Using psexec to make registry changes on a remote computer

So, here’s the problem. I’m in the UK and I want to send a 15MB file to someone in Australia. My Windows Live SkyDrive and Mesh accounts have 5MB limits (and there is no Mac client for Mesh for a point to point connection). I have an FTP server I can use but I need to create a new user account and I’m many miles away from the server. Of course, being Internet-facing, the FTP server is in a DMZ, so I’m careful about which services it is running but I can use a Remote Desktop Connection to connect to another computer and then use a second remote desktop session to access the FTP server from inside the firewall. At least, I should have been able to, if I’d enabled remote desktop… and I hadn’t.

I tried to connect to the registry remotely and enable Remote Desktop using the method that Daniel Petri describes but that failed:

Error connecting network registry
Unable to connect to
ipaddress. Make sure you have permission to administer this computer.

I wasn’t sure what was preventing access to the remote registry (the target is a fully patched Windows Server 2003 R2 computer) but I needed another method of access. That method was a Microsoft SysInternals tool called psexec which allowed me to bypass whatever security I was having trouble with and run commands on the remote server. First I edited the registry to allow Remote Desktop:

psexec \\ipaddress -u username -p password reg add "hklm\system\currentcontrolset\control\terminal server" /f /v fDenyTSConnections /t REG_DWORD /d 0

and was pleased to see that:

reg exited on ipaddress with error code 0.

Next I checked the value I’d just set:

psexec \\ipaddress -u username -p password reg query "hklm\system\currentcontrolset\control\terminal server"

Before I restarted the server:

psexec \\ipaddress -u username -p password shutdown -f -r -t 0

After this, I could RDP onto the console and make the changes that I needed.

If all the command line exercise is a little daunting, then it looks as though Phil Morgan’s RD Enable XP will also optionally call psexec to do the same thing…

One thought on “Using psexec to make registry changes on a remote computer

  1. Thanks for the writeup. We’ve never had to get this advanced in the registry – the most we’ve done is “regedit” type stuff. Hehe – anyways, thanks for the help, marking this down and might need it someday.

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