Archive for the ‘Server 2019’ Category

Remote Access

Many years ago I wrote numerous blog articles relating to VPNs, and primarily PPTP VPNs. Hits on those blog pages are up 300% since the Coronavirus outbreak due to people looking for ways to work from home. I wanted to warn PPTP is an old solution and is considered to be “broken” and very insecure. Please consider other options.

Rather than creating new articles explaining how to configure various remote access methods I thought I would provide some suggestions and links as it has all been written before by very talented IT folk.

Firstly VPNs. I would always recommend using a VPN appliance/router over the server itself. It is more secure, authenticates at the network perimeter not the server itself, and allows more control. Cisco, Sonicwall, Juniper, Watchguard, and others provide very good solutions . However one concern with any VPN solution is the fact that though it is a secure tunnel, it also allows any and all traffic between an unmanaged remote client computer and the corporate network. Viruses can travers the VPN tunnel, should the client PC be hacked the hacker has direct access to the corporate network, and the remote user can easily copy/steal corporate data that they maybe should not. In addition VPNs occasionally just do not work due to network addressing, slow ISP service, or blocked protocols by ISPs.

If you do want to set up a VPN on a windows server, I would recommend SSTP.  Thomas Maurer has a great configuration guide:https://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2016/10/how-to-install-vpn-on-windows-server-2016/

Perhaps a better option than a VPN is a terminal server, now called a remote desktop server (RD Server). I have never seen the RDP protocol blocked, performance is usually better than a VPN, and all data stays on the corporate network. If set up correctly it uses the Remote Desktop Gateway service and SSL which is very secure. You can, if you like, also use this within your VPN tunnel and if using a business class VPN solution restrict traffic to RDP.

Another alternative if you don’t want to set up an RD Server is to configure the RD Gateway service on your server and allow users to connect securely to their own desktops PCs with the same level of performance. This was a built in feature of SBS and Server Essentials 2016 and earlier.  Mariette Knap has a excellent article on configuring the RD Gateway service, specifically on Server 2019 Std:https://www.server-essentials.com/support/setup-rds-gateway-as-a-replacement-for-access-anywhere-from-the-essentials-experience-role

Regardless of what method you use, as soon as you allow any remote access, make sure you configure Group Policy to enforce strong passwords and to lock accounts after ‘X’ wrong password guesses.  (I use 5, and lock out for 30 minutes). You can set this on the server for domain wide deployment or on an individual PC using GPedit.msc. For both it is located under Computer Configuration |Windows Settings | Security Settings | Account Policies .

The other alternative of course is to use cloud based services such as Microsoft’s Office 365 which you can from any where, at any time.  If dong so, make sure you enable multi-factor authentication for security.

I hope this is of some help and please stay safe n these uncertain times.

 

 

 

Hyper-V Missing VMs

Over the past 6 months I installed 4 Server 2019 Hyper-V hosts for various clients. After several months with no problems, following a reboot, all running VM’s completely disappeared from the Hyper-V management console and were not accessible from the network using management tools, file shares, remote desktop, or even pings. Oddly, shut down or saved VM’s were present.

When this first happened I was shocked. The VHDX files were all present so I could create a new VM, but that didn’t seem practical. Googling showed that this can happen if the Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management service did not start, but in my case it had. I tried restarting the service, the VM’s instantly reappeared, and were in a running state with boot up almost complete.

This issue over the coming months started happening on other 2019 servers and after every reboot, planned or due to a power outage, I had to connect to the host and restart the Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management service.

Further Googling this issue brings up suggestions of corrupt VM configuration files, granting “NT Virtual Machine\Virtual Machines” the “logon as a service right”, doing the same with group policy, and other suggestions, but where restarting the service would resolve in every case I assumed there was not a configuration issue.

In the end setting the Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management service start up type to “Automatic (delayed start)” resolved the problem on all machines, though it resulted in a slightly longer boot time for the VMs.

All of thee servers worked fine for a few months so I assume the problem was due to a Windows update but to date I have found no actual cause. Also, I can confirm this only occurs on my 2019 Hyper-V hosts. There are no issues with Server 2016 or earlier servers.

Hyper-V restart

No virtual machines were found on this server.

A client had a 4 hour power outage today.  Though the Hyper-V host, which was connected to a business class UPS, rebooted as it should, none of the VMs came back on line. The Hyper-V management console showed “No virtual machines were found on this server”.

capture1

After researching several solutions before simply recreating the virtual machines I restarted the “Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management service”, which was already running.  Instantly all VM’s reappeared and started up.  Perhaps this may assist others down the road.

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