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My job has asked if I was interesting in taking over the IT end of things (we are a small magazine publisher). Our current IT guy has been very hard to get a hold of. We have been trying to get him in for 2months now to fix the domain server, so my boss knows that I know computers and build them and asked if I would be interested in taking over.

So my question is - can anyone recommend a decent online course that explains the basics of Windows Server 2003? We are a non-profit, so the server is a bit outdated including the OS on it. I have basic knowledge of web, ftp, servers - but know very little on domain servers. I also know our server has several scripts for maping drives to the 9 computers that connect to the server. So, any help is greatly appreciated, and sorry if this is not in the correct section.
 

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Server 2003 is pretty easy to get started with. Do you know what is wrong exactly?

All the user administration including permissions, login scripts, home folders, etc are set up in the Active Directory Users & Computers snap in. You can either launch it through Administrative Tools, or Start>Run>mmc> Add/Remove Snap-In and then select it from there.

The login scripts for a small environment like that are likely assigned under each individual user. The scripts themselves are located in the SYSVOL folder on the server. From the server, this will be located at: %SystemRoot%\Sysvol\Sysvol\domain_name\Scripts It will also be available as a folder share and all domain users will at least have read rights to it. You can see the folder from any machine by going to \\servername\sysvol Any scripts/apps that are called upon login will be located here. Any new scripts you create or edit should be placed here. The primary purpose of this folder is replicate ad-related data across the domain. Do not delete anything in here unless you know exactly what it does. For all practical purposes, you never need to touch anything outside of the scripts folder.

The other big part of the server is group policy or GPO's. This can be found under the Administrative Tools folder again. This I would suggest reading up on, but short and sweet, it allows you to configure settings/variables in windows environments as well as script processes, etc. It allows you to group domain workstations and servers by security group (which can be named after a location, or a group/branch/division/etc. of your company. You can then apply specific GPOs to these groups. This would typically be the type of settings that would be used to lock down a terminal server, or customize windows. Things like printers and such can also be scripted here, so if you cannot find something in a login script, this would be the next place to check (last place would be local policy/scripts on the workstation itself).

You can probably fumble your way through AD and pick up a lot of it. Basic administration of a 2003 level domain is pretty straight forward on a small scale, but if your having issues with the domain controller itself, you might need to bring in someone to get things straightened out first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmp459 View Post

Server 2003 is pretty easy to get started with. Do you know what is wrong exactly?
All the user administration including permissions, login scripts, home folders, etc are set up in the Active Directory Users & Computers snap in. You can either launch it through Administrative Tools, or Start>Run>mmc> Add/Remove Snap-In and then select it from there.
The login scripts for a small environment like that are likely assigned under each individual user. The scripts themselves are located in the SYSVOL folder on the server. From the server, this will be located at: %SystemRoot%\Sysvol\Sysvol\domain_name\Scripts It will also be available as a folder share and all domain users will at least have read rights to it. You can see the folder from any machine by going to \\servername\sysvol Any scripts/apps that are called upon login will be located here. Any new scripts you create or edit should be placed here. The primary purpose of this folder is replicate ad-related data across the domain. Do not delete anything in here unless you know exactly what it does. For all practical purposes, you never need to touch anything outside of the scripts folder.
The other big part of the server is group policy or GPO's. This can be found under the Administrative Tools folder again. This I would suggest reading up on, but short and sweet, it allows you to configure settings/variables in windows environments as well as script processes, etc. It allows you to group domain workstations and servers by security group (which can be named after a location, or a group/branch/division/etc. of your company. You can then apply specific GPOs to these groups. This would typically be the type of settings that would be used to lock down a terminal server, or customize windows. Things like printers and such can also be scripted here, so if you cannot find something in a login script, this would be the next place to check (last place would be local policy/scripts on the workstation itself).
You can probably fumble your way through AD and pick up a lot of it. Basic administration of a 2003 level domain is pretty straight forward on a small scale, but if your having issues with the domain controller itself, you might need to bring in someone to get things straightened out first.
Thanks for all the info - right now its nothing wrong with the domain itself, but for future issues my boss decided that it would be better to have someone in-house, rather then out sourcing since this IT guy has been hard to get a hold of the past couple months. He is like the only IT guy in town, which sucks.
 

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My advice would be to get your boss to get you a course, or at least some good literature om 2003 server..
'Stumbling' into AD, and Server products in general, can create a lot og downtime...
If you get paid the overtime, and don't mind working all night, then the 'stumbling' technique is A-OK...
smile.gif
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmoronimo View Post

My advice would be to get your boss to get you a course, or at least some good literature om 2003 server..
'Stumbling' into AD, and Server products in general, can create a lot og downtime...
If you get paid the overtime, and don't mind working all night, then the 'stumbling' technique is A-OK...
smile.gif
Granted we all started somewhere and there is no better experience than hands-on fixing something. Obviously you can't be doing that with a production environment though.

Server 2003 isn't really covered by MS cert training anymore as it's mostly 2008 R2/2012 at this point. It does sort of build though. I would see if you can get some older MS training material for the older now defunct MCSE cert as well as any MCITP material that is still related to 2003/2003 R2. Basic administration info should get you started.

In a 9-10 person environment though, I seriously doubt anything is going to just "break" overnight. I would initially spend more time looking into the hardware on your server. Is is running some kind of storage array like a raid-1 or raid-5? if so, start a checklist of things to check every day/week/month/quarter and I would probably suggest picking up a spare hard drive. Nothing worse than an array failing and then having to wait to get another drive just to start rebuilding it.

I would also check to make sure you backups are passing and verify that you can restore data from them. Put together a checklist and build off that.
 

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The best way to learn is to buy (or have your boss buy for you) three things:

1 - A quad-core PC with at least 16GB of RAM and about 1-2TB of storage and a comfortable chair
2 - A copy of VMWare Workstation (about $250 iirc, though you might get a discount because you are a non-profit)
3 - A subscription to Microsoft Technet Professional, for access to all Microsoft OSes and applications for testing

Use VMWare to create a virtual environment in which you can play around and learn things. Create a VM running Windows 2003 Server, and one or two VMs as clients using the same OS's you guys have on your desktops. Then you can play around with it and learn anything you like before actually doing anything on the production machines. This environment is also important in the long run, since it allows you to test out any scripts you write, or trying different deployment scenarios for any new applications you get, and to test if current applications work with new OSes and upgrades.

A good starting point would be to install the Active Directory role and try doing different things using group policy. Then go through the list of available roles one by one and learn what they do and how to use them. Then just try doing whatever you feel like you might find useful, such as deploying applications through GPOs, writing basic scripts like backing up and clearing event logs on client PCs, configuring RADIUS authentication for wireless clients, roaming profiles, and so on. And whenever you run into a problem just google it - chances are that someone else has run into the same problem before too.
 
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