Remote Desktop Protocol or RDP is a technology that allows a user to access a desktop or application session of a remote computer or server over a network. It is one of the most popular technologies for remote access and mobile device usage given its simplicity and flexibility. In this article, we will discuss the different ways in which you can use RDP to access a remote system or server.
Option 1: Using the Remote Desktop Client
If you already have a client program on your machine that supports RDP, you can access a remote system simply by opening a network connection to the server and entering the proper credentials. An example of a popular RDP client is Microsoft RDP client. A VPN connection opens the door to even more flexibility since it offers the ability to access a remote system through a secure connection even when outside your local network. Setting up a VPN connection to use with your RDP client is easy and takes only a few minutes. Once you are connected, you can access all of the resources on the remote system, including your desktops, applications, and data stored on network shares.
Option 2: Using an RDP Server
If you are new to RDP or server-based virtualization, it’s a good idea to learn how to do it. There are free and open-source RDP servers available that you can install and run on your own computer. By creating an account with any of these servers, you can gain access to remote desktops and the applications installed on them. In addition to desktops, you can access other services such as email, web browsing, and file servers. The most popular open-source RDP server is VNC. While it is a very flexible program, the learning curve can be a bit steeper than with other options.
Option 3: Using RDP over SSH
Another great way to access a remote system or server is to use Remote Desktop over SSH. This method is often referred to as tunneling because you are essentially “tunneling” RDP through an SSH connection. Tunneling RDP over SSH is more secure than just using RDP since it offers an additional layer of authentication. In addition, you can encrypt all of the data that is sent over the wire (including passwords and credit card details).
To set this up, you will need to have an SSH server installed on your computer or mobile device and you must have the user account that will be used to login to the remote system setup. Once those two requirements are met, you can follow these steps to connect:
- Click the Start button, then type “cmd” in the search window and press enter.
- Type “rdesktop” and press enter.
- In the open window, you should see a line that says “RDP-TODO 1.3 $Home directory not accessible. Local authentication required.” Press enter to continue.
- Type “local auth” and press enter.
- Type your user name (this will be the username you will use to login to the remote system and it should be the same as the one registered with the SSH server) and press enter.
- Type your password and press enter.
- You will see a line that says “Authentication succeeded.” You can now login to the remote system through RDP!
Tunneling RDP through SSH is very easy to set up and only takes a few minutes. It offers the advantage of being able to access your remote system whether you are on a network or the internet. However, it is not possible to connect to a remote system that is not running an SSH server (this can be found on the server’s network menu). In addition, all of the data is transmitted unencrypted so anyone with the proper software can capture and see everything you do on the remote system. This includes passwords, emails, and documents. Finally, since we are tunneling through an unencrypted connection, this option is less secure than using an RDP client or server. But, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to access a remote system, this is a great option.
Option 4: Using Putty
There is also a very useful tool that allows you to connect to a remote system or server called Putty. Putty is a free, open-source tool that can be downloaded from the internet. Once installed, you can use it to remotely access whatever machine you want. You can use the standard *nix commands like `ssh` and `rsync` directly from the tool to connect to your remote system or server. In case you are not familiar, a SSH server is a service (software or a program) that provides you with an encrypted connection to another computer or server. Using Putty, you can access all the resources on the remote system (including your desktops, applications, and data stored on network shares). Similar to the other options discussed so far, Putty makes it easy to connect to a remote system whether you are on a network or the internet. Once connected, you can easily access all the resources on the remote system.
One of the main advantages of Putty is that it offers a terminal emulator (similar to the one you would use on a standard *nix system) so you do not need to have an entire Linux desktop environment to use it. For instance, if you have a server where Windows Server is installed, you can access all of its resources right from a *nix command line. Even if you have Windows installed on your local computer, you can use the Windows Remote Desktop connection tool to access a remote machine where Windows Server is installed. Once connected, you can easily move around through the Windows desktop and use all the applications on the system just like you would on any other Windows computer.
Option 5: Using Microsoft Remote Desktop
Microsoft Remote Desktop is a free, downloadable program from Microsoft that provides support for connecting to remote systems and desktop sessions. Similar to the other programs discussed so far, Microsoft Remote Desktop offers you the ability to access all the resources on a remote system including desktops, applications, and data stored on network shares. In addition, you can use the service to connect to a mobile device and access its screen and audio whether it is running Windows or a different operating system. An interesting feature of Microsoft Remote Desktop is that it allows you to “walk through” the computer or mobile device you are connecting to, like you would with a traditional video call. This is a nice feature if you have a lot of stuff going on inside the device and do not want to sit down at the keyboard to log in. Finally, Microsoft Remote Desktop is compatible with various operating systems including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. This makes it a bit more flexible than the other programs discussed so far.
To use Microsoft Remote Desktop, you must have a Microsoft account and be signed in to Windows (with the same account you are using to access the service). After that, you can use the program to connect to a remote system simply by entering the proper credentials. Once you are connected, you can access all the resources on the remote system including mobile devices and desktops.
Option 6: Using VMWare VSR
There is also a virtual machine product from VMware called VSR or VMWare Server Remote. This option takes virtualization one step further by packaging a full-blown Linux or Windows operating system along with all the applications and drivers you might need. This means that you do not need to install any software packages to use VSR; you simply need to connect to the virtual machine and log in with the proper credentials. While this certainly has its perks, it is not possible to access a remote system that is not set up as a server (this can be found on the server’s network menu). In addition, all of the data is transmitted in the clear which makes it less secure than tunneling through an encrypted connection.