How to Remotely Manage a Microsoft Nano Servers

Nano Server is a new installation option offered by Windows Server 2016. It is a 100% remotely managed server operating system optimized for cloud and datacenter environments, however, one of its ideal usage scenarios is as a web server running Internet Information Services (IIS). It is exclusively 64-bit, supporting only 64-bit applications but with a much smaller footprint than typical server OS’s.

Being fully remotely managed there are is no local login capability. However, it does not support Windows Terminal Services either. As such, unlike typical Windows Server environments, you cannot log on remotely using Windows Terminal Services and be presented with the familiar Windows desktop environment.

Despite this, there are some different ways to remotely access and manage Nano servers.

  • Windows PowerShell
  • Server Manager
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)
  • Windows Remote Management
  • Emergency Management Services (EMS)

There are also a number of specialized tools which may be used in order to manage specific aspects of Nano server:

  • Hyper-V Manager
  • Failover Cluster Manager
  • Perfmon
  • Event Viewer

In this tutorial, we’ll review the two most commonly used methods for accessing Nano server: PowerShell and Server Manager.

In order to connect remotely to a Nano server using any of these methods, you will need the IP address of your Nano server. This may be obtained by pinging the hostname of the server.

How to Manage a Nano Server using PowerShell

Managing a Nano server via PowerShell requires certain preliminary requirements:

  • You will need to add the IP address of the Nano server to the trusted hosts list on your local computer
  • The account you will be using to access the Nano server must belong to the server’s administrator’s group.
  • While not absolutely necessary, it would be a good idea to enable CredSSP.

How To Add Nano server as a trusted host

  1. Open an elevated Windows PowerShell.
    • Elevated mode allows you to run PowerShell as an administrator in order to execute admin-level commands.
  2. Enter the following command:
    Set-Item WSMan:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts "[Nano server IP address]"

    The IP address is now part of the trusted hosts list.

How to connect to a Nano Server using PowerShell

  1. Open an elevated Windows PowerShell.
  2. Enter the following commands:
    $ip = "[Nano server IP address]"
    $s = New-PSSession -ComputerName $ip -Credential ~\Administrator
    Enter-PSSession $s


You should now be remotely connected to your Nano server and be able to execute PowerShell commands on that server.

How to Manage a Nano Server Using Server Manager

While Nano Server itself does not provide a graphical user interface, Server Manager does provide a GUI whereby an admin could remotely manage their Nano server.

As before, the first thing you will need is to acquire the server’s IP address. Once that has been obtained, again as before, you’ll need to add it to your local computer’s trusted hosts list.

How to Connect to a Nano Server using Server Manager

  1. Open Server Manager
  2. Select All Servers from the categories on the left.
  3. Click Manage (top right corner)
  4. From the drop down menu select Add Servers.
  5. In the Add Servers dialog select the DNS tab.
  6. In the Search field, enter the Nano server’s IP address
  7. Press Enter or click the search icon to the right.
  8. Your server should appear in the search results.
  9. Click it to highlight it
  10. Click the right-facing arrow to add the server to the Selected list.
  11. Click OK.
    Your Nano Server should now be in the All Servers list.Now that it’s in the list of servers you have limited remote access via Server Manager. At this point you still do not have proper access to the Nano server as the necessary credentials have not been applied. By right-clicking the Nano server you will be presented with a drop-down menu of possible actions you can take re the server.
  12. Right-click the Nano server in the server list.
  13. From the drop-down menu, select Manage As…
  14. Enter the username in the following format:
  15. OSTNAMEUsername
  16. Enter the password.

You should now see a change in the Nano server entry in the server list reflecting the successful login.


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