How To: Enable Remote Desktop (RDP) remotely

Lots of sites on the internet discuss how to enable remote desktop in Windows, but the majority of them require you to have physical access to the computer first. So how do you enable remote desktop when you do not have physical access to the computer? It is all to do with the registry!

Connect to the Remote Computer

  1. Make a network connection to the remote computer to ensure that you have administrative access to the machine (i.e. \\computername\c$). This will prompt for a username and password enter the administrator account for the remote computer. (Note: You cannot use the administrator account if it has a password that has NOT been set – AKA A Blank Password)
  2. Start the registry editor regedit.exe (and not the older application regedt32.exe if it exists – it does not in later releases of Windows)
  3. Choose File -> Connect Network Registry
  4. Enter the computer name as used above. Click Ok
  5. You will notice a new section that is below “Computer” which will be the name of the remote computer, you will follow the path listed next under that name. Navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server” (NOTE: take care not to select your own desktop)
  6. Double-click on “fDenyTSConnections
  7. Change the value of this setting to “0” to this will enable Remote Desktop or “1” to disable it, and click OK.
  8. You will want to disconnect from the Registry of the remote computer for the settings to take effect. Right click on the computer name and select “Disconnect”.
  9. You can now close the registry editor and attempt to connect to the remote computer via Remote Desktop (RDP). (NOTE: Depending on the firewall configuration of your remote computer, you access attempt could be blocked by it. At this point you will need to go to that computer and make adjustments to the firewall to allow Remote Desktop to connect)

Congratulations, you have successfully changed the options to allow Remote Desktop to work on a remote computer!

If your remote computer has multiple network cards and you want to ensure that Remote Desktop is operating only on a selected card then navigate to the following registry location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-TCP and note the LanAdapter value. If this is 0 Remote Desktop operates on all networks, and if this is another number then it operates only on the network as identified in the (as first)\\lanatable registry key
Disconnect the remote computer from the registry editor using File, Disconnect Network Registry, and selecting the correct remote computer in the list.

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