Data Centers

Talking Shop: Disk storage and networking topics for the Win2K Server exam

Disk storage and networking for Microsoft Exam 70-215


It’s unlikely that you’ll pass the Windows 2000 Server exam if you can’t demonstrate your expertise in administering disks and other storage devices. It’s certain you’ll fail if you can’t configure and troubleshoot Win2K network connections. In this, the third of four lists you’ll need to study to ensure that you’re ready for the Win2K Server test, I run through the disk storage and networking topics you should review before trying your hand at the Win2K Server MCP certification.

Did you miss the first two installments?
If you didn’t catch the first two lists in this series, you can read them here: "The Win2K Server exam: Your first list to study" "The Win2K Server exam: Your second list to study"

Administering storage
Be sure you can administer disks and volumes in your sleep.

Disks
The Disk Management utility, an MMC snap-in also found in the Computer Management console, should be your tool of choice.

Understand the different qualities of basic disks, used by default, and dynamic disks. Basic disks are composed of primary partitions, extended partitions, and logical drives. Dynamic disks, meanwhile, are composed of a volume or volumes constituting space from one or more disks.

Know the three different volume types:
  • Simple volumes contain space from just one disk.
  • Spanned volumes contain space from multiple disks; 32 is the limit. If one volume fails, all data is lost; performance degrades if data must be read across multiple disks.
  • Striped sets contain space from multiple disks; 32 is the limit. If one volume fails, all data is lost; performance is improved as reads and writes occur simultaneously on each volume.

Make sure that you can keep RAID questions straight. Windows 2000 Server supports three software RAID configurations:
  • RAID 0—Also known as disk striping, RAID 0 uses from two to 32 disks and provides excellent performance but no fault tolerance. If a RAID 0 disk fails, all data is lost.
  • RAID 1—Also known as disk mirroring, RAID 1 uses two hard disks, one as an exact image of the first, thereby providing fault tolerance. If one RAID 1 disk in the mirrored pair fails, then data is still preserved by the other disk.
  • RAID 5—Also known as disk striping with parity, RAID 5 writes data across multiple disks simultaneously, thereby providing a considerable performance enhancement and fault tolerance. If one disk fails, then data is still preserved by the RAID array.

Basic disks can be upgraded to dynamic disks without experiencing data loss. However, you must first back up your data and then restore it to prevent data loss when converting a disk from dynamic to basic. Dynamic disks can be extended only to NTFS-formatted volumes. Dynamic disks that were created by upgrading basic disks cannot be extended. When converting a disk to dynamic, 1 MB of unallocated space must be available.

Don’t get tripped up on a question covering laptops. Dynamic volumes don’t work with mobile systems.

Select the Rescan Disks option whenever you add disks to a system. Disks that have been taken from another system should be integrated using the Import Foreign Disk option.

Compression
You need to know how to compress files. Two options exist.

Files or folders can only be compressed if they’re on an NTFS partition. Using either My Computer or Windows Explorer, right-click on the file or folder you want to compress and select Properties. Next, click the Advanced button and then select the Compress Contents To Save Disk Space check box.

You can also compress files and folders using the Compact command from the command line. Note that a file or folder can be either compressed or encrypted, but it cannot possess both attributes (even though check boxes, not radio buttons, are provided for those options).

Disk quotas
Windows disk quotas are supported natively for the first time in Win2K. Quotas can be set only on NTFS volumes.

Quotas are not enabled by default. Quotas are set by disk, not by user. While you can limit the amount of disk space a user can consume on a disk, if you want to limit the user’s total disk consumption, you must administer quotas for that user on each disk the user can access.

Enable disk quotas by right-clicking on a volume and selecting the Quota tab. Click Enable Quota Management. You can elect to send users warnings when they reach their limit or you can prevent them from consuming additional space. For more information on disk quotas, see my article "Control users’ Napster-like habits with Win2K’s disk quotas."

Recover from disk failures
Know how to read the Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) path Win2K uses to boot. Repairing the Boot.ini file is sometimes critical to recovering a crashed or corrupted system.

If a system is booting Win2K from the first controller, the first hard disk, and the first partition, the Boot.ini’s ARC path will appear as follows:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)

The multi entry specifies that a SCSI controller with the BIOS enabled is used or that a non-SCSI controller is in use. SCSI would appear instead of multi if a SCSI controller is used with the BIOS disabled. Disk defines the SCSI disk where the OS is housed, while rdisk specifies the (usually) IDE drive where the OS resides. Partition, meanwhile, indicates which partition holds the OS. Although all other counters begin with 0, the partition counter always begins with 1.

Remote Storage
Familiarize yourself with Win2K’s Remote Storage feature. Use it to store specified data at remote locations when local disks no longer have adequate disk space.

Remote Storage is installed using the Control Panel’s Add/Remove Programs applet. Select Remote Storage from Windows Components. Then, data that is not used regularly, or data you want to archive, can be stored remotely, thereby freeing up local disk space.

Administering network connections
Questions testing your networking expertise are sure to arise on your Win2K Server exam. Ensure that you’re well versed on all of the following topics.

Network protocols
Windows 2000 Server supports:
  • AppleTalk
  • ATM
  • DLC
  • IPX/SPX (NWLink)
  • IrDA
  • NetBEUI

Know how to install and configure each protocol. Be sure that you know how to set frame types and network numbers when using NWLink. Remember that DLC is used to communicate with mainframes and to print to Hewlett-Packard printers. Be especially fluent with TCP/IP, as it’s the default Windows 2000 protocol. Revisit subnetting and addressing, too, if you need to.

For more information on installing protocols, see my article "Installing network protocols in Windows 2000." For more on TCP/IP fundamentals, check out "TechRepublic’s TCP/IP Primer."

