Thursday, May 30, 2013

Best blog posts from May

Once a month I take a look back over what I find the most interesting posts from the same month in previous years. Here’s what I found interesting when I delved into the archives.


Doing SharePoint no favours -

In this post I highlight how, in my opinion, Microsoft had ‘dumbed’ down SharePoint on the Office 365 P plan far too much. They had left out or hidden many of the best features of SharePoint. Doing that, I didn’t think, would really drive the adoption of SharePoint. I am glad to say things have changed with the new (Wave 15) version of Office 365 and P Plans.


Locked SharePoint site -

One issue that does arise with SharePoint sites on premise when a backup fails is that the site becomes locked. This is because it is put into ‘read-only/locked’ mode while the backup is taking place. This post details how to unlock a site after something like this happens.

Erky Perky -

This post details how all updates to SharePoint 2010 need to have a manual command line operation run to complete. If you don’t run this then you are not updating your SharePoint 2010 site.


SharePoint 2010 on SBS 2008 – Yes but why? -

After a series on posts on how you can get SharePoint 2010 Foundation running on SBS 2008 I step back and look at the business reasons why this is probably not such a good idea.

Sweat -

Here I look at the fact that success is all about working beyond the average. If you want to improve your physique then you need to exercise. Likewise, if you want to improve your business you need to work hard. Simply doing the same every day leads to mediocrity and places you and your business at risk.



If you are frustrated that you aren’t getting things done then I would suggest you examine whether you are permitting distractions to syphon you time and productivity away.

Complaint handling -

Does your business have a formal process for handling complaints? Most businesses treat complaints with contempt, however they are some of the greatest sources of feedbacks and can easily be converted into raving reviews. However, to do this you should have a formal process in place.


Why people don’t use SharePoint -

My thoughts on why people don’t use SharePoint and what can be done to overcome this.

The relationship bank -

Dealing with others requires a relationship and in this post I share my thoughts on how you can ensure that your relationships can have greater than normal chance of success.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Some perspective on SkyDrive storage

I’m starting to see people get a little agitated about SkyDrive Pro storage so I thought I’d answer some of the most common queries to provide a little balance to what seems to be a bit of unfair ‘Microsoft bashing’ in my opinion.
1. Some seem to think that SkyDrive consumer (i.e. is 25GB of storage. If you sign up today it is actually 7GB, just like SkyDrive Pro. Those that current have 25GB where probably grandfathered when SkyDrive consumer was upgraded a number of years ago. However, if you sign up for SkyDrive consumer today you will only receive 7GB for free.
2. Unlike SkyDrive consumer, SkyDrive Pro does not allow you to purchase additional storage. However, you can purchase additional shared storage for all SharePoint Online plans which you never used to be able to. For example, in in the previous version of Office 365 P plans you couldn’t add storage to SharePoint Online but now you can. Again, and improvement Microsoft has enabled after feedback. I will however point out that although you CAN purchase additional storage for all plans now on some plans it still remains unavailable as I detailed in an earlier blog post:
However, I am sure it isn’t far away for those plans.
3. When Microsoft upgraded SkyDrive consumer they looked at how much storage existing users were using and found that 99.94% used less than 7GB:

You’ll find information about the reasoning on this blog post:
It is therefore totally reasonable in my mind that SkyDrive Pro should initially be set at the same free limit (i.e. 7GB), given they are also looking to make then consistent under the same brand.
4. In the previous version of SharePoint Online users had 500MB (yes MB!) of personal storage for only the Enterprise plans. The version of Office 365 increased that to 7GB for EVERY user on EVERY plan. That is and increase of 1,400% in one upgrade!
5. Microsoft is still in the process of upgrading existing users from the previous version of Office 365. This a HUGE under taking across large numbers of users in large numbers of countries. I am sure they are going to offer the ability to upgrade storage capacity for SkyDrive Pro but please allow them to at least get everyone on the same platform!
6. It is hard for me to understand how multiple users in an organization can have > 7GB of personal files unless they are large images or videos. In that case I would be saying that should that information REALLY be saved into SkyDrive Pro? if such users REALLY needed to have everything in the cloud I would be suggesting using SkyDrive consumer for things like large static images and videos and SkyDrive Pro for Office documents. You can run both quite happily together on a desktop and have information syncing to both locations if desired.
7. To me the biggest limitation of SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint Online is the current 250MB maximum file size rather than the 7GB SkyDrive Pro limit. SkyDrive Pro consumer is 2GB per file in comparison, however I expect Microsoft to raise the limit for SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint Online in the very near future.
Again, remember, if needed you can generally add to SharePoint Online shared storage so if you REALLY wanted those large files in SharePoint Online, and users already have 7GB in SkyDrive Pro, simply purchase additional shared storage and secure it with standard SharePoint security so only required users can access.
So in summary, yes having the option for additional SkyDrive Pro storage, beyond 7GB, would be nice but I’m sure it isn’t too far away. However, this is not really a limiting factor when looking at SharePoint Online as there are alternatives and work-arounds.

