Have you ever wished that you could check your home PC when you are outside rather than asking someone at the house to switch it on and look for a specific file? Well, that is actually possible when you use the right technology and software solutions. This is where RDP steps in. The Remote desktop protocol is a technology, which was invented by Microsoft for remote access to Windows-based PCs via the web. However, now many third-party vendors offer RDP based solutions.
The basics of RDP
Using the Remote Desktop Protocol, you can access a Windows-based PC positioned in a remote location through the web. You can also use the input devices of the second computer to access and control files and software on the remote PC. It has two components- an RDP client and an RDP server. The RDP server is a Windows-based PC that you will set the connection to. The client is typically a mobile device with an RDP client app or another PC. Microsoft offers RDP client for Windows, iOS, and iOS. You can opt for third-party vendors, and Linux options are also out there.
RDP is basically a Windows-only protocol using which you can set up remote connections with Windows PCs. While you can use RDP on many versions of windows, not all versions can be operated in both ways. For example, a PC with Windows 10 Home edition installed can be used only as an RDP client to connect to a remote server PC.
The protocol enables you to set up a single connection to PCs with windows with Remote Desktop enabled. To let several users connect at the same time, it is necessary to use a Windows server with the RDS component activated. Using RDP, you can connect to a computer on the same network and a computer placed thousands of miles away too.
Way to activate Remote Desktop connections through RDP in windows
Most versions of Windows, including Windows 10 ships with a Remote Desktop connection component, and that is based on RDP. You need to perform some basic configurations to enable the feature on a remote Pc or server. It is quite straightforward.
To activate Remote Desktop on a Windows 10 based PC, this is what you need to do:
- Go to the Windows Settings menu. From the start, choose the Settings icon. Then choose the SystemSystem> Remote Desktop.
- Now enable the Remote Desktop slider. It will turn blue.
The process can be a little different in older versions of Windows. However, these versions also ship with the Remote Desktop connection component inbuilt.
The Microsoft account used by you to sign in will be selected for remote desktop connection. You can also add other users to access a PC remotely.
Using RDP in secure ways
Using RDP can prove to be beneficial in certain situations, but you cannot overlook safety while using the protocol. If you want to use the RDP over the web, deploying secure strategies is required.
The Enterprise users can resort to using Remote Desktop Gateways for connecting to RDP servers. However, this is a facility that typical Windows users can’t avail of. However, all is not lost, and you can use the below-listed tips for setting up a secure RDP connection.
- Evade using open RDP connections over the web. It can be quite risky, especially if you are using RDP to access sensitive data. It would be better that you use a VPN and then connect to the remote PC.
- It would be prudent to enable NLA or Network Level Authentication. In Windows 10 based PCs, this is activated by default. The same is true for PCs with Windows Server 2012. In other Windows versions, you need to activate it manually. It ensures the connection is established when proper authentication takes place. It makes using the proper username and password mandatory.
- It will be good if you Restrict RDP connections to the users who do not have administrator-level access. In other words, allow only the non-administrator user accounts to connect remotely. The standard users are not able to modify vital system settings or access protected files.
- You can also put a limitation on the number of password attempts. It is possible to set a number of attempts after which an account will get locked. It is prudent to use complex, hard to guess passwords. A mix of uppercase, lowercase characters, and symbols is ideal in this regard.
- You can enable RDP for maximum encryption. Using the System’s Group Policy Editor, you can define the default encryption level.
The working mechanism of RDP
You can think of the RDP operating mechanism as that of a remote-controlled toy car. The user uses a remote control to make the toy car move and turn. RDP is like that to an extent. You use the input devices in the client PC to control the server or host pc, positioned in a faraway location. Internet connection is required for letting RDP work. The RDP protocol creates a dedicated network for data exchange between two devices/ computers, and it makes use of network port 3389. The data is sent via TCP/IP.
As keyboard and mouse activity is encrypted and the internet is used, the users may experience slight delays at times. You may feel the delay more when you access resource-hungry applications remotely.
What are the Pros and cons of RDP?
- RDP does not store data on cloud servers.
- You can make the connection secure by using certain features.
- It can be handy for companies that want the employees to work from home.
- RDP is not secure unless VPN is used.
- Not all versions of Windows support all features of RDP.
- It may lead to delayed response sometimes.
Summing it up
RDP is a tried and tested protocol using which accessing a remote PC running Windows is possible. The client can be another Windows PC or another device running on a different OS. Nowadays, you can either use Microsoft’s proprietary solution for RDP or resort to using third-party solutions like SolarWinds Dameware, ManageEngine Remote Access Plus, ISL Online, TeamViewer, etc. The Windows Remote Desktop Connection tool that is included with most Windows versions is easy to use. However, you should deploy network security protocols when using such solutions.