Server 2008: How to Setup a Remote Desktop on Windows Vista

The main reason why administrators would want to setup remote access on a client computer such as Vista is to access the servers without leaving their own desk or office.

The server room is often on a different floor, sometimes even in a different building. Remote desktop allows administrators to work on servers without physically having to be there.

Before you go on to Vista to setup the remote connection you need to enable remote connections on all the servers you will want to connect to.

The recommended option for remote desktop on the server is the one with Network Layer Authentication which means that the client needs to be joined to the domain and the administrator needs to be logged in with his or her credentials.

This is the most secure way to allow remote access to the server and there shouldn’t be any reason for you not to select this option.

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Before you start setting up remote desktop make sure that your client machine’s name matches your company’s naming convention. If for any reason you do not have a naming convention (I would strongly recommend creating one though), name your machine something that will be easy to identify.

If it’s your machine, maybe name it with your last name, or if it’s a machine used only for remote connections to the servers, name it RemoteVista, or something like that.

You want to avoid the random numbers and letters as it will be almost impossible to identify the machine on the network.

You also need to join that machine to your company’s domain. Since you have selected the Network Layer Authentication option on your servers in order to connect to them, the client must be joined to the domain.

Go ahead and join your Vista machine and reboot it. Now we’re ready to get started.

1. Once you log back in, you need to go to the Start menu and type in Remote in the search box.

This will bring results on top where you can select and click on Remote Desktop Connection.

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2. In the Remote Desktop Connection window go ahead and click on the Options button.

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3. In the Computer: field you need to type in a FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) of the server you are trying to connect to as well as your user name.

In our example we are connecting to ny-dc1-2k8 so our FQDN is ny-dc1-2k8.globomantics.com.

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4. If you wish to save the settings and credentials of this remote connection as a shortcut to your desktop go ahead and check the box next to Allow me to save credentials.

This will allow you to double click on a shortcut on your desktop and automatically login to the server.

As convenient as this may seem however, it is not the most secure way to connect to the server and some administrators prefer not to do so. If you decide to create the shortcut, make sure you lock your machine every time you leave your station, even if it is only for few minutes.

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5. Next click on the Display tab.

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6. Under the Remote desktop size option select the size of your window. You can select a smaller window so you can still see your Vista desktop or select a Full Screen.

I prefer the full screen view as it almost looks like I am sitting at the server and not remote desktop.

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7. In the Colors section select the color quality for your remote desktop.

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8. I really recommend leaving the check next to the Display the connection bar when in full screen mode option since it will let you know which server you are connected to.

It can be difficult to keep track if you are working on more than 1 server at a time. This bar will show up on top of your screen and it will display the server’s name.

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9. Now let’s click on the Local Resources tab.

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10. The first section is about your Remote computer sound. It’s really helpful to hear if your server is making a beep or error sound.

I would recommend selecting the Bring to this computer option.

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11. Next you need to make a selection for Keyboard key combinations such as ALT+TAB. This is definitely your preference and choice.

In our example we are going to use it only in full screen mode.

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12. Under the Local devices and resources section make sure to select both Printers and Clipboard options.

The Printers option will allow you to print info or reports directly from the server you are connected to, to your printer at your desk. That option is really convenient as you won’t have to go down to the server room to get your printout.

The Clipboard option will allow you to copy information, files, or folders from your server and paste them on your Vista machine and vice-versa.

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13. Next click on the Programs tab.

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14. In this tab you can specify which programs should start automatically as soon as your remote connection is established.

For example if you always work in Server Manager, you can set it up so it automatically starts up when you connect.

In our example we don’t want any programs to start automatically, so we are going to skip this option.

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15. Now click on the Experience tab.

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16. First select your connection speed between your client and your server.

If you are on the same network you should choose LAN option. If, however, you’re connecting from home and you have a high speed cable modem then select the Broadband option.

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17. Once you select the speed the appropriate options will be automatically checked, such as background, themes, etc.

The slower connection speed the less of these options will be selected. Keep in mind that you can always change these selections if you decide to.

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18. And finally click on the Advanced tab.

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19. The Server authentication option verifies that you are connecting to the correct machine.

If the verification doesn’t meet the minimum requirements you have the option to be connected anyway, to be warned, or to not be connected at all.

In our example we are going to select the Warn me option.

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20. After all your settings have been selected, go back to the General tab and click on the Save As button.

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21. First make sure you save this shortcut to your desktop. Then type in the shortcut’s name and click on Save.

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22. And there it is. To test it go ahead and double click on the shortcut.

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23. You will need to type in your password. If you prefer the automatic logon, check the box next to Remember my credentials — but remember, this is not the most secure way to create a remote connection.

When ready, hit the OK button.

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And here you are — your remote desktop on Windows Vista is ready!

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