Visualize an Always On VPN device tunnel connection while disabling the disconnect button

Visualize an Always On VPN device tunnel connection while disabling the disconnect button

The need to visualize an Always On VPN device tunnel connection while disabling the disconnect button arises when the user experiences connectivity issues. End users should be able to communicate quickly to their support desk whether or not they have a connected Always On VPN device tunnel. They usually do not see the device VPN tunnel in the modern UI. Only user VPN tunnels show up. Naturally, we don’t want them to disconnect the device VPN or change its properties, so we want to disable the “disconnect” and the “advanced setting buttons. Since a device VPN tunnel runs as a “SYSTEM,” they cannot do this anyway. The GUI shows “Disconnecting” but never complete.

Refreshing the GUI correctly shows “Connected” again. However, it makes sense to disable the buttons to indicate this. So how to we set all of this up?

Visualize an Always On VPN device tunnel connection

Visualizing the Always On VPN device tunnel in the modern GUI is something we achieve via the registry. Scripting deploying these registry settings via GPO or Intune is the way to go.

New-Item -Path ‘HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Flyout\VPN’ -Force
New-ItemProperty -Path ‘HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Flyout\VPN\’ -Name ‘ShowDeviceTunnelInUI’ -PropertyType DWORD -Value 1 -Force

Disable the disconnect button and the advanced options buttons

Now that the Always On VPN device tunnel is visible in the GUI, we want to disable the disconnect button and the advanced options buttons. How? Well, we can do this in Windows 11 22H2 or more recent versions. For this, we add the following to the VPN configuration file.

<!-- The below 2 GUI settings are only available in Windows 11 22H2 or higher. --><DisableAdvancedOptionsEditButton>true</DisableAdvancedOptionsEditButton><DisableDisconnectButton>true</DisableDisconnectButton>

  <!– These GUI settings below are only available in Windows 11 22H2 or higher. –>    <DisableAdvancedOptionsEditButton>true</DisableAdvancedOptionsEditButton>    <DisableDisconnectButton>true</DisableDisconnectButton>

Visualize a device VPN tunnel connection while disabling the disconnect button


For an administrative account, the Always On VPN device tunnel is visible, but the buttons are dimmed (greyed out).

As before, the administrator can still use the rasphone GUI to hang up the Always On VPN device tunnel or edit the properties like before. Usually, you’ll configure the setting with Intune or via GPO with Powershell and custom XML. There is also a 3rd party option for configuring Always On VPNs via GPO (AOVPN Dynamic Profile Configurator).

For a non-administrator user account, the GUI looks precisely the same. The big difference is that when such a user launches the rasphone GUI, they cannot “Hang Up” the connection. The error message may not be the clearest, but in the end, a user with non-administrative rights cannot disconnect the Always On VPN device tunnel.

So now we have the best of both worlds. An administrator and a standard user can see that the Always On VPN device tunnel is connected. Remember that disabling the buttons requires Windows 11 22H2 or more recent. This blog was written using 23H2. The administrator can use the rasphone GUI or rasdial CLI to access the Always On VPN device tunnel like before.


Device VPN tunnels are supposed to be connected at all times, whether a user is logged on or not. It is also something that users are not supposed to be concerned about in contrast to a user VPN tunnel. However, it can be beneficial to see whether the Always On VPN device tunnel is connected. That is most certainly so when talking to support about an issue. We showed you how to achieve this, combined with disabling the “disconnect” and “advanced” options buttons), in this blog post.

What is AzureArcSysTray.exe doing on my Windows Server?

Introduction to AzureArcSysTray.exe

After installing the October 2023 updates for Windows Server 2022, I noticed a new systray icon, AzureArcSysTray.exe.

What is AzureArcSysTray.exe doing on my Windows Server?

It encourages me to launch Azure Arc Setup.


Which I hope takes a bit more planning than following a systray link. But that’s just me, an old-school IT Pro.

Get rid of the systray entry

Delete the AzureArcSysTray.exe value from the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run registry key. Well, use GPO or another form of automation to get this done whole sales. I used Computer Configuration GPO Preferences in the lab. See the screenshot below from my home lab. It is self-explanatory.

The added benefit of a GPO is that it will deal with it again if Microsoft pushes it again in the next update cycle.

Uninstall the feature

Using DISM or Server Manager, you can uninstall the feature altogether. Do note that this requires a reboot!

Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName AzureArcSetup


Note: This removes the systray exe and Azure Arc Setup. If someone already set it up and configured it, that is still there and needs more attention as the Azure Connect Machine Agent is up and running. Does anyone really onboard servers like this in Azure Arc?

Bad Timing

Well, this was one thing I could have done without on the day I was deploying the October 2023 updates expeditiously. Why expedited? Well, it was about 104 CVEs, of which 12 are critical Remote Code Execution issues, and 3 are ZeroDays) and a Hyper-V RCT fix that we have been waiting for (for the past five – yes, 5 – years). Needless to say, testing + rollout was swift. That AzureArcSysTray.exe delayed us, as we had to explain and mitigate it.

Is it documented?

Yes, it is, right here: It was incomplete on Tuesday night, but they added to it quickly.

Judging from some social media, Reddit. Slack channels, not too many people were amused with all this. See


I had to explain what it was and our options to eliminate it, all while we were asked to deploy the updates as soon as possible. Finding AzureArcSysTray.exe Azure Arc Setup installed was not part of the plan late Tuesday night in the lab.

Please, Microsoft, don’t do this. We all know Azure Arc is high on all of Microsoft’s agenda. It is all the local Microsoft employees have been talking about for weeks now. We get it. But nagging us with systray icons is cheesy at best, very annoying, and, for many customers, nearly unacceptable.

Active Directory Replication Status Tool’s rise, fall, and rebirth

Active Directory Replication Status Tool’s rise, fall, and rebirth

For many years the Active Directory Replication Status Tool has been a trusty companion for many IT Pro. That includes seasoned systems engineers as well as accidental Active Directory administrators. It was an easy way to get a quick and good idea of the replication health of your Active Directory forest or domain.

Sure, repladm is our friend and keeps doing its job with us in the trenches. But I would say that the Active Directory Replication Status Tool is a lot less scary for people. Especially those who incidentally need to find out what issues to address where. It is a non-scarry, kind wrapper to visualize the results and see where we need to pay attention.

It had some quirks, like the ridiculous need to download it again when the license (certificate) expired (I never liked the Sirona DLL hack in a production environment). If other issues arose, I blogged on how to work around them, like in Microsoft Active Directory Replication Status Tool won’t upgrade – Working Hard In ITWorking Hard In IT. But that was minor compared to the sage of the last 18 months. Let’s quickly look at the Active Directory Replication Status Tool’s rise, fall, and rebirth.

The fall

Once in a while, an update to Windows or .NET broke the application. Normally, a fix would follow soon, and everyone was happy again. Last year in the spring or early summer of 2022, the tool was broken for months. Finally, somewhere in August 2022, we got a new version that worked, as far as my experience goes, for about 4 to 6 weeks, It then broke again, and all it ever did after was crash. The cert also expired again but who cared? It was no longer functional anyway,

Well, I cared, and I gave a lot of feedback via Twitter and to Microsoft via e-mail.

Active Directory Replication Status Tool's rise, fall, and rebirth

That went on for about 10 months without any progress! Then suddenly, I notice this: How to get and use the Active Directory Replication Status Tool – Windows Server | Microsoft Learn.

Active Directory Replication Status Tool's rise, fall, and rebirth

What!!??? Is this how it ends? Abandoned in a ditch somewhere?


As of June 2nd, 2023, the Active Directory Replication Status Tool is no longer available for download. The following article is provided for historical purposes only.

Are you kidding me? There went another e-mail right to Redmond! Was this the sad end? I got a reply that not all was lost with a link.

The rebirth

The link I got is this one GitHub – ryanries/ADReplStatus: AD Replication Status Tool. People meet Ryan Ries, an Escalation Engineer at Microsoft who has some very useful and handy private projects to share with the world. ADReplStatus is one of the more recent ones.

I downloaded it and started testing it in the lab. That went well and has already found its way to two production environments. Here is a screenshot from my lab environment!

Active Directory Replication Status Tool's rise, fall, and rebirth

Thank you, Ryan Ries, for helping your customers in your free time with your private projects. You have made my IT Pro existence a bit easier again instead of more difficult. It is appreciated! Thank you, Ned Pyle, for bringing this GitHub repo to my attention. Download your copy here Release v1.3.1 · ryanries/ADReplStatus · GitHub.

What I did find interesting was that the cert expiration time bomb was also an internal issue. That and the fact that the application had no maintainers. But that was obvious to us all.

