Many people consider Virtual Private Networks and Remote Desktop Protocol to be the same thing however they are not. In fact, the two pieces of software can be used complimentary to each other in order to provide better security.
In this article of VPN vs Remote Desktop Protocol we will review the two different pieces of software and see how they compare against each other and what their advantages and disadvantages are. Both pieces of software are used to access resources on a remote network but provide different levels of access. While a VPN allows you to access resources on the network an RDP can provide a much larger range of processes as it allows you to access a computer terminal on the network.
As most frequent users of our site will know, a VPN service can be used to encrypt your internet traffic for protection, to access geo-blocked content and to bypass content restrictions. Another reason for using a VPN is to be able to access a network remotely. This can allow you to access work files from home without the danger of sending information through an unsecured line.
Unfortunately, there are several detractors to keep in mind. First of all, VPNs can use a lot of bandwidth, as the files that you access are temporarily transferred to your computer so that you may be able to access it and edit it. Second, unless it offers split tunneling, all traffic is routed through the encrypted connection which can be intensive. Lastly, a major concern could occur when accessing databases through VPNs because if they aren't correctly configured the DB can become corrupt - this is easier to solve with an RDP as it is most likely protected against on the terminal system.
Pros: Easier to troubleshoot, problems easier to solve, more secure
Cons: large bandwidth requirements, can have slower speeds, can cause system errors if not configured properly
Remote Desktop Protocol was originally developed by Microsoft but is now available on all major platforms and with numerous forked open-source developments such as FreeRDP. Its purpose is to allow a person to sign in to a computer on a network remotely and mirror its graphical interface.
RDP is great because not only do you have access to the network resources you have access to the resources on a single computer. This means that you can run specific network licensed software that you wouldn't be able to otherwise. Unfortunately, the problem with RDPs is that they are very insecure and with a little persistence a person can gain access to the network. Therefore, in most cases, an RDP is used in correspondence with a VPN, rather than pitting VPN vs RDP and only using the latter.
Pros: easier to use, can use screen share
Cons: harder to diagnose, can be hard to configure properly, can have lag if computer your accessing or bandwidth is not efficient enough
VPN vs Remote Desktop Protocol Conclusion
To wrap up this VPN vs RDP article, the reality is that it is fine to run RDP on its own as long as you maintain safe security and encryption practices. As long as you have no bandwidth intensive data then usually a VPN service will suffice. However, some people prefer to use RDP as they feel it to be more natural and it can also use less bandwidth. However, due to the number of security concerns facing RDPs it is recommended to be used in correspondence with some form of encryption such as VPN or SSL - all major providers i.e. Cisco VPN or Citrix abide by this.