Get SQL Server Product Keys for Local and Remote Servers using PowerShell

I just released a new PowerShell script, Get-SQLServerKeys.ps1. The script works works with several versions of SQL Server (2005-2014), and can use Central Management Server, a text file, or just a string of servers as input.


Like many of the Windows Key scripts available, this one relies on Remote Registry being enabled. However, if you’ve disabled this service, you can run Get-SQLServerKeys.ps1 on the SQL Server itself and all keys will be extracted for all local instances by accessing the registry directly.



Thanks goes out to Jakob Bindslet for providing the key decode function.

Get-SQLServerKeys.ps1 is one of several scripts that help DBA’s migrate SQL Servers. Check out my sqlmigration repository on github for more scripts.

Posted in PowerShell, SQL Server

Creating a WCF Net.TCP Service and Client using PowerShell

I’m currently attending Regis University for my grad degree, and just finished up a networking class. For my final, I chose to explore the Windows Net.TCP Port Sharing Service. I had this glorious vision of translating some C# code to 100% PowerShell code, but eventually gave into the fact that PowerShell doesn’t support reflection, and a bit of the code had to be written in C#.

Ultimately, I also learned that TCP Port sharing is really just a port proxy facilitated by SMSvcHost.exe, and the differentiator, instead of being a port number, is a namespace. Below is the code I used for proof of concept. You may find it useful when testing your own C# code.

Thanks goes to Allan and this user for getting me started with the WCF PowerShell code.

Posted in PowerShell

Securely Administer Your Remote Windows Network using RDP over SSL

Back in 2013, I wrote a blog post about setting up RD Gateway in Windows 2012 using an AD domain certificate. This post is directed to Windows 2012 R2. There isn’t much difference, but in this tutorial, I’ll demonstrate how to setup RD Gateway with a globally recognized SSL certificate.

Like my previous post about setting up an SSL VPN on Windows 2012 R2, I strongly suggest you forego self-signed and even Enterprise AD certificates, and just use a certificate from This prevents non-domain devices from having to install your CA’s root cert. Getting a legimate cert can take as little as 5 minutes, costs just $5.99 per year and can be obtained in 12 easy steps.

Overall, there are three major steps to getting this going:

  1. Obtain and install your SSL certificate
  2. Install & Configure RD Gateway
  3. Setup your client.

Install the SSL Certificate

Step 1

Follow my tutorial for getting a legit $5.99 cert, down to creating the .pfx file.

Remember to use the external hostname of your RD Gateway server. Say, for example, instead of

Step 2

Import your PFX to the local machine’s Certificate store. To do this, certlm -> Personal -> Certificates -> Right-click, All Tasks -> Import -> Next -> Select your Cert -> Enter your password -> Next -> Finish.


Install and configure RD Gateway

Step 1

Add the Remote Desktop Services role. Server Manager -> Manage -> Add Roles and Features
-> Role-based or feature-based installation.

You will be tempted to check the other one, but don’t. That’s for virtual desktop deployment.


Step 2

Click Remote Desktop Services.


Step 3

Click next a few times, until you’re on the Role Services window. Check only Remote Desktop Gateway.

rdgw2 Read more ›

Posted in Security, Windows

Setup an SSTP SSL VPN in Windows Server 2012 R2

So here’s what’s awesome about Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol SSL VPNs: they give your connecting client an IP and make it a full-on part of the network. And this is all done over port 443, a commonly used port which is often enabled on firewalls. SSTP SSL VPNs are not like some fake “SSL VPNs” that just give users a webpage and some sort of RDP.

It’s also relatively easy setup. While there are a lot of tutorials that show how to setup SSTP SSL VPNs using AD CA generated certificates, I strongly suggest you forego that, and just use a globally recognized certificate. This prevents outside users from having to install your CA’s root cert. It also prevents them from having to make a registry change if your CRL is not published and available online. All around, a $5.99 cert that can be obtained in 12 steps is well-worth the time and money invested.

This tutorial will cover how to easily setup an SSTP SSL VPN in Windows 2012 R2 using a legit cert. If you want to use your own domain’s cert, there are other websites that provide step-by-steps. is my preferred tutorial.

Overall, there are four major steps to this:

  1. Install the appropriate certificate
  2. Setup Routing and Remote Access
  3. Configure NPS (Optional)
  4. Setup your client.

Install the SSL Certificate

Step 1

First, follow my tutorial for getting a legit $5.99 cert, down to creating the .pfx file.

Step 2

Import your PFX to the local machine’s Certificate store. To do this, certlm -> Personal -> Certificates -> Right-click, All Tasks -> Import -> Next -> Select your Cert -> Enter your password -> Next -> Finish.


Install and configure the RRAS role

Step 1

Add the Remote Access role. Server Manager -> Manage -> Add Roles and Features -> Remote Access.


Step 2

Click Next a couple times, then just click DirectAccess and VPN. DirectAccess seems cool, but it’s only intended for mobile domain-joined computers, which I’m not looking to support.

Read more ›

Posted in Security, Windows

Super Cheap SSL Certs for Your Home Lab or Small Business

I <3 They (and probably others) sell globally recognized $5.99 annual certs. Now, all of my lab stuff (Lync/RD Gateway/NetScaler/SSL VPN) is encrypted, and I no longer have to manually install my Domain CA’s root cert on my phones/other devices. They don’t have an affiliate program, so I’m not getting any money from this blog post. I just want to spread the joy.

Certs can be purchased using Visa or PayPal, and the whole process takes about 5 minutes. And now that you can verify your identity using email, gone are the days of faxing incorporation paperwork to Certificate Authorities. Even the Certificate Signing Request process has been simplified and can be completed online at or the open source

Now to get your own legitimate $5.99 SSL Cert in 12 steps.

