RDP for Dummies

Problem

Use Remote Desktop Connection to connect to and manage your server

tl;dr

Open RDP:
Type in "Remote Desktop Connection" in Start Menu (Windows XP-7) or Metro (Windows 8)
- or -
Pressing Win-R (Run) and typing in "mstsc.exe" (no quotes).

Connect to your server by typing in the IP address, pressing Connect and then entering your account username/password.

Solution

Remote Desktop is a remote management tool you can use with Windows that allows you to connect to any computer running Windows and take over the desktop, literally as if you were sitting in front of the monitor. It is the same idea as Teamviewer, Citrix GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, or any number of VNC clients. It also has the major advantage of being bundled with Windows (so no additional programs need to be installed), and encrypted.

First, you must make sure that RDP is enabled on the target server or computer. Here you can learn how to enable RDP on Windows. Here you can learn how to enable RDP on Windows if you only have command-line access (such as via SSH).

Then, open up Remote Desktop Connection.

Start Menu
In Windows XP, Vista and 7, it can be found in Start Menu -> Programs -> Windows Accessories -> Remote Desktop Connection.

Start Menu/Metro search function (Windows 7, 8)
Type in RDP or Remote Desktop in Start Menu or Metro.

Run
In all versions of Windows it can also be opened by hitting Start -> Run or Win-R and typing in mstsc.exe

Connect to RDP

In Computer: field, type in either your target computer's IP address, or its domain (such as www.mydomain.com) if it is registered with a DNS service. If your target computer is behind a NAT (i.e. a home router), and proper forwarding rules have been set up, you may have to type in something like 11.22.33.44:3389 where 11.22.33.44 is the IP address and 3389 is the RDP port. Hit Enter, and you will begin to connect.

On Windows Vista/Server 2008 or newer, you will then be faced with a login prompt. Click on Use another account and enter your credentials. If everything works correctly, a new Window will open and you will see your target computer's desktop.


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