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Analysis of Windows Remote Desktop

By Heshy Friedman

windows remote desktop (RDP)Since the downfall of LogMeIn, I have been using Windows Remote Desktop (RDP) to login remotely to my office computer. It’s already been several months now, and I have gotten very comfortable using RDP. Overall I am very happy with it, and I wanted to share both its strong points and its deficiencies. I am going to judge it against LogMeIn which was the system I was using prior to RDP.

Here are some of the strong points of RDP: It’s free, and built natively into Windows (Professional Edition only). The login procedure is very quick, and it can store a session for one click access. It also generally works fast and smooth, and I no longer have the annoying copy-paste issues that I used to experience with LogMeIn. The clipboard works great between both screens, and it even allows for synchronous image data and “print screen” commands.

Three additional benefits I have now that were lacking in LogMeIn free are remote file transfer, remote sound, and remote printing. These are automatically configured and work great. Additionally, there is a free Android App for RDP, so now I can access my computer from my Smartphone and Android tablet. While LogMeIn also provided an app, they charged about $30 for this.

I also like the way RDP sets my remote dual screen into a single screen, and puts its back nicely when done. LogMeIn often jumbled up my desktop icons after logging out.

With all these goodies I just mentioned, there are still several weak points. One of LogMeIn’s greatest strengths was the simplicity of the installation. Anybody could set it up in a fairly simple process, and it easily bypassed most firewall issues. RDP is a little more complicated to set up, and you really need someone with a networking background to configure it properly. RDP also doesn’t have a reduced graphic version on slower connections, and this creates problems at times when connecting through a phone hotspot on a slow connection. LogMeIn provided a way to scale down the compression and even included a black and white version, and did this automatically based on connection speed. Granted RDP has a way to set depth of colors, even at the lowest depth the compression factor isn’t as beneficial for low connections as it was on LogMeIn. LogMeIn also had a neat feature that would allow me to set the resolution and screen size easily of the remote screen, which is more limited in RDP where you only can see things in full size.

Perhaps the biggest drawback I found with RDP is the locking of the remote screen during an RDP session. There isn’t any way to have the remote screen view active. This is particularly annoying for me when my designer is working remotely and I am in the office, and I am unable to see her screen and what she is working on. While I was using LogMeIn I used to do this all the time and we would be able to share screens while she was working remotely.

The bottom line is that I am much happier with RDP then I was with LogMeIn. I just had to come to terms with the deficiencies and work around them. One additional item that I would like to see in a future version is the ability for dual screen support for both screens to be active and usable on the remote and local computer. None of the systems I have used ever provided this option, though I would love to see it developed one day.


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