ISA Server Best Practices Analyzer v3 (ISABPA) Just Released…

The ISA team just released the latest version of the ISA BPA to the web – here’s the list of enhancements from the mail announcing it internally. If you see bold in an odd place, that’s my emphasis.

The ISA Server Sustained Engineering team is excited to announce the RTW of the Microsoft© ISA Server Best Practices Analyzer Tool (IsaBPA) V3.

What has changed in the new version?

  • ISA Server 2006 integration.  The IsaBPA now works with both ISA Server 2004 and ISA Server 2006.
  • Pack ISA Diagnostics Tool enhancements. This tool packs the ISAInfo report, IsaBPA report, ISA Server traces, MSDE logs, event log, data from several performance counters, and network captures into a single file and places it on the desktop, ready to be sent to support engineers in case there is a problem. This tool launches a new generation of ISA Server data collection for PSS and is expected to benefit customers by reducing the time needed to handle many support cases.
  • We added new checks to the new IsaBPA. There are now 193 rules. The focus of this release was on rules for Site-to-site VPN with IPsec. This new suite joins the Hardware, Authentication, OWA, and SSL Certificates suites that were introduced in previous versions.
  • View more settings.  The detailed View pane contains almost all ISA Server configuration settings that can be viewed in ISA Server Management, including all policy rules, network rules, networks, alerts. More than 850 configuration settings are now displayed.
  • Friendlier UI. We modified the UI slightly in line with other Microsoft products for easier report access.
  • Bug fixes. We fixed several bugs that were discovered in the previous version.

The ISA Server Best Practices Analyzer has several cool features. The tool has a Live Update mechanism. It allows the administrator to check whether there are new updates for the tool and download them. You can set this tool to check for live updates each time it starts. In addition, if you are a command-line person, you can run this tool from the command line or schedule a weekly scan.

IsaBPA can be used in a number of ways. It can be used to proactively check the health of ISA Server deployment, identifying ways that may increase the stability of the system, improve security and improve performance. It can also be used to assist troubleshooting of a particular issue. In many cases the use of IsaBPA can eliminate the need for calling Microsoft support or significantly reduce the cost of a support call.

It is noteworthy that the tool is not invasive. It does not change anything in the system. IsaBPA only informs the administrator about probable issues and suggests ways to fix them.

IsaBPA is freely available.

The ISA Server Best Practices Analyzer Tool can be found at:

It should be installed on an ISA Server computer (SE or EE) with .NET Framework 1.1 installed.

Good for you, good for us! That makes it good for everyone! Group hug, people.

If you run an ISA Server installation, you should definitely check out ISABPA. You might find a problem you didn’t know you had, or find a tweak that helps your installation run better. I’ll be giving the new version a shot at home later.

The enhanced Pack ISA Diagnostics tool (in the Start menu, Microsoft ISA Server->ISA Tools) should prove immensely useful in gathering data for troubleshooting – it leaves a neat little CAB file on the desktop.

Go Practice Bestness™.

one-Line Iso-Ish-Date Format Thing For CMD

I love CMD. I love batch files. I love FOR. I love being able to do things in one line, without resorting to VBScript or a custom EXE.

Today’s task: make a unique folder for each day of metabase collection. I figured that getting a folder-creation-capable date format out of %date% and %time% should be reasonably easy somehow, so investigated non-FOR options but nothing really worked. Back to FOR it is!

I then figured that if you wanted to collect data more often than daily, you could probably add the time in without too much trouble, so did that too.

As a warning, this won’t localize directly: Yank-To-ISO-ish format is %%k%%i%%j-%%l%%m , for example.

@echo off
for /f “tokens=2,3,4,5,6 delims=:./ ” %%i in (“%date%.%time%”) do SET isodate=%%k%%j%%i-%%l%%m


md c:\logs\%isodate%

REM now do whatever…
Copy C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\History c:\logs\%isodate%

To play around with FOR commands on the command line, you don’t need to double the % signs, so:

for /f “tokens=2,3,4,5,6 delims=:./ ” %i in (“%date%.%time%”) do @echo %k%j%i-%l%m

Again: Localization or customization is needed if you’re in a non-Brit-style (day, month, year) locale, or if your short date doesn’t look like mine. For reference (think I’m at Australian defaults):

C:\Tools>echo %date%
Thu 20/07/2006

C:\Tools>echo %time%

Um, that’s all I had to share right now. Be fruitful and collect logs!

