A Dozen Windows Server 2012 Tricks To Make You A Great Admin

tips and tricks

Windows Server 2012 is much advanced than its predecessors. Understanding its capabilities can make every admin’s job a lot easier and make them look like a true wizard. Here are some tricks to help you learn more about Windows Server 2012.

Take advantage of new & improved server management system

One of the easily noticeable things about the 2012 edition is the Server Manager. Microsoft combined the server roles installer and the features installer to save users the hassles of having to install them twice. New server roles can be assigned simply by clicking on Manage and then Add server. The new server manager is intelligent enough to group the server roles based to the appropriate server and displays the management tools for the server and the tools for editing them, all in the same window.

Team up the network adapters

Teaming network adapters together is an effective way to either increase the availability of server or to increase the speed and performance, and this functionality has been incorporated into the 2012 server core. It allows combining Ethernet connections via compatible network cards together without the hassles of adding any specific tools. To team network adapters together, simply enter the server manager, find the Local server menu, and find the compatible adapters you can team together and link them by right clicking and entering the features menu.

Do a lot more with your iSCSI protocol

The new Windows server 2012 allows users to assign roles to virtual hard drives and set them up as internet small computer system interface (iSCSI) targets over the network. To enable the feature, assign the roles in the server manager under the Files and iSCSI tab and set up the size and configuration of the virtual hard disk and its access properties.

Enable Remote Server Administration 

In addition to the all-powerful server manager, Windows Server 2012 also offers remote server administration tools or RSAT that can be used to control the connected servers from a Windows 8 operating system. The function can be activated by downloading the .msu tool files from support and adding the local server through your server manager control menu.

Pick right interface environment

The new graphical interface of the Windows Server 2012 lacks many of the features available with previous editions. Even applications such as IE are missing from it. But the server core retains all the command-line management tools ensuring complete functionality. But you can optimize the graphical interface from the server manager and also choose which functionalities to retain and which ones to remove. Essentially you have three options, they are the desktop experience feature, the graphic tools and infrastructure, and the graphic shell feature. You can choose to either keep all of them or a selected few.

Set up the basic configurations

Many of the basic configurations which needed to be settled during installation can now be handled easily, thanks to the server manager. You can change most of the configuration by simply navigating to the Local server link in the server manager menu. Also you can change the security options of Internet explorer for hassle free downloads right from the server manager as well.

Get complete control using virtual domain controller

Need for having a physical domain controller to enable the Hyper-V cluster just to host the connection and USN rollback due cloning of domain controller’s VM used to be a huge headache, but in the 2012 server edition all these little problems have been effectively eliminated and pose no threats to the active directory. However, still there are few restrictions on cloning the DC, such as the requirement for presence of two DCs, with one containing the PDC emulator and so on. Simply add the DCcloneconfig.xml file to the source active directory and make sure the appropriate DC is switched off. Then create the virtual machine import the server using PowerShell to initiate the cloning process.

Activate Replication of Hyper V

Windows server 2012 allows users to replicate virtual hard disks and domain controllers without the requirement of clusters. To configure the replication, ensure the option is enabled in the Hyper V settings panel, and define server from which the replicas need to be attended. Then simply activate the replication method for the virtual server by right clicking and selecting the enable option. You can also choose to schedule the replication for a later time.

Start from Hyper V failover

Though not frequent, failovers can occur when operating with Hyper V replicates. So it’s better to create a scheduled failover and restore point such that the manager starts replication from a known target source VM. To schedule a failover for a replication, navigate to the appropriate replicate in the Hyper V manager and click on failover in the pop-up menu and enable the action by choosing a restore point.

Configure virtual server backup

Backing up is always a good idea, and the Windows Server 2012 edition with Veeam offers the easiest way to do it. Admins can back up both virtual and normal servers, integrate the Hyper-V clusters, and even backup individual items instantly with no downtime using the Veeam backup too.

Familiarize PowerShell to control servers

The PowerShell application gains an all new functionality upgrade allowing admins to list, control, manipulate and prevent replication of servers. Discover all the active servers with the commandlet Get-ADReplicationUpToDatenessVectorTable* | sort Partner,Server | ft Partner,Server,UsnFilter. Check the status of active director replication, view individual sites and domain controllers and lot more using the PowerShell commandlets.

Configure the DHCP failover

Similar to the Hyper V failover setup, the DHCP can also be configured to start off from fail safe and allows connection of two IpV4 servers. To enable the failover, navigate to the DHCP server console, locate the DHCP server you want to configure and enable the failover properties. Enter the details of the available fail-safe server and create the link between the two. Once configured the properties will be displayed on the failover properties tab.

Author: Rahul Sharma

Image Coutesy: David Castillo Dominici, FreedigitalPhotos.net