A remote desktop is a tool that enables users to connect to another computer from a remote location. Remote desktop software or tools make it possible for users to access computers, even when working remotely. Remote desktop tools are also useful for IT teams that must troubleshoot computer issues or mitigate security concerns from another location.
Via a modern remote desktop tool, users can access any computer from virtually any device. Learn more about the remote desktop and how this type of software works in this guide.
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What Is a Remote Desktop?
A remote desktop enables users to connect to a desktop in another location. Once the remote desktop connection is established, the user can see and control the connected desktop as though they were sitting directly in front of it.
Users can do everything they would normally be able to do when using the actual desktop. For example, users can install and use software, make updates, change computer settings, connect to networks, and even power off the device.
How Do Remote Desktops Work?
To use a remote desktop, users must have two desktops and remote desktop software that utilizes remote desktop protocol (RDP) and transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP). This software must be installed on both desktops.
The user can then use a client desktop and remote desktop software to access the desktop that is located elsewhere, also known as the host desktop. After establishing the remote desktop connection, the user will see the host computer screen displayed on the client desktop’s screen.
The user will then use their mouse and keyboard to manipulate elements on the host desktop. The host computer handles all operational work, such as running software, while the client desktop simply displays what’s happening on the other end.
The Benefits of a Remote Desktop
Remote desktop functionality offers many benefits for various users, including information technology (IT) team members and employees. Some of these benefits include:
Simplified IT management
IT teams can easily connect to any desktop device using remote desktop software from any location. This enables them to perform tasks such as device management or security updates from anywhere.
Remote desktop tools reduce costs in many ways. IT teams don’t need to travel to troubleshoot computers in different locations. Plus, easy remote access enables employees to stay as productive as possible, which will positively impact a company’s bottom line.
Simplified and secure remote work
Remote desktop tools enable users to access their computers from anywhere, on any device, simply and securely. Employees can use their at-home computers to access work devices while protecting company data.
Remote Desktop Use Cases
Remote support for IT
Perhaps the most common use case for a remote desktop is IT support. IT teams can use remote desktop tools to log into other computers to troubleshoot issues, perform updates, or show end users how to perform a specific operation on their devices.
Through remote desktop software, IT teams have additional capabilities such as multi-screen handling. This involves connecting to multiple devices at once and making changes in batches, saving IT teams critical time and effort.
A remote connection also enables IT teams to improve their organization’s security posture. IT teams can limit application access based on each individual user, restricting access to critical company data. This process is known as access control.
Remote desktop tools enable employees to access their work computers from anywhere, whether they’re at home or traveling. Even if an employee doesn’t have access to a desktop computer, they can still access the host desktop using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
A remote desktop connection can also facilitate data transfer from one computer to another, which is a helpful feature when working with documents or other files.
Examples of Remote Desktop Protocols
The independent computing architecture (ICA) protocol was designed by Citrix and is commonly used on the Microsoft Windows operating system. However, the ICA protocol can be used on any platform.
The virtual network computing (VNC) protocol uses remote frame protocol (RFP) to remotely control other desktops. Because it uses the frame buffer, it works across a variety of platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Remote desktop protocol (RDP) is the most commonly used protocol. RDP was designed by Microsoft but also works on other operating systems. RDP currently only runs on TCP/IP.
Examples of Remote Desktop Software
There are many tools available for enabling remote access; both apps and software offer this functionality. Microsoft Remote Desktop (also known as Windows Remote Desktop) is widely used by Windows devices and comes already built into the operating system.
Chrome Remote Desktop, a remote desktop app, is also a popular choice. Using the Chrome Remote Desktop extension, users can access other desktops via the Chrome browser and an internet connection.
In addition to the above tools, other platforms exist to simplify remote access. Some of the top platforms include TeamViewer, Splashtop, RemotePC, ISL Online, LogMeIn Pro, and AnyDesk.
Read next: Best Remote Desktop Software