Enterprise Software

TechRepublic Guided Tour: Using the File Server Management console in Windows Server 2003

Learn how to use Windows Server 2003's File Management Console to manage shared files and directories.

Servers do all kinds of things these days, from e-mail hosting to mainframe gateway access, but file serving is still the most common use for servers. The features for file services might not be as flashy or cool as some of the other toys or technologies, but they are just as important. Windows Server 2003 brings together several MMC snap-ins and a handful of other features in the File Server Management console to help you manage your file servers.

What File Server Management Can Do

Managing a file server typically includes sharing folders, monitoring and controlling disk usage, monitoring open files, and backing up the documents and other files on the server. The File Server Management console does all that plus a few other tasks. Here's a rundown of the tasks you can accomplish with this console:

  • Manage shares - The Shares snap-in lets you view shares on the target computer, including hidden and system shares. You can add new shares and remove existing shares (stop sharing their target folders).
  • Manage sessions - When a user connects to the file server to access files, a session is created. You can view the current sessions on the target server and, if necessary, disconnect sessions singly or all at once.
  • Manage open files - You might occasionally need to view files that are open on the server and close selected files. For example, you might need to restart the server but first need to close all open files to prevent data loss. Or perhaps a user's system has hung and a file needs to be closed so it can be reopened. Through the File Server Management console, you can see which files are open and close files singly or all at once.
  • Defragment the file system - The File Server Management console incorporates the Disk Defragmenter, which you can use to analyze a disk for fragmentation and, if necessary, defragment the disk.
  • Manage Disks - The File Server Management console also incorporates the Disk Management console, which you can use to check disk status, create partitions, format disks, convert disks from basic to dynamic and vice-versa, and manage disks and volumes in other ways.
  • Notify users - You can send console messages to users from the File Server Management console. For example, you might need to notify all of your users that the file server will be down at a certain time for maintenance or that you will be restarting the server in a short period of time.

The File Server Management console essentially brings together several MMC console snap-ins that are available in the Computer Management console. You can open Computer Management from the Administrative Tools folder or right-click My Computer and choose Manage. The benefit to using the File Server Management console rather than Computer Management is that some additional file-server-related features are available in it, as well. Let's take a look at each snap-in and those additional features. I won't cover them in detail, because it's likely that you are already familiar with at least some of them from the Computer Management console.

Shares

The Shares branch (Figure A) gives you the same features as the Shares/Shared Folders branch of the Computer Management console. Here you can view existing shares, sort the share listing by different criteria, add a new share, and remove an existing share.


Figure A

Use the Shares branch to manage shared folders on the target computer.

Note that in the details pane, several command links appear beside the shared folder list. These commands include:

  • Add A Shared Folder - Click this link to start the Share a Folder Wizard, which helps you set up a new share. The wizard prompts for the folder path, optional description, share name, and general share permissions. You can also configure a combination of share and NTFS permissions through the wizard. In addition, the wizard offers the opportunity to configure offline caching for the folder and its contents (Figure B). You can allow users to specify which folders and files are cached, cache all folders and files, or disable caching for the share altogether.
  • Backup File Server - This link opens the Backup applet.
  • Send Console Message - Click this link to send a console message to one or more users (Figure C).
  • Configure Shadow Copies - Click this link to open the Shadow Copies dialog box (Figure D), in which you enable and configure shadow copies for one or more volumes. Shadow copy settings apply at the volume level; you can't configure settings separately for individual folders.
  • Refresh - Click to refresh the display.
  • Change Shared Folder Properties - Set a limit on the number of users that can access the share concurrently, configure offline cache settings for the share, set share permissions, and configure NTFS security.
  • Stop Sharing - Remove the folder from sharing.
  • More Information - Click to display the Shared Folders Overview Help content.

Figure B

You can configure offline caching through the Share A Folder Wizard.

Figure C

You can easily broadcast console messages to users.

Figure D

Use the Shadow Copies dialog box to

configure shadow copy settings for each volume, including copy schedule.

Sessions

The Sessions branch (Figure E) gives you quick access to the user sessions open on the server. An open session does not necessarily equate to open files. This branch gives you an at-a-glance view of the users who are connected to the server and also gives you the capability to close a session.


Figure E

Use the Sessions branch to view and manage sessions opened by users on the server.

The taskpad for the Sessions branch provides the following links:

  • Send Console Message - Click this link to send a console message to one or more users.
  • Close Session - Click to close the selected session.
  • Disconnect All Sessions - Click to close all open sessions.
  • Refresh - Click to refresh the display.
  • More Information - Click to display the Shared Folders Overview Help content.

Open Files

The Open Files branch (Figure F) gives you a list of the files that users have open on the server and the capability to close files either singly or all at once.