Guide discount only lasts till end of May

The birthday discount on my Office 365 and SharePoint Guide only lasts until the end of May (that’s less than 7 days now). After that it will return to its normal price.

So if you have been considering purchasing the Guide remember to read this post to get the details and discount codes:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Linking social network contacts in Office 365

These days people have most of their personal contacts in social media accounts like Linkedin and Facebook. The good thing about many Microsoft products these days is that they provide the ability to link to these. This is also the case for Office 365.


If you login into your Office 365 portal and select People from the menu across the top.


In the lower left you’ll find a link Connect to social network. Press this.


You should now see a list of social networks you can connect to. Elsewhere I have seen Facebook also appear in this list but for some reason I am only seeing Linkedin on my tenant.

Press the Connect link.


Allow Microsoft Office 365 access to your Linkedin account.


Then in a manner of minutes all you social network should appear as contact in Office 365.

Cool eh?

SharePoint Online eDiscovery

One of great new features of SharePoint 2013 is eDiscovery. eDiscovery is the process of discovering (locating) electronically stored information that is relevant to litigation, audits and investigations. With SharePoint Online (Plan 2) this comes already configured. For more information about eDiscovery in SharePoint 2013 start here:

However, I’ll at least show you how to get started with SharePoint Online in this post.


The first steps with eDiscovery in SharePoint Online are to create a seperate eDiscovery site collection. To do that, login to the Office 365 portal as an administrator and select SharePoint from the Admin menu in the top right as shown above.


You should now see all the site collections you have configured for your tenant.


In the top left select the New button and then private Site Collection from the menu that appears.


Give the site a meaningful name (here eDiscovery) and URL (here eDiscover). and then select the Enterprise tab in the Template Selection area. In there you should find an option eDiscovery Center, select this.

Complete the remaining information for the site and press the OK button to create the site.


After a few minutes the site will be created and you can browse to it. When you do you should see something like the above. To get started press the Create new case button on the right.


You’ll now be prompted to create a new site. Thus, for each ‘eDiscovery case’ there will be a unique subsite below the eDiscovery home site.

Give the new case site a name and URL as shown above. The only site template option you have is eDiscovery.

Scroll down for more options.


Complete the remaining options and press the Create button.


You should now see the new case site as shown above.

The next step is to configure the eDiscovery Sets for this case (i.e. where to look for information).

Press the new item hyperlink underneath the eDiscovery Sets at the top of the screen.


In the eDiscovery Set you need to give it a name and then select the Add & Manage Sources hyperlink next to Sources.


Here you can select both Exchange mailboxes and SharePoint sites to search through.

Add the desired locations and press the OK button to save.


Once you have defined the sources to search through you need to create a query for these locations, and you can have multiple queries if you want. To create a new query select the new item hyperlink just under the Queries heading on the case home page.

You can give the query a name and then enter in the terms you wish to search for as shown above. if you press the Search button on the right hand side you will see the results below, again as shown above.

