We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Check out our new AWS podcast with Certified Expert, Phil Phillips! Listen to "How to Execute a Seamless AWS Migration" on EE or on your favorite podcast platform. Listen Now


Remote Desktop vs. Terminal Services

madasczik asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-04
What's the difference between remote desktop and terminal servers?  Looking for comparisons, performance statistics, security features, stability, etc.  Your comment are welcome and 500 points to the expert with a full answer.
Watch Question

Pete LongTechnical Architect
Distinguished Expert 2019

This is either simple to answer or complicated.

simple answer

Nothing they both use the RDP protocol to connect to a remote host, providing you are talking about rthe remote desktop feature buil into newer M$ operating systems, if your talking about remote control software (VNC etc) then thats a completely different ball game.
Pete LongTechnical Architect
Distinguished Expert 2019

Remote Desktop Protocol

Quote from above

       "Note that when the console is being accessed remotely, all environment settings - for example, settings determining color depth and wallpaper enabling and disabling – are determined by the RCP-Tcp connection settings. This applies to all functions and methods that set environment settings in the Remote Desktop ActiveX control interface and the Terminal Services WMI Provider interface."


Unlock this solution and get a sample of our free trial.
(No credit card required)
check this for complete detail on terminal service

There is no difference since both are actually the same thing named differently for marketing purposes.
Pete LongTechnical Architect
Distinguished Expert 2019

Exactly! terminal services (administration mode) is exactly the same, the OS just limits it to two concurrent connections

We use them both and the biggest difference i can figger out is that Terminal Services is harder to install. You have to install it via Add/Remove Software and you have to install it in Administration mode. You make mistakes easier.

With Remote Connection (if it is for administration only) you only have to check the box that remote administration is possible in the system properties.

Simply, Remote dekstop connection is easier to implement.......... So if you only want to administer the server, use remote desktop.
RaybansTechnical Manager

Sorry guys there is a real difference between the two in Windows 2003

Both use the same technology and client

but as an example

I can not install the Symantec Control Centre on a machine with terminal services enabled(installed) on it.

But it is fine with me using Remote Desktop for management.

in Server 2000 there was an administration mode for terminal services

in server 2003 they use the remote desktop as is done in Windows XP instead of admin mode, and this allows software that will not co-exist with Terminal Services to be happy.

So the short answers is What do you need the server to do, what sort of remote access do you need, and for who
Pete LongTechnical Architect
Distinguished Expert 2019

Hi Raybans

Agree, didnt want to go into it in to much detail but there are some fundemantal differences in 2K3 you actually get three connections, two as before and a remote console connection, if the remote console connection is activated it disables the actual login at the server though, to run the console connection you either need the latest RDP connection software (from the 2K3 admin tools) OR put a console switch /C (i think but I may be wrong) to access remote console mode.

But the similarity between the two is they both utilise RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol)


I came across this question while searching for the difference between TS and remote control.

But after reading RAYBANS comment i was curious to know one thing with respect to the situation described.

You are unable to install the symantec product through terminal services but using remote desktop it does not give you any problem.

BUT if you have a windows 2003 server with BOTH remote desktop enabled as well as terminal services installed in say administration mode .... then how do u decide in which mode do u want to connect in??  How do u tell your rdp client that connect in remote desktop mode instead of terminal services mode to do the installation of say the symantec software.
RaybansTechnical Manager

In Windows 2003 Server there is nolonger an administrative mode, the administration mode has been replaced with the remote desktop

the rdp client does not see any difference between the two.

Unlock the solution to this question.
Thanks for using Experts Exchange.

Please provide your email to receive a sample view!

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.