How to use RDP with 2FA

How to access your Maths office PC running Windows, from an "outside" (home or overseas) Windows machine e.g. a laptop, with SSH (with 2FA) and RDP: work as if you were sitting in front of your office PC.

You need to (once only):

Each time you want to connect to your office PC, you need to: When done, log out of the office PC to close your RDP connection; then you can log out of dora also.


Set up RDP service on the office PC

The office PC needs to be set up for RDP service: set to accept connections from your login. This setup needs to be done as an administrator: with your admin login if self-managed, or ask Paul to do for you.
Reminder for Paul: log in as network admin pszwt, not as local admin.
Click the StartMenu, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.
Click Remote settings (in the left-hand menu).
Maybe un-select Allow Remote Assistance.
Under Remote Desktop, choose Allow connections ... from any version ... (less secure).
Click Select Users.
Click Add, add the usual ROMEGROUP user.
Click OK, OK.
As suggested, check (remove or turn off or set to never) the sleep or hibernate settings in StartMenu ControlPanel SystemAndSecurity PowerOptions.

Set up SSH (putty) on the laptop

You will need to set up 2FA as per the SSH how-to. You need skeys or TOTP, but not Xming or other features that SSH offers.

Find out the network name of your office PC: usually something like pXYZ.pc (with XYZ your room number).

The "standard" ssh client for Windows is putty, use latest version (0.70 or later) from

To use putty, with WindowsExplorer (e.g. MyComputer) find putty.exe, double-click.

Run SSH (putty) on the laptop

Run putty: with WindowsExplorer (e.g. MyComputer) find putty.exe, double-click. Set options as above, or Load your saved session settings, and click Open.

Follow the prompts: type your normal dora login name to login as, then when prompted type the words from your paper skey sheet for the line number shown, or the authenticator code, then your normal dora password. You will be logged in to dora.

The very first time you use ssh, you will be prompted about the as-yet unknown authenticity fingerprint: say yes.

Leave that dora window logged in, running; you may minimize/iconize its window. Keep that session running, do not allow to time out, do not allow your computer to go to sleep/hibernate e.g. as most laptops do with the lid closed.

Connect with RDP client

With putty running, logged in to dora...

Start the Remote Desktop Connection client: go to StartMenu and search for that, click it.

In the Remote Desktop Connection client:

and you will get a desktop, just as if you were sitting in front of your office PC's screen; you can also copy files between the office PC and the laptop e.g. by simple drag-and-drop. You can minimize/iconize the RDP window, or make it un-maximized.

When you connect, you may need to wait 30 seconds for the "normal" (local screen) user to be logged out; or if that other user is you, then you will see the desktop (open windows etc) as you left it.

When done, you can just disconnect; but you will still be logged on. Probably you should log out: click the StartMenu and choose LogOff. (Do not use Alt-Ctrl-Del as that does things on the laptop, not the RDP connection.)

After disconnecting your RDP session, you may close the putty window (log out the dora session): type  exit  at the dora prompt, or just close the window (click the top-right [X]).

Blurb, comments

RDP means Remote Desktop Protocol and is the name commonly used, though the official Microsoft name changed to Remote Desktop Connection since WinXP.

The remote "laptop" machine could be Linux or Mac: there are RDP clients for Linux (freerpd, rdesktop) and Mac, and of course they have SSH; but we will not describe how to use such other machines.

Similar connection could be achieved with VNC. VNC would work for any office machines not just Windows PCs, and there are many free VNC software packages available. However that would need extra software on both the office PC and the laptop, and would not provide file copy.
Apple Screen Sharing is based on
VNC and is recommended for Macs.

Further reading, random references

Paul Szabo 14 Nov 17