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John Paul Cook

Remote Desktop Connection on Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 is more secure by default than Windows 7, which is to be expected of a server product. Simply enabling Remote Desktop on the Remote tab of System Properties isn’t enough. You can only connect to a remote R2 machine if you can find it, which by default, you can’t.

In this screen capture taken from my Windows 7 machine, both of my Hyper-V servers are missing because they have default settings. The default settings for Windows Server 2008 R2 is to have network discovery turned off. This makes a machine mostly invisible on the network.


The easiest way to turn on network discovery on a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine is to type advanced sharing into the start menu search box and select Manage advanced sharing settings:


On Advanced sharing settings, select Turn on network discovery and click Save changes.


You may also want to select Turn on file and printer sharing, but it is not required for Remote Desktop Connection to work.

Published Saturday, August 15, 2009 1:15 AM by John Paul Cook
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Milwaukee M said:

I found your blog article and it was my exact problem. The only thing is that this didn't fix my remote desktop connect issue. Any help?

I'm rebuilding my dev server with Win 2008 R2. I have a 32 bit Win 2008 OS running. I can connect just fine to that one. I can't even see this one on the network, but I can ping it and open via an explorer window with an IP number. I'm not using the server for DNS or anything other than a web and database server.

A Microsoft posting had stated that several services had to be turned on, which I did since they were off. The discovery option could now be selected. I even turned off the firewall, still can't connect to this box.

Everything else is soooo nice with this OS, what's up with remote desktop? This has never been an issue on any OS up until this one.

October 29, 2009 10:59 PM

alphadog said:

Having the same issue. Sporadic ability to connect to W2K8 R2 servers. I have two that I can sometimes connect, sometimes not. Just was connected, closed the connection and tried to get back in, and can't get back in.

I can also ping, open via IP, but the Remote Desktop Client seems inconsistent.

And, "Turn On Network Discovery" won't stick. I turn it on, exit the window, go back in and it reports off.

Don't even know where to start diagnosing...

February 22, 2010 10:34 PM

joe said:

same as alphadog.

click the Turn on Network Discovery, then click Save Changes. go back in and see that Turn off Network Discovery is selected.

MS sure made RD much more painful with R2. I know they hate their customers, but this...

anyway, seems i got to wade through pages and pages of MS crap just to connect to stupid server desktop.

June 14, 2010 2:54 PM

David Mott said:

I had similar issues to these for about 3 months. This was when I decided it would be worth it to license <a href="http://www.proxynetworks&#46;com">remote desktop</a> software that was created for this purpose. I went with Proxy Networks and have not had issues.

December 27, 2010 5:56 PM

Dave said:

Thanks, that did the trick

February 1, 2011 5:25 PM

Eugene said:

The same problem with the RDP. Turned off the firewall for all profiles, manually started all of the RDP services yet still can't connect. RDP from the server works fine but to the server does not. I can ping the server just fine.

Also, just like the other posters, can make the "Turn on Network Discovery" stick. Not sure what is going on. This is crazy.

March 31, 2011 4:58 PM

Eugene said:

Found the answer. On the 2K8 R2 server go to the Control Panel>System and Security. Click on 'Allow Remote Access' under System and allow RDP. This fixed it for me...but what a pain!!

March 31, 2011 5:09 PM

SeeQuench said:

Note that these services also need to be started:

DNS Client

Function Discovery Resource Publication

SSDP Discovery


Check the help tag "What is network discovery" for more info, and hang onto your hair!

April 6, 2011 9:57 AM

Amarnath said:

But am able to open one desktop remotly.

how to open more than two desktops remotly.

April 15, 2011 3:01 PM

Bob Robison said:


If you want to open more than two desktops remotely you have to get a terminal services license then you can have as many desktops open as you have licenses for.

July 30, 2012 10:14 AM

Rehan said:

my 2008 server is connected to Domain. but does not allow more than two computers. while in the same domain i can access other server which are windows 2003 can be accessed more than 2 users. plz help.

January 31, 2013 4:25 AM

Rick said:

We fixed it by changing the PRIVATE network's incoming rules. So to clarify: even though the Windows 2008 R2 server is on a domain and the incoming rule allows Remote Desktop connections from domain computers, the PRIVATE network incoming rules was overriding this. As soon as we tweaked the PRIVATE network's incoming RD settings, we were able to connect. Thanks for your help.

March 5, 2013 7:09 PM

Brett said:

Same thing happened with us on a private network.

Our problem was because when I set up the Subnet Mask on the adaptors, I left it as default: Subnet Mask:

However we were setting static IPs within a subnet range within the third tuplet, ie

Once we changed the Subnet Mask to be: Subnet Mask:

It all worked!

Hope I explained it well enough, not a sys admin.

May 30, 2013 6:58 PM

Hussain said:

I accidentally stopped Windows Firewall service remotely and not unable to connect the server. Is there a way I can remotely restart RPC and or Windows FIrewall service to get my remote connection on

August 16, 2013 4:27 AM

Remove the Remote desktop Services said:

Just remove the Remote Desktop Services under Roles, it more than likely was installed by someone else by accident. If it is installed it will lock you out after 90 days i believe.

April 14, 2014 2:52 PM

Remove the Remote desktop Services said:

Just remove the Remote Desktop Services under Roles, it more than likely was installed by someone else by accident. If it is installed it will lock you out after 90 days i believe.

April 14, 2014 2:55 PM
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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a database and Azure specialist in Houston. He previously worked as a Data Platform Solution Architect in Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a registered nurse recently completed the education to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Connect on LinkedIn

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