Be on the lookout for any scenarios that present you with a 169.x.y.z IP address. Windows’ Automatic IP Addressing (AIPA) distributes IP addresses from the 169.x.y.z pool when a client experiences trouble receiving a valid address, usually from a DHCP server. Systems with a 169.x.y.z address (and subnet mask of 255.255.0.0) cannot traverse the Internet and, in fact, can communicate only with other 169.x.y.z systems on the same subnet.

Troubleshoot TCP/IP connections using the Ipconfig.exe command. Ipconfig /all is a particularly helpful command. Ping is used to check and test connections, while Nbtstat shows NetBIOS over TCP/IP information, and Netstat shows TCP/IP information.

VPNs and authentication
Security is of paramount importance, and you’re likely to be tested on the differences between authentication protocols.

Know the differences between all of the following:
  • CHAP (Challenge Authentication Protocol) encrypts usernames and passwords only.
  • EAP-TLS (Extensible Authentication Protocol-Transport Level Security) offers secure transmission of session data.
  • MD5-CHAP (Message Digest 5 Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol) encrypts usernames and passwords.
  • MS-CHAP (Microsoft Challenge Authentication Protocol) provides secure password transmission.
  • PAP (Password Authentication Protocol) isn’t secure, as passwords and usernames are sent in clear text.
  • SPAP (Shiva Password Authentication Protocol) encrypts password but not session data.

Ensure that you’re familiar with Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), which requires IPSec. L2TP is an extension of Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), which is supported by legacy Windows platforms. Unlike PPTP, L2TP doesn’t provide a secure tunnel for session data by itself. IPSec provides the encryption of the session data through L2TP tunnels to enhance security.

NICs
You’re likely to see a few questions on network interface card (NIC) administration when you take your exam. Be prepared.

NICs, of course, are installed using Control Panel’s Add/Remove Hardware applet. The order in which protocols are bound to the NIC is configured by right-clicking on My Network Places, clicking Network And Dial-up Connections, and selecting Advanced Settings from the Advanced menu.

Update NIC drivers the way you would other drivers: Use the Device Manager. For more information on troubleshooting NICs, read these articles:

ICS and NAT
With any luck, you’ll never find your resources so constrained that you have to resort to using Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), in which only a single system boasts access to the Internet. When only a single system possesses a modem, but other computers must have access to the Internet, you can use ICS to share the single Internet connection. In such cases, network address translation (NAT) plays an important role in determining a system’s subsequent IP address.

One warning sign that ICS or NAT is in use is the presence of a 192.168.x.y IP address. For more on ICS and NAT, read "The innards of Microsoft's Internet Connection Sharing and network address translation."

DNS
Oh yes, you should learn all there is about administering Domain Name System (DNS) in Windows 2000. Active Directory requires it. Use the Nslookup.exe command to troubleshoot DNS issues.

Become intimate with the DNS snap-in, zone configuration, and the dynamic update process. Check out all of these articles for more information on configuring and administering DNS:

DHCP
Just like DNS, you must master Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) installation, configuration, and administration. Know when DHCP Relay Agents are required, how DNS integrates with DHCP, and how to configure DHCP scopes.

Ensure that you’ve spent time working with the DHCP snap-in before trying this exam. Be sure to review the TechRepublic article "Understanding new DHCP features in Windows 2000."

WINS
WINSis still in Windows 2000, which is good, as many organizations rely upon it to provide NetBIOS to IP address translation. WINS, like DNS and DHCP, receives its own Win2K snap-in.

Understand WINS’ push/pull replication process. Learn or brush up on WINS different node types too. For more on WINS, read "Setting up WINS in Windows 2000."

Remote access
Configuring and securing remote access is another important topic. Know how to configure Routing and Remote Access (RRAS), multilink support, callback security, profiles, and remote access policies. You’ll find the Routing and Remote Access utility on the Administrative Programs menu.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to spend much time with RRAS, don’t miss Jim Boyce’s article "Introducing Windows 2000 Routing and Remote Access" and "Routing and remote access on Windows 2000 Advanced Server."

Terminal Services
It’s possible you’ll see a question or two on Terminal Services. Three components actually form Terminal Services:
  • A Terminal Services server (the Win2K server running Terminal Services)
  • A client system
  • A Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

Terminal Services can be installed in two modes:
  • Application Server Mode is used when clients need to run applications on the Terminal Services server.
  • Remote Administrator Mode is used when administrators need to remotely manage Win2K servers from a single system.

Terminal Services clients are available for many platforms, including:
  • Windows for Workgroups
  • Win9x
  • WinNT 3.51 and 4.0
  • Win2K Pro

Terminal Services clients are also available for Windows CE devices and some non-Windows clients. Terminal Services is another optional Windows Component. You install it using the Control Panel’s Add/Remove Programs applet.

Don’t forget that each client that connects to a Windows 2000 Terminal Services server requires a special Terminal Services client access license (CAL).

These TechRepublic articles provide additional reading:

"Windows 2000 Terminal Services offers improved performance and functionality"

"Using Win2K Terminal Server to save on shoe leather"

"Extend your organization with Win2K Terminal Services"

Eckel’s take
From DNS to WINS to DHCP and more, the Win2K Server exam covers a tremendous amount of ground. You can study brain dumps and cheat sheets all you want, but you won’t pass. It’s essential that you spend time configuring services in Win2K, adding and removing users, testing policies, and performing other administrative tasks.

You must also spend time monitoring, optimizing, and securing servers. I’ll cover those topics next week when I conclude this series of study lists for the Win2K Server test.

Do you have tips for the Win2K Server exam?
We look forward to getting your input and hearing about your experiences regarding this topic. Join the discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.


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