The remote desktop feature on Windows computers is quite convenient since it allows us to control and access a remote computer from our current device. An example of this would be accessing files on your work computer from the comfort of your home office. However, in order to use this feature, you need to have a stable internet connection, both computers need to be in the same ecosystem, and you need the correct credentials to log into the remote computer. Unfortunately, even with these things, there are certain factors that can cause the “remote desktop can’t connect to the remote computer” error.
5 Reasons for a Remote Desktop to Not Connect to a Remote Computer
While there are several reasons for why you may see the “remote desktop can’t connect to the remote computer” error, make sure that you have matching login credentials and a stable internet connection on both computers first. If you have these, then any of the following reasons may be causing the disconnect.
- The remote computer you are trying to connect to has been shut off.
- The remote computer is on a public network profile or not connected at all.
- Remote access to the server that the remote computer is on is not enabled.
- An antivirus or firewall is blocking the remote access.
- A Windows update may have messed up the remote access configuration.
In the majority of cases, you’ll see the “remote desktop can’t connect to the remote computer” because of limited network connections or wrong firewall and antivirus settings. However, to help you get to the bottom of the error, check out our solutions below.
8 Solutions to Fix the Remote Desktop Can’t Connect to the Remote Computer Error on Windows
1. Pull Up Your Windows Firewall & Check It.
It is extremely common for the remote desktop feature to be blocked by Windows firewall. This is just simply because remote desktop is not enabled by default in the firewall settings, so if you haven’t gone in and “allowed” it, it’s going to throw up some errors on you. Here is how to change your firewall settings.
- In your computer’s search, type in “firewall” and go to Windows Defender Firewall in the best match results.
- This will bring up the control panel for the Windows Defender Firewall. Select the “allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall” on the left-hand side of the window.
- Now click on the “change settings” button in the top right.
- In the list that pops up, find the “remote desktop/assistance” and check the box beside it. Hit okay to save the changes.
If the firewall was the only thing stopping the remote connection, you should be able to connect now. If you cannot, check to see if the 3389 port is blocked in your firewall settings. This is the port that the remote desktop application uses. If the port is enabled and not blocked but the issue persists, it may be because another application is using the port. Do a full reset of your firewall.
2. Make Sure Remote Connections Are Allowed.
If you haven’t enabled remote connections on your computer, the remote desktop feature can’t connect to a remote computer. Here is how to enable this.
- In your computer’s search menu, type in “allow” and open up the best match called, “Allow remote assistance connections to this computer”.
- In the system properties menu, under the Remote tab, check mark the “Allow remote assistance connections to this computer” box.
- Make sure to save your settings by hitting apply and then okay.
3. Reset the Login Credentials.
If you have credentials set for a remote computer but want to connect to another, you’ll get an error stating that the credentials are a mismatch. You can reset or even remove the remote desktop credentials in Windows 10 by doing the following.
- In your computer’s search menu, type in “remote desktop connection”.
- Click on the remote desktop app and open it.
- In the computer insertion box, type in your computer’s internet protocol address.
- If it is saved, a small note will appear underneath the box allowing you to edit or delete the saved credentials.
- Click delete to remove them.
- You can repeat these steps to save the current connection as a new remote desktop protocol by showing further options.
4. Turn Off Custom Monitor Scaling.
If you have a larger monitor, you may have the custom scaling feature enabled so that it appears in the correct resolution as the computer you’re accessing. This can sometimes cause remote desktop to not work. Here is how to turn it off.
- In your computer’s search menu, type in settings and open up the app.
- Go to the first option, “system”.
- In the left-hand menu, scroll down until you find the remote desktop.
- Click into the remote desktop settings.
- If custom scaling is on, you will see a message that says: “a custom scale factor is set”.
- Click on turn off custom scaling and then sign out.
When you sign back into your computer, the scaling will be set to default and you should not get any problems with connecting.
5. Add the IP Address & Server Name to Hosts File.
If you try to connect to a host’s server and internet protocol that isn’t saved in your hosts file, then Windows may not let you connect. Here is how to fix it if you are connecting for the first time.
- In your computer’s search menu, type in “command prompt” and click it.
- In the command prompt, type in the following command line:
- Next, type in the following command to open the hosts file:
- This will show you all of the hosts that are saved on your current computer.
- Look for the internet protocol (IP) and server name of the computer you want to connect to. If it is not in the list, you will need to manually add the new IP in.
- Just make sure that when you go to close the notepad, you hit save.
6. Change the Connection From Public to Private.
If you are using a public connection, remote connections will automatically be disabled in order to protect your computer from unauthorized access. You can change the connection from public to private which will allow you to use the remote desktop app.
- In your computer’s search menu, type in “settings”.
- Go to the “Network & Internet” option.
- Select “status” from the left-hand side menu.
- Click on the link “change connection properties”.
- Under network profile, make sure “private” is checked.
7. Make a Registry Tweak to Fix It With RDGClientTransport Key.
Please note that this fix is a technical one, so you need to be careful when completing the steps. With this option, you can tweak the registry of your computer to force the remote desktop feature to use an RPC/HTTP connection rather than an HTTP/UDP connection.
- In your computer’s search menu, type in “Run” and open the run dialogue box.
- In the dialogue box, type in regedit and hit enter.
- In the registry, find the HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Terminal Server Client.
- Select it and then navigate to the right-hand pane and right-click.
- Choose to add a new > DWORD (32-bit).
- Name this RDGClientTransport.
- This will create a new file. Double-click it to open it up.
- In the properties, look for a section that has value data. You want to change the value data to 1.
- Now click okay and close the registry window.
8. Check the Group Policy Settings.
Another cause behind the “remote desktop can’t connect to the remote computer” error is incorrect group policy settings. To check these, do the following.
- In your computer’s search menu, type in “Run” and open the run dialogue box.
- In the dialogue box, type in gpedit.msc and hit enter.
- Head to computer configuration – administrative templates – windows components – remote desktop services, and then remote desktop session host and connections.
- Find the option that allows users to connect remotely by using the remote desktop service option.
- Enable this option if it is disabled.
Note: the gpedit.msc command will only work if your computer network has group policy settings enabled.
The main thing to remember is that the computer you are trying to connect to must not be in hibernation or sleep mode and must have a stable internet connection. If it doesn’t have the right permissions set or it has been disconnected from the network, shut off, or is in sleep mode, you won’t be able to connect.