The Microsoft DLL Help Database – retired

SilverSeekKB back in February 2010.  Used to use the DLL Help Database quite a bit back in the heady of Windows 9x and NT4 SOE Development/Support.

I was reminded of it today when I read about SilverSeekKB.

DLL Help Database allowed you to look up a Microsoft DLL file to see what product that particular DLL version shipped with.

SilverSeekKB is kinda like that, but isn’t.

SilverSeekKB allows you to determine the latest available version of any Microsoft binary, which is handy to know.  It’s handy to know in case you’re searching for a new binary because the current binary is:

  1. causing a Blue Screen of Death, or
  2. you’ve been asked to apply a patch, and are wondering if that is the latest patch available.

There is also the “System Inspector” option, which allows you to scan a local system to see what later patches are available for installation.

Thank you for writing it Julien Clauzel.

6, 8 and 16 free, not-free, and online-backup solutions.

A backup of your information is only good if it is stored in a separate place, such your office.  Or stored with a web Online Backup service.  This list last updated August 2014.

Local Backup, aka You Store It

Free
Cobian Backup
Fling 
Karen’s Replicator
Microsoft SyncToy v2
SyncBack Freeware Edition
Unison

Not-free
AllSync
BounceBack Ultimate
EMC Replistor
FileBack PC
Second Copy
SynchronEX
Super Flexible File Synchronizer
SyncBackSE

Online Backup aka they store it

Name Free service? Plans from Free trial? Paid for space Maximum Limit?
BackBlaze No $5 Yes Unlimited Unlimited
Carbonite No $59.95 (year) Yes Unlimited Unlimited
Comodo Cloud No $80 (year) Yes 100GB 500GB
CrashPlan Yes $3.96 Yes Unlimited
CrashPlan Pro No $396 (year) Yes Unlimited
DropBox Yes, 2 GB $10.99 100 GB 500 GB
Egnyte No $96 (year) Yes 1 TB Unlimited
Final-Byte No $7.95 Yes 5 GB 100 GB
Gmail Sync Yes, Unlimited
iDrive Yes, 5GB $37.12 (yearly) No 300 GB 300 GB
Iron Mountain No <unknown> No <unknown> <unknown>
Jungle Disk No $4 No 5 GB Unlimited
Microsoft OneDrive Yes, 15 GB $1.99 100 GB 1 TB
Mozy Yes, 2 GB $5.95 50 GB ?
SOS Online Backup No $7.99 No Unlimited Unlimited
SpiderOak Yes, 2GB $10 100 GB Unlimited

Me?  I use SyncBackSE with a collection of Western Digital and Seagate external hard drives.

Some notes, as of August 2014:

  • I last updated this list in January 2010, and the thing I’m impressed with is that all “Online Backup” providers are still around.
  • A number of Online Backup providers offer mobile device backup as well, which is useful for Smartphones and Tablets.

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15 Password Managers

Sorry - Your Password Isn't Not Long Enough

You might have seen this cartoon here before, but it’s worth repeating, as it’s that time of month.  Some organisations require passwords that are longer than the 12 digit codes needed to arm a nuclear weapon.

I’m not the first to notice this. Jesper M. Johansson wrote about in-actionable security advice in an Microsoft Technet magazine article series called Passwords and Credit Cards.

So how do people remember passwords?

  1. Write them down and stick them under a keyboard (aka Koolpin$Gorge*)
  2. Store them in a password spreadsheet/document?
  3. Use a password manager?

It’s option 3 for me.  I use the LastPass password manager. But here are some others to consider:

