Migrating from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016

As a first step to migrate an old windows server to a new Windows Server 2016, it is always better to chalk out a strategy or a check list. This will help ensure no hiccups come in between the process.

In this direction, the first step can be listing out the roles and features installed on the server. At this stage we would also identify the things that will not automatically come to the new server once it is brought into the domain and promoted.

In my example I am considering a server “server1” installed with Windows Server 2012 R2. It is an additional domain controller and also has DNS and DHCP roles installed in it. “server1” is in a DHCP failover relation (Hot Standby) with another DC “server2”.

Following are the things that we need to manually configure in the new server and is painstaking.

1> During roles and features installation stage, we need to manually install the same.

2> Conditional Forwarders (if any) configured at server level.

3> DHCP server level configurations.

4> IP configuration which in this case will be same as the old one.

Now we will one by one try to automate these steps. There sure are other ways to do this like command line approach and GUI, but will restrict ourselves to powershell here.

1> We can perform below steps to automate the installation of roles and features, which can take time to select all roles and features and can lead to errors also.

First, using PowerShell, we need to create an answer file from already existing server “server1”, containing list of all roles and features installed.

Get-WindowsFeature |
? { $_.Installed -AND $_.SubFeatures.Count -eq 0 } |
Export-Clixml \\server3\c$\ServerFeatures.xml

Second, from elevated PowerShell, we will import the same answer file in the new server “server3” and it will automatically install all the roles and features in that file.

$ServerFeatures = Import-Clixml c:\ServerFeatures.xml
foreach ($feature in $ServerFeatures) {
Install-WindowsFeature -Name $feature.name

2> We can make use of a powershell module DnsShell to export DNS conditional forwarders from “server1” to “server3”. First we should download the module which is compatible with powershell version 4.0 also and then importing it as follows.

import-module "C:\Program Files (x86)\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\DnsShell"

For making the module available to all the users logging into the system, the module should be placed in “C:\Program Files (x86)\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\”

Get-DnsZone -ZoneType Forwarder -Server server1 | New-DnsZone -Server server3

In this way we are piping the DNS conditional forwarders settings to the new server in one command.

3> Now we will look into transfering the server level configurations that we might have on the olde server “server1”. We will first execute below command in powershell to create a backup of DHCP leases.

export-dhcpserver -computername server1 -file "c:\dhcpexport.xml" -leases

Then we can import this exported file in new server either by specifying UNC path of file or by first manually copying the file in new location. Kindly note that we need to specify here the DHCP backup directory which can be seen in properties of dhcp server in DHCP console.

Import-DhcpServer -ComputerName server2 -File C:\dhcpexport.xml -BackupPath C:\dhcpbackup\ -ServerConfigOnly

We need not export other configurations as the old server “server1” is in a DHCP failover relation with “server2”. Hence when we reconfigure the failover between “server2” and “server3”, complete configuration will get replicated to the new server “server3” except the server level configuration. We can refer to this link for setting up a DHCP failover.

4> Before the old server “server1” has been demoted, unjoined from domain and shutdown permanently, we should export the IP configuration of the server and store in a migration store folder.

Export-SmigServerSetting -IPConfig -Path "c:\ipexport\" -Verbose

Also it would be better if we export the IP configuration to a text file from command line.

IPConfig -all >  c:\ipconfig.txt

Now we can import the configuration in the new server “server3” by first copying both the “ipconfig.txt” and migration store folder to the new server “server3” and then executing below command in powershell. We need to perform this step only when the old server “server1” is completely removed. Also we must know the MAC addresses of the source and destination NIC cards.

Import-SmigServerSetting -IPConfig All -SourcePhysicalAddress "XX-XX-XX-XX-XX-XX" -TargetPhysicalAddress "YY-YY-YY-YY-YY-YY" -Path "c:\ipexport\" -Verbose

For detailed ip configuration migration steps, we can refer to this technedt link IP Configuration: Migrating IP Configuration Data

This concludes our discussion here.

Working with csv and xlsx files using powershell Part-2

Continuing from where we left in part-1, we’ll dive further in this topic.

