What Is RDP (Remote Desktop Access) & How Does It Work?

Explore Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and its applications. Learn how rdp works and discover its benefits, drawbacks, & more.
Published on: Nov 01, 2023
Last updated: Dec 12, 2023


  • RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) is a Microsoft-developed proprietary protocol that enables remote access to computers or devices over a network.
  • It works by presenting a graphical user interface, allowing one computer to connect to another through a network connection.
  • RDP has gained popularity for various purposes, including remote employee access, IT helpdesk support, and more.
  • RDP provides remote access by capturing keyboard inputs, mouse movements, and screen updates for transmission between connected machines.
  • It involves secure data transmission, encryption, and authentication to ensure the connection's safety and privacy.
  • RDP has multiple use cases, such as remote IT support, telecommuting, server and data management, training, collaboration, gaming, and entertainment.
  • The benefits of RDP include enhanced accessibility, increased productivity, cost savings, and scalability for businesses.
  • Drawbacks of RDP include network dependency, performance concerns, security risks (like MitM attacks), licensing costs, and limited cross-platform compatibility.
  • An alternative to traditional RDP solutions is cobrowsing, offering enhanced security and user convenience.
  • Fullview's cobrowsing solution provides a zero-download remote access method that limits access to specific applications or websites, ensuring high security and GDPR compliance.

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Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), also known as Remote Desktop Access, is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft that allows users to connect and remotely access another computer or device over a network.

In this article, we will discuss the functionality of RDP, its use cases, advantages, and disadvantages, and offer insights into alternative solutions to remote access, like cobrowsing.

What is remote desktop protocol (RDP) and remote desktop access?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a technology that presents a graphical user interface, allowing one computer to connect with another through a network connection. Remote desktop access, on the other hand, is a kind of software that uses RDP to allow someone to access a computer remotely over the internet. It’s used for a number of different purposes: allowing remote employees to access their work computer, making it possible for internal IT helpdesk to troubleshoot, enabling companies to provide better remote support, and others. Remote desktop access has exploded in popularity over the last few years.

How does RDP or remote desktop access work?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) works by providing remote access through a dedicated network channel. An RDP-enabled application or service packages the data to be transmitted, facilitating communication between the local and remote computers. This data includes keyboard inputs, mouse movements, and screen updates, which are captured by the remote desktop software and sent back to the host machine.

The technical aspects of RDP involve secure data transmission, encryption, and authentication. The Remote Desktop Protocol Port opens a secure network channel where data can be sent back and forth between connected machines. This ensures that the connection is safe and private, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. However, the specifics of these processes are complex and require a deeper understanding of computer networks and protocols.

Remote desktop use cases

Let's explore some of the practical applications of this technology. Recognizing its diverse use cases will provide a more rounded perspective on its importance and potential drawbacks, paving the way for a better appreciation of alternative solutions such as cobrowsing.

Remote IT support

RDP is vital for remote IT support, allowing technicians to access and control devices remotely. This facilitates troubleshooting, software implementation, and resolution of technical issues without being physically present. For example, if a user encounters a software glitch, a technical support specialist at that company can use RDP to take control of the user's system, diagnose the issue, and implement a solution, all in real-time. By doing this, RDP streamlines remote IT support, making it efficient and user-friendly, while cutting down on user frustration and the time it takes to solve customer support tickets.

Remote work and telecommuting

RDP has become a crucial tool in supporting remote workers, enabling employees to access their work computers and resources from any location. This technology allows for seamless connectivity, facilitating flexible work schedules and enhancing productivity. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated this trend, as companies had to quickly adapt to remote work paradigms, making RDP solutions more relevant than ever in maintaining business continuity and efficiency.

Server and data management

RDP allows system administrators to access, control, and troubleshoot servers from any location. This capability is crucial for maintaining uptime, implementing updates, and resolving technical issues promptly. In data centers, RDP facilitates efficient resource allocation and system monitoring, making it an indispensable tool in modern IT infrastructure management.

Training and education

RDP is instrumental in online training and educational contexts. Instructors can remotely access and control students' computers to guide learning, demonstrate applications, or troubleshoot technical issues. This interactive approach enhances the learning experience, making lessons more engaging and practical. For example, a programming instructor can use RDP to directly illustrate coding techniques on a student's system, fostering a hands-on understanding of the material.

Collaboration and remote meetings

RDP allows participants to access shared resources or applications from their individual locations, fostering seamless teamwork. Whether co-editing documents, browsing web content together, or troubleshooting issues, RDP can enhance productivity and efficiency in remote work environments.

