Hiding Users from the Essentials Dashboard

I use Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials at home as my server and one problem that I have lived with for a long time is that I have a number of service accounts created to run some applications that I run centrally on the server itself. A problem with this is that these users will appear on the Essentials Dashboard which looks a bit unsightly. This isn’t something which has particularly bothered me but I accidently stumbled this morning on a blog post by Robert Pearman. His original post is at http://titlerequired.com/2014/09/18/quick-fix-hide-users-from-essentials-2012-r2-dashboard/ in which he provides the PowerShell Cmdlets for hiding users from the Dashboard.

In his example, he is using it to hide Exchange service accounts but the same principle applies. The first example below will hide the account for the service account SRV_SomeApplication.

Set-WssUserDashboardVisibility SRV_SomeApplication -Hidden

Replacing the -Hidden parameter with -Visible will unhide the account and allow it to be shown on the Dashboard once again.

As I have a number of service accounts and we all love PowerShell scripts for the sake of them, I decided to hide all my accounts in one go as I use a standard naming syntax for my service accounts. Sadly, the Wss Cmdlets don’t seem to support data received via the pipeline so whilst we would normally complete this as a one-liner by piping the get command into the related set command, this doesn’t work so we have to use a quick ForEach loop to achieve the same result.

$Users = Get-WssUser | Where-Object {$_.UserName -Like 'SRV_*'}
ForEach ($User in $Users)
{
   Set-WssUserDashboardVisibility $User.UserName -Hidden
}

 

Failed Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 Azure Backup Integration

Just before Christmas, I upgraded my Windows Server 2012 Essentials server at home to Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2. After re-deploying the server as R2, I re-configured my Windows Azure Backup and my Office 365 Integration. Since re-configuring the Windows Azure Backup, I’ve been having a problem with the integration with the Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 Dashboard.

The Windows Azure Backup Integration is dependant on two things: The Windows Azure Backup Agent (cbengine) and the Windows Azure Backup Integration Service  (WSS_OnlineBackupProviderSvc). The Windows Azure Backup Integration Service is dependant on the Windows Azure Backup Agent.

With both services started, launching the Dashboard and accessing the Online Backup tab is empty reporting No Data.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 Dashboard Online Backup No Data

When this occurred, I observed that the Windows Azure Backup Integration Service would stop after launching the Dashboard. Restarting the service and the Dashboard did nothing except cause the service to crash again. This crash could be observed in the Application Event Log as follows:

Error .NET Runtime Event ID 1026

Application: OnlineBackupProvider.exe

Framework Version: v4.0.30319

Description: The process was terminated due to an unhandled exception.

Exception Info: System.NullReferenceException

Stack:

at Microsoft.WindowsServerSolutions.DataProtection.OnlineBackup.OnlineBackupJob.Equals(Microsoft.WindowsServerSolutions.DataProtection.OnlineBackup.OnlineBackupJob)

at Microsoft.WindowsServerSolutions.DataProtection.OnlineBackup.OnlineBackupProviderCore+<>c__DisplayClass46`1[[System.__Canon, mscorlib, Version=4.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089]].<GetOnlineBackupObjectUpdateList>b__44(System.__Canon)

at System.Linq.Enumerable.FirstOrDefault[[System.__Canon, mscorlib, Version=4.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089]](System.Collections.Generic.IEnumerable`1<System.__Canon>, System.Func`2<System.__Canon,Boolean>)

at Microsoft.WindowsServerSolutions.DataProtection.OnlineBackup.OnlineBackupProviderCore.GetOnlineBackupObjectUpdateList[[System.__Canon, mscorlib, Version=4.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089]](System.Collections.Generic.List`1<System.__Canon>, System.Collections.Generic.List`1<System.__Canon>)

at Microsoft.WindowsServerSolutions.DataProtection.OnlineBackup.OnlineBackupProviderCore.UpdateOnlineBackupData()

at System.Threading.ExecutionContext.RunInternal(System.Threading.ExecutionContext, System.Threading.ContextCallback, System.Object, Boolean)

at System.Threading.ExecutionContext.Run(System.Threading.ExecutionContext, System.Threading.ContextCallback, System.Object, Boolean)

at System.Threading.QueueUserWorkItemCallback.System.Threading.IThreadPoolWorkItem.ExecuteWorkItem()

at System.Threading.ThreadPoolWorkQueue.Dispatch()

Searching online for the issue turned up nothing, so I decided to report the issue on the TechNet community forum (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/eb718279-3da9-4544-9e0f-50b0ba440ef5/windows-azure-backup-integration-service-fails?forum=winserveressentials) and Pan Chen from Microsoft turned up with an unexpected answer.

The Windows Azure Backup Agent logs the status of backups and their success or failure to a separate event log in Applications and Services LogsCloudBackupOperational. Pan believed that an unexpected or corrupt event log entry was preventing the integration service from reading this event log properly.

I cleared the log file, restarted the Windows Azure Backup Integration Service and re-launched the Dashboard, and after some delay, presumably while the Dashboard pulled new data from the Azure Backup Agent, I am now able to see the status data in the Dashboard.

My personal feeling is that a bad event log entry shouldn’t cause this integration to fail, but suffice to say, it looks like it does.