Server upgrades, War, Peace, and other trivialities

Server upgrades, War, Peace, and other trivialities

Server upgrades, War, Peace, and other trivialities

I’ve been visiting the seamy underbelly of Windows Server a lot recently.

In particular, I’ve installed (and uninstalled and reinstalled and backed out) a set of services without achieving a successful upgrade… my goal is now re-set to get the dev system running the way it was a month ago.

What am I still grateful for?

By preparing for partial failure, you can prevent catastrophic failure.
  • I made sure the schedule accounts for and highlights significant unknowns.  No one likes uncertainty, but… if a task might take between 30 minutes and 30 days, don’t stake your credibility by guaranteeing it will be finished in 15 days.  The project sponsor who is pestering you for a new date? Is probably required to return to her own boss and stake her own credibility on the dates that you communicate.  If you yank the rug out from under her too many times, she will lose patience. If you are not ready to pick the delivery date today, try to forecast when you will better understand the new timelines. In other words: agree on a date to pick the date.
  • I backed up the server. Before changing anything, you first had better be quite confident that you can change it back.  In this case, it meant learning the wildcarding techniques that let me back up log files, separately from configuration files, separately from massive application data files. If you are backing up a relational database, take the time to restore from that backup someplace else.  Learning too late that the backup is somehow broken: not a good thing.
  • This trial run is on a development server, not the production server.  Sometimes described as “If you don’t know what you are doing, don’t do it on a large scale.”  When all else fails, use those backups and start again.

And now, a technical detail I learned today:

Removing a Windows Service, forcibly

Sometimes an uninstall program leaves behind a registered windows service. Although your best bet is always to use the uninstall, sometimes that will not work.

In all cases, have a fallback plan!

You should be able to delete the service from the command prompt. This will require knowing the service’s true name, not just the name displayed in the management tool.

  • Using regedit, navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Services”
  • Look up the service and find its name from the registry.
  • Open a command prompt, and type in sc delete <Service name>
  • Refresh the Service Manager, and if the service does not vanish, reboot the server

Hat tip to ‘How to delete a windows service


Image from © Lime Lane Photography

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