Windows Server 2016 Server Core and Nano Server
What are Windows 2016 Server Core and Nano Server and why should I use it?

Windows Server 2016 Server Core
  1. What is Server Core? Introduced in Windows Server 2008, Server Core (Core) is a Windows Server that doesn't have a Graphical User Interface (GUI). It does have a command prompt and can be remotely managed. Because it doesn't have a GUI, it has a smaller footprint, requires fewer patches and is more secure than the full installation of Windows Server 2016. It has a significantly reduced attack surface. Windows Administrators have been reluctant to use Server Core, because of the perception that everything has to be performed via the command line. While the command line is certainly an option, we typically create a management server to remotely manage any Core installation. This gives you the functionality of the Full Windows GUI interface with the additional security of Server Core. Management is just performed slightly differently.
  2. Is Server Core Supported? Before you implement Core, make sure it is supported by your backup, anti-virus, monitoring, SIEM and any other infrastructure applications you have in place. You don't want to go through an implementation of core just to find out you can't back it up!
  3. What applications run on Server Core? Not all applications will run on server core, but there are many that can. Some of the applications that will run on Core will also run on Windows Server 2016 Nano Server (Nano). As a general suggestion if you can, run the service on Nano. If it doesn't run on Nano, run it on Core. If it doesn't run on Core, use the full version of Windows Server 2016. Here's some of the roles/applications that are supported on Server core:
    1. Domain Controller.
    2. DHCP.
    3. DNS.
    4. Fax Server
    5. File Server
    6. Hyper-V
    7. Print Server
    8. SQL Server.
    9. Web Server

Windows Server 2016 Nano Server

  1. What is Nano Server? Introduced in Windows Server 2016 Nano Server (Nano), is even smaller than Core. Nano is designed to run services. It has no GUI, no command prompt, no 32 bit support and MUST be remotely managed.
  2. Is Nano Server Supported? Just like Server Core, make sure that Nano is supported by your backup, anti-virus and any other infrastructure applications you want to use with Nano.
  3. What Services run on Nano? Nano supports services, not applications.
    1. DNS.
    2. Scale out File Server
    3. Hyper-V Host
    4. Web Server

Both Core and Nano provide a platform that has lower overhead, fewer patches, smaller footprint and increased security. For more information about implementing this technology send an email to


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