Disable Remote Access in Windows XP

Microsoft Remote Desktop


Why would you want to disable remote assistance or desktop? Simple, because either could be used or exploited by an attacker to gain remote access to your system, allowing them to run programs on your computer or use your computer to distribute spam or attack other computers.

Having a spare key hidden under a rock by the back door of your house can be useful too. If you ever get locked out, at least you know you have another way to get in. But, if you lock yourself out of the house once a year, that leaves 364 other days of the year for a stranger or thief to discover your secret key as well.

Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop can be very useful when you need them. But, most of the time you don't. In the meantime, if an attacker somehow finds a way in, or if an attack is created to exploit a vulnerability in the Remote Assistance or Remote Desktop services, your computer is just sitting and waiting to be attacked.

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Open 'My Computer' Properties

screenshot of of system properties in Windows XP


To disable Remote Assistance or Remote Desktop, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on My Computer
  2. Select Properties
  3. Click on the Remote tab
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Turn Off Remote Assistance

Screenshot of remote assistance settings


To disable, or turn off, Remote Assistance, simply uncheck the box next to Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer.

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Turn Off Remote Desktop

Screenshot of remote desktop settings Windows XP


To disable, or turn off, Remote Desktop, simply uncheck the box next to Allow users to connect remotely to this computer.

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Why Don't I See Remote Desktop?

Don't freak out! Many users may not see Remote Desktop as an option on the Remote tab of their My Computer Properties.

The explanation is simple. Remote Desktop is a feature of Windows XP Professional (and Media Center Edition) and is not available on Windows XP Home.

That is a good thing if you wanted it off anyway. One less thing to worry about disabling. Of course, if you want to use Remote Desktop, you will have to upgrade your version of Windows.