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What Is Remote Procedure Call on Windows: Complete Guide

by Gaurav Bidasaria

Some users have been asking what RPC or Remote Procedure Call is on Windows and whether they can disable it completely. Other users have also faced an error saying ‘RPC server is unavailable’ making them question if they can get rid of the service altogether. We will explain what RPC is, can you disable it, should you disable it, and what is it used for.

Let’s begin.

What Is Remote Procedure Call or RPC

RPC is a core Windows system technology that is used for creating distributed client/server programs. It contains libraries that help Windows run and manage key network and communication protocols.

Where Is Remote Procedure Call Used

RPC was primarily designed to help computers on the same network communicate with one another. This involved making requests and passing data packets. However, in modern operating systems like Windows 10 and 11, RPC is also used by applications running on the same machine to communicate with one another and pass instructions, for example. In other words, it has evolved to be an interprocess communication method that is used by client-server-based apps. This is because multitasking has become the norm and apps are constantly communicating with one another to perform different but complex tasks. So RPC acts as a backbone and is a core Windows system process.

Here is a workflow for nerds on how client process and server process interact with one another:

remote procedure call workflow

In the above diagram, a client process is making a request to the server process and it shows their back and forth replies.

Some examples where RPC is constantly being used are MMC consoles, certain Control Panels apps like Device Manager, and even some core internal Windows components. It is also used to manage devices on the same network like computers, printers, and scanners.

Here is a real-world example of how that would look and function.

When you open Microsoft Word on a Windows computer and give the print command, the instructions are communicated using RPC from the Word app to the printer which then prints the document in real-time. For this to happen, both the devices must be connected to the same network.

Microsoft has guidelines for creating inbound rules to support RPC.

Should You Disable Remote Procedure Call

The short answer is no. We noted how some critical system apps depend on RPC rails to communicate and execute actions. You must not disable it because doing so will lead to all sorts of critical functionality errors. Your Windows computer depends on RPC to communicate instructions and perform functions even when you are not using the computer or when it is in an idle state.

You can check just how many services are dependent on the RPC service by using the command terminal.

1. Press Windows+S to open Windows Search and type CMD. Under Command Prompt, select Run as administrator. Click Yes in the pop-up if asked.

open cmd with admin rights in windows

2. Type the command below and hit Enter to execute it.

sc enumdepend rpcss 12500

3. You will see a long list of lines. Look at the first line and you would see the number of services that depend on RPC on your Windows computer. For me, it is 93.

rpc command in cmd on windows 11

This means all these services will be affected if I disable RPC on my Windows 11 computer. So, yes, we can disable it but must not do so at all costs.

Why are RPC Service Options Grayed Out

In fact, Microsoft has grayed out several options in the RPC services menu.

1. Press the Windows+S to open Windows Search and type Services. Click to open the same.

open services app in windows 11

2. Under the Name column, find Remote Procedure Call (RPC). Double click to open it.

RPC service in windows 11

Here you will notice that several options are grayed out under tabs like Log On, Recovery, etc. Microsoft is trying to avoid accidental changes to RPC here.

RPC service popup in windows 11

What About ‘The RPC Server is unavailable’ Error

Some of you are seeing this error thinking disabling RPC will solve it once and for all. We already saw what RPC does and how critical it is for the functioning of your Windows computer. Also, in most cases, you can’t disable it even if you wanted to. Fortunately, there are ways to fix RPC server errors quickly.

1. Open Services app using Windows Search as we did before.

services app in windows 11

2. The Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Status should be Running and Startup Type should be Automatic.

RPC service status and startup type in windows 11

3. If it is not set to the said status, contact your admin or if you have root access, double-click to open and change the Status and Startup Type values as discussed in step 2. If you can click on the Start button (not grayed out) under the General tab, do so and then click on Apply to save changes.

changing RPC status and startup type condition on windows 11

Another solution could be flushing DNS cache on your Windows computer.

Remote Procedure Call

This is a high-level overview of RPC and its role in the larger Windows ecosystem. When you begin to dig deeper, you will find it has many layers and a complex system that was designed decades ago but is still relevant.