The old version of the tool had a time bomb in it – an expiring SSL certificate – that rendered the app unusable sometime around September 2022. Only through great effort internally were we able to periodically renew this certificate and republish the app, and the app was architected in such a way that excising the signing certificate check was more work than just rewriting the whole thing. (I know about the Sirona DLL hack, but still.)
The old tool had no active maintainers and no one who was still around was familiar with the app’s internals or source code.

Things are tough all over, it seems.

Passive FTP over SSL support in Azure Firewall


Since Azure does not offer full-blown FTPS as a service, I usually migrate existing Windows Server-based FTPS solutions to IAAS in Azure. That means a virtual machine in Azure. Since many such implementations or lift and shift projects leverage Active Directory integrated authentication. As a result, they fit well into many projects where a small percentage of on-premises workloads have to live on in an IAAS ADDS Azure environment anyway.

The reasons for this vary, but most often, we see that these cannot be refactored or replaced by cloud-native solutions. This is due to the technology required or because of budget constraints. Ultimately, one cannot expect to swap all currently used technology with newer technology all of the time. Such is the reality of real-world IT unless you cherry-pick projects to only deal with cloud-native solutions. Since Azure landing zones often leverage Azure Firewall, we have arrived at the topic of this blog post. We need to do an FTP configuration for passive FTP over SSL support in Azure Firewall.

Passive FTP over SSL support in Azure Firewall

A quick search on the internet leads to results quickly confirming that Azure Firewall supports passive FTP. As expected, this requires DNAT rules for port 21 and the chosen port range for the FTP data channel. When looking at the official Microsoft documentation, this is confirmed. They mention that you must “configure FTP server to accept data and control channels from different source IP addresses.” I glanced over that one, and I should not have done that. On the other hand, that line is about accessing an FTP server on the Internet with the FTP client behind the Azure Firewall. That is the Outbound VNet – Internet (FTP client in VNet, server on Internet) section in the Microsoft docs.

Here I run the FTP Server behind Azure Firewall (a Secured Hub in Azure VWAN) with the client on the Internet. That is covered in the Inbound DNAT (FTP client on Internet, server in VNet) section which does not mention to configure FTP server to accept data and control channels from different source IP addresses.

The FTP Server

I stored the original FTPS virtual Machine (FTP via IIS on Windows Server 2022) to Azure using Veeam Backup and Recovery V12. That went smoothly, After fixing the IP configuration in the FTP sites, I was ready to configure the NSGs and Azure Firewall with all the needed rules.

Initial testing and troubleshooting

Using the Filezilla FTP client, I started testing the FTPS connectivity over Explicit FTPS, which initially seemed to work well. But browsing through the folders, I soon noticed that I had directory listing issues in about 50% of cases.I quickly tried this with WinSCP as an FTPS client to see if that worked as expeted, but I had the same issue.

I checked the Azure Firewall DNAT rules, and these were all in place and correct. Next, I checked the rules in the NSG on both the subnet and the NIC of the FTPS virtual machine to see if I missed something. Those were all in order as well. Next up was the Windows Firewall, but again, all was well. Finally, I tested FTP from a virtual machine in the same subnet, bypassing the Azure Firewall, and everything worked as expected. Comparing the FTP logs, I could see some differences in data channel logging but no errors.

So I tried Passive FTP without SSL. But again, I had the same issue. The error message is a bit different, as we don’t have TLS failures in this case.

OK, so what’s happening here?


As often, I resorted to using Wireshark in the FTPS virtual machine to get more insights into what was happening. Things got interesting very quickly.

Passive FTP without TLS

I am using passive FTP without TLS in the screenshots, which shows the FTP commands better.

Passive FTP over SSL support in Azure Firewall

Let’s look at the Wireshark capture we made when connecting and navigating the folders.

In the green rectangle, you see us connect and navigate to /Public/A-A-Test03. That works well. Observe that all traffic for control and data channel traffic (green fluorescent is data channel activity)comes from Next, look at the red rectangle. Control ( and data channel (red fluorescent, traffic comes in from different IP addresses. We have found why the directory listing fails with IIS’s default and most secure data channel security configuration. We now also realize what “configure FTP server to accept data and control channels from different source IP addresses” means in the Azure Firewall documentation for Passive FTP.

Passive FTP with TLS

The same is true for passive FTP over TLS; the capture is slightly less readable and more verbose, but the directory listing fails again. Note that in FileZilla, we also see an extra error: “The data connection could not be established: ECONNABORTED – Connection aborted” as the TLS data connection also fails.

