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Published on 01.20.06 by Brent Trahan

Remote Desktop Connection

Learn just about everything you need to use Remote Desktop to remote to another computer.

Remote Desktop Connection is a tool used to connect to other computers through a network and use them as if you were sitting right in front of it your self. This guide will show you everything you need to use Remote Desktop Connection.

Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) is a tool that comes pre-installed with Windows XP, Server 2000, and 2003. If you are not using any of those operating systems you can still install RDC from any Windows XP, Server 2000, or Server 2003 CD. Microsoft only recommends using the version from the Windows XP or Server 2003 CDs. You can also click here to download a copy of RDC if you need. This remote desktop tool is free and works the best in my opinion.

You can use RDC to connect a Windows XP machine to another XP machine. You can also connect a Windows XP machine to a Server 2000, or 2003 server. You can connect a Windows 2000 machine to a Windows XP, or Server 2000, 2003 machine (you must install RDC from a Windows XP, or Server CD first). You can’t connect a Windows XP, or Server 2000, 2003 machine to a Windows 2000 machine.

In this example I’m going to use a Windows XP machine to connect to another Windows XP machine on a workgroup network. If you computer is part of a domain please contact your administrator for help with using RDC.

Before you can connect to a computer with RDC you need to allow that type of connection on the computer you are trying to connect to. This is a security feature to keep people you don’t approve of connecting to your computer.

It’s a very good idea to set up a new user account with a very strong password to use with logging in with RDC. If you don’t want to create a new user account make sure the account you choose to use has a very strong password.

To set up user(s) to be able to connect to your computer with RDC right-click My Computer and select Properties. Click on the Remote tab. Check off where it says Allow users to connect remotely to this computer. Below is an example of the Remote tab.

Now you need to add who can connect to your computer. Click on the Select Remote Users button. You should see a window popup similar to the one below.

To add a new user click the Add button. Once you click the Add button you should see a window similar to the one below.

Click the Advanced tab to easily a quickly find a user. You will see a window like the one below popup.

Click Find Now, and then click on the user account you want to use to login with RDC and click OK. You will then be brought back to the select users box with the user you selected placed in it for you. Click OK. Click OK in the Remote Desktop Users box. Click Ok in the System Properties box.

Now you are set up to connect to that computer with RDC.

To open RDC click start, point at All Programs, point at Accessories, point at Communications, and click on Remote Desktop Connection. A window similar to the one below will appear.

To the right of Computer is a white box. That is where you put the IP address or name of the computer you want to connect to. Click Connect once you enter the IP address or name of the computer you want to connect to.

There might be a slight pause and then your desktop will change to the desktop of the computer you are connecting to. When you connect to the remote computer, you might have to login. Simply login just as if you were sitting in front of the computer.

Notice the yellow bar at the top of your screen while you are connected to the remote computer. If you click the paper clip on the left of the bar the bar will disappear. Simply point where the bar should be for it to re-appear. In the middle of the bar is the name of the computer. To the right of the bar is where you minimize (the – sign) make it smaller (the 2 boxes) and close (the X).

You might want to note that when you remote to a computer by default that computer locks and can’t be used by anyone sitting in front of it.

RDC Options

Now that you can connect to another computer using RDC lets learn a little more about it. If you click on Options from the main window of RDC you will get a screen similar to the one below.

The General Tab

This is the first tab you see when you click Options. This tab gives you a few more options when logging on to a computer. Here you can put the user name and password you use to login so you don’t have to do so when logging in like I did above. You can also click Save As to save the setting you set in the options of RDC.

The Display Tab

In the display tab you can set how you want your screen to look while connected to a computer. Under Remote Desktop Size is where you set what size screen you want when connected. Under colors is where you set how many colors you want to use when viewing the remote computer. Display the connection bar when in full screen mode is checked off by default. I suggest leaving it that way.

The Local Resources Tab

Under Remote Computer Sound is where you set how sounds will be heard when connected to a computer. Under Keyboard is where you set how you want the remote computer to act when you press key combinations like ALT + TAB to switch between windows. Local devises explains it self well enough.

The Programs Tab

Here you can set certain programs to start when you logon. This is for advanced users.

The Experience Tab

Here is where you tell it what type of connection you are using to connect to the remote computer. This can be very important if you are using a slow internet connection or even dial-up. If you set it at one of the slower connections it will set it up to where you still get a good user experience over the slower speed connection.

Common Problems When Connecting to a Remote Computer

  • Make sure port 3389 is open in your firewall if you have one. If you are connecting through the internet make sure port 3389 is forwarded to that computer in your router.
  • Make sure the user account you are using to logon to the remote computer has either Administrative or Remote Desktop Users credentials.
  • If you have connected to the computer a few times and it suddenly stops letting you connect you have too many users logged on the remote machine. If this is happening on a Windows server open the control panel and open the Administrative tools folder. Now open the Terminal Services Configuration console. In the Terminal Services Configuration\Connections MMC right-click the RDP-tcp connection in the details pane and select Properties. In the Network Adapter tab change Maximum Connections to 1. On the Sessions tab select both Override User Settings check boxes. Now set End a disconnected session to 15 minutes, active time limit to never, Idle session limit to 15 minutes, and when session limit is reached or connection is broken to disconnect from session. These settings will keep this error from happening again.

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