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Get Connected in Windows Server Essentials

Published: October 1, 2012

Updated: March 26, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

This topic applies to a server running Windows Server 2012 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, or to a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed.

You can connect your computers to the Windows Server Essentials server by using the Connector software. The Connector software is installed when you connect a computer to the server by using the Connect a Computer to the Server Wizard. You can start this wizard by typing http://<servername>/connect, where <servername> is the name of your server.

In this topic:

This section discusses the Connector software, the operating systems that are supported by Windows Server Essentials, the prerequisite tasks that must be completed before connecting your computers to the server, and the changes the server makes to the computers when you run the Connector software.

The Connector software for the Windows Server Essentials operating system connects the computers in your network to the Windows Server Essentials server. When you connect computers to the server, the Connector software enables you to automatically back up the computers and monitor their health. The Connector software also enables you to configure and remotely administer the Windows Server Essentials server. The Connector software is installed when you connect a client computer to the server. For detailed instructions about connecting client computers to the Windows Server Essentials server, see Connect computers to the server later in this topic.

The following requirements must be met before you connect a computer to the network:

  • The installation of Windows Server Essentials is complete, and the server is running. The Connector software will exit its installation if it is unable to communicate with the server.

  • The client computer is running a supported operating system. For more information, see Supported operating systems for client computers.

  • The client computer must have a valid connection to the Internet.

  • The client computer is on the same IP subnet as the server that is running Windows Server Essentials when the client computer is on the same network as the server.

  • The client computer has .NET Framework 4.5 installed on it. The Connector software automatically installs it on the computer.

  • The client computer meets the following minimum system requirements:

    • 1.4 GHz or faster processor

    • 1 GB RAM or more

    • 1 GB of available hard drive space (a portion of this space is freed after installation)

  • The boot partition (that is, the disk partition where the Windows operating system is installed) is formatted with the NTFS file system.

  • The computer name does not include more than 15 characters.

  • The computer name does not include an underscore (_).

  • The computer’s date and time settings align to the settings on the server.

  • A client computer can be connected to only one Windows Server Essentials server at any given time.

  • A client computer that is already joined to another Active Directory domain cannot join a Windows Server Essentials domain.

noteNote
In an on-premises client deployment for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 Essentials, you can connect computers to the server without adding them to the Windows Server Essentials domain. This method is not available for all supported client operating systems, and features such as Group Policy and virtual private networks (VPNs), which require that a computer be connected to the domain, are not available. For requirements and instructions, see Connect computers to a Windows Server Essentials server without joining the domain.

For step-by-step instructions to connect a computer to the server running Windows Server Essentials, see Connect computers to the server.

The following requirements must be met before you connect a Mac computer to the network:

  • The installation of the server operating system is complete, and the server is running. The Connector software will not install if it cannot communicate with the server.

  • The computer is running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later.

  • The computer is on the same IP subnet as the server.

  • The computer must have a valid connection to the Internet.

  • Ensure that the computer meets the following minimum system requirements:

    • 1.4 GHz or faster processor

    • 1 GB RAM or more

    • 1 GB of available hard drive space (a portion of this space is freed after installation)

  • A client computer can be connected to only one server at any given time.

Windows Server Essentials provides the same set of features for all supported client computers. These features include Domain Join, Launchpad, and client-side health notifications.

ImportantImportant
Windows Server Essentials does not support joining computers running the Home, Starter, or Media Center versions of Windows to the domain. In addition, you cannot use Remote Web Access to connect to these computers.

This section applies to a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, or to a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed. The following computer operating systems are supported:

Windows 7 operating systems

  • Windows 7 Home Basic SP1 (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Professional SP1 (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Starter SP1 (x86)

Windows 8 operating systems

  • Windows 8

  • Windows 8 Professional

  • Windows 8 Enterprise

Windows 8.1 operating systems

  • Windows 8.1

  • Windows 8.1 Professional

  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise

Mac client computers

  • Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard

  • Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard

  • Mac OS X v10.7 Lion

  • Mac OS X v10.8 Mountain Lion

noteNote
You can view the health and backup status for a Mac computer from the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Dashboard. However, you cannot configure computer backup or start a backup from the Dashboard. In addition, you cannot use Remote Web Access to connect a Mac computer.

