Computer Performance

Installing Windows Servers

How big is your C:\ drive?

Best Practice (Litmus Test)

Professionals:  Install Windows 2003 on a 20 GB partition

Amateurs:  Stick with a small 2GB system partition


Installing Windows Server

Make sure you have a big enough partition

This best practice fulfils all the requirements of a good Litmus test; the experiment can be easily measured and the answer is will be conclusive.  A small installation partition indicates trouble ahead and an amateur at work.  So go for the full 20 GB for partition holding the system files.

The problem of a small boot partition is compounded because, whilst other NTFS partitions can be extended the partition containing Windows (WINNT) cannot easily be increased.  Therefore, plan for 20 GB for the Windows (WINNT) partition.  If you choose a miserly 2GB you will soon find it inadequate.  

If you get stuck do not despair; investigate Mount Points as a method of increasing the partition. (Try Windows 2000 Help)

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Dual Boot Considerations

If your computer already runs Vista or Windows 7, or even XP, and you want to multiboot, there is only one factor to worry about, a second drive.  There are other techniques such as 'Windows 8 to go' or creating VHDs but I cover those on other pages.

A second physical disk is not essential, one disk with two partitions will do the job.  Ideally you would have a cleanly formatted 100 GB D:\ drive.  While an acceptable dual boot configuration would be a D:\ drive already containing some data, but with 25 GB of free space.  See more about Windows 8 dual booting.

More Installation Advice

Before you build a server observer best practice.  Think like a general thinks.  Plan as if installation was a military campaign; a list, as in a shopping list, is not good enough to install a Windows 2003 server.

Litmus test: Professionals always refer to the HCL

Step 0 (zero) before you order ANY equipment for Windows 2000 or Server 2003 check Microsoft's HCL (hardware compatibility list).  One of the reasons for studying history is to learn from others mistakes.  Those of us who remember the early days of NT 4.0, learnt that only kit that has a rosette from the HCL, worked properly.  Those who do not heed the lessons of history are destined to repeat the mistakes.

I also use HCL as a litmus tests when dealing with suppliers in general and salesmen in particular.  Basically if they do not know what HCL is they are amateurs.  See more server litmus tests.

If you are doubtful of your kit's ability to run Windows 2000, try winnt \checkupgradeonly or get a program called Chkupgrd.exe from Microsoft's site.

Litmus test: UK Amateurs, have Pacific time (in the UK!)

If you are in the UK I assume you change the default Keyboard from US to UK.  Also beware the -8:00 Pacific time.  Windows 2003 domain controllers (DCs) run very slowly if their times are more than 5 minutes out of synch.  

I was called out to a case where one DC was on Pacific time and the other on GMT.  Now Windows can handle that if the clocks are exactly 8hr different, in this case the clocks read the same masking an 8hr difference.  The result was Active Directory would not synchronise.  The solution was to adjust the Pacific Time to GMT and alter the clock 8hrs.

Install Remote Installation Service RIS

Litmus test: Professionals know what RIS is about

If you are convinced of the benefits of DHCP, and remember how long it took to gain acceptance, then I hope that you will give RIS a chance.

Imaging software like Ghost are very good for installing workstations.  However RIS has a compelling extra feature - intellimirror.  In a nutshell, if users delete or moves an operating system file, Windows 2000's built- in intellisense automatically repairs the machine.  RIS, and intellimirror and intellisense work together to detect the missing file and copy it automatically from RIS image.  The result less down time and reduced support costs.

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Litmus Tests

Guy's Litmus test is a concept that you can apply anywhere.  Each test gives you an instant answer to the simple question:-  'Are you dealing with a professional, or are they an amateur?   Is this the real deal, or is it a turkey?'   The Litmus Test concept is rather like Best Practice, but it reduces a 27 page report to one sentence. 

Try another of my Litmus tests »


Learn about Windows Configuration

Windows 8 New Features   • Eventlog Litmus Tests   • Windows 8 Install and Boot

System State  • Windows 8 Overview  • Install   No More Reboot 

DNS DHCP  • RRAS  Review of SolarWinds Config Generator

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Article by: Guy Thomas Copyright © 1999-2014 Computer Performance LTD All rights reserved.

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