Update March 20, 2023
Remote Access For Dummies:
How To Use Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection
Published by Joshua Crow
"If you’re running a household or office of computers with Windows Pro or better (so they all support Remote Desktop Connection hosting), connecting to those machines with RDC is such a smooth experience it’s like literally being right at that computer."
Windows Remote Desktop Connection (RDC)
Remote access, through the Remote Desktop app, is something new introduced by Microsoft in the unveiling of Windows 10. The Remote Desktop app is available for download at the Windows Store, and it is intended to make connecting two computers over a local network or internet connection easier.
Though this app is great, it is just one part of the equation. To successfully connect to another Windows device, remotely, you must properly set up the computer you’re trying to access and forward the correct port on your router.
This Windows 10 guide will cover everything from downloading the Remote Desktop app to trouble shooting any problems you may run into from this connection of technology. In short, we will download, configure and tell you how to fix the Remote Desktop connection, before it even breaks.
Important: Windows 10 home does not include support for remote desktop connections, you can only enable this feature on windows 10 Pro and business variant of the operating system.
First things first, let’s get the app. Click here to be directed to the Remote Desktop app download page.
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You will see a page, containing a photo looking something like the one featured above. When you get to this page, click the “Get” button to initiate the app download. Once the app has downloaded you will be prompted to “Add” a computer. To find the correct computer name to add in this field:
- Open the Control Panel
- Click System and Security > System
On the View basic information about your computer page, see the Full computer name under the section Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings.
Once you have found the name, add it to your Remote Desktop app.
To allow a remote connection inside your local network, simply configure the computer you’re trying to access to allow remote desktop. To allow Remote Desktop, do the following:
- Open Control Panel
- Click System and Security
- Click on Allow remote access
- Under Remote Desktop make sure to select Allow remote connections to this computer.
- Click OK
- Click Apply
- Click OK to complete the task
Once these steps are completed, your computer will allow a remote desktop connection. Additionally, Windows 10 is also designed to automatically add the necessary rules in the firewall to keep this connection safe.
If you are attempting to establish a connection using an internet connection, you can continue with the instructions below. If not skip to How to start remote desktop connection.
If you plan to remotely access your computer over the internet, you will need to have the previous steps done as well as have your local router set up to allow remote connections to pass through. After those things are configured, find you public IP address, write it down and you are ready to go.
How to find your public IP address
Finding your IP address sounds like a daunting task, but you probably do harder things on your computer every day. The easiest way to find this information is to open your web browser and do a search for “What is my IP”. Your public IP address will be displayed directly below the search bar.
REMINDER: Most internet providers offer dynamic public IP addresses, which means that your public IP address may change from time to time.
Though, there are several services that give you the option to track when your public IP address changes. This is called a DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name System). If you do not want to continuously reconfigure your computer to match the changing IP address, you can also contact your internet service provider and get a static IP address for an additional fee to your internet bill.
How to forward a port on a local router
Let’s start by understanding what port forwarding is. Port forwarding is a technique that is used to allow external devices access to computers services on a private network. You should also know the difference between TCP/UDP ports, here is a short guide.
A TCP/UDP port identifies an application or service on a machine in a TCP/IP network. On a TCP/IP network every device must have an IP address. The IP address identifies the device. However, a device can run multiple applications/services. The port identifies the application/service running on the machine.
Alright, enough facts about ports and forwarding, lets figure out how to . You will need to forward the TCP port 3389 on your router, follow the steps below:
- Open Command Prompt
- Type the following command and press Enter
- The IPv4 Address information is the address that identifies your computer on the local network. Additionally, note the Default Gateway is the IPv4 address of your router.
- Open your web browser
- Type the IPv4 address of your router and press Enter
- Log-in to your router with your user name and password
- Navigate through the available settings and find the Port Forwarding section
- Ensure Port Forwarding is turned on
Under the Port Forwarding list add the necessary information listed below:
- Service Name: This mane is only for reference, you can use any name you want.
- Protocol: Select TCP
- Local Port: Enter the same TCP port number 3389
- Local IP: Enter the IPv4 address of your computer
- Port Range: Enter the TCP port number 3389
Make sure to add the new rule to the router. (Enable Port Forwarding)
How to start a remote desktop Connection
After configuration, of your computer and network, you will be able to start a desktop connection with ease. Follow the steps below:
- On the computer you will be using to connect remotely to your computer, open the Remote Desktop app. If you do not have the app on this device, follow the instructions above, how to download the Remote Desktop app.
- Click the add (+) button in the top-right corner
- Click the Desktop option
- Enter the IP you are trying to connect to.
- If you are trying to connect inside a private network, then enter the local IP address of the PC you are trying to connect
- If you are trying to connect over the internet, then enter the Public IP address of the PC you’re trying to connect.
- Click Add account
- Enter the information to sign-in on the remote computer
- If the remote computer is using a Microsoft account, then enter that Microsoft account log-in information
- If the remote computer is using a local account, the enter the local username and password to sign-in
- Click Save
- Click Save again to add the connection to your list.
- On the list of available connections, click the computer to which you want to connect to start a remote desktop connection.
- When you first connect you will get a warning from a trusted computer, check the Don’t ask about this certificate again option.
- Click Connect to complete the task.
After these 11 steps, if everything is configured and set up correctly, you will now be connected remotely to the computer that you chose. Whether it be a private network or over the internet.
Trouble Shooting a remote desktop connection
Hopefully, after everything is configured, you will be able to seamlessly start a remote desktop connection. Though, if that does not seem to be the case, we have listed trouble shooting steps that could prove helpful in resolving connection issues.
The Windows Firewall is supposed to automatically configure when you enable remote connections, but you should be sure that Remote Desktop is allowed to pass through the firewall. To check this setting, navigate to Control Panel\System and Security\Windows Firewall\Allowed apps.
TIP: If you have a third-party firewall or antivirus, be sure to disable these as well.
Always use the IP address, if possible, because the computer name could cause problems if not configured correctly. Also, be sure that the IP address you are typing in is correct.
And rarely, but still possible, your internet service provider could be blocking the port to allow remote desktop. If this is the case, you will need contact your provider to see how you can open the specified port.
In this guide, we have walked through connecting your PC remotely inside a private network as well as through the internet. Though, do not forget, allowing remote desktop connections to your PC (specifically through the internet) carries its security risks.
Anytime you are opening ports and configuring the desktop connection, your router could allow malicious individuals to get unauthorized access to your computer. Therefore, keep these things in mind: use this guide with caution, always use strong passwords, disable the remote desktop and port on your router when they aren’t in use.