How to Launch and Administer a Windows Server 2012 R2 Instance on an AWS EC2

The Amazon EC2 web server platform provides secure and scalable cloud hosting for websites or mobile applications. The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud is made to help developers scale their web services to levels of corporate enterprise domain traffic. The AWS cloud computing platform offers thousands of tools to developers to make new technology more accessible.

Advantages of the AWS EC2 platform include:

  • Highly scalable and flexible during /after provisioning in administration
  • Easy to start/stop/terminate web server production operations
  • Available with subscription options that may include a free use tier
  • ‘Pay as you go’ options save money vs. over-provisioned data centers
  • Supports various operating systems through snapshot provisioning

This article will include step by step instructions on how to launch a Windows server 2012 R2 instance on AWS EC2 and administer it using the remote desktop connection utility. This does not negate the fact that there are many other available OS platforms and web server usage patterns per instance available on AWS. There are innumerable practical uses for a Windows web server on AWS EC2.


Virtual machines on Amazon are referred to as instances, which can be configured according to project or business reqirements. To begin configuration of an Amazon EC2 instance; we require the information listed below to either be pre-configured manually or auto-configured using the Launch EC2 instance wizard.

  • AWS account
  • IAM role
  • VPC
  • Create a Keypair
  • Security group

Configure Windows Amazon EC2 instance

Login to AWS console and navigate to: Services. On the Compute listing; Click on: EC2.

The above screenshot shows the example where EC2 resources are displayed. If no EC2 instances exist, follow these steps to configure a Windows server 2012 R2 instance in AWS.

First, on the Create Instance tab, Click on: Launch instance

  1. Select the Operating system of the EC2 instance by choosing any of the Amazon Machine Images (AMI). Select the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 base image for this server.
  2. Choose the Type of instance depending on your requirements.
    Each AWS EC2 instance requires a Default VPC to be created. To create a new VPC; Navigate to Services> Networking & Content Delivery and then click on: VPC
    Next, create a default VPC. Click on: create
  3. Configure EC2 instance details as per requirements of your environment. Select Default VPC and IAM role that is required to launch the EC2 instance
  4. Provision storage: Add a new volume if two drives are required.
  5. Assign tags: Tags assist in easier identification and classification of the various instances in your AWS environment.
  6. Create a security: A security group allows configuring firewall rules to allow traffic as needed. Only one rule has been added to allow remote desktop connection.
  7. Review and confirm the configuration of the instance. Click on the Edit button on each configuration item to make changes.
  8. Click on Launch and a dialog box to create or select existing key pair is launched. Select “Choose an existing …..” to add a key pair exist known as TestHostLab. Select from the drop-down list.
    Click on Launch Instances to complete the configuration and start the EC2 instance. Monitor the status using the below screenshot. Click on View Log to check status.
  9. To view the EC2 instance created click on: View Instances. Verify: “The windows server 2008 R2 instance created is now ready to use.” Take note of the Public DNS as we shall use it to connect to the instance using the Remote Desktop connection.

Connect to your EC2 Instance

After your  EC2 instance is launched, you can connect to it using the Remote Desktop connection.

Note: Ensure Windows desktop connection client is installed or enabled on your PC.

  1. Navigate to service under Instances, choose: Windows server 2012 R2 Instance.
  2. Click: Connect.
  3. Click: Get Password.
  4. Click: Browse EC2 instance key pair file associated with the Windows Server 2012 R2 instance, and Click: Open.
  5. Click: Decrypt Password. Note down the password shown on the screen. (Use in  step 8).
  6. Click: Download Remote Desktop File
  7. Open >to launch RDP session to EC2 instance. Ignore the warning publisher message and click: Connect
  8. Your RDP connection client application may prompt you for a username and password. Username should be the domain name\administrator.
    Username :\administrator
    Password: use the decrypted password in step 5 above.

  9. Ignore the warning on the ‘ identity of the remote……” and Click: Yes
  10. When connected, the desktop Windows server 2012 R2 EC2 instance is displayed.

    Configure the Windows instance as per requirement.
  11. Sign out of the running Amazon EC2 instance.
  12. Terminate the instance if not in use to avoid incurring charges.

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