Remote Connections: The Name of the King

Nov 06, 2017 by Cristian

Everyone who's ever worked in a team knows how time saving a remote connection can be. Remote connections enable outsourcing companies to provide assistance to their clients, generate and attend meetings via a shared desktop, or work on remote machines from anywhere in the world.

But having access to the software means little if what you see is more of a slideshow than a stream. One of the most important factors to this end is, of course, Internet connection speed. For more information on this, feel free to check out our previous posts on Technology advancements, Internet and Romania and IPv6 and Romania.

Taking this into account, let’s have a look at the three most popular remote desktop applications, namely Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection, VNC Viewer and TeamViewer

Remote Desktop Connection 

When developing this feature for Windows, the main focus seems to have been on performance and user experience. Shared clipboard between server and client machines, full desktop access with credential-based rights, and numerous optimization features to reduce the data volume as needed allow users to take full advantage of the target machine.

Another advantage is that the session is taken over directly, ensuring that other users can’t interfere without kicking you out first. This is double-edged however and one of the few drawbacks of the Remote Desktop Connection. You get full access to the machine while logged in but get no notification when someone else is attempting to take over your session.

Another drawback that Microsoft wants to mitigate is the fact that, up to Windows 8.1’s release date, connections were only possible between Windows driven machines. With the launch of Windows 8.1, Microsoft launched a series of apps that give users the ability to remotely connect to Windows machines from Mac, Android and iOS driven devices.

But despite the cross-platform limitations, if you’re working on a network on Windows machines or in collaboration with partners that prefer Windows, Remote Desktop Connection will offer you the quick and efficient solution for working with any machine without leaving the comfort of your office chair.

VNC Viewer

The team at VNC focused their attention on what the user can connect to and where the user can connect from, since cross-platform remote connection software was not an option operating system manufacturers gave their clients. Their applications work by installing server modules and Viewer modules on machines, and creating a connection based on the device’s IP.

The VNC software includes features such as:

- connecting cross platform over most popular operating systems;

- file transfers between machines;

- support for remote connections from mobile devices to desktop sessions.

The team at VNC even released a free app on Facebook that allows screen sharing between friends.

Connections however are slower than expected, since the software simply displays the activity on the target machine's screen via the VNC client-server mechanics.

This also leads to another user inconvenience: session privacy. The user does not take over a session as in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection but rather sees the screen and has access to mouse and keyboard input for someone else’s machine. A user working through VNC Viewer would be inconvenienced if another were to physically sit down at a server PC or remotely connect and start working.

VNC Viewer offers an innovative advantage however. Through a partnership with Intel, VNC server technology was built into newer Intel Core vPro series processors, allowing connections to devices that lack an operating system.

Despite its small inconveniences, VNC Viewer is ideally suited for server administrators who constantly work cross-platform, since it offers connectivity options from mobile devices as well as standard computers.

TeamViewer

While Remote Desktop Connection and VNC Viewer give users the desired access, the TeamViewer development team added some extra features that set their product apart from their competitors.

The software allows users to connect across operating systems from:

- desktop to desktop;

- iOS and Android devices to desktop sessions;

- desktop session to mobile platforms running on Android and iOS.

Aside from the wider range of connection options, TeamViewer offers a little extra to make it a truly indispensable tool:

- file transfer between devices without an actual remote desktop session;

- easy contact management for predefined connections;

- VOIP support;

- shared desktop meetings with up to 25 users, plus a handy whiteboard;

- conference calling.

Given the impressive suite of features, it’s no wonder why so many outsourcing companies end up relying heavily on TeamViewer sessions as a live means of communication with their clients.

Speed comparison

When working on a local high speed network, the difference is hardly noticeable between Remote Desktop Connection and VNC Viewer, while TeamViewer is unusable since it requires an active connection to the TeamViewer servers. The obvious difference is when running on a low-speed Internet connection such as a café’s WiFi or a 3G wireless modem.

Given the way remote connections work, the performance drop is most visible when working with high FPS applications via a slow network.

Let’s use as an example an animator that’s on his lunch break. Using his laptop, he logs in remotely from a diner to check if a high-resolution video finished rendering while he was eating. The rendering is complete and he wants to see his work. Depending on the network speed and the actual hardware specs of his machine, the quality is expected to suffer but each of the top 3 remote connection applications should live up to their name and allow for a decent viewing.

While running a similar test, VNC Viewer offered the least desirable results with noticeable delay in playback. Microsoft’s client beat TeamViewer’s by a nose, both applications exhibiting minimum delays.

One should keep in mind though that this is a scenario not likely to have a high occurrence rate in day-to-day activities. At most, the majority of remote desktop users access other machines to read an email, copy a file or manage users on a server. Stressing an application however gives you a clearer picture of what you can do if you ever need to.

 

Conclusion

Given the impressive feature list, cross-platform capabilities, and the software’s overall performance, it’s my opinion that TeamViewer is the current top application for remote desktop access over an Internet connection, while VNC Viewer will be my client of choice when working cross-platform over a local network. For everything else, there’s Microsoft.

If you’ve had contact with any of these applications, feel free to express your opinion or share your experience.


Tags: Microsoft 


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