Installing Windows Server 2016 Essentials (Part 3)

Add user accounts

This task is also easy to perform, but it does take some time as you need to sit down, make a list of employees and determine how to name them. Then you’ll need to  give them an initial password and determine the level of access to provide them with.

If you have an existing user/employee base, you might want to get a list of existing passwords from them so that accessing the server with the server account (vs. a local user account) is more seamless.

Windows Server 2016 Essentials allows you up to 25 user accounts (and 50 devices).  To start, click on the Add user accounts link, then click on the Click to add user accounts task.


This brings up the following panel in which you put in a first name, last name, and initial password.


The User account name is entered automatically as you type the name (first name/last name without a space).  You can use this one or change it as desired.  A common method would be to use first name/last name first initial.  Be sure to set up your users as Standard users rather than Administrators via the Level of access drop down.

When configuring user passwords, you need to follow the criteria set by the operating system.  First up is the easy one:

The passwords match

This simply means that you need to enter the same password in both fields.  Transposing characters and/or hitting the wrong key is easy to do, and this requirement simply reduces that potential.

The password must be at least 7 characters long

This is your business.  You certainly do not want to have a user without a password or a simple one-character password.  The longer the password, the harder it is to decipher.

The password must meet complexity requirements

Once again, you do not want someone to have an easily decipherable password.  The complexity requirements dictate that passwords must contain a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters (a-z, A-Z) base numbers (0-9), and non-alphabetic symbols (such as; !,@,#,_,-).

You have the option to change these requirements, if so desired, in the Users tab of the Dashboard – but this is simply not recommended.  If you are trying to make use of existing passwords, and they do not meet the above requirements, this is a good time to provide an “upgrade” for your users’ passwords.

When you click on Next, you bring up the following window which determines the access rights granted to the user for any shared folders on the server.  The default is Read only.  I would suggest that for an initial setup, you create all users with the No access option until you have determined your shared folder structure and what rights a particular user should have for a particular folder.

Configuring shared folder access rights.

For example, I doubt you would want to have all your employees have access to an accounting folder or human resources files for that matter.  If you set up each user initially with the No access option, and you forget to change their access rights later, you would rather them come to you and ask why they have no access as opposed to the potential that they have some level of access to areas that you did not intend.

Another click on the Next button bring up the Anywhere access user settings.  This is where you can tailor remote access settings for the user, with options to grant remote access via VPN or a standard web browser. Remote Web Access can be tailored at a more granular level via options for Shared Folders, Computers, Homepage links and the Server Dashboard – if the user has Administrator rights. If you’ve used a previous edition of Windows Server Essentials, note that the Media option has been removed. Simply check the boxes as required.

Configuring remote access privileges.

Click Create account to set up the account.


Click on the Close button to take you back to add your remaining users.

Before finishing up, there is one item to make note of in the previous screen.  When you are ready to start connecting computers to the server, you will perform this task by using your browser.  Make note of the URL that is displayed (your link will have your own server name, rather than mine) as this is what is needed to connect a client computer to the Windows Server 2016 network.

Each user folder gets a personal server folder during setup in which they can store any files or sub-folders as required. They’re located in \\[servername]\Shared Folders\Users.


No other user is able to access the files stored in each user folder – it’s a private folder for each individual. Repeat the user account setup process for the remaining users/employees of your company to complete this task.



  1. Thanks for this Terry. I am trying to decide if there is value add going from 2012 R2, so far it looks like no. One thing that I didn’t like about 2012 is you are limited to a 2GB max size for the backup drive. Do we know if that barrier is finally lifted with 2016?

    1. Hi Brad,

      I am using 2 x 4 TB disks in an eSata enclosure, one for data and client backups and the other for server backup. Both are working fine, although neither have exceeded 2TB yet. However, I believe I wouldnt be able to use a 4TB at all for server backup if the limitation was still in place, so I think you are OK.


  2. In regards to accessing the server from the MS provided web address, to play music and videos, does this version of software still force you to use Silverlight? Like windows home server did?

  3. Have you attempted to do an “upgrade” of your domain?

    I don’t want to create a new domain, but I want to replace my old server with a server running a new server.

    I followed the instructions for Windows server 2012 ( and it worked mostly. The users in my domain don’t show up in the dashboard on the new server.

    I attempted to use windows powershell commands to import users, but the commands that existed in 2012 seem to be removed from 2016. (

    Import-Module WssCmdlets
    Import-WssUser –SamAccountName

    I know 2016 is new, but my old server is in need of upgrade. Thanks.. Wim.

  4. Hi Terry,

    Thanks for a great how-to guide on installing WSE 2016!

