Windows Server 2016 for small servers

Small Steps

Essentials and Office 365

When setting up Essentials or the Essentials role, you can connect the server to Office 365. In this case, you can set up an Office 365 account and a mailbox in Exchange Online when creating new users in the dashboard. When you create a new user account, you can automatically allocate user roles to assign default or administrator rights to users. You can change a user role at any time, which lets you promote a standard user to an administrator, for example.

Admins can launch the dashboard on their clients to manage the server. You can either create a new account in Office 365 or use an existing Office 365 account assigned to the user. After creating a user account, you can always make changes to the rights, password, and options for the account, as well as for Office 365, through the dashboard on the server.

Connecting and Backing Up Client Computers

After installing the server, clients connect to the server. You do not have to enforce a domain; just create the account for the user in the dashboard. After users type the http://<server name>/connect address in their browsers, the server offers to download the agent software. Clicking on the install link launches a wizard that helps users connect their PCs. You need to define up front the usernames and passwords in the dashboard at the prompts.

After the installation is complete, you will find a link to the network shares on the computer's desktop. You can see the agent for connecting to Essentials in the tray area of the taskbar. The launch pad can be opened to the server via the agent context menu. In this way, users then access their server data and can even back up their computers and data on the server. A complete computer can be restored from the server with a recovery CD. Individual files are also restored, if necessary, by the administrator – but more on that later.

Admins can also call the dashboard from their workstations and log in directly to the dashboard with the administrator account, without needing to log out on the PC. Messages for the client can also be displayed in the lower right area of the launchpad, where errors that occur on the client computer are displayed to users.

If they work with one of the smaller editions of Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, users can still work with shares on the server through the Connector, but unlike the Pro or Enterprise editions, a domain logon on the PC is not possible. In this case, users have to log in explicitly to the launchpad, again logging in to their PCs. However, this login can be saved in Settings . After logging in, the releases and features in the launchpad are available in a Windows 7 Home Edition, just as in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 Pro or Enterprise, which is a further advantage of Essentials.

The Connector used by the client to connect with the server has a unique symbol that is displayed in the information area of the taskbar. Using the context menu of this icon, users can start the launchpad and display alerts on the computer, and admins can open the dashboard. The color of the icon indicates whether the computer is reporting an error (red symbol) or a warning (yellow icon), or whether everything is OK (green icon).

After connecting a client computer to the Essentials network, you can see the status when you click on Computers and Backups in the dashboard . All the computers on the network are listed here. Using the context menu and selecting Remove Computer , you can delete the computer from the list again. However, in this case, the users that log in are no longer authorized to access the shares. In the Status column in this area, you can see whether or not a computer is powered on. You will find the various options for managing clients in the context menu or the task area.

Upgrading to 2016 Essentials

You can upgrade Windows Server 2012 (R2) Essentials to 2016 Essentials, but first, you should update the operating system source. Small Business Server 2011 and older cannot be updated directly to 2016 Essentials. Launch the installation program when Server 2012 (R2) Essentials is running. You will be notified of any problems and have to confirm them before you upgrade.

Before you update Windows Server 2012 (R2) to 2016, you should also create a system image backup, so in the event of problems, you can quickly and easily restore your current Windows Server system. Please note the following aspects before upgrading to Windows Server 2016:

  • Disable installed security programs and antivirus programs.
  • If you work with network monitoring programs, set the computer for update to maintenance mode.
  • Make sure that all installed applications, management packs for network monitoring programs, and tools are compatible with Windows Server 2016, and update the programs after installation.
  • Make certain the Windows Firewall settings do not block connections to other servers or that certain IPsec rules are set.

Now launch Windows Server 2012 (R2) Essentials and insert the 2016 Essentials DVD. Click on setup.exe and then on Install now . In the next step, you will see the option for upgrading the installation files. If it requests the product key, enter the serial number.

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