Just Browsing with Win 2003 HTML Remote Administration

If you're looking for a remote administration tool for Windows 2003 Server systems that's got the basic features you need and a familiar interface for novice administrators, HTML Remote Administration Tools might be the ticket.

By Drew Bird | Posted Aug 23, 2004
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There are many ways to remotely administer a Windows Server 2003 system, but none seem to get less coverage in Microsoft documentation than the Windows Server 2003 HTML Remote Administration Tools.

Although the HTML Remote Administration Tools are not as powerful as other remote management utilities provided for Windows Server 2003, they do include certain, key capabilities, such as editing user properties, configuring Web and FTP server parameters, viewing log files, and shutting down the server. The Web interface is particularly easy to use, and provides a simple and familiar interface for basic tasks. This can be particularly useful if you are delegating certain administrative tasks to less technically savvy users.

Installing the HTML Remote Administration Tools

The HTML Remote Administration Tools are not installed by default, and so must be installed via Control Panel » Add/Remove Programs. However, the installation program for the tool is well hidden. The actual services and files required during the installation will depend on whether you already have Internet Information Services (IIS) (define) loaded on the server. For the purposes of this explanation, we'll assume that it is not.

To install the HTML Remote Administration Tools, start Control Panel and click the Add/Remove Programs, icon. Then choose the Add/Remove Windows Components option. This will cause the Windows Components Wizard to appear. Double-click the Application Server program group, and then, from the Application Server dialog box, double-click the Internet Information Services (IIS) icon. The IIS dialog box will then appear. Now, double-click the Word Wide Web Service icon (which is at the bottom of the list). The World Wide Web Service dialog box will appear. Finally, select the option box next to the entry for Remote Administration (HTML). If you don't already have the World Wide Web service installed on the system, this option is automatically checked for you, as the service is required in order for the HTML Remote Administration Tools to work.

When you click OK, you are taken back through each of the component wizard dialog boxes that you went through on the way down. You may notice that some other options are now also automatically selected. These are the options that are needed to run the tools. When you get back to the Windows Components Wizard dialog box, you can click Next , to proceed with the installation. If you have not already done so, you will most likely be asked to insert the Windows Server 2003 CD. Once the installation is complete, click Finish in the Add Windows Components Wizard, and the HTML Remote Administration Tools are now installed and ready to use.

The installation routine adds two new shortcuts to the Administrative Tools menu. One for IIS, and another called Web Interface for Remote Administration. This is basically just a shortcut to the HTML Remote Administration Tools on the local system.

Using the HTML Remote Administration Tools

Starting the HTML Remote Administration Tools interface from a remote system is as simple as providing the IP address or hostname of the target server, though you must remember to provide the correct port number. Not doing so will result in the default IIS Web site home page being displayed. In its default configuration, you can access the Administration Web page with a non-secure connection on port 8099, though this is an option that should be disabled immediately, as it would allow passwords to be transmitted between browser and server in plain text. For a secure (SSL) (define) connection, use the HTTPS prefix to the URL, and port 8098. Thus, the secure URL for a server with an IP address of 192.168.1.1 would be https://192.168.1.1:8098 .

On the topic of user ID's and privileges, something worthy of mention is that IIS uses its own authentication mechanisms by default. If you want to authenticate against Active Directory (define), which is highly likely, you'll need to enable Integrated Windows Authentication. This can be done through the Directory Security tab of the Administration Website properties, in the IIS Manager MMC.

Continued on page 2: Finding Your Way Around-->

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