Windows Server 2012 : Server Manager (part 1) - Navigating Server Manager

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To use the Server Manager console effectively, you need to be able to navigate through its various controls, menus, and pages. This section summarizes the most important things you need to know in this area.

At the top of the Server Manager console (shown in Figure 1), you’ll find the following controls and menus:

  • Back and forward buttons for navigating through the history of the pages you previously selected

  • A breadcrumb you can use to navigate quickly through any hierarchical views

  • A refresh button you can use to manually refresh the console when its view becomes out of date

  • The Notifications flag, which you use to view any alerts or information about tasks being performed on the servers you are managing

  • The Manage menu, which you use to add roles and features to (or remove them from) the servers you are managing, add servers to the pool of managed servers, create new server groups, and configure Server Manager properties

  • The Tools menu, which you can use to access other management tools, such as Microsoft Management Console (MMC) consoles, the System Information and System Configuration utilities, Windows PowerShell consoles and Integrated Scripting Environments (ISEs), and so on.

  • The View menu, which you can use to zoom your Server Manager view in or out and show or hide the Welcome To Server Manager information on the Dashboard.

  • The Help menu, which includes a link to the Server Manager forums on TechNet.

The Dashboard page of Server Manager, which includes various controls and menus along the top of the console.
Figure 1. The Dashboard page of Server Manager, which includes various controls and menus along the top of the console.


Keyboard shortcuts for Server Manager

By default, Server Manager refreshes every 10 minutes by collecting updated information for all servers being managed by the console. You can change the refresh interval by opening the Server Manager properties as follows:

  1. Click the Manage menu on any page, and select Server Manager Properties.

  2. In the Server Manager Properties dialog box, specify the desired data refresh period in minutes.

You can also use this dialog box to configure Server Manager to not start automatically at logon.


REAL WORLD Monitoring your servers

Because the refresh interval for Server Manager cannot be configured to be less than one minute, Server Manager does not really provide a real-time view of the status of servers on your network. In addition, if you try to monitor too many types of events on dozens of servers with Server Manager, you might get a delayed response when you try to use Server Manager.

If you need real-time monitoring and easy monitoring of hundreds or even thousands of servers in your environment, your best solution is to deploy products from the Microsoft System Center suite for this purpose, such as System Center Operations Manager 2012 SP1 and System Center Configuration Manager SP1.


To use Server Manager, you select a page such as the Dashboard, the Local Server page, the All Servers page, or any additional role-specific pages that might be available. Figure 1 shows the Dashboard page, which displays the following tiles:

  • Welcome To Server Manager

  • Local Server

  • All Servers

  • Any role-specific tiles like File And Storage Services

  • Custom pages for servers assigned to server groups you created


Hide or show the Welcome title

If you clicked Hide to hide the Welcome To Server Manager tile, you can show this tile again by selecting Show Welcome Tile from the View menu.

Tiles consist of a title bar with multiple thumbnails beneath. A thumbnail reflects certain data collected about the servers being managed. When something is wrong with a server or server role, an alert is raised on the appropriate thumbnail to allow you to take remedial action to correct the problem. The five types of thumbnails displayed in tiles are

  • Manageability Indicates whether servers are online or offline, whether Server Manager is receiving reporting data from specified servers, and any issues with being able to manage the servers.

  • Events Displays alerts whenever an event is logged that matches the severity levels, event sources, or event IDs on specified servers during specified time intervals

  • Services Displays alerts whenever problems arise with services on managed servers, and lets you attempt to restart the affected services

  • Performance Displays performance alerts for different resource types (CPU or memory) on specified servers during specified time intervals

  • BPA Results Displays alerts generated from running the Best Practices Analyzer against managed servers


If the title bar of any of the tiles on the Dashboard (with the exception of the Welcome To Server Manager tile) are colored red, one or more alerts have been raised. For example, in Figure 1 the title bar of the Local Server tile is colored red. A red box with the number 1 is also displayed next to the Manageability thumbnail in this title to indicate that the alert has to do with the manageability of the local server. To view more information concerning this alert, click the Manageability thumbnail in this tile. To go directly to the Local Server page, click the title bar of the Local Server tile.

Local Server

The Local Server page displays the following tiles:

  • Properties Lets you view and configure various settings of the local server, including computer name, domain membership, whether Remote Management or Remote Desktop is enabled, the TCP/IP settings for the server’s network cards, whether Windows Update is enabled, and more. (See Figure 2.)

  • Events Displays events logged on the local server.

  • Services Lets you view the services for the local server, start services that are currently stopped, restart running services, and perform other service-related tasks.

  • Best Practices Analyzer Lets you initiate a BPA scan to determine whether any further configuration needs to be performed for the local server to function properly with all its installed roles.

  • Performance Lets you configure performance alerts on the local server so that alerts will be raised when CPU usage exceeds a specified threshold or available memory falls below a specified level.

  • Roles and Features Displays all roles and features installed on the local server, and also lets you install additional roles or remove installed roles.

The Properties tile on the Local Server page.
Figure 2. The Properties tile on the Local Server page.

All Servers

The All Servers page of Server Manager, shown in Figure 3, is where you can simultaneously manage multiple remote servers in your environment. Initially, only the local server is displayed on this page, but you can find other servers in your environment and add them to this page to manage them.

The All Servers page of Server Manager.
Figure 3. The All Servers page of Server Manager.

The All Servers page displays the same types of tiles displayed on the Local Server page. The difference is that on the All Servers page, the Events tile (for example) shows events logged on all servers being managed and not just events for the local server.

Role-specific pages

Depending on what additional roles and features you have installed on your server, other pages might be available on the left side of Server Manager. For example, Figure 3 shows three roles installed on server SEA-DC-1—namely, the AD DS role, the DNS role, and the File And Storage Services role. If you select the File And Storage Services page (shown in Figure 4), Server Manager provides you with a hierarchy of additional pages for managing servers, volumes, disks, storage pools, shares, and iSCSI targets on your Windows Server 2012 file servers. By integrating file-server management tools directly into Server Manager like this, you can manage your Windows Server 2012 file servers without the need of separately opening the MMC consoles used in previous Windows Server versions for this purpose.

The File And Storage Services page displays an additional hierarchy of pages for managing Windows Server 2012 file servers.
Figure 4. The File And Storage Services page displays an additional hierarchy of pages for managing Windows Server 2012 file servers.


REAL WORLD The future of Windows server management

The new Server Manager of Windows Server 2012 clearly represents the future for GUI-based management of Windows servers for smaller organizations. In this release, Microsoft has integrated the management of two roles into Server Manager: File And Storage Services, and Remote Desktop Services (RDS). As a result, you don’t need to use separate MMC consoles to manage either file servers or servers running various RDS role services. Instead, you can fully manage these roles from within the Server Manager console. It’s likely that future releases of the Windows Server platform will see even more roles and features have their management functionality integrated into Server Manager, and this should provide motivation for you to make sure you become thoroughly familiar with how to use Server Manager.

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