This section applies to a server running Windows Server 2012 Essentials. The following computer operating systems are supported:

Windows 7 operating systems

  • Windows 7 Home Basic (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Home Premium (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Professional (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Ultimate (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Enterprise (x86 and x64)

  • Windows 7 Starter (x86)

Windows 8 operating systems

  • Windows 8

  • Windows 8 Professional

  • Windows 8 Enterprise

Mac client computers

  • Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard

  • Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard

  • Mac OS X v10.7 Lion

noteNote
You can view the health and backup status for a Mac computer from the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard. However, you cannot configure computer backup or start a backup from the Dashboard. In addition, you cannot use Remote Web Access to connect a Mac computer.

When you connect a computer to the server, the Windows Server Essentials software makes a number of changes to the computer so the computer and the server can work together.

The software does the following:

  • Installs the Connector software on the computer

  • Installs Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 on the computer if it is not already installed

  • Creates shortcuts on the computer’s desktop to the Dashboard and Launchpad

  • Configures Windows Firewall ports on the computer to allow the following features to work:

    • Core Networking

    • Remote Desktop Services

  • Makes the following changes to the computer to facilitate backups:

    • Creates scheduled tasks to run automatic backups

    • Installs services that manage backup operations with the server

    • Installs a virtual device driver that is used during file and folder restore processes

  • Installs the Health Agent to detect issues and to create the corresponding alert notifications

  • Creates scheduled tasks on the computer for recurring health assessments and to synchronize health alert definitions

  • Adds services to the computer, which the computer uses to communicate with the server and with other Windows Server Essentials features

  • Opens TCP port 3389 in client computers running Windows clients to allow Remote Desktop Services to run

  • Deploys VPN on the client computer and provides a single click experience if the VPN functionality is enabled on Windows Server 2012 Essentials, or provides an auto-connect experience if the VPN functionality is enabled on Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

For information about connecting your computer to the server, see Connect computers to the server.

You can obtain your network user name and password information from the person who manages your server. You can use these credentials to connect your computer to the server and access information from the server. For more information about connecting your computer to the server, see Connect computers to the server.

If you are the server administrator, you can create the network credentials by adding a user account from the Users tab of the Dashboard. For more information about user accounts, see Manage user accounts using the Dashboard.

You must be able to provide a network administrator account name and password to install the Connector software. A network administrator account enables the user to manage the local area network for your organization and helps manage and maintain network devices such as switches and routers.

The tasks that can be performed by using a network administrator account can include:

  • Installing networked applications and other software

  • Managing storage on the server

  • Distributing software updates

  • Performing routine backups

  • Monitoring daily activities on the network

In Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, and Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed, you can assign the network administrator access level to any user account. This grants the required permissions to perform network administrator tasks. When a user is assigned the network administrator access level, the User Access Control prompt opens for any task that requires administrator permissions.

To remove a computer from its domain, you will be prompted for the user name and password of the domain account.

  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.

  2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, click Change settings.

    noteNote
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the domain password or provide confirmation.

  3. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Computer Name tab, and then click Change.

  4. In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, under Member of, click Workgroup, and then do one of the following:

    1. To join an existing workgroup, type the name of the workgroup that you want to join, and then click OK.

    2. To create a workgroup, type the name of the workgroup that you want to create, and then click OK.

      noteNote
      Your computer will be removed from the domain and your computer account on that domain will be disabled.

This section provides access to procedures and information that will help you install the Connector software, connect your computer to the server, and troubleshoot connecting computers to the server.

When you connect a computer to a server that is running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed, ensure that your client computer has a valid connection to the Internet.

Complete the following procedure on all client computers to connect them to your server.

To complete the procedure, you need the following information:

  • The user name and password of the person who will use the computer on the new network

  • The user name and password of the computer’s local administrator account

noteNote
In an on-premises client deployment for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 Essentials, you can connect computers to the server without adding them to the Windows Server Essentials domain. This method is not available for all supported client operating systems, and features such as Group Policy and virtual private networks (VPNs), which require that a computer be connected to the domain, are not available. For requirements and instructions, see Connect computers to a Windows Server Essentials server without joining the domain.

