Cloud Gaming On An Azure Server Using Parsec

by Dan Applegate

This is an outdated article and many aspects no longer apply. We recommend checking out this great guide from Larry Gadea for general Azure set up.

If you’re familiar with how to set up a cloud machine on Azure, here’s a quick tutorial on setting up Parsec there.

The rest of this article is very outdated — Do Not Follow These Steps

Microsoft Azure has some of the most powerful GPU instances available in the cloud. The Nvidia M60 has some real punch, but it will cost a lot to run your games. To run the NV6 machines, it costs, $1.44 per hour in the East Region. You’ll also have to pay $0.085 per GB of outbound data traffic. My recent Overwatch session averaged 4.58 Mbps of outbound data. For one hour of gameplay, this is equivalent to transferring 2.06 GB per hour. The hourly data costs would then be $0.17. The variable hourly price is $1.61. Additionally, you’ll have to pay for storage, which is currently on a 50% promotion at $2.95 per month for a 128 GB HDD.

NOTE: Please use the NV6 machines only. The other machines offered are currently incompatible with gaming and Parsec due to graphics rendering. Those other machines are meant for CUDA development.

Playing Overwatch on a Azure server with Parsec is a bit complicated, but the gameplay is pretty amazing. Here’s how to get started:


  1. Set up a pay-as-you-go subscription with Azure.
  2. Log in to the Azure Portal.

Setting Up The Virtual Machine

  1. Click the “+” sign on the left.
  2. Search for “template” and select the “Template Deployment” offer from Microsoft. Click “Create”
  3. Click “Build your own template in the editor,” replace the boilerplate template with the content from this gist and click “Save”
  4. Fill out the settings page — (a) Select your Pay-As-You-Go subscription. (b) Create a new resource group, call it “parsec-servers” or similar. (c) For Location, select one of “East US,” “North Central US,” or “South Central US,” whichever is closest to you. (d) Customize the values for VM name, user name, and user password. (e) For Custom Data, paste in your Parsec Configuration Settings, which you can create here after clicking the link to show your configuration settings following step 1 (you’ll need to sign up for Parsec first). (f) Check “Pin to dashboard” for easier access. (g) Click “Purchase”.
  5. When the custom deployment has finished, connect to the instance. You can do this through Windows RDP, downloading the RDP connection file by clicking “Connect” on the parsec-azure VM overview page. You can use this popular RDP client for Mac, or something similar for your platform.

Configuring Your Gaming Server

Server Manager Enhanced Security Configuration
  1. Server Manager will launch automatically. In this application, set up the instance following these steps. (a) Click Local Server > IE Enhanced Security Configuration “On” > “Off” for both. (b) Manage > Server Manager Properties > “Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon”.
  2. Create an inbound rule in Windows Firewall that allows UDP on ports 8000–8040. Alternatively, you can just turn off Windows Firewall if you’re into that kind of thing.
  3. Once you’ve moved past the Server Manager, you should now see the desktop. Open the internet browser, and install Nvidia drivers and select restart later.
  4. Install Virtual Audio Cable from here using setup64.exe. Right-click the speaker in the lower right corner of the screen, select Playback Devices, and activate the new virtual audio cable.
  5. Open Device Manager > Display adapters > Right-click “Microsoft Hyper-V Video” and Disable (If Disable is not available, you can uninstall, but make sure not to restart your machine just yet).
  6. Visit the registry editor to make sure Parsec can connect from a fresh restart of the server. Registry editor can be found by clicking on the Start Menu and typing “regedit”.

System Registry And Auto-Launch Setup

Don’t use this default password!
  1. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon.
  2. Right-click in the white space below the other values to create new string value DefaultUserName to parsec.
  3. Right-click in the white space below the other values to create new string value DefaultPassword (or create as string value) and set it to the user password you set during setup.
  4. Right-click in the white space below the other values to create new string value AutoAdminLogon to 1.
  5. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows and right-click Windows in the left-hand panel and create a new key named “Personalization”.
  6. In the new Personalization key, create a new D-word value named NoLockScreen and set it to 1.

Head Shots And Awesome Performance All Day Long — Overwatch On Azure

  1. Download and install the Parsec Server. Login using your Parsec credentials, making sure to check “remember my password”.
  2. In the Parsec app, go to “Settings” > “Advanced Settings (config.txt).” In the text file that opens up, add the line “network_server_start_port = 8000” without the quotes. Save and exit the text editor.
  3. From the Azure portal, restart the server.
  4. **Optional** When you’ve confirmed that you can connect via Parsec, you can disable RDP connections if you’d like. To do so, search the Azure portal for “parsec-server-nsg”. On the overview page, click the “default-allow-rdp” rule and click “Delete” to remove it. If you need to restore RDP access, you can add back a rule to open port 3389 for RDP.
  5. When finished with your session, remember to stop the VM. Ensure that the Status on the VM overview page in Azure portal says “Stopped (deallocated),” otherwise, you will continue to accrue charges

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