File Servers Learning Labs
A review of Train Signal’s Windows 2000/2003 File Servers Video Lab Training – Product Details. See more details at Train Signal’s website.
I start at the beginning of Lab 2 with the Concepts video. Here Scott delves into RAID, Software and Hardware versions with the advantages, disadvantages being discussed along with Basic and Dynamic disks, what they are, what they do and when they are called Partitions and when they are called Volumes. Software RAID in Windows 2003 Server is given a workout with RAID 0, 1 and 5 being created and then an “uncreated” demonstration.The hardware setup for this Lab is as always very straight forward. There are two Windows 2003 Servers (1 x DC, 1 x Member Server as a File Server) and one XP Client. A quick run through about DC, a more in-depth look and emphasis of the importance of getting the IP settings correct on all your lab devices BEFORE starting. The File Server is joined to the Domain, so too is the XP client and then a small lesson on NSLookup.
Video 1 starts as all Train Signal Labs with an in-depth overview of what is going to be covered. Don’t be surprised by the size of the overview briefing as Train Signal overviews are very detailed and extensive. We begin with the creation of partitions, setting up of folders, SHARES and NTFS permissions, special permissions and a look at some folder management. Next we get shown how to convert a FAT32 partition to an NTFS one. The first time you do this it is important to read any messages displayed as the information is relevant.
The next operation was setting up a Striped Set with Parity aka RAID 5. This operation starts right at the basics and begins by converting the disk from Basic to Dynamic. This is necessary to be able to utilise the advance features available in the Disk Management Console. RAID 5 and how it works is covered in detail as it is important to know and understand how it works. Once the RAID 5 is formatted we see a folder structure created for the file server. It is explained that it is important this structure is not left for the users to throw together as it will get messy and unwieldy and this makes setting permissions a mission impossible. Scott suggested following my old favourite, the KISS rule when creating structures.
It is explained that since permissions flow down the folder structure it is better to have the least permissions at the top level and add them as appropriate the further down you go. This creates a more secure structure and stops users from accessing areas they have no right to be in. This moves on to actually locking users out of the no go areas and we get to see how it is done properly using ACL (Access Control List) and the Special Permissions. A demo of the Effective Permissions tool was also very effective at showing how to check that you haven’t locked a user out of their folders. This video finished off with a lesson and discussion on how to create a Mirrored Drive aka RAID 1.
Video 2 is a biggie and is almost totally devoted to DFS (Distributed File System) and how to set it up. DFS for all its complexity is really quite simple and straight forward. Getting the Link Names organised seems to be part of the secret in getting it to work hassle free. DFS Replication is a pretty slick trick. Not only can you get the folders and files to replicate, you can configure them to replicate and provide Fault Tolerance in case of server malfunction. We finish off this video with a detailed look at one of my favourites, VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service). While being able to recover Previous Versions of files, Shadow Copy, once it is enabled, is NOT to be considered a backup solution. It can be used as a supplement for a backup application like NTBackup by allowing Open (Locked) Files to be copied. Scott’s demo of Shadow Copy gives you a clear understanding of how it works. (I must give a special thanks to Scott’s file Secret1.Txt for its assistance in this. J)
Video 3 comes in two parts. Part 1 begins with a description of Offline Files, what purpose they serve and how you can utilise this feature. Though offline files is more applicable to mobile users it is also beneficial in an office that has limited bandwidth. We learn about Server Side and Client Side offline files and about the Mechanics of Offline Files. Bit of a mouthful but once it is extensively explained you are more than able to say it and know what you are talking about. During the demos some of the pitfalls of syncing from the server are pointed out when we have a simulated server failure. Patch lead reconnected and the “failure” is over. Another “failure” and we see what happens when both the Server and Client side files are modified and the Resolve Conflict Screen provides a couple of options to assist you through it.
The last item was the initially confusing “Amount of disk space used for temporary files”. Without Scott’s explanation I’m certain I would never have answered an exam question about this correctly. Now it is a sure thing!
Video 3 Part 2, Disk Quotas are the next item to be tackled and again a good look at them leaves you feeling comfortable working with them. They are disabled by default and we learn where to enable them, how to set the limits, where to check what each user has presently stored on the partition or volume and some of its limitations. We move onto the various ways we can access our folders and files and the different number is a bit of an eye opener. I knew all but one however I had never stopped and counted them before. (‘Twas a bit of a surprise.) The advantages and disadvantages of each are discussed but you also need to choose the method that best suits your environment. UNC (Universal Naming Convention) or IP work just as well when mapping a drive although IP will be faster since there is no need to resolve a name to an IP.
After we are shown how to create a basic logon script, it is put into a Group Policy and distributed to the clients that way. No need to access individual User Objects in AD. We have a look at the Shared Folder tool in Computer Management Console. Here you can see the SHARES and what volumes (or maybe partitions) they reside on. Very useful if the Shares are hidden away, nested in some folder structure. There are several other functions in this tool and it is well worth getting acquainted with it. We finish off with a quick look at the $ sign, what it does when added to a Share name, how it is used and how you access folder when it has been applied to a Share.
Now if only I could remember half of what I have just seen (twice) I would be a very happy person. A Lab chocka block full of information and it again illustrates why Train Signal is the best CBT product available.
About the writer
Chris G. Breen (aka Biggles77) is one of the Petri.co.il forum moderators and one of the most active writes on these forums. Chris lives and works in Australia.
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