Installing Windows Server 2016 Essentials (Part 3)

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Debuting in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials was integrated health reporting (which superceded the alert emailing feature from the previous release).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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Connect Computers

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.

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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.

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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.

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See you next time!

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17 comments

  1. Thanks for this Terry. I am trying to decide if there is value add going from 2012 R2, so far it looks like no. One thing that I didn’t like about 2012 is you are limited to a 2GB max size for the backup drive. Do we know if that barrier is finally lifted with 2016?

    1. Hi Brad,

      I am using 2 x 4 TB disks in an eSata enclosure, one for data and client backups and the other for server backup. Both are working fine, although neither have exceeded 2TB yet. However, I believe I wouldnt be able to use a 4TB at all for server backup if the limitation was still in place, so I think you are OK.

      Dennis

  2. In regards to accessing the server from the MS provided web address, to play music and videos, does this version of software still force you to use Silverlight? Like windows home server did?

  3. Have you attempted to do an “upgrade” of your domain?

    I don’t want to create a new domain, but I want to replace my old server with a server running a new server.

    I followed the instructions for Windows server 2012 (https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/sbs/2014/02/21/deploying-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials-in-an-existing-active-directory-environment/) and it worked mostly. The users in my domain don’t show up in the dashboard on the new server.

    I attempted to use windows powershell commands to import users, but the commands that existed in 2012 seem to be removed from 2016. (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn156005(v=wps.620).aspx)

    Import-Module WssCmdlets
    Import-WssUser –SamAccountName

    I know 2016 is new, but my old server is in need of upgrade. Thanks.. Wim.

  4. Hi Terry,

    Thanks for a great how-to guide on installing WSE 2016!

    I was a somewhat happy WHS 2011 user for years, but figured I had better migrate to a supported platform, so I recently went ahead and installed WSE 2012 R2 on new hardware. The install was a bit bumpy, but I got it down. However, getting our 5 PC’s (Win 7’s and 10’s) setup for backup was a nightmare (especially the WIN 10 issues, but a lot of others as well such as computers not showing online etc.) After days and nights of googling and installing/uninstalling various versions of the connector, I decided I would try 2016 essentials instead since I was installing from scratch on new hardware anyway.

    In researching this, I found your 3 part installation guide which I used as my bible and which was really helpful – thanks!

    During the server install, I only ran into ONE (1) issue (amazing!), which was: During the server config phase the progress bar stalled at 17%. Back to googling and I found this workaround: simply start the “Windows Server Essentials Management Service” and the process will start moving again – workaround found here: https://windowsserveressentials.com/2016/03/10/windows-server-essentials-2016-install-stuck-at-17-or-39/ – piece of cake.

    I then setup and tested the server backup – this process went equally smoothly – I was stoked!. (The only issue I am facing in this regard is performance – the backup is extremely slow, but I’m not too worried and will work on this later).

    Finally, after this promising effort, I proceeded with the most important part of the project, and the real reason I need a windows server: Setting up the client backups. However this is where I hit a wall 🙁

    The good news first: unlike WSE 2012, the connector installs now go smoothly for both Win 7 and Win 10 clients – another promising sign. HOWEVER, after the connectors are installed, there is no right click option to start a manual backup even though backup is turned ON in the client backup config. Also, no backup started automatically during the specified timeframes. Finally, although the clients are showing online, the various status columns are showing “Not Available”. Both the clients and the server are up to date with all windows updates.

    I did some googling, but there is not much out there for WSE 2016 as it is so new. So after all of this, I have 2 questions:

    – Would you have some ideas as to how to troubleshoot the backups?
    – Do you know of any forums that actively deal with WSE2016 troubleshooting?

    Thanks again for your help,

    Dennis

    1. Wanted to know if the hack for…

      How to make Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials client connector install behave just like Windows Home Server

      Still works with Windows Server 2016 Essentials?

  5. Hi Terry, thanks for you guides they are awesome. Installed Essentials today but when trying to change Microsoft Update settings I get an error “Cannot run the task” it says.

    When going to Windows Update and trying there I get another error (0x80070422) and I can’t get any updates that way too. Any suggestions what to do to get it to work?

    1. I realise I’m not terry, and this is somewhat late, but if anyone else has the problem (like I just did there is an easy fix. Go to Control Panel> Administrative Tools (click view small icons to see the option easily). Then double click ‘Services’, scroll down to find Windows Update and double click. You can change it to Automatic Startup and also Start the update service from here, and then the Update option will work from the Dashboard.

  6. Hi Terry,

    I used the WS2012R2 Eseentials bought your books and was a happy user – I was also lucky to set up the VPN for IOS devices. Recently I upgrades to WS2016 Essentials – and biggest concern the VPN for IOS – I´m still fighting to set it up. The RRAS – Routing and Remote Access console – says Legacy mode is disabled on this Server – even if I click on server properties – it says no properties are available – in 2012R2 it was the place where you could enter here the “IP Sec Shared Secret” password in the L2TP setup. Is there any default shared secret – or did you manage not just to set up but also connect from a W10 or even better via IOS to VPN of WS2016?

    1. i’ve the same problem. I try to uninstall remote access from WSE and install it from server manager… the result was i can configure VVPN parameters but (i don’t know why) i can’t use https://remote.contoso.com/remote… I install (it was very hard) everything and the result is the same… Legay Mode and no way to configure vpn parameters. had you solve the problem?

  7. Thank you Terry. Just purchased Windows Server 2016 Essentials and doing a new installation. I had the issue you described where installation stopped at 17%. Your suggestion worked perfectly for me!
    Apparently this is still an issue.
    Bruce

  8. Has anyone been able to successfully change ports for Anywhere Access or use port forwarding? My ISP (UVerse) already uses port 443 so I can’t get a working solution.

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