Passive FTP over SSL support in Azure Firewall

Note the red rectangle again where, at a given moment, while navigating directories, the data channel comes in from a different IP (red fluorescent), and the directory listing fails.

Passive FTP over SSL support in Azure Firewall

Searching for answers

The good news is that I know clearly when and why directory listing fails. That is possibly due to how the Azure Firewall redundant nodes behind the internal load balancers deal with Passive FTP. That i me speculating here, not an oficial statement ;-). The next step is figuring out how to solve this issue. I have no control over how Azure Firewall handles this. Replacing Azure Firewall with a 3rd party solution where we know this to work night not work in Azure. Also this should not be the first and final answer.

Some internet searching led me to a solution I was eager to try. Again, the information in the Azure Firewall docs should link to the IIS/FTP documentation on how to do this. The fact remains however that the Microsoft docsmention this for outbound access from a client on a VNET to an FTP server on the Internet. We do the opposite. We have our FTP server in a VNET behind Azure Firewall and the FTP client is on the internet. In that case, no mention is made of onfigure FTP server to accept data and control channels from different source IP addresses. Also note that in our case the source addresses are private, not public.

Read this article and note the following.

Implementing the workaround

Never the less, that does indeed ring a bell with what we see in Wireshark and whith what that line in the Azure Firewall documentation we glanced over so cavalierly. But it does not seem like a good idea for security reasons. But let’s try it! You can find where this setting lives at

Navigate to the IIS Server and, under “Management” in the middle pane, open the configuration editor.

Once there, open the systems.applicationHost/Sites node and navigate to siteDefaults/ftpServer/security/dataChannelSecurity. Find the matchClientAddressForPasv element and set it to false.

Apply your configuration change, and your passive FTP(S) experience will consistently work when accessed over an Azure Firewall!

Now let’s try passive FTP again. With or without TLS, it now works like a charm. No more failures to retrieve directory listings at all! In Wireshark, you will still see that the data channel and control channel can come from a different IP (Redundant Azure Firewall with internal load balancers), but it no longer breaks FTP. Hoorah!

Musings on this setting

I have set up many FTPS solutions with Windows Server IIS FTP, and I have never needed to make this configuration change before to get passive FTP to work. Somehow, Checkpoint, ASA, Baracuda. My explanation is that these hide the two separate internal Ips of the redundant firewall by using a VIP. Fair enough. Ultimately, I was lucky to have always used FTP with IIS. That solution allowed us to solve the issue with a configuration change.

That used to be possible in other popular FTP server software like older versions of FileZilla Server,. Today this it is no longer available in recent versions. The reason is that this poses a security risk.

Passive FTP over SSL support in Azure Firewall

In the IIS documentation, they also mention that this is and are clear that it is preferable not to change this.

Ultimately, with Azure Firewall, in contrast to the MSFT docs we must set the matchClientAddressForPort to true under data channel security in IIS/FTP configuration. If not, client connections form the Internet to our passive FTP server behind an Azure Firewall will not work reliably. Maybe this is due to the fact this is a VWAN setup with a secured hub and not a tradditional hub/spoke network?

Finally, I am not looking forward to discussing this matter with the CISO office. The implication for the future of the Azure landing zone’s firewall of choice (i.e., Azure Firewall) is that it will be a point of discussion again. Now, I’ll leave it to security experts to decide how dangerous this setting is when the two servers involved are both nodes of a redundant firewall.


First of all, RTFM. That’s it. Read The Fucking Manual. Now that is all good and well, but you need to understand what you read. You also need to know what that means for all parts in your configuration. Combined with the fact that what I read was for the scenario where the FTP server lives on the internet and the FTP client sits behind Azure FIrewall. We have the opposite, but Wireshark does not lie and the “fix”makes it work. However, troubleshooting this made me comprehend it very well as I concluded what to try next before revisiting the documentation, The docs initially confused me as I was not supposed to apply this workaround in this scenario, but the hint about what to try was in there.

Another conclusion is that this gives ammo to the case for 3rd party firewalls with the Azure Firewall haters. They now have a less secure passive FTP server configuration which is always an excellent drum to beat on. Especially when other FTP servers no longer allow this configuration. To add insult to injury, Microsoft warns against making this FTP data channel security change.

You can say that this is a niche use case, perfection is not of this world, and that this setting’s security risk is benign. Maybe so, but there is always a but! First, FTPS is more common than you might want to hear or think for valid use cases. Second, it all adds up, and death by a thousand little cuts does occur.