Difference Between RDP and Terminal Services

RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) and Terminal Services are two related technologies that are extensively used in network environments to offer remote access to computers. While both RDP and Terminal Services offer remote access, there are a few key differences between the two.

RDP is a protocol that allows remote access to a single desktop session, whereas Terminal Services is a Windows Server role that allows remote access to numerous sessions on a server.

Read this article to find out more about RDP Services and Terminal Services and how they are different from each other.

What are RDP Services?

RDP is a Microsoft protocol that allows users to connect to a remote computer through a network connection and remotely access its graphical user interface (GUI). RDP services are widely used to offer remote access and support in a variety of sectors, including business, education, healthcare, and government.

RDP services offer a flexible and scalable remote access solution for businesses of all sizes. RDP allows users to connect to their desktops and apps from any location, at any time, and on any device, while also giving administrators centralized management and control over user access and resources.

Here are some key features of RDP −

  • Remote Access − RDP allows users to connect to a remote computer from anywhere on the network or the internet, as long as they have the appropriate rights and network connectivity.

  • Multiple Sessions − RDP allows several people to connect to the same computer and work on different tasks or apps at the same time.

  • Secure Connection − RDP uses encryption to secure the connection between the client and server, ensuring that sensitive data remains secure and confidential.

  • Printer and Drive Redirection − RDP allows users to redirect local printers and discs to the remote computer, allowing them to print documents and access data while connected to the remote desktop.

  • Audio and Video Redirection − RDP also supports audio and video content redirection, which allows users to play multimedia content on the remote desktop while hearing audio output on their local computer.

  • Clipboard and File Sharing − RDP allows users to share their clipboard and files across local and remote computers, making it simple to move data and files between the two systems.

  • Remote Assistance − RDP can be used for remote assistance and support, allowing IT administrators to diagnose and handle issues on users' computers without physically being present.

What are Terminal Services?

Terminal services are a technology that allows several users to connect to a server and access shared desktop sessions or applications. It is a Windows Server operating system feature that allows for remote access to a centralized server for managing applications, data, and user sessions. Remote administration, remote desktop access, and application publishing are all possible using Terminal Services.

Terminal Services' principal desire is to allow numerous users to access applications and data hosted on a server from remote locations without installing or maintaining the apps on their local devices. Depending on the configuration, users can access the apps and data through a remote desktop client or a web browser. Terminal Services supports many concurrent user sessions, allowing multiple users to connect to the same server at the same time.

Terminal Services provides several benefits, including −

  • Centralized management − Terminal Services allows managers to handle apps and data on a server rather than each user's local machine. This simplifies the maintenance, updating, and security of apps and data.

  • Scalability − Terminal Services allows several users to connect to the same server at the same time, making it scalable for organizations of any size. It also provides load balancing, which spreads user sessions across multiple servers for increased performance and availability.

  • Cost-effectiveness − Terminal Services can help reduce expenses by eliminating the need for individual licenses for each user and reducing end- user device hardware requirements.

  • Security − To protect data and prevent unauthorized access, Terminal Services includes extensive security features such as encryption, authentication, and authorization.

Terminal Services includes a number of features and capabilities that improve the remote access experience. These are some examples −

  • Remote desktop access − Terminal Services provides users with the ability to access a remote desktop environment that looks and performs similarly to a local desktop environment.

  • Application publishing − Instead of offering access to a whole desktop session, Terminal Services allows administrators to publish individual programs to users.

  • Remote printing − Users can use Terminal Services to print documents from a remote server to a local printer connected to their local PC.

  • Resource sharing − Terminal Services allows users to share resources such as printers, discs, and devices between local and remote machines.

Difference between RDP Services and Terminal Services

The following table highlights the major differences between RDP Services and Terminal Services −


RDP Services

Terminal Services


It requires an RDP client on the user's machine.

It can be accessed through a remote desktop client or a web browser.


RDP can be slow and choppy with high-latency or low-bandwidth connections.

Terminal services can be optimized for better performance with RemoteFX and other features.


Limited management capabilities for desktop sessions and applications

Provides centralized management for desktop sessions, applications, and resources.


Limited scalability for large environments

Supports load balancing and multiple servers for improved scalability.


Limited support for multimedia and 3D graphics

Supports multimedia and 3D graphics with RemoteFX and other features.

Licensing model

Device or user

Device or user

User interface

Graphical user interface (GUI)

Graphical user interface (GUI)


Encrypted communications

Encrypted communications, authentication, and authorization


In conclusion, RDP and Terminal Services are both technologies that allow for remote access to computers in a network environment. RDP is a protocol that offers remote access to a single desktop session through a graphical interface, whereas Terminal Services is a Windows Server role that allows several users to connect to a server and run applications in a shared session. Terminal Services offer more extensive features for managing remote sessions.

The decision between RDP and Terminal Services will be based on the organization's specific demands and requirements, as well as the number of users and sessions that must be managed.

Updated on: 15-May-2023


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