5 Android/iPhone Apps for IT Admins

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As administrators for our servers, we may find ourselves needing to do certain things while on the go. We may also not have a laptop or PC within reach. But one thing most of us have at all times is a cell phone. Whether we have an Android or an iPhone, most of us do possess a smartphone. One thing great about these smartphones is their constant connection to the Internet. Having that constant connection makes it simple to use various apps that assist with admin tasks through our smartphones. Here is a list of five applications available both on iPhone and Android. If you are interested in checking them out, click on your phone’s type next to the application name. You can also search for these applications by name in your smartphone’s app store. Continue reading “5 Android/iPhone Apps for IT Admins”

How to Install VirtualBox on Ubuntu 16.04

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What is a VirtualBox?

This is handy when you need to run software that is only available on one Operating System, for example, if you wanted to run Windows software on your Ubuntu computer or vice versa. The only limitations are RAM and disk space for running each virtual machine. Continue reading “How to Install VirtualBox on Ubuntu 16.04”

Troubleshooting Microsoft SQL Server Error 18456, Login failed for user

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Login errors with Microsoft SQL Server (MSSQL) are a fairly common issue and can be easily solved with some basic troubleshooting steps. Before we dig in, let’s take a look at the details of the error to try and determine the cause.

connect to server error

Solutions to Microsoft SQL Server Error 18456

Sometimes, the error presents as “login failed for user ‘<username>’,” this information will help us as we identify the user we need to troubleshoot. From the message, we’ll know the error number as a reference to search for next steps. In this case, it is Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 18456.

Other times, we may only see “Microsoft SQL Server Error 18456” along with the severity and state number. On its own, a state number might not mean much, yet it can offer more details as to what is wrong and where to look next.

These states of the error, 18456, are the most common. The descriptions and potential solutions offer a quick explanation and potential troubleshooting guide.

mssql errors and potential solutions

Step 1:  Log In with Remote Desktop

The troubleshooting and solutions require you to login to the server or at least be able to make a Windows Authentication connection to MSSQL using Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio. The most common and easiest method is to connect directly to the server with a Remote Desktop Connection. If you need more information about Remote Desktop Connection, these Knowledge Base articles will help you get connected:

Step 2: Run Microsoft SQL Server Management

Once you are logged into the server, you’ll want to run Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). SSMS is the tool best suited to configure, manage, and administer MSSQL.

mssql server management

When you start SSMS, you will be asked to log in to the server. By default, most MSSQL servers have Windows Authentication enabled, meaning you must log in with the Windows Administrator or the account specified as the SQL Administrator when MSSQL was installed and configured.

connect to mssql server

In addition to Windows Authentication, MSSQL supports SQL Server Authentication. Depending on the version of MSSQL and how it was installed and configured, you may or may not have SQL Server Authentication enabled by default.

Step 3: Checking the Server Authentication Mode

Once we login to SSMS using Windows Authentication, we need to check the security settings to confirm whether MSSQL is set up to allow both Windows and SQL Authentication.

In SSMS, right-click the Server Name at the top of the Object Explorer window and choose Properties.

Next, click the Security page.

mssql security properties

If you find Windows Authentication is the only mode configured, this is the likely cause of Error 18456, Login failed for user ‘<username>’.

Setting the Server authentication mode to allow SQL Server and Windows Authentication, you will be able to login to MS-SQL with a SQL user and password or a Windows user and password. After making this change, you will need to restart the SQL Server service.

 

Step 4: Restart the SQL Service

In SSMS, right-click the Server Name at the top of the Object Explorer window and choose Restart to apply the new authentication mode settings.

In the above example, Windows Authentication mode was the only mode configured, and the Error 18456 occurred because the user ‘sa’ is a SQL user and SQL Server Authentication was not permitted.

 

Step 5: Checking SQL User Permissions

As we check the SQL user permissions, we need to answer the following questions:

  • Is the user allowed to log in?
  • Does the user have a valid password set up?
  • Does the user have the needed permissions for access to the desired database?

In SSMS Object Explorer, expand Security, Logins. Locate the user that was failing to log in. A red x on the user indicates this user has login disabled.

smss login properties

To allow the user to login, right-click the user and choose Properties, then click the Status page. Enabling login for the user and click OK.

enable login user properties

After refreshing the list user logins, we can confirm the user no longer has a red x present. This should allow the user to log in. In this example, the SQL user ‘sa’ failed to log in because there was no permission to log in. 

Continuing with user troubleshooting, right-click the user and choose Properties, then click the General page. Here you can enter a new password and then enter the confirmation password. Click OK to save the new password. We set a new password for the user so that we are certain of the password when we attempt to log in.

sa login user properties

Step 6: Mapping the User to the Database

Our last step in troubleshooting a user is to check user mapping to verify the user has access to the desired database and to set or verify their role for the database. Right-click the user and choose Properties, then click the User Mapping page. Select the Database from the list of databases. From the database role memberships, select the desired/required memberships. Click OK.

map user to mssql database

In this example, we mapped the user ‘ProdX709’ to the database Production X709.2019 and granted them database role db_owner. In many cases, you only need a user to have db_datareader and db_datawriter roles to be able to read and write to the database.

 

In this troubleshooting article, we learned how to identify specifics of Error 18456 to help us track down the root cause of the issue. Still looking for support?  Our MSSQL database solutions come with assistance from our technical support team. Find out how our high-availability database can work for you!

Remote Desktop Users Group

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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 TeamViewer on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

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VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a method for sharing a remote desktop environment. Allowing you to remote control another computer or server over the Internet or local network as if you were sitting in front of it. Keyboard and mouse strokes from your computer are relayed to the remote computer/server. There are many different kinds of VNC softwares available today. Several are cross-platform and add additional features, such as chat or file transfers. VNC is often used for remote technical support and remotely accessing files.

