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Remotely Enable Remote Desktop

Well, let's start this off with a pretty common one I've been asked about lately: How to remotely enable remote desktop access in XP/2003.

Sometimes, you just need to get to a server from deep within the warm recesses of the IT closet.  And as an afterthought, you realize you forgot to enable remote desktop on that beast.  Well, I've been there more often then I like to admit.  So here's a neat little registry trick to get you back in without having to leave that cozy spot behind the racks you took ten minutes to crawl into!  A quick word of warning: this involves going into the registry.  If you feel that this is uncomfortable, you're probably better off just walking upstairs and logging in locally after all.  But if you're careful (or recklessly comfortable with this kind of work!) you'll be fine.

First thing's first, you obviously have to have administrative access to the machine we're connecting to.  That said, start up regedit on your local machine:

Start -> Run -> regedit

Now right click the upper right icon where it says (local), and select "Connect to remote machine".  Enter the name of the server we're opening up, and you should be seeing its registry instead of local.

Next navigate to the following registry key:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server

Now double click the "fDenyTSConnection" key, and change the value to 0.

Now, we need to reboot the remote machine.  We can also do that remotely by typing the following into a command prompt:

shutdown -m \\<em>servername</em> -r

where servername is the name of the remote server we want rebooted.

That's it!  Once the server comes back up, you should have access through remote desktop.

Another quick note, Windows firewall may be blocking remote desktop as well if it's enabled.  I have yet to personally try this, but I'm told you can adjust firewall rules over the network by using the following command:

netsh firewall set service RemoteAdmin

Also, this can be used in reverse to close access once you're done, which is a good idea on a LAN you're not 100% unconcerned about security with.  Especially on customer sites!

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