Today, there are a lot of people that share the same opinion, which is that the Remote Desktop Protocol and the VPN are not different in any way. However, that is not the case, and we will make things more clear when it comes to RDP and the VPN. We will discuss the pros and cons of both pieces of software, explain them individually, and so on.

Before we get into details, you should know that a VPN hides your online identity by making it as if you appear to be in a different location. On the other hand, the Remote Desktop Protocol gives you the chance to become that server or PC, and it will seem like you’re sitting in front of that different server or computer. One thing is certain; this carefully written and well-researched article will compare RDP and the VPN, and you will see they are not the same thing.

1. What is a VPN?

A VPN or a Virtual Private Network connects the device that you're currently using, whether it’s a computer or laptop to a certain online server. Also, with a VPN, you can browse the Internet with the help of the Internet connection of the server. The location of that server is most often in another country than yours. This means that with a VPN server, it would appear like you're residing in another country, and you'll also get access to certain things that were not available to you before you purchased the services of a VPN.

A VPN has many perks, like providing online anonymity, protecting your privacy, hiding your IP address, getting full access to particular geo-restricted content, and so on.

2. What is RDP?

At first, Remote Desktop Protocol or RPD was created only for the Windows users, but nowadays, it is available on every major operating system like Linux, Mac, Android, and so on. The main objective of the Remote Desktop Protocol is to make a virtual connection between your device and a certain remote device. Thanks to this virtual connection and a couple of extra settings, you'll have full access to files and apps on that remote computer. You can also surf the web with that computer.

With this remote connection, there’s no encryption involved, so all the Internet traffic made with that connection could be seen by your Internet Service Provider. If you want that this connection works perfectly, those two computers have to be connected to the identical network.

3. The advantages and disadvantages of a VPN

A.) First, we will cover the advantages of using a VPN.

a.) It provides online anonymity

When you buy a pricing plan of a VPN and start using it, it will successfully hide your IP address and encrypt your Internet traffic. This means that no one could figure out what you’re doing online, and you can feel completely safe when you’re browsing the Internet with a VPN. Hackers or cyber criminals will also be unable to use your real IP address and get some of your personal info. The services of a VPN also provide you protection from the government that could monitor your online activities.

b.) Unblocks geo-restricted content

What can be considered as a geo-restricted content? It’s when a content provider only allows particular countries to watch or enjoy their content. The content could be video games, TV shows, websites, and so on. So, if you’re eager to watch something on Netflix, but you’re unable to due to the fact that you live in a restricted country, a VPN will help you by unblocking geo-restricted content. Besides Netflix, you’ll be able to enjoy so many streaming platforms like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO, etc.

c.) Compatible with a wide range of platforms

VPN is one of the rare online services that provide users with great hardware and software compatibility. This is one of the biggest advantages of using a VPN provider. Everything works fantastic with a VPN because your network works as usual from the view of a certain software client. VPNs are compatible with a plethora of platforms. You'll be able to use a VPN on Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, and so on. When it comes to hardware compatibility, you're free to use it on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

d.) Your online connections will be more secure

Nowadays, there’s always a Wi-fi with which you can connect your device to, whether you're in a shopping mall, coffee shop, or restaurant. But, public Wi-fi could be risky, and there's a high possibility that your personal information could be stolen by hackers. But, if you use a VPN, you won't be having any issues. Its' because your online activities are completely encrypted, so one could track what you do online. All in all, with a VPN connection, you'll be safe on the Internet.

e.) You’ll save money

A vast majority of e-commerce sites offer products with prices based on the region where people live in. So, if the price of a particular product is high, let' say in the UK, the identical product will be cheaper in Vietnam. Consider this when you're going on a trip outside of your country. Pick a VPN brand that has servers in a lot of locations, so you could find the best possible prices.

B.) Now, we'll present to you the disadvantages of using a VPN

a.)You’re not completely safe

It’s true that you’ll be safe on the internet while you use a VPN, but you will not be 100% safe. There’s no doubt that a VPN is efficient when it comes to eliminating online threats, but there’s always a possibility that hackers could steal your private info and details.

If you want to make sure that you’re not an easy target for cybercriminals, make strong passwords on your personal accounts, so you can protect yourself better online. Also, you should install an antivirus that will protect you from suspicious software.

b.) Your connection speeds could be slower

There are a lot of factors that could contribute to slowing down your Internet connection. Factors like the level of the strength of an encryption protocol, how far are you from the VPN server, etc. There are cases where your Internet connection won't slow down a bit. Strong bandwidth will help you maintain good connection speeds.

