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More Windows 8 Weirdness: Fixing Flaky RDP

I’ve got a total of 5 out of 8 PCs in my house running Windows 8 now, and every now and then I encounter some new form of wacky Windows behavior that requires certain shenanigans to fix. I stumbled upon another interesting case in point yesterday, when I tried to establish a Remote Desktop Connection link to our Dell XPS12. When I got this machine from Dell it came with Windows 8 installed, which I proceeded to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro so that, among other things, I could use RDP to log into that machine remotely and manage updates and such from the production Windows 7 desktop I work at customarily in my home office.


Even though my XPS12 was properly configured for remote access, my connection wouldn’t stay up long enough to get through the hand-off process.

Without giving the matter too much thought, I checked the machine yesterday to make sure that Remote Access settings were properly configured. As shown in the preceding screencap, they were just what I thought they should have been, with remote connections turned on and RD-NLA turned off. However, when I tried to establish an RDP connection to that machine, I would start to go through the process of establishing a remote connection, only to have it fail before the entire process of opening the remote window and obtaining a working view of its desktop could complete. Non-plussed, I tried to establish a connection going the other way — that is, from the desktop of the XPS 12 to my production desktop — only to have it fail and hang in the same way. Bizarre!

By searching on “Windows 8 RDP fails during login” and “Windows 8 RDP fails immediately,” I learned two very interesting things I didn’t already know. First, I had to purge some outdated printer connections in the Devices and Printers entry in Control Panel, apparently because print queue and device driver connections were interfering with network access for RDP. And second, I had to make a registry hack to turn off the version of UDP that RDP uses in the Windows 8 environment as follows:

In the key at HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Terminal Services\Client\, create a DWORD named tofClientDisableUDP and assign the value “1” (either Hex or Decimal, I used Hex) to it.

I had to remove the printer references and then restart the machine immediately after that to get them to “stay gone,” because if I didn’t restart, they would magically re-appear within 30-60 seconds of their removal. This took some careful observation and fiddling about to achieve. I found the registry hack documented on Microsoft’s social.technet pages in a thread entitled “Remote Desktop client on Windows 8 drop connection.”

To me, it all goes to show the sometimes forensic characteristics of Window troubleshooting. I’ve learned to try to characterize the symptoms as tersely as possible, and then to put Google to work to help me find information or discussions around those topics. If I keep at it long enough, as I did yesterday afternoon, I will almost always stumble my way into a workable solution. But why, oh why, I must plaintively ask, does it have to be this way? Sigh.

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