Securing Your PC: Understanding and Disabling Windows Remote Desktop

Every month, Microsoft releases security updates for Windows to patch vulnerabilities in the world’s most widely used operating system, safeguarding the content stored on our PCs. While it’s crucial to install these updates, vulnerabilities aren’t the only way intruders can gain access to our computers. They can also exploit the Remote Desktop function, which allows remote control of a PC from anywhere.

It’s essential to note that the Remote Desktop feature is only available in the Pro, Education, and Enterprise versions of Windows 10 and Windows 11. If your computer runs the Home version, there’s no need to worry. The Home version includes an application for connecting to other computers but lacks the ability to turn your PC into a server.

hacker remote access

What is Windows Remote Desktop?

Windows Remote Desktop is a feature that enables remote management of a PC as if you were physically present, from Windows or via corresponding free applications on macOS, iOS, and Android. This feature is prevalent in IT departments of companies and educational institutions.

To access a Windows PC with Remote Desktop, you can use the Remote Desktop application available in all Windows versions, including Home. However, the Home version only allows remote connections, not the creation of a server for other PCs to access.

As the feature allows access from anywhere and using various operating systems, it’s advisable to deactivate it if not in use, as malicious actors can exploit user data to gain unauthorized access.

For instance, a vulnerability in versions of WinRAR prior to 6.23 allowed attackers to conceal malicious code in compressed files, granting control of Windows computers via this Windows function.

How to Disable Windows Remote Desktop

Disabling Remote Desktop is the same for both Windows 10 and Windows 11, whether the computer is managed by one or the other. To disable it, access Windows configuration options (Win + i), go to the System section, and find the Remote Desktop option in the left column. Deactivate the switch in the right panel to disable this function. No computer restart is required for this change to take effect.

Disable remote desktop Windows 10

Safer Alternatives

While Remote Desktop is a useful feature, it can also be risky. It’s wise to consider more secure alternatives that will provide fewer headaches:

  1. TeamViewer: A renowned remote control program known for its speed, security, and user-friendly interface.
  2. AnyDesk: An alternative with fewer limitations in its free mode, maintaining ease of use.
  3. Chrome Remote Desktop: A Google browser extension that allows remote PC access using your Google account