How to configure VPS on Windows

How to configure VPS on Windows

Author: HostZealot Team
2 min.

Windows-based virtual private server, abbreviated to VPS or VDS, may not show maximum efficiency, stability and security - if you miss something in its basic debugging in the beginning. Fortunately, this process is not that complicated. To make sure your Windows VPS server setup is done correctly, follow our expert advice!

What you will learn about in this article?

What tasks need to be done at the initial stage?

As in the case of VPS on Linux, all work with the server is carried out in several steps. At the same time they are similar for the product from Microsoft, because it is also possible to configure VPS on Windows in 4 main steps.

Connecting via RDP

The best way to communicate with the virtual dedicated server is to use the Remote Desktop Protocol, abbreviated RDP. Access through it is easy and, most importantly, safe. In addition, you can work with it from almost any device:

  • Through Windows. Since RDP is developed by Microsoft, it is already managed in the operating system itself. You must find the item called Connection to Remote Desktop in the Start menu or run the command mstsc through Run and then specify server IP, login and password.
  • Via Linux. Setting up a VPS on Windows from Unix systems starts with running the Remmina client (if the build does not have it, you need to install it). The application itself is very simple: you choose RDP and enter your IP address, login and password in the corresponding fields.

It is important that you can work with the Remote Desktop Protocol even with modern Android and iOS gadgets. However, for more details on this and on the protocol in general and how to connect, see our separate article on this link.

Adding Users

Initially when you login to VDS you have only one user - Administrator. But to improve convenience and security, it's worth adding others, with limited rights. The scenario depends on what operating system you have on your server - and we'll give examples for popular versions:

  • Windows Server 2012. Click on Server Manager, located next to Start. In the window that opens, find Tools in the top panel and there Computer Management. A window will appear, on the left side there will be a list of tabs, where go from Utilities to Local Users and Users. Then at the top, click Actions and select New User. In the new window, specify the user's login and name, its description and password twice, check additional properties (like not allowing the user to change the password himself, etc.) - and then click the Create button.

  • Windows Server 2016. Setting up a Windows VPS server of this version can be done in a similar way, through Administrative Tools and Computer Management with similar windows and tabs, but there is a simpler way. Open the Control Panel (right click on Start), select under User Accounts an item called Change Account Type, in the new window with a list of all users look for Add User Account. In another window, set your username and password (twice) and hint, click Next - and Done!

  • Windows Server 2019. In this version of the OS, it all starts with Start and the section in the Options menu that opens (the gear icon). There, select Accounts, and then the current user information opens up. But you need a menu on the left where there are Other Users - in this section you have to click on Add user for this computer. This will bring up a window with a list of tabs on the left, where you have to go through Users, Actions, Additional actions and New user. In the new window, everything is as usual: login, name and description, password, Create and Close buttons.

Important note: the rights of the created user are limited, so you will have to go to the Properties or Change Account Type in order to adjust the rights. Although let's note that the flexibility of their settings is immense, and this is a reason for a separate discussion.

how to configure vps on windows

Configuring security

On the topic, how to configure a VPS on Windows, the question of protecting the server from hacking should be given special attention. We will highlight only a few significant areas:

  1. Software update. It is always necessary to have an up-to-date version of your operating system, where all known vulnerabilities are closed. To do this, enable automatic start of updates in Update Center.
  2. Firewall configuration. In the Firewall, disable ports that are not used by the server (by default 80 and 443 are enough for it). And for other services, open additional ports and restrict access by IP of the VDS users: 3389 for RDP, 990 for FTPS, 53 for DNS and 1433-1434 for SQL.
  3. Change the RDP port. Using the registry editor, change the value of the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Control/Terminal Server/WinStations/RDP-Tcp Port Number parameter. Don't forget to add the new port to the firewall permissions and after the server reboot add it to the Remote Desktop Connection.
  4. Protecting RDP sessions. As mentioned above, RDP is a secure protocol, but it is possible to additionally protect against password brute force. This requires VPN or SSL/TLS - you can enable it in the Remote Desktop Server Security Group Policy with SSL (TLS 1.0).
  5. Using the Security Configuration Wizard. Microsoft created the Security Configuration Wizard, or SCW, utility. In it, you run security policy files that describe everything from OS configuration to firewall settings - and distribute them to particular servers.

Note: this list is not exhaustive. There is a lot to configure for VDS security: from changing administrator's name and disabling directory access without a password to fine-tuning of group and local security policies while our list allows you to quickly implement basic solutions.

Software Installation

By far at this stage the basic configuration of the VPS on Windows is completed - but for deployment of the website on a server it is still not enough. After all, proper operation requires certain software. In each case, its list is determined individually, based on the website technology. Although there is a basic package - it's IIS. Behind this acronym stands  a web server without which ASP.NET and ASP will not work. Additionally it will help with the installation of the PHP interpreter and MySQL databases. However, for more details on how to configure IIS, it is better to learn from this link.

How to avoid problems in setting up a VDS with Windows?

Using detailed step-by-step instructions is important, but sometimes something can still go wrong. In such a situation, it's hard to overestimate the qualified and friendly tech support from the company providing your hosting. You can always get it from HostZealot! Setting up a Windows VPS server will be easy and fast and VPS server rental will be profitable and reliable with the help of our specialists.

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