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Windows Remote Desktop won't "connect in the amount of time allotted"

sbuster asked
I'm trying to simply start a remote desktop connection between 2 PCs on a LAN (both running WIndows XP SP3).

The problem is that Remote Desktop won't connect...can't even get a login in screen.
This goes both directions.  I also have a 3rd PC running XP SP2 and can't connect to that PC either.
I get a message box that says:
"This computer can't connect to the remote computer.  The two computers couldn't connect in the amount of time allotted.  Try connecting again.  If the problem  continues, contact your network administrator or technical support."

The PCs are on the same LAN behind a Linksys WRT54GSV4 Router.

I have Remote Desktop enabled on both computers.
I have turned off the Windows Firewall, my installation of Zone Alarm and McAfee Virus Scanner.

The network seems to working just fine.  Both computers can share files with each other.
They can both ping each other, and I can telnet between them.

I verified that the remote desktop service is running by:
1) telnet to port 3389  (it will connect on port 3389...but of course I can't log in)
2) run netstat -a    It shows that port 3389 is open and listening:
        "TCP       brutus:3389            brutus:0            LISTENING"
3) run PortQuery from the remote computer.  It shows that the remote PC can see port 3389 on the host  PC and that it is ready and listening.
"Starting portqry.exe -n -e 3389 -p TCP ...

Querying target system called:

Attempting to resolve IP address to a name...
IP address resolved to CAESAR


TCP port 3389 (unknown service): LISTENING
portqry.exe -n -e 3389 -p TCP exits with return code 0x00000000."

I'm at a loss.  Everything looks fine...but they just refuse to connect.
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Top Expert 2013

You mention that the SP3 machines cannot connect to each other or the SP2 machine. Can the SP2 machine connect to one of the SP3 machines?

I have heard of problems with the remote web workplace access from an SP3 machine, but not remote desktop. Wondering if it is a similar issue. In that case the problem seems to be the client not the host. Make sure you are starting with a working/tested host, such as an SP2 machine, for testing.
Ok I figured out the problem...mostly.

Zone Alarm was silently blocking incoming Remote Desktop connection requests.
But the weird thing is that I had exited Zone Alarm.
Near the end, I had killed just about every process on the host machine and still couldn't connect to it.
Somehow, Zone Alarm must change some settings that persist even after its process stops running.

Changing Zone Alarm to not run at boot up allowed me to make the connection.
Once Zone Alarm runs, it seems to haunt the machine...even after its dead :)

Of course, once I knew the problem was due to Zone Alarm, I could configure it to allow the connection and all is good.

Top Expert 2013

Great glad to hear. Thanks for the update.

i have same problem (time allotted) on desktop connection but i use win 7 profisional ,
tp-link router. can you help me


I am getting below message when i try to connect any host or server from mstsc.

""This computer can't connect to the remote computer.  The two computers couldn't connect in the amount of time allotted. "

Please can you help me on this.

Top Expert 2013

Hi syed12.
Welcome to Experts-Exchange.  You will need to open your own new question.  This assures experts dedicated to your question, and aslo makes it current so that many experts will see it.