How to manage Windows Server 2019 like a boss

Published Mar 04 2020 01:11 AM 29.5K Views

I traveled to a couple of Microsoft Ignite The Tour stops and was not just presenting but also speaking to a lot of IT admins around the globe. I was surprised at how many didn't know about our new Windows Server management tools. In this blog post, I am going to show you how you can manage Windows Server 2019 and even previous Windows Server versions with Windows Admin Center and PowerShell.


Classic Windows Server Management


First, let me start by saying the classic Windows Server management tools, like Server Manager, the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), sconfig on Windows Server Core, Perfmon, and the local-only tools are still part of Windows Server. And if you have built some automation and process using these tools, they are still going to work.


Classic Windows Server Management ToolsClassic Windows Server Management Tools

However, most of these tools have some limitations, especially when it comes to efficient remote management or automation. That is why I want to show you more modern ways to manage Windows Server 2019.




Windows PowerShell 5.1 is built-in into Windows Server, and it does not only provide an excellent automation experience to write scripts but also provides a secure way of remote managing your Windows Server environment. And with PowerShell Core 6 and PowerShell 7, you also get cross-platform support, to manage your Linux and macOS systems as well, using SSH remoting.



Many of the new Windows Server features get their PowerShell module. For example, if you look at the new Systems Insights feature, which locally analyzes Windows Server system data, such as performance counters and events and provides you with insight into the functioning of your servers using machine-learning models, can be managed directly through PowerShell.


Windows Admin Center


Windows Admin Center is a locally deployed, browser-based app for managing Windows servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as Windows 10 PCs. It comes at no additional cost beyond Windows and is ready to use in production. This is what it says on the official Microsoft Docs page of Windows Admin Center. I simply call it the next generation of your Windows Server management tools. 


Windows Admin CenterWindows Admin Center

You can download and install Windows Admin Center locally, in Azure or where ever you need to manage your Windows Server. Windows Admin Center runs in a web browser and manages and manages different versions of Windows Server, Clusters, and Windows 10, through the Windows Admin Center Gateway.  The gateway manages servers by using Remote PowerShell and WMI over WinRM, with no agent required.


So next to having a fast and elegant way to manage Windows Server systems remotely from basically any device, what are the other advantages of using Windows Admin Center?


Lightweight and easy to install


Windows Admin Center is very lightweight and easy to install. You can even install it on Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, and start managing your machines in minutes. There is no need for an agent, and if you don't want to use Windows Admin Center anymore, you simply uninstall it.


Functionally you know, but remotely and secure


Windows Admin Center Performance MonitorWindows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Windows Admin Center provides you with the evolution of the classic and well-known management tools like MMC or local-only tools in a modern web-based experience. Besides, it also allows you to use these tools remotely, without connecting to your servers using Remote Desktop (RDP). This and many other enhancements, make your management platform more secure.




Windows Admin Center ExtensionsWindows Admin Center Extensions

Windows Admin Center was built with extensibility in mind from the beginning, with the ability for Microsoft and 3rd party developers to develop tools and solutions beyond the current offerings. Microsoft offers an SDK that enables developers to build their own tools for Windows Admin Center.


Manage Azure Stack HCI and Storage Spaces Direct


Windows Admin Center does not only allow you to manage single server instances but also Windows Server Failover Clusters and hyper-converged clusters such as Azure Stack HCI, which is part of the Azure Stack portfolio.


Azure Hybrid integration


Integrate Azure Hybrid servicesIntegrate Azure Hybrid services

If you want to take advantage of the Azure Hybrid services, to make your on-premises environment even better using Microsoft Azure, Windows Admin Center makes it easy to take advantage of services like Azure Active Directory, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Update management and many more. You can find more about integrating Azure Hybrid services in Windows Server using Windows Admin Center on our blog.


Manage modern Windows Server 2019 features


Windows Server System InsightsWindows Server System Insights


The management UI for new features like System Insights and the Storage Migration Services, which allows you to easily migrate file servers, are built-in to Windows Admin Center.

