What is Windows Remote Desktop and why should you switch to an alternative?

Remote Desktop Connection, popularly known as Windows Remote Desktop, is a Microsoft remote troubleshooting application built into the Windows operating system that allows users to remotely log in to network computers. It uses Remote Desktop Services (RDS), a terminal service that uses Microsoft's proprietary Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to connect to a remote computer. While RDP is built in to Microsoft operating systems, it can also be installed on Apple, Linux, and Android operating systems.

Is Windows Remote Desktop good enough for your organization?

Many businesses rely on Windows Remote Desktop to facilitate network access to their employees. This is mainly because Windows Remote Desktop Connection is free and easy to set up. However, there are a few reasons Windows Remote Desktop might not meet all your organization's needs.

Questionable security

RDP sessions usually function over an encrypted channel, preventing any malicious users from viewing the session. Failing to secure it properly can result in RDP sessions becoming a gateway for malware infections and targeted ransomware resulting in critical service disruption.

In fact, a recent study by McAfee showed that RDP is the most dominant attack vector, being used in 63.5 percent of disclosed targeted ransomware campaigns. Here are some of the recent vulnerabilities in RDP that wrecked havoc on organizations in recent years: CVE-2019-0708 (BlueKeep), CVE-2019-1181, CVE-2019-1182, CVE-2019-1222, and CVE-2019-1226.

Small feature set

While Windows Remote Desktop can be handy in establishing a quick connection to remote computers, it fails to deliver anything more than that. With limited features and architecture that's not highly compatible (doesn't support Windows 10 Home), Windows Remote Desktop can be easily over shadowed by other remote access software.

Remote Access Plus: The best Windows Remote Desktop alternative

Remote Access Plus is an enterprise remote access solution that helps system administrators and IT help desk technicians access and troubleshoot Windows, Mac, and Linux computers from a central location. Here are some of the key features that make Remote Access Plus the perfect alternative to Windows Remote Desktop.

  1. Security

    Remote Access Plus features enterprise-class security standards that help protect the organization from cyberthreats. It helps with HIPAA compliance, PCI DSS compliance, and uses the industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption using TLS 1.2 protocol. It also offers features like end-user consent for remote access, blacking out the end user's screen to prevent data leaks, and role-based access control.

  2. Accessibility

    Remote Access Plus provides high-level flexibility to organizations, as it's available both on-premises and on demand. This means that organizations can scale services to fit their needs, and access them from anywhere with an internet connection. It doesn't require a VPN connection or require the computer to be present in a network connection.

  3. Best-in-class remote control features

    Remote Access Plus comes with built-in quick-launch tools. With Remote Access Plus, you can connect to any computer across the globe, switch between multiple monitors, record remote sessions for auditing purposes, disable end-user inputs to refrain them from interrupting troubleshooting routines, configure automatic log-off settings for security, and more. In addition to that, here are some of the advanced remote control features Remote Access Plus offers:

    • Collaborative troubleshooting
    • Voice, video, and text chat support
    • Wake On LAN
    • Remote file manager
    • Device manager

Frequently asked questions

  1. Do you need a VPN for Windows Remote Desktop?

    Windows Remote Desktop is designed to work only on your local network. In case you want to access a remote computer that's not in the network, a VPN connection is required. However, with Remote Access Plus, you can connect to any computer over the internet without a VPN connection.

  2. What is the difference between a VPN and Remote Desktop Connection?

    While both a VPN and Remote Desktop Connection are used for accessing resources from a remote location, they're vastly different from each other. A VPN connection lets you access a file/folder that is shared on that network. Remote Desktop Connection, on the other hand, gives you complete control of a specific computer.

  3. How can you tell if someone's remotely accessing your computer?

    Remote access is a double-edged sword. It can be really beneficial to authentic users in accessing and controlling remote computers. However, if exploited, remote access can be a gateway to malicious actors.

    Whenever your computer is accessed remotely, the respective remote access software displays a small notification bar on the screen for the entire duration. However, this notification bar can be closed as well. In that case, you can try the following to check if someone's accessing your computer.

    • Check recent activities
    • Check the browser history
    • Check log events