Educational VPS program: how to set up a remote desktop if you are a Win user

Started by Alex, Sep 06, 2022, 08:45 AM

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This is an educational program about how, having the usual skills of a Win user, to create a remote desktop on Windows.
We often come across the myth that to raise your own virtual server, you need to be a technology guru and know the secrets of Linux. Today, everything has been wrong for a long time and you can create a virtual machine on Windows in 15 minutes, four or seven of which you will wait until it is actually created. It's simple, fast, cheap and requires absolutely no special skills. Therefore, the educational program.

— Why is it necessary?

The most common case is for the accounting database to be in the company, and not on the accountant's home computer. If the accountant gets sick or something else happens to him, it will be hard to get all this. More rare cases are when you need to have your work environment at hand from your phone from anywhere in the world or when you often use other people's computers.

It is also useful for creating game servers, trading on the stock exchange, torrents, various repetitive processes, programs for automating social networks (and cheating likes, what's there), SEO utilities, preparing for the white bookkeeping, traveling (especially when you don't want to take your home computer somewhere in a neighboring city for a month) and so on. VPS is also often used for the security of a company's bank client.

— So, let's take a closer look at the points — how is that usually used?

There are many options. Here are some of them:

    Accounting. About the fact that it is better to keep the database inside the company, and not at the accountant's house — that is the first. Then it's very convenient to set up backups on the VPS, for instance, once a day, and no matter what you do, you can go back and restore the data. If you have ever lost accounting, you understand how important it is. In addition, an accountant can easily make a mistake — the ability to roll back to the version earlier helps a lot.
    Own game servers. If you want to create a server where you will play with friends, then you need it to be somewhere. A lot of games can be installed without their own Win desktop, but many have a convenient graphical interface. For instance, the same Space Engineers want to run only on Windows machines, the Minecraft server has a lot of convenient settings, and so on.

    For trading on the stock exchange. Very often I want to put a server with bots that buy and sell assets closer to the exchange so that the network delay is minimal. We have data centers in London and Switzerland, for instance, and you can stay there. Then you will go from Moscow or Novosibirsk to your remote desktop as your native one, and bots will trade directly from Zurich.
    Bots for social networks. Everything is simple here: there are a lot of programs that either post posts on a schedule, or wind up likes and views, or do something else of varying degrees of doubt. For most, just a remote computer is needed. Most often, YouTube and Instagram-utilities are used to cheat views.
    SEO bots. The same dubious direction, only already working with web sites. The programs depict visits to sites, mouse movements, transitions between pages, and so on, so that search engines think that real users are doing this. It is believed that from that the web site can be higher in the search results. A Windows computer is needed in order to launch a browser in which the bot will already act-to do evil.
    The client bank. The VPS has a "white" fixed IP address, that is, you can allow access to the account only from this IP - that is a very good measure to protect business money. Some bank clients work only in that mode of binding to IP, that is, they can be used either strictly from one computer (and we still need to look for the opportunity to get a fixed address through a provider) or with a VPS.
    IE applications. Some applications (often production automated control systems and the like) require only Windows or only Internet Explorer. The easiest way to deploy them is a remote computer with Win.


There are a number of protocols like RDP or VNC that allow you to broadcast an image from the screen of a remote computer to yours, and transmit mouse movements and keyboard clicks to your remote one. In the simplest case, you use the standard Windows application "Remote Desktop Connection".
On tablets and phones, you will need to install an application that supports remote connections and broadcasts mouse clicks on the touchscreen, or also not clicking on the "screen" in Windows on the other side. For the phone, a scroll on the screen is also added, because it does not always fit completely. Any application is suitable, any with RDP support, for instance, a Remote Desktop from Microsoft. Or even Teamviewer, but you will need an agent for it on your Win desktop.

The easiest way is to access a remote computer through a browser, if the hosting provider has configured everything for this. We've set it up. But it's faster through apps.

Some applications create access on their own. For instance, 1C allows you to connect both in terminal mode and through a browser. It is more convenient for many to work that way.

— How to connect from the phone, can I see?
Yes, here's the video:

— How to set up the first time?

The logic of raising a server with a remote desktop is to deploy a virtual machine (VPS), and then install a Windows distribution that supports remote connection there. The first is done from the personal account of the VPS web hosting (it takes us four to seven minutes with an SLA of 15 minutes), the second could make it good to learn the match, but in our case Windows Server is in the marketplace, and you can order a car immediately with the deployed operating system. Access to the connection will be directly in your personal account. It remains only to connect.

— What are the Windows Server system requirements?

The minimum configuration is 2 GB of RAM, 20 GB of hard disk space. For Win Server 2003, one core is enough, for Win Server 2016 or 2019, two are already needed. It is better to add a little more space on the hard disk, both operating systems will be cramped at 20 GB — already S2012, for instance, will not be able to update. Some users put such a Win on a VPS with 500 MB of RAM. It is better to put Windows Server Core or other operating systems on cheaper tariffs.

— Is it possible to set up scheduled backups?

Yes, you can make a copy of a VPS machine, for instance, once a day. Setup via your personal account. A copy is made to an independent storage in the same data center where your VPS is deployed. If you want to copy to another data center, you will need manual configuration.

More complex things for specialists

— And why immediately Win?

Everything serious on remote servers most often runs on Linux. But, firstly, not all users know how to cook it, and secondly, Windows often wants the software. In that case, there is Windows Server Core — Windows, where instead of a graphical interface there is only a command line. It is lighter, less demanding on resources and allows you to run all Win applications. The license is also provided on any tariff plan by default and does not require additional payments.