Step 1

You can choose different vendors, but I always use Comodo because why not.

Read more ›

Posted in Security

Using .NET DataTable Computes and Column Expressions in PowerShell

As a SQL Server DBA, I’m used to SQL being able to perform aliasing, super fast subselects, and easy aggregation. My most recent project, Invoke-Locate.ps1, however, uses SQLite because of its portability and speed when performing simple selects and inserts. The downside is that SQLite doesn’t handle some subselects very well, and I was left with manipulating data on the client-side.

Once I ported locate, I wanted to use the data locate gathered to replicate the results of another favorite tool of mine in Linux, du, which displays current disk usage information. This is helpful when you want to find out what’s using all of your disk space. Specifically, I wanted to replicate the output seen when performing du -all -h.


For the PowerShell translation, I ultimately used $datacolumn.Expression and $datatable.Compute to help aggregate information about disk space usage when the SQL-equivalent subselects proved too resource intensive for SQLite. There was a pure SQLite solution using temp tables, the code was ugly, and tasks like this seem exactly what Expressions and Computes were made for.


You may notice that du says 69MB, while my output shows 68MB. This is because of slightly different rounding. Windows Explorer shows the size of the folder as 68.3MB.

Below I outline what I’ve learned about DataTable Computes and Column Expressions and how I used them.

What is DataTable Compute?

DataTable Computes aggregate data within an entire table in the format $datatable.Compute($expression, $filter). Think of the filter as a WHERE clause, and the expression like a SELECT Agg(). Microsoft provides the following example (translated to PowerShell). In this example, the computation would show the SUM of all Orders where the EmpID column equals 5.

I had multiple columns to compute, so I added new columns to my data table, and populated each new column with the computed information.

This code basically translates to “For every directory, give me the sum of kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes of all of its subdirectories, and add this data to the row’s totalkb, totalmb, and totalgb columns.”

What is a DataColumn Expression?

Column expressions are intended to filter rows, calculate the values in a column, or create aggregate columns. They provide similar functionality akin to WHERE, SUM() or CASE in a SQL statements. Microsoft’s data column expression page is actually pretty thorough and provides the following straightforward examples:

Here’s another simple example: say you have a column in your datatable that contained file sizes in bytes. Column Expressions can be used to display the file size as kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes.

Sample Project

In this sample project, we’ll populate a data table with file information, then use Compute and Expression to display the results in our desired format.

Create Basic DataTable and Populate with Data

Here, we’ll create a DataTable that has just three columns: name, directory and bytes.


Now Transform The Data

Here are simple expressions that concatenate strings, and change bytes into kilobytes, etc. In my own PowerShell project, Invoke-Locate.ps1 I actually used a SQLite view to accomplish similar results.

Create columns which display the full path using directory and filename.

Create columns to display bytes as kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes.

Here’s what the datatable looks like now:


Create new columns that will contain the sizes of each directory

Populate new totals columns using DataTable Computes

In the example below, I’m performing the equivalent of a sub select in SQL. With DataTables, however, each column must be populated line by line because Computes are run against an entire table, so you can’t just have one summarizing column.

Now the datatable has useful information, but it’s not quite clean enough. Nor does it look like the Linux du command, which is what I was after.


Use the totals data to make a single column which displays human readable file sizes

Now to use a slightly more advanced Column Expression: the IIF. Here, I created a new column, then used the IIF statement, which “gets one of two values depending on the result of a logical expression.” The code displays the simplified size of a file. If the size is less than 1 MB (< 1025kb), then show the result in KB. Otherwise, if the size is less than 1GB, show it in MB, otherwise, show it in GB.

The Output


If you recall, we started this table with only 3 columns, and through the use of Expressions and Computes, used those three columns to produce more useful output. Too see all the code in one shot, check out the gist.

Posted in PowerShell, SQL Server

Working with Basic .NET DataSets in PowerShell

This is mostly for my reference, but you can use it, too :)

Create Basic Datatable


Create Basic DataSet (Collection of Tables)



Create Datatable from CSV

Using this method, you can add 140k rows a second.

Managing Duplicates

Create new table using another datatable’s schema

Filling Datatables with data from SQL Server

Posted in PowerShell

Find Duplicates in PowerShell Datatable using LINQ

I don’t have a practical application for this method, but I wanted to figure out how to do it anyway. Doing so was frustrating but kinda fun. It forced me to learn about lamdas in PowerShell which I’ll probably use at some point in the future. Nivot Ink had some straightforward syntax that helped me, along with Matt Graeber’s post on PowerShellMagazine.

Esentially, I was looking to recreate the following SQL statement in LINQ: SELECT ColumnName, COUNT(*) as DupeCount FROM TableName GROUP BY ColumnName HAVING COUNT(*) > 1. The PowerShell LINQ Equivalent is this basically:

Sample Project

In this sample project, we’ll create some fake data, then query it using LINQ. I tested this on larger data sets and found it got exponentially slower. The OleDBConnection method I wrote about earlier still smokes this technique. Then again, when it comes to .NET, I have little idea of what I’m doing, so maybe it can be optimized. I’m trying to figure out a way to query this list with CreateQuery, too.

Create Datatable with Dupes

Prep the dupe check

First we have to decide what columns to examine. In this example, duplicate artist+album constitutes a duplicate.

Populate new datatable with results and clean up

The above code was prep work, now we’re going to actually execute the query, and populate a datatable with the results. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to convert a Linq list to a Datatable so we’ll just use .Clone() to clone build the new table schema, and then perform an ImportRow.

And voila, the results


Want to see the code all in one shot? Check out the gist.

Posted in PowerShell