Windows 7 and Windows Vista come with Remote Desktop Connection built-in. Remote Desktop Connection allows you to log in to computers on your network, view their screen and control their mouse and keyboard. For system administrators, Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) is an invaluable tool, as it allows them to manage servers, workstations, clusters and other remote systems from a single location. However, managing multiple RDP sessions can often be hassle with the default Remote Desktop Connection application. To make life easier for system admins, engineers and network operators, Microsoft has released a free application called Remote Desktop Connection Manager, or RDC Man. This article will show you how to get started with Remote Desktop Manager.
1. Download and install the latest version of Remote Desktop Manager. You can get it for free at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=4603c621-6de7-4ccb-9f51-d53dc7e48047.
2. Begin creating groups and servers. Begin by creating a new group by clicking “File” and choosing “New group.”
3. Right-click your new group and click “Add server…”
4. In “Server Settings,” type the computer name and the display name. You can also fill out connection settings, logon credentials and other settings, but it’s not necessary at this point.
5. To connect to a server, double-click it.
6. Enter your log in credentials. Once connected, you’ll have control over the machine.
You can add multiple groups and servers and manage them all at once. Repeat the above steps to do so. You can connect, disconnect and alter settings for entire groups, which saves time if you’ve changed system-wide passwords. When you select a group, thumbnails of each connected server are shown. You can control the keyboard and mouse from these thumbnails or select the server from the tree on the left to expand the view to fill the window.
As an additional feature, RDC Man has two “virtual groups” that can be displayed. To view them, click View and check “Connected group” and “Reconnect group.” This will display both virtual groups in the server tree on the left-hand side. The Connected group is simply a listing of all connected servers, regardless of which group you’ve placed them in. Servers in the Reconnect group will activate RDC Man’s auto-reconnect feature. When you drag and drop a server into the Reconnect group, RDC Man will attempt to connect to the server until it is successful. This is useful if you are performing maintenance or rebooting a server and would like to reconnect as soon as possible.
You can manage multiple connected RDP sessions from within RDC Man, or you can undock them and treat them like separate windows on your taskbar. To do so, right-click a connected server and choose “Undock.” Now, the server will appear on your taskbar and will have a window of its own.
RDC Man also allows you to save and import groups. When you create a new group, it’s saved as an .RDG file. These .RDG files can be saved to a disk and loaded onto another machine. By opening an .RDG file, you can migrate all of the server settings and credentials from one machine to another.
RDC Man has a number of additional features that make managing multiple RDP connections easier for systems administrators. If you regularly work with Remote Desktop Connections, we highly recommend giving Remote Desktop Connection Manager a try.