A guide to Remote Access Connection Manager: what is it and how to enable or disable it

5 min
Virtual locking mechanism to access shared resources rasman concept

In this article, we’ll dive into a VPN-related feature of Microsoft Windows called Remote Access Connection Manager. If not working correctly, it might cause trouble for VPN users. 

Remote Access Connection Manager is a Windows service

Windows services are certain programs that run in the background. They don’t need a graphical interface and in a majority of cases, users aren’t even supposed to acknowledge them. Those services perform countless tasks of the OS while being hidden from your sight for convenience. You really don’t want bother about them because there can be dozens, even hundreds of them running at once. Many are internal components of the operating system, others come from third-party applications.

Every service is compatible with an important Windows component: Service Control Manager (SCM). It manages the services and interacts with them, for example, allowing them to start and stop. Some services are interactive, despite the general idea of unsupervised work. Users have a level of control over them, often through auxiliary programs.

The system uses a special process svchost.exe (Service Host) to load and run services. You can find and start/stop any service in the Task Manager, in the ‘Services’ tab. If one is currently running, it has a corresponding process called Service Host. Also, Windows has a management tool to administrate the services, called most simply: Services.

What is RasMan?

RasMan is the true name of the described service, as seen by the operating system. All services have shortcut names for the convenience of the people who use them most: programmers. They use hundreds of names in daily work. To avoid lengthy and convoluted texts, they abbreviate as much as possible, hence ‘RasMan’. ‘Remote Access Connection Manager’ is called a display name. Thanks to it, less experienced people can better understand what they are facing and learn about it more easily. At first sight, ‘RasMan’ looks just perplexing.

Naming aside, what is the purpose of RasMan service? Here comes its connection to the VPN.

Responsibilities of the Remote Access Connection Manager 

This service manages two kinds of connections made from your system: dial-up and Virtual Private Network. The former type is mostly obsolete, as it was used for modem connectivity. The latter is required for VPNs to run.

What does it mean? RasMan is a little part of Windows, a tool for overseeing VPN connections. Windows wouldn’t let anything that important run outside its jurisdiction. With its help, it connects, authenticates, and disconnects the remote server. RasMan service also stores a list of VPN and dial-up connections that are currently configured. If you have specified a VPN link in Windows settings, it will appear in the tray of your taskbar under the Network icon, where you can choose a Wi-Fi. With RasMan disabled, the VPN connections will disappear from there.

A tiny peek at the inside workings of RasMan

The tasks of Remote Access Connection Manager may appear simple, but it needs to handle several protocols with impeccable scrutiny. The safety of your Internet connection depends on it. RasMan defines what technologies the whole operating system supports. Regarding the tunneling protocols, those are the following:

  • PPTP – obsolete, not recommended;
  • IKEv2 – known for handling connectivity interruptions well;
  • L2TP/IPSec – a merger of tunneling and security protocol;
  • SSTP – a Microsoft product, preferred for VPN connections in a Windows environment.

That’s not all. RasMan also supports a range of authentication protocols to ensure a connection is trustworthy: EAP, PEAP, TTLS, and CHAP.

When RasMan isn’t necessary

The above list of protocols doesn’t include every VPN technology in existence, just the ones Microsoft decided to implement. Apart from them, there are e.g. OpenVPN, WireGuard, and SOCKS5 (for a proxy turned into a VPN). The VPN server dictates which protocol is actually used. If the choice isn’t supported by RasMan, then Windows won’t be able to connect by itself. You’ll have to apply a separate client app, hopefully supplied by the VPN vendor. Most reputable providers like Tuxlervpn usually offer easy-to-use and user-friendly client apps, though.

How to enable RasMan?

Normally, RasMan should be running automatically since the system startup, but it is possible to turn it on only on demand. The default setting depends on your system. If this service isn’t enabled, your VPN connection might be unable to start. In that case, follow these steps:

  • Open the Services console. You can find it in the Start menu, in a subfolder Windows Administrative Tools. Alternatively, type ‘services’ into the search bar of the Start menu.
  • Find Remote Access Connection Manager on the list and double-click it to open the properties.
  • Change its startup type to Automatic.
  • If the service status is Stopped, start it.
  • Apply the changes.

If those settings were already Automatic and Running, then RasMan should be working fine. Obviously, errors and failures do happen, but those are rare and complicated cases. For example, RasMan won’t be able to start if a service it depends on is disabled. You can find these in the Dependencies tab of RasMan Properties. In case of errors, experienced users may also meddle with settings on the Recovery tab. It doesn’t prevent failures but allows handling them.

Services have only two possible statuses: running and stopped. However, there are four possible settings for the startup type:

  1. Automatic (Delayed Start): the service starts at system boot but with a delay to prevent slow startup.
  2. Automatic: the service starts early at system boot.
  3. Manual: the service doesn’t start with the system, but can be started manually or by a program.
  4. Disabled: the service can’t be started. Setting this does not stop the service.

How to stop RasMan?

If the startup type of RasMan is set to Automatic, but no dial-up or VPN connections are made, then it serves no purpose. It just wastes computer resources. You can monitor it in your system’s Task Manager (open it by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc). Go to the Services tab:

The right-click menu allows you to start and stop a service, just like the Services console as explained above. You can go directly from RasMan to the details of its corresponding process if it’s currently running:

Like other services, RasMan runs in one of the instances of a special host process: svchost.exe. Note that it has the same process ID (PID) as RasMan. Here you can see the memory and CPU usage. You can also find it in the general process list using the PID:

When idle, Remote Access Connection Manager doesn’t use any of the CPU. Memory usage is rather small, but you still may choose to free it.

In that case, open the Services console exactly as described above and stop RasMan. Also, remember to change the startup type to Manual. That will prevent it from starting again after Windows restart. Disabling RasMan is not recommended because another program may require it in the future. In such a case, the Manual startup will allow starting a service on demand, but Disabled won’t. That would cause an error in the requesting app and trouble for you to fix.

Remote Access Connection Manager is one of many small programs that Windows uses to handle hundreds of tasks of an operating system. Thanks to handy configuration tools and online guides, you can manage the basics of this service by yourself, even without any IT expertise.

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