When you have so many servers to manage, opening every single one of them in Remote Desktop Clients becomes a thing next to mess. You will need a tool that will centralize these connections into one place. Preferably, you might want that tool that can also do many additional things for you. Remote Desktop Manager seems to fit into that role perfectly. What’s better, its Free Edition which just got promoted recently from the Standard edition offers many essential and useful features that cover your day-to-day work without costing you a penny.
Download and Installation
Head over to the download page and click the download button under Free Edition section to start downloading the program. Installation is also very straightforward. Just follow the installation wizard and you will have the program installed within a minute.
The first thing pops up when you launch the tool is to ask you to register a free account from Devolutions Online Database, which is a cloud-based repository that stores and shares all your remote connection settings, VM connections and any other sensitive data such as saved passwords. It’s kind cool because once you have all your connections stored online you don’t need to do export/import to use Remote Desktop Manager on different computers.
Of course, if you have concerns storing your data online you can always skip this step to have the data store saved locally on your computer.
The new release of Remote Desktop Manager has a new user interface that is fully in the same league as Office 2013. If you have used Office 2013, you will have no program poking around in the program. Ribbons, File Menu, etc., they all look just the same. You will see more screenshots as you read on.
Export / Import
I was a Terminals user, so the first thing I tried when I have Remote Desktop Manager installed is its Import feature to see if the program can pull all my connections over. It certainly does, not only all the connections and their properties but also the user info including the passwords. All my connections were brought in perfectly, and I can use them right away without changing one bit.
As you can see from the screenshot above, you can import data from many other programs, LogMeIn, Office, RDP, TeamViewer, etc..
When you do export, you have the choice to export all your data into Remote Desktop Manager format (.rdm) or the industry standard XML format.
Supports a lot of types of remote connections
When you start adding a new entry for remote connection sessions, you may be surprised how many types of remote connections Remote Desktop Manager supports. From remote desktop sessions to Virtualization management, from Cloud Explorer to local network folders, it pretty much covers everything that is remote control related.
To create a brand new connection, you can either go to Edit ribbon or right-click in Sessions area and choose New Entry.
For Remote Connections alone, there are 20 types of connections out of the box for you to choose from, such as:
- Microsoft Remote Desktop
- Microsoft Remote Assistance
- Putty (SSH, Telnet, rLogin…)
- HP RGS
- Citrix (ICA / HDX)
- etc. etc.
There are a lot more in Pro Edition if you don’t find one that supports your particular needs.
Remote Desktop Connection Settings
Basically, what you see in Remote Desktop Client are available in Remote Desktop Manager. And more, you can connect to the console in Admin mode on remote server, instead of connecting as sessions, RDP in via different TCP Port if remote server is not using the default one, or have the choice of how you want to save your login credentials, either on your local computer or in the program database.
I am also finding the Screen Sizing Mode very help. When it’s set to use Fit RDP window (smart sizing), it will automatically resize the RDP session desktop size accordingly depending on the actual size you set on Remote Desktop Manager.
Dashboard and built-in Scripts and Tools
Each entry in Remote Desktop Manager has its own dashboard which consists of many built-in actions and scripts/tools. You can open sessions in multiple ways, in full-screen mode, in an external window, as an embedded tab, or bypass console/admin mode, etc.
What seems to benefit people like me is that you can also do some of the essential management tasks without opening the remote session right through the dashboard, such as opening Computer Management console, running Inventory report, generating an SNMP report, or opening Event Viewer, Services. You can even wake the remote server on Lan, Ping, or do a port scan to find which parts are open.
VPN connection management
Remote Desktop Management natively supports multiple VPN types, such as:
- Cisco VPN
- SonicWall VPN
- TheGreenBow IPSec VPN Client
- Microsoft VPN
It also provides a free add-on that extends the VPN support scoop to OpenVPN, Shrewsoft VPN, and many other VPN compatible with IPSec.
One thing I should point out here is the difference between built-in and natively support. With native support, you will still need a client installed locally on your computer before you use it. For example, if I need to make a Cisco VPN connection, I still need Cisco VPN Client installed on my computer before I use Remote Desktop Manager to make the connection. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s useless. Contrarily, it’s quite helpful because the native support of Cisco VPN can be automatically opened before establishing a remote connection, and the configuration can be re-used between different sessions.
Loads of Add-ons ready to use
Remote Desktop Manager has a very nicely designed add-on mechanism that extends your remote management capabilities even further. There are loads of add-ons available to be installed and ready to serve for you. Open up Add-On Manager from Tools ribbon, and start exploring what’s on the table.
Did you just notice the Avaya VPN Add-on, the one from an ancient Nortel system?
The add-ons are classified in Add-on Manager by category (Session, VPN, Import, Session Tool, etc.), and can be sorted according to their current status. Add-ons that need be updated will be displayed with a unique and clearly visible icon.
Other built-in tools
The free edition doesn’t come with many built-in tools. The Password Generator might be the only one that’s useful, so you don’t have to rely on some online services to do that job for you. You can choose one of 5 available modes to start generating your password. Generated password can then be copied to the clipboard for further use.
Free vs. Paid Enterprise Edition
When it comes to picking up which version of Remote Desktop Manager to go, the software vendor has streamlined their product line to make things a lot easier for you. There are only two choices to choose from, free or paid. If you look at the comparison chart, you will find the Free version already has many areas covered. You basically can’t go wrong by starting with a free version and then upgrade to the paid Enterprise edition later on when needed.
Remote Desktop Manager is a full-blown remote management solution package that supports not only Microsoft Remote Desktop but also many other remote protocols and providers. Even when my primary focus here is only on its free edition and remote desktop features, I am finding it’s hard to cover them all in a post like this. It offers just so many features and supports such a broad variety of remote types.
And from what I can tell, based on a full-time IT professional who deals with remote management almost on daily basis, it’s an excellent and must-have tool you don’t want to miss out. It’s a 5-star program I highly recommended.
If you are an IT pro, you will need this, and you will find this will help you a lot to make your remote management life a lot easier and nicer.