Why can’t I connect using Remote Desktop Connection?

There are a few reasons you might not be able to connect. Here are some common problems and possible solutions.

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I can't connect to the remote computer

Depending on the type of error message you see, there are several things you can try:

  • The remote computer cannot be found. Ask the administrator of the remote computer to verify the computer name, and make sure you typed the name correctly. If you still can't connect, try typing the IP address of the remote computer instead.

  • Network failure. Make sure that:

    • Your router is turned on (home networks only)

    • The Ethernet cable is plugged into your network adapter (wired networks only)

    • Your computer’s wireless switch is turned on (laptops on wireless networks only)

    • Your network adapter is working

    If the problem continues, contact your network administrator or the person who set up your network.

  • Not enough memory. Close your other programs, and then try connecting again. If the problem continues, restart your computer, and then try connecting again. If you still can't connect, contact your network administrator or technical support. For more information, see Preventing low memory problems.

Connecting a home computer to a computer on a corporate domain requires an intermediate step to ensure that the computers can communicate. One way to do this is to establish a virtual private network (VPN) connection to the corporate network. For more information, see Set up a remote connection to your workplace using VPN. Another way is to use a Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway) server. for more information, see What is a Remote Desktop Gateway server? If you have problems doing either of these things, contact your system administrator or technical support.

Connecting two home computers across the Internet is also possible. However, doing this typically requires detailed knowledge of the router configuration, port mappings, and IP addresses.

Server authentication verifies that you are connecting to the intended remote computer. If server authentication is enabled, you must type a full computer name (for example, Computer1.Example.com) on the General tab of the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box. For a definition of full computer name, see "What is a full computer name?" in Remote Desktop Connection: frequently asked questions.

  • To view or change server authentication settings:

    1. Open Remote Desktop Connection by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type Remote Desktop Connection, and then, in the list of results, click Remote Desktop Connection.

    2. Click Options, and then click the Advanced tab.

    3. Under If server authentication fails, specify the way you want Remote Desktop to respond if the remote computer you attempt to connect to does not appear to be the one you intended.

  • To find the full computer name of the remote computer, follow these steps on the remote computer:

    • Open System by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, right-clicking Computer, and then clicking Properties.

    The full computer name is listed under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings.

Here are some other possible causes of connection problems:

  • The Remote Desktop port might be blocked by a firewall.

    If you're using Windows Firewall, follow these steps:

    1. Open Windows Firewall by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type firewall, and then click Windows Firewall.

    2. In the left pane, click Allow a program or feature through Windows Firewall.

    3. Click Change settings. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    4. Under Allowed programs and features, select the Remote Desktop check box, and then click OK.

    If you're using a different firewall, make sure the port for Remote Desktop (usually 3389) is open.

  • Remote connections might not be enabled on the remote computer. To fix this:

    1. On the remote computer, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.
    2. In the left pane, click Remote settings. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    3. In the System Properties dialog box, under Remote Desktop, click either Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop or Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication, and then click OK.

  • The remote computer might be asleep or hibernating. To fix this, make sure the settings for sleep and hibernation on the remote computer are set to Never. (Hibernation isn't available on all computers.) For information about making those changes, see Change, create, or delete a power plan (scheme).

  • You can't connect remotely if your user account doesn't have a password. To add a password to your account, see Protect your computer with a password.

  • The remote computer might be accepting connections only from computers that have Network Level Authentication enabled. Network Level Authentication is an authentication method that completes user authentication before you establish a full Remote Desktop connection and the logon screen appears. This can help protect the remote computer from hackers and malicious software.

    To see if your computer is running a version of Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication

    1. Open Remote Desktop Connection by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type Remote Desktop Connection, and then, in the list of results, click Remote Desktop Connection.

    2. Click the icon in the top left corner of the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, and then click About.

      Picture of the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box
      Remote Desktop Connection dialog box
    3. In the About Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, look for the phrase "Network Level Authentication supported."

  • The remote computer might be too busy to accept any more connections right now. Wait a while, and then try connecting again.

I can't log on to the remote computer

If you can see the logon screen of the remote computer but you can't log on, add yourself to the Remote Desktop Users Group or to any group with administrative rights on the remote computer (or ask the administrator of the remote computer to do this).

To add a user account to a group

  1. Open Microsoft Management Console by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, typing mmc into the search box, and then pressing Enter. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. In the left pane, click Local Users and Groups.

    If you don't see Local Users and Groups

    If you don't see Local Users and Groups, it's probably because that snap-in hasn't been added to Microsoft Management Console. Follow these steps to install it:

    1. In Microsoft Management Console, click the File menu, and then click Add/Remove Snap-in.

    2. In the Add or Remove Snap-ins dialog box, click Local Users and Groups, and then click Add.

    3. In the Choose Target Machine dialog box, click Local computer, and then click Finish.

    4. Click OK.

  3. Double-click the Groups folder.

  4. Right-click the group you want to add the user account to, and then click Add to Group.

  5. Click Add, and then type the name of the user account.

  6. Click Check Names, and then click OK.

My saved credentials don't work

If your computer is part of a domain, by default you aren’t allowed to save your credentials when you connect to a remote computer. But you can change this.

You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, type gpedit.msc, and then press Enter.‌ Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  2. Under Computer Configuration, double-click Administrative Templates, double-click System, and then double-click Credentials Delegation.

  3. In the right pane, double-click Allow Delegating Saved Credentials with NTLM-only Server Authentication.

  4. In the dialog box that appears, click Enabled, and then click Show.

  5. In the Show Contents dialog box, type the name of the remote computer (server) in this format: TERMSRV\computername, and then click OK.

    Note

    • Be sure to capitalize TERMSRV as shown. The computername variable can either be the name of a specific remote computer (for example, TERMSRV\myremotepc) or you can use an asterisk (*) to include a group of computers (for example, TERMSRV\* or TERMSRV\*.corp.com), and it should exactly match the name you enter in the Computer box in the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box to connect to that remote computer.

For more information about Remote Desktop, see Remote Desktop Connection: frequently asked questions.