Remote administration of Windows Server 2012

Hi all,

What is Windows Server 2012's equivalent of "Anywhere Access" in the Essentials version. I need to set up something simple whereby I can log into the server and take control (much like Log Me In).

Thanks in advance.
Go-BruinsAsked:
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tigermattCommented:
For a full Server 2012 instance, the moral equivalent of the Remote Web Workplace (as was known, now "Anywhere Access"; old habits die hard) would be the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Gateway role, as detailed at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/cc731150.aspx (link is for 2008 R2, but details are mostly the same). Configuring this role would provide you with an HTTP endpoint to your LAN, from which you can RDP to any internal machine you wish; however, on a non-Essentials box, you are going to have to configure this from scratch. There's plenty of tutorials online and EE can assist with specific questions. Note that there's a separate role which provides a Web Interface (RD Web); you do not need this as the standard Remote Desktop client is all you need to connect, but it can be useful to provide a streamlined "in-browser" experience for other users to connect.

You don't necessarily require a static IP to deploy this feature; you can make use of a dynamic DNS service such as Dyn.com or No-IP with an updater client, which updates the DNS record with the latest public IP address for your site should it change. Many open-source firewalls and router firmwares now include such software and support a variety of different dynamic DNS providers as standard.

Note that if this is for administrative use, it's probably okay to use a dynamic IP, and even for light to moderate user logons. However, the recommended approach would certainly be for a static IP, which avoids this layer of indirection.

If you're going to the effort of configuring dynamic DNS / opening ports, and in particular if this is just for administrative use, there's no reason why you couldn't use a light-weight VPN solution as John describes; in fact, this might be simpler since you don't need to fuss over acquiring an SSL certificate.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I use Remote Desktop Connection for Server 2012 just like Server 2008 and Server 2003. They all manage roughly the same way for me.
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NVITCommented:
Remote Desktop Connection?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Yes: Remote Desktop Connection on a Workstation to the Server.
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Go-BruinsAuthor Commented:
Thanks. Remote Desktop Connection works when I'm in the office, but will it work when I try to log in from home? Even if I don't have a static IP at the office?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I connect remotely using VPN to the office network and then use Remote Connection as normal. For anytime access to network and server, I use VPN to make the connection.
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Go-BruinsAuthor Commented:
Is this the only way? We have a very small office with a limited budget. One of the things I really liked about Essentials is that if offered simple remote administration via Anywhere Access.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I have Server 2012 at a couple of clients and do not see anywhere access.  So VPN access is the only way I am familiar with for standard Microsoft servers.

You can get a VPN box for 2 to 3 hundred dollars and then a client application for about a hundred dollars, so the price is commensurate with a very small business. I use the same in my home office.
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Go-BruinsAuthor Commented:
Thank you. This should point me in the right direction and keep me from straying into the wrong path/solutions.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@Go-Bruins  - Thanks and good luck going forward.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
If you're that small an office, why did you switch away from Essentials?

VPN is arguably the most secure but the easiest to setup would be a remote access service like GoToMyPC or even LogMeIn.

Server 2012 R2 offers the Server Essentials Role which would give you the essentials remote access features - but you need Server 2012 R2 - it's not in 2012 (non-R2).  You could have also upgraded your existing 2012 Essentials system (if you had it) and kept the Server Essentials capabilities while removing the restrictions.
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Duy PhamFreelance IT ConsultantCommented:
@Go-Bruins:

You might have some other options (which could be easier to configure than Anywhere Access):
You can easily setup your own VPN Server following the guide in Configure a Remote Access VPN Server and How to Create a VPN Server on Your Windows Computer Without Installing Any Software. Combining the tigermatt's suggestion of using No-IP or Dyn-DNS to solve dynamic IP issue, you should be good to go control your server remotely.

All of above options are free, so you won't have to worry about the budget ;).

But in my opinions, I would prefer John's suggestion of using a commercial VPN box (such as Cisco), which is more secure and stable.
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Go-BruinsAuthor Commented:
Thank you. If I go the commercial VPN box, which models are best on a budget? And does this mean I need a box on both ends?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
If you are the only person accessing, a VPN box on one end (Cisco RV320/325) and a client application for you (NCP Universal Client) makes a lot of sense. If you can spring for it, an RV320 in your home office makes sense as well. I have both.
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Go-BruinsAuthor Commented:
So if I get a hardware appliance like this Cisco at both ends, I won't have to use a software client application like NCP Universal Client, correct?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Yes. Correct.

Now I have a laptop and I also have the NCP client for when I travel. I have a Nokia Internet Stick and a 4 - 5 hour battery on my ThinkPad, so I can manage many situations.
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Go-BruinsAuthor Commented:
I see - the software client makes the VPN connection portable.
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