Choosing between VNC vs RDP for remote desktop access

| By:
Anna Morgan

Remote desktop software is more popular than ever, especially with the increase in remote work worldwide. Many businesses need to make a choice, and soon.

Two of the most common and often compared remote desktop access tools are VNC (Virtual Network Computing) and RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). While these two types of tools are similar in many ways, they each have pros and cons. This blog post will discuss what sets each apart so your teams can find the best options for them.

What is VNC?

Before diving into VNC vs RDP, let’s look at them individually. VNC allows you to control a computer remotely. The setup involves installing a VNC server component on the computer you want to control and a VNC viewer on the device you're using to control it. From there, you can see, manipulate, and interact with the remote computer's screen as if you were physically present when connected to the server. 

Various operating systems and devices can use VNC due to its versatility. For instance, remote mobile device support allows you to control a device e via smartphone or tablet, or you can remote in from another computer. You can also send keyboard and mouse commands to the remote computer using the VNC viewer, giving you full control.

Pros and cons of VNC

Organizations can benefit from VNC's many advantages. It's user-friendly, so you can install and use it easily without consuming excessive system resources. This results in a smooth user experience. 

VNC supports a wide range of operating systems, ensuring compatibility with a variety of devices. This means that no matter what device you're using to access a remote computer, VNC can adapt to different screen sizes seamlessly.

However, like any remote desktop access method, VNC has its limitations and considerations. A major concern is security. Even though VNC offers basic security features, it may need additional measures to ensure greater protection. 

Authentication and encryption protocols are essential when connecting remotely, which is why there are alternatives that offer more security. Also, VNC's performance is influenced by the network connection strength. Since VNC relies on network connectivity, a weak or unstable connection can affect the overall user experience. VNC can be challenging to operate in low-bandwidth environments because bandwidth requirements can be high.

VNC also requires specific network configurations. A proxy may be required in some cases, while an open IP port may be required in others. Taking these considerations into account ensures that VNC will work properly in a variety of network environments.

While VNC has some limitations, it still offers convenience, versatility, and cross-platform compatibility for remote desktop access. In order to enhance remote productivity and streamline workflows, businesses must address security concerns and optimize network settings.

Use cases for VNC

VNC has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, especially with remote workforce management. Since so many people have been working from home or otherwise outside offices, VNC offers the perfect solution. Users can access their workstations from anywhere, and there’s no need to remove company data from the office.

Similarly, technical support agents also use VNC for anything they can’t do in person. One of the biggest benefits is that anyone needing support doesn’t need to diagnose the problem. Agents can get direct access to the user’s computer in real-time, which helps with consistent and accurate communication.

What is RDP?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) allows IT teams to access and control work desktops or servers remotely from anywhere. You can access a team member or employee’s computer from miles away as if you were sitting in front of it. It supports multiple displays, smart card authentication, bandwidth reduction, and even printing from a remote session.

RDP can be used for a variety of purposes, including troubleshooting computer issues remotely, accessing a PC from the home or office while traveling, or managing remote systems. Secure connections allow you to store and encrypt your data in the cloud without fear of breaches or device failures. 

A key benefit of RDP is that you don't need a complicated VPN setup to use it. Organizations with traditional IT setups can easily work remotely with RDP, allowing employees to stay productive.

Just remember, although RDP has its advantages, security is important. Avoid opening RDP connections over the internet. Add multiple layers of security, like network segmentation, firewalls, or two-factor authentication. While RDP had its share of security vulnerabilities in the past, newer versions now offer features such as user access control and network-level authentication. 

Pros and cons of RDP

RDP is widely used for remote desktop access due to its numerous advantages. Security is one of its standout features. On cloud servers, RDP securely stores and encrypts data, minimizing data loss risks. 

Also, RDP eliminates the need for a virtual private network (VPN), allowing users to remotely access their business IT infrastructure from anywhere without having to be physically present. Its flexibility and convenience make RDP a particularly attractive option for remote work scenarios. 

RDP is also often free, making it a cost-effective option for many users. Users can quickly establish a connection and setup requires minimal technical skill.

However, RDP also has disadvantages. Administrator privileges are limited for all users. If users lack administrative access, setting up RDP outside the office environment may be challenging. 

Another downside of RDP is that it doesn't have the capability to automatically reboot and reconnect to remote machines. This means if a remote machine needs to be rebooted for any reason, the user must manually initiate the reboot process and reconnect once the machine is back online.

