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File and Print Services provides technologies that help manage storage, enable file replication, manage shared folders, ensure fast file searching, provide enterprise print solutions and enable access for UNIX client computers.
The Windows Server storage solutions have matured with every version of the operating system. With Windows Server 2008, management improvements and performance optimizations combine to make the storage subsystem the most advanced to date. Expand any section below to learn more about File and Storage enhancements.
Distributed File System (DFS) Namespaces and DFS Replication offer simplified, highly-available access to files, load sharing, and WAN-friendly replication. In the Windows Server 2003 R2 operating system, Microsoft revised and renamed DFS Namespaces (formerly called DFS), replaced the Distributed File System snap-in with the DFS Management snap-in, and introduced the new DFS Replication feature. In the Windows Server 2008 operating system, Microsoft added the Windows Server 2008 mode of domain-based namespaces and added a number of usability and performance improvements.
What does Distributed File System (DFS) do?
The Distributed File System (DFS) technologies offer wide area network (WAN)-friendly replication as well as simplified, highly-available access to geographically dispersed files. The two technologies in DFS are the following:
DFS Namespaces. Enables you to group shared folders that are located on different servers into one or more logically structured namespaces. Each namespace appears to users as a single shared folder with a series of subfolders. This structure increases availability and automatically connects users to shared folders in the same Active Directory Domain Services site, when available, instead of routing them over WAN connections.
DFS Replication. DFS Replication is an efficient, multiple-master replication engine that you can use to keep folders synchronized between servers across limited bandwidth network connections. It replaces the File Replication Service (FRS) as the replication engine for DFS Namespaces, as well as for replicating the AD DS SYSVOL folder in domains that use the Windows Server 2008 domain functional level.
Learn more about DFS at the DFS Management Technology Center.
Disk Management is a system utility for managing hard disks and the volumes or partitions that they contain. With Disk Management, you can initialize disks, create volumes, and format volumes with the FAT, FAT32, or NTFS file systems. Disk Management enables you to perform most disk-related tasks without restarting the system or interrupting users. Most configuration changes take effect immediately.
In this version of Windows, Disk Management provides the same features you may already be familiar with from earlier versions, but also adds some new features:
Simpler partition creation. When you right-click a volume, you can choose whether to create a basic, spanned, or striped partition directly from the menu.
Disk conversion options. When you add more than four partitions to a basic disk, you are prompted to convert the disk to dynamic or to the GUID partition table (GPT) partition style.
Extend and shrink partitions. You can extend and shrink partitions directly from the Windows interface.
Administrators can easily expand and shrink volumes, including the system volume. All volumes are aligned so that they are optimized for use by server products, such as Microsoft Exchange Server.
Learn more about Disk Management at the Disk Management Technology Center.
File Server Resource Manager
File Server Resource Manager is a suite of tools for Windows Server 2008 that allows administrators to understand, control, and manage the quantity and type of data that is stored on their servers. By using File Server Resource Manager, administrators can place quotas on folders and volumes, actively screen files, and generate comprehensive storage reports. This set of advanced instruments not only helps the administrator efficiently monitor existing storage resources, but it also aids in the planning and implementation of future policy changes.
Learn more at the File Server Resource Manager Technology Center.
You can use Removable Storage to easily track your removable storage media (tapes and optical disks) and to manage the libraries that contain them (such as changers and jukeboxes).
Removable Storage does the following:
Labels, catalogs, and tracks media.
Controls library drives, slots, and doors.
Provides drive-cleaning operations.
This component works with your data-management programs, such as Backup. You use data-management programs to manage the actual data stored on the media. Removable Storage makes it possible for multiple programs to share the same storage media resources, which can reduce your costs.
Removable Storage organizes all the media in your libraries into different media pools. It also moves media between media pools in order to provide the amount of data storage your applications require.
Learn more at the Removable Storage Technology Center.
Service for Network File System (NFS)
Services for Network File System (NFS) provides a file sharing solution for enterprises that have a mixed Windows and UNIX environment. With Services for NFS, you can transfer files between computers running Windows Server 2008 and UNIX operating systems using the NFS protocol.