So, that’s the basics of eDiscovery with SharePoint Online. Pretty powerful but yet easy to set up and configure. It is my firm belief that we’ll see more and more eDiscovery requests as we move into the future so having that built-in ability is fantastic benefit of SharePoint 2013 and a great opportunity to understand how to make it really perform.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

SkyDrive Pro client now available for free

In an not unexpected move Microsoft has just release the SkyDrive Pro client as a free download. You can find it here:
Previously, as I have detailed in this blog, the only way that you could obtain the client app was by installing Office 2013 Pro Plus.
This is GREAT news as it makes SharePoint SkyDrive so much easier and available for all users! The SkyDrive Pro client app although now free is still only available for current Windows PC’s but I would expect you’ll see versions for other platforms available very, very soon. So stay tuned to this blog for updates!
Thank you Microsoft.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Typically Google

Before I launch into this tirade I will tell you that I use and like many of the Google products but this sort of experience is typical of what happens when issues do arise with Google services.

If you read “In the Plex” by Steven Levy you’ll learn that Google’s focus is on engineering better products rather than providing support. Their philosophy is that '”users help users”. That works most of the time but sometimes it would really handy to actually get through a real life human being rather than just a python script.

Case in point. I want to sell my eBooks via the Google Play store. so I visit the Google books partner login at:


This presents me with the following blank page:


If I click the Contact Us links I am greeted by:


So now where do I go? Only option seems to go “Googling” for an answer and I REALLY shouldn’t have to do that now SHOULD I?

If someone else out there know what I can do to get my eBooks listed on the Google Play store I’m ALL EARS!

Desktop to Cloud Day a success

I am happy to announce that the CIAOPS Desktop to Cloud day 2013 was a resounding success. Attendees were able to choose from two tracts with 5 sessions in each as well as a panel discussion to end the day.


The average approval for all the sessions by attendees was over 85% which is fantastic!


Some of the feedback received also included:

- Very relevant information

- Presenter knows their stuff

- Excellent presenter


I take this opportunity to thank the presenters:

Andrew McMurray

Jeff Alexander

Mark O’Shea

Leon Tribe

Ishai Sagi

Dean Calvert

Abi Vickram

for their time not only presenting but preparing for the day.

Of course a big thank you goes to everyone who turned up on a Saturday to attend. I hope you got value for your time and enjoyed networking with your peers and the presenters. I’ll make the slide decks available soon for attendees but until then I hope to see you at an upcoming CIAOPS Desktop to Cloud event.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Office 365 email data at rest now encrypted

A while back I wrote a blog post about how I’d found that Office 365 data at rest was not encrypted. However, according to this newly released document:
Security in Office 365 White paper -
It says:
Encrypted Data
Customer data in Office 365 exists in two states: at rest on storage media and in transit from datacenter over a network to a customer device. All email content is encrypted on disk using BitLocker 256-bit AES Encryption. Protection covers all disks on mailbox servers and includes mailbox database files, mailbox transaction log files, search content index files, transport database files, transport transaction log files, and page file OS system disk tracing/message tracking logs.
So it now appears that Microsoft has implemented an additional level of security on client’s data, which is great news! Now if they could only do the same for SharePoint, but I am sure it is coming soon.

Outlook Web App browser offline settings

One of the things you can now do with the version of Outlook via a browser (Outlook Web App) is actually take it offline in a browser. All the details can be found here:

However to enable all you basically need to do is open your Outlook Web Access


In top right of the window select the cog icon.


From the menu that appears select Offline Settings.


Then simply select Turn on offline access.

What else do I need to know (from article)?

Offline access may not make all of your email and calendar information available offline. Some of the available features and limitations are:

  • The last few days of messages. Supported folders include Inbox, Drafts, and any folders viewed within the last few days, up to 20 folders. If you’ve viewed more than 20 folders in the last few days, the most recent 18 plus Inbox and Drafts will be available.
  • In each folder that’s available offline, you will see three days of content, or 150 items, whichever is larger.
  • Attachments aren’t available when offline.
  • The previous month and future year of your calendar.
  • A limited set of upcoming calendar reminders. If you’re offline for a long period of time, calendar reminders will stop working until you go online and Outlook Web App can download current information.
  • Only your primary Calendar will be available offline.
  • All the items in your Contacts folder, plus any people that you email often and any that you’ve emailed recently.
  • Offline access doesn’t include archived folders, Team folders, tasks, or Favorites.
  • You can’t search for or sort items in your mailbox when offline, and the built-in filters won’t work when you’re offline.

You have to enable offline access on each computer that you want to be able to use Outlook Web App on when not connected to a network.

