Windows Server Hack: Remotely Enable Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is a cool feature of W2k3 that lets you remotely log on to and work at a machine as if you were seated at the local console (in W2kAS this feature was called Terminal Services in Remote Administration Mode). Remote Desktop can be a lifesaver for fixing problems on servers at remote sites, but what if you forgot to enable the feature before you shipped the server out to Katmanzoo?

Enabling Remote Desktop is easy if the server is in front of you: log on as an administrator >> open System in Control Panel >> select the Remote tab >> and under Remote Desktop select the checkbox labeled “Allow users to connect remotely to this computer.”

Unfortunately though, you can’t use the System utility to enable Remote Desktop on a remote machine, though you can access some properties pages of System using Computer Management by first connecting the console to a remote computer, then right-clicking on the root node and selecting Properties. Unfortunately, though, you will see that the Remote tab is not available when you access System properties this way on a remote machine.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround. At your XP workstation using your administrator account, start Registry Editor by Start –> Run –> regedit –> OK. Then select the Connect Network Registry option under the File menu. This opens the Select Computer search box. Either browse Active Directory to locate the remote server, or type its name in the textbox. Click OK and a node will be displayed in Registry Editor for the remote machine. Now on the remote machines registry browse

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server

Change the REG_DWORD value named fDenyTSConnection from 1 (Remote Desktop disabled) to 0 (Remote Desktop enabled).

The remote machine will need to be rebooted for the change to take effect, so open a command prompt and type the following command:

shutdown -m \\remotmachinename -r

After the remote machine reboots, Remote Desktop should be enabled on it. To test this from your workstation, open Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> Communications –> Remote Desktop Connection, enter the name of the remote server in the Remote Desktop Connection logon box, supply your administrator password when prompted, and you’re in only to find you have more problem to now solve.

What I am looking into now is creating a script for all the above mentioned steps.


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