There is also the risk that the remote screen can be locked during a session, preventing other users from accessing it. This is a security measure, but can present challenges if  multiple users need simultaneous access to the remote computer. 

Even with its limitations, RDP remains a valuable tool for businesses and individuals looking for secure, cost-effective solutions to access their remote desktops. Understanding both RDP's advantages and disadvantages can help you make informed decisions and optimize your remote work experiences.

Use cases for RDP

RDP excels in tech support scenarios where technicians don’t have physical access to devices. The benefit applies to employees who can’t work in the office for any reason.

RDP also enables virtual desktop interfaces (VDIs) for cloud environments. This function is helpful for employees and contractors alike, and it’s possible with the use of a common office environment or COE.

Comparing VNC vs RDP

When it comes to VNC vs RDP, both have distinct pros and cons, and they each excel in different areas. From security to cost, here are a few things you should consider when you compare RDP vs VNC.


When it comes to determining if RDP is secure, there are some things worth noting. While you can step up your defenses on your own, RDP supports SSL and TLS and can update automatically through Windows. VNC, on the other hand, can use an SSH tunnel, but that’s not a given across all versions. Considering VNC also gives remote users full access to any computer, the optional SSH tunnel may not be enough security to let you rest easy. With that said, depending on your needs, you may need to look for an option beyond RDP or VNC in order to protect your organization’s data. 


VNC offers cross-platform compatibility, a huge draw for many users. You’ll find a selection of apps for different operating systems, making your current devices usable with VNC. RDP has the benefit of being pre-installed on Microsoft Windows devices, but functionality with other operating systems depends on third-party apps and programs. If you use anything other than Windows devices, VNC is likely your best choice.

Ease of use

Despite its lack of desktop-sharing capabilities, RDP is usually quicker and easier to use than VNC. On the other hand, VNC makes it easier to share across platforms. This comes at the cost of speed, so users have to make a compromise between that and functionality. VNC works well on short notice, though, so there’s a slight edge.


RDP users can’t share screens, which may be a deal-breaker for you, but that’s because the associated instruction sets don’t use much bandwidth. VNCs send and receive pixels that use more bandwidth. Because of this, VNC can be slower, which means RDP tends to perform better.


RDP and VNC costs will vary from provider to provider. In some cases, VNC is more affordable; in others, it’s RDP. But overall, RDP is generally seen as the more cost-effective and accessible option. In addition, VNC doesn’t always provide the types of features that are available in more expensive remote solutions. For instance, VNC won’t let you drag files between computers, which may be worth the cost for businesses requiring this feature.

Making a decision between VNC vs RDP comes down to priorities. If you’re looking for speed, RDP might be a preferred option, since VNC operates on a framebuffer level. If you want to avoid tedious setup, maintenance, and a lack of support for mobile devices, then VNC may be the solution for you.

How to implement a remote desktop tool in your organization

RDP vs VNC—the constant comparisons never stop, and for good reason. They each offer their own benefits and pitfalls, like substantial security features, low costs, and ease of use. Of course, there’s no right or wrong choice. Whether you decide on VNC or RDP depends on your business and the remote access needs for your end users. 

ConnectWise ScreenConnect Access is designed to combine the best features of VNC and RDP without the limitations. This includes features like automated reboot and reconnect with optional Safe Mode, file transfers across computers, mobile device support, and backstage mode to allow simultaneous access, along with many other capabilities.

It enables seamless remote access, empowering IT teams to provide efficient support, manage systems, and conduct remote meetings. Its advanced security measures ensure the protection of sensitive data, giving you peace of mind. With a user-friendly interface and cost-effective pricing, ScreenConnect Access is an ideal choice for businesses of all sizes.

Ready to see remote desktop software in action? Start your free ScreenConnect trial today.


Yes, VNC and RDP are both ideal for tech support. Many tech support agents already use both tools to access, troubleshoot, and resolve computer issues remotely. VNC lets agents control a desktop and diagnose problems in real-time, while RDP allows agents to collaborate remotely.

VNC and RDP both offer customer support, but the level of support varies between providers. Typically, you can expect customer support through email, phone, online forums, and premium support services in some cases.

VNC and RDP offer their own licensing options that depend on the provider. VNC vendors often provide a free version, at least one paid version, and volume licensing options. RDP, however, comes with some Microsoft Windows operating systems for free. You can also opt for other various licensing options, but that’s not always necessary.

Yes, both VNC and RDP can be used for multimedia applications, but performance may be an issue. VNC tends to be slower than RDP for multimedia applications, but some VNC providers optimize multimedia applications.