Remote Desktop Protocol

What is Remote Desktop Protocol? 

Remote Desktop Protocol or RDP is a technical standard used for remotely operating a desktop computer. Developed by Microsoft, it’s the most widely used protocol in remote desktop software, others being Virtual Network Computing (VNC) and Independent Computing Architecture (ICA).

Although initially released exclusively for Windows operating systems, RDP is now also used in Mac operating systems, Android, and Unix.

How Does It Work? 

To understand how remote desktop protocol works, it’s important to learn what server and client mean in the RDP network.

Server: Also referred to as the host, the server is the computer a user wants to access from another location. For that to happen, the host computer must have the RDP software installed. Examples of RDP software include Microsoft Remote Desktop, TeamViewer, RemotePC, and more.

Client: This is the remote computer used for controlling the server.

The keystrokes and mouse movements from the client are transmitted to the server remotely over the internet. These are called input signals. The output signal, i.e., the server graphical user interface (GUI) is displayed on the client computer. This way, both computers share the same GUI.

An individual using the client desktop can control the host desktop from any location as if they were physically present in front of it. They can use applications and open, edit, and delete files remotely. Both input and output signals are encrypted for network security.

This transmission happens over network port 3389 via Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP), a transport protocol for most internet traffic.

Benefits of Remote Desktop Protocol

There are several benefits of RDP, including:

Offers an alternative to cloud computing

Despite the remote working capabilities offered by both cloud computing and RDP, many companies opt for RDP due to factors such as regulatory compliance and security concerns, despite cloud computing being more user-friendly. Companies that don’t want to move their data to the cloud and keep it stored locally use RDP.

Supports work from home

Many companies operate on legacy on-premise IT infrastructure. Remote desktop protocol facilitates work from home for employees working in such companies.

Allows remote troubleshooting

Thanks to RDP, IT admins don’t need to be present physically to fix technical issues. This makes their job far less challenging. It also saves money for the company which would otherwise be spent on transit.

Simplifies data access

One does not need expensive equipment, complex procedures, or instructions to use RDP. All they need is RDP software to easily access, manipulate, and manage data in real time.

Challenges and Solutions

Despite several advantages, the remote desktop protocol is not without its challenges.

Some of them are:


Encrypting and transmitting input and output signals can lead to delays in use. To maintain a pleasant user experience, RDP requires fast internet services.

Security vulnerabilities

Even though RDP uses data encryption, activity logging, and access controls, it is susceptible to risks such as computer worms and hash attacks. To counter these vulnerabilities, it’s critical to use strong passwords, limit login attempts, and restrict access to domain controllers.

One must also use network-level authentication (NLA) and firewalls for additional security.