Archive for November, 2014

Download PVSCSI Driver for VMware Paravirtual SCSI

November 25th, 2014 by Admin

When VMware released ESXi 4.0, they officially supported booting your OS drive from a paravirtual SCSI controller. Comparing to BusLogic and LSI Logic, Paravirtual SCSI (PVSCSI) controllers are high-performance storage controllers that can result in greater throughput and lower CPU utilization. However, since Windows doesn’t have native driver for the VMware PVSCSI adapter, you will find that a paravirtualized hard disk can’t be recognized during Windows installation or booting from WinPE.

To fix this problem you need to grab the pvscsi driver and add it to your WinPE bootdisk, or load the driver on the fly. But it’s not easy to extract pvscsi boot floppy images from VMware ESXi. Lucikly I came across a floppy disk image called pvscsi_windows2008.flp under my VMware Workstation installation directory: C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation\Resources.

For your convenience, we load the pvscsi-Windows2008.flp image in our virtual floppy drive and then archive the setup files in both .iso and .zip formats. Below you can download pvscsi driver for VMware Paravirtual SCSI in different formats:

How to Install Windows 8.1 on VMware Boot Disk Based on PVSCSI Adapter

November 24th, 2014 by Admin

VMware offers multiple types of virtual SCSI-adapters to use in your virtual machines. Based on your choice of operating system VMware will use Buslogic or LSI logic adapter by default. However, there is a Paravirtual SCSI controller that can improve performance for your virtual machines, especially in environments with high IO-loads. In this article we’ll walk you through the steps of installing Windows 8.1 on a boot disk based on PVSCSI adapter in VMware ESXi.

Part 1: Create A New Virtual Machine

  1. Open up your VMware vSphere Client and log into your server. Once you’ve gained access to the vSphere Client, right-click on your server IP address and choose New Virtual Machine.

    new-virtual-machine

  2. This will launch the Create New Virtual Machine wizard as shown below. Choose Custom for the configuration as we need to specify VMware Paravirtual as the SCSI controller of this VM later.

    custom-configuration

  3. Specify the name of the VM instance in the “Name and Location” section. In this example, I gave Windows 8.1 as the VM name.

    specify-vm-name

  4. This step prompts you to choose a datastore as the location of your virtual hard disk. In this example, there is only one datastore available with the name datastore1 in my VMware ESXi server.

    select-datastore-for-vm

  5. Next vSphere client asks for the version of virtual machine to be set up. This will only be a concern if you are using this machine with an older version of VMware ESXi. I would choose the latest version 8.

    virtual-machine-version

  6. Choose what operating system you would like to install on your virtual machine.

    specify-guest-os

  7. Next you are prompted for the number of processors. The value set here is what the virtual machine will think it has. You can allocate a maximum equal to the number of physical cores you have.

    virtual-cpu-number

  8. Next you can configure the amount of RAM to be allocated to the virtual machine.

    set-vm-memory-size

  9. Next you can specify if the number of NICs to be allocated to the virtual machine. Here I will leave it at the default value.

    create-vm-network-connectio

  10. Choose VMware Paravirtual as it is high-performance storage adapter that can result in greater throughput and lower CPU utilization.

    esxi-scsi-controller

  11. Next comes the step of setting up a virtual hard disk. You could alternatively use an existing virtual disk that you have created before, or create a new virtual disk.

    create-new-virtual-disk

  12. Choose how much disk space you would like to allocated from the datastore for this particular VM. In this example, the available disk space in the datastore1 is 40 GB. I’ll allocate 15 GB for the virtual disk of this VM.

    specify-virtual-disk-size

  13. Next I would need to specify how the virtual disk is connected. Select SCSI as virtual device node and click Next.

    virtual-device-node

  14. Your virtual machine is almost done. Review your settings and then click Finish. The VMware ESXi server starts to create the virtual machine.

    review-vm-settings

Part 2: Mount PVSCSI Driver to Virtual Floppy Drive

Because Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 don’t provide VMware PVSCSI driver directly on the installation media, we need to mount the PVSCSI driver to the floppy drive. Follow these steps:

  1. When the virtual machine has been created, right-click on it in the inventory and click Edit Settings.

    edit-vm-settings

  2. When the Virtual Machine Properties dialog appears, click Hardware tab and select Floppy drive 1.

    mount-floppy-image

  3. Select “Use existing floppy image in datastore“, browse to folder vmimages > floppies and then select pvscsi-Windows2008.flp. Click OK.

