Disconnecting RDP sessions on a Windows(R) machine

Sometimes when connecting to a Windows(R) machine you might see an error messsage saying that the maximum number of remote connections has exceeded.

This happens when someone for example just closes the RDP session, instead of properly logging off, in which case the session stays active and blocks other people from logging in.

Since you cannot connect to the remote machine and disconnect the stale remote connections, we will see how you can disconnect those stale remote connections remotely from another Windows(R) machine.


  • Administrator account or account with sufficient privileges on the remote machine, that we want to disconnect all those stale connections.

Connecting to the remote machine

List the RDP sessions on the remote machine:

> qwinsta /server:example.com

You might have issues listing the already established RDP sessions, and you might get access denied error.

So for example:

> qwinsta /server:example.com
Error opening Terminal server example.com

Error [5]:Access is denied.

In such a case, connect to the remote machine's IPC channel and then try again:

> net use \\example.com\IPC$ /u:username

Where username is the user account that has privileges to view and disconnect established RDP sessions.

> net use \\example.com\IPC$ /u:administrator
The password or user name is invalid for \\example.com\IPC$.

Enter the password for 'administrator' to connect to 'example.com':

The command completed successfully.

Now you can view the established RDP sessions:

> qwinsta /server:example.com
SESSIONNAME       USERNAME                 ID  STATE   TYPE        DEVICE
console                                     0  Conn    wdcon
rdp-tcp                                 65536  Listen  rdpwd
rdp-tcp#42        foo                       2  Active  rdpwd

Find the session you want to disconnect and then just execute the following command:

> rwinsta /server:example.com <session-id>

So for example if we want to disconnect user foo's RDP session we would execute:

> rwinsta /server:example.com 2

Executing the above command would disconnect user foo and make possible for others to connect to the remote machine again.

Written on January 18, 2011