Offline access for Outlook Web App is designed for portable computers such as laptops and notebooks. It can't be enabled in browsers on smaller devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

Your web browser determines where on your computer the offline information is stored and how much space it can use. If your offline information won’t fit in the space that’s been set aside, you may be prompted to increase it. If the space can’t be increased, less of your information will be available when you’re offline.

Office 2013 Quick start guides

Here a range of quick start guides for the latest version of Office (2013) from Microsoft. Each is in PDF format and free to download.


You can access all the guides from:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CIAOPS Podcast–Episode 52

In this podcast Mitch Garvis about Windows Intune.
You can listen to this podcast and subscribe to the series at:
You can support this podcast via
Don't forget all the other previous podcasts at
and appreciate a like over at
Remember if you want to be a guest please contact me (

Copying files to SharePoint using Explorer

The most thing that people want to do with SharePoint is to copy files. This video shows you how to achieve that by using Windows Explorer. Simply and easy

Desktop to Cloud day this Saturday

This Saturday the 18th of May at North Ryde RSL Club from 8.30am I will be conducting the Desktop to Cloud Day 2013.

The event brings together key speakers to talk about the best technologies from both ends of the technology spectrum. If you want to see the full agenda then you can download it at:

You can of course still register for the day at:

Entry includes access to all sessions, meals and refreshments, WiFi access, on site parking and more.

I look forward to meeting you on the day.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Replacement for Microsoft Speed test


A while ago there was a tool known as Microsoft Sped Test ( but for some unknown reason it is no longer operational. It was a great way to get an indication of the speeds from a desktop to the Office 365 data centres.

So, now what can you use? The solution is the Lync Online Transport Reliability IP Probe (TRIPP) tool that can be found at:

Just choose your closest data centre and plug in the URL to your browser. You’ll need to have Java on your machine to run the variety of tests available.

One of the tests (shown above, on the speed tab) allows you to do what Microsoft Speedtest used to do.

I’d strongly recommend you spend the time getting to know this tool as it provides a lot of information and is invaluable in troubleshooting issues with Office 365 in my experience.

Deleted items is NOT for email archiving


One of the really bad email habits that I see people adopt is using their Deleted Items folder as an archive. The belief would seem to be that it is an ‘easy’ way to archive because it only takes a single keystroke (i.e. the Delete button) to ‘archive’ the email.

Because most on premise mail servers never enforced a retention policy (i.e. how long emails are kept) people were not penalized for their bad habits. However, in the world of Office 365 things are a little different. Let me illustrate this with an example.

After a user recently moved to Office 365 they were shocked to find that their ‘email filing system’ (i.e. their Deleted Items folder) had been emptied. Where was it? Why had it been emptied? How do you get it back? Panic! etc , etc, etc.

The reason those emails were removed is that by default Office 365 has a number of default email retention policies in place. One of these is that:

By default, in Exchange Online, the retention period for deleted items is 14 days. The retention period starts when the item deleted is moved to the Recoverable Items folder. After 14 days, items in the Deletions subfolder are automatically moved to the Purges subfolder.

From -

Thus, 14 days after migrating to Office 365 the deleted items folder will be emptied by default. Then 14 days after that the deletions are then sent to purges where they remain for another 14 days. After that they are permanently removed from Exchange Online, i.e. bye, bye filing system. The best way to understand all this is look at:

Can the default retention policy be changed? Yes, but probably an easier way is simply NOT to use Deleted Items as an email archive. Create another folder and drag and drop the ‘email filing system’ there to ensure it is always retained! Deleted Items is designed for exactly what it is called! Deleted Items!

