Host system management in Windows


  • To explore some of the aspects of Host System Management as outlined in class
  • To gain practical experience at managing basic aspects of a networked computer, in particular, time syncronisation, logging and service management in Windows.


  1. Boot your PC in Windows XP and login as Supervisor. Your tutor will provide the password.
  2. DOCUMENTATION: In addition to the Help menu available in most application windows, there is a rich set of on-line and searchable documentation through the use of the Help and Support option in the Start menu. Take a moment now to look at this. Try a search for something of interest (eg DHCP, Hostname or Network Configuration). In the Command window of Batch script environment, there is also a command called HELP that can be used to get information. This gives detailed information about commands features commonly used in batch files and scripts. Try the command HELP to get a list and HELP CMD to see a description of the CMD.EXE command interpreter program. Most commands also have a help option. Try HELP /? to see how this works. Also, many of the complex commands have their own help command; NET HELP and NETSH HELP are two good examples of this.
  3. HOSTNAME: Find the hostname for your computer. Using the mouse, point at the MyComputer icon, right-click and then select Properties. From the SystemProperties window, select the ComputerName tag.
    Click Cancel to discard any changes.
  4. NETWORK CONFIGURATION: Find the Internet Protocol details for your PC using ipconfig and using the TCP/IP Properties setting of the appropriate LAN connection icon. Write down the MAC address, IP address (if any), Network mask, Broadcast address, Gateway address, DHCP server address (if any), DNS server addresses (if any).
  5. TIME SYNCHRONISATION: Check the date and time of day settings for your PC. The GUI method involves double-clicking the time on the start bar. You may also the the TIME and DATE commands in a CommandPrompt window.
  6. Scan through the SysAdmin magazine article on "Time Synchronization" by Packey Vella.
  7. Find out what sort of network time synchronisation protocol is used on your PC. (HINT: look in the InternetTime tag of the DateandTimeProperties window). When was the last successful synchronisation?
  8. SYSTEM LOGFILE: Right-click on the MyComputer icon and choose Manage. Click on EventViewer and Double-Click the System icon. This is the general System Logfile for windows and shows system events in  reverse chronological sequence. Events are flagged to indicate their level of severity. Scroll back to see if you can find any red flagged lines. Double-click one of them to see more details.
  9. Flush the System log by Right-Clicking the System icon in the lefthand ComputerManagement window and choose "Clear all Events", without saving.
  10. SERVICE MANAGEMENT: Windows installs a large number of services. Most are only rarely used and are usually not running. To find out what services are installed and running, in the ComputerManagement window (where you were looking at the Event Viewer) click on the "+" next to Service and Applications to reveal the services icon. Then click on the Services line to open the Services window. Scroll down the list in wonder!! See if you can find and describe the following:
Windows Service Name Description
Automatic Updates
DHCP client
DNS client
Plug and Play
Task Scheduler
Terminal Services
Windows Management Instrumentation
Workstation services

  1. Now Right-Click on the Messenger service line and choose Properties. Note the "Path to Executable" window value, which illustrates the method often used to run services as threads in a special process called svchost.exe. The Task Manager can be used to display a list of all processes and there you will see several running this program.
  2. Make sure that the Messenger service is currently running. Use the command NET HELP SEND to read about the syntax. Then use the command NET SEND Dnn "message text" where Dnn is a neighbouring machine hostname (see step 1 above).
  3. Now use the STOP button in the service properties window (from step 10 above) to disable the messenger service, the try the NET SEND command again. Does this stop you from sending messages or receiving messages or both?
  4. AUTOMATED PROGRAM EXECUTION: One of the services you discovered in step 9 above was the Task Scheduler. This process is used by the At command. In a Command window enter: HELP AT to find out about the command interface. There is also a convenient GUI interface available through the Start|Programs|Accessories|SystemTools|ScheduledTasks menu selection.
  5. FURTHER READING & RESEARCH: Now you are ready to begin exploring Host management of a Windows environment. Suggested areas for further reading include: Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), Microsoft Installer (MSI), Windows Based Enterprise management (WBEM).