Copy a range of cells from one excel sheet and paste in another

[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'
$xl1 = New-Object -ComObject Excel.Application
$xl1.visible = $true
$wb1 = $xl1.workbooks.open($xlsx3)
$xl1.Worksheets.item(1).name = "Worksheet1"
$ws1 = $wb1.worksheets.Item(1)


$lr1 = $ws1.UsedRange.rows.count
$r1 = $ws1.Range("A1:F$lr1")

[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'
$xl2 = New-Object -ComObject Excel.Application
$xl2.visible = $true
$wb2 = $xl2.workbooks.open($xlsx4)
$ws2 = $wb2.worksheets.Item(1)

$r2 = $ws2.Range("A1:F$lr1")





We can change the cell selection as per our need, for e.g.

$lr1 = ($ws1.UsedRange.rows.count)-1

This will count all the rows ‘r’ and subtract the last row. As a result the variable ‘$lr1’ will store the numeric value ‘r-1’. After this we can just mention the selction range as

$r1 = $ws1.Range("A1:F$lr1")

This will select all the cells containing data starting from ‘A1’ cell upto the second last row. Instead of two steps, it can be combined into one as,

$r1 = $ws1.Range("A1:F$($ws1.UsedRange.rows.count-1)")

We can paste the selection to any place in the excel by altering the range as below.

$lr2 = $r1.Rows.Count

This will store the count of rows contained in the copy selection that we have made and store it in variable ‘$lr2’.

$r2 = $ws2.Range("A2:F$lr2")

Note that the source and destination cell range should be exactly same.

Now that we are discussing about excel com object and powershell, so Powershell Excel Cookbook Ver 2 can’t go without mention. It has almost everything one can get across while working to automate excel with PowerShell.

Inserting values in specific cells

$ws1.cells.item(1,2) = "Hello"

This will store the string ‘Hello’ in cell ‘B1’. The range (1,2) correspond to cell at the intersection of first row and second column.

Sorting a column

$rsort2 = $ws1.Range("A2")
[void]$rsort1.sort($rsort2, 1)

First we will select all the cells where data is present and store this range in variable ‘rsort1’. After this we will pick the cell from the respective column from which onwards, we want the sorting to be done. So in this case, cells in ‘A’ column starting from ‘2’ row will be sorted in ascending manner due to parameter ‘1’.

Summing values in each column and displaying the sum at the bottom of respective column

$r1 = $ws1.usedRange
$row1 = $r1.rows.count
$Sumrow1 = $row1 + 1
$r2 = $ws1.Range("B2:B$row1")
$r3 = $ws1.Range("C2:C$row1")
$r4 = $ws1.Range("D2:D$row1")
$r5 = $ws1.Range("E2:E$row1")
$r6 = $ws1.Range("F2:F$row1")
$functions = $xl1.WorkSheetfunction
$ws1.cells.item($Sumrow1,1) = "Total"
$ws1.cells.item($Sumrow1,2) = $functions.sum($r2)
$ws1.cells.item($Sumrow1,3) = $functions.sum($r3)
$ws1.cells.item($Sumrow1,4) = $functions.sum($r4)
$ws1.cells.item($Sumrow1,5) = $functions.sum($r5)
$ws1.cells.item($Sumrow1,6) = $functions.sum($r6)

First we will store the count of all the rows conatining data and store in variable $row1. Assuming that the first row contains the headers, we select from 2nd row to the end. After this we make use of ‘worksheetfunction’ of excel ‘xl1’ object that we have created to call ‘sum’ function. After this we will sum the values in columns ‘A’ to ‘F’ and store at their bottom. After the operation, we can ‘autofit’ the entire data range. There is another way of adjusting the column width as below, by specifying the column width.

$ws1.Columns.Item('a').columnWidth = 20

Sometimes if the datatype of values is set to text/general, the summing operation might fail. So we have to set the datatype prior to this, as follows.


Adding chart to worksheet

Lets select chart and chart type first that we will put in the worksheet.

$ch = $ws1.shapes.addChart().chart
$ch.chartType = 58

Then we will set the data range that we want to chart. We can also give a suitable title to the chart.

$ch.HasTitle = $true
$ch.ChartTitle.Text = "My chart"

Now we will select the cell range where we want to copy the chart. If we want to adjust the chart size, it can be done by alterig the range as below.

