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File server role: Configuring a file server

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

File server role: Configuring a file server

A file server provides a central location on your network where you can store and share files with users across your network. When users require an important file such as a project plan, they can access the file on the file server instead of having to pass the file between their separate computers. If your network users will need access to the same files and network-accessible applications, configure this computer as a file server.

This topic explains how to use both the Manage Your Server and the Configure Your Server Wizard to install and configure a file server. When you have finished setting up a basic file server, you can complete additional tasks by using Manage Your Server. After you complete the Configure Your Server Wizard, you will have a fully functioning file server.

This topic covers:

Before you begin

Configuring your file server

Next steps: Completing additional tasks

Before you begin

Before you configure your computer as a file server, verify whether or not:

  • The operating system is configured correctly. In the Windows Server 2003 family, file services depend on the appropriate configuration of the operating system and its services. If you have a new installation of a Windows Server 2003 operating system, you can use the default service settings. No further action is necessary. If you upgraded to a Windows Server 2003 operating system or you want to confirm that your services are configured correctly for best performance and security, verify your service settings by comparing them to the table in Default settings for services.

  • The computer is joined to an Active Directory domain as a member server. If you want to authenticate clients or publish a shared folder to Active Directory, the file server must be joined to a domain. If you do not need to perform either of these tasks, the file server does not need to be joined to a domain.

  • All available disk space is allocated. You can use Disk Management or DiskPart.exe to create a new partition out of unallocated space. For more information see Create a partition or logical drive.

  • All existing disk volumes use the NTFS file system. FAT32 volumes are not secure, and they do not support file and folder compression, disk quotas, file encryption, or individual file permissions.

  • Windows Firewall is enabled. For more information, see Enable Windows Firewall with no exceptions.

    If Windows Firewall is enabled, you must select File and Printer Sharing on the Exceptions tab in Windows Firewall in order for the File Server Role to function properly.

  • The Security Configuration Wizard is installed and enabled. For information about the Security Configuration wizard, see Security Configuration Wizard Overview.

The following table lists the information that you need to know before you add a file server role.

 

Before adding a file server role Comments

Determine whether you want to configure disk quotas.

Use disk quotas to track and control disk space usage for NTFS volumes on a per-volume basis. Quotas prevent users from exceeding the designated disk space by logging an event when a user exceeds a specified disk space limit.

Determine whether you want to use Indexing Service.

Indexing Service creates indexes of the contents and properties of documents located on your local hard drive or on shared network drives. These indexes enable users to perform faster, easier searches. Indexing Service can slow down the server, so use it only if users frequently search the contents of files on this server.

Identify the folders that you want to share on the computer, and specify a folder name and description.

Users view the shared resources on this file server based on file name. It is recommended that you create share names that are easy to remember and indicative of the folder contents. For example, suppose users are provided with 2 gigabytes (GB) each for storing their private information on the file server. You might name the top-level folder on your file server Personal Folders, and then name each of the subfolders according to the user's domain name.

Determine what type of permissions you want to set on the folders.

Assign the most restrictive permissions that still allow users to perform required tasks. Access control on the NTFS file system provides more security than share permissions alone.

Configuring your file server

To configure a file server, start the Configure Your Server Wizard by doing either of the following:

  • From Manage Your Server, click Add or remove a role. By default, Manage Your Server starts automatically when you log on. To open Manage Your Server, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Manage Your Server.

  • To open the Configure Your Server Wizard, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Configure Your Server Wizard.

On the Server Role page, click File server, and then click Next.

This section covers:

File Server Disk Quotas

File Server Indexing Service

Summary of Selections

Using the Share a Folder Wizard

Completing the Configure Your Server Wizard

Removing the file server role

File Server Disk Quotas

On the File Server Disk Quotas page, you can set up disk quotas, which track and control individual user's disk space usage on NTFS volumes on a per-volume basis. The Configure Your Server Wizard automatically applies disk quotas to new users of any NTFS file system, using whatever disk space quota is already applied. You need to change the information on the File Server Disk Quotas page only if you want to prevent a server from consuming a certain amount of disk space or if you have a limited amount of disk space. In most cases, you can accept the default system settings.

