Thursday, January 7, 2016

Setting your Arris router to bridged mode

After several questions about setting up your own home lab from my previous post Home Labs: Getting the most out of one, the main problem is that their Sophos UTM is getting a private IP address and not their public one from their provider. This is because their media changer, cable modem, is handing out DHCP addresses and is not set to bridged mode. The default setting for a residential cable internet connection is routed with or without NAT, or some manufactures call it the residential gateway function. This function means the cable modem is acting as the gateway between your router and the internet.

Arris is the most popular cable modem that is in use in both residential and commercial connections. Because of this I will be explaining how to change the setting on this brand, other brands are very similar and the overall process is about the same.

The first step is to log into the modem, generally the address is but a quick check of the label should let you know for sure.

Next you will be prompted for a username and password. Many times it is admin for the username and password for the password, if that does not work check the label on the modem and see if it has a different password printed on it. If neither of these steps work you may need to contact your provider for support, some companies put different passwords to ensure the end user does not change it.

After you are logged in you need to navigate to the LAN setup tab. From here we will be changing two items: under DHCP Server Setting we will uncheck the Enable DHCP server

We will then scroll down to NAT and change the NAT Mode to Bridged.

Click on save to save the settings, or some units automatically come up with a dialog box so you can select OK. At this point the unit may let you know that it will be restarting in a dialog box; click OK and the unit will take several minutes to update and restart.

After the modem power cycles you should not be able to access the log in page. At this point your modem is working in bridged mode and you may have to click on renew in your Sophos UTM WAN link in order for it to get the new address.  

Scott Gamet

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Home Labs: Getting the most out of one

Building a home lab for more hands on experience
There is some debate about home labs, some say that they are not relevant to the real world and others believe that they are an invaluable learning tool. I believe that it is a great tool that allows you to not only learn with hands on experience but also allows you to build business class networks.
In building a home lab you have the ability to create a complete network from scratch, both design and implementation. This also gives you the ability to make the wiring nice and clean as well as functional. Creating a home lab also give you the ability to create a small business style environment that would make any small business jealous.

Sophos is one of several companies that allow you, for home use only, the ability to use their very powerful firewall software for free. You do have to install it on your own hardware but the software is free and is a true business grade Unified Threat Management (UTM) Firewall. Not all UTM’s are set up the same, in reality though they are all based on the same general principles and for the most part design structure.

With the Sophos UTM you also have access to their antivirus software as well as the remote management console. This gives you the ability to remotely install and control the antivirus software from a single console. This gives you the ability to make custom controlled and deployed solutions.

In today’s business environments most systems are virtualized. There are several different solutions that are available, some are free and others are not. Hyper-V is a free solution that is a true hypervisor, it is available free from Microsoft the only catch is that it is does not have a GUI. It is all command based, but a great example of how to put your PowerShell knowledge to use.

Backup solutions
As is the running theme here there are several different solutions available for you to choose from. Altaro has a free solution for VMs, this is another feature rich solution that is the same as their commercial solution but is limited to only two VMs. This is very similar to many other backup solutions that are used in that you can make incremental backups as well as automatic schedules.
Veeam also has a very powerful and free solution. VeeamZip is a backup software that is incredibly fast and incredible easy to use, it also condenses the backups down by as much as 60%. It also allows you to restore a VM in almost no time at all.

             Help desk and asset management
Spiceworks has a free solution for help desk software as well as asset management, amongst other free things. They also run a very large tech community that is an invaluable asset when you are both learning as well as in the field. They also have a network monitoring solution that gives you a great view and understanding of your network. Most companies use a ticketing system and most use a form of asset management
A PBX unit is a staple in almost every business in the world. The phones and the POE switch may not be free but having a fully functioning PBX gives you the ability to have separate extension for phones as well as a fully integrated voicemail system. FreePBX is great feature rich software that is free for use; this has all of the features of any big name PBX software.
When you create your network you need to document your network. In the real world documentation is a critical aspect of any IT job.  Documentation should be at the for front of any design and change in the network, especially with a home lab. You may walk away from your lab for a few months and go back and not remember what the IP address is of some of your equipment, this should be in your documentation just like any other business. It may sound like I am harping on this a little and I will tell you, yes I am, this is because of the important of proper documentation.

