70-292: An Administrator's View of Windows Server 2003
This exam covers lots of Windows 2003 ground, including new security, backup and recover, and software updating methods.
So you've finally achieved your MCSA and now Microsoft has a new operating
system out. It's time to gird yourself to plunge into another round of
learning—but if you didn't like being on the cutting edge, you probably
wouldn't have joined the ranks of high tech in the first place, right?
This upgrade exam is a tough one. It covers the ground that is encompassed
in two other exams. Unlike Microsoft's previous efforts with upgrade exams
(namely, 70-240, the behemoth Accelerated Exam for Windows 2000), this
test is a normal length and you can take it as many times you need to
in order to master its intricacies.
In this review, I help you prepare by covering some of the most challenging
objectives included in Microsoft's exam preparation guide. (In another
review, I cover exam 70-296, which is part of the package deal for MCSEs
on Windows 2000 who want to upgrade their credential to Windows 2003.)
I focus on managing users, computers and groups, Group Policy, security,
DNS, systems administration, Terminal Services, IIS 6.0, SUS, and disaster
recovery in Windows Server 2003.
Users, Computers, and Groups
For the first set of objectives, "Managing Users, Computers and Groups,"
you may be presented with questions regarding the new command line utilities
dsadd, dsmod and dsquery.
Tip: You can use CSVDE with a CSV file to batch-create
These commands don't replace the Active Directory Users and Computers
MMC but allow for scripting automation to add, modify and query Domain
user, computer and group accounts. The ADUC MMC includes the Delegation
of Control Wizard, which is used to assign and control administrative
permission at the Organizational Unit level.
Tip: To modify multiple user account properties with the
ADUC MMC, select the items and then Properties.
Try to remember this: AGUDLP. If you haven't adhered to Microsoft's
recommended method of managing folder and file permissions, you need to
study! Accounts are placed into Global Groups, which are placed into Universal
Groups, which are then placed into Domain Local Groups, where Permissions
are assigned. Accounts can also be placed directly into DL groups.
Upgrade for MCSAs
This exam is tricky and requires you show your expertise
with all that's new in Windows Server 2003. Focus your
studies on managing users, computers and groups, Group
Policy, security, DNS, systems administration, Terminal
Services, IIS 6.0, SUS and disaster recovery.
Available as of August 14, 2003.
Managing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Environment
for an MCSA on Windows 2000 (70-292)
Who Should Take It
Windows 2000 MCSAs and MCSEs who want to upgrade
to their skills to Windows 2003.
Windows 2003 includes two types of groups: Security and Distribution.
Security groups are used in the traditional sense to group users for permissions
to network resources. Distribution groups are used for e-mail only.
Administrators and Server operators have the default rights to create
and manage shared folders. Read, Change and Full Control are still present
and cumulative. NTFS permissions are also cumulative but the most restrictive
rights prevail when combined with shared folder permissions—and Deny
overrides all other permissions!
Files and folders can be encrypted with EFS, encrypting file system.
EFS requires NTFS. Don't forget to brush up on how folder and file permissions
can change or stay the same when copying or moving within a drive or between
Active Directory objects such as user, group and computer accounts all
have permissions assigned that can be inherited from higher levels or
by using Block Inheritance, removed.
Group Policy Objects allow centralized management of user and computer
settings throughout the network. GPOs can be used to perform a variety
of administrative tasks, such as configuring desktop settings, controlling
security settings, assigning scripts, redirecting folders and distributing
software. GPOs are inherited by child domains from sites or child OUs
within domains unless you enable Block Policy Inheritance, which can be
reversed with No Override at a higher level. You can also filter inheritance
with Read and Apply Group Policy permissions at the user or group level.
|Table 1. The Path
to an MCSA on Windows Server 2003
for MCSAs/MCSEs on Windows 2000
Core Exams: Networking System (2 required)
|70-290: Managing and Maintaining
Windows Server 2003
||70-292: Managing and Maintaining
Windows Server 2003 for an MCSA on Windows 2000
|70-291: Implementing, Managing,
and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
Core Exams: Client Operating System (1 Required)
No other exams required.
Configuring, and Administering Windows 2000 Professional
|70-270: Installing, Configuring,
and Administering Windows XP Professional
* As lieu of the elective requirement, candidates
can substitute one of the following credentials: MCDST,
MCSA or MCSE.
