Manage Windows Server

Applies to: Windows Server 2022, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012


Looking for information about older versions of Windows Server? Check out our other Windows Server libraries. You can also search this site for specific information.

Manage Windows Server systems and environments

The tools you use to manage Windows Server instances depend, in large amount, on the types of systems you have deployed (Windows Server with Desktop Experience vs Server Core), physical versus virtual machines, and where your servers are located. Use the following information to perform basic management tasks on Windows Server.

Use the following table to determine which tools to use when.

I am Install & run Windows Admin Center Run Server Manager on Windows Server Run Server Manager in RSAT on Windows 10
Sitting at a Windows 10 PC X X
Sitting at a Windows Server system running the desktop experience X X X
Sitting at a Windows Server system running Server Core X (install on Windows 10, use to manage Server Core) X
Sitting far away from my Windows Server system X X
Sitting far away from my Windows Server system but it DOES have desktop experience X Use RDS to remote into the server, then use Server Manager X

In addition to the tools mentioned below, you can also use Remote Desktop Services to access on-premises, remote, and virtual servers. Then you can use Server Manager to perform management tasks.

Manage on-premises systems, remote systems, and systems without UI with Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center is a browser-based management app that enables on-premises administration of Windows Servers with no Azure or cloud dependency. Windows Admin Center gives you full control over all aspects of your server infrastructure and is particularly useful for management on private networks that are not connected to the Internet. You can install Windows Admin Center on Windows 10, on a gateway server, or directly on the Windows Server system that you want to manage.


Windows Admin Center is the official name of what we used to call "Project Honolulu."

Manage on-premises systems with Server Manager

Server Manager is a management console included in the full installation of Windows Server. (It is not available for installs that don't have UI - Server Core doesn't include Server Manager.) Use Server Manager to install and remove server roles, add and remove remote servers, start and stop services, and view data gathered about your environment.

Manage remote systems and systems without UI with Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT)

If your environment includes installations of Server Core or remote servers (either on-premises or virtual machines), you can use the Remote Server Administration tools (RSAT) to manage those systems. RSAT includes Server Manager, so you can use it to manage all of your servers.


RSAT runs on Windows 10. You can't install RSAT on Windows Server Core.

You can also manage Server Core installations from the command line. See Basic administration tasks in Server Core.

Manage updates to Windows Server systems

You can use Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to manage and deploy updates to the systems in your Windows Server environment.

Gather information about your environment

Many of the decisions you make as an administrator depend on data about the systems and users in your environment. Use the following information and tools to gather that data.

Start with Configure Windows diagnostic data in your organization for information about the diagnostic data that can be gathered from Windows 10 and Windows Server.

Setup and Boot Event Collection

Setup and Boot Event Collection lets you designate a "collector" computer that can gather a variety of important events that occur on other computers when they boot or go through the setup process. You can then later analyze the collected events with Event Viewer, Message Analyzer, Wevtutil, or Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

Software Inventory Logging (SIL)

Software Inventory Logging in Windows Server is a feature with a simple set of PowerShell cmdlets that help server administrators retrieve a list of the Microsoft software that is installed on their servers. It also provides the capability to collect and forward this data periodically over the network to a target web server, using the HTTPS protocol, for aggregation. Managing the feature, primarily for hourly collection and forwarding, is also done with PowerShell commands.

User Access Logging (UAL)

User Access Logging aggregates unique client device and user request events that are logged on a computer running Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, or Windows Server 2012 into a local database. These records are then made available (through a query by a server administrator) to retrieve quantities and instances by server role, by user, by device, by the local server, and by date. In addition, UAL also enables non-Microsoft software developers to instrument their UAL events to be aggregated.

Tune your Windows Server environment for performance

Use the following information to help tune your environment for performance.

Performance tuning guidelines

Review a set of guidelines that you can use to tune the server settings in Windows Server 2016 and obtain incremental performance or energy efficiency gains, especially when the nature of the workload varies little over time.

Automate Windows Server management

Windows Server includes a set of commands and Windows PowerShell modules that you can use to automate management tasks.

Windows PowerShell

Windows PowerShell is a command-line shell and scripting language designed to let you rapidly automate administrative tasks.

Windows Commands

The Windows command-line tools are used to perform administrative tasks in Windows. You can use the command reference to familiarize yourself with the command-line tools, to learn about the command shell, and to automate command-line tasks by using batch files or scripting tools.

Windows Server Insider Preview

System Insights

System Insights is a new feature that introduces predictive analytics natively to Windows Server. These predictive capabilities locally analyze Windows Server system data, such as performance counters or ETW events, helping IT administrators proactively detect and address problematic behavior in their deployments.