Windows Server Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing Microsoft Windows Server and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

  • #

    Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification

    Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification is the name of a suite of entry-level certifications offered by Microsoft that signify fundamental technology knowledge in those who earn it.

  • A

    AccessEnum

    AccessEnum is a free Sysinternals tool that offers administrators a view of the full file system and registry security settings to ensure that users have appropriate permissions to access files and directories.

  • active directory

    Active Directory (AD) is Microsoft's proprietary directory service.

  • Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS)

    Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) is an Active Directory tool that lets administrators customize services in order to issue and manage public key certificates.

  • Active Directory domain (AD domain)

    An Active Directory domain is a collection of objects within a Microsoft Active Directory network. An object can be a single user or a group or it can be a hardware component, such as a computer or printer.

  • Active Directory forest (AD forest)

    An Active Directory forest is the highest level of organization within Active Directory.

  • Active Directory functional levels

    Active Directory functional levels are controls that specify which advanced Active Directory domain features can be used in an enterprise domain. The enterprise domain is usually comprised of domain controllers that run on different versions of the Windows Server operating system.

  • Active Directory tree

    An Active Directory (AD) tree is a collection of domains within a Microsoft Active Directory network.

  • Azure DevOps (formerly Visual Studio Team Services)

    Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) -- rebranded as Azure DevOps in 2018 -- is an Azure cloud-hosted extension of Microsoft's Team Foundation Server (TFS) -- now called Azure DvOps -- that assist development teams with special tools and services for software programmers, analysts and testers as well as IT project or team managers.

  • B

    backup domain controller (Windows NT)

    A backup domain controller (BDC) is a role a Windows NT computer takes on to help manage access to network resources.

  • batch file

    A batch file is a script file that stores commands to be executed in a serial order.

  • blue screen of death (BSOD)

    Officially called the stop screen, or stop error, the blue screen of death (BSOD) is a most unwanted error, second only to malware or ransomware in indicating that a user is in for a very bad day.

  • boot

    To boot (as a verb; also "to boot up") a computer is to load an operating system into the computer's main memory or random access memory (RAM).

  • boot partition

    A boot partition is a disk partition responsible for holding Windows system files when booting up Windows.

  • built-in administrator account

    In the Windows operating system, the built-in administrator account -- the first account created when the OS was installed -- has the highest permissions of any profile on the computer system.

  • C

    C

    C is a structured, procedural programming language that has been widely used both for operating systems and applications and that has had a wide following in the academic community.

  • canonical name (CNAME)

    A canonical name (CNAME) is a type of Domain Name System (DNS) database record that indicates that a domain name is the nickname or alias for another domain name.

  • carbon copy (cc)

    In e-mail, a carbon copy (abbreviated "cc," and sometimes "fcc" for "first carbon copy") is a copy of a note sent to an addressee other than the main addressee.

  • catastrophic failure

    Catastrophic failure is a complete, sudden, often unexpected breakdown in a machine, electronic system, computer or network. This may occur as a result of a hardware event such as a disk drive crash, memory chip failure or surge on the power line... (Continued)

  • CHKDSK (check disk)

    CHKDSK (pronounced check disk) is a command that displays a status report for a volume, such as a disk, and can correct any errors found in that volume.

  • Client Access Server (CAS)

    The Client Access Server (CAS) is a server role that handles all client connections to Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange 2013.

  • client-server network

    A client-server network is a communications model in which multiple client programs share the services of a common server program.

  • clock cycle

    In a computer, the clock cycle is the time between two adjacent pulses of the oscillator that sets the tempo of the computer processor.

  • cluster name object (CNO)

    A cluster name object (CNO) is an Active Directory computer object linked with the network resource Cluster Name.

  • CNAME

    A CNAME specifies an alias or nickname for a canonical name record in a domain name system (DNS) database. (Continued...)

  • cold/warm/hot server

    In the backup and recovery of a computer server, a cold server is a backup server whose purpose is solely to be there in case the main server is lost.

