Tag Archives: Server Hosting

Adjusting Server Manager settings on 2012R2 so it doesn’t automatically start upon login

Adjusting Server Manager settings to it doesn’t automatically start upon login (or turn it back on)

For Windows Server 2012R2: You may want to adjust the settings for Server Manager so that the Server Manager window opens automatically (or doesn’t open automatically) when logging into a Windows Server 2012R2 desktop session via RDP. You may want to turn it off so that it doesn’t consume resources during login or if it isn’t useful to users.  You can follow the steps below to turn auto-start on or off.

Open Server Manager by clicking the Server Manager icon on the bottom taskbar right next to the start button

  1. Under the “Manage” drop-down in upper right corner, select Server Properties, then click the box by “Do Not Start Server Manager Automatically…” (or uncheck it is you want it to start automatically upon login)
  2. You can always open Server Manager by clicking on the icon in the task manager next to the start button that looks like a toolbox

ServerManager

How to modify timing of Windows Updates in 2012 / 2012 R2 to control timing of updates and restarts

Issue:
Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 reboots after installing Windows Updates during inconvenient times that don’t make sense and you would like to modify settings in a more similar way as with Windows Server 2008 R2. Windows 2012 by default restarts 3 days after the installation of Windows Updates instead of 15 minutes which was used in 2008 R2, BUT the restart counter only begins counting down when a user can see it (see Microsoft Technet link below). In addition, it appears that in some situations the restart counter is temporarily disabled when you logoff/disconnect. According to the MSDN blog post below, if after 3 days it is detected that critical applications are open or running in the background or the PC is locked, etc., Windows Update will wait to automatically restart the next time a user logs on with a warning that the machine will be rebooted within 15 minutes.

Although these changes are meant to minimize data loss by providing additional time and warnings prior to reboots, this change in logic can cause confusing timing of reboots of the server and you may wish to have more control over the timing.

Resolution:
If using Windows 2012, make sure KB2885694 (included in update rollup KB2883201 which is what you will see in installed updates) is installed on your server which should already be there since it was released in year 2013. Windows 2012 R2 already includes these new group policy settings.

Modify the group policy settings located here. Open Local Group Policy Editor by typing Gpedit.msc. Go to: Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Windows Update.

1. Enable the “Configure Automatic Updates” group policy. Use value of 4. If you want to select a schedule day & time, do NOT check the automatic maintenance box.

2. Enable the “Always automatically restart at the schedule time” group policy. This will allow reboots/restarts approximately 15 minutes after the updates are installed instead of 3 days later. The restart timer can’t be postponed once started and a restart will occur even if users are signed on.

These changes should make automatic updates act similar to the behavior experienced in Windows Server 2008.

 

Scenario Recommended configuration
Force updates and restarts at a specific time. For example:

  • Install updates on Friday nights at 11PM
  • Force a restart soon after installation
Use the Configure Automatic Updates policy:

  • Enable the policy
  • Use option #4 – Auto download and schedule the install
  • Deselect “Install during automatic maintenance”
  • Set “6 – Every Friday” for the scheduled install day
  • Set “23:00” for the scheduled install time

Use the Always automatically restart at the scheduled time policy:

  • Enable the policy
  • Configure the timer to the desired value (default is 15 minutes)

 

See links below from Microsoft for information that was used in the above post:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/wsus/archive/2013/10/08/enabling-a-more-predictable-windows-update-experience-for-windows-8-and-windows-server-2012-kb-2885694.aspx?pi47623=2#pi47623=1

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2885694

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/11/14/minimizing-restarts-after-automatic-updating-in-windows-update.aspx

How to set time limit for disconnected sessions Windows Server 2012R2

By default, Remote Desktop Services allows users to disconnect from a remote session without logging off the server and ending the session. When a session is in a disconnected state, running programs are kept active even though the user is no longer actively connected. A disconnected session continues to consume server resources and we recommend that you set policies to end disconnected session after a period of time. Sessions are ended/closed out if the user Logs Off from the server (start -> logoff) but are not ended if the user simply clicks the X in the upper corner to close the RDP window.

