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allow multiple remote desktop connectionsVista’s Remote Desktop Connection feature allows you to connect to your computer remotely as if you were sitting right in front of it. By default, only one user can connect at a time. Remote Desktop connections are not allowed at all in the Home versions of Vista.

There is a hack available to allow allow multiple remote desktop connections on Vista machine, and it will also enable Remote Desktop Connections in Vista Home Premium.

Disclaimer: Use this hack at your own risk. Modifying Windows system files can cause unexpected results. You should only try this hack if you know what you are doing or if you are willing to break your configuration. If you mess up your Windows configuration, MakeUseOf will not accept any legal liability whatsoever. It is highly recommended that you backup your files before proceeding.

The hack involves replacing the default Remote Desktop Connection program (termsrv.dll) with a hacked one. First, you need to download the hacked file here. Extract the contents of the file somewhere on your PC. There are several batch files (.bat) that will install it, depending on which version of Vista you are running: Business.bat, premium.bat, or Ultimate.bat.

Run the correct batch file, according to what version of Vista you have. You can try using the premium.bat version on Home Basic, but I haven’t verified that it works on basic. Once again, use at your own risk! If you have any problems running the batch file, boot into safe mode to run it.

Firewall Configuration for Vista Home Premium

Although the batch file is supposed to configure the firewall if you are installing it on Home Premium, it does not work properly. Here is how to configure your firewall to allow Remote Desktop connections:

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  • Open the Control Panel
  • If you are in the regular control panel view, click on Allow a program through Windows Firewall under the Security section
  • Normal_Control_Panel_View

  • If you are in classic view, click on Windows Firewall and then click on Allow a program through Windows Firewall
  • Classic_View_Windows_Firewall

  • Click the Add Port button
  • Windows_Vista_Firewall_Settings

  • For the new port enter Remote Desktop Connection for the Name and 3389 for the Port number and click OK
  • Click OK again to save the firewall settings.

You should now be all set to run Remote Desktop with concurrent connections.  If you are already using Remote Desktop Connections with Business or Ultimate, then you are probably familiar with using the Remote Desktop client.

Using the Remote Desktop Client

If you’re not familiar with Remote Desktop or you are on one of the Home editions and you’ve never used Remote Desktop before:

  • Start up Windows on another computer.
  • Navigate to Start > Programs > Accessories > Remote Desktop Connection
  • Remote Desktop Client

  • Enter the name of the Vista computer and then click Connect.
  • Enter your login credentials when prompted for the username and password of the Vista computer.
  • You should now be remotely logged into your computer!

If you have any problems getting this to work, there are instructions available on how to install remote desktop concurrent sessions manually. It is also possible to set up concurrent Remote Desktop connections on Windows XP. The process is very much the same for XP, in that you should download a patched termsrv.dll and install it to the system.

Although we do not endorse modification of Windows system files, if you come across any issues installing this hack, let us know and we will do what we can to help. Are you aware of any other ways to allow multiple remote desktop connections? Let us know in comments.

  1. Tir
    November 5, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Hi,

    I followed the format written. I am connecting my laptop to the desktop with both running on Vista home premium 32 bit. Now the deskop is configured as stated above but when I try to connect it with my laptop, it does not seem to connect at all. Any suggestions?

  2. SEM
    September 25, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Great in-depth article. Will definitely have to try this out. Being able to run multiple remote desktop sessions will be such a convenience.

  3. Xzenor
    July 7, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Why on earth would you apply it to Vista Ultimate?
    Ultimate already has remote desktop enabled..

    • Jonathan
      July 14, 2009 at 7:20 am

      Most likely because, like me, they want *multiple* remote desktop sessions like it says in the subject of this page.

      Thanks Jorge! I've been meaning to try this out for some time.

    • GErvy
      July 27, 2009 at 9:00 am

      Durrr.... read the thread. It's about "multiple" RDP sessions.

  4. erfon
    July 6, 2009 at 4:50 am

    hi there. i tried to use the sp2 hack from your link but it broke my windows vista ultimate with sp2. i can't log in remotely now, and when i log in directly i get a "dns client has stopped working" error. any idea on how to UNDO this hack?

    thanks : D

    • Jorge Sierra
      July 6, 2009 at 6:39 am

      You may need to reinstall Vista. You should be able to reinstall it in a "repair mode" without overwriting your important data. This should overwrite the broken files and get things back to normal.

