Install and Configure Remote Server Administration Tools on Windows 10

Table of Contents

Introduction

The server is the hub of all computers on a network. All computers connect to the server to send and receive data. Sometimes, the server offloads data processing from the clients, thereby freeing the clients for other tasks. It might be necessary to access some of the server functions from a remote client without being in physical proximity to the server. Earlier versions of Windows Server had a GUI similar to their client counterparts which made administration easy as there was no need to learn two different UIs. Whenever remote administration was needed, one way was to connect to the server using a remote desktop client and work in the RDP environment. However, session information was lost as soon as the RDP session is logged out. With the transition to GUI-less Windows Server versions, there is a need to be able to remotely control the server without the need to login or logout of any RDP session. The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) package was built to specifically address this concern.

In this tutorial, we will have a look at what exactly are the RSAT tools in Windows 10 and start an instance of Server Manager and try to connect to a remote server.

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10

RSAT allows admins to run snap-ins on a remote server to manage its features, roles and services. Windows 10, like previous versions of the client, has built in support for RSAT. The various installation possibilities for RSAT are summarized below -

  • Installed by default in Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and the earlier Server versions.
  • Can be downloaded and installed as a standalone update package on clients running Windows 10 Professional, Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education editions.
  • Cannot be installed on clients running Windows 10 Home or any ARM or system-on-chip version.
  • Cannot be installed on any of the Server versions of the OS.
  • Supports remote management of Server Core or Minimal Server Interface configuration of Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2 and in some cases, Windows Server 2012.

Available tools in this release

A support matrix for RSAT for Windows 10 Platform and Tools can be found here. A key point to note here is that Hyper-V tools are not part of RSAT for Windows 10 unlike earlier versions. Hyper-V comes directly as part of Windows 10 and can be used without installing RSAT. Some of the other tools that are not available in this release include

  • BitLocker Drive Encryption admin utilities
  • Direct Access
  • Routing and Remote Access
  • Remote Desktop Services
  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Cluster Aware Updating
  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Best Practices Analyzer

Customize available tools

Let's get started with installing RSAT for Windows 10. As noted earlier, RSAT is only available for Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise and Education SKUs. RSAT can run on both x86 and x64 versions of Windows 10. Do note that previous RSAT versions should be removed prior to installing the latest version. To access and manage Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 versions, additional updates are needed for this version of RSAT to make the earlier Windows Server versions manageable using Server Manager. Also note that on the remote server, Windows PowerShell and Server Manager remote management must be enabled. Remote management is enabled by default on Windows Server 2016, 2012 R2 and 2012 versions. The following steps were executed on an evaluation version of Windows 10 Enterprise x64 running in VMWare. You should be able to faithfully replicate it in your own setup as much as possible.

RSAT download page

  • You have to choose the installer appropriate for your architecture. This is a 64-bit machine so in this case, we will go ahead and download the the WindowsTH-KB2693643-x64.msu file.

  • Double-click the installer file to start the installation. Accept the license terms and let it complete.

  • In earlier versions of Windows, one had to manually enable these tools after installing the RSAT package. But in Windows 10, once installed, these tools are readily available. You will notice that the tick box near the RSAT tools is checked which means we are good to go.

RSAT is already checked after installing update

  • Now go to Control Panel\System and Security\Administrative Tools to find all the tools installed by RSAT.

Server administration tools in one place

To uninstall the RSAT package -

  • Go to Control Panel --> Programs --> Uninstall a Program.

  • Click View Installed Updates.

  • Right-click Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2693643), and then click Uninstall.

  • When asked for confirmation, click Yes.

Uninstall tools by removing the KB2693643 update

To remove specific tools in the package -

  • Go to Control Panel --> Programs --> Programs and Features and click on Turn Windows Feature on and off.

  • Clear the check marks against the tools that you want to remove.

Selectively remove tools

Running the Server Manager

The tools included in the RSAT package cannot be used to manage the local computer. A remote server or multiple remote servers must be specified in the Server Manager. Most of the tools in the RSAT package are integrated in the Server Manager so it's a good idea to first add the server pools to the Server Manager before deploying these tools. To start the Server Manager,

  • Click the Start button to bring up the Start Menu and click on the Server Manager tile. (or) Click on the Cortana search box in the taskbar and start typing 'Server Manager'. You should be able to see the entry in Cortana. Click on the entry to start Server Manager.

Cortana is ready to help you manage servers

  • This opens the Server Manager dashboard.

Server manager

  • From here, you can add remote servers and assign roles as needed.

  • If your part of a domain, you can search for servers in your organization's Active Directory or you can input an IP address of your choice. You can also import server addresses from a file.

  • The Tools menu lists all the RSAT tools that are available for deployment on the remote server.

Pro-Tip

Sometimes you might be moving between clients and would want to still be able to control the remote server. But reconfiguring all settings again can be a hassle. If the Server Manager versions are similar, you can copy the files from the locations below on the initial client to the same locations on the new client. So the next time you start Server Manager on the new client, you're previous configuration will be visible.

Copy the files from the following locations -

%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\ServerManager\ServerList.xml

%appdata%\Local\Microsoft_Corporation\ServerManager.exe_StrongName_GUID\6.2.0.0\user.config

Do remember that the Server Manager versions on the former and latter clients should be identical.

Known Issue

RSAT currently supports only the EN-US locale. If you install RSAT on a region other than EN-US, the installation will happen fine but you will not see any of the tools listed in the Turn Windows Features on and off dialog. As a workaround, install the EN-US language pack before installing RSAT. Once you are able to configure the tools in the Turn Windows Features on and off dialog, you can go back to your region and language of choice.

Summary

So that was a brief introduction to the RSAT package and the Server Manager program. As we have seen above, it is very easy to install and configure RSAT which enables efficient remote server administration from supported clients. There's a lot to explore in Server Manager which begets a tutorial on its own. Absence of the GUI in servers is highly preferred as it minimizes the risk layer and frees up the CPU cycles and RAM to the designated server task, thereby enhancing overall efficiency. Although you can still RDP into the server, using RSAT greatly minimizes the need as the server is always available and multiple servers can be configured in one instance.