10 Best Windows Server 2012 Books

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The latest version of Windows Server has already pushed beyond the 2012 R2 release. But that doesn’t mean 2012 has been fully retired; in fact many companies are just now moving from Winserver 2003 since it’s no longer supported by Microsoft.

The end of life for Windows Server 2012 is projected well into 2023 so there’s demand for sysadmins who can work on this OS. If you’ve never used Winserver 2012 it is very different from 2003/2008.

In this guide I’ll share the top 10 best Windows Server 2012 books you can buy. These range from complete beginner guides to more detailed guides on specific tech stacks.

All of these books focus on the 2012 R2 update so everything should be modern and relevant. If you need to learn Winserver 2012 from scratch then these books will prove incredibly useful.

Best WinServer 2012 Book

If you need a complete book covering all the major aspects of Windows Server 2012 then I highly recommend Windows Server 2012 Inside Out. It’s a huge book totaling well over 1,000 pages and it covers everything you could ever need to know on how to install, manage, troubleshoot, and secure a WinServer 2012 environment.


Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2

This is a fantastic guide to the R2 release but it assumes some basic Winserver 2012 knowledge. I can’t recommend this book to complete newcomers because it doesn’t start from square one.

The title Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2 matches the content exactly. It’s a book introducing you to the R2 update, and for this it does an excellent job.

But you should have some knowledge of Windows Server administration before picking up this book. It’s not fully hands-on and much of the info is theory based on newer features.

Still it can be an excellent guide if you need to play catch up.


Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

If you need a cheap introduction to Winserver 2012 R2 then look no further. This 255 page e-book only comes in a digital format, but it truly is the best intro for newer users.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is made for everyone whether you’re a fresh new server administrator or whether you have some background in Windows administration. The early chapters teach you how to install, configure, and maintain your Winserver 2012 R2 machine.

The price point is also fantastic so it’s an affordable solution for someone diving into the Windows Server 2012 environment on a budget.

But since this book is fully updated with the R2 release it’s the perfect intro guide for the 2012 operating system.


Windows Server 2012 Inside Out

This is by far the largest cover-all book you’ll find on the Winserver 2012 environment.

Windows Server 2012 Inside Out is a whopping 1,580 pages long with sections covering the installation, file system, networking, and security. None of this information is overly technical or written in techo babble.

This book is made for people who want to be treated like adults reading a technical book. It’s not flashy, nor is it pretentious. However it is a big undertaking since it has over a thousand pages of detailed content.

It covers the basics of Active Directory, the Microsoft Management Console, web server basics and the overall functionality of Windows Server 2012.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone whether you’re a complete beginner or someone looking to update their 2012 R2 knowledge.


Active Directory

Microsoft’s Active Directory is a huge topic and it can get pretty complicated. Most Winserver 2012 books will touch upon the Active Directory but none go into as much detail as Active Directory: Designing, Deploying, and Running Active Directory.

Currently in its 5th edition, this book is the pinnacle of Active Directory knowledge. It has over 730 pages packed with tips for managing and securing your server setup.

If you’ve ever worked with AD at your job then this book will teach you a lot of new techniques and workflows. If you’ve never used AD before then this book will get you up & running the right way.

I’ll admit this is not strictly a Winserver 2012 book. However the concepts relate to Windows server administration so if you find yourself frequently using Active Directory then this book is a must-have for your bookshelf.


Windows Server 2012 Pocket Consultant

Server administrators don’t always have access to the Internet if they’re upgrading or fiddling with security settings. And no Internet means no Google, which means tough cookies for problem solving.

The Windows Server 2012 Pocket Consultant is a huge asset to any server admin. This book covers everything and it’s absolutely massive totaling 720 page long.

The index is super easy to browse and you should have no trouble finding whatever you need.

One downside is that Hyper-V is not mentioned at all in this book. However there is another book lower in this list that goes into much greater detail for Hyper-V users.

Overall this book does its job as a remarkable pocket guide just as the title implies.


WinServer 2012 Administration Instant Reference

If you’re looking for a more filled-out reference guide I would definitely recommend the Windows Server 2012 Administration Instant Reference.

