Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

How to Remotely Manage a Nano Server

How to Remotely Manage a Nano Server

Released as part of Windows Server 2016, Nano Server is the new frontier of Windows Server. For the first time in Microsoft history, Windows Server now has no GUI at all and must be managed only via remote tools. This means no more using Remote Desktop to connect to your Windows Server console.

A lot of system administrators are used to managing Window Server via Remote Desktop and when first introduced to Nano Server may wonder just how to manage it. Learn how to connect to Nano Server and perform some basic maintenance tasks, so that you have the skills to manage it just as you would if you had a graphical console.

MORE: Windows 10 How Tos

You can still use the traditional remote management tools you're used to, including Server Manager and Windows PowerShell, as well as other product-specific tools such as Hyper-V manager, Failover Cluster Manager, Perfmon, Event Viewer, etc. Nano Server still uses these popular remote management tools.

Because you can still use the same tools with Nano Server as previous Windows Server versions, the only thing you'll need to change is some configuration options on Nano Server itself. You'll definitely be managing Nano Server via PowerShell, so you'll first need to ensure that WinRM is available.

When you first bring up Nano Server, it won't be joined to a domain so you'll need to establish a WinRm session to a workgroup computer. To do this requires a few steps on both your client as well as Nano Server itself.


On your client machine, you'll first need to add the IP address or DNS name of your Nano Server to the trusted hosts list. My Nano Server is already setup in Azure without a DNS name so I'll use the IP address.

Set-Item wsman:localhostClientTrustedHosts '' -Concatenate –Force

Once my client trusts the IP, I can now enter a remote session using Enter-PSSession and passing in a PSCredential object. If you're used to managing servers in your Active Directory domain, you may not be used to using the Credential parameter but since the Nano Server is in a workgroup now you must specify a local username and password to connect to it.

Enter-PSSession -ComputerName -Credential (Get-Credential)

From here I have free reign to do what I need to.

Server Manager

Perhaps I need to use the GUI for some reason and would like to add Nano Server to Server Manager. I can do this just as easily with an extra step to provide the appropriate credentials.

Open up Server Manager and add a server. Here I'm adding my Nano Server in Azure's IP address.

Click OK and you'll immediately see that a refresh has failed and that Server Manager can't connect to your Nano Server.

This is expected because you haven’t provided the appropriate credentials yet. Right click on your Nano Server and choose Manage As.

Provide the local username and password in the form of HOSTNAMEUserName and the password. Once you do, you should see the Nano Server entry change.

You can now see that Server Manager represents it with the hostname, the internal IP rather than my public IP as well as saying that PowerShell is not installed. However, this is a bug at this time and Windows PowerShell is installed.

This was just two ways to remotely connect to and manage your Nano Server. Remember that managing a Nano Server isn't that much different than previous Windows Server editions if you adhere to the remote management philosophy.