If you want to log an event when a user exceeds the specified disk space limit or when a user exceeds the specified disk space warning level (that is, the point at which a user is nearing his or her quota limit), you can specify that on this page.

The following table describes the manual configuration options.

 

Settings Comments

Set up default disk quotas for new users of this server

If you want to enable disk quotas, so that you can limit and track disk space usage on this file server, select this check box.

If you choose to enable disk quotas, you need to set the disk space limit. It is recommended that you set moderately restrictive default limits for all user accounts, and then modify the limits to allow more disk space for users who work with large files. For example, users who work with scanned photographs or artwork might require large amounts of disk space.

You can also set the warning level so that users are notified when they exceed the specified disk space limit. If you do not want to use a warning level, set this number higher than the disk space limit.

Deny disk space to users exceeding disk space limit

If you want to limit disk space usage on the file server, configure this setting. If you only want to track disk space usage on a per-user basis, leave this setting blank.

Log an event when the user exceeds any of the following

If you want to log a system event when the user exceeds the disk space limit or the warning level, configure these settings. You can view system events by using Event Viewer. To open Event Viewer, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Event Viewer.

After you finish, click Next.

File Server Indexing Service

On the File Server Indexing Service page, do one of the following:

  • If users will be searching the contents of the files on the server regularly, click Yes, leave Indexing Service turned on.

  • If you want to conserve CPU and memory resources, click No, turn Indexing Service off. Indexing Service can slow server performance.

Indexing Service provides a fast, easy, and secure way for users to search for information locally or on the network. Users can search in files in different formats and languages, either through Search on the Start menu or through HTML pages that they view in a browser.

After you finish, click Next.

Summary of Selections

On the Summary of Selections page, view and confirm the options that you have selected. If you selected File server on the Server Role page, the following appears:

  • Install File Server Management

  • Run the Share a Folder Wizard to add new shared folders or share existing folders

To apply the selections shown on the Summary of Selections page, click Next.

Using the Share a Folder Wizard

After you click Next, the Configure Your Server Wizard starts the Share a Folder Wizard automatically, which you use to configure shared folders. By sharing resources, you make them available for use by other users on your network.

Important

  • Use caution when sharing folders that contain system files and resources. Verify that the folder or resource that you specify does not contain information that you do not want users to access.

This section describes the following steps in the Share a Folder Wizard:

Folder Path

Name, Description, and Settings

Permissions

Sharing was Successful

Folder Path

On the Folder Path page, specify the path to the folder that you want to share. To search for a folder, click Browse.

After you finish, click Next.

Name, Description, and Settings

On the Name, Description, and Settings page, specify the following information about the shared folder:

  • In Share name, type the name you want to use for the shared resource. The share name is required. Choose a name that is short and descriptive, so that it is easy for users to identify.

  • In Description, type a description of the shared resource. The description is optional. If you are sharing several resources, descriptions can help you organize and identify those resources. The description you type appears in the Description column of File Server Management and Shared Folders.

  • In Offline setting, specify how you want to make the contents of the shared folder available to users when they are not connected to the network. If you want users to have control over which files are available offline, you can accept the default. To change the offline setting, click Change. Use the information in the following table to determine what settings you want to use for your offline files.

 

Offline setting Comments

Only the files and programs that users specify will be available offline

If you want to give users control over which files are available offline, click this option.

All files and programs that users open from the share will be automatically available offline

If you want to allow all of the files that users open from the shared folder to be automatically available offline, click this option. If you select the Optimized for performance check box, all programs will be automatically cached so that users can run them locally. This option is especially useful for file servers that host applications, because it reduces network traffic and improves server scalability.

Files or programs from the share will not be available offline

If you want to prevent users from storing files offline, click this option.

After you finish, click Next.

Permissions

On the Permissions page, specify the share permissions for the shared folder. To ensure that only authorized users have access to the information in the folder, you must set permissions on the folder that you created. Share permissions apply only to users who gain access to the resource over the network. They do not apply to users who gain access to the resource from the computer where the resource is stored. Use the following table to determine which share permissions are appropriate.