The nice thing about a home lab is that you do not have to have the most expensive equipment in it. Some people will build an elaborate desktop computer to work as a virtual host for their lab, for me used servers are the greatest value. Through secondary sellers, not manufactures, you are able to get very nice used equipment at a very reasonable price. Hard drives are generally the most expensive part of a home lab and this is something you should buy new.
Wireless networking is a staple in most modern small business environments. Wireless access points and repeaters are common place, especially many access points to cover a very dense area. Once again this is where buying used business equipment can come in handy, it may not be the newest units but they have great throughput.
A network switch is part of the core of the network, many have web based management consoles that make it easier to manage and administer. Once again used business grade equipment is a cost effective and safe solution. Remember when you are designing and implementing your network to be sure and run your cables like a professional. There are many examples of what not to do when running cable and some just make the person who ran the cables look like they are inept at their jobs.
Your home lab network is just that, your design and your implementation. A home lab can be a great learning tool when you are just getting your feet wet in the field, but it is also a great tool when it comes to certifications. Hands on experience with the software and hardware you will be using or testing on allow for a better understanding of how it works and interacts with other programs. Build design and enjoy.

Scott Gamet
MCTS Windows 7
A+, Net+

Friday, November 13, 2015

Windows 10 Clean Installation

A few months ago I upgraded to Windows 10, as many other people did . There were no issues during the upgrade and the system ran a little more sluggish then it did with Windows 7, this system had been through a lot and was in need of a refresh before the update. So I decided to do a fresh install of Windows 10, as is allowed in the licensing. As a matter of preference I always suggest to do a fresh installation over an upgrade, this is because you have a fresh installation and you are not bringing any problems or issues from the previous installation.

The biggest thing to remember is to make a backup of all of your personal information before doing the fresh installation. Doing a fresh installation will erase all of the data on the drive! Make sure to have a copy of all of your software that you are going to be reinstalling as well. 

Creating a bootable USB drive is the fastest and simplest way to install Windows; Microsoft has created their own program for this now, . Just follow the instructions and you will need a USB drive that is empty and over 4GB.

Now we need to restart the computer and select boot from USB, some computers will need to have the order changed in BIOS.

When asked for the product key, enter it if it is a retail purchase, if you have already upgraded from a previous version of Windows just select skip.

Next we will select Custom: Install Windows Only (Advanced). Select the entire drive for installation; this will delete everything on the drive.

After your system is done installing and brings you to the log on screen, log on and press the Start window and select settings then update and security then activation. You should see that your system is already activated. This does require you to be connected to the internet.

Since the fresh installation of Windows 10 I am happy to say that it is running better than when it had Windows 7 and this has breathed life into an older laptop that was having some issues.

Scott Gamet MCTS

Monday, August 31, 2015

Port scanned by Apple

Something interesting just happened, I was port scanned by Apple. This was not just a single time either, there were over 40 and from several different IP Addresses. In the past I have received many port scans, mostly from China and Turkey. These are always a few scans and then they are done but never one on this level before. I thought this a bit odd.

Scott Gamet

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Windows 10 upgrade

Windows 10 is now available and for most of us it is a free upgrade. As long as you are running a legal copy of Windows 7 or higher you and your hardware support it, you can upgrade for free. Here is an info gram about the upgrade paths fro Windows 10.

Most of us by now have the upgrade icon in the bottom right hand corner of our screens. If not there are two different approaches that I suggest for getting the icon to show up. The first is to ensure that you have run all of the available updates through Microsoft update.  If the icon is still not showing up then download and run this program  

If the computer is part of a domain and the icon is still not showing up, take the computer off the domain and see if it shows up. 

Even if the icon does not show up you can still upgrade with the ISO disk, this is available for free download and has a very nice built in download and install program. Here is the link for the ISO Windows10 ISO  

Either way that you begin the install it will take a while to finish, there are reports that it will take longer on laptops regardless of the specs. Expect for the entire process to take an hour or two.

