The topic of share and storage management may not, initially, sound all that exciting. To Windows Administrators though, who often have to administer the shares and storage of their Windows Infrastructure, the Windows 2008 Share and Storage Management Tool is a “must have” tool which they use each day. Let me explain what it does, how it can help you, and how to use it.
The Purpose of the Share and Storage Management Tool
Simply put, the purpose of this tool is to make the administration of Windows 2008 Server shares and storage easier for administrations like you and I. According to Microsoft, “shared resources” are individual folders or entire disk volumes that are shared on the network. The “storage” that this tool helps you to administer “disk volumes and disk storage systems”.
One of the best features of the Share and Storage Management tool is the Provision a Shared Folder Wizard. This wizard makes the life of an IT admin easier by walking them through the question you need to answer and then performing the steps for you. For example, the wizard will help you select the folder or volume you want to share, set the protocol to share it with, set the NTFS permissions on the resource, configure the share permissions, publish it to DFS, set NFS permissions (if applicable), and apply storage quotas (if file server resource manager is installed).
Of course, the Share and Storage Management Tool also allows you to configure every aspect related to sharing including setting NTFS / share permissions, viewing who is connected, and stopping sharing or disconnecting users.
With the Storage aspect of this tool, you can even extend, format, delete, and modify volumes. You can also access tools for error checking, defragmentation, and backup.
Now, let us go into some of these things in more detail!
How to Provision Shared Resources with Share and Storage Management
One of the most common things you will do with Share and Storage Management is to provision a new shared resource. Of course, this means that you are sharing something on the network so that your end users can access it. You might be able to anticipate what you need to know to do this – what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with.
Keep in mind that to share a resource you need to be admin or equivalent. Once you are inside Share and Storage Management, all you need to do to share a resource is click on Actions, then Provision Share, like this:
Figure 1: Provisioning a new Share
This brings up the Provision a Share Wizard. You start this off by selecting the share path.
Figure 2: Selecting the Share Path / Location
Setting the NTFS permissions, as you see in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Setting the NTFS Permissions
Selecting the Share Protocol (SMB is the only option unless Services for NFS is installed), as in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Selecting the Share Protocol
Specifying any SMB settings such as user limit, access enumeration, or offline settings…
Figure 5: Specifying the SMB Settings
Next, you will be prompted to set the SMB Permissions on this new share. The Wizard gives you some quick options in order to make it easier for you (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Setting the SMB Permissions on the new share
If you are using DFS, you will then want to configure the DFS namespace for the new share.
Figure 7: Configuring the DFS Namespace
Finally, you are asked to review all of the settings related to this share before you create it. If everything is correct, just click Create.
Figure 8: Reviewing your settings and final confirmation
In a simple share, like the one we created in this demonstration, there is not a lot for the wizard to do, so the creation only takes a couple of seconds. In Figure 9, you can see what a successful creation looks like. If there are errors, you can see those on the Errors tab.
Figure 9: Successful creation of the new share
And that is how the Provision a Share Wizard works. It really brings all the steps that an admin needs to perform together, in a single process that prevents you from forgetting anything. Great work Microsoft!
When you are done, you can click on the Shared tab and view your new share. You can see the “temp” share we created in Figure 10, below.
Figure 10: View your new share in the shares tab
What else can you do with Share and Storage Management?
There is a lot more that you can do besides provisioning a new share. Here are 6 other things that you can do (besides our troubleshooting actions in the next section):
- Provision storage – This is a big feature for servers with lots of storage, where you are frequently modifying, adding, and removing server storage. The Storage that you are provisioning can be either a LUN or a local volume. However, keep in mind that you cannot provision storage if you do not have unallocated storage available to provision.
- Extend a Volume
- Format a Volume
- Modify Properties of a Volume including access to tools like defrag and error checking
- Stop Sharing a Resource
- And even manage sharing and storage on other computers
Figure 11: Managing Storage with Share and Storage Management
Troubleshooting Share and Storage Management
And finally, this same tool can help you troubleshoot share and storage management by allowing you to manage sessions and open files. This can be used to see who is connected to what share and what files they have open. If you need to, you can also Stop Sharing a particular share. Note that there is no “Delete a Share”, it is just called Stop Sharing.
Share and Storage Management can also help you to solve common problems. In fact, the Microsoft TechNet Share and Storage Management guide lists 8 common share and storage-related problems that this tool can help you solve.
The share and storage management tool is an excellent addition to Windows 2008 Server. Without the Share and Storage Management wizards, provisioning new shares can be complex so I really like how the Provision a New Share Wizard steps you through this process. In summary, I think Microsoft has done a great job of creating the “one stop shop” of share and storage management tool.