Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer
Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer
In this article, we are going to compare Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer, which are two of the most used remote desktop programs in the world.
First released in 2005 by the German company TeamViewer GmbH, TeamViewer is considered a veteran among the remote desktop tools. But Microsoft Remote Desktop Service was introduced even before that as Terminal Server in Windows NT Server 4.0 Terminal Server Edition which was released in 1998. Both products have been getting improved with every new version, ever since, so comparing Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer could give you insight on two of the most well-known and well-tried remote desktop software packages, out there.
Available platforms in Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a built-in utility in Windows and its client software Remote Desktop Connection is installed by default on all versions of the operating system, since Windows XP. However, the Remote Desktop client does not connect to Starter and Home versions of Windows. In other words, only the Professional/Enterprise/Ultimate versions can act as a Remote Desktop host, although, you can use Remote Desktop Connection as the client in all editions of the recent Windows versions (Home, Professional, Enterprise, etc). Remote Desktop Connection has also official versions for macOS, FreeBSD, and Linux. Moreover, Remote Desktop clients for Windows Phone, Android and iPhone are available for free at Microsoft Store, Google Play, and the Mac App Store).
On the other hand, TeamViewer is only free for personal use and you need to purchase a license for business use. TeamViewer is available for many desktop and mobile platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, ChromeOS, Raspberry Pi, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry.
Security in Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer
TeamViewer secures its traffic by using RSA public/private key exchange and AES (256 bit) session encryption. The private key only stays on the client computer and never leaves it, therefore, none of the connecting computers in between can decrypt the data stream; even the TeamViewer routing servers are no exception.
TeamViewer has a whitelist feature that enables you to simply create a list of TeamViewer IDs and/or accounts that are permitted to access a computer. Similarly, you can use the blacklist function, to block certain TeamViewer IDs and/or accounts from ever connecting to your system.
Also, in order to make brute-force attacks less likely to succeed, TeamViewer increases the latency between connection attempts, exponentially. For instance, one needs 17 hours for 24 attempts. It only reset the latency after a successful login.
Nonetheless, online scammers and hackers have found ways to exploit TeamViewer, like many other popular apps. For example, in 2016, many TeamViewer users reported unauthorized access to their systems, and consequently, raided PayPal, eBay, and Amazon accounts due to stolen credentials stored in their computers. But TeamViewer denied being hacked and blamed “careless use” by some users as the cause of the reported problem, stressing that “a few extra steps will prevent potential abuse.” Weeks later, TeamViewer admitted to having experienced a service outage caused by a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, but still did not accept any relevance between said DoS attack and the issues reported by the complaining cyberattack victims.
Remote Desktop Connection has a history of having security vulnerabilities, too. For example, BlueKeep which was a
wormable remote code execution vulnerability, was discovered in Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) in 2019. Remote Desktop Protocol is a proprietary protocol used by Remote Desktop Connection which enables users to access computers, remotely.
But the risk that Remote Desktop Connection exposes your computer to, is far beyond the BlueKeep. So much so that in 2018, the FBI warned about the growing misuse of “vulnerable RDP sessions” by the Internet fraudsters.
So, generally, it sounds like using remote desktop tools over the Internet is not very safe. However, there are simple tips that enable you to use remote desktop tools such as Remote Desktop Connection and TeamViewer and still protect your system against the cyberattacks. For example, using a firewall, especially when you need to use remote desktop tools over the Internet, is always a necessary step. It is also very vital to disable the RDP Port at idle times. As another helpful measure, you can use two-step verification in Remote Desktop Connection. As for TeamViewer, it supports two-factor authentication that can improve your security.
Screen blanking and remote support in Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer
Screen blanking is a feature that prevents the host system from showing what is currently being displayed on its own screen while a remote computer is connected to it.
This is actually the default (and only) mode in Remote Desktop Connection. When a remote computer connects to your system through Remote Desktop Connection, you cannot see or control your own screen. As soon as the remote user logins into your computer, your screen switches to a login screen for you, while the actual screen and what is happening on it can only be seen and controlled by the remote user, as if he/she is sitting at it.
In contrast, TeamViewer, by default, allows the local user to see everything that the remote user is doing, on their screen. Screen blanking may be required for some users for security reasons. So TeamViewer offers it as an option too, but currently, it is only available when connecting to Windows systems.
Then again, TeamViewer seems like a better idea for remote support as it lets both sides see everything that is happening on the screen. For example, when you need to teach a friend or coworker how to use an app on their computer, or when a technical support person wants to solve a problem on a customer’s system, being able to see the screen by both sides helps a lot. It is worth mentioning that Windows has another client component called Windows Remote Assistance which can be used for remote support, as it allows the local user to see what the remote user is doing on his/her system, just like TeamViewer. Remote Desktop Connection and Remote Assistant are both parts of Microsoft Remote Desktop Service and use RDP.
Features and properties of Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer
Let’s compare some of the options and supported features in Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer.
- TeamViewer and Remote Desktop Connection both can share files.
- TeamViewer only supports audio sharing in Windows, but Remote Desktop Connection supports it in all platforms.
- Video is supported in both TeamViewer and Remote Desktop Connection.
- Remote Desktop Connection supports 3D, TeamViewer does not.
- When comparing Remote Desktop Connection vs TeamViewer in the maximum number of simultaneous connections, the Microsoft’s product definitely has the upper hand. Remote Desktop Connection allows you to have unlimited simultaneous sessions. But in TeamViewer, maximum number of simultaneous connections you can have depends on your license and only goes up to 15 for the highest license tier.
- Unlike TeamViewer, Remote Desktop Connection does not have a chat feature.
- TeamViewer has a whiteboard tool that allows you to draw and write on the presented screen, so everyone can see it. It lets people on both sides of the remote connection collaborate on joint projects while working in different physical places. Remote Desktop Connection does not have this feature.
- IPv6 is supported in both tools.
- TeamViewer has a feature to allow you to record the sessions (including audio and video). You can either manually turn on recording whenever you decide to record a session or set TeamViewer to automatically record all sessions. It also gives you the option of converting your recorded session into an AVI file with a simple click. Remote Desktop Connection does not have this feature.
- Unlike Remote Desktop Connection, TeamViewer supports NAT passthrough. So TeamViewer can connect to the server behind a NAT without you having to configure the router's port forwarding rules.
- With Remote Desktop Connection, connecting to a system that's asleep or hibernating is not possible, but TeamViewer’s Wake-on-LAN feature lets you turn on a computer that is in sleep mode or even turned off.
Comparing to Remote Desktop Connection, TeamViewer seems to have some additional options that can enrich your remote connection experience, especially if you use it for remote meetings or remote assistance. But you can only have full access to all TeamViewer’s features if you purchase a license. So, Remote Desktop Connection can be a more economical choice for you, especially if you are a Windows user.
As for the security issues, as discussed earlier, both of these remote desktop apps have been misused by cyberattackers, and obviously, exposing your computer directly to the Internet with any of them could put your system at risk. However, by using a powerful firewall in between and adhering to security measures, you can make your remote connection way more secure.