Usually, your connection speeds are going to slow down a few Mbps because of the VPN.

c.) Top VPNs are expensive

Free VPNs are surely out of the question, mainly because they’re unreliable. So, we would highly recommend that you should use the services of a VPN for which you must pay some money. But, if you want to use a high-quality VPN, prices are not low. Usually, top-notch VPNs have a monthly fee of $9-$12.

d.) There are VPNs that keep logs

Some VPNs must keep logs because the law demands it. That being said, they could store your logs, traffic, IP address, and so on.

4. Advantages and Disadvantages of using RDP

A.) Using Remote Desktop has its own advantages and disadvantages. First, we’ll present to you the advantages of using RDP:

a.) Easy access - making a remote desktop connection is quite easy because the only thing you have to know is the credentials of the host computer.

b.) Flexibility - you have the option of connecting to your office computer from any location across the globe.

c.) Everything is available with one click - if you go on a trip, there's no reason to think that you won't be able to access the desktop at your home. With RDP, you'll be able to make a remote desktop connection with your computer.

d.) You can get access to geo-restricted content - if you possess the credentials of a computer that is in the United States, you can connect to that computer and browse the Internet like you’re living in the US. That being said, you could get full access to a streaming platform such as Netflix.

e.) It is free - RDP is installed on the device you’re using, and you don’t have to pay anything to have a remote desktop connection, which is great.

B.) Here are the disadvantages of using a Remote Desktop Protocol:

a.) It’s not secure - if you're eager about using a remote desktop connection, remember that your Internet traffic will not be secured, because there's no encryption.

b.) Efficiency - the quality of a remote connection will depend on the reliability of the network.

c.) Hard to configure ( advanced settings) - if you want secure, it would be best that you enable some advanced settings, so you can protect yourself from any potential cyber-attacks. Setting up those advanced settings could present quite a challenge for you if you don’t have any technical experience whatsoever.

5. Remote Desktop vs. VPN

The RDP and the VPN serve two quite different purposes, really. The VPN is great if you want to have extra security, an encrypted connection, and online anonymity, while the RDP is ideal for remote working. With a VPN, you’ll be able to connect to a server that is located in a certain place. This server is like a tunnel between you and your VPN connection, and everything that goes through the tunnel is encrypted. 

It’s quite different when it comes to the remote desktop connection. Thanks to the RDP, you can freely connect to a remote desktop that could be located anywhere on this planet. When you establish a connection, you’ll control everything on that remote computer, from the keyboard to performing various tasks on that desktop. But, the major downside is that it offers no security or anonymity.

Also, you can only access RDP with a computer. On the other hand, you can use a VPN on any device of your choice ( laptop, PC, tablet, or smartphone). If you want that your remote desktop connection works successfully, your Internet speeds would have to be quite high. On the other hand, VPN does not require high connection speeds.

With a VPN, your IP address is replaced with an IP address that is dedicated to you via a VPN. With this IP address, you will be secure from anyone that might want to steal your personal information, like your financial details or any type of personal information.

Although you don’t have to pay any amount of money when you're using a remote desktop connection, it's quite insecure and unreliable. In many cases, you don have to pay some money to use a VPN, but for a low price, you will be protected and secure on the Internet, which is a major advantage of using a Virtual Private Network.

6. When would you need a VPN or an RDP?

This solely depends on why you would want to use either of them.

If you’re a company or a business:

a.) It’s highly recommended to use a VPN service if you want to protect your employees and any sensitive data you might have in the workplace.
b.) A dedicated IP address could only have the users of a VPN. With this IP address, your staff could have access to servers in remote locations, which is great.
c.) RDP is ideal for code and software testing, and it is the best software when it comes to experimenting
d.) RDP is ideal for IT technicians to get access to remote computers of employees so they could successfully resolve any troubleshooting issues or maintenance tasks.  

If only you are the user:

a.) Use a VPN to browse the web safely
b.) With a VPN, you can get access to content, that was not available to you before you used a VPN
c.) With a VPN, you’ll be safe with encryption protocols


Now that you know how does a VPN and an RDP work, it is up to you to decide what you will use. When you want to decide which one of the two you'll use, take into consideration the purpose you want to fulfill with that remote access solution. If you're eager to have total control of a computer, choose the RDP, but if you want to be safe and anonymous on the Internet, then it would be best if you choose to use the services of a VPN. Make a choice, and be safe on the Internet