Remote Desktop File Transfer (RDP) Between Local Computer

Remote Desktop File Transfer (RDP) Between Local Computer. Well, every network administrator and power user should be able to remotely connect to client computers. In turn, this allows you to apply updates, fix errors, test new software and hardware, and perform security checks without being physically seated in front of the client machine.

Often, many administrative tasks require you to install new software or configure files. Being able to transfer files from a local server/computer to remote ones makes the process easier. Granted, you can always host important files and executables on a central FTP server or download them from the remote client. However, this is somewhat messy workaround, especially when you’re trying to implement a hotfix. Fortunately, Windows Remote Desktop features a function that allows you to transfer files between local and remote computers.

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Understanding The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

Before Microsoft introduced Windows 95, the previous versions of Windows were graphical extensions/shells that were run from and on top of MS-DOS. Suffice it to say, Microsoft’s main focus in the 80s and 90s was providing software and operating systems that were accessible to home PC users. All in all, they have succeeded.

A similar pattern is observed from the Remote Desktop Protocol. Before it was introduced, administrators were required to use the command line interface to access and control remote computers. Although there were products such as Carbon Copy that offered advanced options such as screen sharing, file transfer, and chatting.


Hence, Microsoft first officially released RDP as part of its consumer operating system package in Windows XP.  Every version since then has included it. As with most software, it has been improved over time and has undergone a bevy of name changes. Today, there is some confusion as to the difference between RDP and remote desktop connection (RDC).

Remote Desktop Connection refers to the client application that is included with all the latest versions of Windows. On the other hand, remote desktop protocol facilitates the connection from the RDC client to the RDP server on the remote computer. It also allows you to connect to virtualized desktops and is considered a part of Remote Desktop Services (RDS). You can picture this as a three-layer process.

Importantly, Windows uses the same protocol (RDP) to share clipboard data and initiate remote desktop file transfers. Nevertheless, you must configure the RDC client before you can use it to transfer files during your RDP session.

Configuring RDP/RDC For File Transfer

So, how to perform remote desktop file transfer (RDP session) between local computers? Before connecting to the client/server, you must allow it to have access to a drive on your local computer:

Open the Remote Desktop Connection application by opening the start menu (WinKey) and searching for it by typing Remote Desktop Connection. It should be the first item on the list of results.

  • Next, hit the Enter This will launch the RDC application in its basic view.
  • Click on the Show Options downward arrow. Remote Desktop Connections should now give you access to its more advanced user interface.
  • Next, click on the Local Resources.
  • Click on the button labelled More from the Local devices and Resources section. An additional dialog with a collection of checkboxes should launch.
  • Expand the checkbox labelled Drives.
  • Check the drive you would like to share files from. Alternatively, you can tick the Drives checkbox to share all the drives available on your local computer.
  • Click on the OK button.

Now you click back on the General tab, input the computer name/IP address, add the necessary credentials, and then click on the Connect button.

Now that you’ve given RDP access to your local drives, you can easily transfer files to remote computers that you are connected to.

How To Transfer Local Files During an RDP Session

If you’ve successfully added a drive to your list of shareable local resources, you can transfer files from your local files by performing the following steps:

  • Use RDC to connect to a remote computer.
  • Next, run File Explorer on the remote computer.
  • Select This PC from the left panel.

Your local drives should appear under the section labelled Redirected drives and folders. You can open it by double clicking on it, navigating to the file/folder you want to transfer across, copying, and then pasting it.

Alternatively, you can use the clipboard for some files but you must ensure that the clipboard option is enabled under the Local Resources tab.

  • Use RDC to log onto the remote machine.
  • Minimize the Remote Desktop Connection window.
  • Next, find the file you want to transfer and copy it (ctrl + c or right-click and select copy from the context menu).
  • Restore the Remote Desktop Connection window.
  • Finally, paste the file on the desktop or a location of your choosing.

While these steps are far easier than the previous ones, they don’t always work, especially for large files and folders. Share your local drive in order to have an option to pick and choose which files and folders you want and may be easier to transfer. Especially for users who are only using a single screen.

Alternatives To Remote Desktop File Transfer

As with many of their other software products, Microsoft offers a Remote Desktop Windows application that you download and install from the store. It’s a slightly improved (in some aspects) remote desktop client. As such, it has some of the same restrictions i.e. you can only connect to machines that have a remote desktop protocol server running on them.

It also comes with a set of limitations. For instance, you can’t share your local drive. You can only use the clipboard to copy files and folders across. Nevertheless, on the upside, it makes creating, connecting, and managing multiple remote computers easier. It also gives Remote Desktop a more up-to-date coat of paint. New users may find the GUI easier to work with.

However, the remote computer must be running the Pro version of Windows 10/11 before a Remote Desktop server can be enabled on it. Of course, in the same way, you can use RDC to connect to a Linux computer remotely, there are workarounds.

Nevertheless, it may be easier to use alternative remoting software. However, if you’re dead set on using Windows products, you use a One Drive (or other cloud storage drives) folder as a go between. That may be easier and/or more secure than sharing your local drives while remoting.    

Thank you for reading Remote Desktop File Transfer (RDP) Between Local Computer. We shall conclude this blog article now. 

Remote Desktop File Transfer (RDP) Between Local Computer Conclusion

In summation, the above text covers how to remote desktop file transfer (RDP Session) between local computer. As the Covid-19 pandemic comes to a close, many businesses have elected to keep a portion of their workforce working from remote environments. Consequently, network and IT professionals aren’t the only ones benefiting from services and products such as RDP and RDC.

With virtual desktops and machines becoming more popular, everyday business users must at least have a basic understanding of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services. Thankfully, transferring a single file across to a remote desktop machine from your local computer is relatively easy. All you must essentially do is copy and paste. Nonetheless, we hope that you’ve found this guide to be helpful. Please leave a comment below if you have any gripes, concerns, or compliments. As always, thank you for reading.   

Check out more RDS  content in our blog over here.

Avatar for Mduduzi Sibisi
Mduduzi Sibisi

Mdu is an Oracle-certified software developer and IT specialist, primarily focused on Object-Oriented programming for Microsoft and Linux-based operating systems. He has over a decade of experience and endeavors to share what he's learned from his time in the industry. He moonlights as a tech writer and has produced content for a plethora of established websites and publications - including this one. He's always open to learning and growing.

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