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Best practices for installing and upgrading cluster nodes

Updated: January 21, 2005

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

Best practices

Follow the appropriate checklist when installing or upgrading on cluster nodes

Use the Typical (full) configuration option when creating a new cluster

With the Cluster Administrator New Server Cluster Wizard, you can choose between Typical (full) configuration and Advanced (minimum) configuration options. Typical configuration is appropriate for most installations and results in a completely configured cluster. Use the Advanced configuration option only for clusters that have complex storage configurations that the New Server Cluster Wizard cannot validate or for configurations in which you do not want the cluster to manage all of the storage. The following examples describe each situation:

  • In some complex storage solutions, such as a fiber channel switched fabric that contains several switches, a particular storage unit might have a different identity on each computer in the cluster. Although this is a valid storage configuration, it violates the storage validation heuristics in the New Server Cluster Wizard. If you have this type of storage solution, you might receive an error when you are trying to create a cluster using the Typical configuration option. If your storage configuration is set up correctly, you can disable the storage validation heuristics and avoid this error by restarting the New Server Cluster Wizard, selecting the Advanced configuration option instead.

  • On particular nodes in a cluster, you may want to have some disks that are to be clustered and some disks that are to be kept private. The Typical configuration option configures all disks as clustered disks and creates cluster resources for them all. However, with the Advanced configuration option, you can keep certain disks private because this configuration creates a cluster in which only the quorum disk is managed by the cluster (if you chose to use a physical disk as the quorum resource). After the cluster is created, you must then use Cluster Administrator to add any other disks that you want the cluster to manage.

For more information, see Storage configuration options.


  • If you are using a shared storage device: Before creating a cluster, when you turn the computer on and start the operating system, it is very important that only one node has access to the cluster disk. Otherwise, the cluster disks can become corrupted. To prevent the corruption of the cluster disks, shut down all but one cluster node, or use other techniques (for example, LUN masking, selective presentation, or zoning) to protect the cluster disks before creating the cluster. Also, before starting the installation of the second and subsequent nodes, ensure that all disks that are to be managed by the cluster have disk resources associated with them. If these disks do not have disk resources associated with them at this time, the disk data will be corrupted because the disks will not be protected and multiple nodes will attempt to connect to them at the same time.

  • Do not use Manage Your Server to configure cluster nodes.

Secure your server cluster

To keep your server cluster secure from unauthorized users:

  • Do not set the Cluster service account to be a member of the domain Administrators group. By giving the minimal possible user rights to the Cluster service account, you avoid potential security issues if that account is compromised.

  • Limit and audit access to shared data (for example, files and folders on cluster disks).

  • Limit client access to cluster resources.

  • Use different accounts for the Cluster service and applications in the cluster.

  • Use different Cluster service accounts for multiple clusters.

  • If you upgraded from a Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 cluster, remove the read permission on the Windows\Cluster directory and the MSCS directory on the quorum disk (which contains the quorum log) from all nonadministrator user accounts.

  • Follow standard best practices for securing servers.

If you want to audit access to shared data, enable auditing on all cluster nodes. For more information, see Securing shared data in a cluster. For more information on the user rights required by the Cluster service account, see Change the account under which the Cluster service runs. For more information on security in a server cluster, see Managing Security in a Cluster. For more information on best practices for securing servers, see Best practices for security.

Review other server cluster best practices

For more information, see the Server Cluster Server Cluster Best Practices.

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