Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is the easiest and most common method for managing a Windows server. Included in all versions of Windows server and has a built-in client on all Windows desktops. There are also free applications available for Macintosh and Linux based desktops. Unfortunately, because it is so widely used, RDP is also the target of a large number of brute force attacks on the server. Malicious users will use compromised computers to attempt to connect to your server using RDP. Even if the attack is unsuccessful in guessing your administrator password, just the flood of attempted connections can cause instability and other performance issues on your server. Fortunately, there are some approaches you can use to minimize your exposure to these types of attacks.Continue reading “Improving Security for your Remote Desktop Connection”
In this article, we explain how to use Remote Desktop to access your Windows server’s desktop from anywhere in the world. On a normal Windows computer, you have a keyboard, monitor, and mouse that allow you to interact with the machine. For Windows VPS servers hosted on the Internet, things are a bit different because your server could physically be thousands of miles away. To access the desktop of an Internet-hosted server, Microsoft has created a feature known as Remote Desktop.Continue reading “How to Access Your Windows Server with Remote Desktop”
In this article, we explain how to utilize the Windows Remote Desktop software to access your server from any location to a Windows Server operating system.Continue reading “Accessing Your Windows Server with Remote Desktop”
In this article, we will discuss Windows logging, using the event viewer and denoting where the windows logs are stored.
Windows VPS server options include a robust logging and management system for logs. These logs record events as they happen on your server via a user process, or a running process. This information is very helpful in troubleshooting services and other issues, or to investigate a security problem.Continue reading “Where Are The Windows Logs Stored?”
How Do I Get Back Into RDP?
You may be working from a local machine that has an IP that is not scoped on that RDP port, making it impossible for you to gain remote access to add the IP address to the RDP rule’s scope. Do not fret; there is a simple and quick way to add your IP to the RDP scoping (or any other entities such as MySQL or MSSQL) right through your Plesk interface in your local browser. You can watch this video, or scroll down for step-by-step directions.
For security purposes, it is always recommended that you scope off your Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection on your server. Putting a scope on the RDP rule in the Windows Firewall will allow only the indicated IP addresses to gain access to the server through Remote Desktop Protocol. The issue is that many of us do not have static IP addresses, but rather Dynamic IP addresses. This means that while once our IP address may be 120.32.111.01, it may change to something like 95.42.121.01 later. So if you were to add 120.32.111.01 to the RDP firewall for a customer or a system administrator, then you may need to add another rule for a different IP address.
Adding Your IP in Plesk
Step 1: Log in to Plesk
First, we need to make sure we know how to get to that Plesk login page. By default, the Plesk login page is https://<YourServerIP>:8443. For example, https://127.0.0.1:8443
We should arrive at a page with this in the center. Go ahead and type in Admin for the username and your password for Plesk. Usually, that password is set up by our team and is the default Server Administrator Password. Sometimes the username is Administrator, depending on a few variables. But one of the two usernames should be fine.
Step 2: Tools & Settings
The first thing we need to do after we log into Plesk through the previous page is to navigate to the Firewall Rules. Go ahead and click on Tools & Settings. It will be located in the right sidebar near the bottom as shown below.
Step 3: Firewall
Once we pull up Tools & Settings go ahead and click on our destination, Firewall. You will find that option under the Security section. It will be the second option, just under Security Policy.
Step 4: Firewall Rules
After we are in the Firewall management, go ahead and click on Firewall Rules. This is where we will add the rule to allow a certain IP address to gain RDP access.
Step 5: Add a Firewall Rule
Under Tools, after going into the Firewall Rules, we will see the option labeled Add Firewall Rule. Go ahead and click on that, bringing us to our next step.
Step 6: Add Detail the New Rule
This is the page that we see after clicking on Add Firewall Rule. It can seem to be complicated and intimidating for some beginner level System Administrators, but it is simple.
If you or your client are not sure what that IP address that needs RDP access is, Liquid Web has a great site to visit that will display your IP address.
Once you enter the IP address into the text box under Remote addresses, you do need to click the ADD button before clicking on OK.
As mentioned above, after clicking the ADD button while the IP address is entered into the Add an IP address or a network text box, it will be placed into the left text box. After that step, you will then be able to click OK to apply this rule to the firewall for the server.
Step 7: Connect to RDP
The individual at that IP address can now access the server via RDP. If you would like to review an article explaining how to use Remote Desktop Connection, or if you need further assistance, you can locate more info at our internal help center after logging into your Liquid Web account.
Congratulations! You now know how to add an IP address to an RDP rule that will allow a user to connect if the RDP is scoped off to the public. This can be done many times. Although Plesk does not allow you to edit the rule, you will have to create a new one each time. But this shouldn’t cause any issues. Also, keep in mind that this method can be used for any port, including MySQL and MSSQL.
