Logging in to your instance

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After you've given your instance about 20 minutes to configure Windows, you can get ready to log in to the instance and start working with your software.

  1. Open Windows Remote Desktop. In most versions of Windows, you can browse to this from Start > All Programs > Accessories > Remote Desktop Connection. In older versions of Windows, it may be in a folder called Communications. 

    Remote Desktop is a program that you can use to log in to other computers from your own computer. If you're new to Remote Desktop, you may want to take some time to read Remote Desktop Connection: frequently asked questions.
  2. In Remote Desktop Connection, click the Options button > Local Resources tab > More button and check the box forDrives. Then click OK. This will permit you to copy data from your machine on to the remote machine (in this case, your Amazon EC2 instance).
  3. In Remote Desktop Connection, under the General tab, type or paste the Elastic IP of your instance into the Computerinput box. If you can't remember what this is, click Elastic IPs in the AWS Management Console and you will see it listed.
  4. In the User name input box, type Administrator. Then click the Connect button.

    You might see a warning message here about remote desktop connections harming your computer. Any time you connect to a remote computer, there is the possibility that a malicious party could try to pose as the machine you are logging in to. Older versions of Remote Desktop were especially susceptible to this type of "man in the middle" attack. The work you are doing for this course is relatively benign and low risk, so you can click Connect.

    If you are using a computer at work, it's possible that Remote Desktop connections to machines outside your corporate firewall are blocked. If this is the case, you need to work with your IT administrator to open communication through port 3389 on your machine to all machines in the Amazon subnet. If you work in a high-security environment (or any environment with lots of red tape), getting approval to change a firewall rule like this may be difficult or impossible, and it will be easier to perform these steps from home instead.
  5. In the Password input box, carefully type or paste the decrypted administrator password that you obtained from your instructor (sometimes Windows will not allow you to paste a password). Then click OK.

    You may see a window warning you that the identity of the remote computer cannot be verified. You can ignore this warning and click Yes.

    In a few seconds, you should see Windows appear. You are now working in a remote desktop session that is connected to your Amazon EC2 instance. This behaves just like any program in Windows. You can minimize it or close it, but note that closing your remote desktop session does not stop your instance. Your instance will continue to accrue charges until you right-click it in the AWS Management Console and click Stop. This is what you should do if you are interrupted while performing these instructions, or need to take a break at any time.

    The first thing you'll do on your instance is change the administrator password to something easier to remember.
  6. On your instance (not your own computer), click Start > Administrative Tools > Computer Management.
  7. Expand Local Users and Groups and click Users.
  8. In the list of users, right-click Administrator and click Set Password > Proceed. Type and confirm a new password that you can remember. In the future, you can use this password when logging in to your instance.

You're now ready to begin working with your EC2 instance. You will probably have to do the above steps just one time during this course; however, if something goes wrong with your instance, you can terminate it and create a new instance. You will need to license the software on any new instance you create, repeating the steps above.

Typically when you log in to your instance, you'll open Remote Desktop Connection and type the user name Administrator, followed by the new password that you set above. To end your session, you can just close the remote desktop window. If you are going away for more than an hour, also make sure to stop your instance in the AWS Management Console.

Note that there is an easier way to access your instance: From the AWS console with your instances showing, right click on your instance and then download a shortcut to your instance, which is an rdp file. The disadvantage of this method is that you will not have access to your local hard drive contents. Still, it's a handy option if you don't need that local access. 

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