Windows Server 2016 – Shadowing another session in RDS

How to install web server (IIS) on Windows Server 2019

Let’s say you receive a phone call from a remote user in your company; they are currently sitting in a hotel and are having trouble figuring out how to open an application. This application isn’t installed on their local computer, they are an RDS user, and they connect into a virtual session on an RDSH server in your network whenever they need to access this app. You think about asking for their password, as that way you could just log into the RDSH as them and take care of the problem. But alas, asking for a password is a serious breach of company security policy. Instead, perhaps you can use some kind of online meeting software to share the screen of their laptop and try to walk them through fixing the problem. But that would mean walking them through the installation of that meeting software and hoping you could explain over the phone how to use it.

Looking for a better solution? Use the Shadowing feature of RDS. If you log in to the RDSH server where the user is already logged in, you can simply shadow their session in order to see what they are seeing. You can then work together to resolve the issue. You’ll be able to take control and fix the problem, and maybe they can even take some notes and learn how to do it themselves next time to save the phone call.

This recipe is included here particularly because RDS Shadowing was always available in older versions of Terminal Server, but was then removed from Server 2012 RDS. Well, good news! It was brought back by popular demand in Server 2012 R2, and remains here to stay in Windows Server 2016!

Getting ready

Our remote user is logged into a virtual session on our RDSH server, which is called RDS1. This is a Server 2016 machine that is part of our RDS infrastructure.

How to do it…

Let’s help out this remote user by shadowing their RD session:

  1. First, we need to log into the same RDSH server that the user is logged into. On your computer, open Remote Desktop Connection and input the server name in order to connect.
  2. Now that you are logged into the RDSH, right-click on the Taskbar and open Task Manager:
  1. Click on More details in order to see more information about the server.
  2. Navigate to the Users tab.
  3. Right-click on one of the column headings and choose to show the ID column:
  1. Leave Task Manager open so that you can see the username that you want to connect to and their ID number.
  2. Now open a Command Prompt and type the following: mstsc /shadow:<id> /control. So for our particular jkrause user, who is currently running on ID 3 as you can see inside Task Manager, we use this command: mstsc /shadow:3 /control:
  1. This command will launch a shadowing session to the RD session of the ID number that you used, so make sure to use the correct ID for the user you want to shadow. Since we used the /control switch, you should also have the capability of using your own mouse and keyboard inside the user’s session.

How it works…

While shadowing in Server 2016 isn’t quite as easy as it used to be in earlier versions of Terminal Server, it’s great to know that this capability has returned after a noticeable absence in Server 2012. RDS Shadowing is a great tool to use for troubleshooting or collaboration, as it enables you to share the screen of other personnel and assist with your own keyboard and mouse control when necessary. Having two sets of eyes on the same RD session can be invaluable in many situations; go try it out today!

Comments are closed.