You can read more on Office 365 retention policies and tags here:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Up to $1,500 cash back on Office 365

If you have been considering Office 365 for your business now may be the best time to sign up as Microsoft is offering up to $1,500 cash back for new subscribers before May 31, 2013. The details of the offer are here:
A great incentive that you can take advantage of as we approach the end of the financial year. Remember if you need help deciding what Office 365 plans is best for your business or moving into the cloud don’t hesitate to contact me (

A beginner’s guide to SharePoint Online

Microsoft runs a regular Office 15 minute webinar and recently it focused on SharePoint Online. You can find the video at:

If are interested in getting started with SharePoint Online this video will give you a brief overview. Once you have watched that you can also check out the CIAOPS SkyDrive Pro Primer video:

There are of course plenty of other SharePoint and Office 365 publications over at:

So take a look, however if you haven’t looked at SharePoint and especially SharePoint Online then I’d strongly recommend you do.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Connecting PowerShell to SharePoint Online


So you have configured your environment to have PowerShell connect to Office 365 using my previous blog post:

Configuring PowerShell access in Office 365

However, this only used to provide access to tenant and Exchange administration. With the Wave 15 release of Office 365 you can now also connect to SharePoint Online. here is how to do just that.

You are going to need a machine that has the Windows Management Framework 3.0 installed, which basically means you need PowerShell version 3.0. if you are keeping up with the times and running Windows 8 as your desktop then you already have PowerShell 3.

Next you’ll to install the SharePoint Online Management Shell. The latest one I found is here:

I also found an earlier preview following some links but I’d suggest the latest version is what you want.

So on the Windows 8 machine on which you have the Microsoft Online Services Module for Windows PowerShell installed ,run it as an administrator and accept the UAC.


The next step is to load in the SharePoint Online cmdlets for use in this session. after some digging around I found that they are called:



So at the prompt type:


that should result in the above warning.


Now you will need to log into your Wave 15 account. i normally do this by saving the login details to a variable by typing the following:


A dialog windows as shown above will appear into which you need to enter the login and password of a suitably enabled Office 365 user who can administer SharePoint Online. If in doubt use the initial global administrator that was provisioned with your site.


The next step is now to use those credential to connect to SharePoint Online. To do this execute the following line:

connect-sposervice –url https://<yourtenant> –credential $cred

in my case this was:

connect-sposervice –url –credential $cred


In true PowerShell form, if everything is correct you will simply be returned to a prompt. Now you can execute commands against SharePoint Online. For example the following will display all your SharePoint Online sites by URL in a table:

get-sposite | ft “url”

Now you can start exploring all the cmdlets that are available for SharePoint Online which you can find at the bottom of this page:

Does the same process work on Wave 14 tenants that haven’t yet been upgraded to Wave 15 and SharePoint 2013?


I tried it on my Wave 14 tenant ( above and it worked! Excellent, roll on SharePoint Online control via PowerShell everywhere.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

74-324 Exam Cram notes available for purchase

Because every little bit of information helps you pass those Microsoft Certification exams, I am happy to announce that the training notes from my recent 74-324 Administering Office 365 for SMB Exam Cram sessions are now available for purchase.
In the download you will find:
- 4 x PowerPoint presentations covering each session
- 1 x OneNote 2007 course notes
You will need PowerPoint 2007 and OneNote 2007 or better to view these files.
The material contains over 60 exam questions and answers to help you prepare for the test as well as explanations and other links on Office 365.
You can purchase this product directly from:
or from the CIAOPS Publications page:
Remember, these notes are aimed at helping you pass the current 74-324 exam. Here are some testimonials:
“I sat the exam last night and passed. Roberts Exam cram and links helped tremendously.” – Doug Wilson
“I just passed the O365 exam, I highly recommend that if you are thinking of taking the exam to review all questions in the OneNote that was provided by Robert at the cram exam session and you'll be guaranteed a high pass” – Gregg Mimmo
“I found the Exam Cram training with Robert, further study of his course notes and url references in the notes to be excellent." – Darren Webb
“Passed 74-324 today thanks to Rob's detailed notes and my brain, but mainly Roberts notes. I use O365 everyday and have done since its release but i still got a lot out of the training” – Damian Wiseman
“Robert’s focus on the things you need to know coupled with extensive relevant reference points are a sure formula for success.” – Boris Britbart
As always current subscribers to my SharePoint and Office 365 Guide receive these free as part of their subscription.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Clever Windows Phone ad

Go the Windows Phone

This is a clever ad for the Nokia Windows Phone. It is an interesting commentary on the current state of affairs around technology these days. I am still of the opinion that a Windows Phone is a better overall device but I fully accept that others can make their own choice based on their own preferences.

Perhaps what it signals most is the fact that mobile technology is moving so fast. People are turning over their devices at least every 2 years. That means that manufacturer’s need to come out with new models incessantly. That is pretty demanding.

