How To Install RDS CALs on Windows Server (2023)

Introduction

Being able to access a Remote Desktop host server, a user or device requires Client Access License (CAL). CALs are issued by a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) license server to the requesting RDS Session host server which in turn grants access to a client (user or device) to use the server’s resources via remote desktop.

In this article we will look at how to install and activate your RDS license server and subsequently install the required CALs.

Understanding the RDS CAL model

There are two (2) types of RDS CALs:

  1. Per Device CAL
  2. Per User CAL

These allow either a user or a device to access the resources hosted on your RDS host server. There are some key differences between the two. Click here for more details on CAL type differences.

The main thing, however, from a high level, to keep in mind when selecting the correct type of license model for your environment, is this; when using the Per User CAL model one user can be granted a RDS CAL, and that user can access your server from any number of devices. This model is perfect for environments where one user is assigned their own dedicated device (computer, laptop etc.)

However, for the Per Device CAL model, one device is assigned a CAL and that device can be used by any number of users. This model is perfect for environments where multiple users use one device (computer, laptop, etc. like shift workers)

To sum it up:

  • Per User CAL – One user → many devices
  • Per Device CAL – One device → many users

ICAL version compatibility

CALs and RDS Session Host Servers

When connecting to a RDS host server the CAL version being used must be compatible with that server. An earlier CAL version cannot be used to access a later version Windows server, however the reverse is possible. For example, a RDS 2012 CAL cannot be used to connect to a RDS session host running Windows Server 2016. It can only connect to its current server counterpart and older. But, a RDS 2016 CAL can be used to connect to a server running Windows Server 2012. They are backward compatible but not forward compatible.

To sum it up:

  • RDS CAL version C connects to RDS host server version C and older (version B, A), but cannot connect to RDS host server version D or onwards

Click here for more details on CAL compatibility with RDS session host.

CALs and RDS License Servers

Similar to the RDS session host, RDS CALs must meet compatibility requirements for the RDS license server that they are installed on.

Any RDS license server can host licenses for its current and previous versions of RDS. For example, a 2012 RDS license server can host 2012 and 2008 RDS CALs. However, a RDS license server cannot host CALs that are younger than its current version. This makes RDS licence servers backward compatible but not forward compatible as it relates to the installation and use of CALs on that server.

To sum it up:

  • RDS license server version C can host RDS CALs version C and/or older (version B and A)
  • RDS license server version C cannot host RDS CAL version D and/or newer CALs (version D, E, etc.)

Click here for more details on CAL compatibility with RDS license server.

How to install the Server roles

Follow these instructions to install the RD Licensing role on a Windows server. These visual steps were derived from Windows Server 2016. However, click here for general instructions from Microsoft’s website.

STEP 1

Log into your desired server with your administrator account. Type “server manager” in the Windows search bar, then click Server Manager to open up the Server Manager console.

STEP 2

Click “Add roles and features” under Configure this local server in the Server Manager window.

STEP 3

Click Next at the “Before you begin” window.

STEP 4

Select Role-based or feature-based installation then click Next.

(Video) How To Install and Setup RDS CAL Licence On a Windows Server

STEP 5

Select the option Select a server from the server pool, then highlight your desired server by clicking on it, then click Next.

STEP 7

Click Next at the Features window (we are leaving the defaults)

STEP 8

Click Next at the Remote Desktop Services window (we are leaving the defaults)

STEP 9

Select Remote Desktop Licensing option under Role Services.

STEP 10

Select Add Features at the pop-up window.

STEP 11

Select the Remote Desktop Session Host option (If the Remote Desktop Session Host role has not been installed).

STEP 12

Click Add Features at the pop-up window.

(Video) How to Install and Activate the RDS Licensing Role and CALs on Windows Server 2019/2016

STEP 13

You’ll realize that both Remote Desktop Licensing and Remote Desktop Session Host are now selected. Click Next to move on.

STEP 14

Select Restart the destination server automatically if required checkbox then Yes at the restart prompt.

At this point the server will begin installing the roles and necessary features, then reboot automatically. When you have logged in after the reboot the below window will pop-up to show that the installation has succeeded.

STEP 16

Click Close

The RDS license server role has now been successfully installed.

How to activate the RDS license server

Now that the RDS license server has been installed it’s now time to activate it. Let’s do that.

STEP 1

Open Server Manager and Select ToolsRemote Desktop Services → Then click Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.

The RD Licensing Manager window will now pop up.

