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Managing Windows NT Workstations and Servers

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By William R. Stanek

from Chapter 2, Windows NT Administrator's Pocket Consultant

Workstations, servers, and domains are the heart of any Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 network. As an administrator, one of your primary responsibilities is to manage these resources. The key tool you'll use is Server Manager. Server Manager handles such core system administration tasks as

  • Synchronizing and promoting domain controllers

  • Managing user sessions and connections

  • Managing file, directory, and share usage

  • Setting administrative alerts

  • Replicating directories and files to other systems in the domain

While Server Manager 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

  • Determine general system information

  • 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

Server Manager is designed to handle core system administration tasks like synchronizing domain controllers, managing user sessions, and determining file and directory usage. You run Server Manager by going to Start, selecting Programs, then Administrative Tools, and then Server Manager. This opens the dialog box shown in Figure 2-1, on the following page. In Server Manager, the currently selected domain or computer name is always listed at the top of the dialog box. Double backslashes before the name indicate that a single computer is selected. If there are no double backslashes displayed, an actual Windows NT domain controller is selected.

The main window of Server Manager lists computers by Computer, Type, and Description.

  • Computer Simply the computer name assigned to the system during installation or configuration

  • Type The type of computer

  • Description An optional description that can be defined for a computer using Server Manager

Common computer types you will see include

  • Windows NT Workstation or Server A standard workstation or server computer

  • Windows NT 4.0 Primary A primary domain controller running Windows NT 4.0

  • Windows NT 4.0 Backup A backup domain controller running Windows NT 4.0

  • Windows 95 Workstation A workstation running Windows 95

  • Windows 98 Workstation A workstation running Windows 98

Tip You can use the View menu to specify what types of computers to display in Server Manager. Select Workstations to display workstations only. Select Servers to display servers only. Select All to display both workstations and servers. Select Show Domain Members Only to display only computers that are members of the domain. Double click on any computer listed on the screen and you will see an additional dialog box with the properties of that computer. Adding and removing computers to or from a domain is covered in Chapter 12.

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Figure 2-1: Use Server Manager to manage network computers and resources.

Selecting a Computer or Domain to Manage

In Server Manager you can select a computer or domain to manage by using the Select Domain option on the Computer menu. Choosing this option opens the Select Domain dialog box and you can now

  • Choose the domain you want to work with in the Select Domain list.

  • Enter the computer name or IP address of a computer you want to work with in the Domain field. Be sure to precede the name with a double backslash, such as \\ZETA.

Managing Windows NT Properties

You manage the properties of remote computers using the dialog box shown in Figure 2-2. Display the Properties dialog box using one of the following techniques:

  • Select the computer you want to work with, then choose Properties from the Computer menu.

  • Double-click on the entry for the computer you want to work with.

You can now manage Windows NT workstation and server properties for users, shares, open resources, replication, and alerts. You can also enter a new description for a computer in the Description field. This description is displayed in Server Manager's main window. The Usage Summary area of this dialog box provides the following information:

  • Sessions The total number of user sessions open for the system's shared resources

  • File Locks The total number of file locks for the system's shared resources

  • Open Files The total number of open files on the system's shared resources

  • Open Named Pipes The total number of named pipes on the system's shared resources

    Cc749851.02wnta02(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 2-2: Computer properties are managed using the Properties dialog box.

    Cc749851.02wnta03(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 2-3: Viewing user connections on a per user basis.

Viewing User Connections and Shared Resources

Server Manager can track all connections to shared resources on a Windows NT system. Whenever a user connects to a shared resource, a user connection is listed in the computer's Properties dialog box. You can view and manage these connections on a per user or per share basis.