This book is larger than the pocket reference and it clocks in around 600 pages long. It also comes in digital format so you can CTRL+F to find whatever you need quickly.

The early chapters cover the setup process but you’ll find plenty of details on common workflows like user/group management, automation, and data backup/recovery procedures.

Some later chapters even simulate basic troubleshooting methods to help you solve common problems encountered in Winserver administration.

This can be an excellent guide for beginners but it’s also a very handy reference guide for intermediate-to-advanced users.


Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2

When you’re ready to take your knowledge to the next level then check out Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2. It’s a tome of Windows Server knowledge totaling 1,600 pages.

The author Mark Minasi is a well known advocate for technology and Microsoft products. He’s also Microsoft certified so he knows his stuff.

I found the writing style terse and a bit dry. However the information is all there and pretty easy to follow along with.

The author covers all the newest features in the 2012 R2 update and some Hyper-V information.

However there is a lack of PowerShell info which can supplemented with other books.

Overall this is a damn fine guide for advanced server administration. It covers far more than you’ll likely ever need to memorize about WinServer 2012 so it’s meant for IT professionals & sysadmins working with this OS every day.


Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V

Microsoft’s proprietary Hyper-V software is a hypervisor program that lets you run & manage virtual machines on Windows Server.

And when it comes to learning this program I can’t think of any better book than Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. It’s pretty long totaling 600 pages full of workflows for small businesses and enterprise users alike.

This book can take you from zero to hero regardless of why you’re learning Hyper-V. The program is pretty simple to setup, but actually mastering it takes time and practice.

With this guide you’ll learn about hosting virtual machines, the basics of cloud computing, and scripting with PowerShell to automate your workflow.

Overall this is absolutely the best book for learning and mastering Hyper-V for WinServer 2012. It can feel verbose in some chapters but it’s the most accurate book you’ll find on the subject.


Windows Server 2012 R2 Administrator Cookbook

If you’re a career systems administrator then learning Windows Server might literally be how you make money. If you’re working in a Windows Server 2012 environment then I highly recommend the Windows Server 2012 R2 Administrator Cookbook.

This is more like a reference guide for common Windows Server tasks related to Active Directory, Remote Desktop and various PowerShell scripts.

But this cookbook offers more than just scripts and source code. It’s a complete guide to the modern workflow of a Microsoft systems administrator.

You should at least have some knowledge of Windows Server 2008 or 2012 before picking up this book. It doesn’t hold your hand in the beginning so you will need familiarity with the server environment.

But if you’re somewhat familiar and want to take your skills to the next level then this cookbook will teach you all the workflow hacks you’ll ever need.


MCSA WinServer 2012 R2 Complete Study Guide

It may seem odd for IT professionals to be going for the Winserver 2012 cert nowadays, but there are still plenty of companies running this software.

The MCSA cert is valuable and certainly worth obtaining. Many server admins are now going for the Winserver 2016 cert but if you are going for the 2012 exam I highly recommend reading the MCSA Windows Server 2012 R2 Complete Study Guide.

Note this book is only useful if you’re going in for the exam.

This is not a great book for mastering the actual software, but it will help you pass and get Winserver 2012 certified in the eyes of Microsoft(and relevant employers).

It can be tough finding the right book for your preferred topic and skill level. But I guarantee there’s at least one for everyone in this post.

If you’re a complete beginner and you want a short intro guide then Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials would be perfect. If you need a much longer “ultimate guide” to WinServer 2012 then I’d suggest nabbing a copy of Windows Server 2012 Inside Out.

More advanced users have their pick of many books covering different aspects of the server environment like Hyper-V or Active Directory.

But if you need a book that’ll improve your overall workflow then Windows Server 2012 R2 Administrator Cookbook is tough to beat.

Take a look over this list again to see if anything catches your eye. All these titles are fantastic and if you need to learn Windows Server 2012 from scratch then you should have no problem finding what you need in this post.

Author: Jaime Morrison

Jaime is a jr. designer interested in mobile UI/UX research and frontend web development with JavaScript frameworks. He covers general news and useful resources in the web design space.