      • Eric
        August 12, 2009 at 9:53 am

        Jorge, do you know if this hack works for Windows 7? Is there one that is available for Windows 7?

        I have Windows 7 Ultimate x64.

        • Jorge Sierra
          August 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm

          No, you would need a different termsrv.dll for Windows 7. It does appear a hack is available, but I can't vouch for it:

          winmatrix.com/forums/index.php?/topic/22479-enable-concurrent-sessions-in-windows-7-x86x64/

        • Eric
          August 12, 2009 at 2:47 pm

          thanks man, also, I found this for the RTM (that one is for beta and RC):

          missingremote.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3692&Itemid=232

  5. John
    June 25, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I used to use this patch in Vista SP1 to connect remotely and locally using the same account simultaneously. This was a great way around program licenses.

    However, after upgrading to SP2 and running the patch, I can do concurrent sessions but not on the same account. Is there a way to do multiple sessions on the same account on SP2?

    • Jorge Sierra
      June 26, 2009 at 8:16 am

      I haven't tried this, but you may want to check out this blog post:

      technullogy.net/index.php/2009/06/22/multiple-remote-desktop-sessions-on-vista-sp2-x86-x64/

  6. Stephen
    June 15, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Same as Eman... I used the old hacked version (in my case 64bit Vista with SP2). Commenting out the line related to SP2 will make it work or, in my case, I just did the work by hand. Works just fine again. Vista SP2 appears to just have re-copied over the termsrv.dll file. You just need to replace the hacked version. Cool!

  7. Eman
    June 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I just used the patch from the following thread on a machine running Vista Home Premium x64 SP2 and it worked:

    digiex.net/guides-tutorials/799-enable-concurrent-sessions-windows-vista-business-ultimate-sp1-32-64bit.html

    The only thing I had to do to get the batch file to run was to comment out the service pack check. I have two accounts on a HTPC with a quad-core processor and I can connect to the two accounts concurrently or connect to one and work on the fast machine while my kids watch a movie or something logged into the other account. Sweet!!

  8. T
    June 3, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Further info on my issue:

    Forwarded 3389 in firewall.

    When I netstat -a | find /i "3389" it shows no processes.

    • Jorge Sierra
      June 3, 2009 at 6:06 am

      I had a similar problem with an earlier installation I had of 32-bit XP, but unfortunately I was never able to solve it. The service was running, but I could not connect. It was working fine for a while, and all of a sudden it stopped working. I suspect it might have been something in a Windows update that messed it up.

      Did you check the Missing Remote page to see if maybe something in there may fix it?

      missingremote.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1220&Itemid=224

  9. T
    June 2, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Jorge,

    First of all, you are the man.

    Secondly, the Vista sp2 (64 bit Home premium) upgrade blew away my termserv hack.

    I did d/l the termserv64.dll file you linked, renamed it to termserv.dll and ran premium.bat.

    Looked good, no errors. But I can't connect from my other machine. I get the "cannot connect" message.

    I have verified that Terminal Services is started and set to automatic.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks

  10. Jorge Sierra
    May 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    You could certainly use other solutions. I prefer remote desktop, as it tends to have the best appearance and performance. Many other products are either slow, or the display uses lossy compression, which results in poor appearance.

  11. tiny
    May 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks JC for link x64 SP1 Vista! I had same problems as James had.

  12. Luke
    April 6, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Am i understanding this correctly, will this allow my Vista Ultimate PC to allow multiple sessions from different users? Much the same as using terminal services on Server 2k3 or 2k8?? I am trying to allow one or 2 remote desktop connections to a pc for browsing or whatever whilst the pc is in use as a HTPC..

    • Jorge Sierra
      April 6, 2009 at 6:18 am

      That is correct, multiple concurrent sessions with different users.

  13. Tom
    March 13, 2009 at 6:38 am

    I used to (6 month ago?) be able to connect to my Vista Home Premium desktop via RDC after applying this hack. However, about a month ago, I had to reformat the computer. Now, I need to use the RDC connection again, but every time I try to do so, I get an error message saying "This computer can't connect to the remote computer. Try connect again. If the problem persists, contact the owner of the remote computer or the network administrator." Yes, I did enable the firewall to let RDC through.