If your installation failed, like mine did, and you received a message that tells you that “We couldn’t update the system reserved partition.”  Or Error code: 0xc1900104 

Then you had the same issue that I did and in reality it is a very minor issue. Essentially the issue is that your system reserve partition is too small and or to full. Mine was 100MB and 99% full, thus not allowing any information to be written or modified to the partition. The solution is very simple, increase the size of the partition.

Here is a step by step of how to correct the issue and get the install to complete. 

          Right click on my computer and select Manage

          Select Disk Management under storage
          You should see a partition that says “Reserve” or “System” or something similar
          Right click and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths”
          Click add and in the next window you should see “Assign the following drive letter” scroll                   down and change it to Y. click OK and OK and close out of these screens.

Download the Mini Tool Partition Manager Partition Manager Free  install it and open the program
Select the Y drive and re-size it to about 300MB taking the space from C. 
You May have to restart the computer for the changes to take place.

After this try to install Windows 10 again, for me it worked without issue. 

Microsoft will not email you a link for updating to Windows 10. If you get an email like this it is a virus. 

Best of luck
Scott Gamet
MCTS Windows 7

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cisco Aironet 1242AG lightweight to autonomous

There are two different models of this access point available, a full version and a lightweight version. The lightweight version is much cheaper than the full or autonomous version. But it is fairly easy to convert the light version to an autonomous version; this is exactly what I did.

To convert it you are going to need to download the image for the autonomous version, this is available for free from Cisco although not the newest version. You go to select wireless and then access points. From here you will get a list of all of the different access points. Down load the newest version you can, at this point if you do not have an account you will be prompted to create one or sign in.

You are also going to need TFTP server software so you can transfer the image. There is a built in one for Windows, I do not recommend using it though, and I recommend Tftpd32 available here: . It is a very straight forward installation, after installation make sure to select the directory that you downloaded the image to.

Next we need to log in through the console, you can use your favorite software I like Tera Term the default username and password is Cisco, type enable and you will be prompted for a password here we type Cisco. Once this is done we need to load the new image from the TFTP server. Here is the command: 
archive download-sw /force-reload /overwrite tftp:// <ip address of TFTP server>/<name of                 the file>   then press enter.

The system will restart and obtain an IP address from the DHCP server. With this address you can now log in through the web interface and configure your access point. Here is a link to a video that gives step by step how to change from Autonomous to lightweight and back. It is a very good and thorough video

Scott Gamet
A+, NET+
MCST Windows 7

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Veeam Endpoint Backup Free

Veeam has released their newest free backup software called Endpoint Backup. This is another free backup solution from Veeam; although it is free it is feature backed and very solid, just like the rest of their software. This is their first software to work for physical machine; they have many different products for Hyper-V and VMWare.

Endpoint Backup Free is a very full featured program simulate to the look of Veeam One. You have the ability to do full backups as well as volume and file level backups. Scheduling is built in as well and throttling, this way you can have it run in the background with little performance loss. You can back up to a local or file location, and if you have Veeam in your corporate environment you can integrate it directly into your repository. This also allows for integration into your current Veeam software solution as another, or several backup devices.

For the consumer who is looking for a simple and feature rich solution for backing up their personal computers this is a great solution. You can use a NAS or direct connected storage or a SMB share.

With the file selection you have the control to select exactly what you want to backup, you can even exclude specific files or file types.

                You can set Endpoint Backup to save a specific number of sequential backups as well as for long. The number of sequences option supersedes the number of days, this meaning if you have it set to save only for 2 days but you don’t have any backups for 2 days it is not going to erase any backups until you make a new one. This feature is great for vacations and other events where you may not use the device for a set time.
                The recovery tools that are built in allow for nearly every possible solution. This includes ISO and virtual disk formats. Built in is also a recovery console that allows for standard Windows recovery features as well as a few new ones. Veeam is known for its ability for fast recovery, this now expands to physical devices.

Scott Gamet
A+  Net+