RDP Meaning: Learn the Basics of the Remote Desktop Protocol

Remote users can see and use Windows on a device in another place using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). The remote machine shares necessary peripherals like your keyboard and mouse, allowing you to use and operate it as if you were sitting directly in front of it.

RDP is a proprietary network communications protocol from Microsoft that allows PCs and devices running any operating system to connect to each other. Although proprietary, some of the RDP specifications are open for anyone’s viewing on the Microsoft website. Thus, RDP can be extended to meet specific organizational requirements if needed.

Windows remains the most popular operating system worldwide so you can connect to most computers easily with RDP. But, the Windows PC you are using must meet specific licensing requirements. Other network communication protocols such as virtual network computing (VNC), but RDP, consisting of a client and server component, is arguably the most popular.

Understanding Remote Desktop Protocol

Think of a remote-controlled car or drone that you can control from afar via radio waves to understand the protocol. RDP operates in much the same way for computing devices. Instead of radio waves, it uses the internet to communicate and take control of another machine. Since RDP facilitates remote connections, it is traditionally used to assist remote users with computer or device problems.

Since virtualization and cloud computing are now ubiquitous, RDP and similar protocols are used all of the time. When you boot up a virtual machine (VM) in the cloud and connect to it remotely, your organization is likely using RDP or a similar protocol.

Regardless of whether you connect to a remote computer or a VM, RDP requires an internet connection.

How Does RDP Work?

You can access a remote computer or VM and display its desktop on the computer you are using with RDP. You can control the remote computer with your mouse and keyboard and operate the remote machine and any applications residing on it.

The computer from which the connection request originates must be running RDP client software, while the computer that is being accessed must be running RDP server software. The latter is known as a Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH). Devices with less than optimal configurations can access and run full-featured programs as if they are local to the RDSH. Much of the communication between the connecting device and the RDSH goes from the latter to the former. Multiple and simultaneous remote sessions into a server are possible.

By default, all Windows computers include RDP server software and are thus accessible to connection requests. However, Remote Desktop Connection (RDC), the RDP client software, is accessible only to users of Windows Pro and higher versions. If you are running Windows Home, you will need to upgrade to Windows Pro (or a higher version) to use RDC. To avoid costs associated with upgrading, you can try other RDP client software.

RDC is one of three client components of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services (RDS) thin client architecture, allowing remote client machines that support Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to connect to Windows and any computer running RDS. Windows Remote Assistance and Fast User Switching are the other client components of RDS.

Aside from RDC, RDP clients are also available for Linux, Unix, macOS, iOS, Android, and other operating systems. Thus, you can control your workstation or run a VM using practically any device.

RDP server software is also available for Windows, Unix, Linux, and OS X. Microsoft Azure uses RDP to serve its customers’ users virtual machines.

What Are the Advantages of RDP?

There are various benefits of using RDP within organizations, including the following:

What About Security in RDP?

RDP security is divided into two types:

It would help if you used enhanced security with RDP. In conjunction with this, you should keep your RDP servers behind your firewall to lessen their vulnerability to outside attacks and minimize potential threats to already authenticated users.

Best Practices

Other best practices for securing your RDP servers include:

The Parallels RDP Client Offers Excellent User Experience

The Parallels RDP Client is an easy-to-install software that provides users access to either RDS infrastructures or Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) farms. The Parallels RDP Client is free to download. It is a user-friendly alternative to RDC and other RDP clients. Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and Chrome OS are supported.

Parallels RDP Client allows multiple connection settings and offers drag and drop, multiscreen and zoom support, among other features that are not available in RDC. Native Android and iOS capabilities, such as gestures, are supported in addition to Touch ID and passcodes for logging on securely to your RDP or Parallels RAS infrastructure.

Are you interested in learning more about Parallels RAS? Download the trial.