$RngToCover = $ws1.Range("A$($range2.Rows.Count + 5):F$($range.Rows.Count + 23)")
$ChtOb = $ch.Parent
$ChtOb.Top = $RngToCover.Top
$ChtOb.Left = $RngToCover.Left
$ChtOb.Height = $RngToCover.Height
$ChtOb.Width = $RngToCover.Width

Cell formatting

Below are some basic formatting operations that can be done on a cell range.

$range.HorizontalAlignment = -4108
$range.VerticalAlignment = -4107
$range.WrapText = $false
$range.Orientation = 0
$range.AddIndent = $false
$range.IndentLevel = 0
$range.ShrinkToFit = $false
$range.ReadingOrder = -5002
$range.MergeCells = $false
$range.Borders.Item(12).Weight = 2
$range.Borders.Item(12).LineStyle = 1
$range.Borders.Item(12).ColorIndex = -4105

Working with csv and xlsx files using powershell Part-1

This is a part of series of posts to discuss various operations that can be done on .csv and .xlsx files using powershell.

Changing delimiter of csv file:

Import-Csv -Delimiter "," -Path $p|Export-Csv -Delimiter ";" -Path $p1 -NoTypeInformation

Replacing a character from a column in csv file:

Import-Csv -Delimiter ";" -Path $p1 -Header "1","2","3"|
Select-Object *| ForEach-Object {
"{0};{1};{2}" -f $_.1,($_.2).replace("Mr.",""),$_.3>> $p2

Removing header from a csv file:

Import-Csv -Delimiter ";" -Path $p2 -Header "1","2","3"|
Select-Object -Skip 1 >> $p3

Inserting headers in a headerless csv file:

import-csv -Delimiter ";" -Path $p4 -Header "Team","Player name","Status"|
Export-Csv -Delimiter ";" -Path $p5 -NoTypeInformation

Converting csv into xlsx file:

# Create a new Excel workbook with one empty sheet
[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'
$excel = New-Object -ComObject excel.application
$workbook = $excel.Workbooks.Add(1)
$worksheet = $workbook.worksheets.Item(1)

# Build the QueryTables.Add command and reformat the data
$TxtConnector = ("TEXT;" + $p5)
$Connector = $worksheet.QueryTables.add($TxtConnector,$worksheet.Range("A1"))
$query = $worksheet.QueryTables.item($Connector.name)
$query.TextFileOtherDelimiter = $delimiter
$query.TextFileParseType = 1
$query.TextFileColumnDataTypes = ,1 * $worksheet.Cells.Columns.Count
$query.AdjustColumnWidth = 1

# Execute & delete the import query

# Save & close the Workbook as XLSX.

Filter columns of an excel file:

Now we will make use of a module PSExcel which makes data manipulation very easy.

import-module "C:\Program Files (x86)\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\PSExcel-master\PSExcel"

[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'

Import-XLSX $xlsx -sheet Sheet1 |
Where-Object {($_.'Team' -in @("KKR","KVIP","CSK"))`
-and ($_.'Status' -notin @("bench","not selected"))}|
Export-XLSX $xlsx1

Create Pivot table from a worksheet of an excel file:

Import-XLSX $xlsx1 -sheet Sheet1 |
Export-XLSX $xlsx2 -PivotRows "Team" -PivotColumns "Status" -PivotValues "Player name" -ChartType pie

Merging 2 excel worksheets over a common column

$lt = Import-XLSX $xlsx1 -Sheet Sheet2 -header "Name","Employee Number","Department"

$rt = Import-XLSX $xlsx2 -Sheet Worksheet2 -header "Name","Salary"

Join-Object -Left $lt -Right $rt -LeftJoinProperty "Name" -RightJoinProperty "Name" -type AllInBoth -RightProperties "Salary"|
Export-XLSX $xlsx3 -WorksheetName Mergedoutput

The other options of joining are:

1> -AllInLeft

2> -AllInRight

3> -AllInBoth

4> -OnlyIfInBoth

I’ll try to explore more operations that can be done specifically with xlsx files in part-2 of this series.

Collect disk space details from remote computers

In this post I will share a PowerShell script to get the details like, used space, free space, total size, etc. of all the drives on remote computers. The list of remote computers could be fed as a text file to the script.

