Windows Server 2003 Tips

Windows Server 2003 Tips

Here is a selection of my favourite Windows Server 2003 tips.  My aim is to provide variety, so I hope you will discover at least one valuable tip.

1) Disable the Original Administrator Account

In Windows Server 2003, for the first time, you CAN disable the Administrator account.   My point is that every hacker knows that Windows has a username called Administrator, so defend it by disabling the account. (right-click the Administrator, Disable)  Obviously you must create another account with administrative privileges.

There are two variations of this tip.

a) You could disable the account from logging on across the network

b) You could rename the account and create a dummy administrator to confuse would be hackers

2) View Advanced Features

As you are an expert, display all those hidden menus and folders.

a) Go to the Active Directory Users and Computers, Select View (Menu) then check: Advanced Features.  Now you should see the ‘LostAndFound’ folder and so be able to check for any orphaned users.

b) Select the DNS Icon, View (Menu), Advanced. 
This brings the DNS ‘Cached Lookups’ folder into view.

c) Device Manager, Show Hidden Devices. 
This useful for troubleshooting Non Plug and Play devices.

3) The Easiest Way to Bring up the System Icon

Here is my favourite keyboard short cut: 
(Windows Key) + Pause/Break (Key)

4) Remote Desktop

The idea is to connect to the Windows Server 2003 from your XP Desktop.  Configure Remote Desktop from the System Icon, Remote (tab), Remote Desktop.  This will save you that long walk to the server room. 

When you are logged on to your XP machine go to Accessories, Communication, Remote Desktop connection.  Incidentally, remote desktop was voted the top reason to migrate to XP and here it is on Server 2003.

5) Troubleshooting Error Messages.

a) Start, Help and Support, Troubleshooting Strategies (Bullet point 5)  Here is a wonderful selection of tools to lead you methodically through a problem.  Each hardware device will have its own troubleshooters.  They are excellent for making sure you have not overlooked something obvious.

b) Start, Help and Support, Error and Event Log Messages.  Just type in the error message which you find in the Event Viewer, make sure you are on line, and Microsoft will help diagnose the cause and a solution.

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6) To display your Username and Computer Name on the ‘My Computer’

Here is a tip for those who like to hack the registry.

Preliminary step, show the ‘My Computer’ icon, go to Control Panel, Display, Desktop (Tab), Customize Desktop, Check My Computer.

Principle: Find the setting for the My Computer object in the HKey_Classes_Root, substitute two variables for the original setting.   Warning:This is a particularly difficult registry change to make so export the registry FIRST. Regedit, File (menu), Export.

Getting Started

a) Use regedit to locate [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D} rename LocalizedString to LocalizedString.Old.  I advice this step in case anything goes wrong and you want to revert to how it was.

b) Create a new VALUE type Expand_SZ name it LocalizedString  Set the value of LocalizedString to %Username% at %Computername%

Windows 2003 Tips

  Press F5 to refresh the ‘My Computer’, there is no need to logoff and certainly do not reboot.

7) Configure a Short cut to ‘Run As’ a Different User

This tip only works on short cuts, and not the underlying executable.  Firstly, create a short cut to one of your key programs, for example Active Directory Users and Computers.  Now, right-click the short cut, Properties, Advanced (Button), Run with Different Credentials.  The idea behind ‘Run As’ is to encourage you to log on as an ordinary user, and then use ‘elevated rights’ when you need to run the administrative tools.  What it does is save you having to log off and then logon again as the administrator.

8) Taskbar Appearance

right-click the Grey Bar at the bottom of the screen, Properties – check out all the settings.

If you have a Windows 2003 tip, please write in to   I will publish with an acknowledgment if you would like.

Assorted Other Interesting Features in Server 2003

  • Regedit now supports Reg_Expand.  Regedit also remembers the last place you visited.
  • Raise Forest Functional Level – Replaces Mixed and Native mode see more here
  • Remember to ‘Authorize’ your DHCP server in Active Directory
  • Search – Computers now on the lower part of the menu. (Search for other Items)
  • IIS 6.0 is much more secure than Windows 2000’s IIS 5.0.  N.B. to configure IIS go to the Add or Remove Programs, Windows Components, Application Services see more here
  • RUN, CMD, type: prompt $v

Summary of Windows Server 2003 Tips

These are my favourite ideas for configuring Windows Server, please send me yours.  I also have tips for Windows 7.


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Related Windows Server 2003 Topics:

Windows Command Line Tools   • Windows Server 2003 Tips   • Windows Server 2003 Services

Unhide Settings   • Exchange System Manager   • WSUS Server 2003