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Managing Microsoft Windows 2000 Workstations and Servers

from Chapter 2, Microsoft Windows 2000 Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek.

Workstations and servers are the heart of any Microsoft Windows 2000 network. As an administrator, one of your primary responsibilities is to manage these resources. Your key tool is the Computer Management console, which provides a single integrated interface for handling such core system administration tasks as

  • Obtaining summary information on system hardware, components, and software

  • Managing user sessions and connections

  • Managing file, directory, and share usage

  • Setting administrative alerts

  • Managing applications and network services

  • Configuring hardware devices

  • Viewing and configuring disk drives and removable storage devices

While the Computer Management console is great for remote management of network resources, you also need a tool that gives you fine control over system environment settings and properties. This is where the System utility comes into the picture. You'll use this utility to

  • Configure application performance, virtual memory, and registry settings

  • Manage system and user environment variables

  • Set system startup and recovery options

  • Manage hardware and user profiles

Managing Network Systems

The Computer Management console is designed to handle core system administration tasks on local and remote systems. You'll spend a lot of time working with this tool, and you should get to know every nook and cranny. Access the Computer Management console with either of the following techniques:

  • Choose Start, then Programs, then Administrative Tools, and finally Computer Management.

  • Select Computer Management from the Administrative Tools folder.

As Figure 2-1 shows, the main window has a two-pane view that's similar to Windows Explorer. You use the console tree in the left pane for navigation and tool selection. Tools are divided into three broad categories:

  • System Tools General purpose tools for managing systems and viewing system information.

  • Storage Displays information on removable and logical drives and provides access to drive management tools.

  • Services And Applications View and manage the properties of services and applications installed on the server.

Figure 2-1: Use the Computer Management console to manage network computers and resources.

Figure 2-1: Use the Computer Management console to manage network computers and resources.

The tools available through the console tree provide the core functionality for the Computer Management console. When Computer Management is selected in the console tree, three important tasks can be easily accessed:

  • Connecting to other computers

  • Sending console messages

  • Exporting information lists

The following sections examine these tasks, and then we'll take a detailed look at working with tools in the Computer Management console.

Connecting to Other Computers

The Computer Management console is designed to be used with local and remote systems. You can select a computer to manage by right-clicking the Computer Management entry in the console tree and then selecting Connect To Another Computer on the shortcut menu. This opens the Select Object dialog box, and you can now choose the system you want to work with by completing the following steps:

  1. Use the Look In selection list to choose the domain you want to work with. By default, the current domain will be selected.

  2. In the object list, choose a computer or simply type the computer name in the Name field.

  3. Click OK.

Sending Console Messages

You can use the Computer Management console to send messages to users logged on to remote systems. These messages appear in a dialog box that the user must click to close.

You send messages to remote users by completing the following steps:

  1. In the Computer Management console, right-click the Computer Management entry in the console tree. Then, on the shortcut menu select All Tasks and then choose Send Console Message. This opens the dialog box shown in Figure 2-2.

  2. Type the text of the message in the Message area. In the Recipients area, you should see the name of the computer you're currently connected to.

  3. If you want to send a message to users of this system, click Send. Otherwise, use the Add button to add recipients or the Remove button to delete a selected recipient. Then, when you're ready to send the message, click Send.

    Figure 2-2: Use this dialog box to send console messages to other systems.

    Figure 2-2: Use this dialog box to send console messages to other systems.

Note: Only users logged on to the selected system will receive the message. Other users do not. Additionally, Windows NT and Windows 2000 systems must be running the Messenger service to send and receive console messages. Windows 95 and Windows 98 systems running the WinPopup utility can also send and receive console messages.

Exporting Information Lists

The ability to export information lists is one of my favorite features of the Computer Management console, and if you maintain system information records or regularly work with Windows scripting it'll probably be one of yours. The Export List feature allows you to save textual information displayed in the right pane to a tab or comma-delimited text file. You could, for example, use this feature to save detailed information on all the services running on the system by completing the following steps:

  1. In the Computer Management console, click the plus sign (+) next to the Services And Applications node. This expands the node to display its tools.

