Data Centers

Seven tips to help you pass Exam 70-293

Exam 70-293, Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure, is a requirement for MCSE certification, although it is not required for MCSA. Use these seven tips to pass the exam on your first try.


One of the most difficult exams in the Windows 2000 track was 70-216, which focused on network infrastructure. When Windows Server 2003 came along, Microsoft updated the material and divided the content into two new exams: 70-291 and 70-293. Exam 70-293, Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure, is an important requirement for MCSE certification (it is not required for MCSA). The objectives for this exam are divided into the following six major categories:
  • Planning and Implementing Server Roles and Server Security
  • Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Network Infrastructure
  • Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining Routing and Remote Access
  • Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining Server Availability
  • Planning and Maintaining Network Security
  • Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining Security Infrastructure

I have seven tips for ensuring that you pass exam 70-293.

Tip one: Take this exam second
Do not take this exam until you've taken exam 70-291 (or 70-292 if you were waived out of 70-291 due to already being an MCSA). I say this because there are significant overlaps in topics. If you look at the bottom three (of five) major topic areas on that exam, and compare them against counterparts on this exam, you'll find great similarity. Exam 70-291 topic areas include:
  • Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining Network Security
  • Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining Routing and Remote Access
  • Maintaining a Network Infrastructure

Exam 70-293 topic areas include:
  • Planning and Maintaining Network Security
  • Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining Routing and Remote Access
  • Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Network Infrastructure

The similarity goes beyond just the wording of the major topics and permeates the objectives and subobjectives as well. Within these three areas, exam 70-293 can be thought of as a superset, in many ways, of the content appearing on both exams. It is so much easier to add to what you already had to learn for 70-291 than to start studying for this exam from scratch.

Tip two: Skip this exam if you can
If you are certified as an MCSE, then you can take exam 70-296, Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment for an MCSE Certified on Windows 2000, and have it count as credit for this exam and a few others. Taking only 70-296 and 70-292, Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment for an MCSA Certified on Windows 2000, you can upgrade your MCSE from Windows 2000 to Windows Server 2003 in just two tests.

If you are not currently an MCSE, then you must take 70-293; there's no other way out of it. If you are already an MCSE, however, then you should avoid this exam unless you are a glutton for punishment.

Tip three: Know about software updates
With Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has included the Software Update Service (SUS) for centralized distribution of hot fixes and security updates. This allows administrators to update clients that do not access the Internet, as well as evaluate and test updates before making them available to network clients. By using SUS, a client updates its software from a server within the internal network instead of needing to access Microsoft to accomplish this. Be sure to read Microsoft's point of view on SUS.

Lumped in with updates, at least from an exam perspective, is the topic of Microsoft's Baseline Security Anaylzer (MBSA). This tool allows you to scan a computer and identify what is missing (service packs, security fixes, etc.). One good study resource for this topic is the TechNet Q&A on this tool.

Tip four: Know how to differentiate versions
There are four versions of Windows Server 2003 hitting the market: standard, Web, datacenter, and enterprise. Since Microsoft views those holding certifications as frontline marketing evangelists, they expect you to know how to differentiate between the four different versions.

Be ready for questions that require you to compare and contrast between features. Start your study with this grid, and note that the rightmost column, listing features, is a set of links. If you don't feel comfortable explaining what Enterprise UDDI Services are, for example, then click on that link and learn more about it. Be sure to also read the Top 10 Benefits of Windows Server 2003.

Tip five: Know server roles
It's vital that you understand server roles for this exam, so be sure to read Microsoft's information about server roles. Servers can perform Active Directory related (Domain controllers) or purely service-oriented (Web server, database server, etc.) roles. Within those that are Active Directory related, there are five Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMOs) roles:
  1. Primary Domain Controller (PDC) emulator—used for backward compatibility
  2. Relative ID (RID) Master—holds the pool of ID numbers to be used
  3. Infrastructure Master—handles updates and name changes
  4. Domain Naming Master—by default, the first domain controller in a forest
  5. Schema Master—oversees all schema operations

The primary domain controller performing one of these roles is known as the role master. Microsoft recommends the PDC emulator and RID master be kept on the same domain controller, and the Domain Naming Master be stored on a Global Catalog server. Global Catalog servers respond to queries, and increasing the number of these to include one in each large office can decrease response time.

Tip six: Know security changes
By default, the Everyone group is now given Read permission when a file is shared. This differs from earlier versions of the Microsoft network operating systems in which Everyone was assigned Full Control permissions on all new shares.

Similar changes—or tweaks, really—have been made to some services, search ordering, etc. Begin your study of this information here, and then visit the Microsoft Technology Center on this topic.

Tip seven: Don't forget ipconfig
The ipconfig utility has been around for a number of years, and a number of operating system versions. Its primary purpose is simply to interact with IP configuration values—either showing them to you or allowing modification of them. When Microsoft released Windows 2000, they enhanced this utility but did not spend much time dwelling on it.

When Windows Server 2003, the utility is unchanged from Windows 2000, but not it is indeed test worthy. Not only should you know the basic switches (/all, being the most common), but you also need to know those that allow direct interaction with DNS (/registerdns, for example). Begin your study at Microsoft TechNet and follow the related topic links, as well.

Emmett's recommendation
The 70-293 exam is a requirement that must be taken for new MCSEs to become certified on Windows Server 2003. It is a very difficult exam and should be avoided by those who need not take it (MCSEs certified under Windows 2000 can take two upgrade exams and bypass this, and other, tests).

If you do take this exam, study for it earnestly and take it only after having already taken 70-291 or 70-292.

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