Monitoring services on your Windows NT Server

Does each new day bring another Windows NT Server into your company? This article will demonstrate how the Svcmon.exe Windows NT Server Resource Kit can help decode SNMP traps and use special software to check your server—among other tasks.

Does each new day bring another Windows NT Server into your company? Need to check out a service running on one of your Windows NT Servers? The Svcmon.exe Windows NT Server Resource Kit can help you and your staff be proactive rather than reactive. It lets you decode SNMP traps and use special software to check the server, among other tasks. To monitor services on your servers, you’ll need to install a small utility on each Windows NT Server and an Exchange Server to route the messages.

Installing Svcmon.exe
The first step to monitoring the services you deem critical on an NT Server is to install the NT Server Resource Kit. I also recommend that you follow this up with the NT Server Resource Kit Supplement 4. That way, you’ll have the latest files for Svcmon.exe and any other tools you plan to use from the Resource Kit. After you’ve installed both Resource Kits, use Windows NT’s Find utility to locate the directory containing Svcmon.exe. You’ll want to either copy or move the file from that directory to \Winnt\System32.

Configuring Svcmon.exe
Set up a mail profile on the server you’ll use to run Svcmon.exe so the warning e-mails can be sent. Although the documentation doesn’t recommend against using Outlook Express, I prefer installing the Microsoft Office version of Outlook on the server just to be on the safe side. After you’ve installed Outlook, simply configure a mail profile for it just as you would on a regular workstation. You’ll want to send a couple of test messages and have a few sent to you to make sure that everything is working.

Begin the configuration process by selecting Start | Programs | Resource Kit 4.0 | Management. Then click Service Monitoring Tool Configuration. If you see a message that says Windows NT can’t find Svcmon.exe, check to make sure that Svcmon.exe is in the \Winnt\System32 directory. When the utility’s splash screen appears, click Next to begin the configuration process.

The first screen you’ll see contains the information needed by Svcmon.exe to send a message through your Exchange Server when a monitored service fails. The mail profile name probably will be filled in. Make sure it’s the name you want to use. Then, verify and provide the Windows NT domain name the user resides in, the user name that belongs to the mail profile you’re using, and the password associated with the user account you entered.

In the Exchange Recipients box, enter the mailboxes you want to send the alerts to when they’re generated. When you need to specify multiple mailboxes, place a semicolon at the end of each mailbox and a space after the mailbox name before you enter the next one. (You also have the option of sending alerts to external Internet e-mail addresses.) At this point, click Next to proceed to the Service Monitoring Configuration screen.

Selecting services to monitor
When the Service Monitoring Configuration screen appears, the Windows NT Server name should already be filled in. First, click the Service drop-down list box to select the service you want to monitor. You’ll need to decide how frequently you want to check if the service is running. The default time is 10 minutes. The best way to decide how often the service should be polled is to determine how long the service can be down before you should be notified. Keep in mind that if you decide to change the polling interval for a particular service after you’ve added it to the watch list, you’ll have to delete the monitored service from Svcmon.exe and add it again with the new polling interval.

To determine whether Svcmon.exe has been installed and configured correctly, pick a noncritical service (for example, the Exchange Internet News Service on an Exchange Server) to initially monitor. To save time, select a fairly short polling interval, such as 10 seconds, so you can quickly see that everything has been set up correctly. After clicking Finish, you should see a message telling you that the configuration was successful. Just click OK and the configuration program will disappear from the screen. Be sure to stop the service you selected as a test (select Services in Control Panel). After waiting a few more seconds than the time you specified for the service polling interval, you can restart the service.

Your next step is to verify that the utility sent you e-mail alerts. If everything has worked correctly, you should see three e-mails. The first will say that the service was running; the second will say that the service is not running (the subject line starts with three right arrow characters); and the third message will say that the service is running.

Once you’ve finished the testing, you can select the services you want to monitor. When you restart the Smconfig program (Service Monitoring Tool Configuration), you may want to clear the password box and re-enter the password. I found that the tool doesn’t keep track of the password correctly and encountered a problem logging on to the Windows NT Server during the process.

Depending on the amount of information you need when a service stops or starts, Svcmon.exe offers an additional level of logging. You can find more information in the Resource Kit Tools Information resource installed with the Resource Kit.
Windows NT Server Resource Kit
ISBN: 157231347
Price: $149.95Windows NT Server Resource Kit Supplement 4
ISBN: 0735608377
Price: $49.99

Ronald Nutter is a senior systems engineer in Lexington, KY. He's an MCSE, Novell Master CNE, and Compaq ASE. Ron has worked with networks ranging in size from single servers to multiserver/multi-OS setups, including NetWare, Windows NT, AS/400, 3090, and UNIX. He's also the help desk editor for Network World. If you’d like to contact Ron, send him an e-mail . (Because of the large volume of e-mail that he receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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