Data Centers

Talking Shop: Passing the Windows NT legacy exam

Microsofts 70-244 exam

It's known as Exam 70-244: Supporting And Maintaining A Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Network. Released in 2001, the test certifies your Windows NT 4.0 administration and troubleshooting skills. Anyone thinking about earning a Windows 2000 MCSE or MCSA should consider this exam as an elective, since so many organizations still rely upon Windows NT Server 4.0 to power their networks.

While there are never any guarantees, you should expect the exam to consist of 50 questions. You'll likely be given two hours in which to complete the test.

Before you sit for Exam 70-244, be sure you review the fundamentals you'll be tested upon:
  • Maintaining, troubleshooting, and optimizing Windows NT 4.0 servers
  • Configuring and troubleshooting users and groups
  • Analyzing, configuring, and monitoring security
  • Configuring, managing, and troubleshooting access to resources
  • Configuring, managing, troubleshooting, and optimizing network services

Once you're confident you have those topics in hand, review these tips before hitting the testing facility.

Know the difference between backup types
Windows NT 4.0 servers provide five options for backing up data:
  • Copy backs up all selected files and folders but doesn't flip the backup marker (archive bit).
  • Daily Copy backs up files and folders that change during the day but doesn't flip the backup marker.
  • Differential backs up selected files and folders that have changed since the last backup, but it doesn't flip the backup marker.
  • Incremental backs up selected files and folders that have changed since the last backup, and it flips the backup marker.
  • Normal backs up all selected files and folders and flips the backup marker.

The backup marker is an important file attribute, as it specifies whether the file has been backed up before and dictates which backup types include that file in their backup operation. Incremental and Normal backups are the only two types that set the backup marker.

While incremental backups take less time to back up data, they take longer to restore. Differential backups, on the other hand, take more time to back up but less time to restore.

Review paging-file settings
The location and size of the paging file plays an important role in server performance. Keep the following in mind when taking this exam:
  • If a large number of page faults are occurring, it's likely more RAM is needed.
  • Paging file size is configured using the Virtual Memory Manager, which is accessed from the Change button found on the Performance tab of the System applet in the Control Panel.
  • By default, the paging file is named Pagefile.sys.
  • You can enhance server performance by spreading the paging file across multiple disks but only if your server hardware can write to multiple disks simultaneously.
  • The paging file should be placed on disks that receive lower levels of disk activity.
  • The Virtual Memory Manager calculates the minimum and maximum sizes for the paging file by default. As the server processes tasks, the Virtual Memory Manager adjusts the paging size, as it believes appropriate.

Familiarize yourself with the Security Configuration Manager
You may easily have earned a Windows NT 4.0 MCSE and never heard of the Security Configuration Manager (SCM). It was introduced in Service Pack 4. As security has become so important, you should familiarize yourself with this new utility.

The SCM can be used either as an MMC snap-in or directly from a command line. It's used to monitor servers and workstations for configuration changes. The SCM is also used to apply security configurations to other Windows NT 4.0 systems and to create and edit the configurations you monitor for changes. As an added benefit, several security configuration templates are provided with the SCM, as well.

A key difference between the MMC and command-line versions is that the command-line version doesn't support the creation of configuration databases, which the MMC version does.

Unfortunately, there isn't sufficient space in this column to review the step-by-step use of the SCM. Before you take your exam, though, make sure that you know how to create, copy, edit, and save configuration files; create and edit templates; and create a security configuration database. Familiarize yourself with the command-line utility and its switches, the 10 predefined security templates included with the SCM, and the SCM MMC GUI. Finally, also know how to audit a Windows NT system using a security configuration database.

Brush up on the Distributed file system
The Distributed file system (Dfs) lets you create a virtual directory that makes it appear to users as if all the files and folders reside in a single location, even though they don't. It's important to remember that Windows 95 clients don't support Dfs by default. You must download the Dfs client and install it on Windows 95 systems.

When taking the exam, remember that Windows NT 4.0 Workstation can't install Dfs. For the Windows NT 4.0 platform, only the server OS running Service Pack 3 or later can install Dfs.

Study the order in which names are resolved
There are two items that are easy to forget but that you should know for this exam: the orders in which host (or Internet) names and NetBIOS (or friendly) names are resolved.

Host names are resolved in the following order:
  1. Windows NT 4.0 Server checks the name of the local machine.
  2. The local HOSTS file is consulted.
  3. The local system contacts the DNS server to determine whether it can resolve the name.
  4. The local NetBIOS name cache is checked.
  5. The WINS server is checked.
  6. A broadcast message is sent to the LAN.
  7. The LMHOSTS file is checked in an attempt to resolve the name.

If these methods are unsuccessful, the system displays a name resolution failure message.

NetBIOS names are resolved in the following order:
  1. The local system's NetBIOS name cache is checked.
  2. The WINS server is checked.
  3. A broadcast message is sent to the LAN if the WINS server cannot resolve the name.
  4. The LMHOSTS file is checked.
  5. The HOSTS file is checked.
  6. The DNS server is consulted if the HOSTS file fails to resolve the name.

If these methods are unsuccessful in resolving the name, the system displays a name resolution failure message.

You may not have worked with WINS for a while, so you should also brush up on the four nodes it uses to resolve NetBIOS names to IP addresses:
  • When in B-node, a system uses only broadcast messages to resolve NetBIOS names.
  • When in P-node, a system uses only a WINS server to resolve NetBIOS names.
  • When in M-node, a system first tries to resolve the NetBIOS name using a broadcast message. If the broadcast fails, the system tries contacting a WINS server.
  • When in H-node, a system first tries to resolve the NetBIOS name by querying a WINS server. If the WINS server fails, the system issues a broadcast message.

Review RAID quickly
Remember that RAID 1 (disk mirroring) and RAID 5 (disk striping with parity) are the only fault-tolerant RAID implementations that Windows NT 4.0 Server supports. Windows NT 4.0 also supports RAID 0 (disk striping without parity), but RAID 0 is used to enhance performance, not protect against data loss.

Keep in mind that disk mirroring is slower than disk duplexing, as disk mirroring uses only a single disk controller. Disk duplexing uses a separate disk controller for each disk, thereby accelerating write operations. Disk duplexing also offers enhanced fault tolerance. Since it uses two disk controllers, it can survive the failure of one.

Eckel's take
Microsoft's Exam 70-244 offers IT professionals an opportunity to prove their Windows NT 4.0 network skills. It makes a handy elective, and it has real-world application in many environments.

Editor's Picks