Installing Windows NT Server

Installation Overview

This chapter helps you plan for the optimum configuration for your server and guides you through the installation tasks required.

The ability of NT to recognize new hardware and configure it automaticly (an ability referred to as Plug and Play) is not as advanced as in Windows 95. During the installation process there will be a few opportunities to take advantage of even this limited abilitity. The installation process uses the term auto-detection.

Hardware Requirements

Microsoft Windows NT Server is a very robust operating system, which is fairly intricate and requires a certain level of horsepower. It is scaleable, however, and takes advantage of any additional resources that can be offered for its use. Windows NT Server is limited only by the hardware chosen for the server, which is why it's a good idea to plan for the future.

Although usable on a server with an Intel 486 CPU, most servers now have at least one Intel Pentium CPU. Because Microsoft Windows NT Server can take advantage of multiple processors, it is possible that the server supports additional processors.

Other hardware platforms supported for Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 are the MIPS CPU, Digital Electronic Company's Alpha CPU, and the PowerPC chip.

Although it is possible to set up a Microsoft Windows NT Server with only 16MB of RAM, it is advisable to use at least 64MB. The 16MB configuration is sure to limit the speed of the server because it almost constantly swaps to disk, using virtual memory.

Besides the requirements to boot the Microsoft Windows NT Server and the memory requirements for users of client/server applications, you might be running software on the server that has its own memory requirements. An example of this is the remote administration program Remotely Possilble which takes 3 Megs of memory.


The more memory you can give a Microsoft Windows NT Server, the more freedom you will have to extend its capabilities. Whenever possible, it is best to take money saved in another area and buy extra memory for the server.

Because Microsoft Windows NT Server is shipped on CD-ROM, an NT-compatible CD-ROM drive is required for the server. Although there are workarounds to installing Microsoft Windows NT Server on a server without a CD-ROM drive, it is highly advisable to have this drive available because most applications for Microsoft Windows NT Server ship on CD-ROM as well.

Adequate hard drive space is also a concern when setting up a Microsoft Windows NT Server. When you are planning your server, you must think about the hard drive space required for these items:

The Microsoft Windows NT Server operating itself requires approximately 120MB of space. If you are going to allow your users to store information on the server, you must allocate enough space by multiplying the number of megabytes you want them to be able to use by the number of users. Currently, Microsoft Windows NT Server does not enable you to limit the amount of space used by a single user, so you might need to overestimate the amount of space to be used.

You can limit the amount used by all users by creating a separate partition for user data. This limits the user's space to the size of the partition and alerts you to possible overuse by users if one user has a problem saving a document to this partition. Microsoft Systems Management Server or other third-party server management tools can alert you to low available disk space.

Microsoft Windows NT Server requires the use of virtual memory in the form of a file called PAGEFILE.SYS. The space requirements for this file vary based on certain options set up in the configuration for your server, such as recovery. It's a safe assumption that 50MB to 100MB should be reserved for virtual memory.

Fault tolerance is a must for Microsoft Windows NT Servers. The exact amount of additional hard drive space depends on the type of fault tolerance implemented. If you decide that you require 4GB of usable hard drive space and you want to implement RAID 1 (mirroring or duplexing), you must plan for 8GB of hard drive capacity. The same 4GB of usable hard drive space, but with an implementation of RAID 5, only requires 6GB of total hard drive capacity. Although it is possible to expand the overall capacity of your server, planning up front and giving your server the necessary number of hard drives helps prevent you from having to bring down the server in the future to add hard drives.

Hardware Requirements

To assure compatibility between Microsoft Windows NT Server and pieces of hardware, Microsoft has implemented the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL).

This list, which ships with the Microsoft Windows NT Server package, lists hardware that has been tested and approved by Microsoft as Microsoft Windows NT Server-compatible. A current list is available online

Phase 0: Preparation for Installation

The first thing you need to determine before installing Microsoft Windows NT Server is whether you want to have another operating system on the server in addition to Windows NT.

If you are working with a system that already has an operating system on the hard drive, you might want to use the FDISK or FORMAT command to start with a clean hard drive. Of course, you will want to use these commands only if you will be using the server as a dedicated Microsoft Windows NT Server. If you also need to be able to boot MS-DOS, Windows 95, or OS/2 on the server, you will be able to do that by using NT's boot-loader menu that is displayed each time a PC runs Windows NT, which enables you to choose an operating system from which to boot.

You can use different methods for installing Microsoft Windows NT Server. This section assumes that you are using the preferred method, which is booting from the Microsoft Windows NT Server Setup Boot Disk and installing from the Microsoft Windows NT Server CD-ROM.

