I am trying to connect to my work desktop computer through a VPN connection using Microsofts Remote Desktop Connection at home. I get a successful VPN connection but when I enter my work computers name, userid, and password through Microsofts Remote Desktop Connection I get a "Cannot find Computer" error message. If I use the IP address instead of the computer name I am able to successfully log into my work desktop computer. How come my remote VPN connection cannot see my work computer's name but the IP address works fine? Also when VPN connected I cannot see other computers on the work network. I am able to remote desktop connect using my computers name when I am at work on the same LAN. I know many would say what's the problem, just use the IP address. However, I am trying to set up a remote desktop access proceedure for other employees in the company who are not that computer literate. I can easily find my remote computers IP address but it is not that simple for others. I am running Windows 7 Professional on our work desktops and VPN through our Windows 2008 R2 Server. Any ideas?

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    Phil is on the right track here. What VPN solution are you using (client and server)? What name servers are you getting with the VPN connection? As far as seeing other work computers while you're connected to the VPN is concerned, do you mean from the RDP session or from your local, vpn connected workstation? – joeqwerty Mar 8 '12 at 14:25
  • Afte I VPN in I use windows explorer and look at my network connections. I can only see my local connections. I would have expected to see computers/devices that are on my work local network throught the VPN. I do believe it is a netbios issue. I set up the server myself and I believe I do not have a fully operational DNS/WINS/NETBIOS system up and running. I definitly don't have a DNS running and I have never set up any of the netbios configurations. Comments are welcome but let me go do some reading on netbios. – user871962 Mar 8 '12 at 16:28
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    I suggest you set up a DNS server and WINS server and then add those options to your DHCP settings so your VPN clients pick them up – Phil Mar 8 '12 at 16:37
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    Again, Phil is on the money. Network Neighborhood/My Network Places is populated via NetBIOS broadcasts, which I'm sure aren't being transported across the VPN. The way to deal with this (as Phil mentioned) is to set up a WINS server on the LAN and configure the VPN server to assign the WINS server address to the VPN client. That will take care of the network browsing issue. As for DNS you'll need to make sure that the VPN server assigns the LAN DNS servers (and LAN DNS suffix) to the VPN client so that you'll have DNS name resolution of the LAN clients when you're connected to the VPN. – joeqwerty Mar 8 '12 at 16:44
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    Thanks all...You have given me a good roadmap to get started fixing the problem. I have some homework to do before I get back to you but I think I understand what to do. – user871962 Mar 8 '12 at 16:49

Given that you can connect by IP address, the problem is one of name resolution and is likely to be a NETBIOS/DNS issue

At work, your machines are probably on a domain such as "company.local" so when you connect to, say a machine called WORKSTATION its FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) is actually WORKSTATION.company.local

At work you will likely have a fully operational DNS/WINS/NETBIOS system up and running so both the short and long versions work

At home, I suspect that the VPN is not picking up the correct name servers.

If you try connecting to e.g. WORKSTATION.company.local i.e the long name, does it work? If so then its a WINS/NETBIOS problem but if not it is a DNS issue

  • Thanks Phil...Done my homework and now understand. Thanks. – user871962 Mar 9 '12 at 17:44

Do you have split tunnelling enabled over your VPN connection? If yes, read on. If no, ignore this advice!


Perhaps your VPN client is sending DNS requests to the local side of the tunnel rather than the remote side. AFAIK, some VPN clients will try a request on one side of the tunnel, and if this fails, the client tries the other side. It it tries the local side first and your configured DNS server doesn't respond properly with an error when it doesn't find the address (perhaps it's configured to redirect you to adverts etc.) then that might break it.


If possible (and if you have a split tunnel) try disabling your split tunnel. They're a pretty bad idea from a security point of view anyway...

If this isn't possible, when you're at home try changing your home DNS settings to Google's public DNS http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/ these servers shouldn't issue redirects, so you should get a proper error response...

  • No split tunnelling... – user871962 Mar 9 '12 at 17:45

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