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Small Business Server 2003 - Part 2

We’ll tell you about some of the features in Small Business Server 2003 that we really like and which, in some cases, don’t get the attention that they deserve.


There are plenty of things that you can do with Windows Server 2003 and the other technologies in Small Business Server 2003. We’re not going to even try listing them all here – Microsoft marketing has done that in spades starting here and there’s an online demo here.

Instead we’ll tell you about some of the features that we really like and which, in some cases don’t get the attention that they deserve.

For more information – read part 1.


Each user on a Windows Server 2003 network can be linked to the server. All the users’ files and settings are stored on the server and copied to the computer when they login. All that is cached on the computer so it can still work if the network connection is temporarily broken.

This makes switching computers much easier. You just logoff all users from the old computer, making sure everything is synchronized to the server. Install the new computer, have it join the domain then login as a user – all the settings, files and even software is copied off the server like magic.

Yes, even software. SBS can ‘push’ Outlook 2003 from the server and install it on individual computers. You can put other programs on the server and have them copied to each client computer, though for most small businesses it’s probably easier just to install separately as required. Updates and patches can also be automatically sent from the server, though again, that’s a process probably better suited to much larger companies.

Since all the company documents, user settings etc are on the server you can arrange backups much more easily. SBS will prompt you in various ways to backup all necessary files and data on a regular basis. This can be done at any time and doesn’t require that the individual computers on the network to be running.


Having all those documents copied to the server also lets you take advantage of Shadow Copy feature. Shadow Copies are snapshots of the stored documents at earlier points in time. You can retrieve a version of the file you saved at some earlier time, exactly when depends on the Shadow Copy settings on the server.

Shadow Copy is one of those features that seems pointless until you really need to grab that old document, and then it’s a lifesaver. It does use up disk space on the server and is one more reason to make sure that your server has plenty of GB not only for documents but also for shadow copies, backups etc.


SBS gives you the capability, with the right licenses, to operate remote desktops. Remote Desktops or Terminal Services were all the rage a few years ago, mostly for larger companies but the technology is now available in SBS and Windows Server 2003. Terminal Services for multiple users is recommended on a separate server to the main SBS 2003 computer but can be merged onto the one machine if you’re careful.

If you’ve used the remote assistance feature in Windows XP then you’re familiar with terminal services. The screen display on one computer (the host) is transmitted to the screen on another computer (the client). The screen image can be sent over a network, modem or the Internet.

With the right licensing users can connect to a server and run programs like Outlook, Word etc just as if they were on the computer that they are typing on. The client computer doesn’t have to be very powerful, just enough to display the remote screen image and send back keystrokes and mouse clicks. All the processing and hard work is done on the server, and this means that you can use older computers as terminal clients. For small businesses this might be a good idea for daily use but Terminal Services are a useful fall-back position if the normal computers won’t work. Users can also login remotely from home or on the road and work at a powerful computer.

Terminal Services is also great for server maintenance, as the administrator or service personnel can login from anywhere in the world to check the system and make fixes. This is much faster and considerably cheaper than having your support person come to the premises.


Your mother taught you that it’s good to share and SBS makes it easier to do that.

Documents can be shared with commonly available file folders.

Documents, messages, calendars, contact lists and conversations can also be shared using Public Folders in Exchange Server. Think of the folders you have in Outlook, except these folders can be seen by other people in your company.

Also with Exchange Server you can allow other selected users access to your folders. For example an assistant can see the Calendar and Inbox of his/her ‘boss’ in order to handle messages, make appointments, check the diary etc. Nominated delegates can reply to messages addressed to another person as if they were them – handy when someone is away.

Naturally all this is controlled by security and explicit permissions for folders and mailboxes, to the extent that working out access issues can give you a headache.


Sharepoint is a web site for workers in a company so that they can work together on a project. There can be discussions, To Do lists, shared files and a lot more stored on a Sharepoint site or sub-site. It’s mainly intended for cooperating on projects but can also be used for managing social events, sports or any other group activity within a company.

All of this can be useful for sharing documents with staff, however getting people to use Sharepoint can be more of a challenge than getting it working! But once people are used to it, it’s a wonderful boon to productivity.


Exchange Server’s primary method of access is Outlook but it doesn’t have to be. There’s POP support so you can connect using also any email client – though you won’t get all the features you’d get with Outlook.

You can also access mailboxes, calendars, contacts and public folders using any web browser. Outlook Web Access (OWA) brings up a web page that looks similar to Outlook and has most of the functionality. OWA can be used to quickly check email when away from your desk but still in the office, checking in from home and, of course, logging in from almost any web terminal or computer anywhere in the world.

OMA (Outlook Mobile Access) is the baby version of OWA designed for small screen PDA’s like the Pocket PC’s but can be used instead of OWA to check email over very slow Internet links. Pocket PC’s can communicate directly with SBS machines to grab email etc without a desktop computer to do most of the work. Finally there’s WAP support so you can check your Exchange Server account from a mobile phone.


One reason some small businesses have avoided Exchange Server for email is that they would have to totally overhaul their email system. Exchange Server is intended as a complete mail host with incoming messages for an entire domain being directly sent to the software – which assumes the computer is online 24/7. You have to arrange your email to be directly relayed instead of going to POP mailboxes, and this change can be difficult, confusing and expensive. Many ISP’s change a hefty premium for SMTP relay and it’s often cheaper to stay with normal POP accounts that are usually part of your Internet connection fee.

Small Business Server 2003 comes with a POP3 Connector which lets you retain your existing POP3 mailboxes and import messages into Exchange Server. The connector checks for new mail on a schedule and can distribute the email to one Exchange Server mailbox or among many mailboxes according to the incoming address.

The POP3 connector is not supplied with the standard Exchange Server 2003, only SBS and that leads to a major nuisance.


Since SBS 2003 includes Exchange Server 2003, that means that you can use the new anti-spam system that comes with Exchange Server 2003 SP1 – well yes and no.

You can and probably should install Exchange Server Service Pack 1 onto SBS 2003. Once that’s done you can then activate the Intelligent Messaging Filter component, but it only works with incoming email via the SMTP system. For reasons passing understanding or sense, the POP3 mail connector bypasses the spam filter! So any incoming mail via the POP connector doesn’t get spam filtered at the server level, though it still can be checked by an Outlook 2003 Junk mail filter on the desktop.

This is a major and, we think, unforgivable omission. Doubtless there’s some technical jargon to explain why this was done, but the reality is that the Exchange Server team ‘forgot’ about the POP3 connector until it was too late. SBS is the poor and preferably forgotten cousin as far as the Exchange Server team is concerned.

If you really want to use the spam filtering at the server then you’ll have to use a third-party POP connector to grab email then relay it to the SBS machine via SMTP. This takes some doing but is possible. Before buying a connector make sure it is compatible with the Intelligent Messaging Filter. We’ve been using VPOP3 from for many years and while it is not directly intended as an Exchange Server connector, it does a good job in that role. Aside: if you don’t want all the cost and finesse of Exchange Server then VPOP can provide multiple POP mailboxes for your company or family. Paul Smith provides excellent support too.

There’ll be more on SBS in the next issue of Office Watch.


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