Share via

Checklist: Planning and creating a server cluster

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Checklist: Planning and creating a server cluster


  • If you are using a shared storage device, when you power on and start the operating system, it is of vital importance that only one node has access to the cluster disk. Otherwise the cluster disks can become corrupted. To prevent the corruption of the cluster disks, shut down all but one cluster node, or use other techniques (for example, Logical Unit Number or LUN masking, selective presentation, or zoning) to protect the cluster disks, before creating the cluster. Once the Cluster service is running properly on one node, the other nodes can be added and configured simultaneously.

Follow these steps to plan for and create a server cluster. You can use the tutorial for Cluster Installation at the Microsoft Web site to help you create a server cluster. If you are upgrading your server cluster, review the cluster upgrade documentation.

Planning issues to consider before you create your server cluster

Step Reference

Review basic cluster concepts. You will need to understand nodes, failover and failback, groups, and resources before planning your server cluster.

Server Cluster Concepts

Server clusters overview

Review security best practices for server clusters.

Best practices for securing server clusters

Review limitations of server clusters.

Limitations of server clusters

Choose your cluster model.

Choosing a Cluster Model

Choose applications that can run on your server cluster.

Choosing applications to run on a server cluster

Organize your cluster applications and resources into groups based on resource dependencies, failover policies, and administrative convenience.

Planning your groups

After you choose a cluster model and determine how to group your applications and resources, you are ready to determine the hardware capacity required for each server in the cluster.

Determining server-capacity requirements

Plan your network hardware.

Planning your networking hardware

Best practices for configuring and operating server clusters

Plan your system disks.

It is recommended that the system disks on all your cluster nodes use the same drive letter.

Plan your cluster disks.

To guard against the failure of your cluster disks, it is highly recommended that you implement a hardware RAID solution.

If your cluster disk hardware includes a SCSI bus, it is important to note that the SCSI host adapters must each have a unique SCSI ID (usually the numbers 6 and 7). In addition, the SCSI bus must be properly terminated.

By default, the New Server Cluster Wizard will automatically select the smallest disk that is larger than 500 MB as the quorum resource. If no disk larger than or equal to 500 MB is available, the New Server Cluster Wizard will select the largest disk that is at least 50 MB as the quorum resource but will generate a warning. For optimal performance of the NTFS file system, make sure that the disk containing the quorum resource is at least 500 megabytes (MB) in size. It is strongly recommended that you install the quorum resource on a separate disk, by itself, so that other applications cannot affect it. Also, ensure that the quorum disk has sufficient free space so that the Cluster service can start and continue to write to the quorum log.

Hardware redundant array of independent disks (RAID)

The documentation for your storage hardware.

Actions to take when creating a server cluster

Step Reference

Choose your cluster hardware.

Microsoft supports only complete cluster systems chosen from the Windows Catalog; it is recommended that you do not mix and match hardware components when building your cluster. Check to ensure that your hardware, including your cluster disks, is compatible with Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition or Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition.

Support resources

Best practices for configuring and operating server clusters

Verify the availability of domain services and add your servers to the domain.

Choosing a domain model

Install and configure your cluster disks.

Turn on your cluster nodes, but do not allow the operating system to start on any of the nodes. Connect your shared storage buses, completing the initial installation steps in the BIOS or EFI firmware configuration screens for your particular storage device by following the directions in the hardware documentation.

Allow the operating system to start on one node and configure the cluster disks as basic disks. Format the disks using the NTFS file system. Assign drive letters to or create mounted drives for the cluster disks on the shared bus. If you assign drive letters, the disks must have the same drive letter on all nodes in the cluster.


  • Cluster disks on a shared bus must be partitioned as Master Boot Record (MBR) and not as GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks.

The documentation for your storage hardware.

General storage configuration tips for server clusters

Connect the shared storage buses and assign drive letters

Configure network hardware.

Configuring cluster network hardware

Configure IP address settings for your network.

Configuring cluster network hardware

Private network addressing options

Gather the information required for configuring the first node in your cluster.

You will need the following:

  1. A static IP address for the cluster.

  2. Computer accounts for the cluster nodes.

  3. A user account for the Cluster service.

  4. A name for the cluster, that is, the name administrators will use for connections to the cluster. (The actual applications running on the cluster will typically have different network names.)


  • Computer accounts for the nodes must be in the same domain. It is strongly recommended that the Cluster service account be in the same domain as well.

  • It is strongly recommended that you do not use the same account for the Cluster service and applications in the cluster (for example, Microsoft SQL Server). If you do use the same account, you may not be able to later change the Cluster service password without disrupting your cluster applications.

  • The cluster name must be different from the domain name, from all computer names or virtual server names in the domain, and from other cluster names in the domain.

Domain accounts and the Cluster service

The Cluster service and TCP/IP

Create a cluster on the first node.

Use Cluster Administrator to create a cluster on the first node.


  • You cannot use the Configure Your Server or Manage Your Server tools to create a cluster or administer cluster nodes.

You can use the tutorial for Cluster Installation to complete the New Server Cluster Wizard.

Create a cluster

Microsoft Web site

Verify that you can see the cluster disks.

Use Disk Management to verify that you can see the cluster disks.

Use Cluster Administrator to verify that the disks are all online.

Disk Management

Bring a group online

Allow the remaining nodes to boot to the operating system then add them to the cluster.

Use Cluster Administrator to add one or more nodes to the cluster.

You can use the tutorial for Cluster Installation to complete the New Server Cluster Wizard.

Add additional nodes to the cluster

Microsoft Web site

Validate the cluster disks.

Use Disk Management to verify that all nodes see the same number of cluster disks.

Use Cluster Administrator to failover the cluster disks to each node in the cluster and verify that they come back online.

Disk Management

Test whether group resources can fail over

Configure the cluster network role and type.

By default, the New Server Cluster Wizard will set up all cluster networks as mixed (public-and-private) networks. Optionally, you can change this so that the networks are set up as private networks (that is, for node-to-node communication only) or public networks (that is, for client access only).

Change how the cluster uses a network

Configure the cluster network properties.

Place the private network at the top of the Network Priority list for internal node-to-node communication in the cluster.

Change network priority for communication between nodes

Create your resource groups and resources.

Checklist: Creating a new group

Checklist: Creating a new resource

Validate your clustering system.

Checklist: Validating your clustering system