Distribute Custom RDS 2012 Work Resources (RDP Files) to Remote Users

In a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) 2012 R2 environment, there are two common ways that users receive published resources. One way is through the “RemoteApp and Desktop Connections” applet in the Control Panel, typically controlled by Active Directory Group Policy and the other way is through the RDS Web Access webpage.

There are companies that simply do not wish to expose their RDS environment to the Internet, or they have yet to deploy GPO polices to distribute applications to users. Those companies will typically ask the question, “How can we deliver Desktop and Application resources without publishing the RDS Web Access portal to the Internet or configuring RemoteApp GPO polices”? The answer is “you distribute custom RDP files”.

It is important to note that remote users who do not have access to the corporate LAN or VPN must connect to RDS through the RDS Gateway. The RDS Gateway encapsulates RDP traffic over 443 (HTTPS), providing a seamless connection route for remote users.  While this article will not cover the details of RDS Gateway, it is important to note that is a required RDS feature for users not connected to the corporate LAN or VPN.

When a user connects to the “RemoteApp and Desktop Connections” applet in control panel, all assigned resources are downloaded to the local hard drive.  In order to manually distribute the RDS resources, the administrator must successfully connect to the RDS environment via the RemoteApp and Desktop Connection applet in the control panel. The steps below will provide an alternative method for retrieving the RDP Work Resources files for manual distribution.

Step 1: Connect to RDS Work Resources:

1. Perform this step on a domain joined workstation running Windows 8 or greater
2. Open Control Panel, and open “RemoteApp and Desktop Connections” applet

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3. Click “Access RemoteApp and Desktops” to begin the connection wizard

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4. Enter the URL address to the RDS Web Access server. The syntax is not case-sensitive. Click next and when prompted, and enter your domain credentials

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5. When successful, this screen should be presented, showing the available Work Resources. In this example, we have one published Desktop available

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Step 2: Retrieve RDS Work Resource (RDP) Files:

1. Start->Run->type: “%AppData%MicrosoftWorkspaces”

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2. Open the folder that is named in a GUID format

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3. Open the Resource folder

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4. All assigned RDS published resources will be located here (as RDP Files)

5. Copy the desired RDP files for user distribution (i.e. File share or placed on USB drives). Note: The RDP files can be customized if required (i.e. Remove saved Username)

There are times when it is not feasible or possible to deliver published resources using the common tools like GPO policies (e.g. RemoteApp), or the infrastructure is not yet configured to distribute applications (e.g. via GPO).  The steps above allow you to meet these challenges and still provide services to turn frustrated disconnected users into happy connected and productive users.

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