  1. Log on to the computer that you want to connect to the server.

    noteNote
    If this computer has multiple user accounts, log on by using the user account that has documents, pictures, and personal preferences that you want to keep after you connect the computer to the server.

  2. Open an Internet browser, such as Internet Explorer.

  3. In the address bar, type http://<servername>/Connect, and then press Enter.

    noteNote
    If your computer is at a remote location outside of the Windows Server Essentials network, to run the Connect a Computer to the Server Wizard, type http://<domainname>/connect in the address bar of your web browser (where <domain> is the domain name of your organization). You can get your domain name information from your network administrator.

  4. The Connect your computer to the server page appears. Do one of the following:

    • For a computer running the Windows operating system, click Download software for Windows.

    • For a computer running Mac OS X or later, click Download software for Mac.

  5. In the file download security warning message, click Run.

  6. If the User Account Control message appears, click Yes or type the local user name and password, if prompted.

  7. The Connect a Computer to the Server Wizard appears. Do the following to complete the wizard:

    1. Accept the end-user license agreement.

    2. On the Find my server page, auto-detect the server in the local networks and select the server that you want to connect to. Or, if you have the information, you can manually input your server’s name or domain address.

    3. On the Type your new network user name and password page, do the following:

      • If this is the first computer that you are connecting to the server, and if this is the computer that you will be using to administer the server, use the administrator account that you created during setup.

      • For all other computers, first create a network user account on the server by using the Dashboard. Create the user account with Administrator or Standard user privileges, based on the tasks that are performed by the person using the computer.

    4. If your computer is running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, skip this step. If your computer is running Windows 7, and if you have documents, pictures, or personal preferences (such as desktop backgrounds, screen savers, or Internet Explorer favorites) that you want to keep after you join the computer to the new network, on the Choose if you want to move your existing data and settings page of the wizard, select the Move my data and settings to my new network user account.

    5. Choose if you want to automatically wake the computer to create a backup on the Choose if you want to wake this computer to create its backup page.

    6. Follow the remaining instructions in the wizard to join your computer to the network.

  8. After you join your computer to the network, use your new user name and password to log on to the computer.

    noteNote
    When you log on to a computer that is running Windows 8 for the first time by using your network account, after it connects to the server, instructions for migrating files and applications from the old user account appear. Follow the instructions on the How do I migrate files and applications from my old user account? page to migrate all files and applications to the network user account.

  9. After the computer is successfully connected to the server, shortcuts to the Connector TrayApp and the server Dashboard appear on the Start menu, which can be used as follows (if your computer is running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, the Dashboard and Connector TrayApp will be available from the computer’s Start screen):

    • If your computer is running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, the Dashboard and Connector TrayApp will be searchable as an App.

    • From the Connector TrayApp, you can enable or disable the Keep me remotely connected feature. You can also double-click the TrayApp to start the Launchpad. From the Launchpad, you can access the Shared folders shortcut, configure computer backups, address alerts, and open the Remote Web Access website.

    • From the Dashboard link, you can administer your server.

This topic describes how to add a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 computer to a Windows Server Essentials network without joining the computer to the Windows Server Essentials domain in an on-premises client deployment. This connection method is supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

This is an alternative to the usual method, which requires joining the computer to the Windows Server Essentials domain. With that method, if the computer is in another domain, it must be removed from that domain before it can be added to the Windows Server Essentials domain.

Some features are limited when a client computer is not added to the Windows Server Essentials domain:

  • All features that require that the computer be joined to the domain—including domain credentials, Group Policy, and virtual private networks (VPNs)—are not available.

  • Any third-party add-ons that require that the computer be joined to the domain will not work properly.

  • This method cannot be used to connect an off-premises computer to the server.

  • The computer must have a physical connection to the local network.

  • One of the following operating systems must be installed on the computer:

    • Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise

    • Windows 7 Professional (x86 and x64), Windows 7 Enterprise (x86 and x64), Windows 7 Ultimate (x86 and x64)

  • The computer must meet all other requirements for client computers in Windows Server Essentials. For more information, see Prerequisites for connecting a computer to the server.