$CSVFile = "C:\Disk space report.csv"
"Computer Name;Volume Name;Drive Name;Size(GB);Free(GB);Used(GB);Used%(GB)" | out-file -FilePath $CSVFile -append

#domain admin's credentials
$cre = get-credential
$machines = get-content "C:\serverset.txt"
foreach ($machine in $machines) 
$disk=Get-WmiObject Win32_LogicalDisk -filter "DriveType=3" -computer $machine -Credential $cre| Select SystemName,DeviceID,VolumeName,Size,freespace
foreach ($d in $disk)
#to set language pack for current thread as en-US
[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'
$DeviceID=($d.DeviceID).Replace(":", "")

#Round(($d.size/1gb), 2)) will round the value to two decimal places
$size=('{0:N2}' -f [Math]::Round(($d.size/1gb), 2))

$freespace=('{0:N2}' -f [Math]::Round(($d.freespace/1gb), 2))
#we have to define the values stored in $d.size and $d.freespace as integer
$usespace=('{0:N2}' -f ([Math]::Round($d.size/1GB,2 -as [int])) - ([Math]::Round($d.freespace/1GB,2 -as [int])))

$usespacepc=('{0:N2}' -f [Math]::Round((($usespace/$size)*100), 2))

$exporttocsv =$machine+";"+$DeviceID+";"+$d.VolumeName+";"+$size+";"+$freespace+";"+$usespace+";"+$usespacepc
$exporttocsv | Out-File -Append $CSVFile

Now where on one hand we can get free space quite easily, we need to perform calculations to get used space.

Now we will try to do the same thing, but this time we won’t do any calculation. As a result this can lead to higher speed and accuracy. We’ll try to make use of get-psdrive command to get used space and free space directly. However we still need to use get-wmiobject command to get total size of drive and volumename.

$CSVFile = "C:\Disk space report.csv"
"Computer Name;Drive Name;Volume Name;Size(GB);Free(GB);Used(GB);Used%(GB)" | out-file -FilePath $CSVFile -append

$cre = get-credential
$machines = get-content "C:\serverset.txt"
foreach ($machine in $machines) {

$disk=Get-WmiObject Win32_LogicalDisk -filter "DriveType=3" -computer $machine -Credential $cre | Select Size,DeviceID,VolumeName
$disk1=Invoke-Command -ComputerName $machine {Get-PSDrive} -Credential $cre | Select-Object PSComputerName,Name,Used,Free,Provider|
where-object Provider -match "FileSystem"

foreach ($d in $disk)
[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'
$deviceid=($d.DeviceID).Replace(":", "")

foreach ($d1 in $disk1)

if ($d1.Name -match $deviceid){
$VolumeName = $d.VolumeName
[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'
$size=('{0:N2}' -f [Math]::Round(($d.size/1gb), 2))

$freespace=('{0:N2}' -f [Math]::Round(($d1.free/1gb), 2))

$usespace=('{0:N2}' -f [Math]::Round(($d1.used/1gb), 2))

$usespacepc=('{0:N2}' -f [Math]::Round((($usespace/$size)*100), 2))

$exporttocsv =$d1.PSComputerName+";"+$deviceid+";"+$VolumeName+";"+$size+";"+$freespace+";"+$usespace+";"+$usespacepc
$exporttocsv| Out-File -Append $CSVFile
Break }

Getting folder owners’ details from remote computers

In this short article, we would try to get information about owners of folders on remote computers and the permissions that they have on them.

The below script would travel one level down of C: drive and then recursively gather information about all files and subfolders within.

$path = gci “C:\*” -Recurse
GET-ACL “$path”| select path, Owner -expand access| 
select @{n=”Path”;e={$_.Path.replace(“Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\FileSystem::”,””)}}, Owner, IdentityReference, FileSystemRights, AccessControlType, IsInherited|
Export-Csv "C:\folder_owner_output.csv" -NoTypeInformation

This post has been majorly inspired by this blog post Find file / folder owner information using PowerShell or command prompt 

I recently go hold of another script that can be really useful if we are just interested in getting folder names and their owners. Also we can get owner details of folders at a particular level in a folder hierarchy. In my case I want folder owner details at second level down the root folder only using UNC path. Including “$_.PSIsContainer -eq $True” restricts the searchbase to folders only and excludes the files.