  • command

    In computers, a command is a specific order from a user to the computer's operating system or to an application to perform a service, such as "Show me all my files" or "Run this program for me.

  • command interpreter

    A command interpreter is the part of a computer operating system that understands and executes commands that are entered interactively by a human being or from a program.

  • command-line interface (CLI)

    A command-line interface (CLI) is a text-based user interface (UI) used to run programs, manage computer files and interact with the computer.

  • Component Object Model (COM)

    Component Object Model (COM) is Microsoft's framework for developing and supporting program component objects.

  • computer

    A computer is a device that accepts information (in the form of digitalized data) and manipulates it for some result based on a program, software, or sequence of instructions on how the data is to be processed.

  • configuration drift

    Configuration drift occurs naturally in data center environments when changes to software and hardware are not recorded or tracked in a comprehensive and systematic fashion.

  • CSV (Cluster Shared Volumes)

    CSV (Cluster Shared Volumes) is a feature in Windows Server in which shared disks are concurrently accessible to all nodes within a failover cluster.

  • Ctrl-Alt-Delete

    On a personal computer with the Microsoft Windows operating system, Control+Alt+Delete is the combination of the Ctrl key, the Alt key, and Del key that a user can press at the same time to terminate an application task or to reboot the operating system.

  • D

    DCPromo (Domain Controller Promoter)

    DCPromo (Domain Controller Promoter) is a tool in Active Directory that installs and removes Active Directory Domain Services and promotes domain controllers.

  • defragmentation

    Defragmentation is the process of locating the noncontiguous fragments of data into which a computer file may be divided as it is stored on a hard disk, and rearranging the fragments and restoring them into fewer fragments or into the whole file.

  • DirectAccess

    DirectAccess is a feature introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 that uses automated IPv6 and IPSec tunnels to allow remote users to access private network resources whenever they are connected to the Internet.

  • directory

    A directory is, in general, an approach to organizing information, the most familiar example being a telephone directory.

  • Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM)

    Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) is a safe mode boot option for Windows Server domain controllers.

  • DirectX

    DirectX is an application program interface (API) for creating and managing graphic images and multimedia effects in applications such as games or active Web pages that will run in Microsoft's Windows operating systems.

  • DirSync (Windows Azure Active Directory Sync)

    DirSync (Directory Synchronization) is a tool for making copies of a local directory in a hybrid cloud deployment of Microsoft Exchange.

  • Diskpart (Disk Partition Utility)

    Diskpart is a command-line utility used to manipulate disk partitions in all versions of Windows and Windows Server beginning with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

  • Distributed File System Replication (DFSR)

    Distributed File System Replication (DFSR) is a replication engine that organizations can use to synchronize folders for servers on network connections that have a limited bandwidth.

  • Dolly (Digital Dolly)

    Dolly, also called Digital Dolly, is a program that can quickly clone (copy) drives to drives, drives to files, files to drives, or files to files. Dolly can clone entire disk partitions in block-wise fashion. Dolly can be used to clone the operating system configuration of a computer to numerous others.

  • domain controller

    A domain controller is a type of server that processes requests for authentication from users within a computer domain.

  • dynamic link library (DLL)

    A dynamic link library (DLL) is a collection of small programs that larger programs can load when needed to complete specific tasks.

  • Dynamic Quorum

    Dynamic Quorum is the ability of a cluster to recalculate a quorum as it maintains a working cluster.

  • E

    enhancement

    In an information technology product, an enhancement is a noteworthy improvement to the product as part of a new version of it.

  • enterprise

    In the computer industry, an enterprise is an organization that uses computers.

  • Exchange Administration Center (EAC)

    The Exchange Administration Center (EAC) is a Web-based management console for managing Exchange Server 2013 environments.

  • Exchange Autodiscover service

    The Exchange Autodiscover service helps Exchange administrators set up and sustain server settings for computers that run Microsoft Outlook, as well as settings for supported mobile devices.

