A do-it-yourself guide for installing Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials By Mariette Knap do it yourself, installation This is a do-it-your-self guide for installing Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials on a new server. I assume that you have some experience installing a new operating system on a computer. It may even be a new installation of Windows on your home computer or laptop because the basics of installing Windows on a server is not much different. You need to understand the basic concepts of networking. If you have bought a new server from Dell or HP and you need to create a new array I suggest you read the manuals from those manufacturers. In this article we discuss how to install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials on a brand new server. This is a basic installation, we do not virtualize the server, we will do that in another article. In our setup we have used the DVD that was shipped with our brand new HP server but the server does not have a DVD drive so the first step was to create a bootable USB drive. I always use a tool called Rufus because it offers most flexibility. You can download that from here. Once that is done we are ready to go! 1. Install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Once you created your own USB stick with installation media on it we can continue. Plug in the USB pen drive in your new server and boot the server. If you are located outside of the English speaking part of the world and you install the English version but you need to type stuff like umlauts in German you will want to set ‘Keyboard or input method’ to “United States – International”. On the next screen click Install Now Enter your product key and click Next Accept the license terms and click Next Choose Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) Setup asks us what we want to do with the 500 GB drive array I have in my server. If you read this “System Requirements for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials” you will that Microsoft advices you to create a system disk that is minimal 60 GB but I always make it bigger, something like 100 GB. If you need change things after you have installed the server it is more work then making a wise decision now! Click on New. We all know that 1 GB = 1024 MB and because I want to have precisely 400 GB left for my data I put in the size box 102400 MB for my system drive. Click apply. Setup warns us that it will create more partitions so that windows works correctly. What setup does automatically can also be done done manually and if you want to know more about those partitions and what they are made for read “Configure UEFI or GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions by Using Windows PE and DiskPart”. Click OK to continue. In this example you see only 2 partitions and that is because the screenshots are made on a VMWare Workstation that is the host for my Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials installation. In real live there are more partitions made and it depends on the type of hardware you have. You see we have 400 GB left for our data partition. Click on that partition and choose ‘New’. Accept the default value and click Apply. You may wonder why we create the data partition now and not when setup has finished installing everything. The reason is simple. During the setup process Windows looks for bigger partitions beside the system partition and if it finds one it will move automatically all ‘user’ data and such to that partition. We will see that later when we are done but this is a good example of making choices can make life a little easier. Make sure you choose the 99,7 GB partition for your system drive and choose Next. If you have a quick machine this will take just a minute or 5… or longer. Enter a strong password and click Finish. Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to sign in. We have now reached the point that the Essentials part is going to be installed. Click Next Check the date and time and correct it if needed. Click Next Fill in your company name. The installer will use that for your internal domain name and the server name. You can change that if you wish. Click Next Choose a name for your administrator account and a password. Click Next. Choose ‘Use recommended settings’ and click Configure. Setup has started with the final installation of your server. This will take awhile and the server will be restarted several times. I choose to register the server later with Microsoft online services. Click Close 2. Update the server You may notice that the screen is now a bit wider that the good old 1024 x 768. With Windows 2012 Server and the new Server Manager the best resolution is something like 1366 x 768, that is a widescreen definition and specially for tools like Active Directory Administrative Center you really want the extra space! Now that the first part has been installed it is time to update the server. I always do that immediately after the initial installation has been completed. From your desktop start the Dashboard. Choose “Get updates for other Microsoft products”. Choose ‘Click to activate Windows Update’ Choose ‘Use Microsoft Update’ and click OK In the top menu of the ‘Windows Server Essentials Dashboard’ choose Settings Click Change/Install updates… Click Check for updates Windows Update is running… In my case there 67 updates available. Choose to click the updates. I choose the default and let Windows Updates decided what I should install. I might be necessary in some cases to check updates that aren’t check by default but that is outside of the scope of this article. Click Install Depending on the bandwidth you have available this may take awhile. Eventually Windows Update will start installing the updates. When everything is installed, click We are done and back. Choose Ctrl-Alt-Delete to login. You may want to run Windows Update several times to see if there are more updates to install. Sometimes that is needed to get the server up-to-date with the latest updates.