You also get an extension to manage your Windows Containers. You can find a video about that here.


Get updates and new functionality 


Windows Admin Center gets monthly updates, including new features, to improve the management experience. Check out the Windows Admin Center release history here.


Windows Admin Center complements existing management solutions like Azure management, System Center, RSAT, Remote Desktop, and other in-box tools. You can find more about related management tools on Microsoft Docs.

System Center 2019


System Center OverviewSystem Center Overview

 System Center is an on-premises data center management solution for deployment, configuration, management, monitoring your entire data center. Windows Admin Center and System Center are complementary management solutions.



I hope this gives you an overview of the different management tools you can use with Windows Server 2019, depending on your needs. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.


Windows Admin Center Rocks :cool:


Yes, it does! @James van den Berg :)

Occasional Contributor

Although I'd heard of Admin Center previously, I hadn't realized you could use it to manage all Windows SKUs until this post. Guess I'll be trying it at home with my 4 Pro + 1 Home setup. 


It's nice to finally have a Windows equivalent to Webmin on FreeBSD, Cockpit on Linux, and Napp-It on Illumos (all of which I use.)



Occasional Contributor

@thomasmaurerSo I actually tried Windows Admin Center and it literally does not work. It seems Windows 10 node management is either poorly implemented, has incomplete documentation, or was never implemented at all.


Worse, it seems I'm not the only one with this problem, someone else posted about it in January on TechCommunity and no one has come to their assistance.


Besides that thread, I've also asked about this on Reddit and filed an issue on the Windows Admin Center UserVoice.


If Microsoft is actually serious about getting buy-in on Admin Center it's gonna have to start actually supporting it and helping folks who have issues. Considering that Linux, FreeBSD, and Illumos already have easy web management consoles, Windows is pretty far behind the curve in this respect.


Can we get some proper help and support on this issue please?

Frequent Contributor

@jdrch can you explain your issue more detailed? You can reach me out on twitter @tweet_alqamar.


Thanks for this great article. 


@thomasmaurer if you like to update your excellent blogpost I've noticed an easier way to install pshell 7 or preview


Install-module psreleasetools


Then install-pscore (release branch) 


Install-pspreview  (prev branch)


It is a bit easier to read than the iex method you showed earlier. 



As for Windows Admin Center:

It is an overall great tool.


But it is not great enough. There are many many bugs, that are so important you have to fall back to legacy methods again. most reported on uservoice for long.


I've recently tried the cluster creation preview and yeah I know why it is preview. 


If you have a good connection to the WAC team, then we might team up and sharpen this tool to make it useable in junction with server manager for admins and I do see the potential especially for on premises, as currently WAC focus is certainly hybrid and cloud. 


I am absolutely willing to offer time aside uservoice to make WAC the best tool possible. Without these fallbacks.


Currently the main pain points are in these sections 


- Windows updates

- Storage

- Storage Spaces (not direct)

- RDP with non English keyb

- AD integration and sync

- dependencies and security settings. GPOs/ADMX would be feasible

- overall performance is low especially the WAC webservice (no idea why they don't use IIS), especially when more than one user is using the gateway


That's an excerpt. 


Don't read this as **bleep**ting on this. I really love it but it needs more love too. Soon. Otherwise I fear it will loose momentum to make legacy methods obsolete.


Many companies even automate things and wouldn't even bother with WAC as a gui based webtool, but it can combine both worlds. Automation and user friendly views, on premises and hybrid.


I have told Jeff many times that WAC has the potential to be a Swiss knife for admins.


Currently it is just another tool that ease things many other tools cannot do well and vice versa. 

So for KMUs it is not helpful at all. 


Server Manager doesn't get old either as long some of the main features aren't transferred like dashboard, ability to promote DCs, DHCP or other roles after installing them. Whatever you do you have to fall back to another tool. 


Again those that only use powershell and automation, wouldn't really care about that you can install an ADDS role in WAC but have to go back to Server manager to finish it. In Powershell you don't need to. 


Hope you get my point @thomasmaurer 

Occasional Contributor

Great article @thomasmaurer and some great points made. Always learning something new. 


