As Microsoft releases the new exams on the Windows Server 2003 operating system, the most important are those that will allow you to skip the baby steps and upgrade your certifications instantly. With the new OS, there are two versions of the upgrade exams—one for MCSEs only and one that is for both MCSEs and MCSAs.
Exam 70-292, Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment for an MCSA Certified on Windows 2000, is the upgrade exam for the MCSE/MCSA crowd. The objectives for 70-292 are divided into the following six major categories:
- Managing Users, Computers, and Groups
- Managing and Maintaining Access to Resources
- Managing and Maintaining a Server Environment
- Managing and Implementing Disaster Recovery
- Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining Name Resolution
- Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining Network Security
In this article, I'll provide seven tips to help you pass this exam.
Tip 1: Don't think of this as one exam
Although this is the only exam that an MCSA must take to upgrade that certification to Windows Server 2003, exam 70-292 should really be thought of as two exams. That's because the objectives and subobjectives that make up this exam are a subset of the categories covered by exams 70-290 (Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment) and 70-291 (Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure).
The first four of the six main topic categories come from exam 70-290, and the latter two come from 70-291. To put a positive spin on it, this means that the study resources at your disposal are not limited to only those specific to exam 70-292 but can also come from anything about the other two exams that is relevant to the areas of overlap.
On the negative side, you really do need to do as much studying for this exam as you would if you were to take the other two exams individually. One can argue that there should not be quite as much studying, since this exam is a subset and not the whole set of topics included in the other two exams, but the point is not worth spending much time on. The topics dropped from this exam—for example TCP/IP, DNS, and the like—were ones that anyone calling themselves an MCSA had better be familiar with already.
Tip 2: Know DNS inside out
In the mind of Microsoft, Domain Name System/Service (DNS) means name resolution. Every version of the network operating system it creates becomes more and more dependent upon DNS, and thus a thorough mastery of it has become critical.
Knowing about zones, configuration options, and settings is only the basic part of it. You must be able to analyze a given situation and know the best solution to address any problems that may occur within it. On Microsoft's site, you can find an overview of DNS, but you'll need to delve deeper into such sections as Understanding DNS, Installing a DNS server, and Securing your DNS infrastructure.
Tip 3: Focus on security
Security is presently a buzzword in all areas of computing, and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is no different. Whenever you're looking at a test question, always bear in mind which solution would offer the best security for the organization and weigh that against other variables in the mix.
You'll find a technical overview of security services in Windows Server 2003 on Microsoft's site, as well as a breakdown of what is new. After reading that material, focus on understanding all you can about security baseline settings and security templates.
Tip 4: Appreciate software update procedures
Software updates have become much more than just patching a utility that doesn't work properly under certain conditions. Software updates today are also used to patch security holes and enhance operating system functionality.
Read Microsoft's online chapter on Deploying Microsoft Software Update Services. Also, be sure to read Deploying the SUS Server Component and Deploying Automatic Updates.
Tip 5: Pay attention to ASR
Windows Server 2003 introduces Automated System Recovery (ASR) to the server world. It essentially replaces the Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) in functionality and surpasses it in possibilities.
Know that this utility is accessed through the Advanced tab of the Backup utility and that the two ways to use it are to back up and restore. You can also get to the restore function by pressing [F2] at the prompt in setup (during the text mode portion of the routine).
From an exam—and real-world—perspective, one of the most important things to know about ASR is what it does not back up (data files), as well as what it does. Microsoft provides an overview of ASR on its site.
Tip 6: Learn about Shadow Copy
Shadow Copying is a service that essentially makes images of data as it exists at a certain time. That image can be used as a backup or to give users access to older versions of files (letting them read, restore, roll back, etc.). Shadow Copying can be done on anything from files to volumes.
For this exam, it is imperative that you understand how to make Shadow Copies of folders and to utilize/implement the Volume Shadow Copy service. Take a look at Microsoft's online demo on the Virtual Disk Service and Volume Shadow Copy service. The demo also does a great job of explaining Shadow Copying shared folders.
Tip 7: Don't overlook the obvious
When studying for a certification exam, it's easy to hone in on the topics you don't know well and study all you can about them. It's more difficult to look at the topics that you already know and spend time learning a little more about them.
With each new certification track that comes out, Microsoft endeavors to make the exams more difficult—and the exams tailored toward Windows Server 2003 are no exception. Just because you've been adding users and groups to networks since the days of Windows NT 3.1, don't think that you won't find questions that try your knowledge. Look at all of the objectives for this exam and make sure that you are more than comfortable with each subject area before signing up to take the test.