$arr = @()
gci "\\server01\*\*" | ? {$_.PSIsContainer -eq $True} | % {
$obj = New-Object PSObject
$obj | Add-Member NoteProperty Name $_.Name
$obj | Add-Member NoteProperty Owner ((Get-ACL $_.FullName).Owner)
$arr += $obj
$arr | Export-CSV -notypeinformation "C:\folder_owner_output.csv"

Outlook Automation

Although Microsoft does not recommend unattended automation of its office products, we can leverage powershell at automating some common outlook related operations.

Searching for a particular subject line and then downloading its attachments

$date = get-date -format d

$filepath = "C:\attachments\"
$attr = $date+"_report.csv"
$path = Join-Path $filepath $attr

$olFolderInbox = 6
[threading.thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = 'en-US'
$outlook = new-object -com outlook.application;
$ns = $outlook.GetNameSpace("MAPI");
$inbox = $ns.GetDefaultFolder($olFolderInbox)
$messages = $inbox.items

foreach($message in $messages){
$msubject = $message.subject
write-host "Messages Subject: $msubject"

if ($msubject.contains("Daily Report")){
$message.attachments|foreach {
Write-Host $_.filename
Write-Host "Attachment is saved at $path"
$TargetFolder = $inbox.Folders.Item('Processed')

Prior to running above script we must create a folder “Processed” under “Inbox” of Outlook. Also we may have a hard time scheduling this on task scheduler as the account from which the script runs, should be logged in.

Sending Mail

$From = "abc@company.com"
$to = "xyz@company.com"
$Cc = "pqr@company.com"

$Subject = "Daily Report"
$Body = "PFA The Excel Report containing details."
$SMTPServer = "server01.company.corp"

Send-MailMessage -From $From -to $To -Cc $Cc -Subject $Subject `
-Body $Body -SmtpServer $SMTPServer -Attachments $path

write-host "Mail sent with report attached"

In above script we have not made use of COM object. As a result we can use this as unattended script scheduled on task scheduler. Also the execution is fast.

Now the same task can also be done via COM object as can be seen below.

$Username = "MyUserName";
$Password= "MyPassword";

function Send-ToEmail([string]$email, [string]$attachmentpath){

    $message = new-object Net.Mail.MailMessage;
    $message.From = "YourName@gmail.com";
    $message.Subject = "subject text here...";
    $message.Body = "body text here...";
    $attachment = New-Object Net.Mail.Attachment($attachmentpath);

    $smtp = new-object Net.Mail.SmtpClient("smtp.gmail.com", "587");
    $smtp.EnableSSL = $true;
    $smtp.Credentials = New-Object System.Net.NetworkCredential($Username, $Password);
    write-host "Mail Sent" ; 
Send-ToEmail  -email "reciever@gmail.com" -attachmentpath $path;

The above script has been taken from a solution posted in how to send email with powershell

Editting folder permissions with PowerShell

In this post, we will discuss about modifying folder NTFS permissions without GUI on a Windows platform. Modifying NTFS permissions for a small environment by manual GUI means is understandable, but it can get really hectic and time consuming for a large environment. Now lets have a look at the following Powershell Script that is a step in the direction of automating this task.