Thank you :)

Senior Member

Remote Powershell is so smooth when managing Server Core running Hyper-V. 

Some of my favours : 





restart-computer (it does what it says - so be careful ;) )

Frequent Contributor

Hello @thomasmaurer @Mary Hoffman 

I have noticed that even though Server "2022" vNext has sconfig and this is now based on PowerShell rather than previous wscript. 

However it is still not possible to use it via WAC PowerShell or Remote PowerShell (Enter-PSSession). It would really be a big help if this would work.

Anyone of you is aware about this or an internal Feature Request? 

Frequent Contributor

@Mikkel Knudsen you will like to use get-computerinfo instead of Systeminfo. And also for ipconfig there are decent powershells. 

I agree about restart-computer or stop-computer, especially with added -force.

Hi @K_Wester-Ebbinghaus 


We've aware of this feature request, thanks for bringing it to our attention. However, please keep in mind that SConfig is primarily intended to help with two tasks.


  1. Setting up the server for the first time, before you can even manage it remotely (with Admin Center and/or remote PowerShell.)
  2. Troubleshooting issues which might have taken the network down (so that you no longer can manage server remotely.)

In all other cases, where you can already manage the server remotely, you don't need SConfig anymore. You certainly do not need to use SConfig remotely because there are so many better, richer, more user-friendly and more scalable tools. (Such as MMCs, Admin Center, System Center and myriads of others.) These tools already can do anything SConfig does, and so much more. SConfig is not intended to do the same job with those tools.

Frequent Contributor

I hear your point @Artem Pronichkin. In fact there are few but certain usecases to use sconfig remotely.

- Windows Update via WAC is rather slow and still unreliable compared to sconfig, also sconfig WU does not show the same updates as settings app would (this can be a benefit, especially to skip prefetched updates, again especially for circumvent the Server 2016 update issues we are still suffering - not long for me until I have killed them all at our customers)

If you have a SMB customer that has 80+ Servers some of them still need manual patching and a remote sconfig would be amazing. I think we could even disable RDP then. 

- you might want to check or configure telemetry


- you might want to check configure RDP, Network Ping response (for troubleshooting, for MTU handshake) etc. 

I would like to stay away from legacy MMC and RDP and personally treat them as they do not exist anymore - if possible.
Sure many things can be managed via PowerShell, GPO or WAC (if not in DMZ), but it is easier for some other folks than me.

Later this week I'll add a bunch of feedback regarding WAC 2012 preview soon in uservoice, including ideas for sconfig.

sidenote: Often enough I wished sconfig would be also available on Windows 10 clients :). At the end it is just a script. 

Hey @K_Wester-Ebbinghaus,


All your points are valid. However, they are individual pain points of the existing tools (mostly, Admin Center.) They do not justify the need for a separate tool to cover those gaps. They should really be addressed within the existing WAC functionality, or by adding missing pieces (e.g. Telemetry, or Ping.)


And if you see discrepancies—such as in the list of updates being found, etc.—please note that we're working on eliminating them. I.e. in ideal world, there should be all the same updates detected, regardless of the tool you're being using.


That said, I would highly encourage you to raise those pain points in discussions with the WAC team. E.g. what stops that 80-server customer from using WAC and/or other remote management tools? Why you are so convinced SConfig is ideal for them?


One thing I can tell you—stay tuned for SConfig on Windows 10 :) It's not our primary goal (due to the reasons I explained above), but we have some work planned which might make this possible, too.

I would say that at 80+ servers that's probably not a SMB customer anymore. And I personally would be completely exhausted to manage these servers one by one. Let alone the risk of human error and configuration drift due to repetitive manual steps. I would rather invest in some serious multi-server management capabilities, such as System Center.

Frequent Contributor

Thanks Artem, my route is clearly WAC. I have a lot of feeback in the pipe organized in MS ToDo, I think I will be able to submit this package on the weekend and link back here. It seems not too remote related to me as it will be the primary and hopefully only tool with a GUI in a near future. 

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