  • Exchange Management Console (EMC)

    The Exchange Management Console (EMC), introduced by Microsoft in 2007, is an administrative tool with a graphical user interface (GUI) that's used to manage the components and resources of Microsoft Exchange Server.

  • Exchange Online

    Exchange Online is the hosted version of Microsoft's Exchange Server messaging platform that organizations can obtain as a stand-alone service or via an Office 365 subscription.

  • Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer (ExRCA)

    The Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer (ExRCA) is a Web-based tool that helps Exchange administrators identify and troubleshoot connectivity issues in their deployments.

  • Exchange staged migration

    The staged Exchange migration process transfers data and mailboxes from one Exchange server to another, either on-premises or in the cloud.

  • Exchange Web Services (EWS)

    Exchange Web Services (EWS) is an application program interface (API) that allows programmers to access Exchange items such as calendars, contacts and email in Exchange Server 2007 and higher.

  • F

    failover cluster

    A failover cluster is a group of servers that work together to maintain high availability of applications and services.

  • File Server Resource Manager (FSRM)

    File Server Resource Manager is a features set in the File and Storage Services server role that helps admins classify and manage stored data in file servers for data management.

  • fragmentation

    In some operating system's file systems, a data file over a certain size is stored in several "chunks" or fragments rather than in a single contiguous sequence of bits in one place on the storage medium, a process that is called fragmentation.

  • G

    general protection fault (GPF)

    General protection fault (GPF, sometimes seen as general protection error) the name of an error caused when an application program (for example, Microsoft Word or the Netscape Web browser) tries to access storage that is not designated for its use.

  • geo-replication

    Geo-replication is a type of data storage replication in which the same data is stored on servers in multiple geographic locations.

  • global catalog (Active Directory)

    A global catalog is a data storage source containing partial representations of objects found in a multidomain Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS) forest.

  • gpresult

    Gpresult is a command-line tool that shows the RSoP (Resultant Set of Policy) for a user or computer based on applied Group Policy settings.

  • Group Policy

    Group Policy is a hierarchical infrastructure that allows a network administrator in charge of Microsoft's Active Directory to implement specific configurations for users and computers. Group policy is primarily a security tool, and can be used to apply security settings to users and computers.

  • Group Policy Editor (GP Editor)

    Group Policy Editor is a tool that helps administrators manage policy settings in Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins.

  • Group Policy Management Console

    The Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) is an interface that enables Active Directory administrators to manage Group Policy Objects (GPOs) from one console. 

  • Group Policy Object (GPO)

    Microsoft’s Group Policy Object (GPO) is a collection of Group Policy settings that defines what a system will look like and how it will behave for a defined group of users.

  • Group Policy Preferences

    Group Policy Preferences are a set of extensions, introduced in Windows Server 2008, that increase the functionality of Group Policy Objects.

  • GUID (global unique identifier)

    A GUID (globally unique identifier) is a 128-bit text string that represents an identification (ID).

  • H

    hotfix

    A hotfix is code (sometimes called a patch) that fixes a bug in a product.

  • I

    icacls

    icacls is a command-line utility that can be used to modify NTFS file system permissions in Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

  • Internet Information Services (IIS)

    Internet Information Services (IIS) is a flexible, general-purpose web server from Microsoft that runs on Windows systems to serve requested HTML pages or files.

  • ISA (Industry Standard Architecture)

    ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) is a standard bus (computer interconnection) architecture that was associated with the IBM AT motherboard.

  • iSCSI target (Internet Small Computer System Interface target)

    ISCSI target is a storage option in an Internet Small Computer System Interface server that manages connections between servers that need access to the targets and the iSCSI storage subsystem in a storage area network.

  • iSCSI Target Server

    ISCSI Target Server is a server that lets administrators boot multiple computers to a network from a single operating system image in a central location.

