Customize Health Report Settings
Debuting in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials was integrated health reporting (which superceded the alert emailing feature from the previous release). A popular feature in previous editions of Microsoft’s small business server lines, Health Reports were also available in Windows Server 2012 Essentials, but only via an add-in. Now firmly established in the platform, your next task is to Customize Health Report Settings.
Click the task named Customize Health Report Settings and then, on the right hand side of the screen, click the aptly named Click to Customize Health Report Settings link.
The straightforward box that appears is split into two tabs. The first tab, Content, allows you to choose the content that is included in the health report. You can include or exclude critical alerts from the server, critical errors in the event logs, server backup messages, alerts about services not starting when you boot the server, software update messages and storage health updates. Simply check the boxes you wish to exclude – everything is included by default.
The second tab, Schedule and Email allows you to customise when the report is run and configure an email address to which the report is sent.
In terms of scheduling, you can choose a daily or hourly report (for the most critically essential servers out there) and set a time for the report to run. Just click the check-box next to Generate a health report at its scheduled time and the drop-downs spring to life for configuration.
Then, click the Enable button underneath Email and you’ll be able to configure your email server details. Enter the sender’s email address (you can use your own address), and your email provider’s SMTP server details, your username and password (if required by your service provider) and click OK. You’ll be returned to the previous dialog where you can enter an email address, or addresses (split with a semi-colon) for the users you wish to receive the health report. Click OK and you’re done.
Back in the Dashboard’s Home screen, you’ll see two tabs at near top of the screen called Health Monitoring and Health Report which are used to manage and monitor your Windows Server 2016 Essentials system health.
Set up Client Restore Service
The penultimate task in the Windows Server 2016 Dashboard Setup panel is Set up Client Restore Service and your first question is undoubtedly, “Hey, what’s the Client Restore Service?” Client Restore (also known as a Full System Restore) allows you to fully restore a client PC from a client backup that has been stored on the server. So, if one of your client PCs has a fatal error – say, the hard drive crashes – you can simply pop in a new hard drive and install the backup image.
In a very short time, that PC is back up and running with all apps, settings and data restored just as it was when the backup was taken. Yes, it’s where Windows Server 2016 Essentials truly saves the day.
Click the Set up Client Restore Service task and then the similarly named link over on the right.
Now, not every Windows Server 2016 Essentials owner may wish to take advantage of Client Backup (maybe they have an alternative method of backing up, or maybe they’re just crazy) so the service is switched off by default. The setup task switches it on, via a dialog box called Client computer backup tasks which will open up.
Hit that Start button, and the service begins. Right? Wrong. You’ll get a message asking you to download and install something called a Windows Preinstall Environment image. If you’re lucky, your server manufacturer may have already installed the necessary bits on the server, so you’re good to go. Everyone else, follow along!
Known as Win PE to its friends, you can think of the Windows Preinstall Environment as a mini, feature-limited operating system which runs in advance of the client backup being installed. It’s a standalone environment used to prepare a computer for Windows installation, to copy disk images from a network server, and to initiate Windows Setup. So, it’s essential to have it available on the server if it isn’t installed already.
In the error message that appears, you should see an embedded link which will take you to the Microsoft website to download the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). There are various flavours of Windows ADK available – ensure you download the release that corresponds to the latest Windows 10 builds your clients are running.
Open the .exe file that downloads, and you’ll be greeted with a dialog box asking where you’d like to install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). You can choose to download it as a package for installing on other computers, but we’ll need it installing on the server, so leave the default option in place and click Next.
If it’s a Microsoft product then it probably has a Customer Experience Improvement Program and the Windows ADK is no exception. You’ll be asked if you’re happy to submit anonymous data to Microsoft about your usage of the ADK – this diagnostic information is aggregated and used to improve Redmond’s services – take your pick and click Next.
Now, you have a License Agreement to read and accept…
OK, hopefully, that License Agreement didn’t set you snoozing, as you’ll need to pay attention to the next screen! We now need to select the features to be installed. It’s here Microsoft really needs to do a better job supporting Windows Server Essentials admins that may not be fully up to speed with the selection. You can leave the default selection in place and proceed.
Check back to the Dashboard and you’ll see that you’ve been asked to download Windows PE. Joy, it’s a 4.1 GB download. OK, take a break and let the download finish up.
Once the download and installation have completed, click Close. We should now be able to start the Client Restore Service. Head back to the relevant tab in the Dashboard and try the Start button again – you’ll see a message stating that Windows is Customizing the PE images.
This customization process takes a little time so you may want to leave the server alone for a little while and go for a walk. Or something. A few minutes later, you’ll see the Client Restore Service is running. Well, you should – but it looks like Test Preview 5 of Windows Server Essentials is throwing me an error stating that the WinPE image cannot be customized. Fingers crossed for RTM, eh? Let’s continue.
Click OK and that completes the penultimate startup task. You’ll be returned to the main Dashboard window, where you will find one final, but very important task to perform:
This task is not something you perform on the server. It is now time to go to each computer in your organization and install the connector which will allow these computers to be managed and backed up by the server.
When you click on the How do I connect computers to the server option, this simply opens a browser window so you can read an online Windows Server 2016 Essentials help file.
Reading the help file gives you the last green check mark in the Dashboard Setup section. What you really need to take note of is the comment in the upper right on how to connect a computer to the server, which is the subject the next part of our guide to Windows Server 2016 Essentials.
See you next time!