$CSVFile = "C:\log.csv"
$machines = get-content "C:\servers.txt"
foreach ($machine in $machines)
<# get all network path names of shared folders from another text file, 
then process through each path recursively
sample path file:
Instead of inputting text file, we can also use:
$paths = gi "H:\Users\*","H:\Departments\*" #>
 $paths = (get-content "C:\paths.txt").replace('$machine', $machine)
 foreach ($path in $paths)
<# -----part-1 (disable inheriance)-----
To change access of an object on folder which has been inherited
from parent folder, we need to disable the inheritance first.
So, traverse one level down in each path, then check there only for 
folders, then disable inheritance at that level. #>
   get-childitem -Path $path\* | ? { $_.PsIsContainer } | % {
<# We could have also used $acl = Get-Item $_ | get-acl
But this would not work in cases where the account who is launching 
the script is not an owner of the folder whose permissions are being 
changed. So we need to tell powershell to only look for 'Access' by 
using a piped code structure. #>    
   $acl = (Get-Item $_).GetAccessControl('Access')
<# first arguement ($true) will disable inheritance and 
second arguement ($false) will remove all ACEs inherited  
from parent folder. #>
   $acl.SetAccessRuleProtection($true, $false)
   Set-Acl -path $path -aclObject $acl | Out-Null
<# ----part-2 changing premissions of an account---
To avoid the problem of ownership, here also we first
try to tell powershell that we are only interested in 
accesses of each acl and not anything extra, by using
a loop structure. #>
   $acl2 = Get-Acl -path $path
   $accesses = $acl2.Access
# get ace from each acl recursively
   foreach ($access in $accesses)
     $ids = $access.IdentityReference.Value
     foreach ($id in $ids)
       if ($id -eq "$machine\User")
<# when conditions true, remove all permissions for 
the mentioned account only #>
         $acl2.RemoveAccessRule($access) | Out-Null
<# provide Read and Execute permission at parent or root folders level 
to the same account #>
     Set-Acl -path $path -aclObject $acl2 | Out-Null
     $permission = $name,'ReadandExecute','ContainerInherit,ObjectInherit','None','Allow'
     $aclrule = New-Object system.security.accesscontrol.filesystemaccessrule -ArgumentList $permission
     Set-Acl -path $path -aclObject $acl2 | Out-Null
     $OutInfo = $machine+","+$path+","+$aclrule.IdentityReference+","+$aclrule.FileSystemRights
     Write-Host $OutInfo             
     Add-Content -Value $OutInfo -Path $CSVFile                                

Here Inheritance flag is set for both container and object whereas Propogation flag is none.

Following is a table which will help in setting propogation and inheritance flags.

    ║             ║ folder only ║ folder, sub-folders and files ║ folder and sub-folders ║ folder and files ║ sub-folders and files ║ sub-folders ║    files    ║
    ║ Propagation ║ none        ║ none                          ║ none                   ║ none             ║ InheritOnly           ║ InheritOnly ║ InheritOnly ║
    ║ Inheritance ║ none        ║ Container|Object              ║ Container              ║ Object           ║ Container|Object      ║ Container   ║ Object      ║

We can speed up things by employing psexec utility for above PowerShell script as discussed in my previous posts. For some reason get-acl and set-acl fail to function for folders on which the current user is not an owner of. Set-acl tries to change the owner of folder which is certainly not the intention in most cases.

For further reading, refer to this technet link: Windows PowerShell Tip of the Week where  [System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemRights] (a .NET Framework file system enumeration) and security descriptors are discussed in greater detail.

There is another approach to above scenario, which makes use of a powershell module “NTFSsecurity” File System Security PowerShell Module 4.2.3 by Raimund Andree. We can achieve the desired effect by proceeding as follows.

<#First we need to import the module "NTFSSecurity"
If we want the module to be used by all users on the system, 
then it should be #placed under the path: 
C:\Program Files(x86)\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\NTFSSecurity #>
Import-Module C:\Program Files (x86)\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\NTFSSecurity
<#This will list out all the commands which are 
available in this module#>
Get-Command -Module ntfssecurity
<#This will disable inheritance at only one level below the root 
"test" folder. Remove the \* from path, if inheritance is to 
be disabled at all levels inside.#>
get-item "\\server1\test\*" | Disable-NTFSAccessInheritance
<#Now we first get the access of the account whose access we want to 
change, then we remove its access from the folder.
Now we add the desired access of the same account to the folder.This 
is particularly useful when we want to remove the special permissions 
provided to any account, which may present a security risk.#>
Get-Item -Path "\\server1\test" |Get-NTFSAccess -Account Users | Remove-NTFSAccess
Add-NTFSAccess -Path "\\server1\test" -Account Users -AccessRights ReadAndExecute -AppliesTo ThisFolderAndSubfoldersOneLevel

Before proceeding with the solutions presented in this post, do take a full backup of ACls of the folder in question using icacls command. This technet blog How to Back Up and Restore NTFS and Share Permissions  provides all the details required for performing a quick backup and restore of ACLs.

By wracking mind with these and many other solutions sometimes we feel like that sticking to basics does the job best. A simple command line approach is both faster and accurate in a mass folder structure. We can use icacls to do the same stuff what we discussed so far by putting far lesser effort. For this purpose I a sharing this link iCACLS.exe (2003 sp2, Vista+), which has got all the applications of this command covered.

