Headless Server

A Headless server simply means one that is not connected to a monitor, keyboard or mouse but still functions. This is great for storing the server in hidden away places as the only connections needed in theory is power and network, plus no need to pay out for dedicated peripherals if there are none to spare.

Controlling a headless server can be achieved by using a Remote Desktop, where a virtual display of the servers screen can be displayed on another computer, giving the impression that you are using the server directly. Microsoft has its version of Remote Desktop bundled with most business versions of Windows and with all Windows Server editions, and luckily there are 3rd party solutions for all versions of Windows.

How To Guide:

Right click on the My Computer icon, either on the desktop or in the Start menu, and click Properties

WindowsWindows Vista/2008 and newer: Click Advanced System Settings on the left pane

System Properties Window
Newer Windows: Click Advanced system settings

Click the Remote tab, if your version of Windows supports Remote Desktop it will be displayed here

Remote Management Window
Note: Your looking for Remote DESKTOP, not Remote Assistance

Tick the checkbox to enable Remote Desktop and click OK

Enable Remote Desktop Users

By default the Administrator account is able to log in via remote desktop, enabling other users requires a bit more configuration.

Open the Users Management Console by pressing Windows Key key and R, then type "lusrmgr.msc" and click OK

Users and Groups Management Console
Local Users and Groups: This can be used to add new users too

Click the Users folder on the left pane to show all users on the server, right click the user you want to give remote access to and click Properties. Then click the Dail-in tab.

Dail-in Properties

In the Remote Access Permission (Dail-in or VPN) section, move the radio control to Allow access, click OK and that user can now log in remotely.

Connecting To Remote Server

At another computer on your home network open Remote Desktop Connection, its available on all Windows machines but usually hidden in the accessories folder on the Start menu.

Remote Desktop Connection

In the computer field, enter the IP address of the computer and click connect, you should now see the login screen or if the credentials have already been entered, the server desktop.

Remote Desktop