The VMware Horizon Recording feature allows administrators to record desktop and application sessions to monitor user behavior for Windows remote desktops and applications.

Administrators can observe a user's exact keystrokes, cursor and mouse activity, and user behavior in a recorded desktop or application session. Recording provides greater security and auditing for user behavior. It also helps with troubleshooting and reproducing issues the user experiences during a session. Administrators can play back, store, and audit the recordings.

Horizon Recording consists of the following components:
  • Horizon Recording Server: Collects information about the session as well as raw recording data for storage and playback.
  • Horizon Recording Agent: Records a user session, registers the session with the Horizon Recording Server, and uploads recording data.

When a user logs on, Horizon Recording starts automatically, displaying the default message Your session is being recorded in accordance with security policies. The recording runs as long as the session is in a connected state. Recording stops when the user logs out or disconnects. If the user changes the screen resolution of the desktop or application session, Horizon Recording creates a new segment of the recording. Recording file sizes vary based on the duration of the connected session. Recordings are stored as mp4 and can be downloaded to play in a local player or viewed in the Horizon Recording web console.

Install the Horizon Recording Server

To use the VMware Horizon Recording feature, install the Horizon Recording Server component on a machine to collect information about the session as well as raw recording data for storage and playback.

The Horizon Recording Server component consists of these items:
  • A database for session information storage and configuration
  • A Windows NTFS folder for recording storage
  • A web service for collecting recording data, administration, and playback

You can deploy the Horizon Recording Server as a standalone setup where the server is installed on a machine that leverages a local SQLite database stored in the installation directory as local.db, and a local NTFS folder.

You can also deploy the Horizon Recording Server in a high available environment using multiple servers behind a load balancer, leveraging Microsoft SQL or PostgreSQL databases, as well as a shared NTFS folder on all servers for storing recording data. Load balancers configured with L4 load distribution are supported.

Minimum Server Resource Requirements (required to support 2,000 active recordings)
Resource Minimum Value
CPU 4 vCPU
Memory 8 GB
Free Disk Space 20 GB
Note: This depends on the type of applications the user runs in the session and also the frame change rate. You must monitor usage and add extra disk space as required.
Note: The Horizon Recording Server is built in .Net Core and requires a 64-bit Windows desktop or server operating system that is a member of the domain if you use group extraction.

To install the Horizon Recording Server, perform the following steps.

  1. Download the HorizonRecordingServer.exe file and copy it to a local folder on the server.
  2. Run the installer and follow the steps. Default credentials are shown below.

    Username/Password: administrator/Recording123

    The server is now available on https://<localservername>:9443
  3. To uninstall the Horizon Recording Server, use Add Remove Programs (appwiz.cpl) to remove the Horizon Recording server binaries and delete the following components manually:
    • The local database file (local.db) in installation directory.
    • The logs located in C:\programdata\VMware\Horizon Recording
    • Local recordings located in installation directory\Recordings
  4. To reset the installation:
    1. Stop the Horizon Recording service.
    2. Delete the Recordings folder from the installation directory.
    3. Delete the servicesettings.json file and the local.db file from the installation directory.
    4. Start the Horizon Recording service.

    The servicesettings.json and local.db files are recreated afresh.

  5. Manually secure the recordings folder permissions so that only the recording servers active directory accounts have access to the folder to add, modify, or delete recordings.

Install the Horizon Recording Agent

To use the VMware Horizon Recording feature, install the Horizon Recording Agent component on all Horizon machines where you want to record sessions.

The Horizon Recording Agent registry settings are stored in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\VMware, Inc.\VMware Blast\Recording Agent

Minimum Resource Requirements
Resource Minimum Value
CPU 2 vCPU
Memory 2 GB
Free Disk Space 5 GB
Note: This depends on the type of applications the user runs in the session and also the frame change rate. You must monitor usage and add extra disk space as required.
Additional System Requirements
  • Horizon 8 2106 or later for VDI; Horizon 8 2111 or later for RDSH
  • Windows 10 1909 or later 64-bit operating system for VDI; Windows Server 2016 or later 64-bit operating system for RDSH
  • Microsoft .Net framework 4.6.1 or later
  • VMware Blast
  • Port 9443 must be allowed in the firewall inbound rules on the Horizon Recording Server.

To install the Horizon Recording Agent, perform the following steps.

  1. Download the HorizonRecordingAgent.exe file and copy it to a local folder.
  2. Run the installer and follow the steps.
  3. When prompted for the connection, provide the correct URL of the recording server in the format https://<FQDN or IP address of recording server>:9443 along with the User Name and Password.
    1. Select the This machine is a template check box if the machine is a parent VM and a pool will be created from it.
    2. Click Register.
    3. If the certificate of the server is untrusted, accept the thumbprint of the server when prompted.
  4. To uninstall the Horizon Recording Agent, use Add Remove Programs (appwiz.cpl) to remove the Horizon Recording agent binaries and delete the following components manually:
    • Logs located in C:\programdata\VMware\Horizon Recording
    • Any local pending recordings located in installation directory\Recordings
  5. Delete the agent(s) from the Registered Machines:
    1. In Administrator > Manage Agents.
    2. Select the Name of the agent and then click Delete.
    3. Read the confirmation message carefully and proceed with the deletion.

Upgrade the Horizon Recording Server

Before upgrading the Horizon Recording Server, please do the following:
  • Confirm that there are no active recordings.
  • Create a backup of the Recordings folder, the servicesettings.json file, and the local.db (if you are using SQLite for the database).

To upgrade the Horizon Recording Server, perform the following steps.

  1. Download the HorizonRecordingServer.exe file.
  2. Copy the HorizonRecordingServer.exe file to a local folder on the server.
  3. Run HorizonRecordingServer.exe.
Note the following:
  • By default, the server is upgraded in the same C:\Program Files\VMware\Desktop Recording Server folder.
    • If you change the upgrade location to a new folder, the configuration is not retained, and is treated as a fresh installation. As a result, you cannot access or playback the old recordings from the web console after the upgrade.
    • If you do not change the default location, then all the configurations are retained, and you can access and play back the recordings from the web console after the upgrade.
  • The log location for the server is moved to a new C:\ProgramData\VMware\Horizon Recording folder after the upgrade. The old logs are still available in C:\ProgramData\VMware\Horizon Desktop Recording.

Upgrade the Horizon Recording Agent

Before upgrading the Horizon Recording Agent, confirm that there are no active recordings on the agent.

Note: It is recommended to upgrade the server before upgrading the agent.

To upgrade the Horizon Recording Agent, perform the following steps.

  1. Download the HorizonRecordingAgent.exe file.
  2. Copy the HorizonRecordingAgent.exe file to a local folder on the agent.
  3. Run HorizonRecordingAgent.exe.
Note the following:
  • By default, the agent is upgraded in the same C:\Program Files\VMware\Desktop Recording Agent folder.

    If you change the upgrade location to a new folder, then the configuration is not retained, and is treated as a fresh installation.

  • The Horizon Recording Server address is auto-populated during the upgrade procedure.
  • After the agent is upgraded, the log location of the agent is moved to a new C:\ProgramData\VMware\Horizon Recording folder. The old logs are still available in C:\ProgramData\VMware\Horizon Desktop Recording.