If you need to access a computer that is not physically accessible, what would you do? That’s when technology steps in. There are lots of ways to connect to a computer or server remotely, there are softwares and protocols and RDP and VNC are some of those solutions. In this blog post I will compare Remote Desktop Protocol and Virtual Network Computing so you have a better understanding of which solution best suits your remote access needs.
What Is RDP?
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a protocol developed by Microsoft that provides a remote graphical control of another computer or server for clients. RDP is a built-in Windows feature, but it also works with other operating systems like Linux and Mac. We also have a full blog post about what RDP is, so if you can find all the information about remote desktop protocol right there.
What Is VNC?
Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a desktop sharing system that uses a protocol named RFB. It lets people remotely control a computer whilst the main user can watch and interact as well. VNC is pixel-based. Meaning it barely gets involved with the underlying graphic layout, making it flexible but less efficient. VNC is used mostly for technical support, as well as educational purposes. For example, if you work as a technical customer support agent and want to help a client install a software, you can use VNC to connect to their computer. You will have access to their desktop and can teach them step by step as you install the software yourself. VNC is platform-independent. You can use many cross-platform apps, including TightVNC and RealVNC, to share your desktop across different computers.
What Are the Differences between RDP and VNC?
It’s not right to say RDP is better than VNC or the opposite. These solutions have different use cases. Here are some key differences between RDP and VNC:
1. How is VNC Different from RDP – The Way They Work
As I mentioned earlier, VNC is a pixel-based protocol. Meaning, data is transferred across the network in what is essentially called an image exchange. This makes VNC slower than RDP. But it also makes cross-platform sharing easier.
On the other hand, RDP is involved with the underlying graphic layout. This makes RDP much more efficient as the data is more compressed. RDP also logs into the computer, creating a real desktop session. This means you can use RDP to share the resources of the same computer between remote users, through different profiles.
2. Their Use Cases
VNC is used as a screen-sharing platform that also lets the remote computer take control. This is great for remote customer support and educational demonstrations because all users are sharing the same screen and the mentor can ‘show’ the steps to the students, or the customer can show the problem to the support technician.
But RDP is not a screen-sharing platform, rather a resource-sharing platform. A single user is connected from their own device to another device, be it a computer, or a server.
3. Their performance
RDP is a solution to connect to a Windows computer and use it virtually no matter where it is physically. It is fast and easy to work with. That’s why it’s used in connecting to VPS servers for many users to access the same physical server and use it separately.
VNC on the other hand is sharing the same desktop between two or more users, so speed-wise speaking, it can get pretty low and perform with more bugs or latency especially when the number of accounts associated goes higher than two.
4. The Platforms They Work Within
RPD is a Windows original and comes pre-installed on Windows computers. Also on the server-side, it works only on Windows computers. But you can use client-side applications that let you use RDP on platforms such as Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android.
VNC is platform-independent and can be used across platforms. There are VNC applications for different operating systems, and there are no limits in using them to connect to different computers on different platforms with different operating systems.
5. Their Security issues
RDP operates within an encrypted channel, and each update improves the encryption methods. The older versions of RDP are vulnerable to an attack called ‘man-in-the-middle‘ that can result in the attacker gaining unauthorized access to your session. You can use RDP securely through SSL/TLS on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016.
VNC can use an SSH tunnel. But this is not a universal feature in VNC software. It also gives full access to the remote user, which can be an issue if the remote user is not someone you personally know, or if you have confidential information on your computer.
When Should I Use RDP and When Should I Use VNC?
✅ RDP is useful in situations such as:
- Sharing the resources of one computer (e.g. A physical server) with other users.
- Accessing a computer remotely without needing to share the screen.
- When you need Multi-monitor support.
✅ VNC is useful in situations such as:
- Support services in which the technician and user both need access to the computer.
- Educational purposes when the teacher wants to show the steps to a student.
- When the server is on a different platform than Windows.
Also Read: How To Use VNC and VNC Troubleshooting?
RDP vs VNC quick comparison
|Speed||Main Use Case||Can run on different OS||Security channel|
|RDP||Fast||Resource sharing platform||Linux, Windows, macOS, Android||SSL/TLS|
|VNC||Slow||Screen sharing platform||Linux, Windows, macOS||SSH tunnel|
What Are Some RDP and VNC Alternatives?
RDP and VNC are still top-rated solutions for the purposes they serve. But there are other popular and up-to-date solutions that you can try:
One is the world-renowned TeamViewer. As the name indicates, TeamViewer is an all-around solution for team interaction, including computer connection and desktop sharing. It is free and works across all popular platforms.
Another one is NoMachine which is free and uses NX technology for establishing the connection. It is accessible across all popular Platforms.
And finally, AnyDesk, which is another popular and free tool for computer cross-platform remote access.
RDP and VNC are both prominent and great platforms, but they have different use cases. I hope by reading this blog post you acquired the information you need to choose the right remote connection solution. It all comes down to what you need remote access for. If you need to connect to your office computer from your laptop at home, go with RDP. If you need to help your mom log into her email remotely, then definitely go with VNC.
Can I use RDP on my Linux?
Yes. RDP was originally developed for Microsoft Windows. But, as it became so popular over time, it is now available on Linux, Mac, iOS, and even Android.
What is the main difference between RDP and VNC?
There are several differences between RDP and VNC. However, the main difference is that RDP creates virtual desktop sessions while VNC will only show the physical display of what the remote user sees.
What is XRDP?
XRDP is an open-source and free implementation of Remote Desktop Protocol used in operating systems other than MS Windows (like Linux and its distributions). XRDP allows you to establish a Remote Desktop Connection to your Linux server from a Windows machine.
XRDP vs VNC, which one should I use?
Both XRDP and VNC can be really helpful for users. However, VNC holds some advantages over XRDP, such as its ease of use and the consistency of VNC sessions, which makes it in more demand (especially between newbie users).
VNC vs Remote Desktop, which one is better?
In general, Remote Desktop Protocol is known to be more functional and faster than VNC. However, both RDP and VNC can be the best option for different users with different purposes in mind. For more information about the specific usages of RDP and VNC see the “When should I use RDP and when should I use VNC?” section on the above article.
VNC vs Remote Desktop, which one is safer?
Although both of these services provide acceptable security for users, RDP is more powerful and secure against outside attacks than VNC. This is because of the inscrutable encryption of RDP sessions.