Struggling with RDP?
Microsoft® Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is an open source, proprietary network communications protocol used for communication between client machines, servers, and virtual machines (VMs). RDP was introduced in 1998; the server software with Terminal Server (now Remote Desktop Services, aka RDS) in Windows® NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition and the RDP client in Windows NT. RDP properties are configured using RDS.
This post will focus on RDP-powered connections for remote desktops, where users are using a machine running RDP client software to connect to a server running RDP server software and the RDS service to access and work with applications or desktops.
RDP-related issues range from subpar performance for end users to security risks for the organization.
Common RDP Issues
RDS-powered connections using RDP can consume significant network bandwidth, especially with highly graphical applications or when transmitting multimedia content. Long-distance and low-bandwidth connections also cause issues when using RDP as can running high-bandwidth apps (for instance Netflix) on the same network as the RDP client. These factors can result in user issues ranging from session freeze or dropped connections to slow application performance.
RDP is resource-intensive, and can lead to poor performance for the user, especially on low-end devices or devices with limited processing power.
The RDP client on older Windows machines may not be compatible with a newer version of Windows running on a server, or may not support certain features, causing user issues like inability to log in, being denied access to their desktop or applications, or inability to complete certain actions.
Firewall and NAT Configurations
Setting up RDP access through firewalls and NAT can be complex, especially in large enterprise networks with multiple security layers, or when RDS is used in a public cloud. (NOTE: Network Address Translation (NAT) is a method to map multiple private addresses to a public IP address before transferring the information to the internet.)
Failure to Connect
After a Windows update or upgrade to machines using RDP, some users may find that they are unable to connect, or that their connection opens and closes a second or two later. While Microsoft does fix these issues quickly, it may be a day or two before the user is able to log in. The alternative is to roll back the update until Microsoft provides a fix, which may not be advisable from a security perspective.
Another scenario that can block a user from connecting is when Windows Group Policy settings are corrupted due to Group Policy modifications or conflicts with third party software. This issue must be fixed by an IT administrator.
When a user logs in to a session, RDP automatically designates the client machine’s default printer as the printer for a user session, but this process for enabling printing can be finicky. For example, if the client machine is not configured to be a print server, the user will be unable to print. Another example is if client printer redirection has not been configured or enabled on the server. Yet another example is when the server does not have the appropriate print driver installed or has not applied updates to that print driver.
If a user disconnects from an RDP session instead of logging off properly, the session may remain open and consume server resources until it times out or is manually terminated, possibly blocking other users from starting sessions on that server.
RDP is an open source protocol, making it easier to identify and exploit security weaknesses leading to risks like brute force attacks, credential theft, and vulnerability exploits. As of this writing, the most recent RDP vulnerabilities were uncovered in June 2023.
RDP’s primary security weaknesses are user sign-in credentials, where a user’s weak password for his machine is also used for RDP remote logins, making the overall system more susceptible to brute force attacks, and unrestricted port access, where attackers assume that RDP connections are taking place at port 3389 (which is almost always the case), and target that port for attacks.
RDP Problems Create RDS Issues
RDP-related problems are part of a long-standing list of RDS issues that challenge organizations supporting remote and in-office employees and Windows ISVs using RDS to deliver their applications to customers.
If you want to put an end to your struggle with RDS and RDP,consider switching to GO-Global to provide access to Windows applications from any public, private, or hybrid cloud without utilizing RDS or RDP.
GO-Global enables multi-user remote access to Microsoft Windows applications without using either Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) or the multi-session kernel functionality built into Windows. Unlike products that wrap features around RDS, GO-Global provides full replacements for Microsoft’s multi-session functionality and its Remote Desktop clients, display driver, protocol, internet gateway, and management tools. GO-Global’s unique architecture eliminates the need for RDS components to be installed on Windows desktops or servers.
Rather than utilizing RDP, GO-Global uses a proprietary, low-bandwidth protocol for connectivity over serial lines called RapidX Protocol (RXP). RXP is adaptive, uses multiple layers of compression, and is optimized to ensure the lowest possible bandwidth utilization. Because RXP is closed source, it offers additional defense against attackers, compared to open-source protocols like RDP.
Despite its low cost, GO-Global delivers enterprise-level scalability. It's easy to install, configure, and use, with considerably less technology overhead required for implementation, and provides a great customer experience, including fast logins and minimal latency, even over low-bandwidth connections. And GO-Global’s Universal Print Driver eliminates printing issues, so customers can print documents without resorting to inconvenient workarounds.