  2. Right-click Services, and then from the shortcut menu select Export List. This opens the Save As dialog box.

  3. Use the Save In selection list to choose the save location and then enter a name for the export file.

  4. Use the Save As Type selection list to set the formatting of the export file. You can separate columns of information with tabs or commas and save as ASCII text or Unicode text. In most cases, you'll want to use ASCII text.

  5. Click Save to complete the export process.

You can use a similar procedure to export lists of other information displayed in the Computer Management console.

Using Computer Management System Tools

The Computer Management system tools are designed to manage systems and view system information. The available system tools are

  • Performance Logs And Alerts Monitor system performance and create logs based on performance parameters. You can also use this tool to notify or alert users of performance conditions. For more information on alerts and monitoring systems, see Chapter 3.

  • Local Users And Groups Manage local users and local user groups on the currently selected computer. Working with users and groups is covered in Part II along with other types of accounts that you can manage in the Active Directory service.

    Note: Local users and local user groups aren't a part of the Active Directory and are managed instead through the Local Users And Groups view. Domain controllers don't have entries in the Local Users And Groups view.

  • System Information Display system configuration information for hardware resources, components, and software environment. If you want to write the configuration information to a file, use the Export List feature described previously in the section of this chapter entitled "Exporting Information Lists."

  • Services Manage services and service properties. As you'll learn in Chapter 3, Windows 2000 has powerful features that help you efficiently manage services.

  • Shared Folders Manage the properties of shared folders, user sessions, and open files. Managing user sessions, open files, and network shares is covered in Chapter 12.

  • Event Viewer View the event logs on the selected computer. Event logs are covered in Chapter 3.

  • Device Manager Use as a central location for checking the status of any device installed on a computer and for updating the associated device drivers. You can also use it to troubleshoot device problems. Managing devices is covered later in the chapter.

Using Computer Management Storage Tools

The Computer Management storage tools display drive information and provide access to drive management tools. The available storage tools are

  • Removable Storage Manages removable media devices and tape libraries. Tracks work queues and operator requests related to removable media devices.

  • Disk Defragmenter Corrects drive fragmentation problems by locating and combining fragmented files.

  • Logical Drives Display and manage logical drives on the system.

  • Disk Management Manages hard disks, disk partitions, volume sets, and RAID arrays. Replaces the Disk Administrator utility in Windows NT 4.0.

Working with files, drives, and storage devices is the subject of Part III.

Working with Services and Applications

The Computer Management services and applications tools are used to manage services and applications installed on the server. Any application or service-related task that can be performed in a separate tool can be performed through the Services And Applications node as well. For example, if the currently selected system has Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) installed, you can manage DHCP through the Server Applications And Services node. You could also use the DHCP tool in the Administrative Tools folder. You can perform the same tasks either way.

This technology is possible because the DHCP tool is a Microsoft Management Console snap-in. When you access the DHCP tool in the Administrative Tools folder, the snap-in is displayed in a separate console. When you access the DHCP tool through the Server Applications And Services node, the snap-in is displayed within the Computer Management console. Working with services and applications is discussed in Chapter 3 and elsewhere in the book.

Managing System Environments, Profiles, and Properties

You use the System utility to manage system environments, profiles, and properties. Start it by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel. This opens the dialog box shown in Figure 2-3. As you see, the dialog box is divided into five tabs. Each of these tabs is discussed in the sections that follow.

The General Tab

General system information is available for any Windows 2000 workstation or server through the System utility's General tab, which is shown in Figure 2-3. To access the General tab, start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel. Then click the General tab.

The information provided on the General tab includes

  • Operating system version

  • Registered owner

  • Windows 2000 serial number

  • Computer type

  • Amount of RAM installed on the computer

Figure 2-3: Use the System utility to manage system environment variables, profiles, and properties.

Figure 2-3: Use the System utility to manage system environment variables, profiles, and properties.

