Windows Server 2008 – How to Add Roles

Windows Server 2008 – How to Add Roles

The key to managing your Windows Server 2008 network is planning then configuring server roles.  Questions to ask include, ‘How many servers do we need?’.  Which roles do I need on each server, for example, DNS, *AD DS, File and Print.

This planning stage could also be a good time to analyze your connections to the outside world, and appraise the need for old configurations such as **DMZ and ***RADIUS servers, with new ideas such as ****NPAS servers and a remediation network.

* Active Directory Directory Service, ** Demilitarised Zone, *** Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service, **** Network Policy and Access Services.

For each individual Windows Server 2008, the place to start in your task of adding and configuring the pre-defined roles is in the Server Manager.


Launch the Server ManagerLaunch Server Manager - Windows Server 2008

The Windows 2008 version of Server Manager is intelligent enough to work out dependencies and to install any necessary underlying services automatically. 

With the Add Roles Wizard you get the chance to inspect the services and also to configure options for that particular role.

  1. Click on the Windows ‘Start’ button on the Task bar
  2. Type ‘Server’ in the dialog box
  3. Double-click the Program ‘Server Manager.

Customize This Server

Once your Server Manager appears, scroll down to ‘ 3) Customize This Server’.  Now you can click ‘Add roles’.

Add Roles Wizard - Windows Server 2008

Add Roles Wizard

Some roles have their own second level Services Wizard, for example, the File Services include the option to install DFS and Search.  [IIS not installed by default]

Select Server Roles:

  • Active Directory Certificate Services
  • Active Directory Domain Services
  • Active Directory Federation Services
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services
  • Active Directory Rights Management Services
  • Application Server
  • DHCP Server
  • DNS Server
  • Fax Server
  • File Services
  • Hyper-V (64bit editions only)
  • Network Policy and Access Services
  • Print Services
  • UDDI Services
  • Web Services (IIS) 
  • Windows Deployment Services 

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Group Your Roles 

  1. Active Directory Domain Services (Domain Controller)
  2. DNS Server
  3. DHCP Server


  • Application Server
  • File Services
  • Print Services


  • Terminal Services
  • Network Policy and Access Services

Two Additional Roles

Select Server Roles

Add Roles Wizard Server 2008

Remember to re-visit the Server Manager at regular intervals so that you can configure additional roles or add new features.

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Server Manager Server Manager

The Server Manager is the hub of Windows Server 2008.  This is the place to install roles and features and check that they are working correctly.

Server Manager goes right back to the days of NT 3.5.  However, in Windows Server 2003 it took a back seat in the form of, ‘Configure your Server’ or ‘Manage your Server’.  At the time, these Configure or Manage Server menus seemed an unnecessary restrictive layer, consequently, I preferred to invest time in creating an MMC console and then adding my favourite snap-ins. See more on the 2008 Server Manager.

Server Roles

The term ‘Roles’ when applied to Windows Server 2008 has the same connotation as the word ‘Role’ in medium to large size company.  Human resources manager, Secretary to the MD, financial director.  In other words ‘Role’ describes a person primary job.  In a smaller company one person may take on server roles, thus it is with Windows Server 2008, the server’s role maybe DHCP, DNS, and Active Directory.

ServerMangerCMD.exe Cmdline options – like PowerShell

Windows Server 2008 Features and Services

If you didn’t find a Windows Server 2008 amongst the Roles, the chances are it’s amongst the 20+ ‘Features.  See here more about how toadd Windows Server 2008’s features.

Summary of the Roles in Windows Server 2008

Just because you are good at computing does not mean that you are good at planning or organizing.   Perhaps with W2K3 you got by through being above average at troubleshooting and having an intuitive understanding of the technology.  Also after 5 years of Windows Server 2003 you have things figured out and the servers are running smoothly.  Come Windows Server 2008 and you are going to have to learn new tricks, so make it a personal challenge to learn the best of the new technology as fast as possible. 

If you think of the new ‘Roles’ management techniques as your friends, then they will help you reach new levels of technical expertise.  If on the other hand, you fight the wizards then the struggle will sap your energy and you will miss an opportunity to learn new ways of configuring old tasks.

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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Topics:

Server 2008 Home   • Overview   • What’s New?   • Migration Advice   • Install   • SP1 Review

AD DC   • Roles   • Features   • Editions   • Hyper-V   • UAC   • IPv6   • Group Policy   • Free NPM Trial