Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Administration basics (part 2) - Windows Server 2008 R2 administration tools

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Introduction to PowerShell

For years, Unix and Linux administrators have experienced the flexibility of very powerful command shells for administrators. Complex administrative tasks that might have required hours of work using GUI tools could easily be accomplished within minutes, using the powerful command line shell technologies in these OSs.

Over the past few years, Microsoft has been developing and evolving PowerShell to bring the same command line administrative power found in Unix and Linux to the Windows platform. PowerShell is quickly becoming the administrative tool of choice for many administrators. Exchange Server 2007 was the first major product shipped by Microsoft that used PowerShell as the foundation for all administrative functions. The Exchange 2007 GUI tools actually call underlying PowerShell commands and scripts in the background. This concept was such a success with Exchange administrators that it is quickly becoming the standard administrative framework for most Microsoft products, including Windows Server. Windows Server 2008 R2 comes packed with PowerShell cmdlets for administrating everything from Windows services to Active Directory. If you have not taken the time to learn the PowerShell basics, now is the time to do so.

Windows Server 2008 R2 administration tools

You will be introduced to various Windows Server 2008 R2 administrative tools. However, there are some key tools you should familiarize yourself with up front. These tools provide administration of some of the most basic, yet most critical aspects of the Windows OS.

Event Viewer

The event viewer provides very detailed logs about errors, warnings, and general information regarding events that occur in the OS or applications hosted on the system. The event viewer is crucial not only for understanding problems when they occur, but also for monitoring changes and security of healthy systems.


The Services console provides you with information regarding all Windows Services and their state. The Services console allows you to start, stop, and restart services installed on the server. Familiarize yourself with the services console. You will use it often.

Local Users and Groups

The Local Users and Groups console allows you to manage users and groups local to the server. Local Users and Groups are used to control who has what level of access to the local computer for which they reside. Local Users and Groups do not extend beyond the local computer in which they are created. If you plan on deploying an Active Directory domain, you may not spend a lot of time administering local users and groups; nevertheless, it is important that you understand how they can be used to provide or restrict access to a given server.


The Storage console is the main administrative tool for managing Windows disk drives. You learned how to use the Storage console to create new volumes to be used by the server. The storage console can also be used to extend and shrink volumes as well as assign or change drive letters assigned to volumes and partitions. The Storage console is also used to initialize and configure newly added disk drives.

Task Scheduler

Windows Server 2008 R2 comes with a built-in task scheduler allowing administrators to create automated jobs or tasks. These jobs can be set up to run based on various criteria, such as scheduled times or when a specific event occurs. These jobs run without requiring administrative input. Jobs can be set up to perform serveral actions including running scripts, displaying message dialogs, or sending email messages. An example of a scheduled task would be a weekly disk defragmentation job that needs to run off hours when an administrator is not available to manually start the job. Scheduled tasks can also be used to perform tasks, such as backups or running command line utilities.

The Task Scheduler management console is located in Server Manager under the Configuration node as seen in Figure 6. You will notice that there will already be a list of predefined tasks configured.


Figure 6 Windows Server 2008 R2 Task Scheduler.

To create a new scheduled task, perform the following:

  1. Open Server Manager.

  2. Expand the Configuration node and right click on Task Scheduler. Then choose the option Create Task.

  3. The main task window will be displayed as seen in Figure 7. Enter a descriptive name for the task and configure security options for the task. Security options define how the task runs and how it can run when no user is logged on. If the task will need access to resources on other systems, you may need to run it under the context of another user account. If this is required, you can enter the account information by clicking on the Change User or Group button. After configuring information on the General tab, select the Triggers tab.


    Figure 7 Create New Scheduled Task.

  4. The Triggers section is used to define what events, including scheduled times, trigger the scheduled task to run. As you can see in Figure 8, several different triggers can be used to start a scheduled task. You can also select multiple triggers that can be used to kick off a scheduled task. After you define the triggers used to start the task, select the Actions tab.


    Figure 8. Scheduled Task Triggers.

  5. You can now use the Actions tab to define what actions are to be performed in the event that the scheduled task is triggered to run. Like triggers, you can define multiple actions to occur. For example, you could have the task run a batch file to copy files from one server to another and also send an email notifying an administrator that the task ran. After selecting the actions to perform, select the Conditions tab.

  6. Scheduled tasks can use conditions to ensure that tasks run only under certain circumstances. For example, you may only want a task that makes use of lot of processing power to only start if the computer is idle for 30 minutes. After defining any optional conditions, you may want to tie to the scheduled task, select the Settings tab.

  7. Using the settings section, you can define additional settings that should be applied to the scheduled task. For example, you may want the task to stop if it has been running for more than 6 h or you may want the task to rerun if it fails the first time. As you can see from Figure 9, there are various additional settings you can tie to a scheduled task. After you have configured any additional settings for the scheduled task, click on OK to create the new task.


    Figure 9 Additional Scheduled Task Settings.

After the task is completed, it will be displayed in the Task Scheduler console in Server Manager. If you want to test the task, you can simply right click on the task and choose the Run option.

  •  Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Automating the installation process - Installing and configuring WDS
  •  Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Product activation and Key Management Services
  •  Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Performing postinstallation tasks (part 5) - Configuring disk drives - Creating a RAID 5 volume
  •  Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Performing postinstallation tasks (part 4) - Configuring disk drives - Creating a mirrored volume
  •  Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Performing postinstallation tasks (part 3) - Configuring disk drives - Basic disks versus dynamic disks, Dynamic disk volumes
  •  Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Performing postinstallation tasks (part 2) - Windows Server 2008 R2 roles
  •  Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 : Performing postinstallation tasks (part 1) - Configuring initial settings, Understanding roles and features
  •  Review : Apple iMac with Retina 5K display
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Implementing Group Policy preferences (part 4) - Windows Settings extensions,Control Panel Settings extensions
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Implementing Group Policy preferences (part 3) - Understanding preferences - Item-level targeting, Configuring a preference item
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