a message stated that the Server service couldn't run because of a lack of sufficient storage space. What went wrong?

A: To replicate your scenario, I installed networking on my Hitachi Traveler 600 notebook. I've concluded that you have incompatible files. For example, my Adaptec SlimSCSI card installation didn't run smoothly. When I put the Hitachi into Suspend mode, I found that the SlimSCSI driver didn't measure up to Advanced Power Management (APM) 2.0 specifications and could cause file corruption. You can easily solve your problem by reinstalling SP4.


Q: I'm hearing a lot about Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL). Why is fibre spelled as it is, and what are the concepts behind FC-AL?

A: ANSI originally designed the fibre-channel architecture to run on fiber-optic cable. When ANSI changed the standard to support copper cabling, an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) task force renamed the technology fibre channel to reduce the technology's association with fiber-optic cable. The reasoning is weak, but the terminology stuck.

Fibre channel offers a SCSI-based command set configured with a Gbps data-transfer interface that is also related to the IP transport protocol. This configuration lets you combine fast I/O with network functionality. Unlike conventional network protocols, fibre channel works in loops that can interconnect at distances as great as 10km. This increase in distance revolutionizes the LAN concept.

ANSI gave fibre channel an ISO Level 1 media access control (MAC) layer protocol over which any ISO Level 2 layer protocol can run. For most networking stacks, a datagram or data packet simply maps directly onto the fibre-channel sequence. Asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), IP, and SCSI all map onto the fibre-channel layer protocol.

Early in fibre channel's development, ANSI established several topologies, including Fabric, Point to Point, and Arbitrated Loop. The cheapest topology to implement was the Arbitrated Loop. This loop connects to the computer's backplane in two places, letting data transfer quickly from device to device. Communication relies solely on devices in between. Obviously, such a design has a serious limitation: If one node fails, the entire FC-AL can go down. To avoid this event, you can use Port Bypass Circuits (PBCs) to bypass the node or electronically remove the node from the loop.

One advantage of FC-AL is that it can support as many as 126 nodes (e.g., hard disks, other computers) on a loop. You can build redundancy into an arbitrated loop, and you can connect independent loops. Another advantage is speed. A single arbitrated loop can transfer data at 100MBps, and a dual arbitrated loop can transfer data at 200MBps. However, a real-world environment seldom achieves speeds such as these peak burst rates.

FC-AL is an up-and-coming protocol in the Storage Area Network (SAN) environment. The architecture will probably soon make its way into video streaming and comparable environments. FC-AL has much potential, so don't throw away your SCSI yet.

For more information about FC-AL, see Dean Porter, "Fibre Channel, SCSI, and You," September 1997.

Automatic Windows NT backup

Q: Can you provide a detailed script that automatically runs a system backup?

A: I assume you're using Windows NT Backup. The basic procedures behind backing up locally and backing up across the network can be somewhat confusing.

The following line backs up the C drive.

NTBackup Backup C: /D "backup description or comment" /B /HC:ON /T normal /L

"%windir%\logfiles\backup.log" /tape0

The first portion of this line calls NT Backup and tells it to back up drive C. Next, you can write a comment about the backup. The /B switch schedules a Registry backup, the /HC:ON switch enables hardware compression, the /T switch dictates a normal backup type (i.e., the system backs up all files), and the path that follows shows that the backup log will write to the logfiles subdirectory of the Windows NT directory. The /tape0 switch is present because the system has more than one tape device, and tape0 (as seen in the Registry) is chosen for the backup.

The following line schedules a backup of a shared drive on a remote Windos NT system. (Remember, you can't use NT Backup to back up a remote system's Registry.)

net use Z: \\<workstation name>\<sharename><password> /user:<domain name>\backupuser

Because of security permissions, we're using a user named backupuser. Notice that you need password in this line.

NTbackup Backup Z: /A /D <comments> /HC:ON /T normal /L <%windir%\logfiles\backup.log> /tape0

The /A switch tells the system to append data to an existing backup volume, if present. The following line unmounts the shared Z drive.

net use Z: /delete

Combine the lines you need from the previous examples into a batch file named, for instance, backup.bat. You can then use the At command to schedule your backup.

at \\<machine name> 2:00 /Every:Friday <backup.bat>

Renaming a PDC to an existing domain name

Q: If I rename a PDC to an existing domain name, will the renamed PDC join the existing domain? Will this scenario work with a BDC?

A: Unfortunately, the scenario you propose won't work in Windows NT 4.0, even with a BDC. The BDC has the same SID as the PDC, so the process would fail for the same reason that it would fail on the PDC: The PDC or BDC's SID is different from the SID of the domain you're attempting to join, even though the domain name is the same. Therefore, you can join an existing domain controller to a different domain only by reinstalling NT on that server.

A utility that might help you is FastLane Technologies' DC Mover, which is part of DM/Manager. Although the utility can't bypass the requirement of reinstalling a domain controller, it eases the reinstallation process. DC Mover lets you save crucial information about the original domain controller and later remigrate that information to the same machine after you've reinstalled Windows NT and joined the new domain. For more information, see Sean Daily, "How to Rename Your NT Domain," February 1999.

Removing the arrow from shortcut icons

Q: Can I remove the arrows from shortcut icons? Also, can I remove the Documents and Favorites submenus from the Start menu?

A: You can modify the appearance of shortcut icons with the TweakUI utility, which is part of Microsoft PowerToys (available for free download from Microsoft's Web site). To modify the appearance, configure the shortcut overlay setting on TweakUI's Explorer tab. You can choose from an arrow (default), a light arrow, no arrow, or a custom shortcut overlay. For more information about the TweakUI utility, see Mark Minasi, This Old Resource Kit, "TWEAKUI," October 1998.

You can't remove the Documents submenu from the Start menu, but you can alter it so that the submenu isn't displayed. The Documents submenu is a reflection of the logged-on user's Recent folder (contained in the User Profile folder). To restrict the user from viewing the Recent folder's contents, you can delete the contents, then set the ACLs on the Recent folder to something like System - Full Control or Creator Owner - Full Control. This fix effectively hides the Documents submenu.

You can directly control the appearance of the Favorites submenu (which exists if you've installed Microsoft Internet Explorer—IE—4.0 or later and Active Desktop) via a Registry entry. Go to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Policies \Explorer Registry key and edit (or add, if it doesn't already exist) the subkey NoFavoritesMenu. Set the data type to REG_DWORD, and change the subkey's value from the default 0 (disabled) to 1 (enabled).

Editor's Note: Sean Daily contributed answers to this Tricks & Traps.


Bob Chronister is a contributing editor for Windows NT Magazine and president of Chronister Consultants in Mobile, Alabama. He is coauthor of Windows NT Backup and Recovery(Osborne/McGraw-Hill). You can reach him at

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