Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), developed originally by Microsoft, is a network protocol that provides a way for people to access a computer remotely with a nice lightweight user interface along with input devices like keyboard and mouse. Both Windows 7 and 8 come with a native Remote Desktop Client that lets you connect to the remote machine through this protocol. However, for people who constantly need to manage multiple machines at once, you will need a program that manages multiple connections for you to make your life easier. And here are 3 of them that are free and great for you to consider.
Remote Desktop Manager
It’s a feature rich remote connections manager that manages not only multiple remote desktop connections but many other protocols as well, such as VNC, Citrix, HTTP, FTP, LogMeIn, TeamViewer, Putty, etc.. You can save credentials locally in the database, which is protected by the AES encryption, or in an external applications like LastPass or KeePass.
What’s good about this tool is that it also supports and integrates pretty with many popular services as well. Such as:
- 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
If you are looking for one that is not only managing remote desktop connections. This Remote Desktop Manager could be your answer. The Standard edition is FREE. Take look this comparison sheet, it could just be good enough for most of your IT tasks.
Terminals is another feature rich, tab-based remote desktop clients manager that uses Terminal Services Active Client (mstscax.dll). Other than RDP connections, Terminals can also manage most of other popular connections as well, such as VNC, Console, SSH, VRRC, Citrix, RAS, HTTP, etc.. As a bonus, it also handles a variety of networking operations like Ping, Trace Route, WMI Explorer, TCP Connections, DNS Lookup, Time Sync, etc..
Terminals is an open source project that has been quite actively maintained and developed for a number of years. It’s on stable version 2 and can be running on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Both 32-bit and 64-bit editions are supported.
Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Microsoft itself also offers a manager tool called Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan) that helps you manage multiple remote desktop connections. It’s similar to Windows Servers’ built-in MMC Remote Desktop Snap-in, but more flexible.
It works on Windows 7, and server version from 2003 and up. For Windows XP, you will need a latest version of RDP client in order to use it.
MultiDesk is another simple tab-based remote desktop manager that only manages multiple RDP connections for you. All connections can be managed through a server/group folder structure. It’s free and portable. all configurations and connections are saved in the save folder in an XML file. Since it’s portable, you can easily carry it with you so you can access it with all the same information.
We actually has reviewed this tool before. Check it out if you want to know more.
That actually made the no. 4 tools I covered here, instead of 3 I intended but I guess you wouldn’t mind knowing one more option.
RD Tabs new
RD Tabs is another tab-based remote desktop manager that not only put Remote Desktop sessions to the tab but also provides extra features such as favorites with advanced editing, command line scripting, connection thumbnails, encrypted passwords, detached connection windows, remote desktop screen capture, remote terminal server information/management, RDP 6.0 support, etc. As one of our lovely commenters, Samuel Davis, states, it’s simple as hell.
I personally have been using Terminals for years and absolutely like it. It’s rock solid and has everything I wanted. However, the Remote Desktop Manager looks so promising and so powerful. It can be your powerful weapon to cover all your needs within one consolidated environment.
That doesn’t mean you should overlook the other tools we mentioned in this post. Both Microsoft RDCMan and MultiDesk are simple and just work. If you are the guy who don’t always fall in love with an all-in-one kind of tool. These two are probably your answer. Besides, if managing Windows Servers via RDP is all you needed, why you need a tool with a bunch of features you will never use?