Arman Gungor's Blog Litigation Support and Technology

10Sep/100

Western Digital Fiasco

I bought a Western Digital My Book Essential 2 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive yesterday. When I plugged it into my computer, I was greeted by a driver installation prompt. I have seen hard drives and flash drives with launchers before and swiftly ignored the prompt and let the driver installation fail. I noticed that a separate, read-only volume with WD junk popped up as expected. I proceeded straight to disk management to remove the hidden partition and re-format the drive as a vanilla hard drive. To my dismay, WD appears to have integrated this hidden partition into the drive's firmware! Apparently, it is not possible to simply re-format and get rid of this hidden partition short of taking the actual hard drive out of the enclosure (voiding the warranty) and plugging it directly to the computer as an internal HDD via SATA. WD provides a piece of software that hides the read-only partition from view but does not delete the junk software or prevent the automatic driver installation prompt.

I have several problems with the software that comes with the drive:

* The driver installation is problematic and works only on Windows. Consequently, the drive causes problems when used in MacOs, Linux or any other non-Windows system such as XBox, PS3 etc.
* The software bundled with the hard drive takes up a significant amount of disk space, reducing the usable disk space on the drive.
* Most importantly, when I buy a hard drive, I expect it to function as a hard drive. I do not require additional junkware, especially the non-removable kind, to help me "manage" my data.
* Need I say that the software is worthless?

I think this is a disgrace and a big blow to any power user. The drive is going back to where I bought it from tomorrow and Western Digital lost some points in my book. I heard that the same problem applies to their passport model mini hard drives (of which I used to buy older versions regularly) as well and there is a fairly large community of people bashing them as we speak. I may continue to use their internal hard drives but I will look for a better alternative for external hard drives.

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7Sep/100

How to Shrink SQL Database Logs

SQL database logs have the tendency to get very large if you are using SQL in full recovery mode. If you have come to a point where you are certain that you will not need point in time recovery and if you would like to reclaim the space log files are taking, you can issue the following command in SQL 2005 or before. This will truncate the transaction log and shrink the log file. For the purposes of this example, let's assume that our log file is named "Sample_log.ldf" and our database is called Sample.

DBCC SHRINKFILE(Sample_log, 1)
BACKUP LOG Sample WITH TRUNCATE_ONLY
DBCC SHRINKFILE(Sample_log, 1)

If you are using SQL 2008, you will notice that the TRUNCATE_ONLY backup option has been discontinued. The only way I was able to find to truncate the log in SQL 2008 was to temporarily switch the database recovery model to simple, shrink the log and switch back to full recovery mode. You can accomplish this as follows:

ALTER DATABASE Sample SET RECOVERY SIMPLE
CHECKPOINT
DBCC SHRINKFILE(Sample_log, 1)
ALTER DATABASE Sample SET RECOVERY FULL

From a best practices standpoint, truncating log files is not recommended.  If you need full recovery, you should ideally invest into sufficient disk space to accommodate the log files.

7Sep/100

Opening Older Ms Word Documents in Word 2007

We occasionally run into Word documents created with older versions of Ms Word (i.e. Word 2.0). When we attempt to open such files in Word 2007, we get an error message along the lines of: "You are attempting to open a file that was created in an earlier version of Microsoft Office. This file type is blocked from opening in this version by your registry policy setting." Here is a quick fix:

Create a new key called "FileOpenBlock" under:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\Security\

Create a DWORD value under this key called "FilesBeforeVersion" and set its value to 0.

This should allow Word 2007 to open files created on older versions.