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Overview of the Dashboard in Windows Server Essentials

Published: August 21, 2012

Updated: January 15, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

This topic applies to a server running Windows Server 2012 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, or to a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed.

Windows Server Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role enabled include an administrative dashboard, which simplifies the tasks that you perform to manage your Windows Server Essentials network and server. By using the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard, you can:

  • Finish setting up your server

  • Access and perform common administrative tasks

  • View server alerts and take action on them

  • Set up and change server settings

  • Access or search for Help topics on the web

  • Access Community resources on the web

  • Manage user accounts

  • Manage devices and backups

  • Manage access and settings for server folders and hard drives

  • View and manage add-in applications

  • Integrate with Microsoft online services

This topic includes:

The Windows Server Essentials Dashboard helps you to quickly access the key information and management features of your server. The Dashboard includes several sections as depicted in Figure 1. The table that follows the image describes the sections.

Figure 1

Windows Server 2012 Essentials Dashbard Page

 

Item Dashboard Feature Description

1

Navigation bar

Click a section on the Navigation Bar to access the information and tasks that are associated with that section. Each time you open the Dashboard, the Home page appears by default.

2

Subsection tabs

The subsection tabs provide access to a second layer of Windows Server Essentials administrative tasks.

3

List pane

The list view displays the objects that you can manage, and includes basic information about each object.

4

Details pane

The details pane displays additional information about an object that you select in the list view.

5

Tasks pane

The Tasks pane contains links to tools and to information that help you manage the properties for either a specific object (such as a user account or a computer), or for global settings for the object category. The Tasks pane is divided into these two sections:

  • Object tasks – Contains links to tools and information that help you manage the properties for an object that you select in the list view (such as a user account or a computer).

  • Global tasks – Contains links to tools and information that help you manage global tasks for a feature area. Global tasks include tasks to add new objects, set policy, and so on.

6

Information and Settings

This section provides direct access to the server settings, and a Help link to information about the dashboard page that you are viewing.

7

Alerts status

The alerts status provides a quick visual indication about the health of the server. Click the alert image to view critical and important alerts.

noteNote
In Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed, the Alerts status is available on the Information and Settings tab.

8

Status bar

The status bar displays the number of objects that appear in the list view. Add-in applications may also display other status.

When you open the Dashboard, the Home page appears by default with the SETUP category displayed. The Home page of the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard provides quick access to tasks and information that help you customize your server and configure key features. The Home page is comprised of four functional areas, which expose information and configuration tasks for the options that you select. Figure 2 describes the functional areas of the Home page. The table that follows the image describes the features.

Figure 2

Windows Server 2012 Essentials Dashboard Home Page

 

Item Feature Description

1

Navigation Bar

Click a section on the Navigation Bar to access the information and tasks that are associated with that section. Each time you open the Dashboard, the Home page appears by default.

2

Category pane

This pane displays feature areas that provide quick access to information and configuration tools that help you set up and customize the server. Click a category to display tasks and resources that are associated with that category.

3

Tasks pane

This pane displays links to tasks and information that apply to a selected category. Click a task or resource to display additional information.

4

Action pane

This pane provides a brief description of a feature or task, and provides links that open configuration wizards and information pages. Click a link to take further action.

The Windows Server Essentials Dashboard organizes network information and administrative tasks into functional areas. The management page for each functional area provides information about the objects associated with that area, for example Users, or Devices. The management page also includes tasks that you can use to view or change settings, or to run programs that automate tasks that require multiple steps.

The following table describes the administrative sections of the Dashboard that are available by default after installation. The table also lists the tasks that are available within each section.

 

Section Description

Home

The Home page appears by default each time that you open the Dashboard. It includes tasks and information in the following categories:

  • SETUP – Complete the tasks in this category to configure your server for the first time. For information about these tasks, see Install and Configure Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

  • EMAIL – Choose an option in this category to integrate an email service with the server.

    noteNote
    This category is only available in Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

  • SERVICES – Choose a task in this category to integrate Microsoft online services with the server.

    noteNote
    This category is only available in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role enabled.

  • ADD-INS – Click this category to install valuable add-ins for your business.

  • QUICK STATUS – Displays high-level server status. Click a status to view information and configuration options for that feature. If you complete all of the tasks in the SETUP category, this category appears at the top of the Category pane.

  • HELP – Use the Search box to search for help on the Web. Click a link to visit the website for the selected support option.

Users

For users to access the resources that Windows Server Essentials provides, you need to create user accounts by using the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard. After creating user accounts, you can manage the accounts by using the tasks that are available on the Users page of the Dashboard. Tasks that you can perform on this page include:

  • View a list of user accounts.

  • View and manage user account properties.

  • Activate or deactivate user accounts.

  • Add or remove user accounts.

  • Assign local network accounts to Microsoft online services accounts if your server is integrated with Office 365.

  • Change user account passwords and manage the password policy.

For information about managing user accounts, see Manage User Accounts in Windows Server Essentials.

User groups

noteNote
This feature is available only in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role enabled.

Tasks that you can perform on this page include:

  • View a list of user groups.

  • View and manage user groups.

  • Add or remove user groups.

