Add Windows 2012 Servers to Server Manager

Now in server 2012 you can have multiple servers added to the Server Manager console, and can you install roles and features remotely on those servers. This is great, because you can work only with one management console and control all the environment.

To add remote 2012 servers to a Server Manager console just click Manage > Add Server; or right-click All Servers and choose Add Server. Either way has same results.

You need to use an account that has administrator access on the remote computers. Here I’m using the domain admin account.


Here we have three options to import those remote servers to the list from the right. If you go with the Active Directory option, type the name of the server in the Name box and press Find Now. Since I have a small environment here, I’ll just press the button and type no name in the box. The wizard will query Active Directory and populate the list with all the servers that are part of the domain. Select the servers you want to add to the Server Manager console and click the arrow.


The second option is to find those servers by their DNS names. Just type the server name in the Search box and press Enter, or click the magnifier icon.

The last option is to import the servers list from a .txt file. Just provide the file by clicking the button from the File box, then add the servers to the list on the right using the arrow button. When you’re done click OK.


Server Manager will query for those servers, and if everything looks good you should get an online status for them.


If you are logged on with a different account that has no admin rights on the remote servers you will get the message “Online – Access denied“. Is expected since the account that I’m logged in with is a simple domain user account that has no admin rights on the remote servers.  To make this work select the servers from the list, right-click and choose Manage As.


Provide the proper credentials and click OK.

After refresh servers should be with an online status in Server Manager.


Everything worked great because the servers are in a domain environment, but what if you have servers not joined to a Windows domain ? If that’s the case, when you try to add them to Server Manager, you get a WinRM Negotiation authentication error. The exact error message is: “Error  : Configuration refresh failed with the following error: The metadata failed to be retrieved from the server, due to the following error: The WinRM client cannot process the request. If the authentication scheme is different from Kerberos, or if the client computer is not joined to a domain, then HTTPS transport must be used or the destination machine must be added to the TrustedHosts configuration setting. Use winrm.cmd to configure TrustedHosts. Note that computers in the TrustedHosts list might not be authenticated. You can get more information about that by running the following command: winrm help config.


To get around this issues the following PowerShell command:

Set-Item wsman:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts  -Concatenate -Force

Now go back in the Server Manager console, right-click the remote server name and choose Refresh. You should be good-to-go.

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9 thoughts on “Add Windows 2012 Servers to Server Manager

  • 02/02/2020 at 07:24

    Adrian thanks for post. I am new to 2016. Immediately, after installing Active Directory Roles and Services and creating first Domain Controller in new root domain of new Forest – I began adding member servers to new root domain and then adding them to Server Manager. Likewise they all showed status of ‘Online – Access Denied’ in server manager. Thanks to a quick read of your post above never even thought to check group membership of default administrator account in new root domain of forest. WTF: 2016 does not automatically add this account to Enterprise Admins or Domain Admins – when you install AD Services on first DC. At least this is what occurred in my case – I am short on time so I am not going to repeat process to try and recreate. If this is case begs questions why they have made this change from 2000/2008/2012.

  • 15/04/2018 at 23:56

    It is quietly useful! Thanks a lot for your message!

  • 06/01/2015 at 12:04

    make sure you are login through administrator account in client end side…

  • 30/08/2014 at 10:50


    I have been failing to get past this error for a day now, and am beginning to loose the will to live! 🙁

    The issue is exactly the same Server Manager error as in your article….my setup is as follows: all machines are ‘virtual’, on the same workgroup – windows 8.1 running RSAT and Server Manager trying to connect to a Windows Server 2012.

    I can ping by IP or host name in both directions, so my routers DNS is working, both machines are fresh installs with no errors.

    It *can’t* be this hard to manage Server 2012 from a desktop, can it?

    I would be most grateful if you could suggest any ideas at all – because after a whole day googling this issue, I’m still no further forward – and starting my 2nd day without being able to get past this Server Manager error.

    • 31/08/2014 at 18:57

      If your servers are not part of a domain you have some work to do in order to add them to the Server Manager console. As a starter you need to add the servers to the TrustedHost list using the command:
      Set-Item wsman:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts Server01 -Concatenate -Force
      then you need to take care of UAC, then add the servers and then log off the server running Server Manager and log back in.
      For more information please consult this Microsoft article.

      • 01/09/2014 at 15:45

        Many thanks, I now have it working.

        After many trails and almost non stop Googling – for 2 days solid – it just started working.

        I have no idea why or how.

        I spent even more fruitless hours trying to discover the cause – as all hardware is in a virtualised lab – I had the luxury of being able to step back through snapshots, to re create the conditions exactly. Moreover, I was documenting every single step to the process so felt confident I could reproduce the error.

        No joy – I now simply can’t get it to break.

        However, many thanks again for your help – as I have a feeling, that a ‘trust relationship’ was somehow the cause.

  • 21/08/2014 at 17:20

    The only thing left out of the command was the name of the server before “-Concatenate -Force” options. It was easy enough to figure out, though. Great article!!


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