  • J

    Just Enough Administration (JEA)

    Just Enough Administration (JEA) is a PowerShell toolkit designed to help an organization reduce risk by restricting IT administrative rights.

  • L

    Linux Secure Boot

    Linux Secure Boot is a feature in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 that allows some Linux distributions to boot under Hyper-V as Generation 2 virtual machines.

  • Local Group Policy Editor

    Local Group Policy Editor is a user interface that allows all Local Group Policy objects and their settings to be managed in one place.

  • M

    Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

    Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) is a server role in Active Directory that allows admins to manage and store information about resources from a network, as well as application data, in a distributed database.

  • MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional)

    An MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) is a credential that proves that an individual has a complete set of skills required to perform a particular IT job role, such as enterprise or virtualization administrator.

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft is the largest vendor of computer software in the world.

  • Microsoft Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT)

    The Microsoft Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) is a tool used to move Active Directory objects from one Windows Server Active Directory domain or forest to another.

  • Microsoft Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD Rights Management Services)

    Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) is a security tool that provides a safeguard to prevent unauthorized access to data.

  • Microsoft AzMan (Microsoft Authorization Manager)

    Microsoft AzMan (Authorization Manager) is a role-based access and security framework for .NET applications.

  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL)

    Microsoft Azure Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL) is a tool in the .NET framework that lets client applications developers authenticate users to an on-premises Active Directory deployment or to the cloud.

  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory Connect (Microsoft Azure AD Connect)

    Microsoft Azure Active Directory Connect (Microsoft Azure AD Connect) is a tool for connecting on-premises identity infrastructure to Microsoft Azure Active Directory.

  • Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

    Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute is a service that provides a private connection between an organization's on-premises infrastructure and Microsoft Azure data centers.

  • Microsoft Azure File Service

    Microsoft Azure File Service is a service that allows Windows Server admins to access SMB shares in the Azure cloud by setting up file shares in the Azure management console.

  • Microsoft Azure Key Vault

    Microsoft Azure Key Vault is a cloud-hosted management service that allows users to encrypt keys and small secrets like passwords or answers to security questions that are used in their cloud applications and services.

  • Microsoft Azure Resource Manager

    Microsoft Azure Resource Manager (ARM) is a management framework that allows administrators to deploy, manage and monitor Azure resources.

  • Microsoft Azure Stack

    Microsoft Azure Stack is an integrated platform of hardware and software that delivers Microsoft Azure public cloud services in a local data center to let organizations construct hybrid clouds.

  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)

    An MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) is someone who has passed exams about the Microsoft Windows NT operating system, related desktop systems, networking, and Microsoft's BackOffice server products.

  • Microsoft Cloud Witness

    Microsoft Cloud Witness is a high availability feature for failover clusters that uses storage in the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to ensure clusters continue to function if there is a site outage.

  • Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS)

    Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) is a service that provides high availability (HA) for applications such as databases, messaging and file and print services.

  • Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA)

    The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) is a diagnostics tool for troubleshooting and testing connectivity to several Microsoft messaging products from a client machine on an organization's network.

  • Microsoft Dynamic Access Control (DAC)

    Microsoft Dynamic Access Control (DAC) is a data governance tool in Windows Server 2012 that lets admins control the permission of access settings in an organization.

  • Microsoft Exchange Control Panel

    The Exchange Control Panel (ECP) is a Web-based management interface introduced in Exchange Server 2010.

  • Microsoft Exchange Global Address List (GAL)

    The Microsoft Exchange Global Address List is a list of all users and their respective email addresses within an Exchange Server organization that uses Microsoft Outlook for email.

  • Microsoft Exchange In-Place eDiscovery

    Microsoft Exchange In-Place eDiscovery is an administrative feature to perform legal discovery searches for relevant content in mailboxes.

  • Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication Service (MRS)

    The Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication Service (MRS) is a feature that handles mailbox import, export, migration and restoration requests on Exchange Server.

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