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Lead Image © diego cervo, 123RF.com

Making Small Business Server 2011 fit for 2014


Article from ADMIN 20/2014
Never change a running system: If you are happy with your Small Business Server, you don't need to upgrade to the latest Windows server, but you should stay up-to-date. We show the pitfalls of installing updates.

Although Microsoft is already offering a successor to the successor, in the form of Windows Server 2012 R2, many companies continue to work with Small Business Server (SBS) 2011. In particular, the standard version, with its fully functioning Exchange server, is very popular. The Essentials edition is practically no different from Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, which also means that many users will see no change.

Small businesses that rely on SBS often do not have an administrator to take care of the server full-time, which means occasionally someone must step into the breech and update virus protection and install security updates. These tasks do not take much IT know-how; nevertheless, before you change the settings or install patches, you should create a full backup, just in case something goes wrong.


To bring SBS 2011 Standard up to the current level, you need to install three service packs that update the main system components in the right order: Windows Server 2008 R2 for the operating system, SharePoint Foundation 2010 for the company web, and Exchange Server 2010 as a mail server. Start by downloading the following packages:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 [1]
  • Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 3 [2]
  • Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 3 [3]
  • SharePoint Foundation 2010 SP2  [4],
  • Redo Backup for the system backup [5].

Data Backup

Before making any changes to the server, save it to an external hard disk. Redo Backup is an open source program available as a free download that comes with drivers for most devices. Compared with a piecemeal update, a complete backup as a disk image is your easiest approach with Redo Backup: Boot the server with Redo Backup and back up the system to the external hard disk.

To start the backup, press the corresponding button after launching Redo Backup. In the wizard, select the system disk that contains the operating system and system components of SBS (Figure 1). An image backup is not necessary for any data that may be present on another disk. You just need to copy the files to the external hard drive using Explorer.

Figure 1: Redo Backup backs up the whole server to an external hard drive quickly and easily.

You should only update a healthy server. Be sure to check beforehand whether the dashboard or the Event Viewer indicates errors. The first of these tools provides a monitoring function in the right panel that shows you any problems with the server.

Managing Updates

Before installing larger service packs on the server, check the settings of the Windows Update feature and install all the updates on the server and the clients. You manage updates in the SBS console below Security . To discover whether your clients have the latest patches, check the right-hand panel in the home screen of the management console.

Use the Change the software update settings link under Security | Updates to specify the basic settings for patch management. First, synchronize the server with the Windows Update servers by pressing Synchronize Now . Then, define the update settings as follows:

  • Server Updates – This setting controls which updates are installed on the SBS server and the other servers on the network. The default level Medium means that the SBS server automatically installs all critical security updates (Figure 2). This or a higher level needs to be set to install the SBS update rollup. Currently, Update Rollup 4 is available for SBS. You definitely want to enable this SBS patch management.
Figure 2: The settings for server updates must be set to at least Medium and the update settings for the clients to High.
  • Client Updates – Controls the installation of patches on the workstations. Here the setting is set by default to High so that all new updates are automatically installed on the clients. When updating the server, make sure that the clients have the latest updates in place, including those for additional programs such as Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer.

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