    select-pvscsi-driver

  4. Check “Connect at power on“. Click OK to save your changes.

    connect-floppy-at-power-on

Part 3: Install Windows 8.1

  1. Power on the newly-created virtual machine. On the toolbar on top of the screen, click the CD icon, mouseover CD/DVD drive 1, and then select your Windows 8.1 setup disc or Windows 8.1 ISO image.

    mount-windows-setup-iso

  2. After the VM boots from Windows 8.1 setup disc or ISO image, you’ll see the message “Press any key to boot from CD“. Press a key and you’ll get to the Windows Setup screen.

    windows-81-setup

  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation. However, when you come to the step which prompts you to choose a partition for Windows 8.1 installation, you’ll notice that it is unable to find any hard disks due to the lack of native driver support with VMware Paravirtual.

    select-partition-for-window

  4. In order to load the PVSCSI driver, click Load Driver. Browse to the Floppy Disk Drive (A:) > amd64 and click OK.

    locate-pvscsi-driver

  5. At this point you’ll see the VMware PVSCSI controller driver is detected, click Next to load the driver.

    install-pvscsi-driver

  6. Now you’ll then be able to see the hard disk.

    pvscsi-hard-drive

    Run through the rest of the Windows Installation as you normally would.

2 Methods to Change Boot Order of Guest VM in VMware ESXi

November 24th, 2014 by Admin

If you want to boot a virtual machine from a CD or ISO image, you need to change the boot sequence so that it starts with virtual CD drive. However, it can be difficult to access the BIOS Setup as the POST screen clears too quickly, especially if you’ve enabled UEFI in your VM. In this article I’ll describe 2 methods to change the boot order for a guest VM hosted by VMware ESXi.

Method 1: Change Boot Order Using vSphere Client

  1. Open up your VMware vSphere Client and log into your server. Make sure the VM that you want to modify is powered off.
  2. In the vSphere Client inventory, right-click on the virtual machine and select Edit Settings.

    edit-vm-settings

  3. When the Virtual Machine Properties dialog appears, click the Options tab. From the list on the left, click Advanced > General. Click the Configuration Parameters button on the right.

    vm-properties

  4. In the Configuration Parameters dialog, click Add Row button. Type bios.bootOrder to the Name column and the devices (for example, cdrom,hdd,floppy) in the Value column.

    configuration-parameters

  5. Click OK to save the changes.

Method 2: Modify .VMX File in VMware ESXi

  1. Open up your VMware vSphere Client and log into your server. Make sure the VM that you want to modify is powered off.
  2. Click on your target virtual machine from the left side tree, and then click Summary tab on the right pane.
  3. Under the Resources area for your VM, there should be a list of datastores. Right-click on the datastore where the target VM files are saved, and select Browse Datastore.

    vSphere-client

  4. Navigate to the folder for your particular VM, and find the .vmx file. Right-click on the file and select Download. Save the file somewhere easily accessible.

    dowload-file-from-datastore

  5. Open up the .vmx file with WordPad or your favorite text editor, and then add the following line to the bottom of the file:
    bios.bootOrder = "cdrom,hdd,floppy"

    bios-boot-order

    The line above will set the boot sequence to cdrom, hdd and floppy. Save the file.

  6. Go back to the Datastore Browser. Click the upload icon in the toolbar and select Upload File, and select your modified .vmx file. Upload it to overwrite the existing .vmx file in your VM.

    upload-file-to-datastore

How to Lock the Start Menu Layout from Being Changed in Windows 10

November 22nd, 2014 by Admin

With Windows 10, the Start button and the traditional Start Menu are back, and it’s much more customizable than it ever has been before. In our previous post we’ve covered how to customize the Start Menu in Windows 10. After personalizing and organizing the Start Menu, you might want to lock the Start Menu layout to prevent any accidental changes. Here is a simple registry hack to lock the Start Menu layout.

How to Lock the Start Menu Layout from Being Changed in Windows 10?

  1. Press the Windows key + R to bring up the Run box. Type regedit and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to the following registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies
    In left-side pane, right-click on Policies and select “New -> Key” and give it name Explorer.
  3. Now right-click on the right-side pane, and then create a new 32-bit DWORD and name it NoChangeStartMenu, and set the value to 1.

    no-change-start-menu

  4. That’s it. You will need to restart your system for the changes to come into effect. Your current user should be unable to rearrange the Start Menu layout, pin or unpin items to or from Start Menu. This trick also works with Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.