  • To enable a connection without joining the domain, you must sign on to the computer with an account that is a member of the local Administrators group.

  • To connect the computer to the Windows Server Essentials server, you will need the following account information:

    • An account with Administrator rights on Windows Server Essentials (your account).

    • The user name and password for the domain account of the person who will use the computer. The domain account also must have Administrator rights on the Windows Server Essentials server.

After you verify that all prerequisites have been met, connect the computer to the Windows Server Essentials network.

  1. Sign on to the client computer with an account that is a member of the local Administrators group.

  2. Open a command prompt with Administrator rights.

    • In Windows 8, on the Start page, type command and then press Enter. In the results, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator.

    • In Windows 7, on the Start menu, enter command in the search box, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as Administrator.

  3. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press Enter:

    reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment" /v SkipDomainJoin /t REG_DWORD /d 1
    
  4. Complete the steps in Connect computers to the server.

  1. Log on to the server that you want to connect to the Windows Server Essentials network.

  2. Open an Internet browser, and in the address bar, type http://<servername>/Connect, where <servername> is the name of the server running Windows Server Essentials, and then press Enter.

  3. If Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration is enabled on the server that you are trying to connect to the Windows Server Essentials network, complete the following; otherwise, skip this step.

    1. To accept the blocking message, click Close.

    2. Add the http://<servername>/Connect website to the trusted websites as follows:

      1. In the browser navigation pane, click Tools, and then click Internet Options.

      2. Click the Security tab, and then click Trusted sites.

      3. Click Sites.

      4. The website should be shown in the Add this website to the zone field. Click Add.

      5. Click Close, and then click OK.

    3. Refresh the web page.

    4. To connect the second server to a server running Windows Server Essentials, follow the instructions in Connect computers to the server.

    noteNote
    Connecting a second server to a server running Windows Server Essentials differs from connecting to a client computer as follows:

    • There is no user profile migration; therefore, the current profile will not be migrated.

    • You cannot back up the second server by using client computer backup, and there is no option to wake up the computer for backup.

After you join the second server to a server that is running Windows Server Essentials, the following features are provided to the connected server:

  • Update & Alerts status functionalities work the same as other client computers.

  • Online & Offline functionalities work the same as other client computers.

  • You can connect to your second server by using Remote Web Access.

  • The second server will be included in the Health Reports because Windows Server Essentials will generate alerts related to this server.

Management of the second server from the server that is running Windows Server Essentials will differ from managing other client computers as follows:

  • There will be no entrance point for TrayApp, Launchpad, and Dashboard Client.

  • The second server is listed within the Servers group on the Devices tab.

  • Because client computer backup is not supported for the second server, the backup status is displayed as Not supported. In addition, if you select the second server and right-click, there are no backup and restore related tasks displayed for the second server.

  • If you select the second server, and then click the View the server properties task, there is no Backup tab displayed on the server’s properties page.

  • Because there is no Security Center on a Windows Server operating system, the second server’s security status displays as Not applicable.

  • The second server’s Group Policy status displays as Not applicable.

The Connector software in Windows Server Essentials is installed when you connect your computer to the server by using the Connect a Computer to the Server Wizard. You can launch this wizard by typing http://<ServerName>/connect in the address bar of your web browser (where <ServerName> is the name of your server).

noteNote
If your computer is at a remote location, to run the Connect a Computer to the Server Wizard, type http://<domainname>/connect in the address bar of your web browser (where <domain> is the domain name of your organization). You can get your domain name information from your network administrator.

The Connector software does the following:

  • Connects your computer to Windows Server Essentials

  • Automatically backs up your computer nightly (if you configure the server to create client backups)

  • Helps administrator monitor the health of your computer

  • Enables you to configure and remotely administer Windows Server Essentials from your home computer

For step-by-step instructions about connecting your computer to the Windows Server Essentials server, see Connect computers to the server.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 Essentials support user profile migration only for client computers that are running the Windows 7 operating system. When you connect a Windows 7-based computer to the server, the Connect Computer to the Server Wizard can automatically migrate the user profile.