Installing Updates and patches on remote computers by powershell

In this post, we will use PowerShell to install updates and patches on remote computers using PSExec utility. Although this script is not as efficient as a full fledged SCCM or WUSA setup, but it can come handy in scenarios where the task of patching has to be done manually.

There are certain things we need to ensure before proceeding with this method. Firstly, PSExec service must not be in disabled or marked for deletion state in target remote server. Secondly, the account launching the script should have appropriate administrative privileges. Thirdly, execution of scripts must not be disabled in remote computers via group policy.

Step 1> Proceeding with this method, first create a runme file with name, say runme.ps1 as follows:

<#------------Creating log file------------#>
$CSVFile = "C:\patches\servers_status.csv"

<#-----------Execute PSEXEC----------------#>
$machines = get-content "C:\patches\servers.txt"
ForEach ($machine In $machines) 
 if (Test-Connection -ComputerName $machine -Count 2 -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)
   Write-Host "$machine is up" -ForegroundColor Green & C:\Windows\System32\psexec.exe \\$machine -u COMPANY\admin -p ###### -h -accepteula cmd.exe /c "\\SERVER1\patches$\script.bat" 
   Restart-Computer $machine -Force
   Write-Host "$machine rebooted" -ForegroundColor Red
   $info = "$machine rebooted"
   Add-content -value $info -Path $CSVFile
   Write-Host "$machine is down" -ForegroundColor Red
   $info = "$machine is down"
   Add-content -value $info -Path $CSVFile

Step 2> Above script will call out to following batch file “Script.bat” over network.

@Echo Off
Net Use T: /delete /yes
Net Use T: \\SERVER1\patches$
CMD /C powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command T:\install_patches.ps1
Net Use T: /delete /yes

Step 3> Above script will map the folder with script as a network drive on remote computer and then call out to following install_patches.ps1 file which will then perform the installation of update packages. Note that now we won’t use network path of folders, instead we will write complete local path. As the script runs locally on the remote computer, this script will offset the delay caused due to network latency.

<#--------Create folder "patches"-----------#>
if (-Not (Test-Path C:\Users\admin\desktop\patches))
    md -path C:\Users\admin\desktop\patches
Write-Host "CCM folder created, starting copy of install files"
Copy installation files from source to 
target server's desktop #>
Copy-Item -path "\\SERVER2\Packages\*" -destination "C:\Users\admin\desktop\patches" -Recurse
<#ensure 100% copy by matching source 
and destination folder size#>
 start-sleep 2
 write-host "copy of patches is in progress"
 $FolderList1 = Get-ChildItem "\\SERVER2\Packages\"
 Foreach($Folder1 in $FolderList1)
   $FolderSize1 = (Get-ChildItem "\\SERVER2\Packages\$Folder1" -Recurse | 
   Measure-Object -property length -sum).Sum/1mb
   write-host "source folder size: $FolderSize1" 
 $FolderList2 = Get-ChildItem "C:\Users\admin\desktop\patches"
 Foreach($Folder2 in $FolderList2)
   $FolderSize2 = (Get-ChildItem`
   "C:\Users\admin\desktop\CCM\$Folder2" -Recurse | 
   Measure-Object -property length -sum).Sum/1mb
   write-host "destination folder size: $FolderSize2"  
until ($FolderSize1 -eq $FolderSize2)
write-host "installation files copied successfully"
Start installation of patches and create log file #>
write-host "installation of patches started"
$dir = (Get-Item -Path "C:\Users\admin\Desktop\patches\*" -Verbose).FullName
Foreach($item in (ls $dir *.cab -Name))
 echo $item
 $item = $dir + "\" + $item
 dism /online /Add-Package /PackagePath:$item  /NoRestart | Out-Null
Foreach($item in (ls $dir *.msu -Name))
 echo $item
 $item = $dir + "\" + $item
 wusa $item /quiet /NoRestart | Out-Null
$machinename = hostname
write-host "$machinename patching completed"
$outinfo = $machinename + "," + "patching completed"
Add-content -value $outinfo -path "T:\servers_status.csv"

After successful reboot of all servers, we can run the following script to get the list of hotfixes installed on each remote computer in the past one day and output the same to corresponding server name’s csv file, as follows:

$machines = get-content "C:\patches\servers.txt"
ForEach ($machine In $machines)
 get-hotfix -computername $machine | 
 Select HotfixID, Description, InstalledOn |
 Where-Object {$_.installedon -gt (get-date).adddays(-1)}|
 Sort-Object -property installedon -Descending |
 export-csv "C:\patches\$machinename hotfixes.csv" -NoTypeInformation

Getting Folder Details from Remote Computers using PowerShell

This is post all about getting details about shared folders from remote computers using few techniques. We can get various information like last modified time, ACLs, etc. But it can get time consuming in a large production environment at the point when we have to calculate folder size.

