How to Setup a Cheap Low-Priority Microsoft Azure Server for Cloud Gaming

Microsoft offers a powerful option for Cloud Gamers with their Azure system. As nice as their system is, a standard server can be very expensive. In this article, we will teach you how to setup a Low-Priority server that can cost as much as 60% less than a standard server.

Low-Priority Server

Saving 60% on your hourly server rate probably sounds too good to be true. While you can absolutely use this type of server to save some money, there are a few things to be aware of. “Low-Priority” is exactly as it sounds. There is a chance that your server will be randomly disconnected. Your server can also be removed from Azure in order relocate resources.

Both of these downsides can be addressed. If your server is disconnected, you can easily reconnect right away. You’re also welcome to setup your server again if it’s removed from the system. This guide will show you how to setup the server quickly and easily.

Setup your Azure Account and Billing

  1. Setup a pay-as-you-go-subscription with Azure.
  2. Log into the Azure Portal.

Create your Virtual Machine

  1. The following link will execute a script that does a lot of the work for you. Click HERE.
  2. Fill out your Server details using the following:
    1. Choose Pay-as-you-go for your Subscription.
    2. Create a Resource Group Name (it can be anything that you want).
    3. Choose a Server location that supports the NV6 server type for your region. You can research server locations for your area through THIS LINK.
    4. Create an Admin Username & Password. Make a note of these! You will use them later to log into your server.
    5. Leave the Script Location exactly as it is.
    6. Leave the Network ID empty.
    7. Scroll down and accept the Terms & Conditions. Click the checkbox at the bottom of the page to “Pin to Dashboard”. Click the “Purchase” button.
    8. Azure will now setup your server. This process can take 10-15 minutes to complete. After your Template is deployed, move on to the next step.

Find your Server IP Address

  1. Navigate to the Microsoft Azure Resources Page.
  2. Click the “+” next to Subscriptions on the left side of the page. This will expand the category and make take a few minutes to load.
  3. Go to “Pay-as-you-go” > “resourceGroups” > “Name_of_your_resource_group” > “providers” > “Microsoft.Compute” > “virtualMachineScaleSets” > “CloudGaming” > “publicipaddress”.
  4. In the code on the right side of the page, you’ll see an entry for your IP Address. Write this down and copy it.
  5. Search for “Remote Desktop” in Windows on your home PC. Open the Windows Remote Desktop App from the results.
  6. In the Remote Desktop window, click “Show Options”. Fill in your Admin Name & Password that you created for your server earlier. Click “Connect”.
  7. You may receive a warning message about your server being unknown. Choose to connect-anyway. This will open up your Server Desktop.

 

Configure the Cloud Server

  1. Shortly after you log into your Cloud Desktop, Windows Server Manager should open automatically. Click “Local Server” on the left side of the screen.
  2. Near the right side of the screen, click on “IE Enhanced Security Configuration” and set both options that it gives you to “off”.
  3. Click “Manage” near the top right corner of the screen. Choose “Server Manager Properties” from the dropdown menu. Put a checkmark in the “Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon” box. Close the Server Manager Window.
  4. Search for “Firewall”. Turn the Firewall off.
  5. Install Nvidia Drivers from this link. Important! You need to install the driver from this link. Installing other drivers may prevent Parsec from working properly. When the drivers are completely installed, you will be prompted to reboot the computer. Go ahead and accept this prompt and restart the computer. This will kick you out of the Remote Desktop program. Wait 5 minutes and then log back into your server through the Remote Desktop program.
  6. Search for “Device Manager”. Expand “Display Adapters” and right click on Microsoft Hyper-V Video”. Disable it. While in Device Manager, look for “Monitors”. Click on Monitors and see if it shows you more than one Monitor. If it does, you’ll need to check to see which one shows that it’s connected to your Nvidia M60. Right click on each Monitor and choose “Properties”. The description will show you whether the Monitor you selected is tied to the M60. Disable the Monitor that isn’t connected to the M60.
  7. Open the Registry Editor by searching for “regedit”. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows. Right Click on “Windows” and create a new Key named “Personalization”. This will add Personalization to the list under Windows. Right click on “Personalization” and create a new DWORD Value named “NoLockScreen”. After creating this entry, double click it and set it to 1.
  8. Download Parsec from this link. Install it and enable Controller Support during Setup. Parsec will open automatically. Log in with your existing Parsec Account (same account that you use on your home computer). Enable Hosting at the top of the Parsec Window.
  9. Click on the Settings Gear on the Parsec window and open Settings. Choose “Network” from the left side of Parsec. Enter “8000” for Server Start Port.
  10. Click “Hosting” on the left side of the Parsec Settings Window. Make sure that the monitor attached to your M60 is selected under “Display Adapter”.
  11. Click on Start and restart your Server. This will kick you out of the Remote Desktop session.
  12. Open Parsec on your home computer. Wait for your Cloud Server to show up as an option under the Play menu. This may take several minutes.
  13. In Parsec on your Home Computer, click the Gear Icon and open Settings. Under “Bandwidth Limit” set it to either 15 Mbps or 30 Mbps. A Low-Priority Server is partly billed by the amount of bandwidth that you consume. Choosing 15 Mbps will low your video quality a bit, but will also lower your Azure bill. Choosing 30 Mbps will increase your bill a little bit, but will also increase your streaming video quality.
  14. In Parsec, go to “Play” and choose your Cloud Server. That’s it! You should now be on your Cloud Desktop and you can begin installing games.

Special Notes

There are a few details to be aware of when using a Low-Priority server. The script that we used to create the server sets up two hard drives on your virtual machine. The “C” drive is permanent and doesn’t get changed between reboots. The “D” drive is temporary storage. You’re welcome to install games in this location, but it does get purged after every server restart.

When you’re done Gaming, make sure that you visit the Microsoft Azure Portal to shut down your Server. On the Azure Dashboard, you’ll see your server listed. Click on it, and then choose “Deallocate” to end the session. Your billing will not stop until the server is shut down.

A Low-Priority server can really save you some money. A Standard server costs around $2.80 per hour to run. The Low-Priority server can be as little as $1.36 per hour!

Let us know what you think! Is the Low-Priority price worth the potential for disruptions? Would you still prefer to use a Standard server? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Special Note: We didn’t figure this all out on our own. Check out ecalder6’s guide on Github!


Also published on Medium.

Josh is a long-time Gamer and Technology Guru. He is known for his writing and troubleshooting skills. Josh can solve just about any problem, and is especially good at getting to the bottom of technology challenges. He has a background in Networking and holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. When he’s not gaming, Josh can be found blogging, testing new tech, and interacting with Flickstiq’s social media following. He lives in Ohio with his wife and children.

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4 Replies to “How to Setup a Cheap Low-Priority Microsoft Azure Server for Cloud Gaming”

  1. I have followed each and every step as it is but when I try to login using parsec it either wont start or put me to the lock screen although I did followed the NoLockcreen step!! any suggestions?

    1. It can be a bit tricky. The code that is used for the registry to disable to Lock Screen has to be very precise. The spelling and the uppercase letters matter a great deal. I can say for sure that it works (I used the exact same registry edit to log in with Parsec to shoot the last part of our video tutorial). There has to be a mistake somewhere in there. Check to see if anything stands out. If you can’t find anything, then you might go ahead and delete your server and try again.

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