    I was a somewhat happy WHS 2011 user for years, but figured I had better migrate to a supported platform, so I recently went ahead and installed WSE 2012 R2 on new hardware. The install was a bit bumpy, but I got it down. However, getting our 5 PC’s (Win 7’s and 10’s) setup for backup was a nightmare (especially the WIN 10 issues, but a lot of others as well such as computers not showing online etc.) After days and nights of googling and installing/uninstalling various versions of the connector, I decided I would try 2016 essentials instead since I was installing from scratch on new hardware anyway.

    In researching this, I found your 3 part installation guide which I used as my bible and which was really helpful – thanks!

    During the server install, I only ran into ONE (1) issue (amazing!), which was: During the server config phase the progress bar stalled at 17%. Back to googling and I found this workaround: simply start the “Windows Server Essentials Management Service” and the process will start moving again – workaround found here: – piece of cake.

    I then setup and tested the server backup – this process went equally smoothly – I was stoked!. (The only issue I am facing in this regard is performance – the backup is extremely slow, but I’m not too worried and will work on this later).

    Finally, after this promising effort, I proceeded with the most important part of the project, and the real reason I need a windows server: Setting up the client backups. However this is where I hit a wall 🙁

    The good news first: unlike WSE 2012, the connector installs now go smoothly for both Win 7 and Win 10 clients – another promising sign. HOWEVER, after the connectors are installed, there is no right click option to start a manual backup even though backup is turned ON in the client backup config. Also, no backup started automatically during the specified timeframes. Finally, although the clients are showing online, the various status columns are showing “Not Available”. Both the clients and the server are up to date with all windows updates.

    I did some googling, but there is not much out there for WSE 2016 as it is so new. So after all of this, I have 2 questions:

    – Would you have some ideas as to how to troubleshoot the backups?
    – Do you know of any forums that actively deal with WSE2016 troubleshooting?

    Thanks again for your help,


    1. Wanted to know if the hack for…

      How to make Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials client connector install behave just like Windows Home Server

      Still works with Windows Server 2016 Essentials?

  5. Hi Terry, thanks for you guides they are awesome. Installed Essentials today but when trying to change Microsoft Update settings I get an error “Cannot run the task” it says.

    When going to Windows Update and trying there I get another error (0x80070422) and I can’t get any updates that way too. Any suggestions what to do to get it to work?

    1. I realise I’m not terry, and this is somewhat late, but if anyone else has the problem (like I just did there is an easy fix. Go to Control Panel> Administrative Tools (click view small icons to see the option easily). Then double click ‘Services’, scroll down to find Windows Update and double click. You can change it to Automatic Startup and also Start the update service from here, and then the Update option will work from the Dashboard.

  6. Hi Terry,

    I used the WS2012R2 Eseentials bought your books and was a happy user – I was also lucky to set up the VPN for IOS devices. Recently I upgrades to WS2016 Essentials – and biggest concern the VPN for IOS – I´m still fighting to set it up. The RRAS – Routing and Remote Access console – says Legacy mode is disabled on this Server – even if I click on server properties – it says no properties are available – in 2012R2 it was the place where you could enter here the “IP Sec Shared Secret” password in the L2TP setup. Is there any default shared secret – or did you manage not just to set up but also connect from a W10 or even better via IOS to VPN of WS2016?

    1. i’ve the same problem. I try to uninstall remote access from WSE and install it from server manager… the result was i can configure VVPN parameters but (i don’t know why) i can’t use… I install (it was very hard) everything and the result is the same… Legay Mode and no way to configure vpn parameters. had you solve the problem?

  7. Thank you Terry. Just purchased Windows Server 2016 Essentials and doing a new installation. I had the issue you described where installation stopped at 17%. Your suggestion worked perfectly for me!
    Apparently this is still an issue.

  8. Has anyone been able to successfully change ports for Anywhere Access or use port forwarding? My ISP (UVerse) already uses port 443 so I can’t get a working solution.

    1. Use Port Forwarding in your router.
      I *never* use default port numbers for remote anything.
      For example, set the “incoming” port to listen at 4443, and forward that to 443 on the internal LAN.

  9. Hi There,

    I’m new on this, here is the thing:
    – My company solds a file system solution, with a backup solution.
    – I got two ML30 gen9 servers, both with WSEss2016. The architecture is this: One server should be ton the primary site and has to got the role of File Server. The second server should be in a recovery site, and should work as a back server. There will be a VPN between the two sites. And a Veeam Software would be used as backup application. This app needs a file system as a storage target so I would have to able to configure the second server as a file system, that can be seen thru the VPN.

    I need to configure 5 shared folders in the main site. And the backup server should be access thru the VPN.

    My main concern is about the Domain Controller. I only have Windows Server Essentials licenses, and as long as I’ve been reading, Essentials Server can only be deploy as the Main Domain Controller, it can’t be installed in a previously-installed Active Directory environment.

    I’m trying to make a lab, but the Virtual Box VM doesn’t start. It stopped at 17%…

    Can anybody help with the architecture?


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