Booting the Server

Insert the Microsoft Windows NT Server Setup Boot Disk into your drive A, which must be a 3 1/2-inch drive. After the system starts to boot from that disk, you see a message that says Setup is inspecting your computer's hardware. Next, the blue screen present throughout the character-based portion of Setup appears, and messages across the bottom of the screen inform you that the Windows NT Executive and the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) is loading. You then see a prompt to insert Setup Disk 2 into your drive A. Press Enter to continue the installation.

More drivers then are loaded, which give the installation program support for hardware and file systems. After these drivers are loaded, you see the screen font change to a smaller font and the actual booting of Windows NT occurs. The first line identifies the operating system by name, version, and build number. The second line tells you the number of processors Windows NT can see, the amount of physical memory detected, and always shows that the multi-processor kernel is loading. If you are running a single-processor server, the next time Windows NT boots, the single-processor kernel loads, but during installation, the multi-processor kernel always loads.

The next screen gives you the following choices on how to proceed with your installation:

Press Enter to continue with your installation.

Specifying SCSI and IDE Controllers

The next screen informs you about Windows NT's detection of SCSI and IDE controller chips. In order to have a bootable Microsoft Windows NT Server system, you must have NT install support for your boot device. You also need to have NT install support for the controller to which your CD-ROM drive is attached (of course, this might be the same as the controller for your boot device, but if they are different, you must ensure that support for both is installed).

You have the option of letting the installation process try to identify which devices are in your system (this process is known as auto-detection). If your controllers are identified properly through this process, you can be assured that support for your boot drive and CD-ROM will exist the next time the Microsoft Windows NT Server installation routine reboots your server. If you have purchased a controller that came with its own set of Windows NT drivers or you know that the installation routine will not recognize your controller and you have a disk to use that contains the appropriate drivers, press the S key.

If you press the S key, the installation routine tells you that it did not detect any devices, and you then can press the S key again to choose from a list of drivers that come with Microsoft Windows NT Server. The last item on that list is Other, which enables you to point the installation program to a floppy drive.


You might want to try out auto-detection just to see whether Windows NT's native support includes support for your controllers. You should go straight to the S routine if your drivers are newer than the release date for Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0.

Another reason to choose the S option is if you attempt auto-detection and your server freezes up. It is possible for a server to seize during the auto-detection stage yet still be able to function properly through the entire installation process if auto-detection is skipped.


If you use auto-detection and no devices are found, you can choose from the list of devices that ships with Microsoft Windows NT Server. Chances are that choosing from this list after trying auto-detection won't do you any good, however, because if you had a compatible device, auto-detection would have picked up on it.

If you do choose to use auto-detection, the installation program prompts you to insert Setup Disk 3 into the floppy drive. After you press Enter, the installation program attempts to load each SCSI driver to see whether it can detect your SCSI controller(s). A list of found devices appears as they are detected.

Assuming that auto-detection has found your controller or controllers, you now can press Enter to proceed with the rest of the installation, unless you want to install support for additional devices.

After you complete the process of identifying devices and you press Enter to continue the installation, additional drivers are loaded. This includes support for the NTFS file system, support for the CDFS file system, and, if appropriate, support for a SCSI CD-ROM.

NT End User License Agreement

The Windows NT End User License Agreement appears at this point and is several screen lengths long. You must use the Page Down to scroll to the next page.

When you reach the bottom of the agreement you can press F8 to accept the terms of the agreement. The computer forces you to go to the bottom of the agreement before you can accept it.

Selecting the location of Windows NT Server

After your boot drive is examined, a search for a previous installation of Microsoft Windows NT Server is conducted. If a previously installed version of Microsoft Windows NT Server is found, you are asked whether you want to upgrade or install a fresh copy in its own directory.

Assuming that you do not have Microsoft Windows NT Server already installed on this server, you are asked to identify your type of computer, video display, mouse, keyboard, and keyboard layout.

These choices are very similar to the choices you have when running the old Windows 3.x setup routine. Because Microsoft Windows NT Server is so hardware-specific, however, it is very important that you do not make a wrong choice for any of these parameters.

Chances are that the appropriate choices for your server will be shown on-screen, although the video display usually defaults to VGA. I recommend that you leave this choice alone, as well as any other choices that you can, because the first and foremost task that you are trying to complete here is to make your server bootable with Microsoft Windows NT Server. You always can change the video display parameters after Microsoft Windows NT Server is installed.

If you are satisfied with the current choices shown, press Enter to proceed with the installation.

