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How To Create Your Own Custom Windows VPS Instance(s)

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In this guide, we will go over some common ways to customize your Windows Instance and then use it as a template for your next one to ten Instances.  This is a huge time saver and once you customize your VPS, create a snapshot, convert that into a template, you can use this snapshot template when you create your next one to ten Instances. To follow this guide, you will want to be logged into your Hostwinds VPS using RDP from your PC or connect to RDP from your Mac. In this guide, we will be using Windows Server 2016.

Ensure you are connected to your Instance in RDP so that you are able to connect to your Instance.

Before making customizations to your VPS, we strongly suggest that you take a Snapshot Backup of your Instance.

Customize Windows Instance

We will be installing or changing common programs and features internally in the Windows Server 2016 in the examples below.  

Change Desktop Background

Step 1RDP into your Windows server

This will display a typical Windows desktop like you would see on  a newly purchased laptop from the store after turning it on.

Step 2:  Right-hand click on the desktop and choose Personalize

Windows VPS Desktop Personalize Image

Step 3:  Within Personalize (as an example), you can edit your desktops Background, Colors, Lock screen, Themes, Start, and Taskbar.

Windows VPS Personalize Options Image

Install Mozilla Firefox

Step 1:  By default, all Windows servers come with Google Chrome installed.  Select the Chrome browser and search for Mozilla Firefox download within the browser and choose to install.

Download Firefox Example Image

Downloading Firefox is a simple example demonstrating the ability to download third party applications internally on your server.  Again, you are only limited to the resources allocated determined by the tier of VPS you leased.

Step 2:  Now that you have installed Firefox, it should of created a short-cut on your VPS desktop.  If not, you can add this as a short-cut by finding the installation file, right-clicking, and choosing “Create Shortcut” from the available options.”   Furthermore, you can also add the shortcut to your bottom task-bar by right clicking on the application and choosing “Pin to Start“.  Click on Firefox to launch the browser.

FireFox Create Shortcut Image

Step 3:  With Firefox launched, and to add to our next explanation on how to create a template of a current Windows VPS, navigate to and bookmark the page.  We bookmarked into the Bookmarks Toolbar.

Firefox Bookmark Image

Now you should have a customized VPS, with a different background and Firefox application installed.  This also includes the Firefox browser displaying a bookmark in the browser tool bar.

Before and After

Default desktop, with blue background and Google Chrome installed (Left). Red background on same Windows VPS with Mozilla Firefox download and installed (Right)

My Server Appears To Now Not Have Connectivity

The connecting ports and IP information is probably using the same connections as your templated VPS and this simply cannot work.  Fortunately, Hostwinds provides tools to regenerate the network. 

Step 1: Navigate to the instance in your Hostwinds Cloud Control portal

Step 2: Select Regenerate Network under the Actions drop-down.

Regenerate Network Location Image

After a few minutes, this should repair the connection of your server allowing remote access again as well as browser connectivity.  If regenerating the network did not work, please review Troubleshooting Remote (RDP) Connection With Windows VPS for more information.

If you are still having issues connecting to your newly created server, please be encouraged to contact us in Live Chat or open a technical support ticket and we will be happy to assist.

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