The Revised Efficientified Edition (Edits from (and thanks to) Kiliman)

Two lines, using SET statements, get a pretty reliable outcome. At first I was getting weird results, then realized that copy/paste had appended a space to a couple of the lines – if there’s a space at the end of any SET statement, it can come back later to cause weirdness.

@echo off

rem Be careful to not leave a trailing space

rem at the end of any SET line below


rem — for US Date Format
rem SET isodate=%DATE:~10%%DATE:~4,2%%DATE:~7,2%-%TIME:~0,2%%TIME:~3,2%


rem — for AU/UK Date Format
SET isodate=%DATE:~10%%DATE:~7,2%%DATE:~4,2%-%TIME:~0,2%%TIME:~3,2%

rem replace space with 0
SET isodate=%isodate: =0%

md c:\logs\%isodate%

rem now do whatever…
Copy C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\History c:\logs\%isodate%

Thanks to all that share(d) their expertise in the comments area.

ASP.Net / .Net Framework 1.1 >4GB Memory Problem

Just a quick mention of the following article – it’s not a virtual address space issue per se; this one’s talking about problems when the amount of physical memory in the machine exceeds 2GB – particularly where greater than 4GB.

893360 FIX: Generation 1 garbage collections and generation 2 garbage collections occur much more frequently on computers that have 2 GB or more of physical memory in the .NET Framework 1.1;EN-US;893360

This problem occurs because the GlobalMemoryStatus function that the garbage collection uses is not designed for computers that have more than 2 GB of physical memory

This hotfix uses the newer GlobalMemoryStatusEx function instead of the GlobalMemoryStatus function. The GlobalMemoryStatusEx function correctly returns the memory status on computers that have more than 4 GB of physical memory.

[Update 19/07/06] – linked the MSDN article for GlobalMemoryStatus, where more information is available.

The hotfix is available on request.

Other potentially interesting fixes are linked from this article – well worth a bedtime read:

914962 List of updates that were released after the release of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1;EN-US;914962

VPC is now Free!

Late to the party as usual, but hey, that’s alright!

So all our virtualization solutions are now available at no cost. That’s fantastic news for anyone that uses this stuff day-in, day-out and might have balked at the cost of acquisition previously and just used Virtual Server, because it was free…

I love my Virtual PC. It’s the main virtualization tool I use at work, as the copy & paste and drag & drop support make it a winner over the already-free Virtual Server for day-to-day testing. I have a little disk-based provisioning factory that I use to quickly produce domain environments for testing, and it does the job really well.

Download it!

Get Virtual PC 2004 SP1 (as in, the full product containing the SP1 code, not just the Service Pack) download from the Download Center here.

Unnecessary but-link-and-rumour-and-tip-laden additional information:

Advanced users might also want to play around with Virtual Server 2005 R2 on the same machine to see if it works even better for them… (I do this habitually now – you can just stop or disable the Virtual Server services after installation if they’re not in use)

And via Dugie and Alessandro it looks like Windows Vista backups will be mountable in VirtualPC (perhaps not bootable; I don’t know, I’m speculatin’ here – McLaws suggested that they might even be mountable directly in Vista, which would – what’s the phrase? – KICK DONKEY! – if true…)

A smattering of further commentary:

Virtual PC Guy – Virtual PC is Free! and Laptop Hotfix for VPC 2004 SP1

Ars.Technica – Free Virtual PC From Microsoft

Formula 1 Survey 2006

Ah, if there’s one thing that’ll get me out of bed and onto the couch at 4:30 in the morning, it’s Formula 1. ‘course, that was before I had a Media Centre, but I still pretend I’m watching it live these days!

Digression alert! Uh, there’s another Formula One survey being run this year. I’m not exactly sure what the results of last year were, or what they were used for, but the new qualifying format was more fun to watch than a couple of the races, and it’s great to have tyre changes back in the pitstops.

If you’re an F1 fan, go fill out the survey, shape the sport the way you want it.

It didn’t ask directly about the frozen engine specs for 2008-11… wonder how popular that’s going to be…


Update: Well, cover me in ointment and call me topical! The news did the rounds shortly after posting that “Microsoft MES” (MES is understood to be Mclaren Electrical Systems) will supply standardized Engine Control Units for Formula 1.

This caused quite a funny outpour (at least, I laughed at many of the bits in the top half, then it got a little repetitive) over at pitpass!