If a copy of Microsoft Windows 3.x or Microsoft Windows 95 is found on your boot drive, the installation routine asks you whether Microsoft Windows NT Server should be installed in the same directory.

It is possible to have Microsoft Windows NT Server and Microsoft Windows 3.x coexist in the same directory, sharing applications and settings. However, there is currently no way to have Microsoft Windows NT Server migrate Microsoft Windows 95 registry settings, which might result in the inability to run the applications you had installed in Microsoft Windows 95 on Microsoft Windows NT Server without the need to reinstall the applications again under Microsoft Windows NT Server.

So, it is strongly advised to install Microsoft Windows NT Server into it's own directory if you wish to continue to run Microsoft Windows 95 on the same PC. You will then need to reinstall the software for use by Microsoft Windows NT Server, if you wish to use the applications from there.

If you do decide to install to the same directory, keep in mind that it might be difficult to uninstall Microsoft Windows NT Server and leave your old Windows intact. I therefore recommend, in all cases, installing Microsoft Windows NT Server in its own directory.

If an old copy of Windows is found, you must press the N key to proceed without installing Microsoft Windows NT Server to the same directory. Press Enter if you do want to install Microsoft Windows NT Server to the same directory as Windows.

If you have not yet told the installation program where to install Microsoft Windows NT Server, you now will find a list of available partitions for installing Microsoft Windows NT Server. It is from here that you can choose to delete an existing partition, and you can create partitions from here as well.

The list shows the drive letter assigned to the partition, the current file system for that partition, and the total space and free space on the partition. Unpartitioned areas of your hard drive(s) also are shown. If you have decided to create or delete partitions, complete those tasks now.

Next, position the highlight bar over the partition to which you want to install Microsoft Windows NT Server. Remember that this partition must be large enough to accommodate approximately 100MB of files. Press Enter; you are asked whether you want to format the partition as FAT, format it as NTFS, convert an existing FAT partition to NTFS, or leave an existing FAT intact with no formatting.

Next, the installation program asks for a directory name. By default, the name is \WINNT, but you can change this if you want to.

After you select a directory name and press Enter, the installation program wants to check existing partitions for corruption. You can allow the program to perform an exhaustive secondary examination of those partitions. Press Enter to allow for both examinations, or press Esc to perform only the first test.

A please wait screen appears during the examination of the hard drive(s). After this process is completed, the file copy process begins.


This process begins only if you successfully identified the device to which your CD-ROM drive is attached. If the installation program was unable to load the appropriate driver, the program prompts you for Setup Disk 4. Well, there is no Setup Disk 4, so you must abort the installation by pressing the F3 key and confirming the operation. Next, you must find a drivers disk for your SCSI controller and then start the installation process all over again.

If you also specified SCSI drivers to be installed from a manufacturer's disk, you are prompted for that disk during this sequence.

After the copying process finishes, you are prompted to remove the disk from your floppy drive. You then can press Enter to proceed with the installation. You now have completed the character-based part of the Microsoft Windows NT Server installation program.

Phase 1: The Windows NT Setup Wizard

Using the Setup Wizard

Now your server boots Microsoft Windows NT Server from the hard drive and the graphical portion of the installation begins. You can file away those three disks until the next time you need to install Microsoft Windows NT Server or until you need to use your Emergency Repair disk.

When your server reboots, you are presented with a menu of installed operating systems. The first item is your new installation of Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0. If this is a dedicated server with no other operating systems, this is your only choice. If you originally had MS-DOS on the boot drive, MS-DOS is listed as the second option on the menu. When installation has completed, you find yet another item on the menu, but you'll examine that later in this section.

The boot menu usually has a time-out of 30 seconds before a choice is made automatically, but for this installation, you immediately are launched into the next part of the installation.

You again see the blue screen that identifies the operating system, version number, and build number. Again, under that information, you see the number of processors available to Windows NT and your physical memory, but this time the multiprocessor kernel is loaded only if your server has more than one processor.

The graphical portion of the installation program now starts by initializing, and then some more files are copied from the CD-ROM to the hard drive.

The first part is gathering information about your computer. Click the Next button to continue.

Entering Site Information & CD Key

After some subdirectories are created within your Windows NT Server directory, you are prompted to enter your name and the name of your company (if any). This is standard procedure for all Microsoft installation programs. Enter these values and click the Next button.

A new screen will appear and you will be prompted for the CD-Key. This key normally appears on a sticker on the back of the NT Server CD Rom case. Enter this value and click the Next button.

