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RDP Basics and Understanding Sessions

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RDP and RDP sessions overview

RDP is the solution used to remotely connect to your Virtual Server or Virtual Desktop to access/administer your system yourself, if you do not have our "managed" services.  You are the administrator, and RDP is how you access the system to use or administer it.  You may also see the term RDP used interchangeably with "terminal services". 

To connect to a system using RDP, you use an RDP client (or RDP client software)... software on your system designed to facilitate a connection from your system to the remote system.  This is NOT a web-based connection.  You must actually have a piece of software installed on your system. 

The most common RDP client's we recommend are:

  • mstsc: This is Microsoft Terminal Service Client, and it can be found already installed on almost all Windows operating systems... which makes it tempting to be the one to use, but we recommend downloading and using the RDTabs client (free/supported by donation).  
  • RDTabs by AvianWaves:
    • downloadable from a free (support by donation) RDP client that manages mutliple RDP connections as multiple tabs in a single window.. just like your web browser now manages connecting to separate websites in different tabs.  
    • this is our recommended RDP client, due to it's ease of use in establishing a connection to the console/admin session. 

We recommend the following Microsoft help video if you're not familiar with RDP at all:

If you have a virtual server or virtual desktop with us, we've already configured it to accept RDP connections... so you only need to start at 1:18 into the video which shows you the CLIENT side of the equation... i.e., opening an RDP client on your system, and using it to connect to your remote system (your virtual server or virtual desktop with us). 

Multiple Sessions

Since RDP is not remote control of the system, but instead is allowing you to connect remotely to a desktop session running on the system, RDP will allow you to make multiple connections to a system simultaneously. In fact, it will allow you to connect to a system twice from the same PC, and this frequently confuses first time users of RDP.  

Consider this scenario. 

You make an RDP connection to your VSERVER, and work for a while.  When you're done, you leave an application (say Internet Explorer) open on the desktop... and you don't log off, you just close the RDP client.  This leaves your connection open on the server side.  If you were on the server looking at active RDP connections, you'd see:

  • session1: you yourpc

The next day, you fire up your RDP client and connect again.  You're surprised you don't see your Internet Explorer open on the desktop as you left it.  But if you looked at the active RDP sessions on the server, you'd realized what was happening:

  • session1: you yourpc
  • session2: you yourpc

You just made a second, separate connection to the system.  And because RDP only allows 2 sessions for administration purposes... if come back the next day and make a 3rd connection, you may get a message indicating that all connections are taken. 

The solution is to use the console/admin session.  This special session is also called "session0", and when connect to this special session, you always connect exactly to it (i.e., not session 2, 3, 4 or whatever was next in line).... AND, if you already had a connection to session0, it always gives you the ability to log off that connection, in lieu of your current one.  This way, you can ALWAYS be sure what session you're connecting to.  

Once you're connected with the console/admin session, you can open Task Manager (click START > RUN and enter taskmgr <enter>), and select the USERS tab in Task Manager.  The USERS tab will show you your existing connections.  You can right-click on those sessions and:

  • LOGOFF: this will log that connection off, closing all desktop applications running under that session. 
  • CONNECT: switch your RDP connection from the console/admin session over to the session you choose to CONNECT to (allowing you to resume activity on that session). 

How do you connect to the console/admin session?

This varies by RDP client. and it's way more straight-forward with the RDTabs client, which is our recommended RDP client.  The following links to articles explaining how to use RDTabs or MSTSC to connect to the console/admin session on your system. 




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