Exam Reviews

Client-Side Common Sense

Are you ready to go beyond the wizards of Windows 2000 and dig in to Microsoft's most complex OS yet?

A number of smart IT people have perceived the "client" certification exams like Windows 95, Windows 98, and even Windows NT Workstation to be exams primarily for helpdesk professionals. Whether it's been true in the past, it's definitely not so with the Windows 2000 Professional exam. The test covers a broad range of topics, including topics that touch on the server side of the equation. While you don't need to know everything about Win2K Server before tackling this exam, it'll help you eliminate incorrect answers if you have a broad picture of how the two components-server and client-fit together.

WINDOWS 2000 Professional (70-210)

Reviewer's Rating: "Covers a little of everything, from client administration to installation and configuration of the OS and hardware devices. A strong foundation in Windows NT will go a long way."

Title: Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional

Who should take it? Core exam for the MCSE Windows 2000 track.

What classes prepare you?

  • No. 1567B: Preinstalling and Deploying Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  • No. 2151A: Microsoft Win2K Network and Operating System Essentials
  • No. 2152A: Implementing Microsoft Win2K Professional and Server

If you're expecting to enter the testing center and face a tricky and detailed exam that asks questions on minute and obscure details in the product, you'll be disappointed. The questions you'll face are going to be straightforward. What I was surprised by, however, was the sheer volume of text in each. Most questions had several long paragraphs while others spanned pages. I had to read each question carefully to ensure I didn't miss anything vital.

In addition to having significantly longer questions than previous MCSE exams, this test may give you a few detailed drop-and-select questions in which you're presented a task and you have to drag the appropriate pictures into the correct place on the screen. Also, the old type of scenario question that presented you with a required result and several optional desired results is gone. In its place is a similar (but more difficult) kind of question that presents you with a scenario, the requirements, and the actions taken. You're then asked to select which result or results are met by the given solution. No more guessing!

Network Artistry

Can we be successful network engineers and technicians if we don't know how to install our operating systems? Of course not! That's like taking the palette away from a painter! So you'd better be prepared to cover the essentials of installation of Win2K Professional, including upgrading from other OSs. You should be familiar with the hardware requirements. Also know how to install in a dual-boot environment. Know what file systems are supported and how they interoperate.

Brushing up on all of the tools used to install Win2K Professional is a must. From the NT 4.0 realm, we have sysdiff, which allows you to create different files for unattended installation of custom applications. We also have sysprep, which removes all computer-specific information from the machine and prepares it to be imaged by "your favorite third-party imaging tool." New to Win2K are two phenomenal tools that provide a welcome change to the world of unattended installation: Setup Manager and RIS. Setup Manager is used to generate unattended installation files. All you have to do is launch a simple wizard and voila! You have an answer file. No more spending tedious hours with the Resource Kit writing scripts for hours! Remote Installation Services is Microsoft's new strategy for Win2K Professional deployment. You can create a CD-based image from a Win2K Professional CD, or you can create your own images and use the RIPrep utility to image it to a RIS server. From there, if a client has a compliant network adapter, it can boot up and get a DHCP lease, select an image, and boom! You have a new OS!

Tip: Brush up on the requirements for RIS on the server side. Know what the limitations of RIS are and how to overcome them.

  • Installation of Windows 2000 Professional.
  • Implementing and conducting administration of resources.
  • Implementing, managing, and troubleshooting hardware devices and drivers; network protocols and services; and security.
  • Monitoring and optimizing system performance and reliability.
  • Configuring and troubleshooting the desktop environment.

Being Resourceful

Managing and monitoring resources is also extremely important on a network. This is the area in which a strong foundation in NT will definitely help you out. Know how NTFS permissions work with share-level permissions and how to provide users with the best way to access shared resources. When you're taking the exam, make sure you read the questions carefully and choose the best way. Questions may have more than one "correct" answer, but only one is typically the "best" answer that meets the requirements specified.

Be sure to look over some of the new features implemented in Win2K Professional, like the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), which allows you to connect to a URL and print to or configure a printer. Know how to install, configure, and troubleshoot printer drivers as well as how to optimize their performance. Also be sure you know basic Internet Information Service configuration and troubleshooting. Naturally, you should expect to have an understanding of the differences between NTFS, FAT, and FAT32. For example, NTFS is the file system associated with Win2K (and NT) and supports file-level security, whereas FAT and FAT32 are used on legacy versions of Windows. Remember that NT 4.0 didn't support FAT32. Make sure you understand the differences between the version of NTFS that runs on Win2K and the version that runs on NT 4.0; brush up on what needs to be done to the Windows NT 4.0 installation before you can upgrade to Win2K.

