As a Windows and Infrastructure Administrator, it can sometimes be difficult or complicated to manage all the various servers, applications, and the like on your network.
However, the days of running from server to server, or having 50 Remote Desktop Connection sessions open are long over. Here are 3 great – and often overlooked – server administration tools that Microsoft provides at no cost.
1.) Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT)
This one is a no-brainer. It contains a large number of tools that allow you to remotely access server roles and features without having to open a RDC session into the server. For example, it contains Active Directory tools so that you can run the AD Users and Computers console right on your local machine, allowing you to create, disable and edit users – and most importantly, reset forgotten passwords – without having to actually have a session to your Domain Controller running.
Once the RSAT toolkit is downloaded and installed, you can choose which features you want by going to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features On or Off. A full description of the available tools is available in the Microsoft KB 958830 article.
2.) Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan)
Of course, sometimes you still need to utilize RDC to access a server. But there is an easier way to do it than simply opening several RDC windows, or downloading some 3rd-party app that consumes tons of resources (and let’s not even get into the concern of security with those).
Enter the RDCMan. This utility saves the information (IP Address, and optionally saves login credentials) in a handy utility that makes switching between RDC windows simple and easy.
You can create groups for your servers to easily group them by function, location, or resource. Also, this makes it quick and easy to do patching and upgrades, as you can simply travel down the list as opposed to flipping between RDC windows where it’s easy to lose track of which you’ve completed and which you’ve not. It has several other features involving organization and connections – such as being able to inherit properties and preferences from the groups you create – that I’ll let you discover for yourself.
You can download RDCMan here.
3.) Computer Management
This is something that we all know and use. On just about any Microsoft OS, it’s easily accessible by clicking on Start > right-clicking Computer > and clicking Manage from the context menu.
But did you know you can manage a remote computer or server this way?
Open Computer Management on your local computer as you normally would, then right-click on the Computer Management header and choose “Connect to another computer…”. Enter the name or IP Address of the server you want to manage, and Voila! You’re connected to view Event Logs, Local Users, Disk Management, Services and more.