Where do I Host a remote windows workstation ?
October 6, 2010 5:06 AM   Subscribe

Newbie IT Hosting question : Where do I look if I want to host a workstation somewhere ? Here's what I want to do : Host 2-3 workstations in the US, with users accessing them remotely through a secure VPN link - In the future I may host a server too. Where do I look for that ?

So I'm looking for hosting for a small company, with no physical presence. Some of the software they need to use is windows based. The idea is to have a couple of workstation hosted somewhere, and access them through a VPN and VNC or Terminal Server or a similar solution.

I'm familiar with hosting and shared servers for websites, but I've never had to look for "workstation" hosting.

Are there dedicated services for this ? Should I get a private server and stick some virtual machines on it ?

Thanks for your answers !
posted by motdiem2 to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd say you should go for a private server + virtual machines. This is the easiest way to make remote administration not suck, since anything involving Windows is hideous without physical access and control of the machine. With virtualization, it's a bit better – just lie to the computer!

In addition, a private server allows for higher CPU/RAM usage than you're going to get with any kind of VPS or shared server setup.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:45 AM on October 6, 2010

I think this is what Windows Terminal Server was made for?
posted by gjc at 7:15 AM on October 6, 2010

You'll probably have to go with a dedicated server. RackSpace shows dedicated servers at around $400/mo. which seems right to me. Considering you don't have to pay for the equipment, lease a line, etc. that's not that bad of a price.
posted by geoff. at 8:46 AM on October 6, 2010

@geoff: Wait, what? 400 USD a month for a server? That's crazy. I'll give you USD 99, and I guess you can halve that by searching for 20 minutes.
posted by themel at 9:28 AM on October 6, 2010

Response by poster: sonic meat machine : I understand the appeal of virtualization, but if I need to have 3 windows workstations running at the same time, that means having at least 4 machines running, which would require significant disk & memory - so far it seems like RAM is actually somewhat limited on server offerings (although I don't need much, I can't imagine each windows instance running with less than a gig)

gjc : indeed - I think what I need to do is get a Windows Server with terminal server, and make this available to the various users.

What I don't understand from the various VPS offering are the licensing implication of using say a VPS Windows 2008 Server as a terminal server host to provide access to several (max 2-3) simultaneous users to windows dektops.
posted by motdiem2 at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2010

Don't do VPS. Do dedicated colo hardware. Buy the box yourself, and ship it to a colo center. In the event your business becomes physical you'll be glad you can just ship this box back into an office instead of having to pull the virtual image, if the licensing even allows that.

Wait, what? 400 USD a month for a server? That's crazy. I'll give you USD 99

The reviews for Singlehop are pretty bad. I also don't like that their default "server" setup does not include RAID. Err, that's not a server, that's a desktop. You can probably do cheaper than Rackspace but $400 a month for quality dedicated hosting isn't unreasonable.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:32 AM on October 6, 2010

Also, you'll need to save your licensing questions for your Microsoft rep or if you go the virtual route the phone rep at the hosting server (ouch). Microsoft licensing isn't something that's easily explained.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:35 AM on October 6, 2010

Okay, I may be mistaken, but I and everyone I know over here in Europe have Linux servers that cost 49 euros a month (for an i7 with 8GB of RAM, no less) and are of reasonable quality (around three nines of measured availablity over the last few years), so I'm just a bit puzzled that putting Windows on that thing would make the price go up by a factor of six, and I had the general expectation that IT stuff would be even cheaper in the US, so I thought I'd make my unhelpful comment.
posted by themel at 11:34 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

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