Viewing connections by user name To view connections to shared resource by user name, follow these steps:

  1. Find the computer you want to work with in Server Manager, then double-click on its entry.

  2. Select the Users button in the Properties dialog box. This opens the User Sessions dialog box shown in Figure 2-3.

  3. You can now view connections on a per user basis.

The User Sessions dialog box provides important information about user connections. The dialog box is divided into two key areas. The top area shows connected users. The bottom area shows resources to which the currently selected user is connected. The fields of this dialog box provide the following information:

  • Connected Users The names of users connected to shared resources

  • Computer The computer being used by the user

  • Opens The number of files the user has opened

  • Time The time that has elapsed since the connection was established

  • Idle The time that has elapsed since the connection was last used

  • Guest Specifies whether the user is logged on as a guest

  • Resource Shared resources to which the currently selected user is connected

Viewing connections by share name To view connections to shared resource by share name, follow these steps:

  1. Find the computer you want to work with in Server Manager, then double-click on its entry.

    Cc749851.02wnta04(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 2-4: Viewing user connections on a per share basis.
  2. Select the Shares button in the Properties dialog box. This opens the Shared Resources dialog box shown in Figure 2-4.

  3. You can now view connections on a per share basis.

The Shared Resources dialog box is divided into two key areas. The top area shows shared resources. The bottom area shows users that are connected to the currently selected share. The fields of this dialog box provide the following information:

  • Sharename The name of the shared resource

  • Uses The number of connections to the resource

  • Path The location of the shared resource on the remote system

  • Connected Users The names of users connected to shared resources

  • Time The time that has elapsed since the connection was established

  • In Use Specifies whether the resource is currently in use

Tip The dialog box as shown in Figure 2-4 above may not be wide enough to show the full path of shared resources. If so, to see the full path, go to Start, select Programs, and then select Command Prompt. Type Net Share and press Enter. See Figure 2-5, on the following page.

Managing User Connections and Shares

Managing user connections and shares is a common administrative task. Before you shut down a server or an application running on a server, you may want to disconnect users from shared resources. You may also need to disconnect users when you plan to change access permissions or delete a share entirely. Another reason to disconnect users is to break file locks.

Server Manager lets you manage connections on a per user or a per share basis.

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Figure 2-5: Viewing user connections on a per share basis from Command Prompt.

Disconnecting users on a per user basis To disconnect users from shared resources on a per user basis, follow these steps:

  1. Select the computer you want to work with in Server Manager, then choose Properties from the Computer menu.

  2. Click on the Users button in the Properties dialog box.

  3. You can now disconnect users from shared resources. Use Disconnect to disconnect individual users. Use Disconnect All to break all user connections.

Disconnecting users on a per share basis To disconnect users from shared resources on a per share basis, follow these steps:

  1. Select the computer you want to work with in Server Manager, then choose Properties from the Computer menu.

  2. Click on the Shares button in the Properties dialog box.

  3. You can now disconnect users from shared resources. Use Disconnect to disconnect individual users. Use Disconnect All to break all user connections.

Note: Keep in mind that you are disconnecting users from shared resources and not the domain. You cannot force users to log off once they've logged on to the domain. Thus, disconnecting users doesn't log them off the network. It simply disconnects them from the shared resource.

Cc749851.02wnta06(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 2-6: You can manage open resources by using the Open Resources dialog box.

Managing Open Resources

Anytime users connect to shares, the individual file and object resources they are working with are displayed in the Open Resources dialog box. You can access this dialog box by completing the following steps:

  1. Select the computer you want to work with in Server Manager, then choose Properties from the Computer menu.

  2. Choose In Use from the Properties dialog box. This displays the Open Resources dialog box shown in Figure 2-6.

The open resources dialog box The Open Resources dialog box provides the following information about resource usage:

  • Open Resources The total number of open resources on the system.

  • File Locks The total number of file locks.

  • Opened By Displays the type of resource and the name of the user accessing it. A document icon indicates a file. A pipe icon indicates a named pipe. A printer icon indicates a print job. A communications port icon indicates a communication-device queue. A question mark indicates an unknown resource type.

    Cc749851.02wnta18(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

  • For Indicates the permission granted when the resource was opened, such as Read or Write permission.

  • Locks Displays the number of locks on the resource.

  • Path The location of the resource on the remote system.

