Effective remote server management for IT teams

| By:
Katarina Palacios

In today's ever-evolving landscape of IT operations, managing servers remotely has become an indispensable asset for IT teams across the globe. Remote server management offers a powerful solution to the challenges presented by geographically dispersed infrastructure, remote work environments, and the need for seamless and efficient server administration.

This article is your gateway to understanding the world of remote server management and its significant relevance for modern IT teams. We'll explore its multiple benefits, from cost savings to enhanced security, and delve into the tools and best practices that can empower your IT team to excel in managing remote servers. 

What is remote server management? 

Remote server management is the practice of monitoring and administering servers from any location and device. In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, it has become an indispensable tool for ensuring the smooth operation of IT systems.

This equips organizations with the ability to oversee their servers 24/7, irrespective of physical proximity. This means you can easily manage your servers, whether at your office desk, on a business trip, or at home.

One cannot overstate the importance of efficient management in contemporary IT operations. Servers lie at the heart of modern IT architecture. They store vital data, run applications, and ensure critical services remain accessible to users at all times. Any disruption to server functionality can lead to downtime, data loss, and financial repercussions.

It’s a vital component of the modern IT strategy that empowers organizations to maintain their server infrastructure's reliability, security, and performance. The end result is contribution to uninterrupted business operations and enhanced productivity. 

As technology continues to evolve, the ability to manage servers remotely will remain a cornerstone of efficient IT management.

What is remote server management software?

Remote server management software is a vital tool for IT support teams to monitor and manage clients' servers. These tools vary from standard packages to customizable solutions. 

Software simplifies monitoring servers across different settings and equips IT professionals to remotely ensure servers function optimally. Let's explore some core functionalities and their relevance to modern IT:

Server mapping: Server mapping serves a specialized but crucial function. It is responsible for scanning and cataloging network servers, capturing essential details like operating systems, ports, services, and versions. This inventory is then kept up-to-date for effective management.

Alerting: The software promptly sends alerts for potential server issues. This ensures rapid response, reducing downtime and stabilizing server activities. 

Remote commands: This allows IT teams to run commands on distant servers from anywhere. It facilitates troubleshooting and adjustments without on-site visits. 

File transfer: The tool eases file transfers to remote servers, often linked with the remote command function. 

Downtime reports: The software provides detailed server downtime histories. These insights show when servers were down and for how long. 

Root analysis: This functions as an analytical tool that provides deep insights into server activities. For example, if a remote server experiences unexpected shutdowns, root analysis can help trace back the events leading up to the issue, whether it be a software glitch or a potential security breach.

Remote server management software equips IT teams to manage servers effectively from afar, ensuring top performance. Features like server mapping, alerts, and remote commands are essential for consistent IT services in our evolving business landscape.

Benefits of remote server management 

Managing a server remotely offers a range of compelling benefits for businesses of all sizes. Organizations can enhance their operational efficiency and security by harnessing the power of remote IT solutions. Here are some remote administration benefits:

1. Lower cost and better ROI

  • Cost savings: Outsourcing server management can significantly reduce internal IT operating expenses. This includes salary savings, coverage during employee absences, and turnover-related costs.
  • Improved ROI: Outsourcing often leads to improved efficiency and productivity, translating into a better return on investment (ROI) for businesses.

2. Up-to-date industry expertise

  • Access to specialists: Remote server management services offer access to a team of experienced experts well-versed in the latest server management best practices.
  • Continuous learning: These experts stay updated with the ever-evolving technology landscape, ensuring your server infrastructure benefits from the most current knowledge.

3. Server security

  • Robust security framework: Choose a provider with a strong security framework to safeguard your servers.
  • Regular updates: Outsourced teams consistently apply the latest security updates, reducing the burden of manual patching and updates.
  • Flaw identification: External teams promptly identify and rectify security flaws.

4. Server monitoring

  • 24/7 monitoring: This allows continuous monitoring beyond regular business hours.
  • Proactive issue detection: Monitoring systems perform extensive checks to identify unresponsiveness, overloads, or potential problems that could lead to downtime.
  • Diagnostic services: Technicians oversee server configurations remotely, promptly addressing vulnerabilities.
  • Preventing data loss: Constant monitoring detects drive failures, filesystem issues, disk space concerns, and more, preventing potential data loss.

5. Minimized downtime

  • Business continuity: Minimizing business downtime in the case of a disaster or total system shutdown is critical for business continuity.
  • Revenue protection: Downtime can impact revenue directly, disrupting transactions involving servers.
  • Customer trust: Access to customer data may be interrupted, leading to service delays and a potential loss of trust.

In addition to these primary benefits, these solutions offer real-time monitoring and alerting for critical events, secure remote access for support, data protection against threats, and automated execution of scheduled tasks. 

These advantages make managing a server remotely an indispensable tool for ensuring your server infrastructure's reliability, security, and efficiency, regardless of location or platform.

Tools for remote server management 

Managing a server remotely relies on tools designed to streamline the process, enhance security, and ensure optimal performance. Below are some of the most common and essential remote server management tools:

Remote desktop tools (VNC vs. RDP)

  • Remote desktop protocol (RDP): RDP is a widely used Microsoft protocol that allows graphical access to a remote server. It provides a user-friendly interface for remote server managers to interact with server resources, making it an invaluable tool for tasks requiring a graphical interface.
  • Virtual network computing (VNC): VNC is a platform-independent remote desktop tool that enables remote control of servers. It's particularly useful when dealing with diverse operating systems, providing a consistent interface for accessing and managing servers.

Secure shell (SSH)

SSH is a cryptographic network protocol that provides secure command-line access to servers. It's a crucial tool for remote server managers who must execute commands and securely perform system tasks on remote servers. SSH encrypts data transmission, mitigating security risks.