 

Share permission Comments

All users have read-only access

To restrict all access to read-only, click this option.

Administrators have full access; other users have read-only access

If you want users to view files and run programs that are located in the shared resource, click this option. Only members of the Administrators group are allowed to change, add, or delete files. Also, only members of the Administrators group are allowed to change the NTFS file permissions on the shared resource.

Administrators have full access; other users have read and write access

If you want to restrict access to read and write for all users except members of the Administrators group, click this option.

Use custom share and folder permissions

If you want to grant or deny access to specific users or groups, click this option. You should assign the most restrictive permissions that still allows users to perform necessary functions.

After you finish, click Finish.

Sharing was Successful

On the Sharing was Successful page, the Share a Folder Wizard displays a status and summary of your selections. If you want to share another folder, click the When I click Close, run the wizard again to share another folder check box. When you finish sharing folders, click Close.

Completing the Configure Your Server Wizard

After you complete the Share a Folder Wizard, the Configure Your Server Wizard displays the This Server Is Now a File Server page. To review all of the changes made to your server by the Configure Your Server Wizard or to ensure that a new role was installed successfully, click Configure Your Server log. The Configure Your Server Wizard log is located at systemroot\Debug\Configure Your Server.log. To close the Configure Your Server Wizard, click Finish.

After completing the Configure Your Server Wizard, be sure to visit Windows Update to download any additional updates available. For more information, see Windows Update.

In addition, you should also run the Security Configuration Wizard to secure your file server. For more information see Security Configuration Wizard.

Removing the file server role

If you need to reconfigure your server for a different role, you can remove existing server roles. If you remove the file server role, files and folders on this server are no longer shared and network users, programs, or hosts that depend on those shared resources will be unable to connect to them.

To remove the file server role, restart the Configure Your Server Wizard by doing either of the following:

  • From Manage Your Server, click Add or remove a role. By default, Manage Your Server starts automatically when you log on. To open Manage Your Server, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Manage Your Server.

  • To open the Configure Your Server Wizard, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Configure Your Server Wizard.

On the Server Role page, click File server, and then click Next. On the Role Removal Confirmation page, review the items listed under Summary, select the Remove the file server role check box, and then click Next. On the File Server Role Removed page, click Finish.

Next steps: Completing additional tasks

After you complete the Configure Your Server Wizard and create shared resources on the computer, the computer is ready for use as a basic file server that can store, manage, and share information such as files and network-accessible applications. Up to this point, you have completed the following tasks:

  • If necessary, established disk space limits by enabling disk quotas.

  • If necessary, turned on Indexing Service.

  • Created shared folders and set share permissions for each folder.

The Configure Your Server Wizard automatically installs File Server Management, which you use to manage your file server. To open File Server Management, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click File Server Management.

The following table lists some of the additional tasks that you can perform on your file server.

 

Task Purpose of task Reference

Secure the file server.

To ensure that your file server is secure.

Best practices for security

Implement Encrypting File System (EFS).

To strengthen security of the files and resources on the file server.

Encrypting and decrypting data

Configure ports to allow remote administration.

To manage the File Server Role from other computers on the network.

Windows Firewall Settings

Set permissions on shared files and folders.

To secure resources on the file server and prevent unauthorized access. Access control on the NTFS file system provides more security than share permissions alone.

Set permissions on a shared resource

Make shared resources available offline.

To allow users to store local copies of shared resources, so that they can access these resources when they are not connected to the network.

Configure offline settings for a shared resource

Enable shadow copies of shared folders.

To enable shadow copies of shared folders, which provide point-in-time copies of files on network shares.

Enable Shadow Copies for Shared Folders

Set up a Distributed File System (DFS).

To make it easier for users to access and manage files that are physically distributed across a network.

Checklist: Creating a distributed file system

Ensure that the file server is properly backed up.

To protect data from accidental loss if your system experiences hardware or storage media failure.

Back Up Data

Use file compression.

To conserve storage space by compressing files, folders, and programs.

File compression overview

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