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Hour 12. Working with Network Shares and the Distributed File System

What You’ll Learn in This Hour

Two of the most compelling reasons for networking computers are to share data files and to share printers. Early computer networks and the network operating systems that they used were designed around these needs.

This hour takes a look at strategies for sharing files on a server running Windows Server 2008. This exploration of Windows Server 2008 file server possibilities includes a look at the new Share and Storage snap-in and other file services tools.

Configuring a File Server

A file server provides a repository for files that the users on your network must access. Not only do file servers provide data access to users, but they also often serve as a place where users can save files in either a home directory or a directory that other users can also access. You can configure a domain controller or a domain member server as a file server.

Whether you need a dedicated file server on the network depends on the amount of data that must be accessed and the number of users accessing this data. On a larger network, a dedicated file server that takes advantage of a RAID 5 configuration would provide fast and dependable access for your users. (RAID 5 and configuring server drives are discussed in Hour 6, “Managing Hard Drives and Volumes.”)

Did you Know?

Before configuring a server as a file server, configure the drives and volumes that will be used to hold the shared folders. Use the NTFS file format on your file server. This enables you to take advantage of NTFS permissions and also monitor NTFS volumes, using the new Windows Server 2008 File Server Resource Manager.

You can assign the file services role to your server running Windows Server 2008 via the Initial Configuration Tasks window or the Server Manager. The Add Roles Wizard walks you through the addition of the file services role to the server’s configuration as discussed in the following steps:

1. Open the Add Roles Wizard (click the appropriate add roles link) in either the Initial Configuration Tasks window or the Server Manager (with the Roles node selected).

2. The first wizard screen suggests that before installing a server role you assign a strong password to the administrator account, configure static IP addressing (if required by the role), and install the latest Windows 2008 security updates. After you have confirmed that these tasks have been completed, click Next to continue.

Did you Know?

To bypass the initial Add Roles Wizard’s initial page when you use the wizard in the future (for adding additional roles), click the Skip This Page by Default check box when installing a new role.

3. On the Select Server Roles page, select the File Services check box (see Figure 12.1). Then click Next.

Figure 12.1. Select the File Services role.

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4. The next screen provides a brief introduction to the Windows Server 2008 file services and also provides links to an overview of File Services and Share and Storage Management. Explore the links if you choose and then click Next.

5. On the next screen you are provided with a list of the various file server services that can be installed as you install the File Services role (see Figure 12.2). These services include

  • Distributed File System (DFS)— DFS provides hierarchical tree structure that enables users to access resources anywhere in the domain. The actual location of the resource, such as a volume or a folder, is transparent to the users. DFS is discussed in more detail later in the hour.
  • File Server Resource Manager— This tool enables you to set disk and volume quotas and also generate storage reports.
  • Services for Network File System (NFS)— This service enables UNIX-based clients to access files on your network server.

Select the services you want to add to the File Services role installation (for sake of discussion add the File Server Resource Manager). Then click Next.

Figure 12.2. Services such as DFS and NFS can be installed as part of the File Services role.

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6. The next screen allows you to select the NTFS volumes you want to monitor in the Server Resource Manager (see Figure 12.3). Select the volume or volumes (using the appropriate check boxes).

Figure 12.3. Select the volume or volumes that are to be monitored.

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7. You can configure the threshold and the type of reports that are generated when the volume reaches a particular threshold (percentage use) by clicking the Options button (when a volume is selected). In the Volume Monitoring Options dialog box, set the volume usage threshold and the reports to be generated, which include Large Files Report, Most Recently Accessed Files, Files By Owner Report (selected by default), and Files by File Group Report (selected by default). Then click OK.

8. After selecting the volumes to monitor and setting the options for each volume, click Next to continue.

9. The next screen is the Report Options page. Use the Browse button to specify where volume reports are to be saved when they are generated.

Did you Know?

You can configure the report options to email volume reports to a particular email. This makes it easy for you to quickly deal with file servers that have reached their configured threshold. The server, in effect, alerts you to the fact that the threshold has been reached by emailing the various reports you have selected directly to an email address. All you have to do is supply the email address (or addresses) and the SMTP server on the Report Options page.

10. The Confirmation page appears with a summary of the roles and role services that will be installed (in this case the File Services role). Click Install.

When the installation is complete, the Installation Results page appears. Click Close. The File Services role appears in the roles listed in the Initial Configuration Tasks window and in the Server Manager window (when the Roles node is expanded).

When you select the File Services role in the Server Manager (click the Server Manager icon in the Quick Launch toolbar), you can view events related to File Services. You can also start and stop services related to the File Services role and add other services to the role as needed (see Figure 12.4).

Figure 12.4. View events and services related to File Services in the Server Manager.

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When you expand the File Services node you can access the Share and Storage Management node, which provides access to the File Server Resource Manager. Expanding the File Server Resource Manager provides access to the Quota Management snap-in, which is covered in the next section.

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