Always On VPN and RRAS on Windows Server Core

Windows Server Core is a refactored version of the full Windows Server operating system. Server Core does not include a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and must be managed via the command line or with PowerShell. The Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) is a supported workload on all supported versions of Windows Server including Windows Server 2022. Always On VPN administrators should consider installing and configuring RRAS on Windows Server Core to ensure their VPN infrastructure’s best security and performance.

Server Core Benefits

Windows Server Core is a minimal installation option of the Windows Server operating system that provides numerous benefits, particularly for environments where security, resource efficiency, and reduced maintenance overhead are essential. Here are some of the key benefits of using Windows Server Core.

Minimized Attack Surface – Windows Server Core has a smaller footprint compared to the full GUI version, which means fewer components and services are installed by default. This reduces the potential attack surface and minimizes security vulnerabilities.

Enhanced Security – With fewer components and a reduced attack surface, there are fewer potential vectors for malware or unauthorized access. This makes Windows Server Core a more secure choice for critical server roles like RRAS.

Reduced Maintenance – Since there are fewer components to update, patching and maintaining a Windows Server Core system is quicker and requires less effort. This is especially beneficial in large-scale server deployments.

Improved Stability – By removing the graphical user interface (GUI), Windows Server Core has fewer processes running in the background, leading to a more stable and predictable server environment.

Simplified Management – Windows Server Core is designed for remote administration. It allows the administrator to manage it using command-line tools, PowerShell, or remote management tools like the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) and Windows Admin Center. This makes it easier to manage multiple servers from a single location.

Faster Reboots – Windows Servers require periodic reboots. With Windows Server Core, reboot times are considerably faster, resulting in less downtime during maintenance periods.


The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) can be installed on Windows clients and servers to enable remote administration using the familiar Routing and Remote Access Management console (rrasmgmt.msc) and Remote Access Management console (ramgmtui.exe) GUI tools.

Windows Client

To install the Remote Access Management tools on Windows client operating systems, navigate to Settings > Apps > Optional Features. Click Add a feature, select RSAT: Remote Access Management Tools, then click Install.

Optionally the Remote Access Management tools can be installed by running the following PowerShell command.

Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name Rsat.RemoteAccess.Management.Tools~~~~

Windows Server

To install the Remote Access Management tools on Windows Server run the following PowerShell command.

Install-WindowsFeature -Name RSAT-RemoteAccess

Windows Admin Center

The Windows Admin Center is a free remote management tool from Microsoft for managing Windows Server (core and GUI) remotely. It is especially helpful for Server Core management as it provides a GUI for many common administrative tasks.

You can download Windows Admin Center here.

Additional Information

Windows Server Core Installation Option

Windows Server Core vs. Desktop

PowerShell Remote Server Administration

Windows Admin Center

Always On VPN and the PSPKI PowerShell Module

Certificates are a crucial part of a secure Always On VPN implementation. Certificates are phishing-resistant forms of authentication that, when configured correctly, provide robust and multifactor authentication for remote access users and devices.


Most commonly, certificates are issued by an on-premises Microsoft Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) server. Administrators configure and deploy a Certification Authority infrastructure to issue and manage user and device authentication certificates in their organization. CA certificates are also required on the VPN server to support Always On VPN device tunnel connections and IKEv2 user tunnel connections. The NPS server also requires an enterprise CA certificate. Of course, the CA can issue certificates for other purposes, including Wi-Fi authentication, document signing, and code signing, just to name a few.


PSPKI is a PowerShell module available in the PowerShell Gallery for configuring, managing, and troubleshooting Microsoft AD CS. Created by Vadims Podans of PKI Solutions, PSPKI includes over 100 functions for various AD CS and certificate-related tasks. Always On VPN administrators will find this PowerShell module helpful when configuring and troubleshooting certificate-related issues for their Always On VPN deployments.

Note: The AD CS remote server administration tools (RSAT) must be installed to access all of the PSPKI module’s functionality.


Run the following PowerShell command to install the PSPKI PowerShell module.

Install-Module -Name PSPKI

Always On VPN and PSPKI

Always On VPN Administrators will immediately find a few PSPKI functions helpful when implementing and supporting Always On VPN.

Test-WebServerSSL – This function will connect to a remote web server and display details about the TLS certificate included in the response. This can be especially helpful when troubleshooting SSTP VPN connections.

Convert-PfxToPem – This is a handy utility for converting a PFX file to the PEM format. This is commonly required when importing CA certificates on non-Microsoft platforms, security devices, and load balancers.

Convert-PemToPfx – Occasionally, administrators must convert a certificate and private key in PEM format to PFX to install on a Windows server. This tool allows administrators to perform this task easily.

Get-CertificationAuthority – This function quickly enumerates all enterprise CA servers and displays information about their hostname, accessibility, service status, and type.

Ping-ICertInterface – This function helps troubleshoot CA connectivity issues. Administrators can quickly determine if a CA is reachable and capable of issuing a certificate using this command.

Get-CaTemplate – This command displays a list of certificate templates published on the specified target CA server. The certificate template’s display name and the minimum support CA version are provided. In addition, the output indicates if certificate autoenrollment is enabled on the template.

