Windows Server 2008 Configuration Check List

window server 2008

This is the first time that I actually come into deep on Microsoft Window Server 2008 RS Enterprise Edition setup after the fresh installation done. There are about 10 new machines that I need to configure with, so initially I plan to come out with my own checklist, but finally manage to found out the following check list which help me to save up my time.

The list focuses on windows server 2008 as its relatively new but can to some extent apply to older windows 2003 servers. The following checklist is very simple and you can always use this as your guideline to kick start your configuration after the fresh installation of Window Server 2008.

Network Connections

  • Set IP
  • Subnet Mask
  • Gateway
  • DNS

System Properties

  • Change computer name and description
  • Performance – Set visual effects to “Adjust for best performance”
  • Remote – Enable Remote Desktop

Date and Time

  • Check servers date and time zone.

Windows Update

  • Download and install the latest windows updates
  • Configure automatic updates
  • Download and install any optional windows update software.
  • e.g. .Net Framework 3.5 SP1

Server Manager

  • Check “Do not show me this console at logon”
  • Configure IE ESC – Turn off IE Enhanced Security Configuration

Taskbar properties

  • Lock the taskbar – Enable/Disable
  • Task buttons – Always combine or Never combine on the taskbar
  • Notification area – Select which icons and notifications appear in the taskbar. Note: Notification icons on the desktop can have fairly expensive refreshing mechanisms. Generally, it is best to disable unnecessary notification.

Start Menu Properties

  • Customize how links, icons, and menus look/behave

Screen Resolution

  • Set your preferred screen resolution

Screen Saver

  • Normally set to blank with “On resume, display logon screen” checked.
  • If the server is a virtual machine you might want to disable the screen saver entirely to save some CPU resources. For further detail refer to the VMware KB articles Disabling the Windows logon screen saver


  • Disable sounds on the server. Select the “no sounds” scheme in the control panel. Alternatively, disable the sound card completely in the bios.

Desktop Icon settings

  • Configure which icons are shown on the desktop. Depending on which version of Windows 2008 your using this setting can be hard to find. Just type “desktop icon” in the start menu search box and you should see “show or hide common icons on the desktop“.

Explorer Folder Options

  • Some common configurations:
    • Always show menus – checked
    • Display file size information in folder tips – unchecked
    • Show hidden files – checked
    • Hide empty drives – unchecked
    • Hide extensions for known files types – unchecked
    • Hide protected operating system files – unchecked
    • Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items – unchecked
    • Show preview handlers in preview pane – unchecked
    • Use sharing wizard – unchecked
  • Click “Apply to folders” when finished
  • The desktop.ini file on the desktop can be deleted

Internet Options

  • Launch IE and configure first time run options
  • Set Home Page – set to blank or other
  • Advanced – Enable page transitions – uncheckedAdvanced – Reuse windows for launching shortcuts – unchecked
  • Advanced – Show friendly HTTP error messages – unchecked

Drive Indexing

  • Open the properties of the C Drive and uncheck “Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties
  • When prompted apply changes to the root of the drive only and not to subfolders

Remote desktop sessions host configuration

  • Run tsconfig from a command prompt (or find it in start-admin tools-remote desktop services menu) to configure the default options for all remote desktop connections to the server. You can mandate RDP client settings for colour depth, drive, printer and com port redirections etc..

Power Plan

  • Microsoft recommends leaving the power plan on balanced but this is something you will have to decide based on your server’s role and application requirements.
  • An extract from Microsoft’s Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows 2008
    • “The default power plan for Windows Server 2008 is Balanced. This plan is optimized for maximum power efficiency; it matches computational capacity to computational demand by dynamically reducing or increasing CPU performance as workload changes. This approach keeps performance high while saving power whenever possible. For most scenarios, Balanced delivers excellent power efficiency with minimal effect on performance. Microsoft highly recommends using the default Balanced power plan, if possible.”


  • To disable hibernation and delete the large hiberfil.sys file from the C drive open a command prompt as admin and type: powercfg -hibernate off


  • Microsoft recommends placing the pagefile and operating system files on separate physical disk drives. Place the pagefile on a drive that is not fault-tolerant. Note that, if the disk dies, a system crash is highly possible. If you place the pagefile on a fault-tolerant drive, remember that some fault-tolerant systems experience slow data writes because they write data to multiple locations.


Last but not least most admin like to defrag the C Drive after they’ve finished optimizing everything. Before running a defrag you might like to set the paging file to “no paging file” and reboot your server. After the defrag is complete you can re-enable the paging file and restart. This will allow for a full defrag of the C drive and the creation of a nice fresh pagefile on reboot.

This list is by no means a complete list of all the configuration and performance optimizations possible for Windows 2008. Please feel free to share if you have any idea about the configuration or anything that can make the server perform better and more secure

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