This method will lock the Start Menu layout only for your current user. If you want to lock the layout for all users, just navigate to the registry location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies, then repeat the same steps above to create a NoChangeStartMenu entry and it will work.

Windows 10 Tip: Remove the Search Button from the Taskbar

November 21st, 2014 by Admin

If you’ve installed Windows 10 Technical Preview, you should have noticed that there is a new Search button added to the taskbar, placed right after the Start menu button.

windows-10-search-button

The Search button takes up valuable space on the taskbar, and it’s mostly useful for touchscreen devices. Here is a registry hack to get rid of the Search button from the taskbar.

How to Hide / Remove the Search Button from the Taskbar?

  1. Press the Windows key + R to bring up the Run box. Type regedit and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Browse to the following registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

    In left-side pane, right-click on CurrentVersion and select “New -> Key” and give it name Search.

  3. Now right-click on the right-side pane, and then create a new 32-bit DWORD and name it SearchboxTaskbarMode, and set the value to 0.

    disable-search-box

  4. Once this is done, restart Windows 10 and the Search button should be gone. To bring the button back, delete the value that you just added.

How to Create Windows 8.1 PE Boot CD/USB Drive

November 20th, 2014 by Admin

WinPE (Windows PE) is a stripped down version of Windows. It has the bare minimum drivers and files just enough to run the installer and the repair tools. WinPE does not require a hard drive to boot, it can run solely from a CD drive using the memory for dynamic data. This feature makes WinPE appealing for data recovery and system maintenance purposes. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to manually create a bootable WinPE 5.0 CD/USB drive. WinPE 5.0 is based on Windows 8.1.

How to Create Windows 8.1 PE Boot CD/USB Drive?

  1. WinPE 5.0 is part of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) for Windows 8.1, which you can download here. When you install the ADK, you only need to select these two features: Deployment Tools and Windows Preinstallation Environment.
  2. After installing, launch the Deployment Tools and Imaging Environment. Create an empty folder such as c:\winpe, and then type this command:
    copype.cmd amd64 c:\winpe
    If you want to make a 32-bit WinPE bootdisk, just replace amd64 with x86. This step will copy the boot files and the Windows PE boot image (boot.wim) to the folder c:\winpe\media.
  3. If you need to make changes to the WinPE boot image, you need to mount the image before adding drivers or other third-party apps:
    dism /mount-image /imagefile:c:\winpe\media\sources\boot.wim /index:1 /mountdir:c:\winpe\mount
  4. After mounting the image, you can add any specific RAID or storage drivers, in order for your hard drive to be recognized by the WinPE bootdisk. You will need to collect and extract the raw .inf and .sys driver files in order to install the driver.
    dism /image:c:\winpe\mount /add-driver:"c:/storage/iaStor.inf"
  5. Unmount the image and commit the changes back to the WinPE boot.wim file.
    dism /unmount-image /mountdir:c:\winpe\mount /commit
  6. Now that we have the base image (boot.wim) and its time to create the bootable WinPE ISO image by running the following command:
    oscdimg -b"c:\winpe\fwfiles\etfsboot.com" -n c:\winpe\media c:\winpe\winpe.iso
  7. Finally, you can burn the ISO image (winpe.iso) onto a CD-ROM or USB stick. You can use the freeware ISO2Disc, Rufus, Imgburn or any other burning application of your choice.

Fix the 0x000000C4 Error: Your PC Needs To Restart

November 19th, 2014 by Admin

When you try to install Windows 8.1 64-bit in Oracle VM VirtualBox / VMware Workstation, or boot a virtual machine from Windows 8.1 64-bit PE image, you might receive the following error message:

Your PC needs to restart
Please hold down the power button.
Error code: 0x000000C4
Parameters:
0x0000000000000091
0x000000000000000F
0xFFFFF8028E363A80
0x0000000000000000

0x000000C4

The problem exists only with the Windows 8.1 64-bit. The 32-bit version works fine. This problem is similar to the blue screen error 0x0000005D that we previously covered in this article: How to Fix Error 0x0000005D When Booting from Windows 8 Installation Disc.

If you got the 0x000000C4 error while booting an existing virtual machine from Windows 8.1 64-bit PE image, the temporary solution is changing your guest OS to 64-bit. This article has explained how to change the OS version in VirtualBox and VMware Workstation: VirtualBox and VMware Error 0x0000005D Fix: Your PC Needs To Restart.