Gaming and entertainment

RDP enhances gaming and entertainment by enabling remote access to games and media libraries. Gamers can stream games from their powerful home computers to other devices, enjoying high-end gaming experiences on the go. Additionally, RDP allows users to access their personal media libraries from anywhere, ensuring entertainment is always at their fingertips.

Benefits of remote desktops

Now that we've mentioned the various ways RDP can be used, we'll cover the key advantages of this remote access technology.

Enhanced accessibility

RDP allows users to access their computer systems remotely, providing flexibility and convenience. This is particularly useful in remote customer service work scenarios or situations where physical access is not feasible. Whether on the go, at home, or in another office location, RDP ensures that a user's essential files and applications are always within reach.

Increased productivity

RDP allows employees to access their office systems from anywhere, ensuring continuity of work. RDP also enables faster troubleshooting by internal IT teams, as they can directly access problematic systems. Moreover, it streamlines collaboration by letting team members access shared resources or applications remotely.

Cost savings

Using an RDP solution can result in significant cost savings for businesses. By enabling remote work, RDP reduces office space requirements, hardware costs, and maintenance expenses. It also saves on travel costs since employees do not need to be physically present for training or troubleshooting. Research shows that businesses can save $11,000 per employee by allowing remote work, making RDP a valuable tool for cost-conscious businesses.


RDP solutions offer exceptional scalability, effortlessly accommodating business growth and evolving user needs. They enable additional users to be added swiftly, without significant hardware investments,  making it easy to scale as your business grows. Furthermore, RDP's flexibility to adapt to changing demands contributes to its scalability, making it a dynamic solution for businesses.

Drawbacks of remote desktop

As with any technology, RDP has its drawbacks that users should be aware of before implementing it. These disadvantages include:

Network dependency

RDP's functionality is heavily reliant on stable network connectivity. Abrupt network interruptions can disrupt remote access, causing significant issues in critical scenarios such as remote server management, telecommuting, or IT support. In areas with unstable internet connectivity, RDP's utility can be severely compromised, hampering productivity and efficiency.

Performance concerns

Performance issues, such as lag or latency, are prevalent with RDP, especially over low-bandwidth connections. These delays can lead to frustrating user experiences, impacting productivity and efficiency. For real-time applications or high-resolution work, these performance drawbacks can considerably diminish the effectiveness of RDP.

Security risks

RDP can expose users to considerable security risks, especially if not properly managed and configured. An improperly secured RDP can serve as an entry point for malicious actors, allowing them to compromise sensitive data, manipulate systems, or deploy malware. ****

For example, a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack is a significant threat associated with RDP. In this type of attack, a malicious actor intercepts the communication between two parties, gaining the ability to eavesdrop, manipulate data, or impersonate parties to gain unauthorized access. In the context of RDP, an attacker could potentially intercept the remote connection, gaining access to sensitive data or control over the remote system.

In order to avoid remote access scams, it is essential to ensure proper security measures are in place when using RDP, such as strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and regular software updates. learn more about remote access scams and how to avoid them here.

Licensing costs

While RDP itself is included in many Windows operating systems, advanced features often require expenditure on licensing. These costs can quickly escalate, particularly for larger organizations. Businesses should carefully consider these potential expenses when budgeting for an RDP solution, as they can significantly impact overall costs.

Limited cross-platform compatibility

Limited cross-platform compatibility can pose challenges in remote access due to differences in operating systems or device types. Such disparities can cause functionality issues or hinder user experience. Solutions like cobrowsing, which doesn't depend on the user's platform, or using platform-agnostic software, can offer seamless cross-platform remote access, mitigating these challenges.

An alternative to remote desktop access: cobrowsing

Fullview provides a safer alternative to traditional Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) solutions, focusing on enhanced security and user convenience. Fullview Cobrowsing is a zero-download remote access solution that doesn’t require extensive setup pr link sharing. And unlike conventional remote access tools that expose sensitive data because they have access to entire systems, Fullview's cobrowsing limits access to a specific application or website, making it highly secure. It is also GDPR compliant, with options to store data either in the EU or US, as per customer requirements. Fullview is easy to integrate into web apps through a simple code installation, requiring no downloads for end users.

Fullview’s customizable privacy controls ensure that support agents only access necessary information, automatically censoring GDPR-sensitive data during cobrowsing sessions and empowering businesses to make decisions about what data they want to capture and what data they want don’t want. Fullview offers cross-device and cross-browser compatibility, making it a superior choice over traditional RDP solutions.

Sources Used:

Sources Last Checked: October 27th, 2023


Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager


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