Last Updated on October 18, 2017 by Ruchir Shastri
Most web hosting providers deliver a dedicated server with just OS installed and a few bare minimum components. Right after receiving server logins, you’d need some important software on your server to make it more secure and easy to manage. In this post, we have compiled a list of software that will help you with easy server management and better security.
Software For Windows Dedicated Server
The software choice for Windows systems mainly depends on the fact how you are going to utilize your server. Let’s say, you are going to use it as an ASP.NET development machine, you’ll need the complete Visual Studio suite installed then.
Similarly, to host a Radio server or Forex trading platform, you are required to install respective software on the server. In such a way, we’ll discuss some generic software every Windows server must be installed with.
Web Control Panel
Unless you hold the years of experience with Windows systems, it’s a bit difficult to manage Windows servers through remote desktop connection. That’s where control panel comes into play.
A hosting control panel gives you web-based GUI which helps you manage all web services under single login very efficiently and quickly. It also allows you to manage websites, domains, SQL databases, DNS records, email accounts, FTP accounts, file functions, disk space availability, bandwidth usage, and lot more.
WebsitePanel, SolidCP, and MSPControl are the most popular free control panels. If you’d like to have some paid alternative, you can go with the Plesk panel.
Microsoft Web Platform Installer
Unlike Linux systems, Windows server requires a lots of individual components to build a functional web server. Having said that, you are required to go to individual websites, find the compatible dedicated server software version and install it manually. This sounds a little bit tedious and takes hours to complete. To get rid of this, you should install Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI) even before you run Windows updates.
It’s a tiny tool that fetches the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server Express, .NET Framework, PHP, MySQL Server and lot more. It can also install the most popular free scripts for blogging, and content management system (CMS) within a few clicks.
To ensure your dedicated server is protected against online threats and malicious traffic, a solid firewall is a must have thing. As we know that Windows systems also come with an effective built-in firewall that adds a layer of protection to your server. This default firewall is powerful enough and works quite well for most of the servers.
In case you’d like to make your server more secure than you can consider personal software firewall. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall and Comodo Free Firewall are both excellent free alternatives you can think of.
Antivirus & Anti-Malware Software
Malware is no imaginary problem, especially for the Windows servers. Hundreds of new virus definitions are spread daily across Internet and antivirus labs have to detect them and find solutions.
Having RDP access for the dedicated server, if you or one of your colleagues visit a phishing website or download uncertain files by mistake, your dedicated hosting platform may infected by dangerous malware.
Even some viruses are distributed through emails, freeware tools, and pop-up messages. As such malicious software can completely damage your dedicated server functionality, compromise security or erase sensitive data.
So, it is essential to have a good antivirus software to detect & remove viruses before they harm your system. Antivirus software detects suspicious websites and files that contain malicious programs before they enter your server and blocks malicious scripts from being downloaded.
ClamWin is an excellent free antivirus program supporting most of the Windows desktop and server OS. There are also plenty of paid alternatives available on the market so you can choose according to your requirements and budget.
Remote Desktop Guard
RDP (Remote Desktop) allows users to connect to a remote server from anywhere. Indeed RDP is a very useful feature however, it also has several security issues. When a malicious user launches the network/port scanners or RDP brute-force attacks on Windows servers, thousands of failed login attempts are generated and pages of events are being logged. Such attacks abuse your dedicated server resources (CPU, RAM, Disk Space and Network Bandwidth) and degrade the overall functionality of the server.
To prevent them, host-based intrusion prevention system (HIPS) like RdpGuard is implemented. This protects servers from brute-force attacks on various protocols and services (RDP, FTP, SMTP, MySQL, MS-SQL, IIS Web Login, etc). It monitors the audit logs and detects failed login attempts. If the number of failed login attempts from a single IP address exceeds the normal limit, the IP address will be blocked immediately.
Above listed dedicated hosting programs are currently configured on our own servers and so far so good for the production usage as well. Of course, you may also need some other specific tools based your requirements, so you may subscribe to our managed dedicated server plans directly for guaranteed security and support.