Windows 10 Remote Desktop Error Code 0x4 or 0x204

TLDR: Modify your power plan to ensure your VM isn’t going to sleep!

I had recently deployed a new Windows 10 based VM that would serve as an RDP jump box to access lab resources. Initially RDP worked fine, but I noticed that after a while I couldn’t connect any more. The only way to rouse it from this state was to open a direct console window from the vSphere Client, or to reboot the VM.

rdp-sleep1

The exact error message from the Remote Desktop for Mac window is:

“We couldn’t connect to the remote PC. Make sure the PC is turned on and connected to the network, and that remote access is enabled.

Error code: 0x204”

In addition to the 0x204 error, I also saw “Error code: 0x4” numerous times as well.

The two error codes I kept getting (0x204 and 0x4) were not helpful and just led me on a wild goose chase. These codes were only reported on the Mac RDP client and Windows was more generic:

rdpsleep-4

Clearly the message “Make sure the PC is turned on” garnered no attention from a seasoned IT professional like me, but in the end turned out to be relevant. The issue was that the Windows 10 VM was going to sleep.

rdpsleep-3

I only noticed this when I saw a blacked-out screen in the console preview and the lack of a hostname or IP address listed. This tells me that VMware tools hasn’t checked in for a period of time.

I’m not sure if an incoming RDP connection attempt would wake a physical machine in this state, but sleep isn’t very beneficial to a VM. I simply modified the power settings to prevent sleep and hibernation and the issue hasn’t happened again.

rdpsleep-2

Windows Server varieties don’t behave this way, but because Windows 10 is primarily intended for bare-metal laptop and desktop use cases, power saving features are enabled by default.

This is a pretty basic problem, but I thought I’d do a post just in case it helps someone else who overlooked the obvious like I did and instead tried chasing up hexadecimal error codes 🙂

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