Some days ago, I blogged about RoyalTS and visionapp Remote Desktop, two free RDP management tools. Some readers linked to four other tools which I didn't know before. Thanks a lot! All these RDP clients are quite similar, although each of them has its special features that might turn out to be useful in a certain environment. In this post I am comparing six Remote Desktop clients in a feature table: RD Tabs 2.0.8, mRemote 0.0.8.0, RoayalTS 1.3.2, vissionapp Remote Desktop v1.5 (vRD), Terminals 1.6, and Remote Desktop Manager 3.0.0.1 (RD Manager).

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

There is another tool that was recommended today by a reader in my original post. iShadow makes quite a professional impression to me, but it is not free. Unfortunately, the tip came a bit too late for this test. Thanks anyway! Maybe I review it some other time.

Okay, let me explain the features I evaluated first:

RDP file import: This feature allows you to load settings you have stored in RDP files. It can be quite useful if you already have many RDP files.

Navigation pane: Most of the RDP tools have a navigation pane on the left side where they list all your RDP connections in a hierarchical structure. The more RDP connections you have, the more useful is this feature.

Tabs: If you have opened multiple RDP connections, you can switch fast between servers by just clicking on the corresponding tab.

Task tray: This allows you to establish an RDP connection to a server by right clicking on the applications symbol in the task tray.

External Window: Some of the tools display the RDP connection only within their user interface. However, sometimes, it can be useful to connect to a TS server in an external window, for example when you are working with multiple monitors.

Window resizing: Only RoyalTS and Terminals have this feature. It means that the desktop scales dynamically whenever you resize its window. So you won't see scroll bars when you reduce the size of the RDP window, for example.

Centrally store credentials: This feature enables you to store the credentials for multiple RDP connections at a central location.

Credentials for groups: Some of the RDP tools allow you to assign credentials to groups of RDP definitions.

AD Scan: Two tools allow you to scan Active Directory to find your servers. I didn't try this feature yet.

Custom RDP port: Usually RDP uses TCP port 3389. In some environments, it is necessary to change this, i.e. for security reasons.

Win2K8 features: Windows Server 2008 comes with a couple of new RDP features such as TS Gateway or Network Level Authentication. RD Tabs supports some of them.

ICA: If you have Citrix Metaframe servers to manage, you can use your RDP tool to connect to them.

VNC : VNC is a protocol that is popular in the Linux world. If you have to manage Linux servers, you will like this feature. Some use it for Windows server, too.

VMRC: This protocol is used to connect to a Virtual Server VM.

SSH: The same applies to SSH. If you manage your Linux servers without needing a graphical user interface, then you probably use SSH.

Telnet: I wonder if there are still admins using Telnet. But who knows, maybe security is not an issue in your organization. 😉

And here is the comparison table:

Features/ToolsRD TabsmRemoteRoyalTS
Navigation pane

-

+

+

Tabs

+

+

-

Task tray

-

+

-

Thumbnails

+

-

-

External window

-

-

+

Window resizing

-

-

+

Centrally store credentials

+

+

-

Credentials for groups

-

+

-

AD Scan

-

+

Royal Phone Book

Custom RDP Port

+

+

+

RDP file import

+

-

-

Win2K8 features

+

-

-

ICA

-

-

-

VNC

-

+

-

VMRC

-

-

-

SSH

-

+

-

Telnet

-

+

-

Features/ToolsvRDTerminalsRD Manager
Navigation pane

+

+

+

Tabs

+

+

-

Task tray

-

+

+

Thumbnails

+

-

-

External window

+

-

+

Window resizing

-

+

-

Centrally store credentials

+

-

-

Credentials for groups

+

-

-

AD Scan

-

-

-

Custom RDP Port

+

+

+ (see comment)

RDP file import

-

+

+

Win2K8 features

-

-

-

ICA

-

+

-

VNC

-

+

+

VMRC

-

+

-

SSH

-

+

-

Telnet

-

+

-

I included all the features that seemed important to me. It is possible that I missed your favorite feature, though. Let me know!

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37 Comments
  1. Leonardo 12 years ago

    hmm, cleared comment box if no user/pw entered...
    Not very nice...

    Condensed comment:
    Nice.
    Would like:
    1 - Auto-dial connectoid prior to RDP/etc connection attempt.
    2 - Single-application startup, a-la "Programs" in RDP client.

    word.

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  2. Michael Pietroforte 12 years ago

    Leonardo, sorry for the inconvenience, but that’s a WordPress “feature”. Thanks for the new ideas. I might include them in my next feature table.

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  3. Rainer 11 years ago

    In two week visionapp Remote Desktop 2008
    will come - a great new version of our Tool. You can register for the testversion.
    http://www.visionapp.com/1276.0.html?#c7992

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  4. Parrotlover77 11 years ago

    RD Tabs 2.1 was released today, adding QUITE a few of the features missing in the above chart. Check it out. http://www.avianwaves.com/tech/tools/rdtabs/

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  5. [...] mRemote is one of my best Cool Tools finds in quite a while.  I first heard about it from this 4sysops post comparing free RDP clients. For a long time, I thought all I needed was the built-in Windows Remote Desktop Client. I was very [...]

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  6. [...] see : Comparison of several RDP clients for Windows Share and [...]

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  7. tim k 9 years ago

    Hey, didn't see anything about "external applications" in here, aka scripts and exe's you can launch from within the GUI of the app.

    Example:
    in mRemote, I added an external application with exe name of "compmgmt.msc" and arguments of "compmgmt.msc /computer=\\%Hostname%"

    Then, I can right click on any machine in the GUI and click my external app I just created, and in this case, it will open a computer management MMC window with the machine already configured for managing inside.

    You can reference any executable that has command line options (scripts for rebooting, installing software, modifying registry keys etc...)

    Hyena has this type of functionality built in as well, however mRemote is free.

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  8. Jim 9 years ago

    Royal TS has an extremely powerful task feature, very similar to mRemotes "external applications". Also check out the toolbox forums at http://www.code4ward.net where users share smart scripts to integrate with Royal TS' tasks.

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  9. Lomax 8 years ago

    Audio Support?

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  10. Jeff Cornfeld 7 years ago

    Why did you not review Thinomenon RDC? IMHO, that one is the best option by far, including Windows/Mac/Linux support, seamless windows, printer and much more.

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  11. Max 6 years ago

    Many of the links are dead now, unfortunately. Thinomenon RDC has free binaries for Ubuntu, but unfortunately no sources - meaning we can't recompile it for ARM (Raspberry Pi).

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