Azure Active Directory – PC rename issue

I’ve been playing with Azure AD recently, and for the most part I’m pretty impressed.  It has it’s perks in many ways, and I’ve found it to be useful for many smaller organizations that want to move away from or even compliment their on-premise Active Directory.

Although I found a very strange issue today.  I found that I forgot to rename a PC from the standard Windows naming convention, so I decided to rename the PC, while it was already joined to Azure AD.  My intention was to disjoin this PC from Azure, because I wanted to add it to the on-premise AD.  I found that you do NOT rename a PC that is Azure AD joined, and then want to remove it in the future.  You can’t!  When disconnecting from Azure AD, it requires you to have a local admin account.  Even after adding multiple local admin accounts, it will continue to tell you that it doesn’t work.  I found I had to rename the PC back to the original name of when it was joined, then I was able to disconnect.  Weird, wild stuff!

Interesting IPV6 finding

I decided to swap my home internet from Spectrum to WOWWAY, two local cable providers in my area.  I own my modem, so I wanted to keep it with the new service.  When the tech swapped the service, the modem would not connect.  Turns out that Spectrum uses IPv6 on the WAN side, one of the few providers I have heard of that actually does.  WOW still uses IPv4 for their connection, which brings me to my point.  (If you have gotten this far, and think “what the heck is IPv6 or IPv4”, you are probably in the majority.  You might as well read the rest & just enjoy it.)

My understanding is that WOW has been telling customers that their modem will not work after being on Spectrum’s network.  As this may be true for some models, I found that I was able to factory reset my modem, and then it would work with WOW’s network.  My modem did not have a reset button on the outside of the unit as most network devices do, so I had to unplug all cables from the back of the modem, then plug a network cable into my laptop and power on the modem.  The modem assigned me an IP address, which then allowed me to connect to the Web GUI of the modem via its IP address.  From within the GUI, I reset the device to factory defaults.

Note:  Power-cycling the modem is not enough to make it work.  From what I read, the IPv6 is a firmware update that Spectrum pushes out.

Ever have issues because of a pending reboot?

I’ve ran into this problem myself many times in the past, and usually rebooting the Windows device will correct the problem.  But turns out I recently ran into this where, after multiple reboots, I kept getting a message about a pending restart was needed.  So upon further investigation, I found a very useful tip that will help you out in any of these situations, without rebooting.

NOTE:  There are other reasons as well that your device may need restarted before installing a program or whatever.  This post is referring specifically to Pending File Renames.

First, you want to confirm that your particular issue has to do with Pending File Renames.  You can do this in 2 ways:

  • Run the following from a command line: reg query “\\machinename\hklm\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager” /v PendingFileRenameOperations.  You will receive either an ERROR message, which means you do not have any pending file renames, or you will receive a list of the pending renames.
  • Open regedit, and navigate to HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager, and look for the key PendingFileRenameOperations.  If it does not exist, then you have no pending operations.  Otherwise, note the items listed.

DISCLAIMER:  Never make any changes to the registry without backing up.  If you don’t know how to backup the registry, you need to stop reading and move along (these aren’t the droids you are looking for).

Once you have your list of items, you need to review these and determine what program they are in reference too.  You will need to make a judgment call, based on the program affected, if you need to proceed or not.  Bear in mind, that what you do following this could cause severe problems with your machine and/or the program affected.  These operations could be actual file renames, or they could be deletions due to an uninstall.

Now that you have made your decision, you can perform the operations yourself if you feel comfortable doing so, then remove the entire PendingFileRenameOperations key.  Again, make sure you have a backup of the entire Session Manager branch that you can restore if need be.  Once you remove the PendingFileRenameOperations key, you should be able to perform your original task without getting a message.

Another alternative is to backup the PendingFileRenameOperations key, perform your task, then restore the key.  If you try this, you will want to make sure that the pending operations do not have anything to do with your original task.  Also, the task that you are performing could write additional data to the PendingFileRenameOperations, which you would need to merge with the items you backed up.

Don’t leave out the “g” in

One of the popular malware items now is the call support popup to scare you into thinking you’ve been infected, and you need to call a toll-free number to get support. If you type too fast with, and only get, then you will see this first hand.


To get rid of this dialog, you have to kill your browser process (CTRL-ALT-DEL, Task Manager, end task on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox).  If that sounds too complicated, just turn off your computer.  Never call the support number!!  Clicking the red X to close does not work, as the dialog just continues to pop up again.

iOS calendar

I live in a Microsoft world, for work it is where I stay. But I am a Mac guy. I love my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. With that being said, I still use Google like it is going out of style, and love features that my Google account offers. Trying to get all these to work together though can be a nightmare. I have used a great calendar on my iOS devices called Sunrise that is amazing. Unfortunately Microsoft purchased it recently and now they are discontinuing it; taking away an amazing app because they want iOS users to download Outlook. As much as I use Outlook in my Windows world, I do not want it to converge on my Mac world. So I’m in search of something else, and may have just found it. I was unaware that Google hides a feature that allows you to sync a number of other calendars & shared calendars to your iOS devices.

