Remote Desktop Users Group

The most common way to remotely manage a Windows server is through Remote Desktop Protocol. By default, Liquid Web’s Windows servers only allow the members of the administrators’ group remote desktop access. However, the Remote Desktop Users group grants its members access to securely connect to the server through RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) as well.

This article will go over the basics of the Remote Desktop Users group. By the end, you will be able to add users to the group, understand permissions, and basic user management.

 

Pre-flight

The information below covers methods to configure the Remote Desktop Users group for Windows Server 2012 through Windows Server 2016 on any Liquid Web Windows server. As a valued customer, if you do not feel comfortable performing these steps independently, please contact our support team for additional assistance. Liquid Web support is happy to walk you through the steps and answer any questions you may have.

 

Managing Local Users and Groups

Users and groups on Windows servers are managed in a number of different ways, but the most user-friendly way is through the Local Users and Groups interface. There are several ways to open the interface. However,  the easiest is to run “lusrmgr.msc”. Lusrmgr.msc can be launched by searching the start menu, command line, or through a run dialog. These methods allow you to find users and groups easily.

Note
To manage local users and groups, you will need to be logged in with a user that has the proper permissions to do so. This is most commonly a user that is already a member of the Administrators group.
Within a windows server type in lusrmgr.msc into the search bar to locate Users where you can find existing users and groups.

 

User Management

Once you open the Local Users and Groups interface, you will see two folders on the left, one for Users, and one for Groups. By selecting Users, you will see a full list of local users on the server. You can also see a variety of related tasks by right-clicking Users, Groups, a user’s name, or a blank area of the middle pane.

There are several ways to add a new user through the Local Users and Groups interface. These methods all result in the same “New User” dialog box opening where you can then configure a Username, Password, and other options. Choose one of the options below to create a new user:

  • With the Users folder selected in the left pane, click the Action menu, then select “New User…”.
  • With the Users folder selected in the left pane, click “More Actions” from the right- hand pane, then select “New User…”.
  • Right-click the Users folder, then select “New User…”.
  • With the Users folder selected in the left pane, right-click in a blank area of the middle page, then select “New User…”.

Once you have created a new user, or have identified the username of the existing user, you are ready to assign that user to a Group. Users assigned to a group are known as group members.

 

Group Management

As with user management, group management can also be performed in several ways. The options below cover several of the most common ways to assign a new member to the Remote Desktop Users group:

  • Select the Users folder from the left pane of the Local Users and Groups interface, open the Users Properties window by double-clicking the user, select the “Member Of” tab, then click “Add…”. Now type “Remote Desktop Users” in the text box and click OK.
  • Select the Groups folder from the left pane of the Local Users and Groups interface, double-click the “Remote Desktop Users” group, click “Add…”, enter the user’s name in the text box and click OK.
  • Open the system settings by right-clicking the start menu and selecting “System”, choose “Advanced system settings”, select the “Remote” tab, click the “Select Users…” button then click the “Add” button. Now enter the user’s name in the text box and click OK.
  • Open the “Server Manager”, select “Local Server” from the left pane, click the blue text next to “Computer Name”, select the “Remote” tab, click the “Select Users…” button then click the “Add” button. Now enter the user’s name in the text box and click OK.
    Note
    When selecting users or groups, it is recommended to click the “Check Names” button after typing in the user or group name. If the name is underlined after clicking the “Check Names” button, then the name was identified correctly.

You can also use the “Advanced…” button when selecting users or groups instead of typing its name. Clicking the “Advanced…” button followed by the “Find Now” button will result in a list of users to select.In a windows server, by right-clicking the User folder you can do a variety of tasks like adding a new user.

 

Notes on Permissions & Security

By default, there are no members of the Remote Desktop Users group and only members of the Administrators group are allowed to connect through RDP. Members added to the Remote Desktop Users group are considered non-Administrative users. These users will be unable to perform most management tasks such as installing software, managing IIS, or rebooting the server.

If a user requires management abilities, the user will need explicit access to that task or will need to be a member of the Administrators. Please use the best practice of “least privilege” when configuring your users, groups, and permissions.

 

Test/Verify Group Membership

When configuring new user and group memberships, you should always review group membership once complete.  Reviewing group membership is most commonly performed through the Local Users and Groups interface. In addition to verifying membership, we also recommend attempting a remote desktop connection with your newest Remote Desktop Users group member. If you are unable to connect with your user, please see our Remote Desktop Troubleshooting article.

Once you have logged in with your newest member of the Remote Desktop Users group, you can further verify that groups are set up correctly by running the command “whoami /groups” from a command line. The output of this command lists the username and its associated Group names.

 

Install PHP on Windows

PHP for Windows provides users the ability to run nearly any PHP script desirable. Windows can tackle a wide range of software, from your PHP scripts to the many content management systems such as WordPress or Drupal.