Services for NFS includes the following improvements:
Active Directory Lookup. The Identity Management for UNIX Active Directory schema extension includes UNIX user identifier (UID) and group identifier (GID) fields. This enables Server for NFS and Client for NFS to look up Windows-to-UNIX user account mappings directly from Active Directory Domain Services. Identity Management for UNIX simplifies Windows-to-UNIX user account mapping management in Active Directory Domain Services.
64-bit support. You can install Services for NFS components on all editions of Windows Server 2008, including 64-bit editions.
Enhanced server performance. Services for NFS includes a file filter driver, which significantly reduces common server file access latencies.
Unix special device support. Services for NFS supports UNIX special devices (mknod).
Enhanced Unix support. Services for NFS supports the following versions of UNIX: Sun Microsystems Solaris version 9, Red Hat Linux version 9, IBM AIX version 5L 5.2, and Hewlett Packard HP-UX version 11i.
Learn more at the NFS Technology Center.
Shadow Copies of Shared Folders
Shadow Copies of Shared Folders provides point-in-time copies of files that are located on shared resources, such as a file server. With Shadow Copies of Shared Folders, users can view shared files and folders as they existed at points of time in the past. Accessing previous versions of files, or shadow copies, is useful because users can:
Recover files that were accidentally deleted. If you accidentally delete a file, you can open a previous version and copy it to a safe location.
Recover from accidentally overwriting a file. If you accidentally overwrite a file, you can recover a previous version of the file.
Compare versions of a file while working. You can use previous versions when you want to check what has changed between two versions of a file.
Learn more about Shadow Copies of Shared folders.
Share and Storage Management
Share and Storage Management provides a centralized location for you to manage two important server resources:
Folders and volumes that are shared on the network
Volumes in disks and storage subsystems
You can share the content of folders and volumes on your server over the network using the Provision a Shared Folder Wizard, which is available in Share and Storage Management. This wizard guides you through the necessary steps to share a folder or volume and assign all applicable properties to it. With Share and Storage Management, you can provision storage on disks that are available on your server, or on storage subsystems that support Virtual Disk Service (VDS). The Provision Storage Wizard guides you through the process of creating a volume on an existing disk, or on a storage subsystem attached to your server. If the volume is going to be created on a storage subsystem, the wizard will also guide you through the process of creating a logical unit number (LUN) to host that volume. You also have the option of only creating the LUN, and using Disk Management to create the volume later.
Share and Storage Management also helps you monitor and manage the volumes that you have created, as well as any other volumes that are available on your server.
Learn more at the Share and Storage Management Technology Center.
You can use the Shared Folders Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in to centrally manage file shares on a computer. Shared Folders enables you to create file shares and set permissions, as well as view and manage open files and users connected to file shares on the computer.
Learn more at the Shared Folders Technology Center.
With Storage Explorer, you can view and manage the Fibre Channel and iSCSI fabrics that are available in your storage area network (SAN).
A fabric is a network topology where devices are connected to each other through one or more high-efficiency data paths. In the case of a Fibre Channel fabric, the network includes one or more Fibre Channel switches that allow servers and storage devices to connect to each other through virtual point-to-point connections. For iSCSI fabrics, the network includes one or more Internet Storage Name Service (iSNS) servers that provide discoverability and partitioning of resources.
Storage Explorer can display detailed information about servers connected to the SAN, as well as components in the fabrics such as host bus adapters (HBAs), Fibre Channel switches, and iSCSI initiators and targets.
You can also perform many administrative tasks on an iSCSI fabric—for example, you can log on to iSCSI targets, configure iSCSI security, add iSCSI target portals, add iSNS servers, and manage Discovery Domains and Discovery Domain Sets.
Learn more at the Storage Explorer Technology Center.
Storage Manager for SANs
Storage Manager for SANs helps you create and manage logical unit numbers (LUNs) on Fibre Channel and iSCSI disk drive subsystems that support Virtual Disk Service (VDS) in your storage area network (SAN).
A LUN is a logical reference to a portion of a storage subsystem. A LUN can comprise a disk, a section of a disk, a whole disk array, or a section of a disk array in the subsystem. Using LUNs simplifies the management of storage resources in your SAN because they serve as logical identifiers through which you can assign access and control privileges.
Learn more at the Storage Manager Technology Center.