Method 1: Measure-object

This can work for a small environment, but can take unreasonable long time on large work environment.

$CSVFile = "C:\logs.csv"
$machines = get-content "C:\servers.txt"
"Computer name,Foldername,Modified time,User/Group,Permissions" | 
out-file -FilePath $CSVFile -append
foreach ($machine in $machines) 
 $items = Get-ChildItem \\$machine\h$\USER , \\$machine\h$\USERS
 foreach ($item in $items)
<#Check only folders and filter out files#>
   if ($item.Attributes -eq "Directory")            
<#-----Get folder name--------------------#>
     $FoldName = $item.Name          
     Write-Host $FoldName
<#------Get last modified timestamp-------#>
     $ModTime = $item.lastwritetime          
     Write-Host $ModTime
<#----------Get folder size---------------#>
     $size = ($item | measure Length -sum).sum/1mb
<# We will collect information about ACL where Folder name 
then matches the name of user
Also we can employ any other condition for our purpose here #>
     $ACLs = get-acl $item.fullname | ForEach-Object { $_.Access  }
     Foreach ($ACL in $ACLs)
       if ($ACL.IdentityReference -eq “Company\" + $FoldName)
         $OutInfo = $machine+","+$FoldName+","+$ModTime+","+$ACL.IdentityReference+","+$ACL.FileSystemRights+","+$size
         Write-Host $OutInfo
         Add-Content -Value $OutInfo -Path $CSVFile

Method 2: File system object

It is observed that calculating folder size by using file system object deliver higher speed and more accurate folder sizes.

$fso = New-Object -comobject Scripting.FileSystemObject
$folder = $fso.GetFolder($path)
$size = [math]::round(($folder.size)/1mb , 2 , 1 )

Method 3: PSExec

There are certain things we need to ensure before proceeding with this method. Firstly, PSExec service must not be in disabled or marked for deletion state in target remote server. Secondly, the account launching the script should have appropriate administrative privileges. Thirdly, execution of scripts must not be disabled in remote computers via group policy.

Step 1> Proceeding with this method, first create a runme file with name, say runme.ps1 as follows:

$CSVFile = "C:\shared_folder\logs.csv"
"File Server,P Folder Name,P Folder Size,Last Modified time,`
User Name,NTFS Access" | out-file -FilePath $CSVFile -append
$machines = get-content "C:\shared_folder\servers.txt"
ForEach ($machine In $machines) 
 if (Test-Connection -ComputerName $machine -Count 2 -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)   
   Write-Host "$machine is up" -ForegroundColor Green
<#-----& is an alternative of start-process-------
accepteula switch will bypass dialog of accepting eula agreement #>     
& C:\Windows\System32\psexec.exe \\$machine -u Company\admin -p ### -h -accepteula1 cmd.exe /c "\\server1\shared_folder\Script.bat"  
   Write-Host "$machine is down" -ForegroundColor Red
   $info = $machine + "," + "is down"
   Add-content -value $info -Path $CSVFile

Step 2> Above script will call out to following batch file “Script.bat” over network.

@Echo Off
Net Use T: /delete /yes
Net Use T: \\server1\shared_folder
CMD /C powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command T:\Get_ACL.ps1
Net Use T: /delete /yes

Step 3> Above script will map the folder with script as a network drive on remote computer and then call out to following Get_ACL.ps1 file which is actually responsible for gathering shared folder information. Note that now we won’t use network path of folders, instead we will write complete local path. As the script runs locally on the remote computer, this script will offset the delay caused due to network latency.

$CSVFile = "T:\logs.csv"
$machine = hostname
$Folders = Get-ChildItem h:\USER , h:\USERS

After this we have our usual script where we can employ either method 1 or method 2.

As a concluding remark, this method has highest speed among others mentioned here on this post and should ease off burden of lots of windows administrators.