Choosing Your Client Access Licensing Mode

You can license clients for Microsoft Windows NT Server in one of two modes. Per Server mode allows you to specify the number of concurrent users that will be accessing your physical server. A Per Seat mode allows you to purchase licenses for individual users to grant them access to all the servers contained within your corporation.

There is a one time, one-way conversion to switch from Per Server license to Per Seat license at no cost.

If you are unsure about which license mode to choose select Per Server

If you do select Per Server you need to enter the number of licenses you have. Normally the NT server software comes with 10 licenses.

After Choosing the appropriate mode and then click the Next button.

Naming Your Server and Determining Its Role

Here, you need to enter the name of the server. The server's name should not be confused with the name you give your domain. If you plan on having more than one server, you should give the server a name that enables you to easily identify the server when viewing a list of servers. The server's name must contain 15 characters or fewer, and it must be a unique name for your network. You can rename the server later if you need to.

Enter the name and then click the Next button.

The Server Type dialog

I recommend that you start with a Domain and avoid Workgroups. Domains give you the advantage of having a central user list. There is no easy way to switch a server from a Workgroup to a Domain. Most organizations are small enough (under 15,000 users) to keep all of the computers in a single Domain. In this case The first server that you install would generally be the Primary Domain Controller and the second computer computer the Backup Domain Controller.

Selecting an Administrator Password

Pick a password that is easy for you to remember but not obvious. Avoid using passwords that might appear in dictionaries.

Select a password and click next.

Creating an Emergency Repair Disk

The Emergency Repair Disk is very important! The Emergency Repair Disk is a floppy disk that contains critical Registry information about a Windows NT installation. The only way to recover from some server errors is to use this disk.

The critical information is placed on the disk by the RDISK.EXE. At this point in the installation process you have the opportunity to run this program and create the disk.

Selecting Optional Components

Normally you will just accept the default components during the installation process. You can always add and remove components later.

Click Next to accept the default components.

Phase 2: Installing Windows NT Networking

At this point you will recieve a message informing you that Phase 2 is beginning. Click Next to continue.

Setting Up Microsoft Networking

Click Next to confirm that your computer is connected to the network.

Installing Internet Information Server

Internet Information Server also known as IIS is Microsofts World Wide Web Server package. This package also provides server support for the the Gopher and FTP programs.

If you plan on using any of the Netscape Server software programs (World Wide Web or Netscape Messenging Server you should not install IIS at this point).

If you are not sure what you want to do, you can skip this step for now and still have the option to install IIS later.

The Network Interface Card

Normally the server you install NT on will have a network card (Network Interface Card or NIC). You can have NT Server Setup auto-detect your network card by clicking Start Search.

After Setup detects a card, click Next to confirm that this is the correct card.

Network Transport Protocols

A Transport Protocol is a rule that computers follow when exchanging packets of information on a network. There are many different Transport Protocols in use. If two computers are attempting to communicate the must both understand the same protocol.

There are four common protocols for NT

It this point I recommend that you only select TCP/IP for installation. If you know that you need NetBEUI you should also select that now.

You can also install NWLink and AppleTalk at this time if you want, but additional steps are required to support Novell and Mac clients. So if you need to support these clients you should hold off and perform all of the steps needed at the same time after the installation. The advantage to doing it later is that you will better understand the dependences and relationship of the client services to the protocols.

In the early releases of NT Server 4.0 the default protocols were NWLink and TCP/IP. In more recent copies of NT Server 4 the only default protocol is TCP/IP.

To continue the installation process make sure that only the correct protocols are selected and click Next

Network Services

Windows NT network services enable the computer to make resources available on the network and also provide assist in the management of the network.

The five core networking services for NT server are:

Additional networking services include DNS, DHCP, TCP/IP Printing, Gateway services of NetWare, and Services for Mac.

You can install these additional services now if you want, but additional steps are required, that can not be completed at this time, so I would recommend installing these services after the installation is complete.

After selecting the desired network services, click Next to continue.

Network Settings

If you are using the IP network protocol you will need to enter the appropriate configuration settings for your network at this time.

When all of the information is correct click Continue


When the next screen appears click Next to accept the default network bindings.

Click Next to start the network.

Workgroup or Domain

Now you will be prompted for the name of your workgroup or Domain. Enter the name and press Next to continue. (If this is a PDC the domain will be created at this time.)

Click Finish to continue.

Phase 3: Finishing Setup

Date and Time

When prompted, in the Time Zone list, select the correct time zone for you location, confirm that the Date and Time options are correct, and then click Close.


Click OK to confirm the detected video adapter.

You must then press Test to test the settings for your video adapter. If this test passes you can click OK.

When prompted, click Restart Computer to restart your computer and complete the installation process.