In Windows Server 2008, the printer subsystem includes a new printer architecture that provides users with better printer and print-server performance, and provides a new foundation for future applications. Print Services in Windows Server 2008 enables you to share printers on a network and centralize print server and network printer management tasks by using the Print Management Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in. Print Management helps you monitor print queues and receive notifications when print queues stop processing print jobs. It also enables you to migrate print servers and deploy printer connections using Group Policy.
The XPS Document format is a new document format that is based on a fixed-layout document technology. The Microsoft XML Paper Specification and Open Packaging Conventions (OPC) define the new format, and these specifications are built on industry standards, such as XML and ZIP.
The XPS Document format provides broad platform support and is standard with Windows Vista. It is also supported in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 by the .NET Framework 3.0. Cross-platform solutions are also made possible by the open and royalty-free specifications. Many vendors of print and scan products are already developing solutions around XPS technologies to take advantage of the performance and quality improvements that are available to both .NET Framework 3.0 and Win32 applications.
Windows Server 2008 integrates the XML Paper Specification (XPS) throughout the print subsystem to provide a new level of efficiency, compatibility, and document quality to the entire print subsystem:
The XPS print path uses the new XPSDrv printer drivers. These new printer drivers use a modular architecture that allows them to process documents in the print queue more efficiently.
The new print architecture not only maintains compatibility with existing applications and printer drivers, but also gives existing applications the ability to use features that can only be found in the XPSDrv printer drivers. New applications that are written to use the .NET Framework 3.0 can take advantage of all of the features that are offered throughout the new print path.
Users will see higher quality output from the XPSDrv printer drivers. The new printer drivers are not limited to the graphics device interface (GDI) graphics processing functions. This gives them the ability to process graphics in alternate color spaces and to use higher performance graphics libraries that were not available to the older, GDI-based printer drivers.
New Print Paths
Windows Server 2008 introduces the new XPS print path to the server operating system. The XPS print path uses the XPS Document format throughout the print path from the application to the printer, and makes it possible to achieve true WYSIWYG print output. New print paths in Windows Server 2008 enable:
Eliminating the file format conversions that are common with the GDI-based printer drivers to improve print performance and printed output quality, and help reduce overall spool file size.
Compatibility with in-house color/graphics, and support for advanced color spaces and technologies in the printer driver components.
Use of 32-bit-per-channel color, CMYK color space in the printer driver, named colors, and n-inks.
Direct support for transparencies and gradients.
Conversion print paths to support existing applications and printer drivers.
New Printer Driver Model
XPSDrv printer drivers in Windows Server 2008 use a new modular architecture that extends the existing driver infrastructure with new features and capabilities, while retaining compatibility with existing printers and applications. The XPSDrv printer driver architecture:
Supports the Windows Presentation Foundation while also being compatible with Win32-based applications.
Supports Point and Print to Windows XP, and the XPSDrv printer drivers can also be hosted on Windows Server 2003 print servers.
Allows IT departments to include their own custom filters that perform such functions as adding a corporate watermark, or implementing print job accounting and quota management.
Enables independent hardware vendors (IHVs) to share common functionality between similar driver models which can help improve the reliability of driver components and improve print server driver post-processing by supporting the re-use of common printer driver components.
Improved Print Server Management Tools
The Print Management Console (PMC), first shipped in Windows Server 2003 R2, is enhanced in Windows Server 2008. The PMC in Windows Server 2008 includes support for print server migration from Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008. It also features an improved Network Printer Installation Wizard, which reduces the number of steps that an administrator must perform to add network printers to the print server by automatically locating printers and installing the driver when the driver is available.
Web Services on Devices
Windows Server 2008 provides built-in support for Web Services on Devices (WSD), a set of protocols for consuming and controlling services on network-connected devices. Web Services on Devices can greatly simplify the customer experience around connecting, installing, and using printers. Microsoft is working in collaboration with several printer manufacturers to support this protocol in their devices.
To reduce the processing load on the print server, print rendering is performed on the Windows Vista client rather than on the server. By moving the processing load from the server to the clients, one server can support more print clients than before. In addition, depending on the print job content and the Page Description Language (PDL), network bandwidth can be reduced significantly, in some cases.
In Windows Server 2008, the print spooler uses Remote Procedure Calls (RPC) to communicate between the client and the server. By dramatically reducing the number of separate processing threads required for RPC, Windows Server 2008 can greatly enhance performance in medium- to large-scale print environments.
Learn more at the Print Management Technology Center.
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