Exam Review: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals 98-365

Become a Microsoft Technology Associate today.

Reviewer's rating
The Microsoft Technology Associate certification includes a choice of several exams from these key areas; IT Infrastructure, Database, and Development. I chose an IT Infrastructure exam and found it to be very straight forward and a good precursor for moving forward with other Microsoft certifications.

45 minutes

Number of questions:

Who should take it?
Anyone wishing to become Microsoft Technology Associate certified.

Exam Objectives:
Here's a link to instructor-led courses that can help you prepare for the exam. Later in this article, I will provide other links that can be used to prepare, and they are all free and self-paced.

This exam is for those wishing to become MTA certified, and requires you have a basic understanding of many technologies -- for this exam that is Microsoft Windows Server. There are several exams available for the MTA certification. About a dozen to choose from in these three key IT (Information Technology) areas; IT Infrastructure, Database, and Development. I recommend you choose an exam from the track that interests you most, and will get you started on the path to more advanced certifications. This link lists the three available tracks to choose from and shows the exams available.

I received 36 questions and was given 45 minutes. The passing score was 70 out of 100 points. Most questions were multiple choice with only one correct answer. I did receive a couple of questions with two correct answers and the exam stated the number to choose, and at least one drag-and-drop question which asked me to reorder objects from a list on the left side to the right side of the screen.

This exam focuses on six key areas: installation, server roles, Active Directory, storage, server performance management and server maintenance.  This includes such things as minimum requirements for installation, group policies, RAID, monitoring, and services. Most of these are technologies found in Windows Server and not necessarily specific tools. You need an understanding of each but not necessarily extensive experience with each. Here is a study guide that has just about everything you need to know to pass this exam.

I always recommend to my students that they use the exam objectives as found in the link above, checking off each item as you feel comfortable with the each objective. If you are like most people and learn best by doing, you can download a copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 here. This is free evaluation software that will work for up to 180 days, and it requires you that have a computer with at least 512 MB of RAM and preferably a multi-core processor of at least 1 GHz. If you choose to download and install Windows Server on your PC, you could use this video as a guide. It also includes many things you need to know to pass the exam. If you don't feel comfortable installing Windows Server on your PC you could always use a free installation from Microsoft, online here (I recommend the Windows Server 2008 R2: What's New in Active Directory lab).

I will cover the exam objectives using the key areas as a guide. On with the review.

Understanding Server Installation: This objective requires an understanding of the following topics, just to name a few: device drivers, services and server installation options. Plug-and-Play (PnP) is a technology that simplifies the addition of new hardware to a computer. PnP takes care of identifying, installing, and loading the correct device driver (software provided by the manufacture). Services are entities which can carry out tasks without the direct interaction of the computer administrator. However, they need configuration by the administrator. This includes a logon, which defines an account that mimics the logon of a user--this allows the service to work as needed. Many services also have dependencies. That is to say, they can only run when other services are running. To install Windows Server, the minimum RAM and CPU requirements must be met (as previously mentioned). Here's a link to a source of free self-paced courses that can help you better understand these topics.

Understanding Server Roles: This objective requires an understanding of the following topics, just to name a few: application servers, Web services, remote access, file and print services and server virtualization. SharePoint server is an ideal collaboration product available from Microsoft. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) uses certificates to secure connections used with VPNs for Internet communication. Remote Desktop Services (RDS) allows users to connect to network servers and use such things a virtualized application software, known as App-V -- this is recommended for ease of central administration of the application software. And keep in mind, RDS clients (computers) need a license, a CAL (Client Access License) when connecting. Permissions are something you always want to keep in mind (especially when troubleshooting file access).

Exam Tip: The explicit deny permission takes precedence over all others.

Permissions are maintained by New Technology File System (NTFS). It is required today for server installations, and the system partition of a Windows Server installation must use NTFS. Microsoft's Hyper-Visor (Hyper-V) is a virtualization technology that allows you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on the same computer, and can only be installed on Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2.

Understanding Active Directory: This objective requires an understanding of the following topics, just to name a few: accounts and groups, organizational units and containers, Active Directory infrastructure and group policy objects (GPOs). After installing Windows Server, there are two default accounts created. A user account in the Active Directory (which is used for managing users) Users Container, and a computer account found in Computers container. Organizational Units (OUs) are special containers in the Active Directory hierarchy, and beneath domains, which are beneath forests --accounts are beneath OUs.

Group Policy Objects (GPOs) can only be created and linked by administrators. Resultant Set of Policy (RSOP) can be used to examine the effects of policies applied to accounts.
Publishing printers to Active Directory assists in the administration, and helps users locate a printer near them on the network.

Exam Tip: A user distribution group can only be used for messaging purposes.

Understanding Storage: This objective requires an understanding of the following topics, just to name a few: storage technologies, RAID and disk types. Storage Area Networks (SAN) are used by servers for central, high capacity, often redundant storage. Redundant Array Independent Disks (RAID) is a technology that includes RAID 1 Disk Mirroring (where everything stored on one disk is also stored on another), and RAID 10, which mirrors disk stripe sets.

Exam Tip: A VHD disk type is one that was created and is supported by Hyper-V.

Windows Server includes other disk types, basic and dynamic. Dynamic disks are required when using software RAID. Here's another link to a source of free self-paced courses that can help you better understand these topics.

Understanding Server Performance Management: This objective requires an understanding of the following topics, just to name a few: major server hardware components, performance monitoring, and logs and alerts. As mentioned earlier, Windows Server has a minimum requirement of RAM and processor. Using Windows Server 64-bit edition software will support the use of additional RAM beyond that of what the 32-bit edition will support. When it comes to monitoring hardware and finding abnormalities, a baseline is needed.

Exam Tip: A server's log file records events that have taken place over time.

Understanding Server Maintenance: This objective requires an understanding of the following topics, just to name a few: steps in the startup process, business continuity, updates and troubleshooting methodology. Changing a computer's drive boot order is accomplished through Basic Input/Output Settings (BIOS). Windows Server can be configured to backup data drives to other local drives or remote network drives. The Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) is a technology that is used by the backup process. Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) can be used to notify computers of operating system software updates. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines a set of good practices to be used in the administration of servers to help maintain business continuity.

Exam Tip: Cluster technologies combine the efforts of multiple server computers with shared storage between them.

That wraps it up for this exam review. Good luck in your quest for Microsoft Technology Associate certification!

About the Author

Andy Barkl, MCT/MCITP/MCSA, A+, Network+, Security+, CCNA has been studying technology for 30 years. Of the last 15 years, he has spent much of his time parting the knowledge and experience he has gained through IT exams, over 300, to help others be prepared and successful. He teaches classes in Phoenix, Ariz. where he has lived most of his life. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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