How to Get iOS Devices to Work with Windows Servers

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 Jeff's iOS devices and Windows servers blog-3

A while ago a client asked, “How can I use my Apple iPad with my documents at work?” 

Initially, it seemed like an easy question. Windows computers and iPads are both very popular products; of course there would be an easy solution. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be.

These two large competitors are not very interested in working together. My client, who had his shares on a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server and wanted his Apple iPad to access those shares, had presented a challenge.

There were obvious solutions. You could use any number of remote desktop apps, such as Teamviewer, to get into your company’s terminal server, to work on the server’s desktop. But my client did not want to remote-in to anything. He wanted to access the documents without needing any device. He wanted to be able to use his domain credentials to authenticate and access shares.

I realized my solution needed to be broken out into a few parts. The first was to get an iOS device onto a Windows domain network. That’s actually the easiest part out of this entire process; every iOS device has a VPN tool built-in. As long as your network has RRAS (PPTP on port 1723), you can join the device to the network. If you are inside the network and have WiFi, even easier. To find the VPN tool on your iOS device, go to Settings –> VPN. It will request your information for connecting, simple as that. WiFi is in the exact same location (Settings –> WiFi).

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FileBrowser

Once connected to the network, you need to browse SMB shares. Unfortunately, Apple decided not to build this portion into their devices. You need a separate app. I tried out many, but the one I liked most was FileBrowser ($5.99). For any business looking to complete this task, it’s worth the price. FileBrowser allows you to set up locations in your iOS device, called Remote Servers, and connect to see all shares to which your domain credentials have access. For my example we joined a VPN, then mapped a “Remote Server” to an internal IP address where his file server existed, and then reviewed the various shares related to that file server.

If you have your shares locked down in the appropriate security groups, you will only see the shares to which you have access. (FileBrowser doesn’t get around any security flaws that could be present. It’s all based on your domain credentials.

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Google Docs

My client loved this, but he added one last piece to the puzzle. His company didn’t want to just view the files, they wanted to edit them, too. After much searching, I found the best tool for this job in another app (a free one) called QuickOffice, by Google (later replaced by a more powerful version of Office editing, Google Docs.) With Google Docs you can pull up any of the FileBrowser-searched documents, edit them with tools very similar to Microsoft’s Office suite, and then place them back on the server.

Although it sounds complicated, all the apps worked together seamlessly to allow my client’s company to review and edit files in their Windows environment, thus allowing them to integrate Apple devices into their Windows domain. And in the end, my client was happy.

For more information on how you can integrate your Apple products into a Windows domain, call Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

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How to Open Multiple Windows in Excel, on Multiple Monitors

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 Excel monitors

Recently, a colleague taught me a neat trick in Excel. We’re both huge fans of the program, and we get strangely excited when we acquire new tips and tricks. Normally, the tricks we seek have something to do with complicated formulas or pivot tables. But this time it was something as simple as “How to open multiple windows in Excel, on multiple monitors.”

I’m sure anyone who has used Excel before knows that you can’t open two separate spreadsheets in two separate windows. I find that extremely frustrating because my job often requires me to compare data between different spreadsheets.  As a user with two monitors, I want to be able to compare those files side by side on each of my screens. Are you in the same boat?

Well, I have the answer to our problem. Behold! How to open multiple windows in Excel…

Step 1: Open up your first Excel spreadsheet (in the way that you normally would).

Step 2: Open your start menu and locate the Excel icon.

Step 3: Press and hold the “Alt” key and select the Excel icon with your mouse.

Step 4: BOOM! You now have two separate files open in two separate windows.

Excel

(Note: This process also works with more than two windows.)

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Networking Macs & PCs Together

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 windows and mac communicating

Here at Everon we primarily deal with the Windows environment. However, as Macs have become increasingly popular in the business world, we have gone with the tides and have been assisting in the troubleshooting of Macs, as well. At times, however, those two different types of operating systems can conflict with each other. Here’s how to solve that.

I, myself, have an Apple Mac on Mavericks OS and an HP machine on Windows 7 Professional OS. Sometimes I need to send files back and forth between the two, so my best idea was to set up a mapped drive between the two machines.