Distribution groups

noteNote
This feature is available only in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role enabled. This tab is only displayed when Windows Server Essentials is integrated with Office 365.

Tasks that you can perform on this page include:

  • View a list of distribution groups.

  • Add or remove distribution groups.

Devices

After you connect computers to the Windows Server Essentials network, you can manage the computers from the Devices page of the Dashboard. Tasks that you can perform on this page include:

  • View a list of computers that are joined to your network.

  • Manage mobile devices by leveraging the Office 365 Mobile Device Management capability.

    noteNote
    This feature is only available in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role enabled.

  • View the computer properties and health alerts for each computer.

  • Set up and manage computer backups.

  • Restore files and folders to computers.

  • Establish a Remote Desktop connection to a computer

  • Customize Computer Backup and File History settings



For information about managing computers and backups, see Manage Devices in Windows Server Essentials.

Storage

Depending on the version of Windows Server Essentials you are running, the Storage section of the Dashboard contains the following sections by default.

  • The Server Folders subsection includes tasks that help you view and manage the properties for server folders. The page also includes tasks to open and add server folders.

  • The Hard Drives page includes tasks that help you view and check the health of the drives that are attached to the server.

  • In Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role enabled, the SharePoint Libraries page includes tasks that help you manage the SharePoint Libraries in Office 365 service.

For information about managing server folders, see Manage Server Folders in Windows Server Essentials.

For information about managing hard drives, see Manage Server Storage in Windows Server Essentials.

Applications

The Applications section of the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard contains two subsections by default.

For information about managing add-in applications, see Manage Applications in Windows Server Essentials.

  • The Add-ins subsection displays a list of installed add-ins, and provides tasks that enable you to remove an add-in, and to access additional information about a selected add-in.

  • The Microsoft Pinpoint subsection displays a list of applications that are available from Microsoft Pinpoint.

Office 365

The Office 365 tab displays only when Windows Server Essentials is integrated with Microsoft Office 365. This section contains Office 365 subscription and administrator account information.

noteNote
If you install an add-in for the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard, the add-in may create additional administrative sections. These sections may appear on the main navigation bar, or on a subsection tab.

You can access the Dashboard by using of one of following methods. The method you choose depends on whether you are accessing the dashboard from the server, from a computer that is connected to the Windows Server Essentials network, or from a remote computer.

To help maintain a secure network, only users with administrative permissions can access the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard. Additionally, you cannot use the built-in Administrator account to sign in to the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard from the Launchpad.

When you install Windows Server Essentials, the setup process creates a shortcut to the Dashboard on the Start screen, and also on the Desktop. If the shortcut is missing from these locations, you can use the Search pane to find and run the Dashboard program.

  • Sign in to the server as an administrator, and then do any of the following:

    • On the Start screen, click Dashboard.

    • On the Desktop, double-click Dashboard.

    • In the Search pane, type dashboard, and then click Dashboard in the search results.

In Windows Server Essentials, after you join a computer to the network, administrators can use the Launchpad to access the server Dashboard from the computer.

WarningWarning
In Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, to connect to the Dashboard from the client computer, right-click the tray icon, and then open the Dashboard from the context menu.

  1. From a computer that is joined to the network, open the Launchpad.

  2. On the Launchpad menu, click Dashboard.

  3. On the Dashboard Sign in page, type your network administrator credentials, and then press ENTER.

    A remote connection to the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard opens.

When you are working from a remote computer, you can access the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard by using the Remote Web Access site.

  1. From the remote computer, open an Internet browser, such as Internet Explorer.

  2. In the Internet browser address bar, type the following:https://<DomainName>/remote, where DomainName is the external domain name of your organization (such as contoso.com).

  3. Type your username and password to sign in to the Remote Web Access site.

  4. In the Computers section of the Remote Web Access Home page; locate your server and click Connect.

    A remote connection to the Dashboard opens.

    noteNote
    If your server does not appear in the Computers section of the Home page, click Connect to more computers, find your server in the list, and then click the server to connect to it.

    To give a user permission to access the Dashboard from Remote Web Access, open the Properties page for the user account, and then select the Server Dashboard option on the Anywhere Access tab.

The Safe mode feature of Windows Server Essentials monitors the add-ins that are installed on the server. If the Dashboard becomes unstable or unresponsive, Safe mode detects and isolates add-ins that might be causing the issue, and displays them on the Safe Mode Settings page the next time you open the Dashboard. From the Safe Mode Settings page, you can disable and enable add-ins one-by-one to determine which add-in is causing the issue. You can then choose to leave the add-in disabled for future startups, or you can uninstall the add-in.

You can view a list of all add-ins that are installed on the server at any time. You can also open the Dashboard in Safe mode, which automatically disables all non-Microsoft add-ins. Windows Server Essentials also allows you to access the Dashboard in Safe mode from another computer on the network.

  • From the Dashboard, click Help, and then click Safe mode settings.

  • In the Search pane, type safe, and then click Dashboard (Safe mode) in the search results.

  1. From a computer that is connected to the network, open the Windows Server Essentials Launchpad, and then click Dashboard.

  2. On the Dashboard sign-in page, type the user name and password for an account that has permission to sign in to the server, select the Allow me to select which add-ins to load check box, and then click the arrow to sign in.

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