Realising the benefits of Windows Server 2003

Another year passes and another Windows version is released, this time in the name of Windows Server 2003. From version to version many may ask, “What will I really get out of deploying this upgrade?” The frequency of new versions of windows may seem too regular for some, but I firmly believe that for every recent Windows Server version, there are many advantages to be realized.

One of the new features in the latest version of Windows Server is Shadow Copying of Shared Folders. This feature allows an end user to revert to a previous version of a document if it had been deleted or unwanted amendments had been made. Rather than copying the entire file on each scheduled back-up, the operating system only backs up the changes, thus saving operating time and disk space.

It’s important to know what Shadow Copy should be used for. It’s designed to allow the restoration of end user documents, not program files. If users are able to recover their own documents then the call for support staff to complete such functions is no longer needed.

Sure, there will be instances where the IT department needs to get involved but the average level of support calls should drop.

An internal study was carried out by Microsoft, which found that end users were able to restore files within 10 minutes rather than waiting one to three days for the IT department to complete the job manually, the end result is more satisfied customers.

When deploying this technology it is all about planning. The easy part is enabling the server and rolling out the client. It is important that careful planning be given to the amount of hard disk space that will be available for Shadow Copying and the schedule which will be applied.

There are other software packages on the market which also complete similar functions. I don’t believe for a moment that this is an attempt by Microsoft to outdo any other product as it has been accused of in the past.

This particular feature was always on the cards for Microsoft and should be part of any good operating system; it was a matter of timing for this new functionality following the steady improvement in system reliability over recent server versions.

Neil Lappage is IT manager of a health services company.

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