Those of you who are current Terminal Server administrators or who have read my past articles about the shadow key area of the Terminal Server registry know of the challenges of bringing new servers or adding hotfixes to production environments. (The new server will have newer timestamps on keys in the shadow area, therefore causing major headaches when existing users connect to the new servers.)
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If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this article first.
In a nutshell, the only solution to this problem was to (a) set the clock back on a server before installing a new application or hotfix, (b) create new servers from images of old servers, or (c) delete the application keys from the shadow area and manually deploy the registry settings to new users.
Thankfully, we now have an option "d" that's better than all of the previous options. Adrian Billingsley and Mark Prigg enlightened me about a couple of utilities from Microsoft called "RDT" and "SDT." (Performing a Google search on these turns up nothing, so I've made both available in the zip file at the top of this page.) I don't know where these files came from, but the version information seems to indicate they're from Microsoft.
When run on a Terminal Server, RDT.EXE (Read Date Time) can be used to read the date and time stamps from all of the various keys in a the server's shadow area. SDT.EXE (Set Date Time) can be used to manually set the datestamps of those keys to any date that you choose! This allows you to manually (or via a script) "dial back" the datestamps of the software keys in a new server's shadow area. In fact, you should probably run RDT after you install any hotfix (or anything that puts the session into "install mode" to ensure that you don't get any surprises when existing users connect to that server.
There are no words to describe how wonderful these two utilities are and how much easier this will make our lives. Thank you Microsoft!