Since Windows does not come already equipped with PHP, it does require some additional steps to install. This article will walk you through the process of how to effectively install PHP on Windows 2016 through the use of the Windows PHP 7 Installer.

Pre-flight

Before you can begin your PHP installation, you will need to determine if your server has our Fully managed Plesk control panel, or is one of our self or core managed options (without Plesk).

  1. You can determine whether or not your server has Plesk by logging into https://manage.liquidweb.com.
  2. Once you have successfully logged in, expand your server from the “Overview” page.
  3. Next, look to the far right of the “Log into your server” heading, and locate the word “Plesk.

If “Plesk“ is not listed, you do not have Plesk installed. Manually install PHP using the steps below (without the use of Plesk). If your server has Plesk installed, you can add PHP support through Plesk directly.

Find out if your server uses Plesk by viewing in manage.liquidweb.com.

The following information provides a step by step breakdown of each installation process. This article will provide steps for Windows Server 2016 and Plesk Onyx (if you have Plesk currently installed). Use these same steps as a guideline for Windows Server 2008 or 2012. Besides, the older versions of Plesk will use similar steps.

As with any managed Liquid Web server, as a valued customer, if you do not feel comfortable performing the PHP software installation independently, please contact our support team for additional assistance. Liquid Web support will be happy to walk you through the steps, answer any questions you may have, or complete the installation for you if needed.

Note:
As with any software change, we recommend that you have a valid backup before starting this process.

To install PHP using Plesk, you will navigate through the Updates and Upgrades option within Plesk. This method will automatically download and install PHP directly from the Plesk Control Panel. Listed are the steps to install PHP using Plesk:

  1. Login to Plesk as the admin user.
  2. Choose Tools & Settings, then select Updates and Upgrades.Installing PHP using Plesk.
  3. Click Add/Remove Components.Installing PHP using Plesk.
  4. From the Add and Remove Product Components page you will need to expand the Plesk hosting features. Select install next to the desired PHP version. Click Continue and you will see the installation process finish.Installing PHP using Plesk.
Note:
You should never attempt to make changes outside of Plesk that are directly supported through Plesk (such as installing PHP).

Once PHP has successfully installed, it will require enabling on a per domain basis. To enable PHP through Plesk, follow these steps:

  1. From Plesk, choose Domains on the left-hand side.
  2. Select your domain name.
  3. Choose Hosting Settings.
  4. Under Web Scripting and Statistics check the box to Enable PHP.
  5. Select the proper PHP version next to PHP support.
  6. Click OK.

That’s it! You are now ready to verify that PHP is working.

There are several ways to install PHP on Windows Server 2016 (without Plesk). Since the manual method is more complex and requires manual configuration to IIS, the recommended approach is using the Web Platform Installer. The Web Platform Installer will automatically download PHP and will configure the IIS handlers for you.

To install PHP using the Web Platform Installer, follow the steps provided below:

  1. Connect to your server using RDP with an Administrator user.
  2. Open Internet Information Systems (inetmgr.exe).
  3. Select the server name (under “Start Page” on the left hand side of IIS).
  4. Choose “Get New Web Platform Components” from the Actions pane.
    1. If the Web Platform Installer is not already installed you will be directed to a website to install the Web Platform Installer.
      1. Download and run the Web Platform Installer.
      2. You can now select “Get New Web Platform Components” from the Actions pane and proceed with step 5.
    2. If the Web Platform  Installer extension is already installed, it will open.
  5. From the Web Platform Installer search for “PHP 7”.
  6. Select the version of PHP that you wish to install and click “Add”, “Install”, “I Accept
  7. After the installation completes click “Finish”.

Installing PHP Without Plesk.

Once you have PHP installed, the next step is to verify that PHP is working correctly. You can do this by adding any PHP script to the website and manually navigating to the page in your browswer. The following steps explicitly explain the process of how to create a PHP page under a site in IIS. This process will then result in the output of information about PHP’s configuration. Commonly referred to as a “PHP info page,” we show you the steps needed to create one:

Note:
A PHP info page can contain sensitive data about versioning and enabled components. While creating a temporary page is typically ok, after use, we recommend you delete the page as soon as possible.
  1. Connect to your server using RDP with an Administrator user.
  2. Open Internet Information Systems (inetmgr.exe).
  3. Expand the server name (under “Start Page” on the left hand side of IIS).
  4. Expand “Sites”.
  5. Right click the site name and choose “Explore”.
  6. Within the directory that opened create a file named phpinfo.php with the following contents:<?php
    phpinfo();
    ?>
  7. Navigate to the site specifying the phpinfo.php we created. Example : http://domain.com/phpinfo.php
  8. If everything went well you should be shown a page that displays the PHP version and other information.
  9. Delete the phpinfo.php file we created earlier.
  10. The PHP Info Page shows the version of PHP you are currently using.Now that PHP is installed and working correctly you are ready to upload your code or get started with one of many PHP based content management systems of your choice.