Editor’s Note: Take this Job and Simplify It

Minimize frustration and maximize performance. Make use of the free tools and guidance for managing and maintaining Windows servers.

By Mitch Irsfeld

Keeping your Windows Servers in top condition shouldn’t be a reactive manual exercise in frustration. If that’s the case, chances are that you are not making the best use of the management and maintenance tools that come with Windows Server 2008 R2 or the abundant guidance available for free on TechNet or elsewhere from Microsoft.

In this edition of TechNet ON, we highlight the enhancements designed to make the job of managing and maintaining Windows servers, well…less of a job.

Start with a look at the maintenance tools, techniques and guidance that are built-in to Windows Server or freely available. In TechNet Magazine’s Guide to Proactive Windows Server Maintenance, Joshua Hoffman focuses on the tools and techniques for addressing potential issues before they become problems. From the Best Practices Analyzer to Windows Resource Monitor, and more, Windows Server 2008 makes it easier than ever to monitor the health of your servers, tune their performance, keep track of resources, perform backups and enforce security and policy rules.

Time Saving Tools

An essential maintenance task for anyone managing Windows servers is performing backups to ensure data protection. Windows Server 2008 introduced a new set of backup tools and Jeffery Hicks walks through the basics of installing and using Windows Backup in his TechNet Magazine article, Data Protection: Backup Basics in Windows Server 2008 R2.

Also from TechNet Magazine, two more first-look articles for understanding the benefits of three other Windows Server 2008 R2 features: DirectAccess, and Network Access Protection (NAP); and the Read-only domain controllers (RDOCs) found in the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS).

The RDOCs’ new capabilities represent a fundamental change in how you previously used domain controllers and Paul Yu’s article, Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain Controllers: Plan Carefully for RODCs, looks at how the RDOCs in AD DS not only provide additional security features, but also provide for additional enterprise manageability and scalability.

To come up to speed on DirectAccess and NAP, Joseph Davies’s June 2010 Cable Guy column, DirectAccess with Network Access Protection (NAP), is a great resource for understanding how the combination of those utilities can not only provide secure remote access to corporate servers, but also monitor the health of client computers when they attempt to connect.

And one of the big improvements in the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and Datacenter editions is the way they support failover clusters (formerly known as “server clusters”). Clustered servers help increase the availability of applications and services. Find out how setup and management is easier and security has been improved in the TechNet Library article What's New in Failover Clusters in Windows Server 2008.

We Have the Guides

In addition to overviews of the management and maintenance tools and utilities, TechNet Library provides specific guidance around specific management scenarios, starting with Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2008 R2. It explains the tuning parameters and settings that you can adjust to improve the performance and energy efficiency of Windows Server 2008 R2. It also helps you determine if a particular setting is relevant to your system.

If you’ve been following the enhancements included in Windows Server 2008, you’ve no doubt heard about several new server roles. Managing and maintaining those server roles is another critical job and we’re offering a free lesson on Maintaining DNS and DHCP Server Roles. This free lesson is excerpted from the 300-level course: Managing and Maintaining Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Servers.

No discussion of Windows Server 2008 management would be complete without a look at BranchCache, the wide-area network bandwidth optimization technology included in some editions of the Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 operating systems. To start the discussion, Edge Video looks at Installing a Non-Domain Member BranchCache-Capable File Server, followed by a series of how-to guides:

In the final analysis, I think you’ll agree that Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 broaden your ability maximize performance, minimize downtime, prevent problems, and simplify the tasks associated with doing so.

Thanks for reading,


Mitch Irsfeld

Mitch Irsfeld*, Editor of TechNet, is a veteran computer industry journalist and content developer who managed editorial staffs at several leading publications, including* InformationWeek, InternetWeek and CommunicationsWeek*. He is also an editor for* TechNet Magazine and managing editor of the TechNet Flash newsletter.