Likewise, candidates can also use these CompTIA
exams in lieu of electives:
- A+ and Network+
- A+ and Server+
and Supporting Systems Management Server 2.0
Configuring, and Administering Internet Security and Acceleration
Server 2000, Enterprise
Configuring, and Administering SQL Server 2000 Enterprise
and Managing Exchange Server 2003
|70-299: Implementing and Administering
Security in a Windows Server 2003 Network
The main objective in the category, "Managing and Maintaining Access
to Resources," is Terminal Services administration. The name has
changed slightly—Windows 2000 Terminal Services remote administration
mode is now called "Remote Desktop Administration" in Windows
2003. Terminal Services administration on this exam may include questions
regarding the need for enterprise licensing servers and managing and troubleshooting
Microsoft has made many improvements to Terminal Services, such as the
enhanced RDP 5.1 client, which allows many of local resources to be available
within the remote session, including the client file system, smart cards,
audio, serial ports, and printers.
Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services licensing is limited to 120 days,
so the need for a licensing server is required if users can no longer
connect after the evaluation period. Using the ADUC MMC, click on the
User Properties, Sessions tab to can manage users' session limits for
terminal services—the users' Environment tab allows for configuration
of local drives and printers for a session. The Group Policy administrative
template Terminal Services is used to control many other aspects of users'
profiles and policies when remote connections are required.
The Active Directory Remote Desktop Users group controls who can log
on remotely to a domain controller. Finally, the Remote Desktop checkbox
on the Remote tab of System Properties allows for Remote Desktop Administration.
The Server Environment
The objective, "Managing and Maintaining a Server Environment,"
covers Microsoft's Software Update Service and Internet Information Server
(IIS) 6.0. New to the Windows 2003 exams is SUS. Although it's an add-on
component in a Windows network, it's required these days for deploying
and managing client- and server-critical updates. Through the Automatic
Updates option built into Windows 2000, XP and 2003, client computers
can be redirected to internal SUS servers instead of being externally
directed to windowsupdate.microsoft.com. This allows administrators to
plan, test, and track critical updates to their networks.
New Type of Question
Exam 70-292 includes a new question type from Microsoft
(see figure). The screen is split into three areas with
the question at the top, pick-and-place items on the
bottom left and configuration screens on the bottom
|A new question type splits
the screen in three sections, which will require
considerable scrolling action on small displays.
(Click image to view larger version.)
The areas are resizable just like frames of a Web page.
This means you may have to do lots of scrolling and
careful reading during the exam since many testing centers
have smaller monitors that we're accustomed to on our
desks. Many of the questions require selecting the correct
button or checkbox on a simulated product screenshot.
Microsoft offers a demo of all the new question types
Tip: HFNetChk and the command line version of the Microsoft
Baseline Security Analyzer, mbsacli.exe, can be used to check for both
applied and missing security updates.
The Group Policy administrative template Windows Update is used to configure
clients for automatic updates, service location, rescheduling, and the
no restart option. The options for automatic updates includes: notify
for download and install; auto download and notify for install; and auto
download and schedule for install. Within the service location settings,
the configuration for SUS service address and path for statistics server
exists. The path for statistics server is usually in the form of http://susserver.
SUS synchronization is a process where the server downloads the latest
updates from Microsoft, the administrator approves the update, and clients
are allowed to download and install the new update.
To conserve bandwidth, when configuring SUS for multi-language support,
you should only select the required language for localized support. SUS
server-to-server synchronization can save bandwidth as well when connecting
to the Windows Update site and allow for enterprise control and administration.
SUS administration is available via http or https using a Web browser.
Finally, SUS requires IIS.
Tip: You can limit the amount of bandwidth required to
download SUS updates via the Windows Server 2003 BITS (Background Intelligent
Transfer Service), a bandwidth throttling technology.
Speaking of IIS, Windows 2003 has a new version—6.0. Out of the
box IIS 6.0 is more secure by design and more stable because of application
pools and process isolation. For the exam, be sure you fully understand
IIS as it relates to Web sites, virtual and physical directories, files,
host and cname records in DNS. IIS application pools allow for process
isolation. Those pools are created using the IIS manager MMC, and by using
the Virtual Directory, Directory or Home Directory tab of a Web site that's
assigned to a Web site or process.
Tip: Multiple Web sites can be hosted on a single IIS server
with unique IP addresses, port numbers or host headers.
