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Installing Windows Server 2016 Essentials (Part 3)

Welcome to the third part of our guide to installing Windows Server 2016 Essentials. If you’ve missed the first two parts of the series, be sure to catch up!

It took a while, but we finally have the server operating system installed and initial configuration completed.  We now need to fire up the server Dashboard to configure and customize the system for our specific needs. In this part of the series, we’ll take a guided tour of the Windows Server 2016 Essentials Dashboard Setup page.

The Dashboard is an administration console, which simplifies most of the tasks needed to manage your Windows Server 2016 Essentials network and server. From the Dashboard, you can perform a variety of tasks which include:

  • Finish setting up your server
  • Perform common administrative tasks
  • View server alerts and act on them
  • Set up and change server settings
  • Access or search for Help topics on the Web
  • Access Community resources on the Web
  • Manage user accounts
  • Manage computers and mobile devices as well as backups
  • Manage access and settings for server folders and hard drives
  • Configure remote access to your server network
  • View and manage add-in applications
  • View and manage integrated cloud services such as Office 365, Microsoft Intune and Windows Azure

You can open the Dashboard from either the desktop or Windows Start menu.

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The Windows Server 2016 desktop, with Dashboard icon at top-left.

Before we actually get to the Dashboard, one simple task before going further is to take a peek at the taskbar in the lower right corner of the desktop and click on the speech icon. This is the new-style Windows Action Center, which lets you know of any issues it may find with the operating system and installed programs.  When clicked, a sidebar panel  open with a list of messages and potential issues to resolve. My Action Center is clean right now, but it’s worth a quick check. Note that the taskbar icon will be updated with a number if any messages are waiting for you.

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Moving on to the Dashboard, once opened you will notice a series of setup tasks for you to complete.

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Setup tasks in the Dashboard.

Let’s go down this list one by one and perform the necessary tasks to fully configure and prepare your server for deployment in your organization.

Get updates for other Microsoft products

First up on the list is configuring operating system and “other” product updates.

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Configuring updates.

This one is a no-brainer.  Clicking the option to Change Microsoft update settings allows you to configure the type of updates your server will receive. Make sure that the Use Microsoft Update option is enabled:

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and click OK to finish this very simple task.  The result is the Green “completed” check-mark as indicated in the following screen.

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First task completed!

That was the easy one!  Not that the other setup tasks are difficult; this is just fast and easy.

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Terry Walsh is the founder of We Got Served. He started the community in February 2007 with a mission to help families, tech enthusiasts everywhere figure out the technology needed to run the modern home and small business. He's the author of a number of guides to Windows, Windows Server and OS X Server and runs his own successful publishing business. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Terry has been awarded Microsoft's prestigious Most Valuable Professional Award each year since 2008 for his work on We Got Served.
  • Brad Burnett

    Thanks for this Terry. I am trying to decide if there is value add going from 2012 R2, so far it looks like no. One thing that I didn’t like about 2012 is you are limited to a 2GB max size for the backup drive. Do we know if that barrier is finally lifted with 2016?

    • Just started exploring, Brad and there’s no documentation available just yet.

      • Steve Scruff

        I put a 4TB back up drive on 2016…

    • mrwassen

      Hi Brad,

      I am using 2 x 4 TB disks in an eSata enclosure, one for data and client backups and the other for server backup. Both are working fine, although neither have exceeded 2TB yet. However, I believe I wouldnt be able to use a 4TB at all for server backup if the limitation was still in place, so I think you are OK.

      Dennis

  • Todd Beam

    In regards to accessing the server from the MS provided web address, to play music and videos, does this version of software still force you to use Silverlight? Like windows home server did?

    • Steve Scruff

      Have you found an Windows Server Essentials Media Pack for Server 2016 version of Essentials? For 2012 R2 they had this version https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=40837 I haven’t been brave enough to try to add this older version to 2016, as I have doubts its compatible…

  • William C Bonner

    Have you attempted to do an “upgrade” of your domain?

    I don’t want to create a new domain, but I want to replace my old server with a server running a new server.

    I followed the instructions for Windows server 2012 (https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/sbs/2014/02/21/deploying-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials-in-an-existing-active-directory-environment/) and it worked mostly. The users in my domain don’t show up in the dashboard on the new server.

    I attempted to use windows powershell commands to import users, but the commands that existed in 2012 seem to be removed from 2016. (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn156005(v=wps.620).aspx)

    Import-Module WssCmdlets
    Import-WssUser –SamAccountName

    I know 2016 is new, but my old server is in need of upgrade. Thanks.. Wim.

  • mrwassen

    Hi Terry,

    Thanks for a great how-to guide on installing WSE 2016!

    I was a somewhat happy WHS 2011 user for years, but figured I had better migrate to a supported platform, so I recently went ahead and installed WSE 2012 R2 on new hardware. The install was a bit bumpy, but I got it down. However, getting our 5 PC’s (Win 7’s and 10’s) setup for backup was a nightmare (especially the WIN 10 issues, but a lot of others as well such as computers not showing online etc.) After days and nights of googling and installing/uninstalling various versions of the connector, I decided I would try 2016 essentials instead since I was installing from scratch on new hardware anyway.

    In researching this, I found your 3 part installation guide which I used as my bible and which was really helpful – thanks!

    During the server install, I only ran into ONE (1) issue (amazing!), which was: During the server config phase the progress bar stalled at 17%. Back to googling and I found this workaround: simply start the “Windows Server Essentials Management Service” and the process will start moving again – workaround found here: https://windowsserveressentials.com/2016/03/10/windows-server-essentials-2016-install-stuck-at-17-or-39/ – piece of cake.

    I then setup and tested the server backup – this process went equally smoothly – I was stoked!. (The only issue I am facing in this regard is performance – the backup is extremely slow, but I’m not too worried and will work on this later).

    Finally, after this promising effort, I proceeded with the most important part of the project, and the real reason I need a windows server: Setting up the client backups. However this is where I hit a wall 🙁

    The good news first: unlike WSE 2012, the connector installs now go smoothly for both Win 7 and Win 10 clients – another promising sign. HOWEVER, after the connectors are installed, there is no right click option to start a manual backup even though backup is turned ON in the client backup config. Also, no backup started automatically during the specified timeframes. Finally, although the clients are showing online, the various status columns are showing “Not Available”. Both the clients and the server are up to date with all windows updates.

    I did some googling, but there is not much out there for WSE 2016 as it is so new. So after all of this, I have 2 questions:

    – Would you have some ideas as to how to troubleshoot the backups?
    – Do you know of any forums that actively deal with WSE2016 troubleshooting?

    Thanks again for your help,

    Dennis

    • Mark Clark

      Wanted to know if the hack for…

      How to make Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials client connector install behave just like Windows Home Server

      Still works with Windows Server 2016 Essentials?

      • With regard to domain join? Yes, it does.

        • Mark Clark

          Thanks for the quick response. Will have to give it a test run.

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