It will be interesting to see whether this growth levels off or continues to accelerate. If history is any judge we’ll continue to see rapid growth until we reach a point whether only small incremental changes are made. Most modern devices are probably powerful enough for what people need to do these days. What we really need is more bandwidth to overcome the choke point to cloud services.

So sit back and enjoy the video, I’m sure it won’t be the last in this vain.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Office 2013 bulk deployments from Office 365

I wrote a post a while back on doing bulk deployments of Office 2013 from Office 365. since then Microsoft has released an Office Deployment Tool for Click to Run which you can find at:


Once you have downloaded and installed the tool you can run the setup executable with a number of parameters like:

C:\download>setup /?

SETUP mode [path to configuration file]

SETUP /DOWNLOAD [path to configuration file]
SETUP /CONFIGURE [path to configuration file]
SETUP /PACKAGER [path to configuration file] [output path]
/DOWNLOAD  Downloads files to create an Office15 installation source
/CONFIGURE  Adds, removes, or configures an Office15 installation
/PACKAGER  Produces an Office App-V package from an Office installation source

This allows you to download a complete copy of Office 2013 that can then be deployed across a network. Here’s an article on how to do just that:

Download click-to-run for Office 365 products by using the Office Deployment tool -

You can even go further than this by using the configuration.xml file to customize both downloads and deployments. The reference for this file is at:

Click to run configuration.xml reference -

It is great to see Microsoft making the bulk deployment of Office 2013 from Office 365 easier for IT Professionals.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Office 365 and SharePoint Guide turns five

I am proud to announce that the CIAOPS Office 365 and SharePoint Guide has reached it fifth birthday!
So what is it? The Guide is a collection of technical and training material on all aspects Office 365 and SharePoint. It contains, documents, videos, OneNote notebooks, links and more all accessed via a SharePoint portal. At last count there was over 9 hours of videos and 1,500 pages of documentation, all of which is updated monthly with new and additional content.
In the Guide you will find things like:
- Study and preparation material for the 74-324 Administering Office 365 for SMB exam.
- Every CIAOPS publication
- Learning tracks to help you get up to speed on the products
- so much more
Guide subscribers also receive discounts on other CIAOPS items such as:
- Bootcamps / Training
- Consultation
So what do some of subscribers say?
I just thought I'd add my accolades to Robert Crane's guide and remind all our members that Robert's wealth of knowledge in all things cloud, experience and willingness to help is unmeasurable. All the useful tips in one place. Why wouldn't you spend the $299 to subscribe to the guide? – Mike Hatfield (HIT)
"I can truly credit Robert for his training day and his SharePoint Guide (which includes Office 365 notes and information on the exams we require to continue or certification with Microsoft). I managed to pass with the highest score I have ever achieved in a Microsoft exam (900+)" - ( Rod Arthur, LAN Creation )
I also take this opportunity to thank every single subscriber for their support of my business but I’d especially like to thank my foundation subscribers who have been with me from the start. Without your faith in me this product would not be what it is today.
Special Birthday offer
Therefore to celebrate the Guide reaching the five year milestone I am going to make the following offer to every new subscriber during May 2013:
- Receive 10% off the normal purchase price of AU$299. Use the offer code 5YEARSNOW at checkout.
- Receive up to 1 hours remote consultation/training session free in a single session available until 30 June 2013 (Valued at > AU$200).
For ANY existing Guide subscriber, in recognition of their continued support, I will offer during May 2013:
- Up to 1 hours remote consultation/training session free in a single session available until 30 June 2013 (Valued at > AU$200).
Finally to ANYONE who recommends my Guide to someone who takes up a new subscription during May 2013 I will offer:
- 10% commission of the retail price (i.e. AU$29.90) for every converted referral. Thus, if you make 2 converted referrals you’ll receive AU$59.80, 3 referrals AU$89.70, etc, etc.
This applies ONLY until the end of May 2013 and don’t forget that the Guide is undated every month and includes all existing CIAOPS publications.
For more information about the Guide and to subscribe visit:
Once again, I thank all subscribers for their support of my business and I look forward to adding even more content in the coming year.