Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), developed originally by Microsoft, is a network protocol that allows people to remotely access a computer using a convenient and easy user interface, as well as input devices such as keyboards and mice. Modern Windows come with their own remote desktop client, which allows you to connect to a remote computer using this protocol. However, for people who constantly need to control multiple machines at the same time, you will need a program that manages multiple connections to make your life easier. Here are some free and useful apps.
Remote Desktop Manager
This is a multifunctional remote connection manager that manages not only several connections to the remote desktop, but also many other protocols such as VNC, Citrix, HTTP, FTP, LogMeIn, TeamViewer, Putty, etc. You can save credentials locally in an AES encryption protected database, or in external applications such as LastPass, KeePass, or in the online 'Devolutions' database.
What is good about this tool is that it also supports and integrates well with many popular services. Feature include:
- Intel AMT support – to allow remote console asset access even when the computers are off.
- Hyper-V dashboard – to manager hyper-v powered VMs.
- Windows PowerShell support
- Advanced Data Source support, including Amazon S3, Dropbox, FTP, SQL Server, etc..
- Integrated password manager
- Microsoft Azure Console
- Many VPN connections
- and more
If you are looking for a tool that not only manages remote desktop connections, but also does many other things, this Remote Desktop Manager might be your answer. The standard version is FREE, and it can be good enough for most of your IT tasks.
Terminals is another tab-based multifunctional remote desktop client manager that uses the active Terminal Services client (mstscax.dll). In addition to RDP connections, terminals can also control most other popular connections, such as VNC, Console, SSH, VRRC, Citrix, RAS, HTTP, etc. As a bonus, it also handles various network operations such as Ping, Route tracing, WMI Explorer, TCP connections, DNS lookup, time synchronization, etc.
Terminals is an open source project that has been quite actively supported and developed over several years. It has a stable version and can work in Windows 7+. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are supported.
Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Microsoft itself also offers a manager tool called Remote Desktop Connection Manager that helps you manage multiple remote desktop connections. It is similar to the built-in snap-in of MMC Remote Desktop for Windows Server, but more flexible.
It has been running on Windows 7 and the server version since 2003 and above. For Windows XP, you will need the latest version of the RDP client to use it.
It also comes with the following important options:
- Virtual machine connect-to-console support
- Smart groups
- Support for credential encryption with certificates
- Windows remote action support
MultiDesk is another easy-to-use tab-based remote desktop manager that manages only a few RDP connections. All connections can be managed through the server / group folder structure. It is free and portable. All configurations and connections are saved in the target folder in the XML file. Since it is portable, you can easily carry it with you to access it with all the same information.
RD Tabs is another tab-based Remote Desktop Manager that not only places remote desktop sessions on a tab, but also provides additional features such as favorites with advanced editing, command line scripting, connection thumbnails, encrypted passwords, windows individual connections, capturing the remote desktop screen. Remote terminal server information / management, RDP 6.0 support, etc.
mRemoteNG is a fork of mRemote, an open source remote connection manager, with multiple tabs, with multiple protocols. It supports not only the RDP protocols, but also some other popular ones, including VNC, ICA, SSH, Telnet, etc. This is a simple program for using and managing all connections to the remote desktop from one place.
What's your take on these apps? Do use some other app which was not mentioned in this post?