Much More

The PSPKI PowerShell module for AD CS has many tools for configuring and managing AD CS. PSPKI recently received a major update to version 4.0. Download and install PSPKI today. It will make your life easier, I can assure you!

Additional Information

PSPKI PowerShell Module – PowerShell Gallery

PSPKI PowerShell Module – GitHub

AOVPNTools PowerShell Module – PowerShell Gallery

AOVPNTools PowerShell Module – GitHub

InboxAccountingDatabaseManagement PowerShell Module

InboxAccontingDatabaseManagement – PowerShell Gallery

InboxAccountingDatabaseManagement – GitHub

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and ReportingWindows Server with the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) role installed is a popular choice for Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments. Configuring RRAS is commonly performed using the RRAS management console but it can also be configured using PowerShell and/or netsh. In addition, there are a few different options for natively monitoring server health and client connection status.

RRAS Management Console

After installing the RRAS role, the administrator uses the RRAS management console (rrasmgmt.msc) to perform initial configuration. The RRAS management console can also be used to view client connection status by expanding the server and highlighting Remote Access Clients.

Connection Details

To view connection details for a specific connection, the administrator can right-click a connection and choose Status, or simply double-click the connection.

High level information about the connection including duration, data transfer, errors, and IP address assignment can be obtained here. In addition, the administrator can terminate the VPN connection by clicking the Disconnect button.

RRAS Management Console Limitations

Using the RRAS management console has some serious limitations. It offers only limited visibility into client connectivity status, for example. In addition, the client connection status does not refresh automatically. Also, the RRAS management console offers no historical reporting capability.

Remote Access Management Console

The Remote Access Management console (ramgmtui.exe) will be familiar to DirectAccess administrators and is a better option for viewing VPN client connectivity on the RRAS server. It also offers more detailed information on connectivity status and includes an option to enable historical reporting.


The Dashboard node in the Remote Access Management console provides high-level status for various services associated with the VPN server. It also provides a high-level overview of aggregate VPN client connections.

Operations Status

The Operations Status node in the Remote Access Management console provides more detailed information regarding the status of crucial VPN services. Here the administrator will find current status and information about service uptime.

Remote Client Status

The Remote Client Status node in the Remote Access Management console is where administrators will find detailed information about client connectivity. Selecting a connection will provide data about the connection including remote IP addresses, protocols, and ports accessed by the remote client, in addition to detailed connection information such as authentication type, public IP address (if available), connection start time, and data transferred.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Double-clicking an individual connection brings up a detailed client statistics page for the connection, as shown here.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Custom View

The Remote Access Management console includes the option to customize the data presented to the administrator. To view additional details about client connections, right-click anywhere in the column headings to enable or disable any of the fields as required.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Recommended Columns

From personal experience I recommend adding the following columns in the Remote Access Management console.

  • IPv4 Address (this is the IP address assigned to the VPN clients by RRAS)
  • Connection Start Time
  • Authentication Method
  • Total Bytes In
  • Total Bytes Out
  • Rate

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting


The only real drawback to using the Remote Access Management console is that it supports viewing connections from just one VPN server at a time. If you have multiple RRAS servers deployed, you must retarget the Remote Access Management console each time to view connections on different VPN servers in the organization.

You can retarget the Remote Access Management console at any time by highlighting the Configuration node in the navigation pane and then clicking the Manage a Remote Server link in the Tasks pane.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting


Remote Access reporting is not enabled by default on the RRAS VPN server. Follow the steps below to enable historical reporting for RRAS VPN connections.

1. Highlight the Reporting node in the Remote Access Management console.
2. Click Configure Accounting.
3. Uncheck Use RADIUS accounting.
4. Check Use inbox accounting.
5. Review the settings for data retention and make changes as required.
6. Click Apply.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Optionally, historical reporting can be enabled using PowerShell by opening and elevated PowerShell command window and running the following command.

Set-RemoteAccessAccounting -EnableAccountingType Inbox -PassThru

Database Management

A Windows Internal Database (WID) is automatically installed and configured for data storage when inbox accounting is enabled. WID is nothing more than a basic instance of Microsoft SQL Server. As such, the database will require periodic maintenance to perform optimally. I have published the InboxAccountingDatabaseManagement PowerShell module to address many of the required and optional administrative tasks associated with inbox accounting. You can learn more about this PowerShell module and its functions here.

Important Note! There is a known issue with the inbox accounting database that can result in high CPU utilization for very busy RRAS VPN servers. Specifically, a crucial index is missing from one of the tables in the logging database. To correct this issue, be sure to run the Optimize-InboxAccountingDatabase function included in my InboxAccountingDatabaseManagement PowerShell module.

Additional Information

Always On VPN Inbox Accounting Database Management

Always On VPN Inbox Accounting Database Management PowerShell module on Github

Windows 10 Always On VPN and Windows Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)

Windows 10 Always On VPN Protocol Recommendations for Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)

Windows 10 Always On VPN and RRAS with Single NIC

Windows 10 Always On VPN and RRAS in Microsoft Azure