Tip: Don't assume that permissions are exactly the same as they were in NT 4.0. If you don't study how they work in Win2K, you could run into trouble.

Devious Devices and Drivers

For me, one of the most tedious and grating tasks as a network administrator and all-around technical guy is installing and configuring new hardware. Although the Win2K Professional exam isn't an explicit test of hardware, the more you know, the better off you'll be. It makes sense that if you're proclaiming yourself an expert in the newest OSs, you're also up to speed on the newer advances in hardware technology-especially those implemented in Win2K Professional.

Likewise, you should understand the basics of hardware that's been around awhile. Know about Advanced Power Management (APM) and how to configure it and troubleshoot problems that may arise. Understand what can cause USB devices to fail and how to remedy the situation as well. Driver signing is a technology that Microsoft introduced with Win2K that allows the OS to detect whether or not a driver is tested and comes from an official source. Know how to configure the OS to get around driver signing problems. For example, know how to change driver signing settings to allow users to install unsigned drivers.

Tip: Know your disk devices. Be familiar with the differences between Basic and Dynamic disks and which operating systems can support which. Know how to install and configure SCSI drivers during and after the installation of Win2K Professional.

Peak Performance

The key to success in any network infrastructure is performance. If your network doesn't perform and you're not inclined to do something about it, then you'll probably want to consider other forms of employment. Make sure you're familiar with changing system configurations in Win2K to best suit the user. Know how to optimize and change virtual memory settings. Also learn how to synchronize offline files to suit the purpose of the user. It's also a good idea to know how to recover a system if worse comes to worst. The key tools in this arena are Windows Backup and the Recovery Console. Know when to use each and what it supports. Understand the difference between using an Emergency Repair Disk and the Recovery Console.

Tip: Be sure you understand how the recovery of a Win2K machine differs from an NT machine. Know about the different varieties of Safe Mode, as well as when to use the Last Known Good Configuration or the Emergency Repair Disk.

The Profile of an Average User

Managing the desktop environment of your users isn't always an easy task. If you work in an international or multilingual organization, you could have a serious job on your hands to ensure that your users have access to the tools they need to complete their work. You should know how to configure Win2K Professional to support multiple languages on one computer. You also need to be familiar with application configuration and installation, especially the Windows Installer service. Know the different file types associated with a Windows Installer package and what they're used for. Also be able to troubleshoot a failed installation and correct it.

Tip: Make sure you know what Local (and Group) Policy is and how it works. Just because this is the Professional exam doesn't mean that you don't necessarily need to know what the server's configuration needs to be!

The Leg Bone's Connected to the Knee Boneā€¦

It's extremely important to know how to deal with network issues when they arise. Be able to install and configure TCP/IP on Win2K. For example, when does DNS come into play vs. WINS? What's the job of a DHCP Relay Agent? How do you configure basic TCP/IP properties? Win2K Professional has several ways to provide Internet access to clients, a primary one being Internet Connection Sharing. You should know how to enable it and how to configure it to provide access to common Internet protocols. Also know how to configure Dial-Up Networking to provide access to a variety of places such as a LAN or the Internet. Know how to configure a Professional client to connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) through the Internet.

Tip: Be sure you know how to interoperate with heterogeneous environments like NetWare and Unix.

Under Lock and Key

These days, securing our data is incredibly important. We need to ensure that hackers can't get into our servers from the outside. We need to make sure prying eyes can't get into the company's salary list located on a network drive. Win2K has made large strides to improve the security of our network so we can all sleep a little more easily at night. Encrypting File System (EFS) is a new addition to Win2K. It allows a user to encrypt files on an NTFS partition. Know how to recover a file that's been encrypted if the user has left the company or had his or her account removed. Also know about Local Group Policy and how to change it to allow users to perform tasks they've initially been restricted from performing. Be sure you're familiar with how to enable auditing on files and directories as well.

Tip: Check out the white paper on EFS at www.microsoft.com/windows2000/

Additional Information
To prepare for this exam, begin by reading Microsoft's Exam Preparation Guide at www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/exams/

True Study Time

When faced with one of the new Microsoft exams, the old advice holds true: Spend time reading the question in front of you before assuming you know the answer. If you skim a question, you might find that you miss out on important details that would make you give an entirely different answer. If you have a good background in NT 4.0, spend time familiarizing yourself with the differences in Win2K before tackling this exam. The Windows 2000 Professional exam is a great place to begin your technical career-and a dandy place to continue building on the one you already have going. Good luck!

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