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Managing File Systems and Drives in Windows Server 2008

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Wherever disk resources are located, your job as a system administrator is to manage them. The tools and techniques you use to manage file systems and drives are discussed in this chapter from Windows Server 2008 Administrator's Pocket Consultant, 2nd Edition.
  • Managing the File Services Role

  • Adding Hard Disk Drives

  • Working with Basic, Dynamic, and Virtual Disks

  • Using Basic Disks and Partitions

  • Managing Existing Partitions and Drives

A hard disk drive is the most common storage device used on network workstations and servers. Users depend on hard disk drives to store their word-processing documents, spreadsheets, and other types of data. Drives are organized into file systems that users can access either locally or remotely.

Local file systems are installed on a user’s computer and can be accessed without remote network connections. The C drive available on most workstations and servers is an example of a local file system. You access the C drive using the file path C:\.

On the other hand, you access remote file systems through a network connection to a remote resource. You can connect to a remote file system using the Map Network Drive feature of Windows Explorer.

Wherever disk resources are located, your job as a system administrator is to manage them. The tools and techniques you use to manage file systems and drives are discussed in this chapter. Chapter 13, "Administering Volume Sets and RAID Arrays" looks at volume sets and fault tolerance.

Managing the File Services Role

A file server provides a central location for storing and sharing files across the network. When many users require access to the same files and application data, you should configure file servers in the domain. In earlier releases of the Windows Server operating system, all servers were installed with basic file services. With Windows Server 2008 R2, you must specifically configure a server to be a file server by adding the File Services role and configuring this role to use the appropriate role services.

Table 12-1 provides an overview of the role services associated with the File Services role. When you install the File Services role, you might also want to install the following optional features, available through the Add Features Wizard:

  • Windows Server Backup The backup utility included with Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • Storage Manager for SANs Allows you to provision storage for storage area networks (SANs).

  • Multipath I/O Provides support for using multiple data paths between a file server and a storage device. Servers use multiple I/O paths for redundancy in case of the failure of a path and to improve transfer performance.

Table 12-1. Role Services for File Servers



BranchCache For Network Files

Enables computers in a branch office to cache commonly used files from shared folders.

Distributed File System (DFS)

Provides tools and services for DFS Namespaces and DFS Replication. DFS Replication is a newer and preferred replication technology. When a domain is running in Windows 2008 domain functional level, domain controllers use DFS Replication to provide more robust and granular replication of the SYSVOL directory.

DFS Namespaces

Allows you to group shared folders located on different servers into one or more logically structured namespaces. Each namespace appears as a single shared folder with a series of subfolders. However, the underlying structure of a namespace can come from shared folders on multiple servers in different sites.

DFS Replication

Allows you to synchronize folders on multiple servers across local or wide area network connections using a multimaster replication engine. The replication engine uses the Remote Differential Compression (RDC) protocol to synchronize only the portions of files that have changed since the last replication. You can use DFS Replication with DFS Namespaces or by itself.

File Server Resource Manager (FSRM)

Installs a suite of tools that administrators can use to better manage data stored on servers. Using FSRM, administrators can generate storage reports, configure quotas, and define file-screening policies.

Indexing Service

Allows indexing of files and folders for faster searching. Using the related query language, users can find files quickly. You cannot install Indexing Service and Windows Search Service on the same computer.

Services for Network File System

Provides a file sharing solution for enterprises with a mixed Windows and UNIX environment. When you install Services for Network File System (NFS), users can transfer files between Windows Server 2008 R2 and UNIX operating systems by using the NFS protocol.

Windows Search Service

Enables fast file searches of resources on the server from clients that are compatible with Windows Search Service. This feature is designed primarily for desktop and small office implementations.

Windows Server 2003 File Services

Provides file services that are compatible with Windows Server 2003. This allows you to use a server running Windows Server 2008 R2 with servers running Windows Server 2003.

You can add the File Services role to a server by following these steps:

  1. In Server Manager, select the Roles node in the left pane, and then click Add Roles. This starts the Add Roles Wizard. If the wizard displays the Before You Begin page, read the Welcome text, and then click Next.

  2. On the Select Server Roles page, select File Services, and then click Next twice.

  3. On the Select Role Services page, select one or more role services to install. A summary of each role service is provided in Table 12-1. To allow for interoperability with UNIX, be sure to add Services for Network File System. Click Next.

  4. A DFS namespace is a virtual view of shared folders located on different servers. To install DFS Namespaces, you work with several additional configuration pages:

    • On the Create A DFS Namespace page, set the root name for the first namespace or elect to create a namespace later, as shown in the following screen. The namespace root name should be something that is easy for users to remember, such as CorpData. In a large enterprise, you may need to create separate namespaces for each major division.

    • On the Select Namespace Type page, specify whether you want to create a domain-based namespace or a stand-alone namespace, as shown in the following screen. Domain-based namespaces can be replicated with multiple namespace servers to provide high availability, but they can have only up to 5,000 DFS folders. Stand-alone namespaces can have up to 50,000 DFS folders, but they are replicated only when you use failover server clusters and configure replication.

    • If you are creating a domain-based namespace, on the Provide Credentials To Create A Namespace page, click Select, and then specify the user name and password for an account that is a member of the Domain Admins groups. This account is used to create the namespace.

    • On the Configure Namespace page, you can add shared folders to the namespace as well as namespaces that are associated with a DFS folder, as shown in the following screen. Click Add. In the Add Folder To Namespace dialog box, click Browse. In the Browse For Shared Folders dialog box, select the shared folder to add, and then click OK. Type a name for the folder to add, and then click OK. Next, type a name for the folder in the namespace. This name can be the same as the original folder name or a new name that will be associated with the original folder in the namespace. After you type a name, click OK to add the folder and complete the process.

  5. With File Server Resource Manager, you can monitor the amount of space used on disk volumes and create storage reports. To install File Server Resource Manager, you work with two additional configuration pages:

    • On the Configure Storage Usage Monitoring page, select disk volumes for monitoring as shown in the following screen. When you select a volume and then click Options, you can set the volume usage threshold and choose the reports to generate when the volume reaches the threshold value. By default, the usage threshold is 85 percent.

    • On the Set Report Options page, you can select a save location for usage reports, as shown in the following screen. One usage report of each type you select is generated each time a volume reaches its threshold. Old reports are not automatically deleted. The default save location is %SystemDrive%\StorageReports. To change the default location, click Browse, and then select the new save location in the Browse For Folder dialog box. You can also elect to receive reports by e-mail. To do this, you must specify the recipient e-mail addresses and the SMTP server to use.

  6. To install Windows Search Service, you work with an additional configuration page that allows you to select the volumes to index. Indexing a volume makes it possible for users to search a volume quickly. However, indexing entire volumes can affect service performance, especially if you index the system volume. Therefore, you may want to index only specific shared folders on volumes, which you can do later on a per-folder basis.

  7. After you complete the optional pages, click Next. You’ll see the Confirm Installation Options page. Click Install to begin the installation process. When Setup finishes installing the server with the features you selected, you’ll see the Installation Results page. Review the installation details to ensure that all phases of the installation were completed successfully.

If the File Services role is installed already on a server and you want to install additional services for a file server, you can add role services to the server by using a similar process. In Server Manager, expand the Roles node, and then select the File Services node. In the main pane, the window is divided into several panels. Scroll down until you see the Role Services panel, and then click Add Role Services. You can then follow the previous procedure starting with step 3 to add role services.