Windows Server 2003 allows 2 non-console and one console remote desktop connections. Is there a way to increase the number of non-console sessions allowed?


If you run into the problem of not being allowed into the server because the connections are full (and you know it's due to connections left hanging), you can use the command prompt commands qwinsta and rwinsta to query and terminate sessions.

Like so:

> qwinsta /SERVER:xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
SESSIONNAME       USERNAME                 ID  STATE   TYPE        DEVICE
console                                     0  Conn    wdcon
rdp-tcp                                 65536  Listen  rdpwd
rdp-tcp#14        Administrator             1  Active  rdpwd

...and then terminate the desired session (I'm terminating the last row on the list above here):

> rwinsta 1 /SERVER:xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
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No, you need to use Terminal Server to do this, and you have to pay a license fee per user limit.

Although I've seen of hacks where you take 1 DLL from Terminal Server and shove it into Windows to fool the limit (but I think that only works on XP to bring the 1 user limit up to 2), despite, this violates the EULA of the software (although it's legally binding aspect in arguable at best, and may not apply to you depending on your country).

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You would need to switch the server mode from Remote Administration to Terminal Server Licensing mode, which allows additional client connections. You will need to acquire the appropriate licenses from Microsoft, however.

Configure the Terminal Server Licensing mode

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Licensing is required to have more than two, as noted.

I find RoyalTS very useful for managing many remote connections, and it allows easy interface to kill other dormant connections to a server.

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  • Wow, RoyalTS is exactly what I was looking for to replace the rubbish remote desktop MMC snapin - many thanks. – Martin Dec 2 '08 at 17:56

Not unless you are running Terminal Server. You could use TightVNC instead which allows more connections.

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  • But TightVNC connects everything to the same session (the console), right? – Michael Burr Dec 2 '08 at 16:37
  • Correct, VNC won't allow you to have extra users, they're simply fight over the same user session. – TravisO Dec 2 '08 at 16:38
  • Downside to VNC is that it's painfully slow in comparison to RDP. – Brian Knoblauch Dec 2 '08 at 19:05

You can enable Terminal Server mode, but then you need to set up a licensing server (and of course, add the appropriate licenses).

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The Remote Adminstration mode just allows 2 connections as max.

The Application mode in Terminal services of W2000 depends on the amount of licenses you bought from Microsoft

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Licensing is the big restriction.

But more than that, if you're using this server for something other than a Terminal Services system as it's primary function, do you really want more than 2 remote desktop sessions active at the same time? It seems to me that the restriction is a good way to make people to remember to not stay logged in to the server.

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Just FYI, Windows Server 2003 does not enforce Terminal Server licensing.

If you enable Terminal Server mode and the TS Licensing service and create licenses using a dummy license number, the licenses will activate anyway and Terminal Server will work with however many simultaneous connections you want.

Obviously this not kosher in a production environment, but I think it's good to know for those of you who just want to try it out for stress testing or mucking around and don't have any licenses to do so.

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  • 1
    Those licences only last for 90 days, after that point you will not be able to connect with them. – Sam Cogan Jan 20 '09 at 0:27

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