A more detailed listing of system information can be obtained in the Computer Management console. Work your way down to the System Information folder, which is found in the System Tools node, and then select System Summary. The information provided by the System Summary helps you determine the following:

  • Operating system name, such as Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server

  • Operating system version, such as 5.0.2381, where 5 is the major version, 0 is the revision number, and 2381 is the build

  • OS manufacturer

  • System name and type

  • Processor and basic input/output system (BIOS) version

  • Windows installation directory

  • Country/region code and time zone

  • Total physical and virtual memory available

  • Page file space

The Network Identification Tab

The computer's network identification can be displayed and modified with the System utility's Network Identification tab, shown in Figure 2-4. As the figure shows, the tab displays the fully qualified domain name of the system and the domain membership. The fully qualified domain name is essentially the Domain Name System (DNS) name of the computer, which also identifies the computer's place within the Active Directory hierarchy.

Figure 2-4: Use the Network Identification tab to display and configure system identification. Notice that you can't change the identification or access information for domain controllers.

Figure 2-4: Use the Network Identification tab to display and configure system identification. Notice that you can't change the identification or access information for domain controllers.

To access the Network Identification tab, start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel; then click the Network Identification tab. You can now

  • Click Network ID to start the Network Identification Wizard, which guides you through modifying network access information for the computer.

  • Click Properties to change the system name and domain associated with the computer.

Real World You cannot change the network information for a domain controller. Because of this, the Network ID and Properties buttons will not be available. One way to change the network information on a domain controller would be to demote the domain controller to a member server, change the necessary information, and then promote the server back to a domain controller. For more information on promoting and demoting a domain controller, see the section of Chapter 6 entitled, "Installing and Demoting Domain Controllers."

The Hardware Tab

Windows 2000 workstations and servers can use multiple hardware profiles. Hardware profiles are most useful for mobile computers, such as laptops. Using hardware profiles, you can configure one profile for when the computer is connected to the network (docked) and one profile for when the computer is mobile (undocked).

Configuring the Way Hardware Profiles Are Used

To configure hardware profiles, access the System utility's Hardware tab and then click the Hardware Profiles button. This opens the dialog box shown in Figure 2-5. As with systems with multiple operating systems, Windows 2000 allows you to configure the way hardware profiles are used as follows:

  • Set a default profile by changing the profile's position in the Available Hardware Profiles list. The top profile is the default profile.

  • Determine how long the system displays the startup hardware profile menu by setting a value using the field Select The First Profile Listed If I Don't Select A Profile. The default value is 30 seconds.

  • Have the system wait indefinitely for user input by selecting Wait Until I Select A Hardware Profile.

Configuring for Docked and Undocked Profiles

To configure a computer for docked and undocked profiles, complete the following steps:

  1. In the Available Hardware Profiles list, select Original Profile, and then click Copy.

  2. In the Copy Profile dialog box, type a name for the Docked profile in the To field.

  3. Select the new profile, and then click on the Properties button.

    Figure 2-5: Multiple hardware profiles can be configured for any Windows 2000 system.

    Figure 2-5: Multiple hardware profiles can be configured for any Windows 2000 system.
  4. Select the This Is A Portable Computer check box, and then choose The Computer Is Docked.

  5. Select Include This Profile As An Option When Windows Starts, and then click OK.

  6. Select Original Profile in the Available Hardware Profiles list, and then click Copy.

  7. In the Copy Profile dialog box, type a name for the Undocked profile in the To field.

  8. Select the new profile, and then click on the Properties button.

  9. Select the This Is A Portable Computer check box, and then choose The Computer Is Undocked.

  10. Select Include This Profile As An Option When Windows Starts and then click OK.

  11. Now set the default hardware profile as appropriate for the computer's current state as either docked or undocked.

  12. You're done. Click OK.

When the system is booted, the hardware profiles are displayed and the user can select the appropriate profile.

The User Profiles Tab

User profiles are configured with the System utility's User Profiles tab. Managing user profiles in the System utility is covered in the section of Chapter 9 entitled "Managing User Profiles."

The Advanced Tab

Application performance and virtual memory are configured with the System utility's Advanced tab, shown in Figure 2-6. To access the Advanced tab, start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel; then click the Advanced tab.