What is TeamViewer?

Continue reading “Install TeamViewer on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS”

Remote Desktop Troubleshooting

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Remote Desktop Protocol (or RDP) is the most common method of gaining administrative access to a Windows server. RDP is available on all versions of Windows server and a client (called Remote Desktop Connection) is included with all versions of Windows desktop operating systems. Clients are also available for Macintosh operating systems from Microsoft in the iTunes store and for Linux desktops with applications like FreeRDP. Connecting to your server via RDP allows you full control of the server desktop environment, just as if you were sitting in front of the server’s monitor and keyboard. Depending on your permissions and settings, you can copy and delete files, change file permissions or settings, and even print documents from the server.

Pre-Flight Check

Using Remote Desktop Protocol to manage a Windows server generally requires a few basic settings and information about the server.

  • 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.

 

Once you have all of the correct settings enabled, IP address and user account details, you can connect RDP to your server! Just launch the RDP client, enter the IP address of the server and the user credentials, and log in to the server using what looks like the standard Windows desktop environment.

Image of Remote Desktop Connection

As helpful as the Remote Desktop Protocol can be when it comes to managing your Windows server, there are also times when the connection fails, which can be very frustrating as the error message is generally not very helpful (often just the window shown below).  

RDP Connection Error Pop Up

 

The error shown above means that for some reason, your client was unable to make a connection to the Windows server via the Remote Desktop Protocol. When you are experiencing connectivity issues, there are many items that you can check to try to resolve the problem.

 

  1. 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:Ping Results
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Firewall Issues

Best practices in configuring a firewall is to allow the least amount of access necessary for the various connections to the server. Limiting the connections to a particular service like RDP is called “scoping” the access for that service. If your configured Windows firewall scopes traffic on RDP, it’s possible that a user may not be able to connect due to their IP address not being included in the rule. Access to the server via RDP from one user but another user is not, check the firewall; their IP address may not be included in the allowed list of IPs for Remote Desktop Access.

  1. Log in to the server, click on the Windows icon, and type Windows Firewall into the search bar.Firewall Settings
  2. Click on Windows Firewall with Advanced Security.
  3. Click on Inbound Rules
  4. Scroll down to find a rule labeled RDP (or using port 3389).
  5. Double-click on the rule, then click the Scope tab.Scope Tab
  6. Make sure the user’s current IP address is included in the list of allowed Remote IPs.

If you are unable to connect to the server from your location, contact your hosting company for help in checking the firewall rule for RDP access.

User Connectivity Problems

Can 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.

  1. 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).Local Users and Groups
  2. 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.
    remote desktop users group
  3. 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).
    account lockout screen
  4. Double check the firewall for the IP address of the user and add to the scope of the RDP rule.

No Available Connections/Sessions

By 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. Too Many Users Error

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 Errors

If 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 Disconnection

If 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 Issues

If 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.

  1. Open the Remote Desktop Client application (these directions are for the Windows built-in client, but most RDP clients have similar settings available).
  2. 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.Remote Desktop Connection Settings

 

Windows 10 Update Issues

Oddly enough, Microsoft updates often cause problems with RDP connectivity. As recent as April 2018, an update on both the server operating system and the Windows 10 desktop operating system caused connectivity issues for many users. Generally, the best policy is to update both the server and workstation, as connectivity issues most often arise when the two systems are not on the same update cycle. You may be able to resolve a new connectivity issue by removing a recent Windows update (either on the server or the desktop). Many users also reported that disabling the Printer option from the local resources setting resolved the most recent connectivity issue.  

Local Resources

 

While RDP is a great tool for managing your Windows server, connectivity issues can be frustrating. By working through the possible causes of the connection problem, you will generally be able to get reconnected and working again in no time!

How to Use a Remote Desktop

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Remote Desktop Protocol or RDP provides access to your Windows Server’s operating system from your desktop, workstation machine, mobile device or laptop. The connection to your server will be encrypted and it offers some enhancements that allow you to attach local drives and devices.

Most modern Operating Systems have support for Remote Desktop. A Remote Desktop Client made by Microsoft is available in the Apple Appstore, the MacOS store, Google Play, the Chrome Web Store for ChromeOS and of course in the Windows Store. On Linux you may need to download a 3rd party option such as RDesktop or FreeRDP which you can get through a repository or it will be pre-installed on some distro’s.

Continue reading “How to Use a Remote Desktop”

RDP File Transfer

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How to Use Remote Desktop to Transfer Files to Your Windows Server

Transferring files to your new Windows Server can be a hassle when you are first setting everything up. Plesk, FTP, or network file sharing might not be quite ready to use or your internet service provider may block those web ports. This is where transferring files via the Remote Desktop Connection program comes in! You can redirect your workstations hard drive and it will appear when you are logged in.

Continue reading “RDP File Transfer”

How to Configure a VNC Server to Use an SSH Tunnel on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

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VNC is short for ‘Virtual Network Computing’. It’s a simple method for sharing a graphical desktop environment. For example, if you install VNC on your hosted server, you could connect to its graphical desktop environment remotely.

Pre-Flight Check

Continue reading “How to Configure a VNC Server to Use an SSH Tunnel on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS”

How to Install VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

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VNC is short for ‘Virtual Network Computing’. It’s a simple method for sharing a graphical desktop environment. For example, if you install VNC on your hosted server, you could connect to its graphical desktop environment remotely.

Pre-Flight Check

Continue reading “How to Install VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS”