Quick fixes for common Windows remote desktop problems

    It’s nearly not possible to overstate the usefulness of distant desktop entry for Windows PCs. Simply put, it lets a person or administrator on one Windows PC, known as a consumer machine, set up a distant session on one other Windows PC, known as a server or host machine.Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is the inspiration on which varied built-in Windows distant entry instruments relaxation. This safe community communications protocol helps each the old-school Remote Desktop Connection utility and the trendy Remote Desktop app, each proven in Figure 1 beneath.Using obtainable community connections between consumer and host by way of RDP, these packages let the consumer person open a window that shows some chosen distant desktop. With a distant desktop session up and working, that person can function the focused distant desktop nearly as in the event that they had been sitting in entrance of it. Ed Tittel/IDG

    Figure 1: Remote Desktop Connection (left) is extra old style; Remote Desktop (proper) is a extra fashionable app. Both work to the identical ends however have minor variations. (Click picture to enlarge it.)

    Thus, for instance, I can sit at my manufacturing desktop and entry any of the opposite 11 PCs in my home simply and straight. With some minor exceptions — often associated to functions or providers that require direct, bodily entry to a particular machine (reminiscent of a BIOS/UEFI improve, firmware instruments, and a few OEM utilities) — one can do something to a PC remotely that one can do straight.Network and help admins discover this functionality invaluable, notably if they have to entry and work together with PCs (together with these working Windows Server in addition to desktop variations of Windows) in different areas. The ongoing proliferation of “work from home” conditions post-pandemic has solely elevated the worth and significance of distant entry.Remote Desktop Connection and Remote Desktop come constructed into Windows 10 and 11 at no added value. Thus, whereas there are many third-party distant entry instruments available, many companies (particularly smaller ones) use Microsoft’s instruments as a matter of cost-saving and choice. See my story “Windows 10’s Remote Desktop options explained” for extra particulars about Remote Desktop and Remote Desktop Connection and learn how to use them. In this story I’ll concentrate on what you are able to do once you encounter issues making a distant connection work.When, how, and why distant entry goes wonkyRemote entry hinges on a working community connection between the consumer and host. Furthermore, it requires that the person have account credentials essential to function the distant PC. And lastly, the distant entry software program itself have to be correctly configured and dealing. Thus, distant entry issues usually fall into one in all 4 classes — particularly:
    Network connectivity or entry: RDP can’t set up a session between consumer and host except the community is working correctly. Such points are greatest dealt with utilizing the built-in Windows Network troubleshooter. Also see the “Troubleshooting connection problems” part of my Windows Remote Desktop explainer.
    The person should have the ability to establish and entry the focused host utilizing a distant entry utility. This signifies that they know the IP tackle or title of the focused host and that both one or each of these identifiers will get them to the appropriate PC of their chosen utility. I talk about this in additional element in an upcoming part.
    The person will need to have a sound account on the focused host, and that host should acknowledge the account title and password to allow entry. In addition, these credentials should work inside the chosen distant entry program in use. This additionally is available in for dialogue in a while.
    The distant entry software program should itself work correctly to supply working connections between consumer and host. Occasionally, Windows updates will break Remote Desktop Connection and/or Remote Desktop. I’ll clarify learn how to diagnose such points and work round them later as nicely.
    These varied areas might not sound like a lot, however they cowl a fairly broad and fascinating vary of potential issues and attainable resolutions. Microsoft Learn presents an in depth and useful tutorial on these subjects entitled “General Remote Desktop connection troubleshooting.” Other helpful Microsoft tutorials on this identical vein embrace “Troubleshoot RDP client connection problems” and “How to use Remote Desktop.”I received’t cowl every little thing that’s talked about in these sources. Instead I’ll concentrate on a handful of frequent RDP-related points that I’ve personally encountered over the previous couple of years. Fortunately, most of them are simple to repair with out requiring main investments of effort and time. But if what you discover right here doesn’t assist your difficulty(s), please do seek the advice of these references.Problem 1: Computer title fails to resolveWhen docked in an workplace, laptops might swap from a Wi-Fi community hyperlink to a wired community hyperlink. When undocked, Wi-Fi often takes over. In working with Thunderbolt 3 and 4 docks since 2017, I’ve observed myself unable to make use of Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) or Remote Desktop (RD) after altering from Wi-Fi to wired or vice-versa. Over time, I discovered that switching from one interface to a different modifications the IP tackle in use. (Each community interface will need to have a novel IP tackle on its native space community.) The native DNS server didn’t replace its tackle tables instantly, so the IP tackle related to the pc title mirrored the Wi-Fi adapter (when plugging into the dock) or the wired GbE adapter (when undocking and utilizing Wi-Fi as a substitute).This takes care of itself in 12-24 hours for typical DNS servers, however within the meantime it’s essential to use the goal PC’s present, working IP tackle inside RD or RDC to ascertain a working connection. To see what’s what, a LAN scanning utility may be useful. I exploit a free and succesful software known as Advanced IP Scanner for that goal, as proven in Figure 2. Ed Tittel/IDG

    Figure 2: Devices with two or extra IP addresses point out a minimum of one for wired, and the opposite for wi-fi.