There's a lot to keep in mind for the topic, "Managing and Implementing
Disaster Recovery." These objectives cover backing up files and knowing
how to use system state data. It also covers new ground, such as Automatic
System Recovery and Volume Shadow Copy Service.
Automated System Recovery (ASR) allows you quickly and automatically
to bring a non-bootable machine to a state where you can run a restore
program to recover data. ASR will configure the new storage devices and
restore the operating system, all applications and settings. Here's the
- Boot from a Windows Server CD and choose Automated System Recovery.
- Provide access to the backup media and insert a floppy prepared for
- Take a break—you'll come back to a working server with the operating
To use ASR, you have to prepare an ASR backup first. This is a regular
system backup plus the ASR floppy disk. This disk contains important configuration
information about the server's storage system as well as information on
how to restore the backup.
When you boot from the product CD and press the F2 key, you'll enter
the ASR bootstrap program. The ASR code in Windows setup knows how to
read the ASR floppy disk to reconfigure the server's storage system. ASR
will automatically invoke the restore program to restore the rest of the
data from the ASR backup.
Tip: Access the backup portion of ASR through the Automated
System Recovery Preparation Wizard located in the backup utility.
Volume Shadow Copy Service is another new feature. It allows administrators
to create a point-in-time copy of user files, which the user can access
and restore when previous versions are needed. These snapshots can save
both the IT staff and users a whole lot of time usually spent waiting
for manual restore operations of accidentally deleted files from tape.
As the server administrator you can schedule the copy time—for instance,
twice a day at 0900 and 1700 hours five days a week. If the amount of
user data is great and changes often, you can store this data on alternate
server volumes. Once configured per volume, users will find the Previous
Versions tab in the properties selection for files and folders on a network
shares. Users can then select View, Copy or Restore when they're presented
with a list of read-only file and folder copies they can access. For more
here to read the white paper.
Even with all the new file management services, data and system backups
are still a must with Windows Server 2003. You should know which is the
fastest backup type—full, incremental or differential—and which
is the fastest to restore or uses the fewest number of tapes. The answers
to these questions are the same as they've always been! Incremental is
the fastest but starts with a full backup. Differential offers the fastest
restore, but a full backup uses the least amount of tape per backup cycle.
Tip: A new Ntbackup option, /snap, specifies
whether or not the backup should use a volume shadow copy. If this option
is disabled, open or in use, files may be skipped during a backup.
Server hardware failures happen! As I previously mentioned Windows Server
2003 offers ASR but it doesn't address all troubleshooting and repair
needs an administrator may have. Other resources include Performance Console,
Task Manager and Recovery Console to name a few. You should understand
not only which tool to use when the fatal time comes but the purpose each
serves. Be sure to try out each one to round out your expertise.
In the portion of the exam on, "Implementing, Managing and Maintaining
Name Resolution," you'll be tested on your knowledge of DNS, from
installation and configuration to management.
Windows 2003 offers a new zone type, stub, which you'll want to study
and practice with, and a feature called Conditional Forwarding.
A stub zone contains a copy of a zone with the original zone's SOA and
NS records. This includes the authoritative servers for the zone and resource
records needed to identify the authoritative servers. A DNS server hosting
a stub zone is configured with the IP address of the authoritative server
from which it loads. When this server receives a query for a name to IP
resolution in the zone to which the stub zone refers, the server uses
the IP address to query the authoritative server and returns a referral
to the DNS server listed in the stub zone. To update its records, the
stub-DNS server queries the primary servers for the resource records.
Tip: Although Microsoft recommends conditional forwarding
for making servers aware of other namespaces, you can also use stub zones.
Conditional forwarding allows control of the name resolution process
beyond the default forwarding that occurs between non-root and root name
When you use conditional forwarding, DNS servers can be configured to
forward queries to different servers based on the domain name in the query.
This eliminates steps in forwarding and reduces network traffic. This
is especially useful during a network merger.
Tip: Integrated DNS zones offer fault tolerance through
Things To Practice
- Install, configure and manage all DNS zone types.
You need to practice creating, managing, and maintaining
DNS. Create DNS zones and understand how each is used
and learn to troubleshoot problems!
- Download, install, and configure SUS on your network.
Whether or not you plan to use Microsoft's patch management
software, become familiar with it.
- Automated System Recovery. Run ASR even if you
don't want to simulate a dead server. Be sure to follow
the steps I outline in the main article and read the
- Explore security. Try out the new security features
of group policies and configure your server and clients
to avoid the next big worm. Run MBSA and HFNetChk
to check your results.