    Did MS do something that disabled this hack? Or did I just do something wrong? Are there new things than I can do to make it work again? Thanks

    • Jorge Sierra
      March 13, 2009 at 6:45 am

      To my knowledge, MS hasn't done anything to disable the hack. Does the original termsrv.dll still work properly?

  14. James
    February 9, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    That link worked for me. Awesome!

    Thanks JC!

  15. JC
    February 2, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I was having the same issues with Vista x64, but found another download here that worked for me.

    digiex.net/guides-tutorials/799-enable-concurrent-sessions-windows-vista-business-ultimate-sp1-32-64bit.html

  16. James
    January 31, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks for the advice. Tried again and no luck. However, tried pinging and that worked perfectly. Sent and received all 4 packets, very quickly.

    So it must be something w/ the remote desktop. To review, I ran the .bat file, then did the firewall port, then that's it. Is there any Remote Desktop UI option I have to set or somehting?

    Thanks,
    James

  17. Simon
    January 31, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Thanks for the response Jorge. I downloaded the 64 bit, but was still running into issues. I eventually found a different batch file that allowed it to work, but was still not getting the results I needed (the prompt was killing me). I ended up going with TeamViewer. Thanks for the assistance and the original post!

  18. James
    January 30, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I installed this hack on my Vista Home Premium laptop, and performed the firewall port mod. I was thinking now I could connect to my PC remotely. However, multiple times I have tried to do this by opening the remote desktop connection program on another PC, and entering my PC's name, username, and password, but I just get an error message saying I can't connect. How do I enable remote access on my Vista Home Premium machine?

    Thanks,
    James

    • Jorge Sierra
      January 31, 2009 at 10:39 am

      It may be that it is not resolving the address of the machine correctly with the machine name. You could try connecting to the PC by using the IP address instead of the machine name. Try this:

    • From the Vista machine, navigate to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt
    • From the command prompt, type ipconfig and press enter
    • The line that says IPv4 Address will indicate what the IP address of the machine is

      Try using this address instead of the machine name when you connect from Remote Desktop on your other computer. If it works, then you know it indeed is a name resolution issue. If it still doesn't work, I'd recommend trying to ping the Vista machine.

      You can ping it from the remote machine's command prompt by typing ping aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd where aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd is the IP address of the Vista machine (don't do this from the Vista machine, because of course it will work since it is the same machine). If you do not get a response then you have a network routing issue. If it does, it may be that something went wrong with installing the hack.

  • Simon
    January 29, 2009 at 4:20 am

    I forgot to mention that it attempts to listen on port 3389 after receiving the error, and fails.

    • Jorge Sierra
      January 30, 2009 at 6:32 am

      Did you download the 64-bit version? You should be able to download it here.

  • Simon
    January 29, 2009 at 4:07 am

    I love the idea! I tried running this batch within vista 64 ultimate, but unfortunately I receive this:

    "System error 193 has occurred.

    *** is not a valid win32 application."

    Any thoughts?

  • Alex
    January 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Is this legal? It seems that Windows XP and Vista were intended to be single user operating systems.

    Just curious, Alex

    • Jorge Sierra
      January 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

      The Vista End-User License Agreement (aka EULA) states:

      Except as provided in the Device Connections (all editions), Remote Access Technologies (Home Basic and Home Premium editions) and Other Access Technologies (Ultimate edition) sections below, only one user may use the software at a time.

      The Remote Access Technologies section referenced above states:

      You may remotely access and use the software installed on the licensed device from another device to share a session using Remote Assistance or similar technologies. A “session” means the experience of interacting with the software, directly or indirectly, through any combination of input, output and display peripherals.

      The Windows XP Home Edition EULA for states:

      you must acquire and dedicate an additional license for each separate Workstation Computer on or from which the Software is installed

      As with any contract or agreement, this language is subject to interpretation. Use the the information provided within at your own risk.

  • Nick
    January 19, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Many thanks Jorge, another really useful article and just what I needed.

    Cheers.

    • Jorge Sierra
      January 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm

      You inspired me. ;)

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