    Advanced IP Scanner additionally reveals which interface (and related IP tackle) is energetic when a couple of seems (it’s the one which lights up in blue). If a command-line software like NSlookup <computername> reveals an IP tackle completely different from the one related to the energetic adapter, you’ve discovered a PC for which it’s essential to use its IP tackle for distant entry, a minimum of briefly.Problem 2: RDP fails to attach, or connects after which freezesSometimes, Microsoft modifications one thing in its distant entry software program or associated Windows registry settings that causes RDP connections to go sideways. I’ve seen this occur 3 times within the final 18 months with varied Windows 11 releases (largely Insider preview builds within the Dev or Beta Channel, within the pursuits of full disclosure). The signs are fast and apparent: the RDP connection both opens to a black display screen and does nothing, or it opens to the goal desktop and closes a second or two later. This is an effective information/unhealthy information situation. This usually occurs after making use of an improve or replace to a Windows PC. If it’s not simply your PC affected, information will emerge that “some users experience RDP issues after applying the upgrade.” That’s your clue that you simply’re among the many bothered… err… affected. You can both reside with it and await a repair (they often come fairly rapidly, given the significance of working RDP for a lot of, many customers and organizations). Or you possibly can roll again the replace or improve and grasp again till Microsoft pronounces a repair.Problem 3: RDP logins received’t workRemember, it takes a sound account (ideally an administrative account) to log in right into a distant PC. If one thing goes unsuitable with distant login and the related LSASS (Local Security Authority Server Service), this can stymie your capability to log in utilizing RDP.Fixes can range broadly for such points. I’ve efficiently used a number of of the next methods to beat RDP login failures:
    Set up an area administrator account on the goal PC and log into that as a substitute of the Microsoft account (with typical [email protected] format) you may in any other case use.
    If you usually log in utilizing a PIN or biometric authentication, a password hash by no means will get saved within the native password cache. This is what Windows makes use of for RDP logins, so if a hash isn’t current, you possibly can’t log in. The repair is straightforward however requires anyone to log in to the goal machine utilizing the account title and its related password. Do this as soon as, and the issue received’t recur.
    Sometimes selling the account you wish to use for RDP login from atypical person to administrator degree will repair RDP credential issues. Obviously, you are able to do this provided that you belief the person to not abuse that degree of privilege.
    Other fixes which have often helped to deal with RDP login points are much less ceaselessly obligatory. In some instances, I’ve noticed that visiting Settings > System > Remote Desktop, turning Enable Remote Desktop off, ready 30 seconds, after which turning Enable Remote Desktop again on helped. On different events, switching from Wi-Fi to GbE, ready 30 seconds, after which switching again once more additionally helped. Save this for a last-ditch try with RDP login troubleshooting, although: it really works much less usually than not.Problem 4: RDP doesn’t present distant management bar in session windowWhen you run a distant session in Remote Desktop Connection and set that session to full-screen mode, you see a management bar on the prime of the maximized distant session window, as proven in Figure 3. Ed Tittel/IDG

    Figure 3: A management bar seems on the prime of a distant session window when it’s in full-screen mode.

    You can stretch a non-maximized window to fill your complete display screen so it appears to be like like full-screen mode. But in case you do, the management bar is lacking. This occurs to me each time I improve my Nvidia graphics driver on my manufacturing desktop. The Nvidia driver improve stretches the home windows to fill the display screen however doesn’t maximize these home windows. Ergo, no management bar.This is supremely laborious to note however extremely simple to repair: simply toggle the center button on the prime proper of the distant window. Diagnosing this took me an embarrassingly very long time and led me into pointless troubleshooting workouts.A common RDP troubleshooting tipIf you run into one thing not already talked about on this story (or within the Microsoft ideas and tutorials), use your symptom alongside along with your Windows model as a search string in Bing or Google (or your favourite search engine). Thus, you possibly can use one thing like “RDP black screen windows 10” or “RDP authentication fails Windows 11” and see what comes up. This usually supplies helpful info and occasional fixes or workarounds, particularly once you discover info from dependable sources reminiscent of Super User, Windows 10 Forums, or Windows 11 Forum.The “last argument of kings” for RDPKing Louis XIV engraved his brass cannon with the motto “Ultima ratio regum.” This interprets from Latin to “the final argument of kings.” Thus, cannon served him as a form of final and ultimate resort for downside fixing.Having been within the scenario the place I wanted distant entry now to some particular Windows PC however couldn’t get both RD or RDC to work, I can say from expertise that you would be able to often set up and use a third-party distant entry package deal to power an answer. In my case, that was TeamViewer. In your case, it may be AnyDesk, Zoho Assist, or one of many different objects talked about in Keith Shaw’s 2020 Computerworld story “Remote desktop software: 8 enterprise-friendly IT support tools.”Use one in case you should as your ultimate argument. It ought to work. Then you possibly can swap again when a documented RD or RDC repair emerges.

    Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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