STEP 2

Click the “plus” sign next to the All servers option, then right-click your server name and select Activate Server.

STEP 3

Click Next at the Welcome to the Activate Server Wizard window.

STEP 4

Leave the Connection method at Automatic connection (recommended) then click Next.

STEP 5

Fill out the relevant Company Information at the next two dialog boxes then click Next.

(Video) How To Install and Configure RDS CAL License On Windows Server 2019 2022 2016 2012 Full Step by Step

STEP 6

Uncheck the Start Install Licenses Wizard now checkbox. Then click Finish.

That’s it! Your RD Licence server has now been successfully activated.

How to install RDS CALs

We have now completed the foundational requisite tasks to be able to install and use CALs. Let’s proceed to get that done.

STEP 1

Open Server Manager and Select ToolsRemote Desktop ServicesRemote Desktop Licensing Manager

STEP 2

Right-click on your server name, then select Install Licenses.

STEP 3

Click Next at the Welcome to the Install Licenses Wizard page.

STEP 4

Select the License program through which you purchased your license, then click Next. In this example, we will select the “Service Provider License Agreement” option.

STEP 5

Enter your Agreement number then click Next.

STEP 6

Select the Product version and the License type. Then select the Quantity and click Next.

Note: Product version is the CAL version, CAL type is either Per Device or Per User CAL and Quantity is the number of licenses being installed.

(Video) How to Install and Activate the RDS Licensing Role and CAL | Install RDS CALs On Windows Server

We have now successfully installed our RDS CALs on the RDS License server.

How to troubleshoot the installation

There are other tasks that may need to be completed before your installed CALs can be used. If there are pending tasks you will see a warning sign beside your server name in the RD Licensing Manager. We can review the configuration and remedy those issues. Let’s do that.

Follow the below steps to troubleshoot the installation.

STEP 1

Right-click on your server name in the RD Licensing Manager window then select Review Configuration.

There are two conditions that must be met:

  1. The license server must be a member of the Terminal Server License Servers group in Active Directory Domain Services.
  2. The license server must be registered as a service connection point (SCP) in Active Directory Domain Services.

In our example condition 2 was met, however condition 1 was not. We will fix that in the next steps. Note that if condition 2 is not met. You will see a button to the right, similar to the first condition that will say How To Install RDS CALs on Windows Server (1). You would click that button to fulfil the condition.

STEP 2

Click Add to Group, then click OK.

You may be prompted to restart the Remote Desktop Licensing service after you have clicked Add to Group as outlined above, as seen below. Follow the next steps to get that done.

STEP 3

Find the Remote Desktop Licensing service by typing “services.msc” at the windows search bar then click the Services desktop app.

STEP 4

Search for the Remote Desktop Licensing service from the list. Select it, then right-click it and click Restart.

After the service has been restarted close the Services window and open Remote Licensing Manager once again if it was closed. Right-click your server name and Review Configuration again.

You’ll now see that the two conditions are now met.

In the RD Licensing Manager window you will now see a green tick beside your server name.

This is an indication that you have successfully installed your RDS CALs and they are ready to be used.

(Video) Setting Up Remote Desktop Server | Step 2: Installing RDS CALs

FAQs

How do I add RDS CALs to my server? ›

On the license server (usually the first RD Connection Broker), open the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager. Right-click the license server, and then click Install licenses. Click Next on the welcome page. Select the program you purchased your RDS CALs from, and then click Next.

How do I enable Windows RDS CALs? ›

Open the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager: click Start > Administrative Tools > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Licensing Manager. Right-click the license server, and then click Activate Server.

How do I add CALs to a Windows Server 2022? ›

Activate the RDS CALs:
  1. Now right click your server name then click Install licenses.
  2. A Windows with “Welcome to the install licenses Wizard” will open. Click on Next.
  3. Choose the license program License pack (Retail Purchase) then click on Next.
  4. Enter your License key, Click on Add then click on Next.
  5. All set now.
24 Feb 2022

Do I need both server CAL and RDS CAL? ›

When it comes to determining the right number of licenses, it's worth noting that you need a Windows Server CAL and an RDS CAL for each user or device.

Are user CALs and RDS CALs the same? ›

Yes. Device, user, and RDS CALs are all designed to access the same server.

Do CALs need to be installed? ›

A CAL needs to reflect the latest version of the server software installed. An older CAL does not grant access to newer or upgraded server software. However, the latest CAL can access an earlier version of the server software. A CAL must be installed onto a compatible server and assigned to specific users or devices.

