How To Remotely Enable/Disable Remote Desktop Connection on Windows 7 and Windows 8

This trick isn’t new and has been around since XP days when remote desktop protocol was first introduced, but it’s definitely worth re-visiting and see how it works on both Windows 7 and 8.

Here is the trick, which basically is a registry setting that needs to be turned to 1 from 0, meaning enable. And because we are talking about remotely enabling this service, we will need to connect to remote computer first. Open regedit, go to File, and choose Connect Network Registry…

Regedit - connect network registry

Once it’s opened, navigator to the following location:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server

And change fDenyTSConnection from 1 (disabled) to 0 (enabled). You may or may not reboot the computer after the update. Yes, half of the computers I did on this needed to reboot to make the setting kicked in.

Tired of this type of registry messing around? There is a free tool called Remote Desktop Enabler that can help you with that. And you can download it from IntelliAdmin’s download page, which is close to the bottom of the page.

IntelliAdmin Remote Desktop Enabler

The trick works well until Windows 7 comes along. When I tried the same way on a Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine, I was given an error telling me that

Error Connecting Network Registry

In the old days, all you need to make this trick work is to Allow Remote Administration exception in Group Policy, which basically opens necessary channels on Firewall to make the communication go through between two computers. But it’s not enough anymore in Windows 7 and Windows 8 because both systems have introduced a new service called Remote Registry¬†which allows registry update only be made on local computer when this service stops. You will need to manually start this service on the remote computer first to get the trick mentioned above to work. There are number of ways that you can remotely start or stop a service but I will leave that as a different topic for another day.

Remote Registry Service

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 08/04/2014

Posted in: Tips & Tricks
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