Remote Desktop vs VNC
Remote Desktop and VNC (Virtual Network Computing) are two of the popular GUI based desktop sharing applications. Both of them can be used to remotely login to another computer and access the desktop, data, applications and even control it remotely. Remote Desktop runs on Windows machines, while VNC is platform-independent.
What is Remote Desktop?
As mentioned above, Remote Desktop is a client application on Windows that uses Remote Desktop Services as its underlying technology. Remote Desktop Services is a component in the Windows operating system, which allows a user to remotely access data and applications on another computer over the network. Remote Desktop Services use the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), and was first introduced in Windows NT 4.0 (as Terminal Services). Remote Desktop can be used to remotely login to another computer, and access the desktop, data, applications and even control it remotely. However, Remote Desktop is not available on all versions of Windows. Some of the Windows versions that include Remote Desktop are Windows XP Professional, all three versions of Windows Vista and Windows NT Terminal server, and all its later server versions. Remote Desktop in client versions of windows allows only one user to login at a time. But the server versions do not have this restriction.
What is VNC?
VNC is a desktop sharing application, which offers a graphical user interface (GUI) to remotely access and control another computer using the RFB (remote framebuffer) protocol. VNC application connects two computers and then sends keyboard and mouse events in one direction and graphical screen updates in the other direction over the network. A VNC viewer and server running on different operating systems can communicate, because VNC is platform-independent. VNC viewers/servers are available for many operating systems. A VNC server can accommodates several VNC clients at once. VNC is mostly used for purposes such as accessing a work computer from home and providing remote technical support.
What’s the difference between Remote Desktop and VNC?
Although both Remote Desktop and VNC are two of the most popular remote access applications, they have their key differences. Remote Desktop is only available in Windows, while VNC is available on many operating systems. However, VNC is not as fast as Remote Desktop. If the Internet connection is fast enough, Remote Desktop can be as fast as using a local machine. Because RFB is pixel based, VNC just sends raw pixels data. But, Remote Desktop Protocol is able to send graphics primitives (and understands the underlying graphics layout better). In other words, RDP is aware of controls and only the information about the controls is are sent across, but VNC sends actual images across networks). Because of this difference, VNC is relatively less efficient than Remote Desktop, as Remote Desktop is able to significantly compress the data stream. But on the other hand, VNC is highly flexible and almost any type of desktop can be viewed using VNC. VNC is also better for technical support as it allows sharing a session on the target machine.