The user profile cannot be transferred automatically when connecting a Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 computer to the server. However, on a Windows 8 computer, you can use Windows Easy Transfer to transfer data and settings from the original local user to the domain-joined computer. To do that, you must be an Administrator on both the Windows 8 source computer and the Windows 8 destination computer. For information about using Windows Easy Transfer to transfer files and settings, see article 2735227 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Before you connect a computer running the Windows 7 or Windows 7 SP1 operating system to the Windows Server Essentials server, in order to transfer multiple local user profiles you must first create the corresponding network user accounts on the server. For more information about creating network user accounts, see Add a user account.

User profile migration is only supported on a computer running Windows 7 (for Windows Server 2012 Essentials) or Windows 7 SP1 (for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials). When you connect a computer to the Windows Server Essentials server using the Connect Your Computer to the Server Wizard, you are provided an option to move the user data and settings of old user local accounts into the new network user accounts. To do so, on the Move existing user data and settings page of the wizard, map the network user accounts to the local user accounts that exist on the computer to transfer multiple user profiles that are located on the client computer.

You can uninstall the Connector software from a computer by using the Control Panel. You will usually do this if there is a problem with the Connector software or if you need to install a newer version of the Connector software. You must be logged on to the computer as an administrator to complete this procedure.

ImportantImportant
If you upgrade the operating system on a client computer, the Connector software is uninstalled automatically. You must reinstall the Connector software after the upgrade is complete. The preferred method is to uninstall the Connector software before you upgrade the operating system. Uninstalling the Connector software after the upgrade is complete is still acceptable; however, it might result in an inconsistent state for the client computer with the server until the Connector software is uninstalled and reinstalled.

  1. From a computer that is running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, open Control Panel, and then in the Programs section, click View installed updates.

  2. From the list of installed programs, select Windows Server Essentials Connector, and then click Uninstall.

  3. On the warning page, click Yes.

  4. If the User Account Control window appears, click Allow.

  5. In Windows Server 2012 Essentials, if the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Connector page appears suggesting to close the Launchpad, click OK.

  6. Wait for the program to uninstall. After the software is removed, Windows Server Essentials Connector no longer appears within the list of installed programs or updates. In addition, the shortcuts to the Launchpad and the Dashboard are no longer displayed on the computer’s desktop.

noteNote
  • Uninstalling the Connector software does not remove the computer from the list of computers that are displayed on the DEVICES tab of the Dashboard. To remove the computer from the Dashboard, see Remove a computer from the server.

  • When you uninstall the Connector software, shared folders on the client computer that were mapped to the server are not deleted. You must manually delete the shared folders that are mapped to the server.

  • Uninstalling the Connector software does not make the computer unjoin the original domain. You must manually unjoin the computer from the domain. For instructions, see Remove a computer from a Windows domain.

To disconnect a computer from the server, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Uninstall the Connector software from the computer by using the Control Panel. For step-by-step instructions, see Uninstall the Connector software.

  2. Unjoin the computer from the Windows Server Essentials domain and join it to the workgroup. For step-by-step instructions for joining Windows to a workgroup, Join or create a workgroup.

  3. Remove the computer from the server by using the Dashboard. For step-by-step instructions, see Remove a computer from the server.

To reconnect a computer to the server that was previously disconnected from your Windows Server Essentials server network, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Uninstall the Connector software from the computer by using the Control Panel. For step-by-step instructions, see Uninstall the Connector software.

  2. Unjoin the computer from the Windows Server Essentials domain and join it to the workgroup. For step-by-step instructions for joining Windows to a workgroup, Join or create a workgroup.

  3. Connect the computer to the server by using the Connect Computer Wizard. For step-by-step instructions, see Connect computers to the server.

If you select the Wake This Computer for Backup option when you connect a computer to the server, the computer will automatically wake up from sleep or hibernate mode every day as specified in the Backup schedule so that it can be backed up. After the backup is finished, the computer will return to sleep or hibernate mode, based on its power management settings. If you do not select this option, the server will not back up a computer if the computer is sleeping or hibernating. For more information, see Manage client computer backup in Windows Server Essentials.

You can use the Launchpad to access shared resources from the Windows Server Essentials server, perform computer backups, and respond to system health alerts.

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