If you got the 0x000000C4 error when you try to install Windows 8.1 64-bit in VirtualBox, please perform the following steps to resolve:

  1. First of all, you need to find the name of your problematic virtual machine in the VirtualBox Manager interface:

    oracle-virtualbox

    Or open an elevated Command Prompt, type the following command to list your virtual machine’s name:
    "c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" list vms

    list-virtualbox-vms

  2. Next paste following command followed by Enter:

    "c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" setextradata "virtual_machine_name" VBoxInternal/CPUM/CMPXCHG16B 1

    Replace virtual_machine_name with the name of the virtual machine name which you find in the step above.

    fix-virtualbox-bluescreen

  3. That’s it! Close the Command Prompt, and you can now install Windows 8.1 64-bit in VirtualBox without the blue screen error 0x000000C4.

Another workaround is upgrading VirtualBox to the latest version 4.3.18 which claims to have this issue fixed already. If you got the 0x000000C4 error with Windows Server 2012 R2, the solution is the same as for Windows 8.1.

Microsoft Tool to Download Windows 8.1 ISO and Create Installation Media

November 12th, 2014 by Admin

Ready to install or reinstall Windows 8.1 but you don’t have a installation disc? In the past, it’s quite difficult to grab a copy of Windows setup ISO image, even if you have a genuine product key at hand. And now, thanks to a new online tool from Microsoft – Windows Installation Media Creating Tool, which lets you to download Windows 8.1 ISO image and create a installation media right away.

To download and create a bootable CD or USB flash drive with the Windows 8.1 installation files, please follow the steps below:

  1. Head over to Microsoft’s installation tool webpage, and then click the Create media button to download Windows Installation Media Creation Tool (about 1.26 Mb).
  2. Once the file finishes downloading, double-click it to launch the Windows Installation Media Creation Tool. Connect your USB flash drive (at least 4 GB of space should be available) or insert a blank DVD.
  3. This program allows you to select your desired language, Windows 8.1 edition and system architecture (32-bit or 64-bit). As far as editions are concerned, you can get Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro, the N versions of both operating systems, or a single language Windows 8.1 version.

    media-creation-tool

  4. After clicking the Next button, you’ll be presented with two options to save the installation file: create a Windows 8.1 installation USB drive or save the setup ISO image for later user. If you don’t have a USB drive at hand, you should select the 2nd option to save the installation ISO image on your PC which can then be burned to a DVD.

    save-windows-installation

  5. Click Next to download or create the install media. This will take a while depending on the speed of your Internet connection and Windows 8.1 edition that you’re downloading.

    download-installation-file

    Once this is done, you can use the USB flash drive to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1 right away, or burn the ISO image to CD/USB with the freeware ISO2Disc.

How to Restore Windows Registry to A Previous State

November 11th, 2014 by Admin

Did you mess up the Windows registry and need to restore it to a previous state? Problems with the Windows registry can cause your computer to freeze, slow down, restart randomly, or be unusable. Luckily, since Windows 7, the system will automatically make a backup of your registry files after a successful boot. Here we’ll explain how to restore your Windows registry to a previous state, in order to fix / repair a corrupted registry.

How to Restore Windows Registry to A Previous State?

As the registry files are inaccessible while Windows is running, you need to boot your PC from a boot media for replacing the registry. Here we’ll use the PCUnlocker utilty, which comes as a self-extracting zip file containing a bootable CD image. Download the program and unzip it locally. Burn the CD image to a blank CD with your favorite burning program or ISO2Disc.

Boot your computer from the newly burned CD. After booting from the CD, you’ll get to the PCUnlocker program. Despite this program is mainly designed for resetting lost Windows password, it can also be used to backup the files on your computer, including the registry. Click on the “Option” button and select “Launch Command Prompt”.

Before restoring, I highly recommend you to take a backup of your current registry files, by typing these commands, one by one, and press Enter after each (Assuming C drive is the driver letter of your Windows installation).

mkdir c:\regbackup
copy c:\windows\system32\config c:\regbackup

These commands will create a backup folder and copy all your current registry files to that folder.

In Windows 10, 8 and 7, there is a folder called RegBack on your system partition which contains the most recent copy of registry files that were backed up automatically by Windows. Here we need to copy the registry files from C:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack   to C:\Windows\System32\config. To do so type in this command:

copy c:\windows\system32\config\RegBack c:\windows\system32\config

Now you’ve successfully restored your Windows registry files to last known good state. Remove the CD and restart your computer to see if you are able to boot into Windows properly.