You can limit the amount of time that active, disconnected, and idle sessions remain on the server. Two methods are described below:

#1 — User Properties to set session time limits per user:

In each user’s properties window, under sessions tab, you can change the default of “end a disconnected session” from NEVER to X hours/days as well as change the other settings.

User_Properties_Picture

#2 — Group Policy to set session time limits for all users:

  1. Cmd prompt, gpedit.msc
  2. Computer Configuration, Admin Templates, Windows Components, Remote Desktop Services, Remote Desktop Session Host, Session Time Limits
    1. Enable appropriate group policies and modify as needed
    2. We recommend setting this one because it will prevent disconnected sessions from consuming server resources — “Set time limit for disconnect sessions”
  3. After modifying group policies, you can force an update without rebooting by typing “gpupdate /force” at cmd prompt

 

#3 — If Windows Server 2008R2, you can modify these settings in RD Session Host Configuration too

To configure session settings on a windows 2008R2 server with Remote Desktop Services role installed, go to start -> administrative tools -> remote desktop services -> RD Session Host Configuration. Then right click RDP-Tcp properties, Sessions tab, and enter value to end a disconnect session after a specific period of time, end an idle session, etc. (tsconfig.msc also opens the RD Session Host Configuration window). More details can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc754272.aspx

 

 

 

Reducing size of WinSxS directory on Windows Server 2008 R2

UPDATE FOR 2012 R2: The Desktop Experience feature is still required to be installed for Disk Cleanup to be available.  The Desktop Experience feature is listed under “User Interfaces and Infrastructure” when installing the feature – see Microsoft TechNet link here:      http://blogs.technet.com/b/rmilne/archive/2013/07/11/install-desktop-experience-on-windows-server-2012.aspx    Disk Cleanup can then be found on the Tools menu in Server Manager.

————————————————————————————————————-

 

As noted on the Microsoft technet link below, a Disk Cleanup option on Windows Server 2008 R2 is available to clean up the WinSxS directory which will reduce its size by cleaning up previous versions of Windows Update files.

 http://blogs.technet.com/b/askpfeplat/archive/2014/05/13/how-to-clean-up-the-winsxs-directory-and-free-up-disk-space-on-windows-server-2008-r2-with-new-update.aspx

Disk Cleanup is a component of the Desktop Experience feature which is not installed by default on Windows Server 2008 R2 so if you haven’t installed it already, you are generally required to do so (see alternative below although MS recommends installing Desktop Experience).

Here is a link to an overview of Desktop Experience on Windows Server 2008 R2 https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd759187.aspx

(Note:  You can run cleanmgr.exe by following the steps in this article without installing Desktop Experience. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff630161%28v=ws.10%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396
SEE LINK – Cleanmgr.exe should go in c:WindowsSystem32.
SEE LINK – Cleanmgr.exe.mui should go in c:WindowsSystem32en-US.
After copying files, you can run cleanmgr.exe by typing it into the start box. This may be a good option to get Disk Cleanup without all the other components of Desktop Experience.)

To Cleanup WinSxS directory:
Run Disk Cleanup
Select c: and click on Clean Up System Files
You should see a row labeled “Windows Update Cleanup” with potential space savings of X GB.
Run – takes several minutes to clean up files.
Then on reboot (which was not forced immediately), it reboots to a Windows screen message “cleaning up” for several minutes

From our experience,

  • We have seen it reboot twice on occasion during the process.
  • This often reduces the WinSxS folder by 3 GB to 5GB.
  • For us, the reboot process at “cleaning up” screen has taken anywhere from 5-15+ minutes
  • One time while performing this, we noticed that the DNS fields on the network connection were changed back to default and internet access didn’t work properly until it was updated.