How many windows server CALs do I need? ›

Client Access Licenses (CALs)

You have to pay for each person or each device (each client) that you want to allow access the server or use of some service the server provides. You only need 1 CAL per user or per device regardless of how many servers you actually have.

Do you need CALs for Windows Server? ›

CALs are required by Microsoft licensing for all users or devices that access Windows Server Standard or Windows Server Datacenter. When a customer buys Windows Server Standard or Datacenter, they receive a server license that allows them to install the operating system on one computer.

Does Windows Server 2022 include CALs? ›

A Client Access License (CAL) is a license to allow either a user or a device to access a Windows Server domain. They are required alongside the Server 2022 Standard or Datacenter software if the server is a domain controller.

Does Windows Server 2022 Standard come with CALs? ›

Windows Server 2022's licensing model includes both Cores and CALs. Every user or device is required to have either a Windows Server CAL or a Windows Server and RDS CAL in order to be able to access the licensed server.

Does Server 2022 require CALs? ›

[1] CALs are required for every user or device accessing a server. See the Product Use Rights for details. [2] Datacenter and Standard edition pricing is for 16 core licenses.

How long are RDS CALs good for? ›

Temporary RDS CALs are valid for 52–89 days.

Is 1GB RAM enough for server? ›

If the VPS is being used for web hosting or for running a basic website, then 1GB of RAM should be more than enough. However, if the VPS is being used for more intensive applications such as video streaming or high-traffic gaming servers, then 2GB of RAM would be a better option.

Is 8GB RAM enough for server? ›

In terms of size, for high-end workstations 16GB minimum is probably best, whereas for more budget friendly home set ups, 8GB should about do. Looking at servers, 16GB and 32GB are common capacities of server memory, although they can support up to 6TB for 2933 MT/s DDR4.

What happens if I run out of RDS CALs? ›

If you run out of free RDS CALs, you need to purchase a new CAL pack, wait for someone to release the license, or revoke unused licenses directly from the console (right click on the computer/user and select Revoke License).

Are the RDS CALs enforced in per user? ›

The RDS User CALs are not assigned directly to AD user accounts. When you use the Per User model, licensing is not enforced and each user is granted a license to connect to an RD Session Host from any number of devices.

Does Microsoft 365 include RDS CAL? ›

Microsoft 365 is a cloud product and Windows Server CAL pack is a server product, so they are two different products and you still need to buy Windows Server CAL pack if you have Microsoft 365 Business Premium or Standard.

How do I check my RDS CALs? ›

In Remote Desktop Licensing Manager right-click the license server, click Create Report, and then click CAL Usage. The report is created and a message appears to confirm that the report was successfully created.

Do server CALs expire? ›

All replies. Hi, An RDS User CAL expires 60 days after it is issued to the user and then returns to the available pool, however, if the user connects within 7 days of the expiration date the license will be renewed for another 60 days. This is for tracking purposes.

Do RDS CALs have downgrade rights? ›

Customers can subscribe to the RDS CAL for use with Azure or for RDS access to customer owned servers (on-premises). During the subscription period customers have the right to newer versions published and even downgrade rights apply, the same as with traditional Microsoft Volume Licensing.

Why do I need server CALs? ›

A Windows Server CAL gives the legal right for users or devices to connect to the server. CALs are used in conjunction with Microsoft Windows Server OS licenses to allow Users and/or Devices to access and utilize the services of that server OS.

What is the difference between user CAL and Device CAL? ›

Device CALs are ideal for customers with multiple users for one device, such as shift workers. A User CAL is a license for every named user to access a server (from any device) regardless of the number of devices they use.

How many cores does a server need? ›

A general rule of thumb is to run four virtual CPU (vCPU) VMs per physical core but there may be different specifications for particular workloads again. Don't assign your physical cores to vCPUs entirely.

How much RAM do I need for Server 2022? ›

Windows Server 2022 hardware requirements and limitations

Windows Server 2022 Standard and Datacenter editions share the same hardware requirements. Both require a 1.4 GHz, 64-bit CPU and 512 MB of RAM; for the Desktop Experience GUI-based version, the system needs 2 GB of RAM.

How many VMs can I run on Windows Server 2022 Standard? ›

It has a total of 6 VMs. I was reviewing that the limitation in HYPER-V with WS2022 Standard is that it only allows you to create two virtual machines with the licensed host. As WS2022 has 180 days of free license, I could do the migration of the 6 virtual machines without problems?.