The buttons on the open resources dialog box The information provided by the Open Resources dialog box is useful when you are trying to determine who is accessing a file and is thus preventing it from being modified, deleted, or copied. The buttons on the bottom of the dialog box allow you to manage open resources and are used as follows:

  • Refresh Used to refresh the list of open resources to reflect current changes

  • Close Resource Closes the currently selected resource

  • Close All Resources Closes all open resources

Viewing Replication Properties

The Replication button on the Properties dialog box is used to set up directory replication. With directory replication, you can automatically copy files between systems in a Windows NT domain. For complete details on replication, see the section of this chapter titled "Managing Replication."

Computer Alerts

You can configure network computers to alert you whenever administrative alerts are generated by the operating system. Administrative alerts provide useful information about the state of the computer and can provide warnings related to security, file usage, low drive space, and more.

Setting up alerts To set up alerts, follow these steps:

  1. Select the computer you want to work with in Server Manager, then choose Properties from the Computer menu.

  2. Choose Alerts from the Properties dialog box. This displays the dialog box shown in Figure 2-7.

Configuring alerts You can now configure alerts on the system

  • To configure a computer or user to receive alerts, type the computer or user name in the New Computer Or Username field, then choose Add.

  • To disable alerts for a computer or user, select the computer or user name in the Send Administrative Alerts To list, then click Remove.

    Cc749851.02wnta07(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 2-7: Alerts lets you configure computers and users so they can receive administrative alerts.

    Cc749851.02wnta08(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 2-8: To send a message to a remote user, open the Send Message dialog box, enter the text of the message, and click OK.

Note: The Alerter and Messenger services must be running on the system generating alerts. Additionally, the Messenger service must be running on the client computer receiving the alerts. Configuring services is covered in the section of Chapter 3 titled "Managing System Services."

Sending Messages to Users

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

You send messages to remote users by doing the following:

  1. In Server Manager, select the computer you want to send messages to, then choose Send Message from the Computer menu. This opens the dialog box shown in Figure 2-8.

  2. Enter the text of the message and click OK.

Note: Only users logged in to the selected system receive the message. Other users do not.

Managing Domain Controllers

Domain controllers are responsible for managing access to Windows NT domains. Two types of domain controllers are used:

  • Primary domain controller (PDC) A Windows NT server that has overall responsibility for the domain and on which the primary domain user database is stored. Windows NT domains can have only one primary domain controller.

  • Backup domain controller (BDC) A Windows NT server that maintains a backup copy of the domain user database and provides a fail-safe mechanism that ensures the availability of authentication services in case the primary domain controller fails or is otherwise unavailable. Windows NT domains can have multiple BDCs. (BDCs are recommended but not required.)

Promoting a Domain Controller

The only time you can designate a Windows NT server as a domain controller is during installation, when you can designate the server as either a primary or a backup. However, you cannot install a computer as a BDC unless there is already an active PDC computer on the subnet. Anytime after installation, you can promote a BDC to a primary. When you do, the current primary is demoted and the BDC is promoted to the primary.

You promote a backup to a primary by doing the following:

  1. Start Server Manager by going to the Start menu, selecting Programs, then Administrative Tools, and then Server Manager.

  2. Select the BDC in Server Manager, then choose Promote To Primary Domain Controller from the Computer menu.

Synchronizing the User Database Throughout the Domain

Promoting a backup is only one of two key tasks you'll perform with domain controllers. The other is to synchronize backups with the primary. You only need to synchronize backups with the primary when automatic synchronization fails or when you need user and trust changes to be immediately reflected throughout the domain.

You synchronize a single BDC with the primary by doing the following:

  1. Start Server Manager by going to the Start menu, selecting Programs, then Administrative Tools, and then Server Manager.

  2. Select the BDC in Server Manager, then choose Synchronize With Primary Domain Controller from the Computer menu.

You synchronize all BDCs with the primary by completing these steps:

  1. Start Server Manager by going to the Start menu, selecting Programs, then Administrative Tools, and then Server Manager.

  2. Select the PDC in Server Manager, then choose Synchronize Entire Domain from the Computer menu.

Tip For faster synchronization you can go to Start, select Programs, and then select Command Prompt. This will open the Command Prompt windows. Type NET ACCOUNTS /SYNC and press the Enter key.

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

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