To troubleshoot a remote desktop connection you need to understand the contrasting roles of the network host (victim) and the local client computer (parasite).
Each factor in making a successful connection is easier if both the client and host are running Microsoft’s Windows 8. However, don’t worry if one of the computers is running Windows 7, Vista, XP, or even Windows Server, you can still get a remote desktop connection to work.
Topics for Win 8 Remote Desktop Connection
- Configure the Host Computer – Allow Connections
- Remote Desktop INTO Windows 8 from Windows 7
- Remote Desktop OUT FROM Windows 8
- New Features for Windows 8 Remote Desktop
- Problems with Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 8
- Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT)
The key to configuring the host is thinking ahead. Realize that one day you are going to leave your office with the Windows 8 machine running, and then visit a colleague in another part of the building; the problem comes when you need a file which is on your Windows 8 computer back in the first office.
To save that long trek back to your machine, launch Remote Desktop from a colleague’s machine, and then connect to your Windows 8 computer back in the other office. Once you configure the logon credentials make the connection a LAN, or even over the internet via TCP port 3389. Working with a Windows 8 remote desktop is almost indistinguishable from being there at the physical host machine.
Here is where you think ahead, and configure your own Windows 8 machine, which I call the host in this scenario:
Assuming you are seeing the Metro UI: click on Control Panel, or if you cannot find it type ‘c o n t r o l’ and select the icon. Once the control panel is open head for: More Settings, System and Security, Remote Settings, Remote Desktop and click the radio button next to ‘Allow remote connections to this computer’. For testing I would remove the tick in the box below; see screenshot to the right.
Assuming you are at the Desktop: Call for the ‘Charms’, Search, Control Panel. Now it’s System and Security, System, Remote Settings (Left menu), Allow Desktop (Section), Allow connections.
‘Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication’ – This means only Microsoft’s Windows 8 or Windows 7 machines.
For a modicum of security there is a button (not shown) to control which users can connect to your machine.
SolarWinds’ Orion performance monitor will help you discover what’s happening on your network. This utility will also guide you through troubleshooting; the dashboard will indicate whether the root cause is a broken link, faulty equipment or resource overload.
What I like best is the way NPM suggests solutions to network problems. Its also has the ability to monitor the health of individual VMware virtual machines. If you are interested in troubleshooting, and creating network maps, then I recommend that you try NPM now.
Windows 8 Remote Desktop Sleep Problem
Windows 8’s remote desktop is smooth, responsive and provides a great display, the one potential problem is that the host machine will fall into deep sleep. The answer is to enable the Wake Timers.
Navigate to Power Options, click on the ‘Change advanced power settings’ link.
Note: Change settings that are currently unavailable.
Allow wake timers
On battery: What do you think?
Plugged in: Enable (See screenshot)
The benefit is that if the host machine sleeps, as is likely, you can now awaken it using remote desktop, and thus create remote session. Trust me it works like a charm, so much better than in Windows 7. Evaluate Solarwinds Dameware MRC.
Talking of options, there is related service called Remote Assistance. This allows an invited friend, or a techie, to access your computer so that they can troubleshoot your problem. Unlike Remote Desktop, in case of Remote Assistance both of you can see the same computer screen. There is an option for sharing control of the mouse pointer.
I like thePermissions Analyzer because it enables me to see WHO has permissions to do WHAT at a glance. When you launch this tool it analyzes a users effective NTFS permissions for a specific file or folder, and takes into account network share access, then displays the results in a nifty desktop dashboard!
Think of all the frustration that this free SolarWinds utility saves when you are troubleshooting authorization problems for user’s access to a resource. Give this permissions monitor a try – it’s free!
A Backdoor Registry Hack – fDenyTSConnections
There is a ‘backdoor’ registry tweak which allows you to setup the Remote Desktop Connection as above. This is useful if you forgot to ‘Allow connections’ before you left your machine. My technique involves using a registry setting called fDenyTSConnections to reverse ‘Don’t allow connections to this computer’ on the target machine.
My idea relies on the ability of regedit to Connect to network registry, for this you could take the time to start the Remote Registry Service on the target machine. See here for a PowerShell script to start services.
Our mission is to change the value of fDenyTSConnections from =1 to =0. Launch Regedit and navigate along this path: File Menu, Connect Network Registry. Naturally, you need the hostname of the computer. Next let us connect to the correct registry hive on the target machine,
Now find the Reg_DWord called fDenyTSConnections and set the value = 0 (zero)
Unfortunately, you have to reboot the target machine before the change from 1 to 0 takes effect. To achieve this I use the following PowerShell command:
Restart-Computer -computerName DistWin8 -force
The situation is that you have configured the remote host to ‘Allow connections …’. So now it’s time to launch the Remote Desktop Connection on the local client. To access this MSTSC executable in Windows 7, click on the Start Orb, and in the Search dialog box, type Remote Desktop.
Launch Remote Desktop Connection – See screenshot. If this fails the underlying program is called mstcs.exe and is located at: C:\Windows\System32\mstsc.exe.
Type the name of the computer that you want to gain remote access. It’s worth taking the time to examine the ‘Options’ before you click ‘Connect’.