How often do you connect to a Windows Terminal Server by RDP in a day? If you are a Windows admin, you probably do this more often than anything else. RoyalTS and visionapp Remote Desktop (vRD) are two useful free tools that allow you two manage your remote desktop connections more professionally than with the Remote Desktop Connection utility that comes with Windows.

With Remote Desktop Connection (RDC), you have to enter the server name and your credentials manually. This method is quite longwinded, especially if you are using different RDP settings depending on the server you want to connect to. Another option is to save an RDP connection file for every server on your desktop. But if you have many servers, your desktop will soon be cluttered with RDP files.

The Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack includes the Remote Desktops utility which lets you organize your RDP connections more effectively. However, RoyalTS and vRD are more sophisticated tools. Like Remote Desktops, you can store your RDP connection in a hierarchical structure with folder or categories. This makes it much easier to find a connection if you have to manage many servers.

vRDAnother advantage is that you can easily switch between desktops if you opened multiple terminal server sessions at the same time. This applies especially to vRD which organizes open connections in tabs and also offers an overview pane with thumbnails of all desktops. The terminal server session can be displayed in a pane or if you prefer to work in full screen mode you can also launch it in an external window.

Like with RDC, you can save your credentials with both tools. Note that it is always a security risk to save passwords even though they are encrypted. But if you are not worried about this, then you probably like vRD's feature to centrally store credentials. You can assign different credentials for each folder. Whenever you create a new RDP connection, it will inherit automatically the credentials from the parent folder.

RoayalTSRoyalTS doesn't offer this functionality, but it has another feature which is at least as useful: the Smart Size Mode. It can scale the remote desktop content dynamically whenever you resize the window. So you won't see scroll bars if the remote desktop doesn't fit in the window. This feature is quite useful if you have multiple remote desktops open at the same time. RoyalTS needs .NET 1.1. It doesn't seem to work with .NET 2.0 or 3.0. But it is no problem to install different .NET versions on the same machine.

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I tried RoyalTS 1.3.2 and visionapp remote desktop v1.5 also under Windows Vista and didn't encounter problems with both tools.