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- First, the Remote Desktop Service must be running on the server to which you would like to connect (RDP uses port 3389 by default).
- Second, you need to know the IP address of the server.
- Third, you must have a username and password that is allowed to connect to the server remotely (often, this is the primary administrator account, but can also be a secondary account set up specifically for remote access purposes).
- Finally, the Windows firewall (and any other hardware or software firewalls) needs to be configured to allow Remote Connections from your location.
- Ensure you can reach the server via ICMP (or Ping). Most desktop operating systems will allow you to send small bits of information to the computer to verify connectivity and connection speeds. Generally, you just need to open a terminal window (on a Windows desktop, press the Window key, then type cmd and press enter) and enter the following command: ping IP or ping domain.tld. Normally, you’ll receive an output that is similar:
- This output shows the pings were successful to the destination and took between 50 ms and 150 ms to complete. These pings indicate a successful connection to the server as desired (at least over ICMP). If the output for the command shows a failure to respond, we know there is some network interference.
- If the ping test fails (indicated by repeating asterisks), check your internet connectivity to guarantee that you can reach other resources on the internet. If not, you may need to contact your local service provider to restore your internet access.
- Reaching other internet sites but not your server indicates your server is refusing connections from your IP address (due to security software or firewall settings). You may need to contact your hosting company to verify there is not an IP address blocked by your server. You can find your current public IP address by going to https://ip.liquidweb.com.
- Can you ping your server, but still can’t connect over RDP? It is likely an issue with the RDP service or your firewall. You’ll need to contact your hosting company to get assistance with the service or firewall.
- Log in to the server, click on the Windows icon, and type Windows Firewall into the search bar.
- Click on Windows Firewall with Advanced Security.
- Click on Inbound Rules
- Scroll down to find a rule labeled RDP (or using port 3389).
- Double-click on the rule, then click the Scope tab.
- Make sure the user’s current IP address is included in the list of allowed Remote IPs.
User Connectivity ProblemsCan you connect to RDP using the administrator account, but one or more of the other accounts cannot? There may be a problem with the user account permissions.
- Make certain the user is a member of the Remote Desktop Users group. Log in to the server with the administrator account, then go to the Local Users and Groups control panel (Open Administrative Tools, then open Computer Management).
- Navigate to the Remote Desktop Users group and verify that the user is a member of the group. If they are not a member of the group, add them as a member of the group.
- Go to the username under the Users tab. Make sure that the user account is not locked out. Accounts can get locked out due to too many attempts to log in with an incorrect password (either by the user or by a brute force attack on the server).
- Double check the firewall for the IP address of the user and add to the scope of the RDP rule.
No Available Connections/SessionsBy default, Windows server only allows two users to connect via RDP simultaneously. If both sessions are already in use, you will receive an error indicating that no additional users are allowed to connect at this time. To resolve this issue, you will need to wait until one of the other users logs out or you’ll require to purchase additional RDP user licenses from your hosting provider (assuming that you regularly need access for more than two users at a time). Failed login attempts during a brute force attack can sometimes take up RDP licenses, even though the session isn’t connecting. If you are experiencing unavailable sessions even when no one is logged in to the server, it’s possibly the result of a malicious login. The best remedy for this situation is to scope the firewall rule to prevent access attempts from unauthorized IP addresses.
Data Encryption ErrorsIf you are using an out of date Remote Desktop Client or are connecting to an older Windows server, you may receive an error that there is a problem with the TLS settings for the connection. Generally, you can resolve this issue by updating your RDP client software on your workstation. It may also be possible to set the client to ignore these errors, but that could leave your workstation and your server vulnerable to malicious attacks.
Sudden DisconnectionIf you are using RDP and suddenly lose the connection, the issue is almost always related to your internet connection. Check to make sure that you can stay connected to other services (like running a ping command in the background). If you are not losing internet connectivity, it’s possible that the server is running out of memory or the RDP service may be experiencing an active attacked in a brute force attack. If you’ve confirmed that your internet connection is stable, contact your hosting company to make sure that the server is not the cause of the lost connection.
Slow Connection IssuesIf the connection between your location and your server is slow your Remote Desktop Session may not function as smoothly as you would like. However, you may be able to adjust the Desktop Environment settings of the connection before you connect to simplify and speed up the connection.
- Open the Remote Desktop Client application (these directions are for the Windows built-in client, but most RDP clients have similar settings available).
- Click on the Experience tab to see the various items you can choose to enable or disable to improve your connection speeds. Change the drop-down to select a specific connection speed or select/deselect the various items to optimize performance.