Figure F

Use the Open Files branch to display a list of all files open on the server and close files if needed.

The taskpad offers the following links:

  • Close Open File - Close the selected file. Closing a file can cause data loss, so you should notify a user prior to closing the file to give him or her the opportunity to save it and close it at the client end.
  • Disconnect All Open Files - Close all files open on the server. User notification is even more important before closing all files on the server because of the potential for data loss.
  • Refresh - Click to refresh the display.
  • More Information - Click to display the Shared Folders Overview Help content.

Disk Defragmenter

This branch displays the same Disk Defragmenter (Figure G) that you'll find in the Computer Management console. Although NTFS volumes are not as susceptible to fragmentation as FAT volumes, they can become fragmented over time. Defragmenting a volume can improve disk performance and speed file access, as well as improve disk capacity.


Figure G

Use the Disk Defragmenter to improve disk performance.

The top frame of the Disk Defragmenter provides a volume list with statistics about the volumes, such as disk capacity and free space. The bottom frame provides a graphical look at the disk before and after defragmentation. You can click Analyze to analyze the disk for fragmentation without actually defragmenting the disk, and click View Report to view fragmentation statistics (Figure H). Click Defragment to start the defragmentation process. While the disk is being defragmented, you can click Pause or Stop to either suspend or stop the operation. Defragmenting a volume does not require that you take a volume offline, remove shares, or otherwise make it unavailable to users. Defragmentation can take a long time, particularly on a large, active volume.


Figure H

You can view a fragmentation report after analyzing the volume.

Disk Management

The Disk Management branch (Figure I) displays the same Disk Management snap-in available in the Computer Management console. You can use the Disk Management console to create partitions, format volumes, set volume labels and other volume properties, change the drive letter assigned to the volume, mount a volume into an empty NTFS folder, convert basic disks to dynamic disks and vice-versa, and create volume sets and stripe sets.


Figure I

Use the Disk Management snap-in to manage partitions, volumes, and physical disks.

If you right-click a volume and choose Properties, you'll see the screen shown in Figure J where you can access a variety of tools for managing the volume.


Figure J

The property sheet for a volume offers quick access to a variety of disk and volume management tools.

These tabs are:

  • General - Set the volume label, view capacity and utilization information, compress the drive, and specify whether the Indexing Service indexes the contents of the disk. Click Disk Cleanup to analyze the disk and access a selection of options for reclaiming disk space through compression, deleting files, removing components and installed applications, and other other tools.
  • Tools - On this tab you can initiate a disk check, defragmentation, or backup.
  • Hardware - This tab displays information about the disk hardware and the capability to view and set other disk properties and, where appropriate, update drivers.
  • Sharing - Use the Sharing tab to share the entire volume, share permissions, client limits, offline caching, and other sharing-related properties.
  • Security - Use the Security tab to configure NTFS permissions on the volume.
  • Shadow Copies - Enable or disable shadow copies on the volume and configure shadow copy properties such as size limit and copy schedule.
  • Quota - Use this tab to enable quotas on the volume and configure quota settings, limits, and logging.

Common Tasks

Table A summarizes common file management tasks and how to accomplish them
through the File Server Management console:

Table A

Task Action
Share a folder Click the Shares branch and click Add A Shared Folder to start the Share A Folder Wizard.
Remove a share Click Shares, click the share in the right pane, and click Stop Sharing.
Modify share properties Click the share and click Change Shared Folder Properties.
Send a console message to one or more users Click the Shares or Sessions branch and then click Send Console Message.
View client connections to the server Click the Sessions branch.
Disconnect a client session Click Sessions, click the session, and click Close Session.
Disconnect all client sessions Click Sessions and click Disconnect All Sessions.
View list of files open on the server Click the Open Files branch.
Close an open file Click Open Files, click the file, and click Close Open File.
Close all open files Click Open Files and click Disconnect All Open Files.
Analyze a disk for fragmentation Click Disk Defragmenter, click the volume, and click Analyze.
Defragment a disk Click Disk Defragmenter, click the volume, and click Defragment.
Create a disk partition Click Disk Management, right-click the unformatted space, and choose Create Partition.
Change the drive letter assigned to a disk Click Disk Management, right-click the volume, and choose Change Drive Letter or Path.
Format a volume Click Disk Management, right-click the volume, and choose Format.
Configure volume quotas Click Disk Management, right-click the volume, choose Properties, and click the Quota tab.
Configure shadow copies Click Disk Management, right-click the volume, choose Properties, and click the Shadow Copies tab.
Recover disk space Click Disk Management, right-click the volume, choose Properties, and click Disk Cleanup on the General tab.
 

Editor's Picks