If you are suddenly interested in Linux, then you are in the wrong post. That post is here.

— What should I do if Windows on the other side stops responding?

If something happens to the operating system or terminal access service, then you will not be able to connect via RDP, as that requires a working OS, network drivers, a working network connection and an RDP enabled. "Out of the box" we have it all. But if Win "breaks down", then it will be possible to use another special mode: we have the ability to broadcast video directly from the hypervisor level and transmit keystrokes and clicks through the hypervisor. This mode is quite demanding on resources, so there is a limit on its use. But in case of problems, you can use it to reboot into Safe Mode. If the problem is more serious, you can either contact support, or simply reinstall Windows in a couple of clicks.

Emergency mode can have a rather long response to actions, but visually it looks quite normal. So common that we have users who use it regularly. But we absolutely do not need it to be used in everyday life outside of an emergency, because there are more correct and comfortable ways for Windows — that is, of course, RDP.

— What about the OS license?

Usually, VPS hosting allocates a virtual server to you and does not look at what you are doing with it (only on resource loading and the nature of traffic). That is, in theory, you can put any software there, including pirated software. But in practice, it is more convenient to create a machine with an OS using one of the web hosting templates. In our case, a license for Windows Server (or Windows Server Core without a graphical interface) is already included in the tariff plan, since we have all hosting on Hyper-V and fully licensed. At that moment, some other web hosting companies open a new "asterisk" with a monthly license rental cost.

— Can I bring my own OS image?

Yes, you can, and there are two options. You can build a standard VHDX container for Hyper-V and send it to support. In this case, difficulties may arise at the stage of establishing a network connection — perhaps there will not be a driver for a suitable network card in your ready-made image. You will need to connect and install it. Nevertheless, that is a good way to transfer everything, for instance, from an old laptop to online. Or you can transfer an ISO image to the support, which will be mounted to a virtual server, and from which you, using emergency mode through your personal account, will be able to perform the installation yourself.

— What about licenses for other software?

Hosting usually doesn't see what you have installed (we don't, for instance, unless you ask for support about something special). It doesn't matter to us what is there and how it works, because that is your area of responsibility. Just remember that there is no support for pirated software, and if something does not work.

— What storage is used?

All drives are SSD shelves in servers, but at HDD rates they are limited in speed to the speeds of spindle hard drives. Duplication — RAID 5. There are a few RAID 6 left, but there are already quite a few of them. If one of the disks fails, then the raid rebild begins. If a power failure occurs at this point, the data will be lost. In that case, we have two separate power supplies with separate cable routes to each physical server and a technical backup of the entire machine (without selective access to a separate storage). Damage from hаcker attacks is insured in AIG.

— What kind of overhead does the hypervisor impose on performance?

With a bundle of Hyper-V + Windows, less than one percent is significant.

If you do not have special preferences, it is best to choose closer to yourself. There are data centers in Zurich, Amsterdam and London with the most interesting jurisdiction (that is often important for businesses that have already faced "hit-and-run"). Zurich has the best level of physical security.

When choosing an OS, you choose the appropriate version of Windows (if in doubt — Windows Server 2016 or 2003 for weak configurations). Then "without the panel". Install the configuration. On the Recommended for Server 2016 screen.  That is, the maximum discount is 35%. Billing will be per second — even after five minutes of operation, it will be possible to stop the server and request a refund of unspent funds.

Congratulations, at that stage you have created your own virtual server with Windows. The remote desktop will be ready as soon as the server starts (that takes the four to six minutes you've been waiting for). When ready, the IP address of the server and the password to the root user will appear, which can immediately be used to connect via RDP. Start -> Remote Desktop Connection.

The next thing you'll want to do is transfer your files. The easiest way is directly through the clipboard by copying a specific file on your desktop from your computer and pasting it to a remote one.
Now the disk is connected to the remote desktop and you can use the data from it. Voila, you are beautiful.


The RDP port is open to the entire internet because we don't know where you will be connecting from. If you are aware of the presence of threats, then, for sure, immediately after installation, prohibit logging in to the virtual machine on behalf of standard clients, change the password that you received through your Personal Account, because it is obviously known to us and configure the firewall.

Configuring any software on your virtual server is your concern, and the firewall and the RDP server are located "inside" and not "outside" the virtual machine, thus ensuring security is the task of the virtual machine administrator...
We can only observe from the side, and if we see that the firewall is disabled at all, write an automatic letter and turn it on. We can check, if you have installed a DNS web server, whether it can not be used for attacks, and warn you by automatic email if a problem is detected, which settings to perform to close the vulnerability.

We tried to warn users that they need to set up a firewall. The experienced take it for granted, the inexperienced are more scared, but the warning doesn't really help.
Therefore, we set a fairly complex password on the RPD. Attempts to brutalize it create an event in the security system.


The post states that there is a theoretical possibility to put any software there, including pirated software.
After all, VPS users have full access to their virtual machines and it is logical that if the system did not provide such an opportunity, then there would be no problem of pirated software.
We, as Microsoft's SPLA partner, do not absolve ourselves of responsibility and do everything so that, on the one hand, we do not violate the client's privacy, on the other hand, we do not allow the use of malware. According to the vendor's request, we notify the client of the need to strictly comply with Microsoft's licensing requirements in the public offer agreement.
If we or Microsoft detect a violation of this agreement by the client, we have the right to unilaterally revoke the licenses granted and refuse to provide services based on this violation.