Create a console to manage remote servers, systems

By creating a custom Microsoft Management Console called the Remote Desktop Console, you'll be able to better manage your systems than with the normal Remote Desktop interface.

Want a fast way to manage your systems? With the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), you can create a one-stop shop for all of your management tools.

Using the default snap-ins that come with Windows 2003 Server/XP Professional, you can create an elaborate mix of tools to manage every server/system in your network environment. To do this:

Go to Start-->Run
Type: mmc
Click OK to open an empty MMC console
Go to File-->Add/Remove Snap-in
Then click ADD in the Add/Remove Snap-in window.

The new window will display some default Windows components which you can use to build a console that will suit your needs. You can create one of my favorite consoles, the Remote Desktop console, by following these steps:

  1. In the list of snap-ins, locate the Remote Desktops option. Choose Add.
  2. Choose OK to close the Add/Remove Snap-in window
  3. In the now-populated Console, you'll find a snap-in called Remote Desktops. Right-click on Remote Desktops and choose Add New Connection.
  4. You'll now be prompted for connection info. Type in the Server name or IP address
  5. Type in a friendly name in the Connection Name field.
  6. If you want, you can type in the Logon Information
  7. Choose OK.

Now you have a Remote Connection to that system. You can right-click that connection to tweak the connection properties further, or else simply click on the connection to connect. The Remote Desktop interface will fill the content window on the right. Log on or off as you would with Remote Desktop. After adding that one system, right-click the Remote Desktops snap-in and choose Add Connection to add another system. This is a fast way to build up a list of servers to connect to and manage.

Okay, I can hear you saying, "Tim, I can manage a list of systems to connect to using the drop-down field with the normal Remote Desktop interface."

My response is, first of all, that list only maintains ten entries. Secondly, that utility is only able to perform Remote Desktop functions. What if you wanted to add the ability to manage a remote system without having to log onto it?

In the custom MMC you have created, add another snap-in called Computer Management and choose the remote system for it to connect to. If you have the proper rights, you can open that snap-in to view Event Logs, Services, etc., without having to log on via a remote desktop session.

About the author: Tim Fenner(MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, Network+ and A+) is a senior systems administrator who oversees a Microsoft Windows, Exchange and Office environment, as well as an independent consultant who specializes in the design, implementation and management of Windows networks.

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This was first published in November 2006

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