If you need to manage a lot of servers and/or network devices then a good remote desktop connection manager can make your work a lot easier. A remote desktop manager stores the connection information and allows you to open multiple connections.
A good remote desktop manager does not only allow you to store and manage RDP connections. It also supports other comment protocols, like SSH, Telnet and VNC. Having all these tools in one application makes it really easy to manage your servers and network.
Using a Remote Desktop Manager
Every remote desktop manager supports using folders to create a structure. When you start using the application you might be temped to just save the connections in one folder. But creating a folder structure, based on location or device type really helps finding the right connection fast.
I have more than 50 connection in my remote desktop connection manager and I shared the connection file with my colleague, so keeping the connections ordered is a must.
One of the discussions you see online a lot if you should store passwords in the Remote Desktop Connection Manager or not. Last couple of years we are encouraged to use password managers and create a strong password. Or even two-factor authentication.
Storing the password to every server or network device in your remote connection manager is a risk. It’s important that the connection file is protected and encrypted. If somebody gain access to the file they could connect to every important server of network device in your network without any problem.
But not storing the password in the remote desktop manager results in an additional handling before you can login. You will have to get the password from the password manager first, not really convient.
Luckily some password manager allow for intergration with a password manager or have the ability to encrypt and/or password protect the connection file. So make sure you check for this option and apply to your connection file.
My favourite remote desktop connection manager is mRemoteNG. I have been using this tool and its predecessor mRemote for more than 10 years now. The connections are stored in an XML file which you can easily share with your colleagues.
mRemoteNG supports a lot of remote connection protocols:
So you really have one tool to manage all your devices. The interface is nice and clean, with one the left side the connections, which you can structure in folders, and below it the connection details. Each connection opens in a new tab allowing you to easily switch between the different connections.
Securing your mRemoteNG connections
As I already mentioned earlier, secure your connections is important. mRemote doesn’t integrate with a password manager, but it does allow you to encrypt the connection file (stored passwords are always encrypted) and password protects the connection file.
To password protect your connection file you select the top entry Connections and then in the config section you can select Password protect. Enter a password twice and you are down.
It’s also a good idea to encrypt your connection file completely. With the connection file open, go to Tools > Options > Security and select Completely encrypt connection file.
Using mRemoteNG with multiple users
You can easily use mRemoteNG with multiple users, just store the connection file on a network share or SharePoint / OneDrive library. Both users can open the connection file simultaneously and make changes to it.
Another option is to use a MySQL database, mRemoteNG allows you to store the connection in a database so you can share the connections. More information on how to setup it up can be found in the user manual.
The last tip that I have about mRemoteNG is the External tools toolbar. Something I didn’t use (or even knew about) until a couple of months ago. You can add external tools, like WinSCP, ping or tracert commands etc to mRemoteNG.
This way you can easily open an FTP session to a server or run a trace to it. Here is a great list with some example command/tools you can integrate with mRemoteNG.
I mostly use the WinSCP hook, allowing me to open an FTP session to one of our web servers. Something I noticed doing quite often when working on it through an SSH session.
A good alternative to mRemoteNG is RoyalTS. Important to say first, RoyalTS isn’t free. It has a free version, but that is limited to 10 connections. The paid versions start around the $ 100,- and goes up to more than $ 800,- for a team version.
But there are also some good things about RoyalTS. It supports a lot of different protocols, everything from mRemoteNG, but also Teamviewer, VMWare and Hyper-V instances and PowerShell. Other great features are intergration with KeePass and LastPass for storing passwords and task automation.
The interface of RoyalTS looks really good. It’s clean and fully customizable. One feature that I really like, and hope to see soon in mRemoteNG is the split screen feature. You can open multiple connections side-by-side.
The navigation panel and dashboards are fully customizable, allowing you to assign different colours to devices and use custom icons.
RoyalTS has a lot of features built-in to it. Where mRemoteNG is really simple and clean, RoyalTS can be overwhelming. But the application guides you really nice through the setup process. Adding new connections can be done with a few clicks, but you can also go into detail with a configure every little bit of it (colours, icons, font, windows mode, etc).
Devolutions Remote Desktop Manager
Remote Desktop Manager from Devolutions comes also in a free and a paid version. The free version isn’t limited to the number of connections but the big difference is that the free version doesn’t allow you to share the connection file.
Devolutions supports a lot of protocols and connections. Even more then RoyalTS does, think of Ilo connections, Chrome Remote Desktop, serial port, virtual box etc.
The default interface is based on Office 2016 with a big ribbon bar. And that doesn’t feel right, it’s a remote connection tool and you want to have a much room as possible for the remote connection. But you can change the layout in File > Options to a normal menu layout and even some other color themes.
Just like RoyalTS, you can open multiple connection next to each other with the built-in split screen functions. A great and handy feature.
Devolutions Remote Desktop Manager supports both KeePass and LastPass integration. It comes with a good built-in password generator and encrypts all password by default.
The 3 Remote Desktop Connection Managers listed above here are the best you can get. There are more solutions on the market, free and paid. But none of them are like these.
Free Remote Desktop Manager
If you are looking for a Free Remote Desktop Manager then mRemoteNG is the tool to pick. The interface may look a bit old, but it’s super easy to use and it does the job perfectly. It supports all the import protocols that you use on a daily bases. I recommend securing your connection file with a password so you can safely store the passwords with your connections.
Remote desktop connection manager windows 10
To manage your servers and network devices from Windows 10 I recommend mRemoteNG if you are looking for a free tool. It’s only 50Mb and doesn’t require a lot of system resource of use. The tool self may look a bit out-dated, but it has all the important features you need.
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