What is the difference between per core and server CAL? ›

Per CAL means you need a license for every user accessing SQL Server: CAL = Client Access License. Per Core means you need a license for every core of the machine where SQL Server is running, independent of how many user access the SQL Server.

Does RDS need load balancer? ›

RDS load balancing is a critical feature that enables organizations to authenticate and route traffic to available servers in order to maximize the efficiency of the network. When a server is down, the traffic is routed to other servers, ensuring there is no single point of failure.

Is RDS charged when stopped? ›

If so, you can stop your Amazon RDS DB instance temporarily to save money. While your DB instance is stopped, you are charged for provisioned storage (including Provisioned IOPS). You're also charged for backup storage, including manual snapshots and automated backups within your specified retention window.

What is the maximum size RDS? ›

You can create SQL Server RDS DB instances with up to 16 TiB of storage. For this amount of storage, use the Provisioned IOPS SSD and General Purpose SSD storage types.

How much RAM does a 7 day server need? ›

If you decide to set up a 7 Days to Die server, you should look at the hardware requirements. The official website of the game states that just to run the game on your computer will need at least: 2.4 GHz Dual Core CPU. 8 GB of RAM.

Does more RAM make a server faster? ›

The more RAM a server has, the less the CPU must read data from the hard disk drive. This means your server may run more quickly since server RAM generally works much faster than a hard disk drive.

What is the minimum RAM for a server? ›

Minimum: 512 MB (2 GB for Server with Desktop Experience installation option)

Can a server work without RAM? ›

When a server does not have enough physical RAM, the system will move to using virtual memory, or Swap Memory. This kind of memory is much slower than physical memory, as it uses your HDD or SSD instead. This will likely lead to performance bottlenecks and cause your site or application to run much slower.

How much CPU do I need for a server? ›

Web Server: This is for a web server. We recommend using 2 CPU to 4 CPU and memory between 2GB to 6GB. Database Server: Normally, the database constructor tells you the necessary requirements. MySQL recommends 4 CPU cores or more and 8 GB RAM of memory or more.

How much RAM does a VM server need? ›

RAM Sizing for Specific Workloads and Operating Systems

A good starting point is to allocate 1GB for 32-bit Windows 7 or later desktops and 2GB for 64-bit Windows 7 or later desktops. If you want to use one of the hardware accelerated graphics features for 3D workloads, VMware recommends 2 virtual CPUs and 4GB of RAM.

Where do I find my RDS CALs? ›

In Remote Desktop Licensing Manager right-click the license server, click Create Report, and then click CAL Usage.

How are RDS CALs assigned? ›

The RDS User CALs are not assigned directly to AD user accounts. When you use the Per User model, licensing is not enforced and each user is granted a license to connect to an RD Session Host from any number of devices. The license server issues licenses from the available RDS CAL pool or the Over-Used RDS CAL pool.

How do I check my CAL license? ›

Windows Cals are not installed or tracked anywhere except via the documentation that came with your purchase. You can use the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager tool to create reports to track the RDS Per User CALs that have been issued by a Remote Desktop license server.

Why do I need RDS CALs? ›

This is known as a Client Access License (CAL) and is a key that grants users entry into a remote desktop connection. Every user that wants access to these features through the RDS will be required to have their own RDS license.

How many users can RDS handle? ›

By default, RD session host servers allow unlimited number of Remote Desktop Services sessions, and Remote Desktop for Administration allows two Remote Desktop Services sessions.

Do I need CALs for Windows Server 2022? ›

[1] CALs are required for every user or device accessing a server. See the Product Use Rights for details. [2] Datacenter and Standard edition pricing is for 16 core licenses.

Why do I need CALs for Windows Server? ›

A Windows Server Client Access License (CAL) is a license that gives a user or device the right to access services, such as printing or access to a file share, from a server running the Windows Server operating system (OS).

Are CALs included with Windows Server 2022? ›

Windows Server 2022 Standard CAL 16 Core License Pack + 10 CALS.

Is RDS CAL included in e3? ›

No. They do not appear to be included.

Videos

1. How to Install Client Access License (CAL) on Windows Server 2016 STD?
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2. How to install RDS client access licenses on Windows Server 2019
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3. How to Install Client Access License (CAL) on Windows Server 2012 R2?
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4. 42. Install and Configure Remote Desktop Services RDS on Windows Server 2019
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5. Install, Configure and Activate RD Licensing
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6. How to Install Client Access License (CAL) on Windows Server 2008 R2
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