Setting Application Performance

Application performance determines the responsiveness of the current active application (as opposed to background applications that may be running on the system). You control application performance by completing the following steps:

  1. Access the Advanced tab in the System utility and then display the Performance Options dialog box by clicking the Performance Options button.

  2. To give the active application the best response time and the greatest share of available resources, select Applications.

  3. To give background applications a better response time than the active application, select Background Services.

  4. Click OK.

    Figure 2-6: The Advanced tab lets you configure advanced options, including performance options, environment variables, and startup and recovery.

    Figure 2-6: The Advanced tab lets you configure advanced options, including performance options, environment variables, and startup and recovery.

Setting Virtual Memory

Virtual memory allows you to use disk space to extend the amount of available RAM on a system. This feature of Intel 386 and later processors writes RAM to disks using a process called paging. With paging, a set amount of RAM, such as 32 MB, is written to the disk as a paging file, where it can be accessed from the disk when needed.

An initial paging file is created automatically for the drive containing the operating system. By default, other drives don't have paging files, and you must create these paging files manually if you want them. When you create a paging file, you set an initial size and a maximum size. Paging files are written to the volume as a file called PAGEFILE.SYS.

Best Practice Microsoft recommends that you create a paging file for each physical volume on the system. On most systems, multiple paging files can improve the performance of virtual memory. Thus, instead of a single large paging file, it's better to have many small ones. Keep in mind that removable drives don't need paging files.

Configuring Virtual Memory

You can configure virtual memory by completing the following steps:

  1. Start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel; then click the Advanced tab.

  2. Choose Performance Options to display the Performance Options dialog box. Then click Change to display the Virtual Memory dialog box shown in Figure 2-7.

    Figure 2-7: Virtual memory extends the amount of RAM on a system.

    Figure 2-7: Virtual memory extends the amount of RAM on a system.
    • The Drive header shows how virtual memory is configured currently on the system. Each volume is listed with its associated paging file (if any). The paging file range shows the initial and maximum size values set for the paging file.

    • Paging File Size For Selected Drive provides information on the currently selected drive and allows you to set its paging file size. Space Available tells you how much space is available on the drive.

    • Total Paging File Size For All Drives provides a recommended size for virtual RAM on the system and tells you the amount currently allocated. If this is the first time you're configuring virtual RAM, you'll note that the recommended amount has already been given to the system drive (in most instances).

      Tip Although Windows 2000 can expand paging files incrementally as needed, this can result in fragmented files, which slow system performance. For optimal system performance, set the initial size and maximum size to the same value. This ensures that the paging file is consistent and can be written to a single contiguous file (if possible, given the amount of space on the volume).

  3. In the Drive list box, select the volume you want to work with.

  4. Use the Paging File Size For Selected Drive area to configure the paging file for the drive. Enter an initial size and a maximum size, and then click Set to save the changes.

  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for each volume you want to configure.

    Note: The paging file is also used for debugging purposes when a STOP error occurs on the system. If the paging file on the system drive is smaller than the minimum amount required to write the debugging information to the paging file, this feature will be disabled. If you want to use debugging, the minimum size should be set to the same figure as the amount of RAM on the system. For example, a system with 128 MB of RAM would need a paging file of 128 MB on the system drive.

  6. Click OK, and if prompted to overwrite an existing PAGEFILE.SYS file, click Yes.

  7. Close the System utility and choose Yes to restart the system when prompted.

Setting Registry Size

Windows 2000 allows you to control the maximum amount of memory and disk space used by the registry. Setting a size limit on the registry doesn't allocate space or guarantee that space is available if needed. Instead, space is used only as required up to the maximum allowable value. You set a limit on the registry by completing the following steps:

  1. Log on to the system using an account with administrator privileges.

  2. Start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel; then click the Advanced tab.

  3. Choose Performance Options to display the Performance Options dialog box. Then click Change to display the Virtual Memory dialog box.

  4. In the Virtual Memory dialog box, enter a new maximum registry size using the Maximum Registry Size field.

from Microsoft Windows 2000 Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek. Copyright © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.

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