The two major types of cloud server hosting or virtual private server (VPS) environments are Windows Server 2012 and Linux. For those who are most comfortable in a Microsoft environment so that all Microsoft software is fully supported and integrated into the system, the Windows operating system is the best bet. To be clear, an operating system (OS) manages any computer or mobile device’s interactions between hardware and software. Although the server side is dominated by Windows and the open source option Linux, Apple’s iOS and OS X are also prevalent on the client side.
For our purposes today, we will look at Windows Server 2012, the latest version of that operating system. First we will explore the password: how to change it and advice for password security. Then we can explore several tasks that can be performed using the operating system to run a cloud VPS.
How do I change the password in Windows Server 2012?
Here are some step-by-step instructions to help you change the password on your cloud-hosted server. You always want to change your passwords regularly (some experts recommend monthly) to different randomized combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. You also don’t want any two passwords to be the same. Before we get further into password selection, though, let’s look at the process of changing one.
- Log into your server over an RDP (remote desktop protocol) session (or VNC, a.k.a. virtual network computing, if RDP is blocked by Windows Firewall).
- Right-click on the Start Menu and select “Control Panel.”
- Within the Control Panel window, choose “User Accounts.”
- Within the User Accounts window, choose “Change Account Type.”
- Within the Change Account Type window, choose the account that you want to change – most likely the Administrator account.
- Select the “Change Password” option.
- Enter your current password (provided via email if you are still using the default one provided by the OS) and then enter your new password twice (noting the advice below regarding secure password selection).
- Press the “Change Password” button to save your changes.
The password for your user should be changed.
Windows Server 2012 password best practices
Here is a short list of password best practices from the University of Chicago IT department:
No words and no names
Spoiler Alert: In the mediocre 2011 George Gallo thriller Columbus Circle, the password for Selma Blair’s character, central to the plot, is hulahoop14. That’s not a good password. You want to avoid any common groupings of letters, so that means any words or names. You don’t want numbers that are in “meaningful” combinations either. You essentially don’t want your password to include memes, any chunks of cultural information passed between people (as coined by British biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976). A typical security vulnerability is a brute force attack, which uses many different passwords to attempt entry into your system, with collections of common names as a shortcut (taking advantage of the fact that many people don’t randomize their passwords).
You don’t want to simply misspell a word or replace one of its letters with a similar number (as with “$” replacing “S”). Numbers also shouldn’t just be at the beginning or the end. They should be distributed throughout.
No computer or account details
This data may be accessible to an attacker. It can be simple to guess a password containing any of that information.
No password samples
This advice sounds kind of hilarious to most of us, but for those who don’t know, it’s unwise to copy and paste a sample password from a website advice article, such as hulahoop14. Just leave it there. It’s for the eyes and the Google bots only.
Use a randomizer
For simplicity, you may want to use a reliable online program such as Secure Password Generator to create your passwords.
Windows Server 2012 awesomeness: what you can do
A Windows cloud VPS gives you access to a powerful machine online that you can use just like a regular computer. Here are several examples of activities you can perform using this type of environment:
- Comparison-shopping – You can log in from our servers in Orlando, Dallas, or Toronto to check prices for airline tickets or anything else. This tactic can save you money, since the price often changes based on location, type of client device, etc.
- High speed stock trading
- Music and video downloading
- Video game playing
- Large file downloading
- Independent and anonymous (if VPN-enabled) online surfing.
A secure and predictable environment
Not only can you perform many different tasks on a Windows Server 2012 cloud VPS, but you do not have to worry about malware or viruses. When you are done with your project, you can simply delete the server. After all, it’s virtual. In fact, every time you log on, you can provision a new server if you want. The environment is also perfect for fast building of various websites: you can get as many dedicated IP addresses as you want, supporting as many domains as you desire.
Many users choose to host their Windows cloud Server 2012 environment at Atlantic.Net. One of our clients is the Orlando Magic, whose VP of Information Technology, Jason Coleman, commented, “We chose Atlantic.net because of their superior infrastructure and extensive technical knowledge.”
By Moazzam Adnan