How to Enable RDP in Windows Server 2016 + Command/PowerShell Guide

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Do you wish to enable RDP in Windows Server 2016? Need to establish remote connections but don’t know how to do so? Want to configure remote desktop using Command Prompt or PowerShell terminal? This how-to tutorial will answer your questions and help you in the configuration.

How to Enable RDP in Windows Server 2016?

In a previous article, we have explained how to enable RDP in Windows Server 2012. Now, it’s time to tell you about Windows Server 2016, and explain how you can enable Remote Desktop in Windows Server 2016. But let’s start with a brief history of Windows Server 2016.

Windows Server 2016 is the successor to Windows Server 2012 R2 released in October 2016. This is the seventh release of Windows Server families. Windows Server 2016 has some fine features that a few of them are listed below:

✔ Active Directory Federation Services

✔ Windows Defender (a pre-installed anti-malware)

✔ IIS 10, support for HTTP/2

✔ High-availability cluster (i.e. HA cluster, or Metro-clusters Active/Active, or even fail-over cluster)

✔ Web application proxy

✔ Windows PowerShell 5.1

✔ Windows Server Containers

✔ The feature of Nano-server

✔ Hyper-V cluster update

✔ Remote Desktop Services (like Support of Gen 2 VMs (virtual machines) with Remote Desktop, or Pen remoting support, or Edge support in RDSH, or even support of OpenGL applications and guest VMs in Remote Desktop)

✔ Windows Multipoint Services

✔ Personal session desktops

And client updates ( including Remote Desktop preview app for Windows 10, and Remote Desktop preview app for Mac)

As you see, Windows Server 2016 comes with brand new features that Allow Remote Desktop and better connections. Here, we will tell you how to enable RDP in Windows Server 2016. We will provide you a few different methods, but to configure remote desktop, remember the following points:

  • By default, Remote Desktop is disabled in all Windows Server 2016 editions (except Windows server 2016 Essential edition).
  • RDP in Windows Server can be enabled through two environments including the PowerShell terminal, and logging into the GUI (Graphical User Interface).
  • The main difference between these two installation options comes in the GUI shell package. Server Core 2016 does not have pre-installed GUI shell packages. In fact, the GUI is no longer an option in a default install in Windows Server 2016. If you wish to enable Remote Desktop on Windows Server 2016 using GUI, you should enable it.

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To Enable Remote Desktop in Windows Server 2016, Log into the GUI

As you know, Graphic User Interface (GUI) allows for remote access to Windows Server 2016. So, when it comes to enabling RDP in Windows Server 2016 via Logging into the GUI, your first requirement is the installation of a Graphic User Interface. After installing the GUI, do the following steps:

  • Open Server Manager
  • Click Local Server from the left pane
  • Find Remote Desktop option and click Disabled as shown in the following picture

how to enable rdp in windows server 2016

  • In this step, a new window will appear. In System Properties Window, enable the Allow remote connections to this computer In this part, you can decide whether to choose Network Level Authentication (NLA) or not. You can also, add more users here.

system properties for enabling RDP in Windows Server 2016

  • Once, you configure all required settings, you will see a message to enable the corresponding Windows Firewall rule. The Remote Desktop Connection Window helps you to establish remote desktop connections, so click OK to confirm the configuration.

remote desktop onnection

  • Now, move back to the Server Manager window. In this window, select the Refresh button as highlighted below to set the changes. Congratulation. You configured a remote desktop.

rdp connection

Enable RDP in Windows Server 2016 by Using PowerShell Terminal

As you probably know by using PowerShell, it is possible to enable Remote Desktop in Windows Server 2016. First, do the following steps:

  1. Click Windows + R key to open Run Window;
  2. In this window, type regedit.exe and press OK;

PowerShell, enable Remote Desktop

  1. In Registry Editor, select File and then select Connect Network Registry;

registry editor for enabling RDP

  1. Specify the IP address or hostname of the remote computer and press But remember that:

If the remote computer could not authorize you as a current user, then a credential is needed.

rdp in Windows server 2016

  1. Now, the Registry Editor Panel appears. In this stage try to find HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlTerminal Server” and change the DWORD value of the fDenyTSConnections parameter from 1 to 0, and press OK;

Registry Editor Panel

  • Now, it’s time to add one of the firewall rules in Windows Firewall. This rule allows remote connections. You can add it via PowerShell Remoting, using PS exec, or using a GPO (Group Policy Object). Go to the Command Prompt and type the following code:
    PsExec.exe \server1 -u contosoadmin -p password cmdnetsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="allow RemoteDesktop" dir=in protocol=TCP localport=3389 action=allowshutdown –f –r –t
  • Reboot your system and try to connect to a remote computer.

Note:

  • For more information about how to set firewall rules in Windows firewall, run the following command: netsh advfirewall firewall add rule ?
  • Make sure to run all these codes in administrator mode. To do so, do the following:
    Click on Start, type CMD, then right-click on Command Prompt and choose Run as Administrator.

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What is PowerShell?

PowerShell is an object-oriented command environment that has new features in Windows Server 2016. It utilizes small programs called cmdlets to simplify the management, administration, and configuration of heterogeneous environments.

To enable Remote Desktop in Windows Server 2016 via PowerShell, we can use two cmdlets. The first will enable remote desktop and the second will open the Firewall. They are listed here:

  • A code used to configure remote access:
    Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:SYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlTerminal Server" -Name "fdenyTSXonnections" -Value 0
  • A code for opening the firewall:
    Enable-NetFirewallRule -DisplayGroup "Remote Desktop"

As you see, PowerShell enables RDP with these commands. Notice that administrators can remote in by default, while to provide non-admin users permission to Remote Desktop access, you should add them to the Remote Desktop Users local group.

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Summary:

In this article, we learned how to enable RDP in Windows Server 2016 using various methods. We can mention one extra method here. By default, windows server 2016 sets external Remote Desktop Access to disabled. We can easily enable it using Server Manager (as we explained in a previous article named “how to enable RDP in Windows Server 2012”). So you can also use server manager to enable remote connections via Windows Server 2016. Do you know any more methods? Please share with us.

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Master student in computer software engineering Intrested in programming, web developing, and cloud computing

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