I don’t need to tell you how to setup your accounts on your iOS device, or let’s say I’m not going to tell you, anyway. Assuming you have that done, visit this link and sign in with your Google account:

Check the boxes of the shared calendars you want to sync. Google has this set to off by default.  (Also assuming you have shared calendars setup with friends/family and you have enabled the necessary permissions – again not going through that here.)

It should not take long for that to sync up on your iOS device, then you should be able to see all these calendars.

I hope this helps someone else as it has me, because I was really wondering how to get access to these calendars.

Please fill out the poll and let me know if this helped you out:

Microsoft Phone Scam

I worked with a gentleman today who got a phone call from someone posing as a Microsoft rep today. This was interesting because it was something I had not seen in a LONG time. The gentleman figured out he was getting scammed and tried to get the scammer off the phone, but did not get them out of his PC. It was a Windows XP PC, and the scammer set the Windows XP startup password; not a user account. It looked like the following:


I had to research how to get around this, so I thought I would post it in case any other searchers needed help with it. You may get lucky & crack the password, but I did not have that luxury, as I was on the customer’s dime. Here are the steps I did, and some links to reference items.

1) Boot the PC into a standalone environment that has access to the command line. You won’t be able to boot into Windows XP Recovery Console, because it needs the administrator password & this startup password (and if you guessed the password, well then you don’t need to be at this step, right?)

2) Once at the cmd prompt, you need to remove the “corrupt” registry files and restore a backup set. This can be done with the following steps:

  • Navigate to C:\Windows\System32\config (you must be in this directory for the following cmds to work properly)
  • Backup the following files to another location in case this does not work – software, system, sam, default, security – using the following cmds:
    • md backup
    • copy software .\backup
    • copy system .\backup
    • copy sam .\backup
    • copy default .\backup
    • copy security .\backup
  • Delete these same files now
    • del software
    • del system
    • del sam
    • del default
    • del security
  • Copy working files from repair directory
    • copy c:\windows\repair\software
    • copy c:\windows\repair\system
    • copy c:\windows\repair\sam
    • copy c:\windows\repair\default
    • copy c:\windows\repair\security
  • Reboot your computer.  It may look odd, but don’t worry this will correct that.
  • Reference the following link, but start from Part 2: (Skip Part 4, I’m not really sure why Microsoft included that)

This should get you back up and working at least to a point without the startup password.  It worked for me and my customer was back in business.

Windows 10 upgrade

If you are one of the many people who did not get the Windows 10 notification (as I did not), then I will save you a lot of hassle of going through mindless updates and searching the web for what to do (at least that is my intention).  Here is what I found:

1) Proceed to this site:

2) Follow the download to get the Media Creation Tool for your version of Windows.  You will need to know if you are running 32 bit or 64 bit.  (Check your System — right click My Computer, select properties.)

3) Download and run the tool.  Select whether you want to upgrade now or create installation media.  If you want to know how to use the installation media, go here:

4) If you upgrade now, be sure to read the requirements here, or you will likely receive errors when attempting to install the upgrade.  Also the download will take quite some time depending on your Internet connection.

I have taken you as far as I can.  It is now up to you to decide which pill you will take: the red pill or the blue pill.

Exchange Server 2013 migration

Just finished an Exchange Server migration from 2007 to 2013.  Wow was this frustrating.  Microsoft puts some documentation out there for this; others of us techs put more documentation about this.  I’m not sure how much of this was due to the environment for where these servers were located, but it took a lot of patience.

The Web Admin Center throw me off, but this is one of the features I actually like.  This way you do not have to logon to the server to open, or install any additional software on your management PC.  In this environment, I struggled with mail flow, Autodiscover & ActiveSync.

Lots of issues with mail flow may have been my own doing.  I tried to jump in without paying attention to the documentation, and update the receive connectors based on existing ones in Exchange 2007.  Word to the wise, don’t do that.  Microsoft changed these from 2007/2010, and when I started disabling the ones that “I didn’t need”, well I found out quickly how wrong I was.  Outbound email wasn’t working either, but I missed the obvious solution on this one, which was a Microsoft Transport service that did not start properly (FYI, changed this service to Automatic Delayed Start, and seems to keep it under control now).

After mail flow was corrected, dealt with the Autodiscover security alert with Outlook.  Again, this could have been the environment, but changing the Client Access Server URL to, broke the connection with Outlook & ActiveSync.  I had never had this happen before in any version of Exchange that I worked with since Microsoft started the Autodiscover.  Turns out I’m going to have to opt for the SAN SSL certificate in this case.

Needless to say I am so looking forward to the next migration to Exchange 2013, and I have a few on the horizon.  I’m really hoping the others will go better than this has done.

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