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I have a system I have no physical access to that is booting into the windows 8 desktop automatically. windows own remote desktop services are disabled and the system is otherwise exactly as installed during a standard Windows 8 Pro instsall.

I have tightvnc server on the system and i had reliable remote access until I updated the video card drivers today.

THe system boots into windows fine from what I can tell but all I get is a black screen in the tightvnc viewer.

It seems the video drivers are the cause of this and have confused vnc. There are solutions on how to fix this but they all assume you have local access to the system, which I don't! The system has no monitor available either so someone at the location of the system is able to power it down and back on but thats all.

So my options to access the system are via the file transfer feature on the vncviewer client - which works fine and lets me browse the remote systems directories. I imagine I could possibly prepare some file and copy it up to the system and then tell someone there to reboot it?

Also I have working remote access to another computer on the same local LAN as the problem computer. So maybe I can connect to that and do something. I should stress that as its a modern windows version I assume all windows shares are fairly secured for remote access over the lan. Maybe I'm wrong on that?

Any help much appreciated!

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Why VNC on Windows? So slow and unsecure... Do you have remote management through the various MMCs enabled? Or remote registry access? –  AthomSfere Dec 21 '13 at 15:02
    
Hi @AthomSfere Its tightvnc, I thought this was a lot better? But anyhow no it seems I don't when I try connecting to the other systems MMCs and entering the IP/name of the problem system I get cant connect msgs. –  AdamJones Dec 21 '13 at 15:14
    
And you cannot connect through the registry either? –  AthomSfere Dec 21 '13 at 15:49
    
You mean just going into regedit and adding the computer name/ip? If so no. –  AdamJones Dec 21 '13 at 15:52
    
BUT - this could be real fun - I just realised that the black screen on vnc does give me working keyboard access! I just did windows key + R. I typed cmd Then shutdown /r And it worked, the system shutdown and rebooted, killing my vnc connection for a minute. So I can operate the computer totally blind. This gives lots of possibilities... not sure which is easiest though in this situation to try and re-enable VNC –  AdamJones Dec 21 '13 at 15:57

1 Answer 1

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I think you have reached a point where you required hands on. At the very least if someone is on site that can reboot the device, you might be able to get it to boot more successfully or show a picture.

I am not sure how critical this system is, but a few things to consider when operating remote systems.

  • UNC is rarely the best choice in a Windows environment.
  • You should evaluate remote connectivity through the MMCs before there is an issue
  • Remote Registry can be a great tool as well
  • Security is a combination of Firewalls, ACLs and the OS + Software. VNC might be your best choice if you can't properly secure port 3389 for some reason or port forward accordingly.
  • Have a "Hands On" contingency.

This is my own list of the top of my head, but addressing the last bit for Hands On Support. In the future you might look at IP KVMs to give you BIOS and Safe mode access remotely.

A good cheap (for what it is) solution that I have used many times is the Lantronix Spider:

enter image description here

This way when the software fails, you can still VNC through a browser to access the critical device, boot to safe mode, reinstall drivers or even reimage the device. IP KVMs are great, and I have used them for laptops, desktops, and even Android Tablets.

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