Simple Solutions

The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book brings complex topics into focus.

There are few computer books I consider mandatory reading for new administrators as well as experienced administrators and support staff. The Windows 2000/XP Answer Book: A Complete Resource from the Desktop to the Enterprise definitely falls into this category.

This monumental book is unique because it covers a great range of topics and is organized around the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) found at the author's (John Savill) Web site. Each chapter covers a specific area of networking, emphasizing Windows 2000/XP, but including some NT coverage. Each chapter is subdivided into one of the 1,500-plus FAQs, which makes the book easy to read and follow.

The book covers the common areas of networking, as well as some that are less popular. It starts off with a brief introduction to previous versions of NT and then moves on to the specifics of the installation, service packs, registry and recovery of Win2K and XP operating systems. Other chapters address Active Directory, DFS, DNS, Group Policy, performance, RAID, RAS and RRAS, Terminal Services, TCP/IP and so on. The largest section covers system configuration. This chapter, when used in conjunction with the chapters devoted to user configuration and desktop environments, will assist even seasoned administrators in setting up and configuring appropriate settings for users and networks.

There are several topics worth mentioning, as the FAQs they cover simply don't fit into a specific chapter or are of a more general or esoteric nature and might have easily been left out altogether. These sections include Windows Scripting Host, batch files and command prompt. One common area of networking that can only be learned from experience is problem-solving. The book provides a section covering this topic that will prove invaluable to all networking professionals. One of the newer proxy server/firewall security products covered is Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000. This chapter covers the basics of installation, configuration and troubleshooting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Throughout, there are clear and concise instructions on how to install, create and modify elements of all three covered operating systems. I have only two criticisms. The first is the sheer scope and size of this book. There's so much information that, at times, it can be daunting to find the specific item you require. Including a searchable copy of this book on a CD would have been invaluable. Second, I was disappointed in the sections covering Group Policy and security. I felt there should have been more coverage of these important subjects. These are, however, only minor quibbles to this otherwise outstanding effort.

About the Author

Randy Muller, MCSE, MCT, MCSA, is mainly teaches Windows 2000 classes. He has worked with Windows NT and Windows 2000 in Germany, Australia and the United States.

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