Riptide Hosting partners with IT consultants

We work with many IT consultants/firms that use our hosting services for their clients.  Our premium hosting services are a good fit for IT consultants with clients looking to migrate servers to a datacenter/cloud, upgrade from older operating systems such as Windows 2003 or move to a hosting provider with superior bandwidth, infrastructure and redundancy.  The IT firm/company has root access to load and configure as needed.  The IT consultants can be our direct customer and bundle Riptide’s services with their own and mark it up as they wish, or we can directly invoice the referred end-user and pay the IT firm/consultant a recurring commission. 

 We provide many types of hosting services including remote desktop hosting (which can be utilized on a virtual server or a dedicated server).  Remote desktop hosting is often used when a client wants to have applications hosted on a central server accessible by multiple user sessions.  We also provide virtual server hosting, dedicated server hosting, colocation services, and monthly pricing on most Microsoft software (SQL, Office, RD user licenses, etc.) via the Microsoft SPLA program.   Our agreement is month to month and our pricing includes the Windows standard operating system license in the base price.  Windows VMs start at $90 for a virtual server (with root access) or $39/user, and full Dell dedicated servers start at only $225.  Our premium, blended bandwidth (8 telecom carriers) is vastly superior to a single carrier bandwidth and designed to provide 100% network uptime.   

 We are always happy to discuss options, pricing, licensing, etc. for each specific situation since they all vary somewhat.  We look forward to working with you! 

 

Riptide Hosting – Dedicated Server Hosting, Virtual Server Hosting and Colocation

We offer many types of hosting – below is a discussion of some of our different offerings.   Remote desktop (terminal) server hosting can be installed on either a dedicated server or a virtual server.

 Virtual Servers

Our virtual server hosting offering is a great fit for companies needing a VM to host an application via remote desktop services (terminal services), for example, an Access Database, an operations or accounting application or other program.  Our VMs provide a scalable, flexible approach to resources (RAM, CPU, disk space) which can be quickly increased as needed.  This eliminates upfront capital investments and pay only for what you need through a fixed monthly payment.

Our virtual servers have the lowest price entry point ($90+) and are great for a lower number of users (up to 10 users). A single user application server is $39 per month.   Our base price includes the Windows Server standard license and you can add-on items such as Office, Veeam full server image backup, etc.  Our VMs come with a dedicated IP address.  Our VMs provide good performance and disk space is fast SAS drives on enterprise SANs.  See online pricing calculator to price with options: http://www.riptidehosting.com/Denver-Virtual-Server-Pricing.aspx

 Dedicated Servers

 A Dedicated Server can provide significantly more resources (CPU, RAM, disk space) than a VM and at a lower price.   Also, some programs or applications just run better on a physical CPU versus a virtual CPU.  Although VMs have a cheaper entry point, there is a cross-over where a dedicated server becomes cheaper than as the resources needed increase.  Another advantage with a dedicated server is that all resources are dedicated to you and the network connection is specific to your VLAN only.  Our dedicated servers are often similar priced to VMs at other hosting providers and many clients have commented on the performance, speed and uptime of our dedicated servers versus their prior provider. 

 With our dedicated server hosting, you get guaranteed uptime due to the premium blended bandwidth used, we maintain spare parts in case of any hardware failures, regulated temperature and humidity for an optimal environment in the datacenter, iDRAC enterprise remote KVM over IP and 24/7 emergency support. 

 Contact us to customize an environment to host your applications and use our online pricing calculator for popular servers.  We can provide a 100% SLA for power and network availability, along with dedicated connectivity on a dedicated VLAN.  Our dedicated servers all have capacity for 2 CPUs (8+ cores), 4 hard drives and lots of RAM.  Dell AppAssure full server backup to a separate dedicated server is available as an add-on or you can use many other third party backup offerings.  Server Price includes Windows Server Standard License (full Standard version – not Essentials).  See online pricing calculator http://www.riptidehosting.com/Denver-Dedicated-Server-Pricing.aspx

 VMs on your own Dedicated Server (private cloud)

