I was asked a simple, but crucial question about Amazon Web Services (AWS) last week by someone. The initial e-mail message stated that no one creates an AWS instance for the sake of creating an instance. The instance is usually used to host an app or store data.
Therefore, the question was how to install an app or copy data to an AWS Windows Server instance.
In both cases, you will need to have the ability to copy files to your AWS account. You may need to copy data from an existing instance if you plan to store data there. You will need to copy the application binaries of any application you plan to install to the instance. In both cases, you will need a method to get your files into the instance.
There is no right or wrong way to copy files to AWS instances. Some methods are more secure or easier than others. You might be able to access the instance’s Web browser to obtain data or application binaries from an Internet source in some cases, but it is not a good idea to access a Web browser from within a server interface. Unconfirmed stories have also suggested that someone could configure an AWS instance as an FTP server to allow them to upload files to it. This method would likely work, but it might not be the best way to copy files to an AWS instance.
These methods may work, but I have found one that works really well for me. Use your RDP client to connect to the AWS instance. This allows you to copy files from the local drive to the instance.
Before I show you how it works, I must mention that I have only tested this with a Windows instance. It is also important to note that I am using Windows 10’s native RDP client.
Let’s now see how it works. The AWS console allows you to download an RDP file to connect to the AWS instance you have just created. This file will allow you to connect to the instance. However, it offers very limited options.
Figure 1 will show you what I mean. Double-clicking on the RDP files caused Windows to open it using the native RDP client. Expanding the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box gives me the option to access my local computer’s clipboard or printer. But that’s it. Accessing a local drive is not an option.
Figure 1: The Remote Desktop Connection dialog box offers very few options. The window lists the remote computer as you can see in the figure. Write down the fully qualified domain name of the Remote Computer, as it appears in your Remote Desktop Connection dialog box. Now, open the RDP client on your computer directly without using the RDP file. As shown in Figure 2, enter the domain name of your AWS instance into the Computer field.
Figure 2: Enter the fully qualified domain name of the instance into the Computer field. One thing I’m sure you noticed in the above figure is that I used the RDP client directly instead of downloading the RDP file from AWS. This gave me a lot more options (I had to click Show Options) to see these options. The dialog box actually contains a Local Resources tab that you can use to indicate the resources that should be made accessible within the RDP session. This tab is illustrated in Figure 3.
Figure 3: The Local Resources tab gives access to local computer resources. Although the Local Resources tab doesn’t immediately display an option for making local drives available in an RDP session (clicking the More button will bring up this option),