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.