Are your servers still generating short file names? Are your forward lookup zones configured for 2008+ domains? Ever wish you had an easy way to check your servers against Microsoft’s recommend best practices? By using the Best Practice Analyzer (BPA) in Server Manager, you can identify common misconfigurations and fix them (without even having to hire a consultant)!
What is the Best Practice Analyzer (BPA)?
Microsoft introduced BPAs in Server 2008 R2. BPAs are a collection of settings and configurations for each Windows Server Role (DHCP, Hyper-V, Active Directory, etc). As a whole, they represent the most common misconfigurations that “can result in poor performance, poor reliability, unexpected conflicts, increased security risks, or other potential problems.”
Remember the first two questions at the top of this article? Both of those are common issues identified by a BPA scan. The first one is a common misconfiguration on file servers and is easily fixed with a registry change/Group Policy Preference. The second one is created in when you take an older domain and upgrade your domain controllers. It falls under a DNS BPA scan. Each best practice has corresponding pages explaining the issue and how you can resolve it.
There are dozens of configuration checks for each role. On a server running just File/Print services, Microsoft has over 100 best practices! You can read all about BPAs and each individual best practice here:
The first link above includes all of the common serve roles that exist on 2008 R2 and above. Best practices listed there apply to 2012 and 2012 R2. The second link contains the best practices for roles introduced in 2012/R2 (ex: Work Folders). Of course, you probably just want to see what best practices apply to your servers. Let’s do that!
How Can I Use the Best Practice Analyzer (BPA)?
Launch Server Manager from your machine. If Server Manager has always been that annoying popup when you RDPed into a server, get ready to have your mind blown! Start by adding servers to your Server Manager console. You can filter by OS, names, OUs, etc. Server Manager will then connect to those machines, discover the roles running on them, and begin grouping them by role. You can create your own custom groups (ex: grouping servers by physical sites). While Server Manager scans, read the What’s New and Learn More tabs. Server Manager is awesome tool that should be in your daily arsenal!
After the server scan has finished, select All Servers. Find any Server 2008 R2+ machine, select it and scroll down to the Best Practices Analyzer section. Select Tasks and Start BPA Scan. From here, you can start the BPA scan on the single machine that you selected or add other servers. Regardless, a BPA scan will be performed on each role that the server has. You can check the status of your scan by selecting the Flag icon in the top right of Server Manager. Any errors are listed here as well.
Once the scan completes, refresh server manager – select your server – and scroll down to the Best Practices Analyzer section. Any scans that triggered a warning or error should now be listed. You can select each item to read the problem and potential impact. Each result also includes a link to resolve the issue. Continue this process for each machine, resolve the issue, and start optimizing your server setups!