Name and download link Comments Free / Commercial?
1Password Version available for Macintosh, Windows, iPhone, iPad & Android.  It’s possible, via Dropbox, to sync your 1Password databases between your different systems. $49.95
AcrylicApps Wallet Mac and iOS only $9.99 (iOS) $19.85 (Mac)
LastPass I use this.  There is a portable version called “LastPass Pocket”.   Does form-filling as well. Free version.
Premium version adds mobile device support amongst other features.  $12 per year.
KeePass Free.  Open source.  Maintained. Free
Microsoft Credential Manager Free with Windows 7 & 8.  Stores Windows and website logons. Free
PassBox Windows only. $5
Passgen Written by the great Jesper M. Johansson.  Hosted by Steve Riley @ his old Microsoft Technet blog.
Not a password manager as such.
Free
Passpack “Store logins to all online accounts. Share passwords on a need-to-know basis. 1 Click Login for everyone.“
They blog! (thanks Louise)
Free.
Non-free versions from $18 per year.
Password Gorilla Windows & Mac Free
Password Manager XP I know large companies which use this. $24.95
Password Minder Written by Keith Brown.  Worth a look.
Note: Download link here.
Free
Password Safe As mentioned by Jesper.  Free.  Open Source. Free
RoboForm More of a "web form filling" application, but it stores passwords as well.   Multi-platform (ie. iPhone/Windows/Macintosh/Linux). Free.
RoboForm Everywhere adds multiple device support.  $9.95 per year.
Sticky Password Evolved from the multi-Pass password manager.  iPhone and Android version available as well.   “Sticky Password is now also supporting Android as well and is cloud based with option to choose offline version for those who do not like to have their data being synced over the cloud.” $12 per year.
UsableLogin Generate unique secure passwords for each website you login to.   Multi-platform. Free

* a server, for a sensitive organisation, had the server password stored under the server keyboard. Koolpin Gorge was where the server guy took his last annual leave.

edited 21 September: let’s make it 8 password managers, thanks for the comments folks.
edited 12 October: added Passgen tool description and link.
edited 27 May: added Password Minder.
edited 31st October: added Microsoft Credential Manager & Sticky Password
edited 7 May 2013: updated links/comments.  Added PassBox
edited 26 November 2013: Added Password Gorilla & Free/Commercial column.
edited 5 December 2013: Added AcrylicApps Wallet and updated the Sticky Password comments

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File searching with Agent Ransack

Back in October 2006, I wrote that I used Copernic and Google Desktop. Search  Time has moved on and now I use Agent Ransack.  Google stopped supporting Desktop Search in September 2011, and well, Copernic is a $49.95 product.  I’m not against paying for software, but I prefer free.

So now I’m using a product called Agent Ransack.  It’s the “free” version.  Agent Ransack is fast enough for what I want.  The only thing I wish it would do in the free version would be for it to scan compressed files (ZIP, CAB, RAR, 7Z and the like).

AgentRansack

Running applications with separate “Admin” account privileges

Nexus

We have normal logon accounts, and then we have “Admin_” accounts for doing things, such as user account password changes & Group Policy management.

It is, to say the least, a pain to either:

  • log out of my standard account and login with my Admin_ account or
  • run each program with the “Run As User” option.

A co-worker suggested I look at the “Winstep Nexus Dock” toolbar.  It allows me to put all the utilities I need to run with my “Admin_” account into the toolbar, such as program shortcuts.

At start-up, I “Run As” the Nexus Dock with “Admin_” credentials.  Once the Nexus Dock is loaded, it will pass those credentials onto the program shortcuts.

There is a paid “Ultimate” version at $24.95US, which gives you additional features, but I find the free version does what I want.

The Australian Signals Directorate has published an explanatory article here explains why minimizing admin privileges is a good idea.

WinDirStat causing a Bluescreen?!?

windirstatWinDirStat is a good little disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool.  But both times I’ve used the Delete option, I’ve ended up with a BlueScreen of Death.

It’s happened a couple of times now.  As I use TrueCrypted volumes, it’s easier to rebuild the PCs then the lengthy recovery process.    Googling, I found that the authors of WinDirStat state:

Several users had contacted us and claimed that WDS caused their systems to show the dreaded BSOD. As a driver developer I know that this is impossible since no user mode program can crash the system with BSOD unless some driver or other kernel mode component fails to check its parameters or whatever else.
WinDirStat causing blue screens?

Just one of those things I suppose. …

I hate grovelling around in Blue Screens of Death.

They’ll tell you why something crashed, eventually.  And the data a crash dump gives you isn’t a matter of opinion.  It is what is is.  So it’s a good piece of data to have, but it’s painful to wade though.

So I was overjoyed when when of our field support techs reported a problem to us, with the summary:

Multiple PCs have bluescreen’d multiple times.  Using BlueScreenView, it looks like the Intel video driver is the cause.

bluescreenview  (this screenshot sample is from the Nirsoft website).

I was overjoyed because this was the first time I’d heard of BlueScreenView.   From the BlueScreenView website:
”BlueScreenView scans all your minidump files created during ‘blue screen of death’ crashes, and displays the information about all crashes in one table. …”

This utility will make the initial diagnosis of a BSOD much easier.  I’ll be adding it to my diagnostic tool kit .