Fix Terminal Service without restart

Windows Server 2003 with Terminal Services running.  The port is open (I pasted nmap results below for 3389) and the service is receiving connections, but immediately closes the connection after attempting to RDC.

3389/tcp open     ms-term-serv

If I connnect with Admin MMC the TS cannot be restarted.  I was hoping for some Expert advice on how to get Terminal Services functioning without a reboot.  

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Hello LrdKanien,

I'd be checking the event logs for anything related to licensing - have you simply run out of TS licenses?

LrdKanienAuthor Commented:
This is not a terminal server.  I am connecting on the 2 free connections you get with Windows Server.

I'm referring to the 2 basic remote destop connections.  None are connected.
Try listing the connections on the server using:

    qwinsta /server:yourserver

(replacing yourserver with the hostname of the server in question)

and see if there are any disconnected sessions. If there are, look at the number in the ID column, then kill the session by typing:

    rwinsta session_number /server:yourserver

Let me know how you go.

Daniel Mundy
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LrdKanienAuthor Commented:
SESSIONNAME       USERNAME                 ID  STATE   TYPE        DEVICE
console                                     0  Conn    wdcon
rdp-tcp                                 65536  Listen  rdpwd

no sessions
Have you tried connecting to the console session?

mstsc /v:servername /console
LrdKanienAuthor Commented:
Yes, no matter how you try and RDC to the server it fails.  I'm looking for a way to reset the TS.
After much searching I believe this is by design. On all the servers that I manage, I cannot start, stop, or restart the Terminal Server service. I found this KB article which suggests it can't be done: (found via

It only mentions NT and 2000, but I believe the same is true for 2003 (but I can't find a KB article!).

One thing you may want to check is that the service is set to start as Local System, and not some other account..

However I don't think you'll be able to avoid a reboot :(


I was compelled to keep investigating this for you, as I don't like to say "it can't be done" unless I am *absolutely* sure. So I posted to the Microsoft newsgroups and have received official word:

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for posting. This is David and I will be assisting you in this post.

From your description, I understand that you are helping someone to troubleshoot a server which cannot RDP. They would like to avoid a reboot and want to know how to restart the Terminal Services, so you post here.

If there has been any misunderstanding, please feel free to let me know.

The Terminal Services service is an integrated part of the core OS in Windows, that's why it can't be stopped or restarted as most other services (it is grayed out).

Now I would like to confirm: Are you trying to reboot the server to continue troubleshooting this issue? If so, it is necessary to restart the server to complete the troubleshooting.

If you need further help in troubleshooting this issue, please feel free to let me know and I am glad to provide additional information for you.

Also I have included the following information:
Allow users to connect remotely using Terminal Services

Enable or disable Remote Desktop

If there is any update about this issue, please feel free to let me know.

Have a nice day!


David Xu
Microsoft Online Partner Support

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LrdKanienAuthor Commented:
I wanted to be able to fix TS if it wasn't working without a reboot.  This was not the end result due to it being part of core services.
Although an old question, I bumped into this while searching for a soltion.
Terminal Services can be started by the following procedure:
1) Open a command prompt
2) Type >tasklist /svc /fi "imagename eq svchost.exe"
3) This will list the different instances if svchost.exe and what service and PID (process ID) is associated with it
4) Locate TermService and note the PID for it
5) Open task manager on the processes tab click view, select columns, check PID, click OK
6) Locate the svchost.exe process with the PID noted in step 4 right click choose end process
7) open services.msc
8) find Terminal services service choose start

This does not always work
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