 Another approach is you can create multiple virtual servers on top of one of our dedicated servers.  For example, you can sign up for our dedicated server hosting offering and then utilize the Microsoft Hyper-V role to create several VMs on the dedicated server.  This could be advantageous if you have several applications/roles that you wish to have isolated on separate VMs.  A similar approach can be performed with other hypervisors such as vmware ESXi.  Depending on your environment, you can setup backups, replication and/or failover, all while increase uptime and providing cost savings.  If the VMs are Windows Server based, you should consider licensing the underlying dedicated server (host) with Windows Server Datacenter which is more expensive but provides unlimited virtualization on the host. 

 Colocation

 Another option if you already own newer equipment is to utilize our server colocation services.  With server colocation, you receive all the benefits of being in a datacenter for uptime including redundant power feeds, backup generator power, UPS batter backup, multiple internet connections (premium, blended bandwidth), regulated temperature/humidity, and multiple levels of physical security.  Not only does our blended bandwidth include multiple carriers (in fact, over 8 telecom carriers blended together), it allows for a larger pipe size than may be available at your office/residence with single carrier dependency. 

 With our colocation hosting, you are provided 3 IP address on a dedicated VLAN, dedicated network connection, remote KMV over IP devices available, remote hands for reboots, and optional services such as firewall add-on, etc.

 We can provide colocation in as little a 1U colocation, 2U colocation and much more.  See more about our Colocation hosting at:  http://www.riptidehosting.com/Denver-Server-Colocation.aspx

 

 

Riptide Hosting – Why Hosting and Why Riptide?

Hosting your applications, programs and server infrastructure in a datacenter has many advantages versus utilizing a desktop/server in your office including security, redundancy, blended bandwidth, uptime, centralization for easier management, enterprise class equipment and infrastructure, etc.

There any many different types of hosting (virtual private servers, dedicated servers, colocation, shared hosting, remote desktop hosting formerly known as terminal server hosting, etc.) Several of these are often referred to as cloud hosting, which can be broken down into private and public cloud hosting. We have created a “how to compare web hosting” page here that explains some of the differences: http://www.riptidehosting.com/How-To-Compare-Web-Hosting-Services.aspx

Our remote desktop hosting (terminal server hosting) offering is a popular choice for those looking to allow multiple users to simultaneously access applications or programs. Remote Desktop Services can increase your efficiently while lowering costs by centralizing applications on a server while relying on the more powerful server hardware/resources to run the programs.

Riptide Hosting has been offering high-end hosting solutions to businesses since 2002. Unlike many other providers, we are here to answer your questions and help you walk through the process of selecting the right type of hosting. If you are not a good fit for hosting or Riptide, we will tell you that. We often tell prospects/client to go with fewer resources and ramp up in the future when needed – don’t spend more than you need to. Here are some reasons to go with Riptide:

  • We are here to help you understand the options! Call us for suggestions on: Migrating, Upgrading, Settings/Configurations, Backups, etc.
  • Convert large capital payments (hardware and Microsoft software) to monthly operating expense (our contract is typically month to month).
  • We maintain spare parts, servers and let you focus on your business instead of your server infrastructure
  • High speed redundant network – Premium blended bandwidth – our bandwidth includes 8+ telecom carriers for maximum uptime!
  • We don’t use entry level servers that require you to migrate to a different server when you need to add a second CPU, more RAM, etc.
  • Our environment/infrastructure is flexible allowing you to scale up resources as your company grows.
  • We utilize enterprise vendors – all servers are Dell Rackmount Poweredge Servers with Intel CPUs.
  • We respond in a timely manner – either by answering the phone or returning calls quickly.
  • We do not move your data between datacenters or any foreign locations.
  • We offer virtual server hosting, dedicated server hosting and colocation services and we can help you decide on the best fit (versus other providers that only offer one type of hosting).

You can also see our blog post on how our infrastructure is designed to limit downtime:
http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/riptide-hosting-premium-infrastructure-to-avoid-downtime/