Windows Server 2016 – Using Server Manager as a quick monitoring tool

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Sometimes change is difficult for us old-school IT guys. You know, the ones who prefer keyboards over mice and command lines over graphical interfaces. Starting in Server 2012, Server Manager changed a lot. I find that many admins automatically dislike it, even before they have started using it. It looks cloudy, full of links to click on rather than applications. It’s certainly more of a web app interface than the Server Manager we are used to.

Let’s use this recipe to point out some of the important data that exists in Server Manager, and discover for ourselves that Microsoft may actually have a valid point in causing it to open automatically every time that you log in to a server. No, it’s not just there to annoy you.

Getting ready

All we need is Windows Server 2016 in order to poke around in Server Manager. The server we are using is domain joined with a few roles installed so that we can get a better feel for the layout of data on a production system.

How to do it…

Follow these steps to discover some of the functions that Server Manager can perform:

  1. Open up Server Manager. If you just logged into your server, it is probably opening automatically. Otherwise, click on the Server Manager button inside your Start menu.
  2. Normally, at the top of Server Manager is the section entitled Welcome to Server Manager. In the lower right corner of that section is a button that says Hide. Go ahead and click on that button to hide this section of the screen.
  3. Now take a look at the information on your screen. These normally green bars listed under each service that you have installed are your first indication as to whether or not everything is running smoothly. Everything is green on mine, which indicates that everything is working properly:
  1. Now I’m going to break my AD DS service purposefully to demonstrate what it looks like when things aren’t running smoothly. You may or may not want to do this depending on whether or not you are looking at this on a production server. I have stopped my DFSR service on this box, and now see the following in Server Manager:
  1. If I click on the Services button, where it is indicating that I have one notification, I can see the details of what is going on. Right from here I have the ability to right-click on the warning message and choose a repair method of Start Services:
  1. There is a button near the bottom of this screen that says Go To AD DS. Go ahead and click on that button and you will see that it brings us to the same screen as if we had clicked on AD DS in the left window pane in Server Manager. On this screen, we can see even more information about our AD DS role and any trouble that it may be having:

For any role that you have installed on your server, there is a quick link to that role’s section of Server Manager in the left window pane. Click on each role to view events and information specific to that role.

  1. Now click on Local Server from the left window pane. Here we see a number of items listed that are helpful for troubleshooting any facet of the operating system, and for reviewing the general status and health of the server. Scroll down near the bottom of this page for a list of events that are happening on this server, without having to open a separate Events window:
  1. Many of the items listed inside this Local Server screen are links to open additional configuration windows. For example, where it tells us that the IE Enhanced Security Configuration is currently On, if we click on On, we get the properties page for configuring the IE Enhanced Security Configuration settings on this server:

How it works…

Server Manager is full of opportunities to quickly find information that will help monitor your servers. This recipe is just a sample of the data that you can pull into Server Manager, so I suggest you continue navigating around in there to make it look and feel the best that it can for your environment. Another extremely helpful option here is to add multiple servers into your Server Manager for monitoring purposes. If you use the Manage menu near the top and the Add Servers function in that menu, you can add additional systems into your Server Manager window pane. Doing this causes Server Manager to pull information not only about the local server that you are logged in to, but also about these remote servers, all into one pane of glass. This way you can use Server Manager on one server in order to monitor and maintain your entire server infrastructure if you choose to do so.

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