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Year of PowerShell? The best Windows Server tips of 2012 for admins

We compiled our most popular Windows Server tips from this year and included Windows Server 2012 with its new and improved features.

All of 2012 will be remembered as the year Microsoft made a move toward major change in its products, and the release of Windows Server 2012 was no exception. Touted by Microsoft as the "Cloud OS," Windows Server 2012 is filled with new features and capabilities that ease cloud computing and give more options to admins.

We compiled our top Windows Server tips from this year. Note the significance of PowerShell over the last year, as readers clicked to find out more about this emerging need-to-know topic. Other highlights include the improved features in Windows Server 2012, like clustering and live storage migration.

January: System Center Orchestrator's Runbook Automation features

Improved Runbook automation in Windows Server 2012 (formerly Windows Server 8) meant that admins would finally see Microsoft follow through on its promise to build management functionality into the shell. This tip looks at how PowerShell v3 fits in with Windows Server 8 and System Center Orchestrator.

February: Evaluating Microsoft's tool for profiling process performance data

Microsoft's internal performance monitoring tool was made available to the public in early 2012, which gave the public a tool the company had been using for years. PerfView, which is used to collect ETW data and evaluate an application's efficiency, shows how functions in the OS are executing and points to potential performance problems.

March: Before GA, a beta for Windows Server 2012

A second preview of this version of Windows Server was released this month, and our expert looked at some of the features in the beta, including upgrades in SMB, Dynamic Access Control and effective access.

April: The best features of PowerShell v3

The latest version of PowerShell packs a powerful punch with all of its improvements and features. Our expert breaks down the five best features PowerShell v3 has to offer, including Workflow, better remoting and scheduled jobs.

May: Workflow, a PowerShell game changer

Workflow, a set of PowerShell tasks that must be completed in a specific order, can be configured to do whatever you want. The only work you have to do is write the commands to complete the tasks you want performed.

June: Install WSUS updates immediately with Windows PowerShell

Our expert says one little script in PowerShell has the power to change your life. It's what he calls the "big red button." Learn how to immediately install WSUS updates and get back hours of your life.

July: Windows Server 2012 features Active Directory cloud deployments

Windows Server 2012 was touted by Microsoft as the "Cloud OS," and this tip takes a close look at that claim by evaluating the features that make on- and off-premises domain controller deployment easier for admins.

August: The upgrade question for Windows Server 2012

With the release of Windows Server 2012 just around the corner in August, admins were weighing the pros and cons of upgrading to the latest Windows Server. Our expert explains in which situations admins will want to upgrade right away as well as those where admins will want to wait or bypass the upgrade altogether.

September: DCPromo in Active Directory over the years

Since it made its first appearance in Windows Server 2000, DCPromo has gone through many changes. These changes involve manual DC demotion, Install From Media and mass DC deployments. But even with these changes, some things stayed the same. This tip covers it all.

October: Checking out clustering enhancements in Windows Server 2012

In previous versions of Windows Server, clustering was a headache with its dependencies and limitations. But in Windows Server 2012, those dependencies and limitations were removed. Admins can expect the absence of complicated scripts and support for read-only domain controllers.

November: Achieving high availability with shared-nothing live migration

In Windows Server 2012, admins have a choice of using shared-nothing live migration, which means migrating a virtual machine between hosts with internal disks, as well as local storage. This tip covers the basics of what admins should expect if they make the move to it, especially the tradeoffs.

December: DirectAccess setup offers admins an alternative to VPN

DirectAccess, which was first introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 (and Windows 7), didn't catch on because of its reputation of being too complicated to work with. But in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, the process to set up DirectAccess was eased and finally made DirectAccess a legitimate alternative to VPN.

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