- Back up servers. Run server backups if only to a
file as the destination. Just as important, restore
the backups and verify EFS, compression and NTFS permissions
remain the same.
- Implement terminal services. Using terminal services
in the Remote Desktop Administration mode, you can
become much more efficient managing servers.
- Manage Group Policy Objects. Create a few GPOs
and explore the different computer and user settings
available. Link a GPO to a parent OU and view the
results of computer and user accounts changes within
child OUs with and without Block Policy Inheritance
and No Override.
- Install and configure IIS 6.0. Install IIS and
configure Web sites for Application Pools using both
the MMC and new command line utilities.
- Practice configuring and using VSS. Make sure you
understand the client options for restore and Ntbackup
options for more fault tolerance.
- Create and manage user and group accounts in Active
Directory. Create user accounts for your family and
friends using the new command line utilities. Add
them to groups and logon with their accounts from
a client or a second server. Change group scope and
membership. Practice using the AGUDLP.
For the exam objective, "Implementing, Managing and Maintaining Network
Security," you'll be tested on your ability to implement secure network
administration procedures and install and configure a software update
I've already covered most of the SUS implementation, configuration, and
troubleshooting aspects you should understand, so let's turn to IPSec.
To apply an IPSec policy in a domain environment, you must understand
IPSec policy precedence. Unlike most Group Policy settings, which are
cumulative, only one IPSec policy can be assigned to a computer at a time.
If there are multiple IPSec policies assigned at different levels, the
last one applied is the one that takes effect. IPSec policy uses the same
precedence sequence as other Group Policy settings, which are from lowest
to highest—local, GPO, site, domain and then OU.
Tip: IPSec is used to secure data when transferring it
across the network, but EFS is used for local disk encryption.
New to Windows 2003 is RSoP (Resultant Set of Policy), which you can
use to analyze IPSec policy assignments. RSoP is a Group Policy snap-in
used to view IPSec policy assignments.
Once again, using the Event Viewer Application log, you can begin the
process of troubleshooting IPSec. Read carefully, understand the question
and view the exhibit to help make sense of the vague Event Viewer screenshots.
Network Monitor is a preferred tool for viewing real-time captured network
data and can also assist when you're troubleshooting IPSec. Know the basics
of this tool and make sure to get enough hands-on work with it so that
you'll retain what you've learned. It'll come in handy on the job.
You'll find study resources for Exam 70-292 within
the Windows Server 2003 help and documentation. To get
your free 180-day evaluation copy,click
You can also find a lot of information online at the
Windows Server Community page (click
If you plan to attend instructor-led training to hone
your Windows 2003 skills, check out course 2209: Updating
Systems Administrator Skills from Microsoft Windows
2000 to Windows Server 2003, at Microsoft CTECs worldwide.
If you lack prior experience with Windows, consider
the five-day course 2273: Managing and Maintaining a
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment. Click
here to review the course syllabus.
Several publishers are coming out with titles to help
you with self study. These include the following books:
- Microsoft Press has published one self-study title
that covers two upgrade exams, MCSA/MCSE
Self-Paced Training Kit (Exams 70-292 and 70-296):
Upgrading Your Certification to Microsoft Windows
Windows 2003 Upgrade Study Guide (70-292 and 70-296)
from Sybex, ISBN 0-7821-4267-2, $59.99.
Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft
Windows Server 2003 Environment Exam Cram 2 (Exam
Cram 70-292) from Que Publishing, ISBN
Exam 70-292 Study Guide and DVD Training System: Planning,
Implementing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003
Environment for an MCSE Certified on Windows 2000
from Syngress Publishing, ISBN 1-9322-6656-9, $59.95.
2003 Certification Upgrade Kit: Exams 70-292 and 70-296,
Syngress Publishing, ISBN 1-9322-6661-5, $99.95.
Windows Server 2003 for an MCSE/MCSA Certified on
Windows 2000 Study Guide (Exams 70-292 & 70-296),
Osborne, ISBN 0-0722-3058-4, $49.99. Available: March
Finally, I offer more tips on these exams in the chats
I host at MCPmag.com.
Be sure to read the transcript for the 70-292 chat by
This exam is challenging! If you've just begun to work with Windows Server
2003 in a production environment, studying for this exam will give you
a greater appreciation for all that's new and cool in the operating system.