Remote Desktop is a great convenience for employees on the go.
While you can use 3rd party tools to accomplish this, Windows RDP requires no installation and is common practice in most workplaces. Being able to connect to your desktop or server from any location is essential for the modern IT professional. I have learned a few things over the years, and wanted to share my favorite RDP tips.
Faster RDP Connection Tips:
If you need to access the same server(s) all the time, you can speed up this process in a few ways:
- If it is a publicly accessible machine, connect with the FQDN that DNS points to.
- If it is not publicly accessible, edit your host file to include a name. (Windows Only)
- Hit WinKey+R to launch ‘Run’
- Type ‘Drivers’ to load the System32 Folder
- Open the ‘Etc’ folder
- Open the HOSTS file using Notepad
- Find the next available empty line, and enter the IP. Press Tab and type the name you would like to connect using, close and save changes. I:E: 188.8.131.52 GoogDNS
- Save your Username and Password
- Click ‘Show Options’ and Under the ‘General’ Tab, check ‘Allow me to Save Credentials’
- The next time you connect, select ‘Remember my Credentials’ and you won’t need to enter them again unless they refuse to authenticate.
- Save Connection Details as an RDP file
- Click ‘Show Options’
- Under the ‘General’ Tab, select ‘Save As’ and choose a name and location that is convenient for you.
If you have more than a handful of servers to support, you can also download a free Microsoft tool, Remote Desktop Connection Manager. This tool also allows saved credentials, but its main appeal is the Explorer interface for RDP sessions.
For a full walk-through of this tool and its capabilities, read this Microsoft TechNet article.
Having Trouble Connecting with RDP?
If you are attempting to RDP but you are receiving a message that you can’t connect, there are a few easy troubleshooting steps:
- Make sure Telnet Client is installed and open Command Prompt. Type ‘Telnet ComputerNameHere 3389’. You may also use the IP as well in place of a computer name. Since 3389 is the well-known port for Remote Desktop, this will tell us if something is listening on 3389. A successful connection will be a black screen due to no response being provided by the RDP protocol. If it fails to connect, then move to the next step.
- Ping the Computer Name or IP. If it resolves but drops every packet sent, then the Computer is likely turned off or you have network connection issues. This may be local, or on the remote PC.
- Again, Ping is our friend here. If you know the computer name, Ping will resolve this to the correct IP. If the machine is not available on the network, it will respond ‘Ping request could not find host. Please check the name and try again’. You can go a step further and attempt to resolve the IP to the hostname. Type ‘Ping –a IPaddressHere’. If it finds the machine on the network or the internet via DNS, it will return the hostname or A record for it.
RDP Display Settings
Again, we will delve into the Additional Options and head to the ‘Display’ Tab this time. If you are like me, you are not a fan of windowed Virtual Machines or Remote Desktops – it’s cumbersome. Here is how to adjust this:
- Move the Slider under display configuration all the way to the right so it says ‘Full Screen’.
- Make sure the checkbox, ‘Display the Connection Bar’, is checked so you can return to your Local Machine desktop easily.
- If you have multiple monitors and you check the ‘Use all my monitors for the remote session’ box, it will span the session across all available monitors on your local machine. Handy or when you are working from home.
If you have an RDP Session open and the Connection Bar is missing or you are frozen and can’t minimize the Session, type CTRL+ALT+BREAK to switch between Full Screen and Windowed Mode.
Change Remote VM Display Resolution
RDP does not receive its resolution from the VM, but instead it is set through the RDP client. If you are using Windows Built-in RDP, you would open the Additional Options – Choose the Display Tab and select your resolution from the slider. If it is not allowing you to use the maximum available settings that the remote machine and your PC, try this:
- While connected to your remote machine, open computer management
- Expand device manager
- Expand Display adapters (Take note of the current installed Graphics Adapter)
- Right click the current display adapter and select update driver
- Click no this time to access the internet, and click Next
- Choose the radio button for Install from a list or specific location and click Next
- Choose the radio button for Don’t search, I will choose the driver to install and Click Next
- Locate and Select your Graphics Adapter (If you can’t locate it, uncheck the Show compatible hardware checkbox)
- Click Yes in the update driver warning popup box if applicable
- Click Finish and Reboot
- After the server reboots log back in and open Display Properties
- Set the screen resolution and Color quality is set to your preferred settings and click OK
As is often the case, we have a Joe Knows Support video that can explain in simple terms how to remotely access your server. Hopefully, this can help you as well!
While there are many more RDP tips and tricks, these are my most commonly used. If you have a favorite tip or trick, please share it in the comments!