Book review: Windows Server 2008 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant (Second Edition), William Stanek

A few days ago, I reviewed John Savill’s Complete Guide to Windows Server 2008 and now I’d like to introduce another book for Windows Server administrators – William Stanek‘s Windows Server 2008 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant 2nd Edition, published by Microsoft Press.

Whereas John’s book is a heavyweight reference volume for use by designers and administrators alike – the Administrator’s Pocket Consultant series is intended to be transportable – although it does push the definition of “pocket-sized” somewhat at almost 700 pages.  Nevertheless, this book works through many of the key activities that a Windows Server administrator can expect to perform, organised in a logical flow from an overview; to deployment; managing servers, monitoring services, processes and events; automating tasks, policies and procedures; enhancing security; using and administering Active Directory, including user and group account management; managing file systems, drives, volume sets and arrays, including file screening and storage reporting; sharing data (and auditing access); backing up and recovering data; managing TCP/IP; and administering network services such as printing, DHCP and DNS. 

It’s the sort of book that can be used by an experienced administrator to just dip in and refresh their memory on a particular topic, or read from start to finish for an administrator who is new to Windows Server or updating their administration skills to include Windows Server 2008 R2.

And R2 is an important distinction – this book is not just in it’s second edition – it has been updated to cover Windows Server 2008’s second release (Windows Server 2008 R2) – in that the Windows Server 2008 topics have been updated to include any changes that R2 has brought.  What this book doesn’t cover though is some of the newer Windows Server roles and features – like administering Remote Desktop Services.  And, whereas it talks in detail about the Distributed File System, new R2 features such as BranchCache barely get a mention, nor does DirectAccess.

It’s a difficult balance – after all, this is a pocket consultant – i.e. a smallish book to consult when you need to know something – but I’d really like such a guide to include all of Windows Server’s functionality – even if it can’t drill down into detail on them all (after all, it doesn’t claim to be a complete reference).

At the end of the day, this book aims to be practical, portable, and to provide answers for day-to-day administration of Windows Server 2008 R2.  On the whole, it achieves that goal – and it’s is well laid out, with plenty of illustrations and list of actions to take for a given scenario – but it misses some key functionality that many Windows Server administrators will encounter.

If you’re looking for a portable Windows Server reference book, Windows Server 2008 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant 2nd Edition is available from all major booksellers and use the code MVPT894 for a 40% discount on this book at Microsoft Press until the end of April 2010.

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