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Old 05-03-2020, 12:38 PM   #1
speed-of-heat
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Default Hosting a Multiplayer server in Azure

Azure Costs
Firstly, lets understand costs in a hosted server model, they are what you make them, e.g. it’s a pay as you go model, which means you need to do some maintenance in order for things to work in your favour.

Storage
The most expensive asset is going to be storage, a 256Gb disk is going to cost you:
Standard HDD = 9.67GBP
Standard SDD = 15.47GBP
Premium SSD = 34.28GBP
per month, now you can vary that some by reducing the size of the HDD, if you are only going to run 1 server then you need a minimum of about 60Gb, so you can bring that cost down if you want.

Storage is a flat cost so it doesn’t matter how “often” you use the server, the storage persists.

Compute Costs
The flat month cost of a server with 4 cores and hyper threading with 32Gb of RAM is 252.45GBP per month… ok take a breath, remember I said that Storage was the *most* expensive thing, well it is; let me explain...

Whilst that does represent the flat monthly cost of leaving that much compute on 24x7 for a month, that’s not what you will pay unless you are running the server 24/7, because you are smart you once it’s set up be running the server hourly! Only brining the server up when you need to, that works out at a much more reasonable 0.35GBP per hour… Thirty Five Pence per hour… that’s not even a cup of coffee.

Your Costs
You can work out your costs by using the Azure Pricing Calculator.

But assuming you run the server for say 5 hours a weekend, so 20 hours a month, and you use the specs I suggest, you will spend just over £41 per month, and most of that cost is storage. At 128GBb disk that number falls to just under £25, and just under £15 with a standard SSD at 128Gb.

Your mileage will vary.

Setup Azure
There is an excellent setup guide on how to configure Azure for Game Servers.

I suggest you follow it carefully, but, where it says setup a Virtual Machine, you will want to make the following changes:

Basics
Region: choose one that its close to you, I’m in the UK.
For Image: select Windows 10 Pro as the operating system.
For Size: I am using a Standard D8s v3, that’s a 4 core with hyper threading.

Make sure you save the password and username, somewhere safe, if in doubt write it down!

Disks
Create and attach a new disk, choose what is the best balance for size and performance for you, but I suspect you will need at least 128Gb.

Networking
There is a little bit to do here:

NIC network security group: select Advanced and you will get an option to configure your Network Security Group, you can think of this as your Router/Firewall for the purposes of this exercise, click Create New, and then click +add an inbound rule (we will do this twice)

1) Destination Port Ranges enter 10308, Name DCSClient and click add
2) Destination Port Ranges enter 8088, select TCP as Protocol, Name WebClientGUI and click add
3) Click OK

Management:
Boot diagnostics, select Off
Auto shutdown select On
Shutdown Time, this is a safety valve in-case you have the server running late and you forget to shut it down, I set this to 2:00:00 AM, that way the server is always off by 2 am, even if I forget!
Otherwise follow the guide above click review and create, and then create! And you can go and get a quick cup of coffee/tea etc… while Azure does its thing. When you come back your server should have been created and be running.


Connecting to your Server
In the Azure portal home screen click on virtual machines and the click on your server you created, then click on connect , and select RDP and download the RDP File, which will download I suggest to your desktop to make it easy to find, don’t click on it just yet.

We are going to spend some time configuring the Connection to make life easier in the future.
Ok right click on the RDP file and select Edit, enter the username and uncheck Always ask for credentials, next click edit and enter your password, click save and then adjust any of the other settings you want like display size etc… come back to the general tab and click save again, and then click connect.

And you should be connected to your server! In the future you should just be able to double click the icon on your desktop.

Configuring the Server
  1. use Disk Management in windows to attach and format that disk you created!
  2. Install Chrome or Firefox (you will need one of them I use chrome) as the WebClientGUI does not seem to work with Edge and set whichever one you choose as your default browser…
  3. Install Notepad++ or Visual Studio Code (you will need one of them to edit LUA files)
  4. Install your server code either regular or the beta, to that new disk you created.
  5. You need to open some ports up on the server firewall as well, you can either do that by hand, or you can configure them using powershell:
Code:
# DCS TCP inbound rules
New-NetFirewallRule -DisplayName "DCS TCP Inbound" -Direction Inbound -LocalPort 10308 -Protocol TCP -Action Allow

# DCS UDP inbound rules
New-NetFirewallRule -DisplayName "DCS UDP Inbound" -Direction Inbound -LocalPort 10308 -Protocol UDP -Action Allow

# DCS WebGUI TCP inbound rules
New-NetFirewallRule -DisplayName "DCS WebGUI TCP Inbound" -Direction Inbound -LocalPort 8088 -Protocol TCP -Action Allow
Cut and paste the above into a PowerShell window, which will open the ports that DCS Server needs.

Configuring DCS
DCS doesn’t seem to need much in the way of configuration itself once installed, there are some things you will need to do:
Make sure you have some Mission files in your saved games directory for the server, I also create a tracks folder, but that’s mostly so the error in the logs goes away.
You will need to add the missions to the server before it will start, either use the WebGui shortcut on your desktop or use the shortcut in your profile
When you sign in to DCS it will prompt you for your username and password, select save credentials and autologin.

Killing the Server
Simplest thing to stop the server, go to the azure portal home page, select virtual machines and select stop. No more server.

Killing DCS Server from inside Windows

I create a short cut with either:
Code:
C:\Windows\System32\taskkill.exe /FI "WINDOWTITLE eq DCS.openbeta_server*" /F
Or
Code:
C:\Windows\System32\taskkill.exe /FI "WINDOWTITLE eq DCS.server*" /F
as the target.

I hope this helps someone else
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Last edited by speed-of-heat; 05-03-2020 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 05-03-2020, 01:19 PM   #2
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Interesting post but I am looking for a dedicated 24/7 server. My PC is more often online than your Azure VM…
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:25 PM   #3
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Other mechanisms for hosting are out there , for time I need it it makes sense for me.i have my old 6600k and if I wanted something 24/7 I’d fire that up. As the cost would likely favour that.

Not everyone can do that or has a spare pc floating around.

I would definitely say it’s not worth it if you want something to sit up their 24/7 , that said I think the annual cost is something like a 30% reduction and the 3 yearly 50%... it might make sense on a no premium ssd ymmv.
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SYSTEM SPECS: Hardware Intel Corei7-9700K @ 5.0 GHz, 32Gb RAM, EVGA 1080ti FTW 11Gb, Dell S2716DG, Thrustmaster Warthog + MFG Crosswinds V2, HP Reverb Pro SOFTWARE: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro x64, VoiceAttack & VIACOM PRO, TacView, CombatFlite

VR Stuff: My 2.5.5 DCS VR Settings, My 2.5.6. DCS VR Settings, Shaders MOD for VR My variant of Kegetys mod with clear water and also IC PASS for current beta & Stable
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