Server management platforms

These comprehensive platforms offer a centralized hub for managing multiple servers and provide automation capabilities for software updates, patch management, and configuration changes. Server management platforms enhance efficiency and reduce manual intervention.

Remote monitoring tools

RMM software is essential for tracking server performance, availability, and health in real-time. This solution enables proactive monitoring, alerting administrators to potential issues before they impact operations. RMM also offers historical data and reporting for informed decision-making.

Server backup solutions

Ensuring data integrity and disaster recovery is paramount. Remote server management tools often integrate with server backup solutions, allowing for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Network diagnostic utilities

These tools assist administrators in diagnosing network-related server issues. They help identify connectivity problems, troubleshoot network configurations, and resolve communication issues between servers and clients.

Security tools

Security is a top priority when managing a server remotely. Various tools protect servers from cyberthreats and vulnerabilities, including antivirus software, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and firewalls.

Configuration management tools

These tools automate server configuration and ensure consistency across the infrastructure. They help maintain server settings, enforce policies, and rapidly deploy updates and changes.

These tools are the foundation for maintaining server health, security, and performance in the ever-evolving landscape of remote server management. 

Challenges of remote server management 

Managing remote servers comes with challenges, requiring vigilance, expertise, and strategic planning. Below, we delve into some of the key challenges that administrators often face when remotely managing servers:

  • Downtime: Server downtime can stem from several different sources, such as hardware failures, cyberattacks, or natural disasters. Given the financial and operational ramifications, employing tools to minimize these occurrences is critical.
  • Device management: Overseeing physical and virtual devices hosting software needs attention. Tasks include configuration, software distribution, and remote management to maintain seamless server operations. 
  • Updates: Regular software and hardware updates are essential for security and performance. Balancing timely updates with their potential risks is crucial. 
  • Application configuration: Precisely configuring new applications is vital; mistakes can disrupt services and damage reputation. 
  • Human errors: Human errors—whether accidental or intentional—pose a significant risk. Effective safeguards and stringent practices are imperative to minimize the potential for configuration errors, unauthorized access, or mishandling of data.
  • Environmental factors: Issues like team expertise, hardware setups, and external variables can affect server management. 

These challenges underscore the need for comprehensive strategies, cutting-edge tools, and a vigilant approach to ensure remote server infrastructure's reliability, security, and optimal performance.

Best practices for remote server management 

Managing remote servers effectively requires strict adherence to the best security, reliability, and efficiency practices. Here are the vital best practices for managing remote servers:

  1. Secure access: Use encryption and robust authentication like SSH with key-based authentication or implement privileged access management to prevent unauthorized access.
  2. Monitoring: Adopt proactive monitoring tools for proactive server health checks, ensuring early issue detection and timely intervention. 
  3. Documentation: Keep updated documents on procedures, configurations, and troubleshooting to aid administrators in remote management. 
  4. Training: Regularly train administrators in using remote tools and best practices. 

Following these best practices will create a secure and efficient system for managing your servers remotely, mitigating risks, and ensuring server availability and reliability.

Selecting a remote server management tool 

When choosing the right remote server management tools for your organization, several critical criteria and factors should guide your decision:

  • Security: Security is paramount, so look for a tool with robust security features, including encryption, user authentication, and granular permissions. Protecting sensitive data and preventing unauthorized access should be a top priority.
  • Ease of use: Your chosen tool must be both highly reliable and user-friendly. It should offer consistent access to remote servers and feature an intuitive interface, streamlining management tasks and reducing the learning curve for technicians.
  • Proactive monitoring: Choose a tool that supports proactive monitoring. It should offer capabilities to detect issues before they become critical, allowing for timely intervention and problem resolution.
  • Scalability: Ensure that the tool can scale with your organization's needs. As your server infrastructure grows, the tool should seamlessly accommodate additional servers and endpoints.
  • Integration: Consider the tool's integration capabilities. It should be compatible with your existing software and systems, allowing smooth integration into your IT ecosystem.
  • Cost-efficiency: Evaluate the tool's cost-effectiveness, considering licensing fees and ongoing expenses. A cost-effective solution can contribute to a positive return on investment.

ConnectWise ScreenConnect is a powerful remote desktop and access solution tailored to support IT professionals in remote server management. With instant connectivity, top-tier security features, behind-the-scenes monitoring, and a wide range of extensions and integrations, ScreenConnect enables best-in-class support and delivers enhanced value to your end users.

Start your free 14-day trial today to see these features in action or download our feature sheet to learn more about our all-in-one remote access and control platform.


The main tools for remote server management include software solutions like ConnectWise ScreenConnect, which offer a comprehensive set of features for monitoring, accessing, and controlling servers from a remote location. 

These tools often encompass remote desktop access, file transfer, system monitoring, and automation, providing IT professionals with the tools to efficiently manage servers. 

Several protocols enable remote server control, with two of the most commonly used ones being SSH (Secure Shell) and RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). 

SSH is widely used for secure command-line control of servers, while RDP allows for graphical access and desktop interaction on Windows-based servers. These protocols facilitate remote administration, allowing IT teams to manage servers effectively from a distance.

For secure remote server access, it's essential to implement strong authentication methods such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and public key infrastructure (PKI). Also, encrypting data in transit using protocols like SSH or VPNs is crucial to prevent eavesdropping. 

Regularly patching and updating software, limiting access to only necessary personnel, and monitoring access logs for any suspicious activities are also vital practices to ensure the security of remote server access. 

You can use scripting and automation tools such as Ansible, Puppet, Chef, or Terraform to automate remote server management tasks. Administrators can use these to define infrastructure as code or script tasks, streamlining software installations, configurations, and updates across servers without manual efforts.