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Administer your Amazon EC2 instance with Windows Remote Desktop Connection

Once you have launched an ArcGIS Server or ArcGIS Enterprise instance on Amazon Web Services, you can log in to authorize software (if necessary) or perform other ArcGIS administrative tasks.

The following instructions explain how to log in to a Windows instance using Remote Desktop Connection.


Before you attempt to log in using Remote Desktop Connection, you must open port 3389 on the Amazon security group used by your instance. For instructions, see Open an Amazon security group for ArcGIS. You should also confirm with your system administrator that your computer is allowed to make Remote Desktop connections to machines outside your organization's firewall—specifically, machines on the Amazon subnets.

  1. Log in to the AWS Management Console and click Instances.
  2. Find your instance in the list and make sure it is started.
  3. In the instances list, click your instance and examine the detailed information that appears below it. Note or copy the name given for Public DNS.


    Depending on how you created your EPC-VPC instance, it may not have a public DNS. For example, instances created by ArcGIS Server Cloud Builder on Amazon Web Services do not have a public DNS. If there is no public DNS for your instance, allocate an Amazon Elastic IP and associate it with your instance. Record the Elasitc IP. You will use the Elastic IP instead of the DNS to connect to your instance later in this workflow.

  4. Right-click your instance and click Get Windows Password.
  5. Click Choose File and browse to the key pair file (.pem) that you specified when you created the instance.
  6. Click Decrypt Password and save or note the password in a secure place.
  7. Right-click your instance and click Get System Log. This page shows the status of your instance. You should not continue with the remaining steps until about 5 minutes after the message Windows is ready to use appears in this log. If you used Cloud Builder to build your site, you should also wait until your site appears in Cloud Builder's list of running sites.

    Note the following about using the system log to look for the Windows is ready to use message:

    • You may have to repeatedly open the log to check for this message.
    • The time it takes for this message to appear can vary based on the responsiveness of Amazon EC2. Factors affecting response time may include the time of day, your location, and the health of the Amazon zone and region you are using. Expect to wait at least 10 minutes.

    • If the message does not appear after a long period of time (for example, 30 minutes), Amazon is experiencing a problem starting the instance. Consider terminating the instance and launching a new one.

  8. About 5 minutes after the Windows is ready to use message appears in the system log, open All Programs > Accessories > Remote Desktop Connection.
  9. In the Computer text box, enter the public DNS name or Elastic IP that you copied or wrote down previously and click Connect.
  10. Choose to connect using the Administrator account.
  11. Type the administrator password you retrieved earlier in these steps.

    You are now logged in to the instance and should see the Windows desktop.

  12. Change your Administrator password.
    1. In Windows, open User Accounts.
    2. Click Manage User Accounts.
    3. Choose the Administrator account in the list and click Reset Password.
    4. Type the new password twice to confirm, and click OK.

    It is strongly recommended that you follow the above steps to change the initial Administrator password.

    Your randomly generated Administrator password is not always going to be available for retrieval through the AWS Management Console. After stopping and starting the instance, Get Windows Password no longer shows the password retrieval dialog box. Instead, a message box appears informing you that no password was found.

  13. Authorize ArcGIS Desktop.
    1. Start ArcGIS Administrator.
    2. Click the Desktop folder and choose a licensing option. If you choose a Concurrent Use license, supply the address of a license manager that is visible to the instance. If you choose a Single Use license, click Authorize Now and proceed through the wizard.


    If your license manager is running on an EC2 instance, ArcGIS Desktop will no longer be licensed if the license manager instance is restarted, as restarting the instance changes its name. The best option for licensing ArcGIS Desktop in a cloud environment like Amazon EC2 is to use a license manager that is hosted on a physical machine in your organization. Alternatively, the license manager can be hosted on a virtual machine or on a small dedicated EC2 instance that is continuously running (such as a micro size Linux instance).

  14. If you launched your instance from the Amazon Management Console rather than ArcGIS Server Cloud Builder on Amazon Web Services or an Esri AWS CloudFormation template, you need to authorize the software. Open the Software Authorization wizard on the instance and provide a valid ArcGIS Server or Portal for ArcGIS license file to authorize the software.