To do this, I started on my Windows PC and created a folder. Due to issues with security under user profiles, I created the folder on my C:\ drive called “Mac.” Once that was created, I right-clicked on the folder, and went into Properties ->Sharing and shared out the folder.

Mac1I then went into Advanced Sharing ->Permissions and ensured that “Everyone” was set to “Full Control.” When dealing with permissions in a Windows environment, it is always best to use your Security permissions as your more restrictive permissions. Sharing should always be set to allow everyone full control, and then you tighten it down from there. (Maybe I will write a blog post about that later. ;) )

Once that is done, go to the Security tab and set your permissions. For me, since I wasn’t too concerned with the security of this share, I simply allowed “Everyone” to have “Modify” permissions (not “Full Control”). The difference between “Modify” and “Full Control” in a Windows environment, is that “Full Control” allows the user/group the ability to change/edit permissions and take ownership. This could mean that someone can lock you out of your own share. “Modify”allows creation, deletion, editing of files and folders inside that share, but does not allow for modifying any properties of that share.

Mac2Now you can lock down your permissions to just your Mac (however, I am not going into that here). Once you have allowed “Everyone” the “Modify” rights to your share, you are ready to share it out on your Mac.

Go to your Mac, and in the Finder, go to GO ->Connect to Server:

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I have modified the image to remove my computer name. However the address string you need to type is the following: smb://{computername}/{sharename}. If you hit the + symbol, it will add this location as your favorites, so you don’t have to type it repeatedly.

Once you have that set, hit “Connect.” This will pop up a new window requesting credentials. These are login credentials to your machine, so input your username and password, and hit Connect:

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This maps the share to your Mac, and you are ready to go! As you can see, I have the mapped share set to show up on my Mac desktop, however this isn’t done automatically, as it merely opens the folder.

Mac5To get the share to show up on your desktop, go to Finder ->Preferences, and inside Preferences put a check mark on Connected Servers. That is it!

Mac6For more help with networking your office Macs to your office PCs, call our technicians at Everon at 1-888-244-1748!

 

What is SFC and what does it do?

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Hello. Today I am going to take a techie subject, break it down in a nontechnical way, and try to explain it at a level that is understood by many people. There is a built-in command within Windows that is called SFC (System File Checker).  Most times, this will be run if you are getting error messages and popups stating a .dll file is missing or could not be found.

SFC is a scanning tool that runs within the command prompt and is used to scan all the protected systems files. It is usually run from an administrator command prompt and will replace all the corrupted system files with a clean version that is pulled from a safe place on the hard drive. This location is not one that can be accessed normally, as it is a compressed folder located at %WinDir% \System32\dllcache (“%WinDir%” is just a way of saying the operating system folder, such as C:\Windows).

SFC will run through a series of checks (and corrections, if it finds any corruption). During this whole process the command prompt will stay open and then state that it is 100% completed. If there is no action that needs to be taken from the scan, you will get a message that says “Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations.” If it did find violations it will fix them, and then you will get a message saying it was successful. Afterwards, you will want to reboot your computer.

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UEFI Boot Was a New One For Me, What About You?

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windows8fastboottime

 

Hello all, and welcome back! Today I am writing another bit of information that I came across recently. I am going to talk about UEFI boot, that was new to Windows 8. As a tech, we are constantly learning, ourselves. With all the new technology coming out all the time, it is really hard keeping up with all the changes. Some of you may already know about UEFI boot, but it was new to me.

UEFI  is “Unified Extensible Firmware Interface,” which provides an interface between an operating system and the BIOS (platform firmware).  It provides extensive recovery options for the operating system even without another operating system. UEFI was created to replace the older BIOS firmware interfaces and has made its way to being the default boot option on all new computers that are being sold.

UEFI has many benefits that are applicable and rather convenient for the people using them. It provides faster boot up times, it provides the ability for “Secure Boot” that helps prevent untrusted applications/codes from starting before the operating system does (malware and viruses for example), the ability to utilize larger hard drives (over 2 TB), and it allows the use of drives with more than 4 partitions.

I am sure that there are more benefits than what I listed but you get the point: it’s pretty great.

As you can tell by this article, I did not go into extreme technical details about UEFI, so if you would like more information about it, please do not hesitate to reach out to a tech here at Everon. We’re available 24/7 at 888-244-1748.