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Installing Windows Server 2003

written by: Jesma•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 12/10/2009

Need help installing Windows Server 2003, or just the confidence of knowing you're doing it right the first time? This step by step guide walks you through how to install Windows 2003 Server.

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    Server 2003 Installation - Overview

    Installing Windows Server 2003 is a lot like installing any other Windows Operating System, but there are some important differences you should be aware of before attempting the installation process. Of course, this step by step server 2003 installation guide assumes that you are running the correct hardware configuration for whichever server edition you are running, along with a licensed version on disk. We'll walk you through each phase of Server 2003 installation and offer valuable tips to make sure the install goes easily and smoothly. Here we start with the basics of how to install Windows 2003 Server.

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    Text Phase of Setup

    1. Insert Windows Server 2003 installation disk into CD ROM and reboot the computer. You need to boot to the CD ROM drive, and this may involve reconfiguring the BIOS to boot to CD ROM first. When prompted, press a key to continue booting from the CD.

    2. In the next phase, a message appears indicating that Setup is reviewing your computer's hardware and configuration. Then, the Windows Setup screen appears.

    3. This is that point at which if your server requires special mass storage drivers (like SAS or SCSI), you need to press F6 and provide the appropriate drivers.

    4. You will be prompted to press F2 to perform Automated System Recovery (ASR). Since we're installing a fresh version of Windows Server 2003, and not repairing an installation, don't press F2, and let Setup continue.

    5. A gray status bar at the bottom of the screen tracks the progress of files loading. During this time, the operating system kernel and hardware drivers are loaded, and a basic I/O configuration is established in order to continue installation. After a little bit, the Welcome to Windows Setup page appears.

    6. Read the Welcome message then press Enter to continue.

    7. The next page is the License Agreement. To accept the EULA press F8.

    8. The next screen displays the available disk drives, partitions, and unpartitioned space. This is where you create and/or delete partitions. If you select an unpartitioned space it will allow you to create a new partition using all of that space. To create a specifically sized partition, highlight the unpartitioned space and press "C". Specify the size of the partition you want to create, and press Enter.

    9. The screen that appears allows you to choose the file system you want to format the partition with. Select to format it using the NTFS file system. The formatting process can take quite some time, depending on the size of the partition. After that, the computer will display a 15 second count down until it reboots into the graphical user interface phase of the installation process.

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    Graphical Phase of Setup

    1. Graphical setup starts with a long wait, during which time the screen indicates that Collecting Information, Dynamic Update, and Preparing Installation have all been completed. It offers a rough time estimate until completion.

    2. After some time, you'll be prompted to select your region and language.

    3. On the next screen, input your Name and Organization and press Next.

    4. Input your product key (not case sensitive), and press Next.

    5. Select the licensing mode appropriate for your installation and the number of licenses that you own. Click Next.

    6. On the next screen, input the computer (server) name of your choice. Most businesses will use names that either number the server, or describe its role on the network. For the Administrator Password, use a complex password (containing lower and upper case letters, special characters, and numbers) of at least 7 characters. Click Next.

    7. Select Date and Time settings, including time zone and daylight savings. Click Next.

    8. After a few more moments, Network Settings will be offered. Typical Settings installs Client for Microsoft Networks, File and Printer Sharing, TCP/IP, and configures the server as a DHCP client. Use Custom Settings if you need to configure a static IP address or other TCP/IP settings. Alternatively, you can do this post-installation. Click Next.

    9. If your server is going to be part of a workgroup, input a workgroup name of your choice. If it is going to be part of a domain, you may select the lower option and enter the domain name. If you will be using this server as a domain controller, leave workgroup selected. Promoting the server to Domain Controller will be done post-installation. Click Next.

    10. Installation continues, with setup installing and configuring the remaining operating system files, Start menu items, registering components, and saving settings. After removing temporary files, the system will reboot and automatically load the Welcome to Windows dialogue box. Congratulations - installation is finished!

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